Friday, June 10, 2016

Protest Drones In Germany, Protest Destroyers In Bath

Source: Protest in Pakistan by those targeted in drone strikes flown out of Ramstein.
Crowds numbering in the thousands are expected to protest the operation of flying killer robots from Ramstein Air Base in Germany tomorrow, June 11, 2016. Even Stars and Stripes, a military publication, is publicizing the protests while assuring its readers that the Antiterrorism (sic) force on the base will be ready to handle the peaceful protesters.

The last time they gathered, in September, 2015, protesters were responding to leaks by NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden indicating that officials who deny that Ramstein participates in drone strikes are lying.  It was a peaceful protest, unlike what goes on inside the base. In its coverage of the 2015 protest, RT characterized German sentiment thus:
Polls show that the majority of Germans have consistently disapproved of drone strikes, saying they are secretive, do not follow a legal process, and can prove ineffective if the wrong targets are eliminated. 

I'm not sure if any acts of civil disobedience are planned for tomorrow. There are often arrests at drone bases in the U.S., such as Hancock Air Base in NY and Creech Air Base in Nevada as activists attempt to block access to the base, or deliver messages to those in command.

Civil disobedience is planned for the protest June 18 at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine. General Dynamics is launching another Zumwalt destroyer, a weapon that cost enough to send 40,000 kids through four years of college debt-free.

According to a press release from Bruce Gagnon, an organizer with Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space:
Maine peace activists have announced their intention to commit acts of non-violent Civil Disobedience at the planned June 18 ‘Christening’ of the $4 billion Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer at Bath Iron Works (BIW).
The activists maintain that the Zumwalt is a provocative escalation of the already out-of-control arms race aimed at China and Russia. “It is time for us to stand up and call for the reversal of this endless and illegal war cycle that our country is engaged in,” the peace activists maintained in a statement released to the media. “It is the children that these weapons are ultimately aimed at as we see the growing refugee crisis from countries where the US has been waging war.  “We stand in solidarity with people around the world who are protesting at bases where the US will port these warships.  Not only would these destroyers kill innocent people but their sonar also severely impacts ocean life and the toxic materials released by these ships pollute the seas and the local environments where they are ported. “Christ would not approve of his name being used to ‘bless’ such violence and the massive waste of the public treasury, especially when so many are hungry, homeless and without jobs and medical care.”  
A University of Massachusetts-Amherst Economics Department study reveals that military spending is actually the worst way to create jobs.  At the very time we face the coming ravages of climate change our tax dollars should be spent on building commuter rail systems, offshore wind turbines, tidal power systems, and solar power – all of which would create more jobs at BIW. “We intend to stand at BIW on June 18 for those who can no longer stand or speak out, like Fr. Daniel Berrigan who left this world in May. Our elected officials don’t seem to hear the many calls for the conversion of the war machine to peaceful and sustainable purposes.  We feel we must risk arrest to wake up all those whose hearts are closed to the real message of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.”  
A legal demonstration will also be held on June 18 at BIW from 9:00 am to noon along Washington Street in Bath.  Speakers and music will be featured.

I will emcee the program outside the gates which will feature songs, artwork and messaging from Maine's vibrant peace community. 

Our program in Bath will likely be ignored by the corporate press covering the Zumwalt launch and the many politicians who will attend. General Dynamics has told reporters in the past that if they leave the shipyard to speak to demonstrators, they will not be allowed back in.

Zumwalts thus destroy the freedom of the press while menacing the world and gobbling up resources. Artist Russell Wray detailed the many things that Zumwalts destroy in an eloquent op-ed published by the Bath-Brunswick Times Record:

Zumwalt-class a Destroyer of Lives

I am writing regarding the christening of the Navy’s Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer that is going to take place on June 18 at Bath Iron Works. I do not believe many things that the Navy, or the Pentagon states. Those two entities are masters of deception in many ways. However, the designation of the ship as a “destroyer” is one instance where they speak the truth. Does it strike anyone else as being sadly ironic that a vessel that is designed for destruction, including the destruction of who knows how many human beings, would be blessed in the name of Jesus Christ, also known as the Prince of Peace? 
Human being are not all this destroyer will destroy. How many opportunities for the betterment of the lives of people are being destroyed as our government chooses to spend over $4 billion for this destroyer of lives? That money could do an amazing amount of good if it were funneled into things that actually improve people’s lives, such as education and health care. The government could even put that money into dealing, for once, in a realistic manner with a genuine threat to our national security...the very real threat of climate change, which even the Pentagon understands and acknowledges (not withstanding the fact that it does have the single largest carbon boot-print on the planet). 
How many lives, among those beings who live in the sea, will be destroyed by this destroyer? It is well known that the Navy’s use of sonar can wreck havoc on the lives of marine species, disrupting biologically important behaviors such as feeding, breeding, migration, and communication. It can raise stress levels, lowering animal’s ability to successfully reproduce, and making them more susceptible to disease. And sonar use can and does result in hearing loss and other injuries, as well as death. Not all sonar victims wind up mass-stranded upon some shore: those that do are likely just the tip of the destruction iceberg. 
And what of the lives of people living in places such as Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island in South Korea? Although the people there overwhelmingly opposed the building of a navy base on their shore, and have non-violently and heroically resisted its construction on a daily basis for going on 9 years, sustaining fines, imprisonment, and injuries at the hands of police, the base is now complete and soon will port US Navy warships. Perhaps this very same destroyer. Those people, who even today continue to resist, have had their village, their sacred places, and their once-beautiful environment destroyed by this base. 
Yes, this Zumwalt is a Destroyer … of lives, opportunities, and peace. I do not believe the Prince of Peace would ever bless such a thing. 
Russell Wray, Hancock, Maine

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