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2016 Justice for Our Desert
September 24th to 26th
Justice For Our Desert 2016
NDE hosted a special event, Justice For Our Desert during the 2016 International Peace Day Weekend (September 24th -26th).

On Friday we held a pre-event orientation dinner at the Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant.

The Justice for Our Desert event began with a Saturday morning Desert Appreciation discussion and walk at the Sunrise Trailhead north of the Las Vegas Clark County Wetlands Park.

Non-Violence Training at The Center

The day continued at The Center with education, music, and activities. Miss AyeVee, Vera Anderson, Seamus Knight, Miko, Silverscape, and DJ Green Lion provided music and education. Food was shared by the Las Vegas Catholic Worker.

Huntridge Circle Park Gathering

Sunday the Campaign Nonviolence portion of the event convened at Huntridge Circle Park on Maryland Parkway. Music was by Chris Grasso, Beau, and DJ Green Lion. Food was shared by Food Not Bombs Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Catholic Worker.

Discussion at Francis and Clare


Participants gathered at Francis & Clare House for discussion and creative art & signmaking.

The Most Bombed Place on Earth

On Monday, six of seven participants felt moved to trespass onto the Nevada National Security Site and risk being arrested for their peaceful action. Lunch was held at the Sekhmet Temple followed by a peaceful vigil at Creech AFB.

The Only Solution is Love
Photos by Ming Lai & Laura-Marie Taylor


Call or email for more info:
702-742-3101 or info@NevadaDesertExpreience.org

Both Creech and the NNSS (formerly the NTS) are sites of terrible injustice. To STOP these injustices, the first step is to peacefully END the current works of war at these sites. Further steps involve the work of spiritual cleansing at these institutions of death and mega-death, but the violence must immediately stop first, as a way to begin justice-making here in Nevada for this land and her people. Even before taking the conscientious step of stopping the violence, it is essential to do the internal work for ourselves of love and justice.

Why is it the International Holiday of Peace?

The same year NDE conducted the first Lenten Desert Experience (1982), the United Nations Declared September 21st to be an International Holiday for Nonviolence. NDE has been active for 33 years, and the nuclear age is not yet over! Because the global military spending total amounts to spending $249 per human each year, it's time to spend our own money on the opposite. We pray that those people choosing to spend all those billions on violence and weapons will instead chose to spend the money on NON-violence and environmental stewardship!

For far too long the land in this region has been terrorized by nuclear weapons testing, and recently the spirit of constant murder is in the air as Creech Air Force Base assassins use RPA technology (drones, formerly known as UAVs) at the behest of the CIA to kill other people in foreign lands. Invest in PEACE, not war-making and nuclearism! CELEBRATE the advances in nonviolence and the protection of life in our precious desert region! Dance, Sing, Play, Pray, Love enemies, and bring about long-awaited environmental justice to our desert.

Answers to some FAQ about Why We Gather in this portion of Newe Sogobia

Full-scale nuclear tests at the NNSS were stopped in 1992, in large part to grassroots pressure by NDE and others. What is going on there now that motivates our action?

The government is working on new and expanded plans for the NNSS. Some of it is couched in the language of anti-terrorism and treaty verification, but the overarching work there undermines our commitment to nuclear disarmament.

The Stockpile Stewardship Program was established in response to the Fiscal Year 1994 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 103-160), which requires, in the absence of nuclear testing, a program to:

1. Support a focused, multifaceted program to increase the understanding of the enduring stockpile;
2. Predict, detect, and evaluate potential problems of the aging of the stockpile;
3. Refurbish and re-manufacture weapons and components, as required; and
4. Maintain the science and engineering institutions needed to support the nation’s nuclear deterrent, now and in the future.

Stockpile stewardship is inconsistent with the mandate under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which requires that the United States and other nuclear armed countries to work to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Under the pretense of making sure that what nuclear arms exist are reliable and safe, new types of bombs and delivery systems continue to be designed and tested.

The US is actively seeking new warhead designs for new warfighting scenarios under the Reliable Replacement Warhead program. . . .

New missiles and other delivery systems that are more accurate have prompted weapons designers to promote the manufacture of new, smaller nuclear warheads. The size of the bomb doesn't change the fact that a new weapon is in contradiction of the agreement to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the stockpile.

What is happening at the Nevada National Security Site (formerly named the Nevada Test Site, or NTS)?

The NNSS hosts classified experiments, many of which are designed by teams of scientists from the Lawerence Livermore National Weapons Laboratory or the Los Alamos National Weapons Laboratory. As such, one can't be sure of all that is going on there. Some of the facilities at the NNSS are the most highly secure buildings in the world(like the U1a complex) or the most secretive (like Groom Lake, aka Area 51, in the northeast of the NNSS). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) maintains a website that describes research and facilities at the NNSS although clearly some activities are not detailed publicly.

Capabilities specific to the NNSS include: Atlas, the Big Explosives Experimental Facility (BEEF), the Device Assembly Facility (DAF), the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) Facility, and the U1a Complex for subcritical nuclear tests.

The last subcritical test was in December, 2012 codenamed Pollux. After a four year hiatus,subcritical tests resumed in 2010. These explosive tests were started when Bill Clinton signed the (still unratified) Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996 after George Bush ended full-scale testing on September 23, 1992. The global anti-nuclear community expressed dismay at the resumption of these tests and cries out in protest. Unfortunately, the governement no longer warns the public in advance of subcritical tests, so mounting an oppositional campaign is difficult. What do these tests say about the US commitment to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world?

The Atlas pulsed-power program is in "cold standby" meaning that the building with the machinery has no electricity. At this time there are no plans to restart Atlas experiments. BEEF has "limited activity" according the the Nevada Site Office. The DAF remains ready ready to assemble bomb tests, though none are scheduled. Because of the DAF is the most secured most "hardened" of research facilities, it gets used for other experiments with highly radioactive materials. The DAF also houses the JASPER

For a brief roundup of NNSS activities and NDE's concerns, click here.
For a list of subcritical tests conducted by the United States as well as critiques of this program from around the world, click here.
For the Final Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the NNSS and "Off-Site Locations in the State of Nevada" which was issued in February, 2013, click here.

What is happening at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs?

Creech AFB is home to the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing which is responsible for flying the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper "unmanned aircraft systems" (UAS), sometimes called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and commonly refered to as "drones." Most drones are small and slow, equiped with cameras for spying. However, the Predator and Reaper are armed, and control for the firing of Hellfire missiles or the dropping of bombs (which the Reaper can also carry) comes from crews at Creech. Ground crews on site where a drone is deployed launch and land the aircraft. Control is transfered to Creech or one of a few other air force bases during a mission.

Since NDE first vigilled outside Creech Air Force Base in September 2008, demonstrating against Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) attacks, several other groups around the country have taken up our call. The Drone, as UAVs are commonly referred to, has become the icon of Obama’s wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The military is responding to the widespread deaths of civilians by these robotic hunter-killers and the outcry against them, but not by reducing the attacks. Rather, they are adjusting their “spin” here and “in theatre.” They are also designing smaller missiles, allowing UAVs to carry more of them—not a positive development, even if each one destroys less. The resource page on the NDE website has links to many articles and reports about these weapons although even more frequently updated sources of drone reports and activism are Know Drones and CODEPINK's Drones Watch.

We continue to receive much encouragement to link our work for nuclear disarmament to the need to stop these new weapons from becoming the new arms precipice like the A-bomb before it. The following excerpt from our ground-breaking April, 2009 action, Ground the Drones...Lest We Reap the Whirlwind expresses well our opposition to these tools of war:

With audacity that would confound Orwell, the Pentagon touts the “true hunter-killer role” of these robot “drones.” Armed with Hellfire missiles and other weaponry, they have names that suit their lethal uses: the MQ-9 Reaper and the MQ-1 Predator. Such tools can kill but not pacify. By killing civilians, UAV drones do not prevent or eliminate terrorism, but instead incite more violence and retaliation. Proponents of the use of UAVs insist that there is a great advantage to fighting wars in “real-time” (with a 2-second satellite delay from Nevada to the Middle-East) by pilots sitting at consoles in offices on air bases far from the dangerous front line of military activity.

With less risk to the lives of our soldiers and hence to the popularity and careers of politicians, the deaths of “enemy” noncombatants by the thousands are counted acceptable. The illusion that war can be waged with no domestic cost dehumanizes both us and our enemies. It fosters a callous disregard for human life that can lead to even more recklessness on the part of politicians.

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 the 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.

Why is Nevada Desert Experience bringing attention to Creech Air Force Base?

NDE's mission includes trying "to mobilize people of all faiths to work toward nuclear abolition and nonviolent social change." While the drones aren't armed with nuclear weapons (although some may contain depleted uranium, poisoning people and the environment), the United States' history of threatening to use nuclear weapons and the various ways the U.S. has selectively spread nuclear technology including for nuclear weapons and hasn't worked to really eliminate nuclear weapons but rather wants to enhance our nuclear threat by modernization, every modern war or conflict that includes the United States, is a nuclear war in spirit, and a radioactive war in practical physics.

Remote military systems like UAVs are able to threaten others without putting one's own soldiers in harm's way. That seems like an obvious "good" in a military sense. But new weapons get used and used again. NDE has based our years of activism on engaging the opposition, not trying to harm or even berate the opposition. NDE doesn't support new weapons development.

One tactic of NDE's praxis of nonviolence is to facilitate the EXPERIENCE of this part of the Mojave desert, here in Nevada and Newe Sogobia. Living in the desert for a week on the Sacred Peace Walk in the context of an interfaith community helps people respect and adore our desert. Creech AFB, Nellis AFB, the Yucca Mountain Project and the NNSS are all situated in this awesome, delicate, intense desert. The violence of our opponents in this land and abroad can be thwarted through the practice of loving all living beings, including the vibrant wilderness of this desert.

Physical distance doesn't always insulate one from the harmful effects of killing. It is easier to drop a bomb and leave than to see the death and destruction that one has caused. Still, the sensor operators in UAV crews are watching, and feeling the remorse that comes with such violence. More chaplains and counselors have been brought in, and we can take solace that the video-gaming of making war isn't as dehumanizing as we might fear.

Nestled between Nellis Air Force Base, with its world-leading stockpile of nuclear weapons, and the Nevada Test Site, the most bombed place on Earth, Creech Air Force Base is in the heart of the desert that NDE reveres and is yet another desecration of this beautiful land.

Why Do This Now and At This Place?

Join a spiritual pilgrimage from the epitome of unsustainable excess consumption to the place of the greatest violence on earth. Come help us stop this suicidal nuclear violence! Come walk the ways of peace in the desert! Hundreds of people have walked from Las Vegas, Nevada to the Nevada (Nuclear) Test Site/Nevada National Security Site for the cause of abolishing nuclear weapons. (The NNSS is situated unlawfully on lands belonging to the Western Shoshone Nation. Since 1951 the U.S. has contaminated the desert and the earth 1000 feet below by exploding over 900 nuclear weapons tests which included over 1000 detonations of nuclear bombs.)


A Few Words on our Commitment
to Nonviolent Social Change

Nevada Desert Experience is committed to a nonviolent campaign of change. Our work seeks to connect issues and humanize the many victims of nuclear weapons and war-making. A peaceful paradigm will only come into its fullness when we make love our first motion. Click here to read more about Nevada Desert Experience's commitment to nonviolence.

Activists and peace-makers have different ways of communicating with the opposition or enemy. Not everyone who wants to stop war, nuclear weapons, and other emerging arms races shares our commitment to the type of determined but respectful communication that is a hallmark of NDE actions. To the extent that one may view an action as belonging to someone, NDE asks that people coming to actions we organize or co-sponsor review our nonviolent covenant. A guiding question everyone can consider is, how can my contribution move us towards our collective goal. We must encourage each other's dedication and drive, and we must all speak from our hearts. What we each do reflects on us all. Together, may we all reflect the world we strive to create.

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