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Barr Prosecuting Pacifists: Activists Face Prison for Action at Huge Nuclear Weapons Base

Mass on the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 home base porch, August 8th, 2019, Brunswick, Ga. | Courtesy of Bones Donovan

On April 4, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, seven activists — following the Biblical edict to “beat swords into plowshares” — used bolt cutters to enter one of the largest nuclear weapons bases in the world at the Kings Bay Trident submarine base in Georgia.

On Monday, the first of the defendants, Elizabeth McAlister, a long time peace activist who founded Jonah House in Baltimore with her late husband Phil Berrigan, is scheduled to be sentenced. For public access to audio of this hearing, dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 2296092 and enter the security code 1234.

The support group for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 states that the Catholic Worker activists, after entering the nuclear weapons facility “then split into three groups and prayed, prayerfully and symbolically poured blood, spray-painted messages of disarming nuclear weapons and to love one another. They hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners quoting Dr. King, ‘the ultimate logic of racism is genocide’ and another naming the ominicidal logic of Trident. The seven waited to be arrested.”

A year ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Prize winners wrote to Attorney General William Barr asking the charges against the activists be dropped. Instead, at their trial in October, the prosecution and judge prevented the activists from mounting a series of defenses, including presenting a justification or necessity defense with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg testifying on their behalf — or invoking international law. The prosecution and judge even effectively kept the reality of the nuclear weapons at the base from the jury. The activists were convicted on October 24.

The group states that the defendants “asked for home confinement during this time of COVID-19, as entering prison could be a death sentence. Their request was denied by the prosecution. Elizabeth McAlister, at 80 years old, the eldest of the KBP7 defendants, was notified that her court date was changed from May 28 to June 8. She is to be sentenced by video while she stays at her home in Connecticut. McAlister will probably not face additional prison time because she served over 17 months before trial.

“Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, was granted an adjournment and given a new date on June 29, 3:30 p.m. in Brunswick, Georgia.

“Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, and Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J. (who has been detained in jails in Camden County and Glynn County for more than 25 months) also asked for an adjournment and were given June 29 and 30 as their new dates to appear with no times specified yet. They were not told whether they’ll be allowed to be sentenced in person in open court or whether they’ll have to travel to Brunswick to be sentenced remotely by video once they get there. …

“As they wait for sentencing, each of the defendants and their families continue to serve as their communities’ human needs grow exponentially during this COVID-19 pandemic. The defendants call for the release of people in prisons, in federal and state prisons, county and city jails, especially the elderly, the infirm and all non-violent offenders.”

Interviews are available with:

MARK COLVILLE, markcolville9761 at gmail.com
One of the seven Plowshares activists, Colville is co-founder of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven with his wife Luz Catarineau. In late December, the New Haven Register wrote: “For their sustained, compassionate approach to building and supporting their community and for their lived opposition to war and violence, the Colvilles are the New Haven Register’s Persons of the Year.”

More information and interviews with other Plowshares activists are available via the group’s extensive website and via the media team:

Bill Ofenloch, billcpf at aol.com, @kingsbayplow7
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08 at gmail.com

Obama at Nuclear Summit: A Call to Respect NPT, Not Pursue New Cold War

[The New York Times is now reporting in “Obama to Call for End to N.S.A.’s Bulk Data Collection” that “the bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies…” However, the Institute for Public Accuracy is hosting a news conference at 1 p.m. at the National Press Club today addressing the ways in which the administration is continuing to pursue Edward Snowden, whose leaks pushed for reform efforts.]

ALICE SLATER, aslater at rcn.com
Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee. She just wrote the piece “Time for a 21st Century U.S. Foreign Policy,” which states: “With 16,000 of the world’s 17,000 nuclear bombs in the U.S. and Russia, the U.S. should certainly not be fanning the fires for a new Cold War after the distressing events in Crimea and the Ukraine.

“Rather, we should acknowledge our broken promise to Gorbachev that we wouldn’t expand NATO if Russia didn’t object to a reunified Germany’s entry into NATO when the Berlin Wall came down, and promise not to invite the Ukraine or Georgia to become members of our old Cold War military alliance.

“We should be disbanding NATO and working for reform of the UN system so that it can fulfill its peacekeeping mission without archaic reliance on competitive regional military alliances. Further, we should remove our missiles from Poland, Romania and Turkey and negotiate the space weapons ban which China and Russia repeatedly proposed, and which only the U.S. blocked for several years in the UN’s Committee on Disarmament in Geneva which requires consensus.

“We should also reinstate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which Bush walked out of in 2001 and take up Russia’s offer to negotiate a treaty to ban cyberwarfare, which it proposed after the U.S. boasted about its virus attack on Iran’s enrichment facilities and which the U.S. rejected out of hand. …

“It’s ironic that Obama is now in the Hague at his third ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ to talk about locking down and securing loose bomb-making materials, without any discussion about how to honor our Non-Proliferation Treaty promise to eliminate our massive nuclear arsenal, for which we are planning to spend $640 billion over the next ten years for two new bomb factories, and new lethal delivery systems — missiles, planes, submarines.”

* Iran Accord: “Profoundly Symbolic” * Honduras Election: “Don’t Rush to Recognize”

https://www.accuracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/24Nuclear_2-blog480-v2.jpgMUHAMMAD SAHIMI, moe at usc.edu
Professor at the University of Southern California, Sahimi has been analyzing Iran’s political developments for the past two decades. He is the editor of the website Iran News & Middle East Reports. Sahimi recently wrote the piece “Iran Has a Right to Enrich — And America Already Recognized It.”

WILLIAM O. BEEMAN, wbeeman at umn.edu, @wbeeman
Author of The ‘Great Satan’ vs. the ‘Mad Mullahs’: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other, Beeman just wrote the piece “The Iran Accord — Profoundly, and Primarily, Symbolic,” which states: “The principal benefit of the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations on November 23 is that Iran and the United States were able to sit down to talk and reach an agreement on something. Given 33 years of estrangement and non-communication, this is an extraordinarily important development — nearly equivalent to the U.S. breakthrough to China — perhaps the signal achievement of the Nixon administration.”

Also today, following the election in Honduras, the Center for Constitutional Rights released a statement urging: “Don’t Rush to Recognize Honduras Election ‘Winner'”: “There must be an opportunity to do a full and accurate count and fully investigate reports of irregularities and intimidation and threats by authorities. Given the context of widespread opposition to the post-coup government and its violent repression of civil society, CCR urges the international community to do everything possible to ensure respect for and protection of Hondurans’ right to free expression, freedom of the press, and peaceful assembly in the coming days.”

ADRIENNE PINE, pine at american.edu, @adriennepine
Assistant professor of anthropology at American University, Pine is currently on leave on a Fulbright scholarship, residing in Tegucigalpa and teaching at the National Autonomous University of Honduras. She blogs at quotha.net. She appeared on “Democracy Now!” this morning: “Honduras Presidential Elections in Dispute as Activists Defy Violence to Back Ousted Leader’s Wife.”

SUYAPA PORTILLO, lavidagris at gmail.com, @aisportillo
A professor at Pritzer College in Claremont, Calif., Portillo wrote early this morning: “The Honduran people’s votes continue to be counted as I write this email. Six hundred and eleven voting centers do not have scanning capacity and those results will come over the next two days. … I witnessed many irregularities the day before voting and the day of voting. … The voting materials boxes arrived late in the voting place I observed in Colonia Kennedy, a LIBRE stronghold; the voting box materials lacked markers needed to sign the ballot boxes; credentials seemed to have been bought by Nationalist party people; the secretary and president of a table did not show up. …

“The U.S. Ambassador came to my voting center with three different armed groups: Cobra soldiers, secret service-like men, and national police with high caliber guns. She visited the tables and the police with military grade guns blocked the entrances for voters and observers; press were pushed aside and almost dropped to the floor; her visit disturbed the voting process and all the men with guns caused tension and fear among voters. She told one table that was well-organized according to her that she would give them a price for high turn out and good organization. …”

MARK WEISBROT, DAN BEETON, beeton at cepr.net, @Dan_Beeton
Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Beeton is international communications director for the group, which stated today: “The official results as being reported by Honduras’ electoral authorities (the TSE) are being disputed by two of the political parties and presidential candidates: Xiomara Castro of the LIBRE party (who the TSE says finished second, based on 54 percent of electoral tallies counted) and Salvador Nasralla of the Anti-Corruption Party (PAC) (who the TSE says finished fourth). Nasralla told various TV and radio outlets last night that the results reported by the TSE did not match those that were transmitted to the parties. As part of the counting process, tally results from the voting centers are shared with the parties.

“Although some international observers reported that the process was clean, transparent, and peaceful, many other observers reported various violations and irregularities throughout the day, both during voting and the tally-counting process. Honduran media outlets and international observers reported that some voting centers were closed off and guarded by military in a violation of requirements that public access to the centers is supposed to be guaranteed. In other centers, international observers were told to leave as they attempted to witness the counting process. During the voting, observers witnessed various incidents of apparent party allegiance buying, where voting center representatives of small parties may have sold their representation to the National Party, as well as National Party intimidation and threats against observers and other party representatives. There are also allegations, with purported photo evidence, of vote-buying by the National Party in various voting centers. These are among other irregularities reported by human rights organizations, lawyers’ delegations, and others, and documented here, here, and here. Further, the murder of two LIBRE leaders on the eve of the elections as well as the murder of five people in Mosquitia, which led to the suspension of the electoral process in the local community, were notable and serious violent incidents that impacted the election.

“Regardless of the final outcome, Honduras’ century-long two-party dominance of the political system has been broken. The LIBRE especially has emerged as a major political force, institutionalizing in a political way the massive social movement that erupted in opposition to the 2009 coup and offering greater representation to the interests of Honduras’ historically disenfranchised sectors.”