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- August Desert Witness 2012 -

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and on August 9, 1945, the United States dropped another atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki. 200,000 people were killed, most in a matter of seconds; for some it took much longer. Over the next 67 years, others have died and suffered health effects from testing other nuclear weapons and from the mining, refining, deployment, and waste from the nuclear weapon "bomplex."

We come together again, to remember all who have been injured in those first attacks and subsequent incidents.

This year's ADW focuses also on drone warfare and the rise of robotics. The die-in followed a presentation and book signing by Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK Women for Peace. The title of her book is Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

August 5
, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Book Reading and Signing with Medea Benjamin
Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control

Emergency Arts, 520 Fremont Street (NW Corner of 6th and Fremont)

Come hear Medea Benjamin,co-Founder of the organization CODEPINK: Women for Peace, read from her new book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. This is an excellent conversation starter and well-rounded introduction to the subject. Benjamin is great at connecting the dots, raising ethical questions and speaking passionately. The Beat Cafe will be open, and the event will be in the Common Gallery on the first floor.

Parking available: Valet at El Cortez on 6th and Ogden
Free Parking Garage entrance on 7th between Ogden and Fremont
Metered street parking on 6th or 7th street, bring some quarters!
Parking along Jackie Gaughn Parkway metered credit card or coins!

August 5
, 4:00 p.m.
Drone Warfare Die-In on Fremont Street at Las Vegas Blvd.
KTNV News Coverage

August 6 - 9

Protests Against the Largest Drone Trade Show in the World
Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSIMeets at Mandalay Bay Convention Center
8000 People from 40 Countries
If you want to help be a fly in the ointment of this new killing machine's smooth running, check in with NDE as plans develop further with other allies.

August 6,
6:30 pm
Border Grill at Mandalay Bay hotel/casino/convention center, Benjamin (see above) is inviting participants in the robotics tradeshow organized by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International to have the necessary conversations so that all of society can weigh in on the growth of this industry and its implications for society and freedom and security.

August 7
Drone Warfare Die-In
at Mandalay Bay AUVSI photographed by Mary Lou

Video 1 (0:33)
Video 2 (4:14 above)
Video 3 (0:31)

August 8,
6:00 pm
Breaking Bread in the Name of Peace
Sekhmet Temple, Cactus Springs
Dinner and discussion in synch with the 67th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Spend the night in the guest house or your tent if you want to be near the Nevada Test Site for the Sunrise Ceremony in the morning.

August 9
, 5:00 to 8:00 a.m.: Nagasaki Day Vigil of Resistance and Sunrise Ceremony at Nevada National Security Site (Mercury exit on US-95) Join Johnnie Bobb, friars Louis Vitale and Jerry Zawada, and friends for sunrise in memory of all victims of nuclearism. Take offramp for Mercury; make U-turn before you cross the line to the NNSS; demonstrator parking are is off the road on the right almost all the way back to the freeway overpass. It takes about 65 minutes to drive to the NNSS from Las Vegas.

August 9, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Educational Picket at the National Atomic Testing Museum

Greet visitors to this museum that is devoted to remembering the Cold War in all its nuclear glory...and not much of the horror. We will informally supplement the discourse and remind people of the ongoing fallout of the nuclear arms race since 1945 as we memorialize the victims in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. National Atomic Testing Museum, 755 E. Flamingo Road.

August 14
Anti-Militarism Picket at a Town Hall Meeting
with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
College of Southern Nevada’s North Las Vegas campus
NDE decries militarism as GOP senators sound alarm on defense cuts: Sun | RJ | CBS | Huff Post | WA Post

Peace Partner Happenings

July 22 - August 6: Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk: For a Nuclear Free Future-In Respect for All Life. Portland to Seattle. Contact Br. Senji Kanaeda 206-780-6739

August. 3 - 6: Vision Without Fission: Un-Occupy the Nuclear Weapons Complex. Everywhere, especially Santa Fe & Los Alamos, New Mexico <NukeFreeNow.org>.

August 12 - September 12: Caravan for Peace with Justice & Dignity <mexico@globalexchange.org>. Special congrats to Hakim, Afghan Peace Volunteers mentor and friend of NDE’s for receiving his US visa to join this march and also receive an award from FOR.

NDE Coordinator's Op-Ed for August Reflection

Submitted August 3, 2012 to Las Vegas Review Journal by Jim Haber, NDE Coordinator

August 6 to 9 is a time to reflect on the impact of nuclear weapons on our lives because in 1945, the only two atomic bombs ever used in wartime were dropped by the United States on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Every year contemporary events color the view. Here are a few juxtapositions to contemplate in 2012.

Since the United States continues to possess and upgrade its nuclear warheads, bombs and delivery systems, activism at the Nevada Test Site (NTS, now named the Nevada National Security Site) and other facilities in the nuclear weapons complex is vitally necessary. Despite receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and seeming to pledge to work to abolish nuclear weapons, President Obama has proposed the 2013 nuclear weapons budget be 66% higher than it was in 2000 even though there are fewer nukes in the arsenal. Those plans include quadrupling the size of plants at Los Alamos, Kansas City and Oak Ridge that produce the parts (radioactive and otherwise) for refurbishing and upgrading the US nuclear arsenal.

Last Saturday, in a nod to the upcoming, devastating, atomic anniversaries, Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ of Nevada Desert Experience (which has organized interfaith resistance to nuclear weapons and war since 1984) breached security at the Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Sr. Megan, who along with two men dubbed themselves the "Transform Now! Plowshares," cut through several fences, poured blood on the building that houses the most highly-enriched, bomb-grade uranium in the world, and held banners saying "Swords into Plowshares. Spears into Pruning Hooks" and other slogans. Much alarm has been raised about the lack of alarm raised during their intrusion, but really, the alarm should be going off about the insecurity for the whole world created by nuclear weapons themselves. Transform Now--and all the other Plowshares actions--shows that nuclear weapons are inherently unsafe, not just that they aren't guarded well.

Deadly covert actions and the ringing of Iran with overt US military assets is a far more existential threat to the world than any alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program. Iran is entitled to enrich uranium, and despite all the political pressure and rhetoric, there is shockingly scant evidence that they're working on nuclear weapons, even less to justify the sanctions and threats from Israel and the United States to strike Iranian sites. If the tables were turned, we would never tolerate so many foreign bases just off our shores like we're demanding Iran accept of ours. I'm scared of  US and Israeli attack plans on Iran and decry the string of assassinations of Iranian scientists, widely attributed to Israeli operatives. What chutzpah it would be, if Israel were to attack Iran for an alleged nuclear program, while it refuses to admit to the fact that it possesses a sizable nuclear force already! This could be the gravest, most explosive, on-going hypocrisy in the world today because it undermines any nascent proto-trust which is the kernel out of which any successful negotiations could grow.

In what I consider a major affront to the memories of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, from August 6 to 9 in Las Vegas, the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is holding the world's largest trade show and promotional convention for all things robotic. Deadly mistakes with militarized Predator and Reaper drones are widespread the more they are utilized. More dead family-members create more potential enemies. Fighters seem to rise and multiply from the dead whenever we attack a Taliban funeral party. And as drones are made smaller and more numerous, more innocent people will be hurt and killed. The meaning of the constitutional protection of due process and the importance of upholding rather than undermining international humanitarian law seem lost on our government and the arms manufacturers. They act as though wars exist to prove their destructive creativity and boost their bottom lines instead of lamenting war as the most extreme form of human failure. The fear of being watched constantly is becoming less paranoia and all too real as weapons once pointing away will surely be turned on their original masters.

The push for more robots that are independent of live, human control ("autonomous systems") is also very real and troubling. I wonder how much people working on these machines think about Schwarzenneger's  fictional Terminator, as reality seems to mimic cinema. In May, 2011 the Los Angeles Times reported on meetings between Pentagon officials and weapons manufacturers for the development of a nuclear bomber that could be flown remotely and would have increasing amounts of autonomy. It seems like such a bad idea, giving anything the power to launch nuclear war since no thing and no one is error-free.

The idea that technology can provide a cleaner and safer battlefield is seductive but has been proven a lie. From the catapult and crossbow, through the use of poison gas and airplanes in World War I, the atom bomb, helicopters and napalm in Vietnam to the “smart bombs” of the Gulf War, war has only grown deadlier. Technological advances may reduce the danger of casualties among military personnel in the short run, but with each advance the number of civilian deaths multiplies and every war of the past century has numbered more children than soldiers among its victims.

May the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remind us not turn to technology to save us from ourselves. Only we can do that.

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Remembering Nagasaki - Six Peace Protesters Arrested at Nevada Test Site (Nevada National Security Site) on final day of annual August Desert Witness

Culminating a week of peace events as part of Nevada Desert Experience's August Desert Witness, six protesters were arrested at the Nevada Test Site (Nevada National Security Site) on Thursday morning, August 9th, in memory of the victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, 67 years ago. 

Dennis DuVall (of Prescott, AZ), Jim Haber (of Las Vegas, NV), Robert Majors (of Las Vegas, NV), John Owen (of Los Angeles, CA), Janice Sevre-Duszynska (of Lexington, KY), and Louis Vitale (of Oakland, CA) walked with a community of 15 other activists, including Johnnie Bobb and Deanna Bobb of the Western Shoshone nation, through the blazing, early morning sun in the Nevada desert, from the sunrise ceremony's fire circle to the Nevada Test Site line. Johnnie Bobb led the small group in prayer and rememberance of the victims of Nagasaki and all peoples affected by the horror of the bombings and testing over the past 60 years. Haber and Majors are part of the Las Vegas Catholic Worker community and Owen is a long-time volunteer with the Los Angeles CW. Common practice prevailed for line-crossings at the NTS, and all arrestees were briefly detained in open-air pens, cited for trespassing and released. 

The Nagasaki Day line-crossing concluded a week of demonstrations and educational events that included several news-worthy die-ins that focused on "killer drones" and a presentation by CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin who is on tour promoting her book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Other events included a prayerful evening at the Sekhmet Temple in memory of all victims of the nuclear weapons arms race which followed on the heals of WW II. This year's ADW was noteworthy for several reasons. It continued to deepen the working relationship between the Catholic Worker community, Nevada Desert Experience, the local Occupy movement and CODEPINK Women for Peace. In the process, greater connections were also made with various performance spaces and local, national and international media. The ADW group concluded the week by attending prayers at one of the local Sikh Temples in memory of the victims killed at the Gurdawara in Milwaukee during the week.

The next major events of Nevada Desert Experience include the Ediger Memorial Celebration of Active Nonviolence on September 23 and the 2013 Sacred Peace Walk from March 22 to March 29.

And we'll be out on Monday, August 11, since John McCain and Lindsey Graham will be in North Las Vegas promoting the need for more (yes, more) military spending.

Other upcoming events and prayer-actions


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