Online Edition: June 2007     Vol. XIX, No. 10

sponsored by Peace Life Center, Public invited

  • MODESTO PEACE LIFE CENTER VIGILS: Monthly peace vigils are held THE FIRST FRIDAY of the month at McHenry Ave. and J St., (Five points), 5:30-6:30 pm. call the Center for info: 529-5750.

  • Click here for peace action schedule around the area.

  • PEACE LIFE CENTER WILL BE OPEN WEDNESDAYS, Noon to 3 pm. Come by for coffee or tea and just to chat or look at our book and magazine collection. Bring your own bag lunch; there may be films some days. 720 13th St. Call us 529-5750, we'll get back to you with info on vigils and other activities.

Peace Essay Contest Winning Essays

Peace Camp is coming

Register Here

Connections needs help!

Stanislaus Connections, the peace and justice newspaper of the Modesto Peace Life Center, needs volunteers able to help edit, write, or help put up the paper each month. We meet two times per month. If you are interested in helping with our progressive paper, contact us.

Email Jim Costello, or call 537-7818. Or call Myrtle Osner, 522-4967,


Peace & Justice

Around the Center: 


Living Lightly

Recipes from Connections

A Gathering of Voices--Robert Bearden

Out and About


Masthead and Back Issues

Opinion and Letters to Connections

Web sites

Immigrants used to justify a homeland security police state


Threats of terrorism and twelve million “illegal” immigrants are being used to justify new police-state measures in the United States. Coordinated mass arrests, big brother spy blimps, expanded detention centers, repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act, and suspension of habeas corpus have all been recently implemented and are ready to use against anyone in the US.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) flooded Mexico with cheap subsidized US agricultural products that displaced millions of Mexican farmers. Between 2000 and 2005, Mexico lost 900,000 rural jobs and 700,000 industrial jobs, resulting in deep unemployment throughout the country. Desperate poverty has forced millions of Mexican workers north in order to feed their families.

In the wake of 9/11, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has conducted workplace and home invasions across the country in an attempt to roundup “illegal” immigrants. ICE justifies these raids under the rubric of keeping our homeland safe and preventing terrorism. However the real goal of these actions is to disrupt the immigrant work force in the US and replace it with a tightly regulated non-union guest-worker program. This policy is endorsed by companies seeking permanent low-wage workers through a lobby group called Essential Worker Immigrations Coalition (EWIC). EWIC’s fifty-two members include the US Chamber of Commerce, Wal-Mart, Marriott, Tyson Foods, American Meat Institute, California Landscape Contractors Association, and the Association of Builders and Contractors.

A new program, established by the Department of Justice in cooperation with Homeland Security, uses the code-name Operation Falcon (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally). Operation Falcon carried out three unprecedented federally-coordinated mass arrests between April 2005 and October 2006. More than 30,000 fugitives, including immigrants, were arrested in the largest dragnets in the nation’s history. The operations directly involved over 960 agencies including FBI, ICE, IRS, Homeland Security and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

To accommodate the detention of tens of thousands of people, Homeland Security, in 2005, awarded Halliburton’s subsidiary KBR a $385 million contingency contract to build detention camps in the United States. According to the Halliburton website, “The contract provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the US, or to support the rapid development of new programs.”

Other new police-state programs include U.S. government contracting with Lockheed-Martin to design and develop enormous unmanned airships, seventeen times the size of the Goodyear blimp, outfitted with high-resolution cameras to spy on the Mexican border. The airships are designed to float 12 miles above the earth, far above planes and weather systems. The high-resolution camera will watch over a circle of countryside 600 miles in diameter and could be moved to spy on any region of the US.

The programs described above combined with two recent changes in US law make the reality of a full police state in the US increasingly more feasible. The Military Commissions Act signed October of 2006 suspends habeas corpus rights for any person deemed by the President to be an enemy combatant. Persons so designated could be imprisoned indefinitely without rights to legal counsel or a trial. And the Defense Authorization Act of 2007 allows the president to station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities. By revising the two-century-old Insurrection Act, the law in effect repeals the Posse Comitatus Act and gives the US government the legal authority to order the military onto the streets anywhere in America.

Threats of terrorism and illegal immigrants are being used to justify the implementation of police-state programs. But once started, enforcement can be rapidly deployed to any group of people in the US and we all become endangered. Mass arrests, big brother in the sky, and the loss of civil rights for everyone does not bode well for those who believe in democracy, free speech, and the right to critically challenge our government without fear of reprisals.

Peter Phillips, Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored, is co-editor with Dennis Loo of Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney from Seven Stories Press, 2006. Visit

Proposal sought for Sustainability Conference

The 3rd annual Sustainability Conference will explore issues related to sustainable development which promotes the “triple-bottom line” of economy, society, and the environment. The “This Way to Sustainability Conference III” is divided into different sessions: Part I: “The Built Environment - The Greening Of Our Schools” will be held at Butte College from August 3-4, 2007. Part II: “Connecting to the North State” will be held from November 1-4, 2007 on the CSU, Chico campus.

The target audience is aimed at the growing numbers of faculty, staff, students, administrators, public officials and citizens who embrace the concept of sustainable development, who wish to work together to build sustainable communities, who believe that we can learn from one another, and who realize there are many voices and perspectives that must be heard.

We seek contributions that explore the related dimensions of sustainable development, the stewardship of natural resources, and how to create a democratic and sustainable society.

DEADLINE: Presentation proposals must be received by Friday, June 29, 2007. To submit a presentation proposal visit

More information at and

Hosted by CSU, Chico and the Associated Students of CSU, Chico and Butte College.

“I’m too stiff to do yoga


When I hear this excuse, it makes me laugh. You don’t have to twist yourself into a human pretzel or touch your toes to do yoga. Yoga is a non-competitive practice, so virtually every pose can be adapted to your body’s abilities. All bodies need a little help here and there. In the classes I teach, we use props such as blocks and belts. Even flexible people benefit from the use of props. In fact, those who aren’t flexible will see results faster. The benefits of practicing yoga also include added strength and balance. Yoga has also been shown to lower blood pressure. No one is “TOO STIFF, to do yoga”.

The word yoga conjures up different ideas for different people. Some think of Indian ascetics sitting in the lotus pose or given it is the latest fad for the stars of Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow with a designer yoga mat rolled under her arm.

Yoga most likely originated in India or Tibet. The practice is about 5000 years old. And there is much more to yoga than contortions of the body or walking on fire. Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, an art and a mind body discipline. The postures that have become part of the mainstream American culture are only a small part of the vast books, scriptures, breathing practices, ethical and moral guidelines that are Yoga. But the postures are what I teach and study everyday. I came to yoga sixteen years ago with a chronic lower backache (before it was cool or widely available). Some friends suggested taking a yoga class and I signed up for a six-week introduction to yoga at the community center in Manhattan where I lived. I won’t say my love affair with the practice was immediate. It was difficult and the tightness in my hamstrings kept me very far from the “finished pose”. But by the fourth week of class I was starting to notice a vast improvement in how my back felt. Upon completion of my program, I was committed to a weekly class and although my back can be cranky if I do something stupid, it hardly ever hurts anymore.

Little did I know that as yoga was healing my back, it was also calming and opening my mind. I observed after a few years of doing yoga that I was less angry then I used to be and that I handled difficulty with greater ease and composure. I found myself being more compassionate to the people around me. After sharing these observations with other yoga enthusiasts, many had observed similar changes in their lives. I asked my teacher about this and he said, “if yoga is not making you a better person, you are doing something wrong”. I thought about the repercussions of this statement that seemed to be true. What if everyone did yoga? What if there were a morning class at the White House and Congress before any major decisions were made?

The type of yoga I study and teach is concerned with alignment and precision. The theory is that when there is pain, illness, or unease in the body it is because of a misalignment of muscles, bones, and energy in the body. The closer we get to good alignment, change happens. If we extend this theory to our psyche, could what my teacher said about becoming a better person be true? I know my life has been vastly improved by practicing yoga. I have less physical pain in my body and, when I do have pain, I know how to get rid of it. Yoga has given me peace of mind throughout the trials and tribulations of my life.

When I came to yoga, my body was stiff. So the next time someone asks you “why don’t you try yoga?” Why not try it!

More information at Flying Zebra Yoga,, 209-576-0096

Challenging the Washington Consensus: delegation to Nicaragua


“Challenging the Washington Consensus” a delegation to Nicaragua July 16-22, 2007 will follow the Solidarity Conference in Managua, July 13-15. (For information on visiting Somoto, Merced’s Sister City, see below.)

Since the electoral loss of 1990 and the imposition on the Nicaraguan people of “free” market, structural adjustment, privatized, debt- ridden, savage capitalist policies known as the “Washington Consensus,” communities, popular movements, and NGOs rooted in Sandinismo have fought back with alternatives that benefit the poor instead of the transnational capitalists. With the electoral victory of the FSLN in November, Nicaragua has joined a growing number of countries to build what might be called a “Latin America Consensus” for the 21st century. Join the Nicaragua Network on this delegation that will:

• Spend time in communities benefiting from the Zero Hunger program based on small scale sustainable agriculture, and in schools bursting at the seams now that parents can send their kids free from IMF/World Bank-imposed user fees

• Learn about new initiatives such as the Venezuela development bank opened to provide loans to small and medium farmers

• Meet with those involved in long- established projects in education, health care, alternative energy development, women’s empowerment, fair trade, and much, much more

• Celebrate July 19, the 28th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista revolution over the Somoza dictatorship in the revolutionary city of Esteli!

Cost: $725, which includes in-country transportation, food, housing, and translation. The combined cost of the solidarity conference and delegation is $900. Space limited, register as soon as possible!

For more information, contact Kathy Hoyt or Rebekah Lundquist at the Nicaragua Network (202) 544-9355 or write

Organized by the Nicaragua Network and the Kairos Association for Formation.


ACTION: For information on a separate delegation to the Solidarity Conference and to Merced’s Nicaraguan Sister City, Somoto, contact Betty Stewart, 209-722-0401. Visit

The tyranny of colors


I recently chaired my first Stanislaus ACLU chapter board meeting at the Peace Center. A chat with three Modesto school trustees elicited my contentions that:

1. By banning some colors from student wear, the administration transcends, by a mile, any mandate to protect the educational process. Restraints surely exist in dress codes. Visible undies or cleavage can be nixed. Red and blue may not. Forty years ago the ACLU defended my baby-sitter, suspended from school for his long hair. The ACLU is as at least as obliged to defend colors.

2. The poorly defined word “gang” perils freedom of association. The label is used capriciously with few legal tests beyond Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of porn: “I don’t know what it is, but I know it when I see it.” Let society prosecute crimes (shootings, rapes, muggings), not groups that potentially may do harm.

This led to dialogues with two indisputable civil libertarians:


KEN: Fred, I urge you to invite a representative from the D.A., sheriff’s office and/or police to help you with your problems regarding gangs. They will provide the legal framework in defining gangs and perhaps explain better the provocative nature of wearing gang colors that you do not seem to get. These are real safety issues, not hair issues—the two are as different as night and day.

FRED: Hardly MY problems, Ken. Maybe YOU see no difference between looking capable of committing an anti-social act and actually doing it. A legal framework? I need a definition, and not that they look hostile. Colors may be “provocative” to some, but that’s in the eyes of the beholder. Colors surely are less provocative than ACLU buttons.

KEN: If students were divided, say, into skinheads and longhairs, doing violence as a result, there would justifiably be safety rules banning long hair and baldness. The case of your sitter involved no safety issue. It thus became a right-to-express issue. When the right to express collides with safety we must put safety first.

FRED: There is no justification for banning hair or lack of it, blue eyes or Bush ears. Hair length and clothing color are irrelevancies. To paraphrase Ben Franklin: Those who put safety ahead of the right-to-express merit neither.

KEN: If you ignore the safety issue, you irresponsibly advocate actions like yelling fire when there is no fire as free speech and people die trying to get out.

FRED: The fire-in-a-crowded-theater analogy has been done to death, and is as vague as Stewart on porn: A more meaningful legal phrase is “clear and present danger,” although the court did not fully explain when one exists. Do you suggest that blue shirts constitute a clear and present danger to anyone’s safety?

KEN: We cannot have a society without rules as long as we have people who would do violence to others. That is what this is about. To endorse gang colors is to endorse the high probability of violence. I hope you are willing to take the chance.

FRED: No, people who would do violence must take responsibility. We cannot build a society on the fear that someone, somewhere, may take offense. That view favors constitutional guarantees, not “gang” colors.


GENE: Fred, The state has no right to tell your teen baby sitter how to dress his locks.

FRED: Gene, It was the ‘60s; Beatle hair was more anti-social than red/blue sweaters today.

GENE: I think wearing a Nazi armband or Klan sheet is also big. A quarter million Americans died fighting the power symbolized by the former, and unnumbered others died in the struggle symbolized by the latter.

 FRED: I find swastika and Klan robes sick-sick-sick! I find efforts to ban these symbols - rather than actions they stand for - worse. ACLU does not defend Nazis or Klan, it defends the Bill of Rights.

GENE: But I think not being able to wear red or blue is a small thing all good citizens would want to participate in as a preventive measure.

FRED: A retired law instructor pal calls this a slippery slope. Maybe I waste time on hair or blue/red sweatshirts; tomorrow they may try to ban political buttons.

GENE: The state has an interest in keeping the peace. Red and blue represent known peace disrupters.

FRED: Colors do not disrupt peace, people disrupt peace. The colonels of 1950 Greece tried to ban the letter Z as subversive. That failed too. Prosecute the crime, not the labels, appearance, trappings. Eat the chocolates, not the box they came in.

GENE: We must operate on ... an ounce of prevention (being) worth a pound of cure.

FRED: I respectfully dissent. That slippery slope lets Big Brother decide what’s good for us.

GENE: I don’t think the ACLU would sacrifice principle if it used a bit of common sense in an area ripe for gang growth.

FRED: Unfortunately, that principle is a cornerstone of our democracy. “Gang growth” is a euphemism for keeping Hispanics and African-Americans down.

GENE: Perhaps we could allow gang wannabes to dye their hair blue or red — or green if one is an environmentalist, pink if one supports Gays/Lesbians. FRED: “Homeland Security” would ban green and pink too, for “our” protection. To save us from eco-terrorists or that insidious Gay Agenda. And 71.3 percent will endorse this while Bush’s personal poll numbers rise from 17.8 to 18.2 percent.

GENE: Someone (?) once said, “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

FRED: And you know our president finds the Constitution a mere scrap of paper.

GENE: Banning “ gang” colors will not lead to perpetual darkness.

FRED: But it will constitute one step closer to the light switch.


Tenth of each month. Submit peace, justice and environmentally friendly event notices to P.O. Box 134, Modesto, CA, 95353, or call 522-4967 or 575-4299, or email to Jim Costello. Free listings subject to space, availability and editing.