Command and Control at Meaningful Movies Gig Harbor

Join Meaningful Movies Gig Harbor for a screening of Command and Control! This film chronicles the long-hidden story of a deadly accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas in 1980. Based on the critically-acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser, the chilling new documentary exposes the terrifying truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us.

Hosted by Meaningful Movies Gig Harbor

Location: Agnus Dei Lutheran Church, 10511 Peacock Hill Ave NW Gig Harbor,WA

Click here for Meaningful Movies Gig Harbor website, where you can watch the trailer for Command and Control.

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When will we learn the lesson of war?

Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece was written by Ground Zero member Marianne Mabbitt, and published in the Kitsap Sun on September 19, 2017. 

Sunday’s opening episode of the new Ken Burns documentary airing on PBS this week, “The Vietnam War,” exposed some history of Vietnam that was never common knowledge in the United States.
Most Americans knew that it was once called French Indonesia and that the French had a long embattlement and defeat in Vietnam. However, most of us never read of Hoh Chi Min’s experiences in the United States and England, or that he’d written letters to American presidents expressing his values as similar to many in the U.S. Constitution: of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, of freedom and independence. That was his goal for the people of Vietnam. Five American presidents, from Truman through Nixon, stated at one time or another their aversion to war there, and yet it continued.
The documentary reviews the horrors of war, the waste of lives and resources, the humiliation of our televised defeat after so long a struggle and the agony survivors endured and still do today. We are repeating similar painful experiences in the Middle East, the United States having been in Afghanistan for over 14 years with no end in sight.

Certainly, we as Americans have doubts about our mission and effectiveness in fighting foreign wars and we are tired of these unending wars that squander the lives and talents of our servicemen and women. The money, technology, research and energy should be redirected to life sustaining projects. The enormous tax dollars we spend on the military budget is obscene compared to the budget of our social programs needed at home such as schools, housing, energy, transportation, agriculture and preserving natural resources. The legislators and corporations that make up the war machine continue to lie to us so they can continue to rake in huge profits.

Various pieces of the military industrial complex are in every state in our nation. We are told we must keep supporting them for the jobs they provide us. But the money is siphoned from programs we need, from jobs we’d rather be doing that are constructive to our own society, not destructive to others. In the end, we are the ones we destroy as well. We bring home the guerrilla military tactics, the weapons, the nightmares and violence. The United States continues to escalate the level of violence in our own land in our media, in our schools, our games, our sports, on our streets and in our homes. “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”

When will we learn that war only begets more wars? When will we deny the war machine our tax dollars and demand that we build up our own nation again? Democracy demands an informed electorate to vote rationally but we have so limited our real news sources and dumbed down our schools that the future looks very bleak for the youth of the United States. Who is paying attention to the next war on the horizon?

Resist a first strike of North Korea! We must resist the litany of atrocities committed in our name in any country. Today we are on the brink of another war with North Korea. This one involves a nuclear weapons exchange that could annihilate the earth’s atmosphere as we know it. The planet cannot withstand any more nuclear explosions. Tell your representatives to support the Senate bill, ‘Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.’ It requires Congress to authorize nuclear weapons strikes rather than the President alone. We must stop the cycle of violence our country imposes on others and on ourselves.

We must stop the bleeding and bind our wounds. We must dialogue and plan for the near future and envision a country that believes and ACTs towards liberty and justice for all. If not now, when? If not us, who will do it? If we don’t act, will we even be here after a nuclear war North Korea?

M.G. Mabbitt lives in Silverdale.

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CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?

On July 17, and continuing for eleven weeks, 26 King County Metro buses will display the following paid advertisement: CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?  The ad includes a photo of a Trident nuclear submarine in Hood Canal and the eyes of a child.

 

The statement in the ad refers to the planned expenditure of $1 trillion for the next 30 years for upgrading the nation’s nuclear facilities and modernizing nuclear weapons.  The nuclear weapons modernization plan was initially planned and evolved under the Obama administration.  President Trump has given his support to this plan and stated in December 2016 that the “United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability…”

The bus ads are an effort by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a grass roots organization in Poulsbo, Washington, to reawaken public awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons in the Puget Sound region. The Bangor submarine base, just 20 miles from Seattle, has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.  If Washington state were a sovereign nation, it would be the third-largest nuclear-weapons state in the world.

Ground Zero member, Rodney Brunelle, said of the bus ad campaign, “We hope to generate a measure of citizen interest, and to begin a public discussion of nuclear weapons in the Puget Sound region. The submarine base at Bangor has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.  The discussion needs to begin here.”

Photo courtesy of intersection.com

The issues

* The U.S. is currently spending more on nuclear weapons programs than during the height of the Cold War.

* The U.S. currently plans to spend an estimated $1 trillion dollars over 30 years for rebuilding the nation’s nuclear facilities and modernizing nuclear weapons.

* The New York Times reported that the U. S., Russia and China are aggressively pursuing a new generation of smaller and less destructive nuclear weapons. The buildups threaten to revive a Cold War-era arms race and unsettle the balance of power among nations.

* The U.S. Navy states that SSBN submarines on patrol provide the U.S. with its “most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability.”  However, SSBNs in port and nuclear warheads stored at SWFPAC are likely a first target in a nuclear war.  The latest Google imagery shows three SSBN submarines on the Hood Canal waterfront.

* An accident involving nuclear weapons occurred on November 2003 when a ladder penetrated a nuclear nosecone during a routine missile offloading at the Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.  All missile-handling operations at SWFPAC were stopped for nine weeks until Bangor could be recertified for handling nuclear weapons.  Three top commanders were fired but the public was never informed until information was leaked to the media in March 2004.

* Public responses from governmental officials to the 2003 missile accident were generally in the form of surprise and disappointment.

* Due to ongoing modernization and maintenance programs for warheads at Bangor, nuclear warheads are routinely shipped in unmarked trucks between the Department of Energy Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas and the Bangor base.  Unlike the Navy at Bangor, the DOE actively promotes emergency preparedness.

* The award-winning documentary, Command and Control, and the critically-acclaimed book, Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser, address a dangerous nuclear weapons accident in Arkansas in 1980, and raise important issues for this region.

The bus ad

The bus ads measure 30 inches tall and 144 inches in length and are posted on the sides of 26 King County Metro buses that run through downtown Seattle.  An interactive map of the bus routes may be viewed at http://mapping.titan360.com/atlas.aspx?mapId=49878   The bus ads will run on buses traveling as far south as Federal Way and as far north as Edmonds.

Two bus companies in the Puget Sound area refused to run the ad.  

On June 22, Sound Transit in Seattle told Ground Zero: “Sound Transit’s advertising policy prohibits advertisements that Sound Transit reasonably believes promotes or implies a position on any proposed or existing laws or advocacy on disputed or controversial issues.

Community Transit in Snohomish County also refused to run the ad.  On June 23, Community Transit declared that the ad was a political advertisement which is defined under Community Transit policy as “advertisements that contain political speech referring to a particular ballot question, initiative, petition, referendum, law, candidate, political party or social issue or expresses or advocates opinions or positions upon any of the foregoing. This prohibition includes any advertisement referring to or depicting a candidate for public office in any context.”

Nuclear weapons and resistance

In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands demonstrated against nuclear weapons at the Bangor base and hundreds were arrested.  Seattle Archbishop Hunthausen had proclaimed the Bangor submarine base the “Auschwitz of Puget Sound” and in 1982 began to withhold half of his federal taxes in protest of “our nation’s continuing involvement in the race for nuclear arms supremacy.”

More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed 20 miles west of Seattle on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines based at Bangor and nuclear warheads stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC).

One Trident SSBN submarine at Bangor is estimated to carry about 108 nuclear warheads.  The W76 and W88 warheads at Bangor are equal respectively to 100 kilotons and 455 kilotons of TNT in destructive force.  One submarine deployed at Bangor is equal to more than 1,400 Hiroshima sized nuclear bombs.

On May 27, 2016, President Obama spoke in Hiroshima and called for an end to nuclear weapons.   He said that the nuclear powers “…must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”  Obama added, “We must change our mindset about war itself.”

On December 22, 16 President Trump endorsed a growing arms race and posted to Twitter, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” 

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The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977.  The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington.  The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our world and to experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Upcoming Ground Zero events:

* The annual Interfaith Peace Walk led by Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple starts in Corvalis, Oregon on July 30 and ends at the Bangor submarine base on August 14.

* Ground Zero Peace Fleet in Elliott Bay to meet the Navy fleet on August 2.

* From Hiroshima to Hope event at Green Lake on August 6 commemorating the victims of the Hiroshima bombing 72 years ago.

* Boats by Bangor on August 12, will be a flotilla of small boats in the waters of Hood Canal out past the perimeter of Naval Base Kitsap Bangor.

* The Annual Ground Zero Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration on August 12 through August 14 at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action with a vigil and nonviolent civil resistance at the entrance to Bangor.

Please check our website at www.gzcenter.org for updates.

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From Trinity to Trident, and Beyond…

Dear Friends,

Today marks the anniversary of the Trinity test, where the United States detonated the first nuclear device. I ponder the perilous journey we have taken since that first test of a nuclear bomb in the desert of New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Since the United States dropped the first two bombs on Japan soon after Trinity, nuclear weapons have never been used by one nation against another, although we have neared that precipice numerous times. Since those first two bombs the U.S. built a total of over 70,000 nuclear warheads and bombs at astronomical costs, both economic and human.

As the United States and the Soviet Union fought the Cold War from their respective development laboratories and weapons factories, planners on each side continuously struggled to stay ahead of the other. Somewhere along the way, someone got the bright idea that submarines loaded with nuclear tipped missiles were the perfect way to keep the enemy guessing. After all, a sub bristling with nuclear weapons could sneak around the seven seas, ready to launch an attack, totally surprising the enemy.

Trident was the culmination of this demonic drive – the ultimate first strike weapon (even thought the US Government calls it only a second strike weapon); today some of the Navy’s 14 Trident nuclear submarines, loaded with Trident D5 missiles, silently roam the seas, ready to launch their deadly missiles on the order of the President of the United States. Just one of these submarines would, if it were to launch all its missiles armed with a full complement of 455 kiloton warheads (rather than the smaller 100 kiloton model), unleash the equivalent of nearly 7000 Hiroshimas (the Hiroshima bomb was between 12.5 and 15 kilotons), and could kill hundreds of millions of people. What madness is this?

Yet, while tens of thousands of people labored to develop and build this system of mass destruction (Trident), others worked to resist the madness – to let others know that we were preparing the seeds of our own destruction. For Trident, it all began with the early 1970’s when a missile designer named Bob Aldridge was at Lockheed Missiles and Space Corporation working on the first Trident missile design. Bob recognized something about the maneuvering reentry vehicle that he was designing; it was designed “to home-in on underground missile silos in a nuclear first strike” (Ground Zero Newsletter, Vol. 7, Issue 3, July 2002). Bob’s conscience got the better of him (something that has not happened to the vast majority of nuclear weapon scientists or engineers), and after a family retreat following Christmas 1972 Bob submitted his resignation letter to Lockheed.

A year later Bob met with Jim and Shelley Douglass and told them of his remarkable journey from missile designer to student of nonviolence, and briefed them on the plans to create what would be known as Sub Base Bangor (West Coast home of the new Trident fleet) on the shores of the Hood Canal in Washington State, just 20 miles from Seattle. And so the seeds of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action were sown by a person with the courage to follow his convictions.

In 1977 Jim Douglass and John Williams found 3.8 acres of land with a small house right next to the Bangor fence. What a find! A year later (the first Trident missile was deployed in October 1979) Bob Aldridge sent Jim and Shelley Douglass an urgent letter warning of the first strike threat that Trident represented. First strike meant that Trident would likely be used to deliver a preemptive surprise attack of overwhelming force on the Soviet Union (not a pretty picture).

Jim and Shelley Douglass, and many others continued building the Ground Zero community (which was preceded by the Pacific Life Community) as they worked in common resistance to Trident; blocking the railroad tracks on which the “White Trains” brought the nuclear warheads, leafletting at the gates of Bangor and blocking the gate, and building awareness of the dangers (as well as the immorality and illegality) of Trident and all nuclear weapons.

Jim and Shelley Douglass

Jim and Shelley produced some wonderful writings along the way, including Dear Gandhi: Now What? Letters from Ground Zero, and JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters. The Douglasses received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Preedom Award in 1997.

Jim and Shelley will be joining others at Ground Zero Center to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Ground Zero on July 30th.  Everyone is invited! We expect fpeople from the Pacific Life Communities, Live Without Trident, Armistice, Agape, peace walkers, fence climbers, tracks vigilers, USS Ohio blockaders, Wednesday overnighters,pagoda builders, leafleters, potluckers, plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, Bangor workers and fellow travelers. It’s a chance to reflect on what drew us to GZ, to catch up with friends, and to create an oral history.

Click here to learn more about the event.

It will also be a time to look within and ask, “Where do we go from here?” At seventy-two years of age, aren’t nuclear weapons due for retirement! 122 nations said “YES” to that question just over a week ago when the United Nations passed the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The culmination of decades of resistance and campaigning against nuclear weapons, the negotiations brought together diplomats and civil society to prohibit these horrific devices made by human hands that are capable of bringing about human extinction. Enough!

We, the people of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, are dedicated to the abolition of Trident and ALL nuclear weapons. This is no naive pipe dream. Humanity is at (or is nearing) a fork in the long road that began with Trinity. Which fork we take (and the future of humanity) will depend not just on the political actions of the leaders of the nuclear-armed nations – we can no longer wait for them – but very much on the hard work of people like you and me, and organizations like Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Please join us!

On the journey together,

Leonard

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We Face Bigger Challenges Than North Korea

Editor’s Note: The following commentary, written by Dr. David Hall, was originally published Saturday, July 8, 2017 in the Everett Herald, heraldnet.com. Dr. Hall is an active member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

President Trump is getting tough. His budget calls for a $56 billion increase in military spending, to be funded by major cuts ranging from environmental protections to community block grants, on top of the already planned trillion dollar rebuild of the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Our president wants to freeze North Korea’s nuclear weapons program by threatening all-out war without starting a nuclear war. Everett may soon be within range of North Korean nuclear-armed missiles. But the threat these weapons pose to us is not the direct hit. The single use of a nuclear weapon anywhere could light the fuse to nuclear escalations no one can contain. This is the risk we live with every day.

It’s time to rethink deterrence. At the heart of deterrence doctrine for every nuclear armed nation lurks a continuous threat to incinerate whole countries, and these weapon systems steal vast human resources from programs of human betterment and environmental sustainability.

North Korea’s threats can escalate to war, or they can galvanize the global call to eliminate these horrific weapons. Even a “small” nuclear war could lead to worldwide famine. Nuclear nations must come together first of all to prevent any war. Then we must find common ground to eliminate this civilization-destroying threat. Bully tactics risk catastrophic escalation. Imagine facing U.S. military might from an adversary’s perspective.

Nuclear deterrence has worked since World War II to prevent any nuclear use. The threat of mass slaughter has kept national leaders from launching a suicidal nuclear strike. Recently, however, Russians are feeling the press of U.S. nuclear capabilities and U.S./NATO missile defenses near their borders. President Vladimir Putin has responded with nuclear threats against Europe and the United States.

Nuclear adversaries all fear U.S. nuclear weapons, especially the nuclear-armed Trident submarines that deploy from Hood Canal just 35 air miles from downtown Everett. We in Washington state are at the center of U.S. nuclear weapons threats to other countries. One Trident submarine can be loaded with nuclear firepower sufficient to block the sun and starve billions of people.

U.S. citizens must speak to these fundamental survival issues. Technologies to detect a nuclear attack are primitive in all the other nuclear nations. National leaders with nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert have as little as ten minutes to decide if an incoming threat is real and who it comes from. Military commanders of nuclear weapons have emergency codes if their national leadership is decapitated. Unstable countries and unstable leaders now have command of nuclear weapons. Deterrence will not last forever.

Congress’s trillion-dollar plan to rebuild our entire nuclear weapon complex includes increasing the accuracy and hard-target kill capacity of our nuclear arsenal, which is driving a new nuclear arms race as dangerous as the Cold War arms race that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commits the U.S. to search for an exit from this global game of chicken. The United States has by far the most powerful military in history. It’s on us to break out of the present stalemate. Our brinkmanship generals and many civilian leaders and contractors want war-fighting capabilities whatever the cost, even raising the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used.

Starting at home, and then with Russia, China and other nuclear nations, we need serious high-level conversations that honor our shared human need for security while celebrating our common humanity.

None of us can afford to let nuclear weapons destroy our common future.

Dr. David Hall is past president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. He lives on Lopez Island.

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