Peace & Justice

Tuesday afternoon at Modesto Peace/Life Center

Tuesdays the Peace/Life Center will be open from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. Bring brown bag lunch. Come by for some coffee or tea or to chat or to see a film or browse through various books and magazines. Beverages will be provided.

Peace items available at the Modesto Peace/Life Center

We have a variety of items available at the Center including


-Kathy Kelly’s book Other Lands Have Dreams; From Baghdad to Pekin Prison

 -the songbook Rise Up Singing, which we use in Song Circle. Now in regular or larger print editions with 1200 song lyrics and guitar chords.

-buttons and stickers

ACTION: Stop in the Modesto Peace/Life Center, 720 13th Street on Tuesday afternoons, 12 to 3 p.m.  (call ahead 529-5750) or call Ken Schroeder at 526-2303.

WORKSHOP: “From Violence to Wholeness”

The Peace and Justice Network of San Joaquin County will hold a workshop in Modesto entitled “From Violence to Wholeness” on Saturday, February 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, February 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Modesto Peace Life Center, 720 17th St. in Modesto.

The workshop has been developed over fifteen years by the Franciscan-based group Pace e Bene. Its purpose is to deepen understanding of nonviolent peacemaking for personal and social transformation, and provide learning tools and developmental skills to practice nonviolent peacemaking in everyday life. “Pace e Bene!” is Italian for “Peace and good,” the greeting which Francis and Clare of Assisi used with each other and with all they met.

Sessions include group discussions, interactive exercises and presentations on the practice of active nonviolence led by Paula LeVeck, Adrian Nichols, John Morearty and Linda Whittock. A light continental breakfast both mornings plus Saturday lunch will be provided.

ACTION: For registration and information, call the Peace Center, 209-529-5750 and leave your name and phone number, or email Shelly Scribner. Limited to 12 people. A commitment to attend the entire time is expected.

Nonviolence training: from violence to wholeness


The first time I experienced non-violence training, there were police dogs. It was 1982, and a group of us were preparing to blockade Lawrence Livermore Lab (it turned out to be an enormous blockade, with some 1,500 arrested). We went to San Francisco for a day, to be trained in nonviolent tactics. At one point we split into two groups, and my group was sitting in a driveway, arms linked, when suddenly around the corner of the house came the others—half of them pretending to be police, holding imaginary leashes around the necks of the rest—who were raving police dogs, barking in our faces. My heart almost stopped.

The nonviolence workshop, which four of us from Stockton went through recently in Oakland, was different. It lifted my heart. Nonviolence was treated not as a tactic, but as a way of life. The premises of the training came from the spiritual tradition of St. Francis of Assisi in the 1200s, and we heard the famous story of the wolf of Gubbio.

It seems that a huge wolf was terrorizing the town of Gubbio, attacking and eating the citizens. Whenever they ventured outside the walls, they went armed as if for war. Francis said, “I will go see the wolf.” He went out unarmed with one companion, and when the wolf came rushing up, Francis commanded him to stop. With the wolf lying at his feet, Francis chided the wolf for eating the citizens. But he added, “I understand it is because you are so hungry. If you will agree to stop harming the people of Gubbio, I will ask them to feed you every day of your life.” The wolf wagged his tail and whined like a puppy, the citizens fed him to the end of his days, and it is said that even the dogs of the town would not bark at him. The story lives on in Gubbio, which in the 1970s declared itself a nuclear-free zone, and has been a leader in various peace efforts.

Our workshop leaders, an ex-Navy officer and his wife, were as gentle as the smiling wolf. In an intense all-day workshop they taught us eight Gandhian principles of nonviolence:

We went through exercises. The one that made me cry was the “Circle of Truth.” We chose as an issue, the Death Penalty, and each of us played all four roles in turn: the condemned prisoner, the jailer, the death penalty opponent, and the victim’s family member. When I finally played the family member I imagined that it was one of my sons who had been murdered, and I was devastated; for the first time, I let myself imagine what it’s like to lose a loved one to violence. It put my continuing opposition to the death penalty into its full human context.

We practiced resolving a real conflict in our everyday lives, with another workshop participant playing The Adversary; the messy housemate, the hot-tempered ally. We tried to practice the four steps of nonviolent conflict resolution:

We learned to embody nonviolent conflict resolution with our two hands — the right hand held up in a stop gesture, the left hand held out in invitation.

We practiced creating a nonviolent community, and defending it nonviolently. Using the video “We were Warriors,” we studied an historical example of nonviolent action for social change-the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins of 1960. We analyzed the elements of success: strategy, planning, training, discipline, organization, a manageable objective, allowing the opponent to save face.

And of course we laughed together, ate home-made bread and lasagna, and organic plums and apricots.

Hard evidence of US torturing prisoners to death ignored by corporate media


Military autopsy reports provide indisputable proof that detainees are being tortured to death while in US military custody. Yet the US corporate media are covering it with the seriousness of a garage sale for the local Baptist Church.

A recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posting of one of forty-four US military autopsy reports reads as follows: “Final Autopsy Report: DOD 003164, (Detainee) Died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation as evidenced by the recently fractured hyoid bone in the neck and soft tissue hemorrhage extending downward to the level of the right thyroid cartilage. Autopsy revealed bone fracture, rib fractures, contusions in mid abdomen, back and buttocks extending to the left flank, abrasions, lateral buttocks. Contusions, back of legs and knees; abrasions on knees, left fingers and encircling to left wrist. Lacerations and superficial cuts, right 4th and 5th fingers. Also, blunt force injuries, predominately recent contusions (bruises) on the torso and lower extremities. Abrasions on left wrist are consistent with use of restraints. No evidence of defense injuries or natural disease. Manner of death is homicide. Whitehorse Detainment Facility, Nasiriyah, Iraq.”

The ACLU website further reveals how: “a 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was “undetermined” although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death.

Another Iraqi detainee died on January 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, while being interrogated. He was standing, shackled to the top of a doorframe with a gag in his mouth, at the time he died. The cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force injuries.

So read several of the 44 US military autopsy reports on the ACLU website — evidence of extensive abuse of US detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan 2002 through 2004. Anthony Romero, Executive Director of ACLU stated, “There is no question that US interrogations have resulted in deaths.” ACLU attorney Amrit Sing adds, “These documents present irrefutable evidence that US operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogations.”

Additionally, ACLU reports that in April 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld authorized the use of “environmental manipulation” as an interrogation technique in Guantanamo Bay. In September 2003, Lt. Gen. Sanchez also authorized this technique for use in Iraq. So responsibility for these human atrocities goes directly to the highest levels of power.

A press release on these deaths by torture was issued by the ACLU on October 25, 2005 and was immediately picked up by Associated Press and United Press International wire services, making the story available to US corporate media nationwide. A thorough check of Nexus-Lexus and Proquest electronic data bases, using the keywords ACLU and autopsy, showed that at least 95 percent of the daily papers in the US didn’t bother to pick up the story. The Los Angeles Times covered the story on page A-4 with a 635-word report headlined “Autopsies Support Abuse Allegations.” Fewer than a dozen other daily newspapers covered the story. USA Today posted the story on their website. MSNBC posted the story to their website, but apparently did not consider it newsworthy enough to air on television.

“The Randi Rhodes Show,” on Air America Radio, covered the story. AP/UPI news releases and direct quotes from the ACLU website appeared widely on internet sites and on various news-based listservs around the world, including Common Dreams, Truthout, New Standard, Science Daily, and numerous others.

What little attention the news of the US torturing prisoners to death did get has completely disappeared as context for the torture stories now appearing in corporate media. A Nexus-Lexus search November 30, 2005 of the major papers in the US using the word torture turned up over 1,000 stories in the last 30 days. None of these included the ACLU report as supporting documentation on the issue.

How can the American public understand the gravity of the torture that is currently being committed in our name when the issue is being reported with no reference to the extent to which these crimes against humanity have gone? Has the internet become the only source of real news for mainstream Americans while the corporate media only tells us what they want us to know?

Peter Phillips teaches at Sonoma State University and directs Project Censored:

ACLU source documents at:

CPT Calls for peace actions, demonstrations and vigils

The Iraqi group holding Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember, extended their timeline for the release of all Iraqi prisoners until Saturday, 10 December 2005. The date has passed, and Christian Peacemaker Teams calls for people of conscience around the world to continue with nonviolent public actions for peace and for prayer in support of international human rights and in support of ending war and occupation.

We remain concerned about the well-being of our team-mates. At the same time, we remain concerned about the well-being of all Iraqis who are suffering under occupation. Those who are with our teammates have demanded the release from captivity of the Iraqi detainees held in United States and Iraqi prisons.

Christian Peacemaker Teams believes that no single person, no single nation, can meet the demands of Justice. No single person, no single nation, can meet the demands of Peace.

We believe that it is everyone's responsibility to do their part to bring each combatant and each captive home to their families and to end the war and occupation.

CPT works for the human rights of Iraqi detainees.

Working for the human rights of the detainees of the illegal occupation has been the primary focus and work of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Iraq since the invasion of March, 2003. In the first video released by the Swords of Righteousness, CPTers Tom Fox and Norman Kember repeated their long-standing commitment to Iraqi freedom. The CPTers called for an end to the occupation and freedom for all Iraqi people

In May 2003, Iraqis began asking CPT for help in locating missing relatives. [After extensive investigations], CPT published a detailed report in January 2004 of 72 cases of detention that they had investigated and documented, and launched an international campaign to end the abuses. This report was the first systematic coverage of abuse by US forces and emerged long before photographs emerged of Abu Ghraib.

Edited from CPT reports. Visit for the latest updates.

Is California any safer now?
At the gates of San Quentin


No buzzards were gliding overhead, but several helicopters circled, under black sky tinged blue. On the shore of a stunning bay at a placid moment, the state prepared to kill.

Outside the gates of San Quentin, people gathered to protest the impending execution of Stanley Tookie Williams. Hundreds became thousands as the midnight hour approached. Rage and calming prayers were in the air.

The operative God of the night was a governor. “Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption,” Arnold Schwarzenegger had declared. Hours later, a new killing would be sanitized by law and euphemism. (Before dawn, a newscast on NPR's “Morning Edition” would air the voice of a media witness who had observed the execution by lethal injection. Within seconds, his on-air report twice referred to the killing of Williams as a “medical procedure.”)

But at the prison gates, there were signs.

“The weak can never forgive.”

“No Death in My Name”

“Executions teach vengeance and violence.”

But for the warfare state — with the era of big government a thing of the past except for police, prisons and the Pentagon — vengeance and violence are rudiments of policy, taught most profoundly of all by the daily object lessons of acceptance, passivity and budget.

The execution was scheduled for 12:01 a.m.

Twenty-five minutes before then, people outside the gates began to sing “We Shall Overcome.”

“We shall live in peace...”

Overhead, the helicopters kept circling; high-tech buzzards.

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” said one sign.

Elsewhere in the crowd, another asked: “Are we blind yet?”

At seven minutes to midnight, it occurred to me how much the ritual countdown to execution resembles the Doomsday Clock invented by atomic scientists several decades ago to estimate the world’s proximity to nuclear annihilation.

From the stage, speakers praised Williams, renunciation of violence, his advocacy for nonviolence.

At two minutes before midnight, a TV news correspondent stood on the roof of a white van, readying a report for the top of the hour. At midnight the standup report began. It ended at 12:02 a.m.

A speaker called for a national moratorium on the death penalty in the United States.

“No to Death Machine Careerism,” a sign said.

“As you do unto the least of these, you do unto me,” another sign said.

Full silence took hold at 12:24 a.m.

Then, an old song again. “... We shall ... overcome ... some ... day.”

An announcement came at 12:38 a.m.; Stanley Tookie Williams was dead.

The country was no safer. Just more violent.

The sanctity of life was not upheld, just violated.

“It’s over,” said a speaker. “But it’s not over.”

From San Quentin to Iraq, death is a goal of policy. In the name of murder victims, the state murders. In the name of the fallen, more kill and fall.