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.

Network of Spiritual Progressives Peace Gathering/Vigil


Are you looking for an opportunity to gather with others who oppose the war in Iraq on the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion, in a spirit that affirms your deepest convictions about the kind of world you yearn for, and refrains from denouncing or attacking others who support the war?

The newly-formed local chapter of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, together with the Modesto Peace/Life Center, is sponsoring a peace gathering/vigil on Sunday, March 19 from 12 - 3 pm, at the McClatchy Square rose garden on 15th and I Streets.

The free-flowing event will include such activities as:

The work of the Network of Spiritual Progressives grows out of the common vision and values held by most faith traditions as well as by people who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” The March 19 gathering will give voice to the visions, hopes, and commitments that unite us in spite of our differences.

Although the gathering will continue for 3 hours, you may attend for any part of it. It will begin and end in silence, and toward the beginning a bell will be rung for each life lost so far in the war. Toward the end, we will join in singing a few peace songs. Signs and candles will be available, or you may bring your own.

We are aware that this event is the same afternoon as the Habitat for Humanity Benefit Concert at First United Methodist Church. We invite those who are singing in the concert to stop by the vigil on their way to rehearsal, and those who are attending to stop by before the concert, since the same commitment to a more peaceful world will be expressed at each event.

It is our hope that this gathering, on the weekend that “Shock and Awe” began in 2003, will give voice to our common sense of awe at the gift of life and grandeur of the universe, but without the shock of killing and destruction.

ACTION: Join us! For more information: Sandy Sample, 523-8445 or email Shelly Scribner

March 19, 2003 Remembered

The third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq will be observed around the world.

What kind of world do you yearn for?

Modesto Vigil commemoration the 3rd anniversary of the Iraqi War

Sunday, March 19

12 noon – 3 P.M.

McClatchy Square rose garden

15th and I Streets, Modesto

Sonora: The Tuolumne County Citizens for Peace (TCCP)

 Thursday, March 16, 6:00 p.m. there will be an expanded silent candlelight vigil at Courthouse Park on Washington Street in downtown Sonora. Peace group members have been keeping vigil every Thursday since the inception of the war.

 Sunday, March 19, 2:00 p.m., peace friends will gather at the park to march on a designated route through the downtown and back to the park. Speakers, readings and music will follow.

Among the speakers will be April Hurley and Sharon Mehdi. April Hurley, M.D. is a family physician from Santa Rosa who joined the Iraq Peace Team in March of 2003 in Baghdad and stayed through the bombing and invasion. The IPT was a project of Voices in the Wilderness, a volunteer independent organization giving voice since 1996 to the suffering of Iraqi families.

Sharon Mehdi is a writer, teacher, healer, mother and grandmother. She has lived and worked in Egypt, Iraq, Mexico, Spain, France and Canada. She is the author of The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, an inspirational story of two grandmothers standing silently in a park as their way to help “save the world”. It has become a hopeful message for all, that small actions can make the world a better place.

At the completion of the program an open mic will be available for those who wish to stay and express their views.

San Francisco: Global Day of Action, ANSWER

Saturday, March 18 ,11a.m, people will gather at Civic Center, at Grove and Larkin Sts. in San Francisco for a mass march and rally against the war on Iraq.

Monday, March 20, youth and students will organize a day of campus resistance to imperialist war and military recruiters across San Francisco and around the nation.

The March 18 weekend is the 3rd anniversary of the criminal U.S. “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq, in which more than 100,000 Iraqis and 2,200 U.S. troops have died. The U.S. continues to occupy Iraq at great cost to Iraqis and people in the U.S. Much of Iraq - devastated by the U.S.-led occupation and, before that, more than a decade of genocidal sanctions - lacks running water and electricity. Despite being bogged down in Iraq, the warmakers in Washington are pushing ahead with their agenda of regime change in Syria, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere. The situation is difficult for many working and poor people in the U.S. as well. More than $200 million is spent to wage war on Iraq each day. That money should be directed to fund people’s needs, like health care, housing, education, job creation, relief for hurricane victims and more. Only a fraction of the war budget for one day could solve the current Medicare prescription drug crisis.

Despite growing opposition, the Bush administration is also trying to widen its assaults on labor, immigrants’ rights and civil liberties. In an attempt to silence anti-war activists and create a general climate of fear, the Pentagon and NSA have been spying on innocent people. We can’t let the warmongers in the White House and Congress and their corporate backers silence our voices of conscience.

Now is the time to speak out loudly against imperialist war and repressive, racist policies at home. We have the momentum. The political climate and popular opinion in the U.S. has turned dramatically against the war. The Bush administration is on the defensive. A new poll shows that more than 52% of Americans believe that Bush should be impeached. Let’s channel the popular outrage against Bush and the war into a powerful people’s movement for peace and social justice.

Join us in building these important actions. You can endorse, download flyers for distribution, volunteer to help spread the word, make a financial donation and much more. Get involved today!

ACTION: To get involved, call 415-821-6545 or email or visit

Nonviolence guidelines for participants in vigils

Stanislaus Connections readers and their organizations might benefit from these guidelines as they engage in peaceful vigils and demonstrations.

Preliminary Considerations:


We will:

If Problems Occur:

  1. Stay calm — be aware of your power to affect others. Assess what is needed in the situation and feel free to ask others for help.

  2. If you're with friends, stay together. Discuss possible responses ahead of time so you can respond quickly.

  3. If one or two individuals are being loud or confrontational, attempt to talk with them.

  4. If a small group becomes involved in a violent confrontation with police, move back, create a clear separation. Ask others to join you. Show that you don't support the violence.

  5. Remember that it's okay to say how you feel about what's happening, for example, say, "Stop that. We want to be nonviolent here."

  6. You are invited to wear a white armband or ribbon to show your support for non-violence.

If we want others to join us; if we want to gain allies among the uncommitted, we need to practice nonviolence in a disciplined, organized and empowering fashion. We need to focus public discussion on the issues.

Ken Schroeder contributed to the development of these guidelines. Other sources include the Santa Cruz Resource Center for Non-violence, and Nonviolence: A Christian Interpretation by Robert Miller. Thanks also to

In light of the recent act of vandalism and hateful graffiti inflicted upon Congregation Beth Shalom, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, and Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, the board of the Peace Life Center authorized Jim Costello to write and send the following letter to each place of worship. Each letter was personalized.

Peace Center offers support in the wake of hate crimes

In light of the recent act of vandalism and hateful graffiti inflicted upon Congregation Beth Shalom, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, and Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, the board of the Peace Life Center authorized Jim Costello to write and send the following letter to each place of worship. Each letter was personalized.

For over 30 years, the Modesto Peace Life Center has worked for peace and justice in our community. We are, therefore, shocked and dismayed at the recent attacks upon your synagogue [church]. Such expressions of hate have no place in our community.

On behalf of the board of the Modesto Peace Life Center, I wish to express to you and the members of your congregation our heart felt sympathy for the recent vandalism and desecration you have suffered.

Recognizing that people of goodwill must band together to oppose hate in all its forms whenever it occurs, we wish to express our solidarity with you and offer you our support.

If there is anything we can do to help you in this hour, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely yours,

James Costello

for the board of the Center

Board members: Beth Au, James Costello, John Frailing, John Lucas, Lee Ryan Miller,
Dan Onorato, Norma Ovrahim, Shelly Scribner, Keith Werner

Washington, D.C. Advocacy Days


Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice: March 10 to 13, 2006

Submitted by TOM HAMPSON

Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice being held from March 10 to 13, 2006 in Arlington, Virginia will highlight the urgency of pursuing wise and peaceful solutions to conflicts and the need for aid, debt and trade policies that benefit our impoverished brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Participants will examine U.S. policy regarding the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, global economic justice, global security, eco-justice and U.S. domestic issues. There will be challenging speakers, issue briefings and training in advocacy. Comprehensive briefings will precede visits with members of Congress or their key policy staff assistants.

ACTION: For information, visit

Advocate against nuclear weapons; March 26 - 29, 2006

“New Nukes, Old Nukes, and Mountains of Waste: Let’s Stop the Madness!”

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation invites you to join “DC Days” for four days of training, advocacy, education and networking on issues concerning the nuclear weapons complex, from March 26 - 29, 2006

DC Days is a unique opportunity to meet with Members of Congress and learn how to effectively voice your concerns about nuclear weapons and nuclear waste. This year’s theme is This is a unique opportunity to inform and influence the Bush administration and many Senators and Representatives. This is an especially important year for the future of the nuclear weapons complex, and nuclear weapons and environmental clean-up policies. The push for new nuclear weapons continues even while the Department of Energy tries to reduce its obligations to clean up the contamination resulting from past nuclear weapons development, production and testing.

Major decisions will be made this year and our voices must be heard!

ACTION: For information, contact Carah Ong, (202) 543-4100, ext. 105 or email More information at

Students opposed to Iraq War get equal standing with military recruiters at Grimsley High School in Greensboro


Students opposed to the war in Iraq and to military recruiting found a welcome reception on a recent school day at Grimsley High School, an academic powerhouse surrounded by the liberal, predominantly white neighborhoods straddling Lake Daniel Park in Greensboro.

“Some students came to me and said, ‘We have a concern that the other side of the story is not being told — what can we do?’” Principal Rob Gasparello recalled. “This is what we did.”

He gestured to a blue picnic table surrounded by a huddle of students on lunch break in the Grove, a plaza in the center of campus. There were many enthusiastic takers for the purple stickers declaring, “Bush lies; people die.” Students picked up brochures from different left-wing groups, including one from the Campus Antiwar Network demanding, “Get the military out of our schools.” Most of the high school audience derided President Bush and expressed a low opinion of the war; a handful defended the president and his decisions.

Allowing the anti-war students to express their view with the help of three visitors from the UNCG chapter of Campus Antiwar Network was an easy decision, Gasparello said.

“If a kid is passionate about something, they should be able to express themselves,” he said. “This is healthy.”

No permits were required. In fact, just before the lunch bell rang the principal interviewed student Aaron Woerner on the school broadcast news program about the counter-recruitment effort. The three guests from UNCG watched the brief program as they signed in at the main office. A secretary, Carol Vance, thanked them for coming.

“I’m glad y’all are doing this,” she said. “This is great. My nephew at Appalachian State organized a protest to get Bush out of office.”

Gasparello said the same free speech principle also applies to military recruiters and the enlisted officers who run the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Grimsley.

“We have an open campus,” Gasparello said. “ROTC is a strong, vibrant program that offers students the opportunity for service. Do we let the different branches of the military recruit on campus? Yes, we do.”

Woerner, a senior, had some choice words about an Army recruiter who he says visited campus about a dozen times in the fall semester. He also disapproves of the presence of the Junior ROTC program.

“The military recruiter we have is very racist and classist,” he said. “He often goes after the lowerclass students, and, frankly, the black and Hispanic students.”

He further charged: “They focus on the positive aspects. They don’t talk about war or dying. They talk about the parties, the college benefits.”

Bob Harrison, spokesman for the Army’s Raleigh Recruiting Battalion, which oversees recruitment efforts for about three quarters of the state, contested both claims.

“I’m not a sociologist, but the Army is not targeting anyone,” he said. “We talk about the Army’s opportunity. Anyone who’s interested in hearing that message, we will gladly provide more information. If the Army tells me we need fifty people this month then we will look for fifty people this month. That number has no subcategory, whether it be race or class or anything else.”

Harrison said he doesn’t think recruiters, who often talk to students about their own experiences in the military, traffic in false advertising.

“There are some realities about it,” he said. “There is a war ongoing, and members of the military rotate and serve in Iraq. There are folks that serve in the military and they don’t spend their entire lives serving in war. Are there opportunities for college while you’re in the military? There are. Is there a possibility you’ll have to go to Iraq and serve in the war? There is.”

Lt. Col. Larry Burnett, who heads the Junior ROTC program at Grimsley, countered a view common among critics that the organization’s presence encourages students to enlist in the military.

“We’re in high school teaching students on how to be good leaders and good citizens,” he said. “It’s character development. It stops there though.”

He said he knows of three students out of about 700 students in Grimsley’s senior class who have expressed interest in enlisting in the military; two of those are members of the school’s Junior ROTC program, which boasts about 100 members.

“I’ll be on lunch duty and they come up and ask me about the military,” Burnett said of the students. “I just tell them my experiences. Some will ask about education. That’s what they’re interested in. It’s hitting home: what am I gonna do?”

“A guy the other day talked to me about trying to be a mechanic,” he added. “I said, ‘Why don’t you go to GTCC?’ I didn’t even mention the military. He wouldn’t make a good military person.”

Georgia Frierson, a senior who is also involved in the counter-recruitment effort, said she wasn’t looking for a confrontation with her fellow students who have their hearts set on a career in the military.

“I’m not here to convince people who are gung ho about the military,” she said. “I’m here to inform the people who haven’t made up their mind and don’t have the same options.”

For the most part the students who stopped by the table seemed to be in agreement already.

“I respect people that want to go out and protect their country, but they should know the reasons behind it,” said freshman Alaa Badawi. “What’s the reason behind the war in Iraq? Oil. I want to know why they’re still there. They captured Saddam. Did they find any weapons of mass destruction? I don’t think so.”

Some of the literature on the table conveyed a “buyer-beware” message, such as a brochure produced by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization. The brochure asks questions such as, “Will enlistment help me achieve my goals? Am I trying to escape my own problems?” and, “Am I willing to give up control?” Another section queries, “Are you willing to kill another person if ordered to do so? Would you destroy people’s homes or food? Would you help others who are fighting, even if you’re not in combat yourself?”

The Campus Antiwar Network, in contrast, offers military recruiters no quarter, at least in rhetoric.

The group’s brochure states, “We believe that it is not enough to convince people on an individual level that the military is a bad idea. For every individual the movement can convince not to join the military, there are hundreds more that will fall prey to lies and deception. We need to build a movement that will force the military out of our schools and our classrooms for good so that no student is recruited because he or she doesn’t know if they will have enough money for school or because they are concerned about job opportunities.”

Harrison, the Raleigh Recruiting Battalion spokesman, said only a small percentage of enlistees are recruited from high schools, but indicated the Army has no immediate plans to withdraw.

“Would the Army want to be banned from anyplace? No,” he said.

But he deferred to the primacy of civilian rule.

“The Army isn’t trying to do anything the nation doesn’t want it to do,” Harrison said. “If they get an imposition of a ban, okay. If that’s the rules, the Army will follow them gladly.”

Contact the author at © 2006 YES! Weekly, www.yesweekly.comReprinted with permission

Stop unwanted military recruitment


A bill has been introduced into the State Assembly to help protect California students from unwanted military recruitment. AB (Assembly bill) 1778 at this time has been referred to the committee on Education. Jackie Goldberg is the chairperson.

The bill would require a school district to include a notice in the emergency information request form that informs the parent, legal  guardian, and pupil of his or her right under the No Child Left Behind  Act of 2001 to request that the name, address, and telephone listing of  the pupil not be released to military recruiters without his or her prior  written consent, and that allows the parent, legal guardian, or pupil to indicate on the request form that he or she chooses to make such a  request.

ACTION:  To encourage the adoption of this bill, contact your local assembly person and voice your support (see page 11 for listing representatives in our area). Or you contact Goldberg’s office to ask about the progress of the bill,  phone, (1-916-319-2087), or email

Be sure that you register to vote if you have moved or changed your name. Last day to register for the June elections is May 22. It may seem a long way off, but the races in Stanislaus County are already heating up.


Non-violent protest against racist and fascist attacks in Modesto, and the valley!

When: Saturday, March 25th
Where: Modesto CA, Briggsmore and McHenry
Time: 1 p.m.-3.p.m.
What: A community showing of strength and unity, against an increasing amount of racist, fascist, antisemitic, and intolerant acts of vandalism and intimidation!
Bring: Yourself, friends, neighbors, people from your place of worship, co-workers, lovers, signs, banners, your voice! Drown out hate and bigotry with community solidarity!

In February, two local churches and a synagogue were vandalized by unknown individuals who left hateful, and racist graffiti. All three places of worship are located in Modesto. This kind of racist, antisemitic, and fascistic hate cannot be tolerated in our community without some sort of response. Unfortunately, Modesto is not alone. In recent months, people in other local areas have been the victims of racist attacks. In Manteca, homes were vandalized with Nazi graffiti; in Ceres, lockers at a high school had swastikas spray painted on them; and in Patterson a church was vandalized with “KKK” and other hateful messages.

It falls upon us as a community to come together and show solidarity with everyone who has been, or could be, a victim to racism, intolerance, or bigotry.

On March 25th, we ask you to join us and others in the community to make a showing that unity, understanding, and diversity can overcome any racist divisions or hate!

ACTION: Organized by Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians (DAAA) Collective. Web -; Email:

Is US military dominance of the world a good idea?


The leadership class in the US is now dominated by a neo-conservative group of some 200 people who have the shared goal of asserting US military power worldwide. This Global Dominance Group, in cooperation with major military contractors, has become a powerful force in military unilateralism and US political processes.

A long thread of sociological research documents the existence of a dominant ruling class in the US, which sets policy and determines national political priorities. C. Wright Mills, in his 1956 book on the power elite, documented how World War II solidified a trinity of power in the US that comprised corporate, military and government elites in a centralized power structure working in unison through “higher circles” of contact and agreement.

Neo-conservatives promoting the US Military control of the world are now in dominant policy positions within these higher circles of the US. Adbusters magazine summed up neo-conservatism as: “The belief that Democracy, however flawed, was best defended by an ignorant public pumped on nationalism and religion. Only a militantly nationalist state could deter human aggression. Such nationalism requires an external threat and if one cannot be found it must be manufactured.”

In 1992, during Bush the First’s administration, Dick Cheney supported Lewis Libby and Paul Wolfowitz in producing the “Defense Planning Guidance” report, which advocated US military dominance around the globe in a “new order.” The report called for the United States to grow in military superiority and to prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge us on the world stage.

At the end of Clinton’s administration, global dominance advocates founded the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Among the PNAC founders were eight people affiliated with the number-one defense contractor Lockheed-Martin, and seven others associated with the number-three defense contractor Northrop Grumman. Of the twenty-five founders of PNAC twelve were later appointed to high-level positions in the George W. Bush administration.

In September 2000, PNAC produced a 76-page report entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century. The report, similar to the 1992 Defense Policy Guidance report, called for the protection of the American Homeland, the ability to wage simultaneous theater wars, perform global constabulary roles, and the control of space and cyberspace. It claimed that the 1990s were a decade of defense neglect and that the US must increase military spending to preserve American geopolitical leadership as the world’s superpower. The report also recognized that: “the process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event such as a new Pearl Harbor.” The events of September 11, 2001 presented exactly the catastrophe that the authors of Rebuilding America’ Defenses theorized were needed to accelerate a global dominance agenda. The resulting permanent war on terror has led to massive government defense spending, the invasions of two countries, and the threatening of three others, and the rapid acceleration of the neo-conservative plans for military control of the world.

The US now spends as much for defense as the rest of the world combined. The Pentagon’s budget for buying new weapons rose from $61 billion in 2001 to over $80 billion in 2004. Lockheed Martin’s sales rose by over 30% at the same time, with tens of billions of dollars on the books for future purchases. From 2000 to 2004, Lockheed Martins stock value rose 300%. Northrup-Grumann saw similar growth with DoD contracts rising from $3.2 billion in 2001 to $11.1 billion in 2004. Halliburton, with Dick Cheney as former CEO, had defense contracts totaling $427 million in 2001. By 2003, they had $4.3 billion in defense contracts, of which approximately a third were sole source agreements.

At the beginning of 2006 the Global Dominance Group’s agenda is well established within higher circle policy councils and cunningly operationalized inside the US Government. They work hand in hand with defense contractors promoting deployment of US forces in over 700 bases worldwide. There is an important difference between self-defense from external threats, and the belief in the total military control of the world. When asked, most working people in the US have serious doubts about the moral and practical acceptability of financing world domination.

Peter Phillips, a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, is director of Project Censored. A more in-depth review of the global dominance group’s agenda and a list of the 200 advocates see:

INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS Delegations to Palestine & Israel

From March 25, to April 8, 2006, there will be an INTERFAITH PEACE-BUILDERS Delegation to Palestine & Israel.

Learn more about a conflict that is portrayed as ‘rooted in religion’ and ‘thousands of years old.’

Participating in a delegation to Israel and Palestine will allow you to counter the myths that perpetuate the conflict. You will be an eyewitness to the situation — and your understanding of the conflict will be enriched and transformed. The delegation will meet with not only ‘ordinary’ Israelis and Palestinians, but also extraordinary people working for peace and justice. You will confront and analyze the US role in the conflict and wrestle with ways to translate your experience when you return home.

Dan Onorato, Peace-Life Center board member and Modesto Junior College professor recently returned from a similar delegation and has given several moving talks about his experiences there.

What we offer:

After your return

What does it cost? The cost of $1750 includes: 15 days, hotel and home stay accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, local transportation, guides, speaker/event fees, basic tips and gratuities. The cost does not include domestic and international airfares.

Other delegations will be held May 27-June 10, July 15-29 and November 4-18, 2006.

ACTION: For information and an application, contact: FOR Interfaith Peace-Builders; (202) 244-0821; Fax: (202) 244-6396, 4545 42nd St. NW, Suite 209, Washington, DC 20016; E-mail:;