Online Edition: August 2008     Vol. XX, No. 11

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), 5:00-6:00 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 2 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 & Justice

Around the Center: 


Living Lightly

Recipes from Connections

A Gathering of Voices--Jeff Schweiker

Out and About


Masthead and Back Issues

Opinion and Letters to Connections

Interesting Web sites

We need to end the Iraq War
By the Board of Directors of the Modesto Peace Life Center

The Iraq War was conceived in arrogance, promoted with lies, and executed in defiance of international law and worldwide opposition. For the sake of the Iraqi people, for the sake of America, we need to end this war.

According to reasonable estimates, over one million Iraqi people have been killed, two million have fled their country, and over two million are displaced internal refugees. Four million depend entirely on food rations, and eight million face being malnourished.

Over 29,000 American soldiers have been wounded, many for life, and over 4,000 killed. Tens of thousands suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The war has cost us over 500 billion dollars. California’s portion is 68 billion, an average of $2,147 per person. In Modesto alone, that would have provided 162, 223 people with health care for a year, or funded 59,234 annual university scholarships, or built 1,180 permanent, affordable housing units. Our national debt arising from this war will cost generations to come.

With the specters of Abu Ghraib, secret renditions, Guantanamo, and the unlawful surveillance of American citizens, the Bush Administration in carrying out this war has undermined America’s moral standing and credibility in the rest of the world, and our Constitutional traditions of fairness, balance of powers, and civil liberties are in danger.

Given the administration’s PR penchant for presenting a falsely optimistic view based on selective facts, it is difficult to accurately evaluate the full effects of our occupation, but it is clear America is still heading in the wrong direction. To heal the wounds of this tragedy, we urge the following actions:

At our best, we Americans value fairness, compassion, and generosity. We want to regain our good name in the world community. We want to rebuild America. Ending the Iraq War will be a step in that renewal.

Board of Directors of the Modesto Peace Life Center:

John Frailing, Shelly Scribner, Co-presidents
Alexander Brittain
Jaimie Campbell
James Costello
Mike Lenahan
John Lucas
Dan Onorato
Narmelin Ovrahim
Keith Werner

Celebrate at the Connections 18th Fundraiser and Auction

Friday, September 12 marks the date for our yearly Connections potluck fundraiser and auction  beginning at 4:00 p.m. at the lovely Tuolumne River home of Tom and Alfa Broderick, 13918 Yosemite Blvd., (Hwy 132) just east of Waterford. There will be fun, scrumptious food, music, swimming, and our world famous auction. This year, we will again have a silent auction. There is a $25.00 donation (or whatever you can afford) at the door.

Auctioneer David Rockwell, will painlessly extracts your dollars for a good cause, assisted by the deft fingers of his equally capable compadre, John Frailing.
WE NEED GOOD AUCTION ITEMS AND SERVICES, so if you have something to offer, please contact Dan Onorato, 526-5436, or Jim Costello, 537-7818,

ACTION: Come a have fun in a wonderful country setting and helps us keep your favorite peace and justice newspaper publishing. Bring your family and food to share and a sense of humor.

Homeless victory in Fresno has implications for Modesto
Editor, The Community Alliance, Fresno

Homeless people and their allies won a legal victory in Fresno that could have statewide implications. The class action lawsuit against the City of Fresno resulted in a $2.3 million settlement and has stopped the city from taking and immediately destroying homeless peoples property. Fresno mayor Alan Autry argued that the city had a right to keep city streets clean and that city sanitation workers were just doing their job. Government agencies in communities throughout California make the same argument as they conduct sweeps through homeless encampments. The Federal Court in Fresno found that these sweeps are illegal and violate the 4th and 5th amendment of the U.S. constitution.

“The Court’s ruling and the settlement should send a strong message to other cities throughout California that if they violate the rights of their most vulnerable residents, they will be held accountable,” said ACLU-NC staff attorney Michael Risher. The homeless plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Kincaid v. Fresno, were represented by a team of attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC), the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR) and the law firm of Heller Ehrman LLP.

The lawsuit began two years ago, after the City of Fresno repeatedly used bulldozers to plow through homeless encampments in the downtown area. The city’s policy, designed by a low ranking police officer in the code enforcement division, was to provide residents of the encampments with written notice that a “clean up” was about to take place. Many homeless people say they never received a copy of the notice and it is not clear, from the courts decision, if it would have made any difference if they did receive the notice. According to the city’s policy and testimony in court, the city would then deploy the sanitation department, backed up by police officers, who would then clear the area of anything that the homeless did not remove. The city claimed that everything left was rubbish. The problem with the policy, according to the court, was that it treated poor peoples property differently than anyone else. For example, if you loose your bike and the police find it, they do not call in a bulldozer, crush the bike, and put it in a garbage truck. The likely policy would be to take the bike into possession and try to find the owner.
Homeless people in Fresno, during the sweeps conducted between 2004 - 2006 lost bicycles, tents, clothing, their ID, and everything of value they had in the world. One person lost an urn that contained her grand-daughters ashes. Al Williams, who is homeless, suffered the effects of the raids on three occasions. In addition to losing clothes and food, his wife’s wheelchair was destroyed and her medicines confiscated by Fresno police officers. “I felt like everything was taken away from me, but this settlement gives me hope for the future for myself and all the other people who suffered,” said Williams.

In addition to the lawsuit, homeless people and their allies held a sleep in at City Hall, the Homelessness Marathon radio show was broadcast from Fresno putting a national spotlight on this city’s illegal practices, and intense pressure was brought upon city government to end their attacks on the homeless. The efforts have had an effect and mayor Autry has declared the city’s previous policy a failure. The stated goal of the new policy is to provide affordable and decent housing for all of Fresno’s chronically homeless residents.

For a list of articles and documents about the struggle for civil liberties for homeless people in Fresno, see:
Visit the Community Alliance at 
Write the author at 

Banquet for the Birds

I set the seed the birds to feed,
And up they came to fill their need.
Upon the feeder they would stay
To have a meal, and have a play.
The little ones first came around
To steal a meal with not a sound.
Then came the Jays to shoo away
My former friends of an earlier day.
I saw them flit. I saw them fight,
And then the lesser ones took flight.
Then greater Jays would join the race,
The lesser Jays now to replace.
And with each new departing group
My own sad heart would fly the coop,
For as I saw them cast asunder
I mourned their unremitting hunger.
I wondered if some law of nature
Compels every winged creature
To seek for power and seek for gain
Without regard for causing pain,
And will this state forever be
The fate of their community?
How can I make them see the light?
How can I give them human sight?
So they can see that if they share
There is enough abundance there.
Perhaps there is one thing they lack,
One watershed that holds them back.
Pray come their Messiah hither
To show them how to live together.

— Phil Nichols

What can we learn from these honored dead?

At the end of his life, President John Kennedy was doing more than we knew, to open up peaceful dialogue with America’s adversaries.

On November 22, 1963 Kennedy died in Dallas. Two days later, President Lyndon Johnson told U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge, “I am not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the president who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went.”   Johnson’s and Nixon’s proud war went on till 1975. 58,000+ American dead, three million Southeast Asian dead. The survivors still limp among us, wounded in body and spirit. Their families and societies, here and in Southeast Asia, bear the cost.

In 2008 the Pentagon plans openly and officially for the U.S. to rule the world; they call it “Full Spectrum Dominance.”
Iraq, Afghanistan, rockets into Pakistan, brandishing nukes at Iran, trillions in useless debt, while planet earth and her peoples cry out, children are hungry, mothers weep and fathers groan.

Is this why the Great Spirit evolved us?

In his seldom quoted speech at American University on June 10, 1963, President Kennedy said:

“Let us not be blind to our differences—but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

Our honored dead need not have died in vain.
If we join together in our common humanity, what can we yet accomplish!
All humankind are God’s children.

— John Morearty, 209-464-3326, 
Documentation in James Douglass’ book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died, & Why It Matters, 2007, Orbis Books, the Maryknoll press.


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.