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Upcoming local events and actions; report on Cong. Lujan

Sep 9, 2016

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(In these local letters we try to avoid some of the larger issues and happenings that we would like to bring to the attention of our whole email list. That list includes everyone on this list. We need to get Bulletin 221 out to the big list (and you) ASAP. So for those larger issues, "stay tuned." Please forgive their omission here.)

Dear friends --

First let me mention a few upcoming events this month and next. These are very important to us and foundational in all we do. Notwithstanding the difficulties presented by New Mexico -- "land of the labs, home of the waste" -- there are degrees of freedom here in our local setting, and modalities of resistance and constructive action, that none of us can find elsewhere. We all need to dig in where we are and take a stand. We will find our greatest strength where we are, not in some other place, as well as the fellowship from which great deeds most readily come. We urge you to be open to these possibilities. We are in this together.

On Thursday 9/15/16 at 10:00 am at 400 Gold Ave. SW (map), a Study Group delegation will be meeting with members of Rep. Michelle Lujan-Grisham's staff. Please email Ernie Sturdevant if you want to be part of that delegation, or the overflow support demonstration outside if enough of you respond! And with enough people there, news coverage becomes possible. The topics of this meeting will be our rising militarism, her recent votes (with mostly Republicans) in favor of new nuclear weapons and expanding plutonium pit production (two separate votes), and need for bold and dramatic efforts to build our productive economy by saving the climate and avoiding more war and militarism. (See also the report on our meeting with the New Mexico field director for Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, below.)

On Wednesday 9/28/16 at 6:30 pm, in Santa Fe at the Center Stage Performance Space, 505 Camino de los Marquez (map), we are hosting Dr. Frank von Hippel, one of the foremost arms control scientists in the U.S. and a long-time Study Group advisor and friend, who will speak on the topic of "New Directions in Disarmament."

Frank will also speak the next day (Thursday 9/29/16), again at 6:30 pm, on the same topic, at the University of New Mexico Student Union Building (SUB) (map). The UNM Peace and Justice Studies Program and Students Organizing Actions for Peace are co-sponsoring this event with us.

We may have a solar energy party at the Study Group (2901 Summit Place NE, Albuquerque, map) on Saturday October 1, hosted by the Study Group and Sunpower/Positive Energy, the company that installed our solar power system. They, as well as our friends at McCune Solar Works, are offering $500 to the Study Group for successful referrals that result in the purchase of a home or business PV system. These are both good companies that serve different parts of the market. We recommend them.

By the way, we (Greg and Trish) believe there are good jobs in this business just waiting for people with the right fire in the belly, so tell (for example) your kids.
 
Then on the following Monday 10/3/16 at 6:30 pm, at the Study Group office (2901 Summit Place NE, Albuquerque, map) we are hosting a talk and discussion by John LaForge, co-author of "Nuclear Heartland: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States" and long-time dedicated anti-nuclear activist from Wisconsin.

On Wednesday 10/19/16 at 7:00 pm at The Commons in Santa Fe (2300 West Alameda St., map), there will be an important Study Group meeting focusing on action planning for the remainder of the year. Greg and Trish will provide short updates from:

  • The United Nations, from which we will have just returned the day before -- will be debating this fall whether and how to open negotiations, in 2017, of a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Friends, we have the votes to do this -- about two-thirds of UN member states -- right now.
  • Washington DC, where the Obama Administration is preparing its final nuclear weapons plans and budgets, including plans for an expanding plutonium pit factory and production in Los Alamos and related new nuclear missiles (of two kinds), long-range bombers, submarines, and warheads;
  • Our meetings with staff from our New Mexico congressional delegation, on the subjects of rising militarism and our failing social and environmental contract; and
  • Our own events and actions between now and October 19: lessons learned, and prospects going forward. 

The main purpose of the 10/19 meeting is to plan further actions and events this fall, so these four mini-briefings will be fairly short.

A second purpose of this meeting, also very important, is fundraising. If you or anyone you know might want to support our work, please feel free to invite them.

I want to say something about that right now. Looking back over the past eight years, I honestly do not see any arms control victories whatsoever from the mega-funded nonprofits in Washington during this administration. New START, as some administration officials tell us, has been a disaster for disarmament as we predicted. The last-minute "Hail Mary" efforts by the very groups that endorsed the trillion-dollar nuclear triad have come to naught, precisely because of that endorsement and the resulting momentum and commitments, all part of the new Cold War. (I will discuss this in more detail in a wider email.) Frankly, the only clear success in fighting the nuclear modernization agenda has been our own efforts in New Mexico, supported and encouraged by many of you. You did that. LANL and NNSA publicly blame the failure of their last proposal for a plutonium pit manufacturing plant at LANL on "cost increases" and "increased safety and security standards," but in private briefings to congressional committees, a different story was repeatedly told: "We can't let contracts or build because of that lawsuit in New Mexico." The initial RFPs were already written, waiting only for the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. When our first (of three) legal actions against the CMRR-NF was filed in August, 2010, all that progress stopped -- for good, as it turned out.

Can we stop the next plan? You bet we can. We, but also NNSA, hold very different cards now -- some better, some worse. Please help us. We can win, but we need to realize the life-changing magnitude of what lies just ahead for all of us if we want to preserve our civilization. We also need to realize the essential unity of our struggles. We are not just adjusting the deck chairs on the Titanic. We hope you understand that, and we hope you join us.

You will find the above events (and any others that might be scheduled later) on our calendar.

Second
, let me offer a brief report of our 2-hour meeting on 9/2/16 with Jennifer Catechis, District Director for Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, here at our office. There were six of us in attendance (thank you!), plus Ms. Catechis. Ms. Catechis represented the Congressman ably and was very personable and professional. It was a pleasure meeting with her.

That said, it was apparent that Congressman Lujan knows effectively nothing about nuclear weapons issues. They wait for LANL to brief them (!). Ms. Catechis could offer no explanation whatsoever for his vote in favor of expanding plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), or his vote in favor of the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) cruise missile and its warhead. In both cases Rep. Lujan voted with the corporate nuclear weapons lab in his district which funds him, and against most Democrats in the House. He has in the past voted against increasing solar energy funding if that funding would come from nuclear weapons.

We warned Ms. Catechis that these positions, until they are reversed, would result in public shaming and political attacks from this organization.

Troublingly, we learned that Rep. Lujan's office believes he cannot express himself on issues that bear on renewable energy, or on economic development in his district, if his remarks -- even at the "vision" level -- might be construed as interfering with state and local prerogatives. Many of us discussed this nasty aspect of Democratic Party politics -- its meaning for the state and his district, what it implies about the Party, and so on -- later in the evening, at our community activist "movie night."

Despite his willingness to meet with us personally in the past and the relative openness of his office, we conclude that Rep. Lujan will not, for the foreseeable future, oppose weapons of mass destruction if they are designed or made in his district. No kidding, you say! Well, it was important for us to try one more time. His priorities are not ours, and we can all now criticize him freely for them. We think you should do that, at every occasion, in letters to the editor, public meetings, and at all other opportunities. He has been warned.

Third, despite our other commitments we will be happy, as time allows, to speak at events you organize! Let us know your thoughts! Greg gave a talk this past Sunday at the Unitarian Fellowship in Albuquerque, entitled "In a Dark Time, the Eye Begins to See." We all have to wake up and get involved!

We are planning one or two events -- newsworthy, we hope -- for the coming weeks, about which more later. We all need to "step it up," don't you think?

Fourth, our Disarmament Fellow Valentina Bellafante is now back in Rome, her summer with us having come to an end this past Tuesday morning. Very best wishes, Valentina!

Fifth, some of you will find this oldie-but-goodie article from 1985 quite interesting: "Early Warnings: Journal from an Encampment" by Joanne Forman, who lives in Taos. We certainly did. Trish was living nearby, raising her small children, and she remembers this encampment well!

Sixth and finally, you may enjoy this good article from up-and-coming New Mexican reporter Rebecca Moss ("Congressional subcommittee grills LANL chief over backlog of repairs, Santa Fe New Mexican, Sep 9, 2016"). Tip of the iceberg, tip of the iceberg.

That's it for now. Thanks, everybody.

Greg


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