Online Edition: February 2008     Vol. XXI, No. 6

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), special time this month, see below. 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.

Click Here to download the 2008 Peace Essay Flyer

March 19, 2008
• 5th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq
• beginning of the 6th year of war and occupation,
• 6th year of senseless death and massive destruction. 

McHenry & J St. (Five Points)
5:00 p.m. – 6 p.m.

You are invited to attend
2008 Peace Essay Contest
Awards Reception

Friday, the Seventh of March
7:00 o’clock in the evening
Mary Stuart Rogers Student Learning Center
Modesto Junior College West Campus
2201 Blue Gum Avenue, Modesto

Light refreshments will be served.

The public is welcome


Peace & Justice

Around the Center: 

Living Lightly

Recipes from Connections

A Gathering of Voices--Gillian Wegener, Dan Bellm, Terry Ehret: Sixteen Rivers Press activist poets

Out and About


Masthead and Back Issues

Opinion and Letters to Connections

Interesting Web sites


Check our great poets this month!

Terry Ehret, Dan Bellm and Gillian Wegener will read their poetry at the Mistlin Gallery on Saturday, March 15 at 4 p.m. Receptions and signings follow. Read a sample of their fine work on page 9 in this issue.

Gillian Wegener will also read from her first book, The Opposite of Clairvoyance, published by Sixteen Rivers Press, for Friends of the Library in Modesto at the Stanislaus County Library on Wednesday, March 5 at 7 p.m. Her new book will be available for signing.

Gary Soto returns for MJC reading

Gary Soto, one of the Central Valley’s most versatile and talented writers, will read from his many works between 7:30 and 9 p.m. Wednesday March 26 in the Modesto Junior College East Campus Student Center Student Lounge.

Soto, who grew up in Fresno, writes poetry, prose and children’s literature that often speaks to his Central Valley upbringing. He also will sell and sign books during the program, which is free and open to the community.

The Future of Our Shared Environment — Today: March 26-30, 2008

The Aspen Institute and National Geographic Magazine invite you to the first ever Aspen Environment Forum, in Aspen, Colorado—a powerful, three-day exchange examining the future of our shared environment.

Inspired by intellectually rich exchanges with today’s foremost thought leaders on the environment, participants will come away with a better understanding of the challenges of preserving the environment within a robust economy. All are welcome. Register at

Earth Day in the Park

The 15th Annual Earth Day in the Park is slated for Saturday, April 19 in Graceada Park. Look for the Peace Center booth. If you can help staff our booth, email Ken Schroeder,, or call 526-2303.

A great McCutcheon concert!


The John McCutcheon Concert, held on January 22, was a great success. Over 250 people attended and we raised over $900.00 for the Peace Center Together we created an event that provided fun, community and inspiration to a large number of people and raised a substantial amount of funds for the work of the Peace/Life Center.

Thank you to all who wrote articles and press releases, prepared and sent mailings, made announcements and told their friends, provided meeting space, organized sponsorships, bought sponsorships, sold tickets, ran errands, designed posters, put up posters, made copies, set up chairs and tables, installed lights, sold CD’s, staffed the Peace/Life table, prepared food, organized the reception, prepared power point announcements, worked at the door, coordinated volunteers, provided refreshments at intermission, organized the sound, provided technical assistance, MC’d, organized finances, provided encouragement, shared enthusiasm, sang along louder that you thought you should, prepared hospitality, unloaded and loaded boxes and equipment and cleaned up after it all.

Arun Gandhi draws record crowd


A standing-room-only crowd greeted Arun Gandhi at the fourteenth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration here in Modesto.

Held in the new Mary Stuart Rogers auditorium at Modesto Jr. College, the audience was also faced with picketers who quietly protested Arun Gandhi’s appearance and who passed out flyers expressing their points of view. They believe that Mahatma Gandhi was prejudiced against Black people and had told the MLK Committee that bringing his grandson here, who promotes him, here was an affront to the vision of Martin Luther King. It is not the first time that the Peace Life Center event has been picketed.

Preceding Gandhi’s speech, MJC student Tiffany Hamilton read her poem, “Is this how we really want things to be?” More than a few people had tears in their eyes.

The essence of Dr. Gandhi’s talk was his emphasis on a non-violent struggle against injustice, exactly what Martin Luther King, Jr. was all about.

Arun Gandhi often referred to his grandfather, as he told of a visit to the Mahatma Handy museum in Bombay by Dr. Martin Luther King. As the museum was about to close, Dr. King, Arun said, insisted on staying the night in the room dedicated to Gandhi. From that prayerful night, Dr. King emerged saying, “Now I feel spiritually ready to lead my people in the struggle for civil rights.”

The basis for all the work of Arun Gandhi’s foundation is non-violence. First he launched “A Season for Non-violence” at the United Nations in 1998. As the idea went forward, “this allowed communities to decide what they can do to take us closer to the dream of a society where peace prevails.” He said the harmony in society requires good relationships in society. “There must be respect, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation to bring harmony in society. Unless we understand anger we can never understand non-violence.” He reminded us that we must be able to channel that anger into energy and to use it intelligently for the good of society.

A second key to achievement must be that we must commit ourselves to finding solutions, and we must learn how to build relationships. He warned us that to work, this can’t be from the top down, but must radiate out to relationships.

Being specific, Gandhi said that poverty is the greatest form of violence. We must make efforts to help the people to get a different standard of living. When questioned on “What should we do in the Middle East?,” he was quite clear that U.S. made a mistake in going to the Middle East. It is an example (in the present day) of the British “divide and conquer” method used in India during the last century. Thus, people are set against each other, and we can see this happening in the Middle East now. The partitioning of Pakistan and India caused hate and anger, and to this day we have not been able to overcome it; you can see it being exploited by politicians. The rise of fundamentalism is part of the culture of violence. We must reject this culture.

Again he reminded us to look at the basic problem of poverty. We have to work hard , urgently, to create the kind of society that Gandhi and King espoused.

“We must be the change we see in the world.” This quotation from Mahatma Gandhi is surely the theme of Arun Gandhi, the grandson of the Mahatma, who is working

through his foundation to bring us together.

“All of us together can transform this world and make it a peaceful place for the future.”

Remembering and appreciating Bob Baucher


It is with sadness that we lose yet another area friend of peace and justice with the death of Bob Baucher. As a friend who has lived next to him (separated by a field 150 feet wide) for 48 years, I can say I knew Robert pretty well. And it speaks well of his peaceful tendencies and reconciling skills to absorb his neighbor’s hostile acts of throwing rotting peaches, tomatoes and dirt clods at him to get his attention… but really to say,” I like you!”

To relate Bob to Peace Life Center activities, he and wife, Mary, attended some of the first meetings to discuss establishing a facility to deal with draft counseling during the Viet Nam War. The group was primarily Church of the Brethren with other peace minded Modestans. This led to renting a very run-down, ramshackle house somewhere at about 15th and G Streets. What a run the Modesto Peace Life Center has had in the past 40 plus years!

Mary remembers them participating in civil rights marches down I Street and a few of the protest demonstrations at Livermore Lab. While Bob was not the Gordon Nutson type of confronter, he did share his values in his career as a social science teacher in Modesto schools, and in his Modesto Church of the Brethren community.

Wife Mary received a letter from a former student after learning of Bob’s death. “After I was unceremoniously booted out of Modesto High School in l967-68, I was sent to the first continuation high at Maddux Youth Center. I spent the entire school year under his [Bob’s] tutelage and guidance, where he continually and patiently inspired me to do more, to be better as both a student and person. But it was his position on pacifism that astounded me, as I had never heard of such a thing. In addition, it was his overall demeanor and kindness which left a lasting impression on me. I tell you quite honestly that he will always be in my heart …”

Stanislaus Connections ran a lead article in September 1992: “Bauchers: Friends of Peace” by Fred Herman. Bob was also an early King-Kennedy Memorial Center Board member and treasurer.

In 1985, at the height of the cold War, Bob and Mary along with 23 others embarked on a Peace and Friendship Mission to the Soviet Union. As Bob, Mary and I were in a closed room being interviewed by a radio station personality, little did we know that our “to-be” Sister City, Khmelnitskiy, Ukraine, was encircled with long range Soviet missiles with US zip codes on them.

The Bauchers, over the years, have opened their home to visiting delegations from many countries, enriching the lives of both hosts and visitors. One Columbian MJC student who lived with them has long since been adopted into the family as another son.

How can one capsulize 81 years of Bob’s life in a short piece such as this. Trite to say, the world is a better place because of my special friend, Bob. The well-worn path between our homes, in 48 years of uninterrupted traversing, attests to the very precious nature of families living in proximity, peace and friendship.

Donna Durham: A sudden unexpected loss


The sudden and unexpected death of Donna Durham on the morning of the winter solstice was a great loss to the environmental and child development communities in the Modesto area, as well as to her large, loving family and wide collection of colleagues and friends of all ages. She had lived most of her life around Modesto, but moved to northern Nevada five years ago to work for agencies whose mission is to improve the quality of child care in the state of Nevada.

Donna served Modesto Junior College as director of its Campus Child Care Center for 17 years: she birthed that program, nurtured it, guided it through many changes, and helped it to thrive. Under her guidance, MJC student/staff parents received high-quality care for their preschool-aged children. Donna’s gentle spirit calmed many an out-of-control child, offered wise counsel to parents struggling with difficult issues, and eased many entry-level teachers into the real-world joys and challenges of early childhood education.

Donna had two lifelong passions: quality care for young children, and the environment. She was an impassioned lover of the natural world and all its wonders, and lovingly introduced children and young people to nature as something to be trusted, enjoyed and protected, rather than feared, ignored, or destroyed.

Having grown up in a family that enjoyed frequent hiking and camping excursions, Donna delighted in exploring Sierra trails, choosing to drive on back roads rather than freeways to get to trailheads, and to camp in out-of-the-way Forest Service campsites rather than RV-crowded campgrounds. She could name every species of Sierra wildflower, plant, tree, or bird, often in Latin, and found great delight in sharing backcountry hikes with friends of all ages.

As an active member of the Sierra Club, Great Valley Museum and many other environmental groups, Donna generously contributed to a variety of efforts to build a more peaceful and environmentally-sustainable world. Her loud, merry laugh was able to ease many a rough moment, and at the few times in her life when laughter fled, she worked hard to avoid bitterness, heal, and regain a more positive perspective.

Our world is a less rich and lively place without Donna Durham’s bright spirit, merry laugh, and deep passion for children’s needs and preservation of the natural world. Her commitment to teaching to the light within each child and working against all that crushes the human spirit or harms the natural world is the powerful legacy she leaves for the rest of us to continue.

The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act: a tutorial in Orwellian newspeak


“Political language has to consist largely of euphemisms…and short cloudy vagueness.”

— George Orwell

H.R. 1955, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 recently passed by the House – a companion bill is in the Senate – is barely one sentence old before its Orwellian moment. It begins, ‘AN ACT – To prevent homegrown terrorism and for other purposes.”

Those whose pulse did not quicken at “other purposes” have probably not read George Orwell’s essay, “Politicians and the English Language”, or they voted for the other George both times.

Orwell’s jeremiad on the corruption of the English language and its corrosive effect on a democracy was written two years before his novel 1984 spelled out in chilling detail the danger of Newspeak, which renders citizens incapable of independent thought by depriving them of the words necessary to form ideas other than those promulgated by the state.

After its opening tribute to Orwell, H.R. 1955 is strategically peppered with Newspeak regarding the establishment of a National Commission and university-based Centers of Excellence to “examine and report upon the fact and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically-based violence in the United States,” and to make legislative recommendations for combating it.

The sheer cloudy vagueness of H.R. 1955, as well as its terror factor, may account for its bipartisan 404 to 6 House vote, but how, in an era informed by the Bush-Cheney administration’s egregious assault on the Bill of Rights, can the phrase “other purposes” fail to raise the “National Terror Alert” from its current threat level of “elevated to “severe”?

Future “other purposes” will undoubtedly be justified by the Act’s use of the term “violent radicalization,” which it defines as “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence…” or by the folksy, Lake Woebegone-esque “homegrown terrorism,” defined as “as the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual born (or) raised within the United States… to intimidate or coerce the United States, the civilian population…or any segment thereof…”

In their service of some self-serving “other purposes,” will “extremist beliefs” become any belief the temporary occupants of the White House consider antithetical, and threatening to their political agenda?

Will “ideologically-based violence” or the use of “force” become little more than the mayhem resulting after a peaceful protest, daring to move beyond the barbed wire of the free speech zone, [to be] attacked by a truncheon-wielding riot squad armed with tear gas, German shepherd dogs and water cannons?

Will the unarmed, constitutionality-protected dissenters who are fending off blows or dog bites, or who are striking back in self-defense become “homegrown terrorists” and suffer draconian sentences for their attempt to “intimidate or coerce” the state with free thought and free speech?

A clue to future “other purposes” may lie in the Act’s parentage. The proud House “mother” of the Patriot Act’s evil twin is Rep. Jane Harmon (D-CA), chair of the Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee. Rep. Harmon has admitted to a long and productive relationship with the RAND Corporation, a California-based think-tank with close ties to the military-industrial-intelligence complex. RAND’s 2005 study, “Trends in Terrorism,” contains a chapter titled, “Homegrown Terrorist Threats to the United States.” Is this Act a bastard child?

Keep in mind that Donald Rumsfeld was its chairman from 1981 to 1986 and “Scooter” Libby, and Condoleezza Rice were trustees.

RAND maintains “homegrown terrorism” will not be the result of jihadist sleeper cells. Rather, it will result from anti-globalists and radical environmentalists who “challenge the intrinsic qualities of capitalism, charging that in the insatiable quest for growth and profit, the philosophy is serving to destroy the world’s ecology, indigenous cultures, and individual welfare.”

Further, RAND claims anti-globalists and radical environmentalists “exist in much the same operational environment as al Qaida” and pose “a clear threat to private sector corporate interests, especially large multinational business.” Therein lies the real “other purposes.”

Predictably then, H.R. 1955 is not about protecting homegrown Americans. That protection is only incidental to its “other purposes” of protecting homegrown corporate interest and its unconscionable manipulation of the American political process to fill its coffers. Any thought or speech or action — however protected it might be by the Bill of Rights — that threatens corporate hegemony and profit will no doubt suffer the “other purposes” clause of the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.

Robert Weitzel is a freelance writer who appears in the Capital Times of Madison, WI and other sources. Contact him at:

(from Project Censored Alert, Winter 07 – 08)


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.