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February 6, 2014
Bulletin #184: Thank you; short update; and 25th anniversary!
Dear friends and colleagues –
First of all, on behalf of the board, staff, and volunteers of the Study Group, please accept our profound thanks for your solidarity and support last year. Some invested work – from a few hours, to hundreds of hours in one case.
I (Greg) am editing this Bulletin (finally) from a Senate office building, in Washington. We are very glad I can come here, and it is you who have made that possible. This week I am meeting with various congressional staff, government nuclear analysts and auditors, and executive branch officials. Next week I will attend the annual “Nuclear Deterrence Summit” (agenda here), called the “Nuclear Davos” by its organizers in the trade press. I’ll provide a report later, but in the meantime rest assured that the Administration’s nuclear modernization plan is shrinking – collapsing is not too strong a word. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is reeling. Some projects are being brought to an end, some are being protected, and still others are being down-scoped, delayed, or are being subjected to further study.
Meanwhile, Trish has been chosen as a representative of civil society to attend the Second conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Nayarit, Mexico this next week. Civil society representatives from all over the world, as well as governments and international organizations will be there. We are already working closely with our colleagues in this burgeoning global campaign and look forward to much more work together – including in New Mexico.
About 125 of you made financial contributions over the course of 2013. Of those who directly receive this email, 9% of you contributed in amounts ranging from $5 up to $10,000 in two cases. One private foundation invested $20,000.
There were other important gifts last year. Some of you organized discussions or attended them. Some who are cloistered religious, or have been ill, offered prayers and letters, which have meant a great deal to us. Some of you, who are writers, invested your attention, understanding, and your own interpretations, improving upon what we said and broadcasting the story far more widely. Many of you have been particularly generous given your circumstances, and that is a gift in another and deeper dimension altogether.
Colleagues in other nongovernmental organizations, and in academia, have generously given of their time and insight, of their floor space or futon space (a very big deal in Washington, DC), have helped us raise money, or have helped in other ways. One organization no longer extant (but whose work continues to reverberate), donated its remaining funds to the Study Group early this year, a very moving gift which has helped tremendously. Government officials have generously given of their time, perspectives, and attention.
We anticipate that with careful work these investments will bear further fruit in 2014. We cannot make that happen alone, of course, but we are not alone – far from it. Please work with us.
We hope 2014 will be a wonderful one for you and your family.
2. Counterpunch selects us as one of their favorite groups, again!
Counterpunch chose us as one of their “favorite groups of 2013,” as they also did in 2011. We are honored. All of you who helped last year can take some pride in this. Counterpunch is a terrific zine, by the way, in our view. Check it out and if you like what you see, subscribe.
3. Please ask Judge Thapar for leniency in the case of the “Transform Now Plowshares” three.
Please write Judge Thapar in Kentucky, who is scheduled to complete the sentencing hearing for our colleagues Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Gregory Boertrje-Obed on February 18. Their January 28 sentencing hearing was halted due to a “surprising snowfall” that forced the closure of the federal courthouse in Knoxville, TN (quoting from the account given in the January 31 Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor).
We usually don’t endorse petitions but there are always exceptions and this is one.
Before snowfall halted the hearing, Judge Thapar had ordered the “Transform Now Plowshares” three to pay $52,953 to the government, the full federally-estimated cost of the “damage” inflicted by cutting four fences, walking undetected into the deadly force zone of the Y-12 facility, painting a Biblical admonition to peace on the three-foot-thick concrete wall of the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUF) and hammering on it, throwing human blood on the same building, and celebrating Mass while awaiting arrest. Since the security systems at the site were already deeply compromised, extra guards were brought in to deal with the “crisis” and this too is being billed to the invading protestors. The three had volunteered to fix everything themselves, but this was rejected. The damage they did to the reputation of the contractors involved, and to the nuclear weapons enterprise, can’t be repaired that easily.
This nonviolent action probably has been the single most impactful activist intervention in nuclear weapons in the U.S. since the closure of the Rocky Flats Plant in 1989. The Washington Post did a wonderful portrait of the three and their “crimes” last spring, which is highly recommended (“The Prophets of Oak Ridge,” Apr 29, 2013).
These “dangerous” felons have been in prison for the past eight months awaiting sentencing. The felony charges of which they have been convicted (sabotage and destruction of government property) can carry long sentences, so it is possible these heroes will spend the rest of their lives – Sister Rice is 84 years old – in prison, even though members of Congress -- including, notably, Republican Joe Barton of Texas -- thanked Sister Rice in a congressional hearing for the service she and her colleagues performed for the nation by showing the total ineffectiveness of Y-12’s numerous and very expensive security systems and guards.
These three deserve our thanks and solidarity.
4. Our 25th anniversary year has begun! There will be a number of events; stay tuned!
To kick off the year our 25th anniversary mugs are here! Get one while you can, for just $10! There are basically three ways to get them. You can: a) call the office (505-265-1200) and if convenient drop by (2901 Summit Place NE, Albuquerque) and pick one up; b) come to one of our events this year; we’ll bring them with us until the supply runs out; or c) if you live far away and really want one, please write us and we will figure out a way to get one to you. We will have to charge for packing and shipping.
5. Greg to speak at Gray Panthers meeting, Albuquerque, Sat, Feb. 22nd, 1pm.
Speaking of events, I (Greg) will be speaking at the Gray Panthers meeting on Saturday, February 22nd, 1pm, at the Highland Senior Center, 131 Monroe Street NE, Albuquerque. My topic will be “Partnership of the Generations -- or Collapse.” A lot of the people present have been serious activists for decades – there will be a lot of experience in the room. There is no charge to attend and you do not have to be a member. Come and bring a friend! It should be a really good discussion.
Arms Around the Bomb: Why is New Mexico Still Wedded to Nuclear Weapons?, La Jicarita, Jan 23, 2014
IG targets security project, Los Alamos Monitor, Jan 15, 2014
LANL revenues uncertain as nuclear stockpile costs rise, Santa Fe New Mexican, Jan 12, 2014
Report finds errors in LANL plutonium project, Santa Fe New Mexican, Jan 8, 2014
New study of nuclear deterrent costs: current plans to cost $1 trillion over 30 years, therefore impossible, LASG press release, Jan 8, 2014LASG New Year's Eve note to selected government staff, Dec 31, 2013
Very best wishes,
Greg and Trish, for the Study Group