Facing the Dangers of 21st Century Great Power War – Conference in NYC May 3

April 7, 2014

For those of you in or near NYC, or planning to be there around the NPT PrepCom, please consider attending this conference on Saturday, May 3. Peace Action is a co-sponsor, and Field Director Judith Le Blanc and PANYS Executive Director Alicia Godsberg will be among the speakers.

Facing the Dangers of 21st Century Great Power War
A Conference on the Centenary of World War I
Saturday, May 3, 2014 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Assembly Hall, Judson Memorial Church
229 Thompson St., Manhattan
South of Washington Square Park
9:00-9:30 Registration

9:30-11:00 Looking forward, looking backward:  WWI, today’s risk of great power war, peace movements, and disarmament.

•       Dr. Erhard Crome, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation.
•       Zia Mian, Princeton University.
•       Andrew Lichterman, Western States Legal Foundation.

11:30-12:45 Risks of Great Power War:  Regional Perspectives

•       Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee
•       M.V. Ramana, Princeton University
•       Irene Gendzier, Boston University.

12:45-1:45 Lunch (See registration information below)

1:45-3:00 The Risk of Great Power War:  Regional perspectives: BRICs, Sub-Imperialisms, and Post-Cold War conflicts

•       Michael Klare, Hampshire College
•       Emira Woods, Institute for Policy Studies
•       Paul Lansu, Pax Christi Europe.

3:00-4:15 Limits of the Moral Imagination: Industrialized Warfare, Moral Thresholds, and the Forgotten History of Arms Control:

John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Paul Walker, Global Green
Götz  Nuneck Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University of Hamburg.

4:15-5:30  Disarmament Movements, Peace Movements, and What Is To Be Done.
•       Reiner Braun, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
•       Akira Kawasaki, Peace Boat
•        Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action

To Register:  Write to Jennifer Sherys-Rivet at JSherysr@afsc.org. For more information, call 617-661-6130. (Lunch available with pre-registration $10)

Conference conveners and Sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, Peace and Economic Security Program; International Peace Bureau; and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and its U.S. affiliates, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and the Western States Legal Foundation, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation. Endorsing Organizations:  Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, Peace Action

Judith LeBlanc Honored as Democracy Champion by National Priorities Project

November 15, 2013

11/8/13 – NORTHAMPTON, MASS.–Judith LeBlanc has been recognized as a Democracy Champion by National Priorities Project (NPP). Selected as one of 32 allies and partners from across the country, NPP recognizes LeBlanc for exemplary leadership and tenacious commitment to the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.

“We are honored to celebrate our remarkable allies and partners, without whom our work to democratize the federal budget would be impossible. These Democracy Champions represent a broad cross-section of social movements. We are proud to partner with them as we work towards a federal budget that reflects Americans’ priorities,” NPP Executive Director Jo Comerford said.

National Priorities Project is a national non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making federal budget information accessible so people can both understand and influence federal spending and revenue decisions. Over the past 30 years, NPP has reached well-over 40 million people and leveraged its research to support thousands of national, regional and state organizations.

“Peace Action and I are honored to be among the awardees, and we treasure our partnership with the National Priorities Project, especially our joint Move the Money grassroots training program on cutting Pentagon spending in order to invest in better human and environmental priorities,” said Le Blanc.

To learn more about NPP’s 30-year history visit: http://nationalpriorities.org/en/about/npp-turns-30/.

Below is the full list of the 2013 Democracy Champions. To learn more, visit: http://nationalpriorities.org/en/about/npp-turns-30/democracy-champions/.

  • Eric Byler & Annabel Park
    Co-Founders, Coffee Party USA
  • Sister Simone Campbell
    Executive Director, NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • Tim Carpenter
    Founder and National Director, Progressive Democrats of America
  • John Cavanagh
    Fellow, Global Economy, Institute for Policy Studies
  • Ben Cohen
    President and Head Stamper, StampStampede
  • Cheryl Contee
    Partner, Fission Strategy
  • Tom Engelhardt
  • Seth Flaxman & Kathryn Peters
    Co-Founders, TurboVote
  • Barney Frank
    Member of Congress (1981-2012); Chairman, House Financial Services Committee (2007-2011)
  • Anna Galland
    Executive Director, MoveOn.org
  • Christie George
    Director, New Media Ventures
  • Michael Leon Guerrero & Cindy Wiesner
    Grassroots Global Justice
  • Sarita Gupta
    Executive Director, Jobs with Justice
  • Van Jones
    Host, CNN’s Crossfire
  • Judith Le Blanc
    Field Director, Peace Action
  • Annie Leonard
    Founder and President, The Story of Stuff Project
  • Tiffany Dena Loftin
    Power Shift Coordinator, Energy Action Coalition & Organizer, Dream Defenders
  • Katherine McFate
    President & CEO, Center for Effective Government
  • Heather McGhee
    Vice President, Policy & Outreach, Demos
  • Jim McGovern
    Member of Congress (1996 – present)
  • Bill McKibben
    Founder, 350.org
  • Ellen Miller
    Executive Director and Co-Founder, Sunlight Foundation
  • Leslie Moody
    Executive Director, The Partnership for Working Families
  • Bill Moyers
    Moyers and Company
  • Liz Ryan Murray
    Policy Director, National People’s Action
  • Eli Pariser
    Co-founder, Upworthy
  • Ai-jen Poo
    Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance & Co-director, Caring Across Generations
  • Robert B. Reich
    Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California
  • Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
    Executive Director/CEO and Co-Founder, MomsRising
  • Micah L. Sifry
    Co-Founder and Editorial Director, Personal Democracy Media
  • Jessie Spector
    Executive Director, Resource Generation
  • Deborah Weinstein
    Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs

Life Stories: Activist Bill Towe, a voice against war and for the poor

November 12, 2013

Our former Peace Action board of directors co-chair, Bill Towe, passed recently. Here is a wonderful remembrance of Bill in the Raleigh News and Observer including quotes from his children, Maria and Chris.


CorrespondentNovember 10, 2013

Bill Towe.


  • William H. Towe

    Born: March 27, 1933

    Family: An only child, Towe marries Betsy-Jean Robertson Towe and they raise two children together, Chris and Maria Towe, who give him two grandchildren. He lives all over the Triangle, as well as in Henderson, before settling in Cary. He is widowed in 2011.

    Education: Undergraduate degree from Davidson College, master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. Spends two years enlisted in the U.S. Army, deployed to Germany, in the late 1950s.

    Career: Leaves a position teaching history in Virginia to work full time for peace causes. His positions over the years include, but are not limited to, senior planner for the Soul City project, research director for the N.C. Voter Registration Project, the Office of Economic Opportunity under Gov. Jim Hunt, and national co-chairman of Peace Action.

    Dies: Oct. 18


Growing up in Wilson, Bill Towe often asked his parents why his nanny did not eat with them.

Though his parents demonstrated that everyone was equal in their rights, in the 1930s South they had a hard time explaining why their housekeeper and cook, an African-American woman, did not join them at the table.

In that instance, the distance kept during meal times had more to do with employment status than skin color, but it left a mark on Towe. As an adult, Towe dedicated his life to eradicating inequalities – and injustices – of any kind.

A key turning point came when Towe rejected the option to take over his father’s successful insurance company in Wilson. Following a brief stint in the military, he later left a career as a history teacher to work full time for nonprofits and state organizations seeking to bring peace where there was strife, justice where there were wrongs.

His career as an activist was often likened to that of a long-distance runner. Friends and family can now say he is finally able to rest after a lifetime of fighting for others. Towe died last month at the age of 80.

Towe’s early career had a slightly different direction – one that went straight up, as he was a tent raiser for the circus. Sometime near the end of high school, Towe, an only child, literally ran away with the circus, his children said. He was certainly running away from an unwanted career in Wilson, where a comfortable life selling insurance was ready for the taking.

“It was always assumed by my grandfather that that’s where my father would work. My dad had other plans,” said his daughter, Maria Towe.

From there he went to Davidson College, then enlisted in the military for two years and was stationed in Germany. Upon his return he earned a master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, and embarked on a teaching career.

He met his wife of 47 years, Betsy-Jean, while teaching in Hampton, Va. They shared the same values from the start. She was the first white teacher to work in a black school, his family said, and it wasn’t long before he resigned from teaching to work for $12 a week (plus gas money) as a civil rights organizer.

Together they helped organize the Virginia Civil Rights Committee. A cross was burned in their front lawn, but rather than react with hatred, they took the stance that Ku Klux Klan members were from “poor and downtrodden” white families, he once wrote.

When they moved to North Carolina, Towe worked on various peace projects, some at the state level, some for nonprofits. No cause was off-limits, though in the end, it was his work combating weapons proliferation that was the most public.

And the most noticeable.

He designed and wore a bright blue spandex suit, of superhero design, donning a gigantic boomerang atop his head under the moniker “Captain Boomerang.”

This getup often made an appearance at the state fair, where, as he manned the N.C. Peace Action booth (he was national co-chairman of this Washington-based nonprofit) he talked about the ways the United States sold weapons to other nations, only to have those same weapons later used against American soldiers. He felt those funds would be much better spent on schools and other peace measures.

But for as overt – and brightly hued – as his political presence might have been in the public, at home he was just the opposite.

“He never really wanted to engage in political discussions. He definitely had his beliefs, but he never got up on his soap box,” said his son, Chris Towe.

Towe met Cyrus B. King, a longtime Raleigh activist, after he moved to the area in the 1980s. In recognizing Towe’s impact to fellow activists years ago, King reminded folks of Towe’s tireless dedication – and financial contributions. Many feel he personally kept Peace Action afloat.

“Anytime there was a peace demonstration like the ones at Fort Bragg on the anniversaries of the war in Iraq, Bill and Betsy-Jean were always present,” King said.

“If you have email and you were foolish enough to give your address to Bill, you have received reminders of events that you should participate in and you have received more action alerts than you can possibly respond to.

“But if you complained, as I sometimes did, you should be reminded that not only was Bill sending out those emails, he was participating in all those demonstrations, going to all those events, writing all those letters that he was asking you to write but he was at the same time keeping N.C. Peace Action alive and making a significant contribution to national Peace Action.”

His message lives on with his friends and family.

“His main thing was that everybody is human. And everybody deserves the same human rights,” Chris Towe said.


Diplomacy advocate lectures congregation

September 26, 2013

The Island Now
Thursday, September 26, 2013
By Bill San Antonio

As the executive director of Peace Action, the nation’s largest grassroots disarmament organization, Kevin Martin said Tuesday he has seen firsthand the militarization of the United States’ foreign policy in the last decade.

But in his lecture at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation entitled “Endless War on Peace,” Martin said he was confident that America’s recent history of military strikes and occupations of nations seen as a threat to national security would evolve into a more diplomatic approach to foreign policy – particularly because of the recent diplomatic efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons and the start of talks with Iran.

“At a certain point, we’re just not going to buy that anymore,” Martin said. “We’re just not going to buy that there’s a terrorist at every corner of the globe.”

Martin began the lecture, which was sponsored by the Shelter Rock Forum, the Great Neck SANE/Peace Action and the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, by calling out the names of 11 nations — China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy, Brazil and South Korea – whose combined military budgets equals what the United States spends on its own military each year.

But for all its spending, Martin said the United States is ranked No. 99 on the Global Peace Index, tied with Papua New Guinea despite being known as the world’s last superpower.

“We can’t keep doing this, we can’t keep marauding around the world and trying to kill more terrorists than we create, because we will fail,” Martin said.

Martin said the U.S. spends approximately $600 billion each year on its military and $1 trillion on national security, and in the next 10 years will implement a $200 million arms refurbishment program.

“How do we have any credibility going to Iran or anyone else, saying they shouldn’t have weapons of mass destruction, shouldn’t have nuclear weapons, when we not only intend to keep ours, we intend to modernize them?” Martin said.

Martin also cited a University of Massachusetts study that said military spending is the worst way to create jobs and stimulate the economy, adding that the money America puts toward military spending could better serve the job market if it were used on education.

“Military spending does not help our economy in any way other than keep people employed,” Martin said. “If you can separate the nonsense about the economic benefits of military spending from the real security issues we have in this country, we can win that argument.”

Martin said the mainstream media has more recently played a role in more diplomatic measures in America’s foreign policy.

With Syria, Martin said the mainstream media took greater interest in covering the different angles toward President Obama’s recent request to Congress for a military strike on Syria after those who have been known to be pro-war were coming out against the strike.

Within a day or two, Martin said the media began covering what he called “better alternatives” to avoid the strike, such as sending supplies and weapons to those who are fighting off the Syrian army and rebel fighters who may have ties to terrorist organizations.

“That’s when I knew Obama was sunk, because he could try to scare us or try some fandango, but once better alternatives were out there, he lost control of the conversation,” Martin said.

Martin added that there could be a “spillover effect” from the diplomatic solution toward America’s approach to Syria that could impact future negotiations with Iran over the destabilization of its nuclear program.

“Now diplomacy seems like this limb we’ve learned to use again,” Martin said.

Martin said he does not think major arms manufacturers will continue to have a strong influence in lobbying the federal government into increased military spending, if better alternatives continue to present themselves in America’s foreign policy and people continue pushing for peace.

“If peace actually breaks out, you just can’t justify using such a huge percentage of our tax dollars on tanks and missiles and that $200 million over the next 10 years to refurbish our weapons,” Martin said. “You just can’t justify that anymore.”

If the United States opted for diplomacy more frequently, Martin said the short-term effect would be that other countries would fear and hate the United States less, though its history of invasions and military attacks would likely mean it would take longer for the world to “love us more.”

But the process of healing America’s reputation around the world starts with money coming out of the “war machine” and being put toward more “life-affirming functions,” and for people to “stand up for the values this country says its for” and be more vocal about a peaceful and diplomatic foreign policy, Martin said.

“We have hope, we have real solutions, we have better alternatives, we have better policies,” Martin said. “They have a lot of money and guns and weapons, but really all they have is fear.”

12th Annual Human Rights on the Hill course next week at UDC in our nation’s capital

June 27, 2013

Join us next week at the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law for the annual week long Human Rights on the Hill course organized by Peace Action board member and University of Hawai’i professor Joshua Cooper. All sessions are free and open to the public, and yuo can come and go as you like or just attend a session or two. The site (except for a special event with Ralph Nader Monday night at Busboys and Poets and several excursions to museums on July 4 which are noted below) is the UDC Law School at 4200 Connecticut Ave., Building 52, Washington, DC 20008, please see http://www.law.udc.edu/ for info on the campus. The Van Ness/UDC red line Metro stop is right there, perhaps your best bet for transit, and there is parking on campus and on surrounding streets but you’ll need to pay.

Here is the schedule for the week, I (Kevin Martin) will speak on Tuesday at 3:30 pm, and there will be many interesting speakers and sessions.


July 1


9 a.m. “The Global Human Rights Machinery: Our Grassroots Human Rights Movement,” Joshua Cooper, Four Freedoms Forum

10:30 a.m. “The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples & the Alta Declaration: From Contact to the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples,” Joshua Cooper, Hawaii Institute for Human Rights

12:00 p.m  How to Start a Revolution Film

1:30 p.m.  “InterAmerican Human Rights System: Indigenous Rights in the Region,” Leonardo Crippa Indian Law Resource Center

3:00 p.m. The Human Right to Water & Sanitation in the U.S. and Around the World,” Darcey O’ Callaghan, International Policy Director, Food & Water Watch

4:00 p.m

6:30 p.m. “Told you So: The Big Book of Weekly Columns,” Ralph Nader Busboys and Poets 14&V





July 2


9 a.m. “Peace is a Human Right,”  Colman McCarthy, Peace Center

10:30 a.m.   “Defend the Amazon – A rights-based approach to saving the rainforest and slowing climate change” Andrew Miller,  Amazon Watch

12:00 p.m  “Human Rights on the Hill,”  Rick Wilson Rayburn House Office Building 2321

2:00 p.m. “Disability Rights as Human Rights in the 21st Century,” Esme Grant US International Council on Disabilities

3:30 p.m.  “Peace Action for Human Rights Realization,” Kevin Martin, Peace Action




July 3


9 a.m.  “A Peoples Perspective on the UPR Mid-Term Review for the United States of America,”  Joshua Cooper, Four Freedoms Forum

10:30 a.m. “Local Lawyering, ” Lauren Bartlett, Local Human Rights Lawyering Project Director Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law American University Washington College of Law

12:00 p.m Testify! Voices for Human Rights in the United States WITNESS & USHRNetwork Film

1:30 p.m.  “The Universal Periodic Review: A State Department Perspective,”  Kelly Landry

3:00 p.m. “Initial Conversation Across the Country for a Citizen-Centered Successful Second Cycle,” Joshua Cooper Four Freedoms Forum

4:00 p.m.   “Human Rights in Asia,”  Alim Seytoff, Uyghur Human Rights Project, World Uyghur Congress




July 4


Educational Excursions of Empowerment Human Rights on the Hill


10:0 a.m. National Museum of the American Indian

12:00 p.m U.S. National Archives  Declaration of Independence

1:00 p.m. National Museum of American History

2:00 p.m. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum




July 5


9 a.m.  “Business & Human Rights Mechanisms at the United Nations,”  Joshua Cooper, Four Freedoms Forum

10:30 a.m.  “Nature Conservation,”   Gina Cosentino, Director, Indigenous & Communal Conservation

11:30 a.m. Khmer Krom Practicing of Theravada Buddhism in Fear Behind the Bamboo Curtain Film

12:00 p.m Enemies of the People  A Personal Journey into the Heart of the Killing Fields Film

1:30 p.m.  Film Making for Fundamental Freedoms: Case Study in Cambodia, Sambath Thet

3:00 p.m.  Human Rights in China Rally

Two Local Events in the DC area featuring Jeremy Scahill and Bill Hartung

June 5, 2013

We hope you can attend both these upcoming events

“Dirty Wars” Opens in D.C. Weekend of June 7-9

“Dirty Wars”, the new film featuring Jeremy Scahill, is playing every day at 12 noon, 2:30pm, 5:00pm, 7:30pm, and 9:55pm at Landmark’s E Street Cinema, 555 11th St NW, Washington, DC

You can buy tickets now at E St Cinema

Following the 12:00, 2:30, and 5:00 showings on June 7th, Amnesty International’s Jiva Manske will lead a discussion of the film and of activism that can address some of what the film covers.
Following the 7:30 showing on June 7th, *Code Pink* will lead a discussion of issues surrounding the film.
Following the 2:30 screening on June 8th, RootsAction’s David Swanson and Yemeni-American activist Rooj Alwazir will lead a discussion of the film and, in particular, of an imprisoned journalist whose story is told.
Following the 5:00 and 7:30 screenings on June 8th, Jeremy Scahill will take questions.
Following the 2:30 and 5:00 showings on June 9th, Afghan War whistleblower Matthew Hoh will lead a discussion of the film and whistleblowing.

For a more in-depth discussion, the following free and public event has been planned:
WHAT: Discussion of Jeremy Scahill’s new film and book Dirty Wars
- Jeremy Scahill, author of *Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield* and
star of the film by the same name.
- Rooj Alwazir, Yemeni-American activist and co-founder of SupportYemen media collective.
- A former operative with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command
(name to be revealed at the event).
WHEN: 5-7 p.m., Saturday, June 8, 2013
WHERE: Busboys and Poets restaurant at 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, DC
SPONSORS: Amnesty International, Code Pink, Peace Action, Iraq Veterans Against the War, RootsAction, Veterans for Peace.
Busboys is a restaurant, and you can order dinner during the event.
Books will be sold and signed.
Sign up on Facebook for Busboys event
and for opening weekend in general
To learn more about the film

Please join us in Silver Spring on June 11 to hear a terrific speaker and engage in a dialogue.
William Hartung, noted journalist and military analyst, will discuss his powerful book Prophets of War, a trenchant historical expose of
the world’s largest military contractor, Lockheed Martin, whose world headquarters is located in Bethesda.
We won’t just listen (to a fabulous speaker)–we’ll also talk about how we can move the money, to invest in institutions for social justice in the U.S. and around the world, instead of in new weapons systems.

Bring your family and friends:
Prophets of War
William Hartung
Tues., June 11th, 7 p.m.
Silver Spring Civic Building
One Veterans Plaza

Action Alert: Sign our petition to the president on Syria – Escalate the Talk, Not the War

May 30, 2013

Last week we sent you an action alert urging support for our campaign to Escalate the Talk, Not the War, in Syria. We were grateful to get a strong response, and many other peace organizations are also working on this issue; together, our efforts are sorely needed to counteract calls in the media and by right-wingers in Congress for military escalation, including the nonsensical, dangerous notion about needing to be tough with Syria to “send a message” to Iran (those same folks want a war on Iran, too! Will they ever learn?).
Won’t you join us by signing the petition, and forwarding it to family, friends and colleagues, asking them to join you to help build support for the campaign we launched last week?

Below are some articles from the mainstream media as well as some from sources advocating a diplomatic solution including an important report from a peace delegation recently in Syria led by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire.

For the national Peace Action staff,


Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

1. Report from Peace Delegation to Syria – Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire

2. Good articles on de-escalating the crisis through negotiations  and renewed diplomatic efforts from the European Council on Foreign Relations:
De-escalating the Syrian conflict
Arming Syria’s rebels
3. Mainstream media coverage:

Washington Post Opinion

All in favor of putting an 83 year old nonviolent peace activist nun in prison for 20 years, say aye. Okay thanks, Obama Administration, way to do your job keeping us safe. Anyone else? Anyone?

May 9, 2013
Last year, three nonviolent peace activist senior citizens armed with bread, candles and bottles of human blood breached “security” at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee nuclear weapons facility in order to protest the insanity of nuclear weapons. The government, in its infinite stupidity, is charging them not only with trespassing, which they admit to, but with “sabotage,” which could mean a 20 year prison sentence (possibly a death sentence given the ages of the protesters). The only thing they “sabotaged” was the “credibility” of the plant, which is the main point of the prosecution, in effect copping to incompetence at securing the facility where the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan was built, and where uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear power is still produced today (and they want to build a new plant with gajillions of our tax dollars of course!)
What a disgrace! Sister Megan Rice (n 83 year old nun!), Greg Berje-Obed and Michael Walli deserve the Nobel Peace Prize (way more than our president), not 20 years in prison. We’ll keep you posted on how we can all support these peace heroes and she-roe! In addition to the TV news story below, the Washington Post ran a very good (long though) feature article about the case recently. 


87 year old Sam Winstead leads bicycle ride for peace from North Carolina to DC!

May 6, 2013




(photo: Kevin Martin)

That’s Sam on the right, with Korean-American peace activist Jae Lee on the left, on Saturday at Lafayette Park in front of the White House. Sam, his 69 year-old cousin Joe Winstead and “youngster” Ron Scroggs (age 66) biked from Raleigh, NC to our nation’s capital on Sam’s second annual ride for peace, arriving here on a glorious spring day after seven days on their bikes. After a day of rest, Sam, a World War II veteran, will meet with NC legislators here on Capitol Hill to deliver his message of ending U.S. wars, which already got out on the local ABC station’s Saturday evening news broadcasts! Peace Action helped support the event, along with Veterans for Peace, and NC Peace Action director John Heuer, also a VFP member, was the organizer/advance man of the trek. Here’s John’s report from day three of the tour in Virginia:

Day Three, Blackstone to Gum Spring

April 30

Sam, Joe, Ron, Jim and I found the same round table as the night before at the Farmers Café in Blackstone for a hearty breakfast, before launching the Day Three Ride for Peace.  The Blackstone Library was closed early Tuesday morning, so Sam wrote a note to accompany a copy of “When the World Outlawed War” and slipped it in the ‘return box’ at the library entrance.

I drove ahead marking the route as far as Goochland, and stopped at the White Hawk Music Café.  Sam and I had stopped there last spring when we scouted the route for the 2012 Ride for Peace.  The White Hawk offers the World’s Best Coffee Cake, great coffee, friendly service and wifi internet.  Tuesday morning they hosted a couple of tables of women bridge players as well.

When I finished arranging our accommodations for Culpeper and Leesburg, I marked the remainder of the route to the Grayhaven Winery in Gum Spring, and waited by the Parrish Grocery at the corner of Hwy 250 and 522 (downtown Gum Spring).  It turned out to be a long wait, but by 6:00pm Sam and Co. hove into view.  It had been a harrowing ride north of Goochland on Hwy 522, as rush hour traffic backed up behind tail driver Jim on the narrow 2-lane road.  Jim cringed at the thought that impatient drivers were cursing “Sam’s Ride for Peace” the sign prominently displayed on the back of Jim’s Toyota pick-up.  Jim hadn’t joined this ride to piss people off. At one point a VA state trooper pulled Jim off the road and cautioned him about holding up traffic.  A strong headwind and slate start helped put us in jeopardy.  For next year’s ride, we’ll get an earlier start from Blackstone, and dodge the rush into Gum spring.

Our return to the Grayhaven Winery was greeted with a warm welcome.  Last year we missed our host Deon Abrams, who was catering a dinner at the South African Embassy in Washington DC.  The Grayhaven features South African food and wine, and Deon is the caterer of choice for South African functions at the embassy and Ambassador’s home in DC.  He is also a relative newcomer to the Grayhaven Winery.  His wife Max’s parents, Chuck and Lyn Peple established the Grayhaven during the 1970’s, when it was one of just 6 wineries in Virginia.  Now there are 240.  As Deon described it, establishing a winery in Virginia is a popular way for rich people to lose money.  Max and Deon’s son, Azra, now 8 years old, is a full head taller than last year, and sported his own new bicycle.

When we stayed with the Peples /Abrams in 2012, we donated a book to their library.  Former Chapel Hill mayor and UNC Law School Dean Ken Broun had recently published “Saving Nelson Mandela—The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa.”   Deon believes strongly that Nelson Mandela was the only person who could have led South Africa out of Apartheid and onward toward democracy.

After we sampled a wonderful variety of Grayhaven wines, Max served up a delicious dinner that included a venison pate made by a vegetarian friend.  Chuck and Lyn are both literary folks, and Chuck showed us the newly published “400 Years—The History of Henrico County” of which he is co-author.  Chuck had turned 78 just 4 days earlier, and he is determined to train for Sam’s 2014 Ride for Peace.  Seeing the 87 year-old Sam Winstead on his bicycle has that effect on people.

More photos from Saturday’s gathering at Lafayette Park:


Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund’s 2013 Campaign Plans

March 4, 2013

The political frame of our work is building a new, more peaceful, less militaristic U.S. foreign policy based on democracy, human rights, justice and sustainability. This framework can help us reach new audiences, members, supporters and coalition partners, especially in our Move the Money campaign and, potentially, a new campaign of boycott and divestment targeting corporations invested in nuclear weapons.


Organizational Development Priorities for 2013: Goals: Increase integration between organizing, educational, legislative and organizational development efforts. Promote more effective collaboration between and among the affiliate network and national office for greater national impact. Realize a net increase of national PA/PAEF members and donors by at least 5% to approximately 10,200, also continue increase in the number of major donors. Realize a net increase of at least 5% in national PA/PAEF Action Alert e-subscriber list to approximately 71,000.


Key Strategies and Tactics:


-Implement initiatives for consistency in building the member/donor base, including major donors and online donors, building online e-activist lists, recruiting new affiliates, chapters and associate member organizations.


-Continue process of more coordination of campaign efforts from local to national level for bigger PA political impact.


-Also, related to this, continue to improve regular member/donor data exchanges between national PA and affiliates.


-  Continue to work with affiliates on win-win joint fundraising, member/donor acquisition and list-building strategies. Conduct pilot projects in Massachusetts and New Jersey, as well as other one-time or ad hoc efforts with other affiliates. -  Schedule next round of organizational development retreats for late summer and fall.  Proposed regions: Big Sky Country (West Coast, Rocky Mountain. Great Plains & Southwest) and Mid-Atlantic/Upper South.


-  Continue ongoing consultation and support for affiliates on organizational development priorities by national staff, and also affiliate to affiliate skill-share collaborations.


-  Coordinate communications and media work jointly with affiliate network with focus on the letter to the editor/op-ed campaign. Affiliates agreed to set goals for number of LTEs & op-eds based on the North Carolina Peace Action campaign model. A conference call briefing with North Carolina leaders will be held. Work closely with allies and media consultants on placement of LTEs and op-eds. Key is targeting Senators/Representatives in the content as part of Congressional pressure work.



Program Priorities for 2013


I.                   Move the Money/Cut Pentagon spendingPolicy Goal: Cut Pentagon budget by at least 25%.


Campaign overview: A multiyear process to fulfill the Peace Action’s Long Range Strategic Plan which says, “Cutting unnecessary and self-defeating military spending will enable us to free up resources to address our real needs at home—decent jobs, quality schools for our children, universal health care, affordable housing, and a sustainable environment. In short, reordering our nation’s priorities–away from militarism and towards peace and justice–will make the world safer and our lives better. 


Key strategies:

• Organizing alliances and coalitions to build pressure on Congress.

• Promote grassroots organizing to demilitarize the federal budget as a critical step towards de-militarizing foreign policy.

• Develop local and national initiatives to promote solutions, programs and research into the transition from an economy dependent on military corporations for good jobs to a sustainable, green economy.


2013 Plans:


Federal budget debate: Prioritize engagement in the federal budget debate from national to local level. Provide materials and information for local organizing, which is focused on joining with allies in the environment, faith-based labor, economic, immigrant and racial justice groups to change national spending priorities.


Legislative and electoral action: Build support for Congressional Progressive Caucus alternative budget, Balancing Act, Audit the Pentagon Act and amendments to National Defense Authorization Bill that cut Pentagon spending and the SANE Act (or other bills introduced) to cut money for nuclear weapons. Target key members of Congress with LTEs/op-eds, lobbying, town hall meetings, etc. Begin to prepare for 2014 Congressional mid-term elections. Promote local Move the Money resolutions and work with local elected officials.


Promote initiatives that spur on federal action to transition to a “new economy” focused on workers and their communities who are impacted by cuts in the Pentagon budget. Develop special ways to circulate the “jobs transition” proposal by the Institute for Policy Studies.


Alliance building: Strengthen and initiate relationships with a core group of economic and racial justice groups, environmental and labor on national and local levels. Continue to build the New Priorities Network, work with the Budget Priorities Working Group and join coalitions that emerge in the course of the federal budget fights. Serve as U.S. coordinator for the Global Day of Action on Military Spending on April 15, Tax Day. Maintain a Wiki to record our progress,


Base building: Conduct yearlong campaign with goals on LTE and Op-eds.  Plan a series of webinars to promote common messaging. Continue the Move the Money trainings with National Priorities Project with a focus on targeted Congressional districts and to strengthen the work of Peace Action affiliates. Develop or participate in one online campaign to build Peace Action elists.


Produce and organize a national distribution of the Fund our Communities yard signs designed in 2012. Produce a Move the Money promotional brochure. Create a Wiki site to share new materials, presentations, articles and other resources as well as collect information on progress in local organizing.


II.                Ending the war in Afghanistan – Policy Goals: advocate earlier withdrawal (than the president’s timeline of the end of 2014); oppose enduring presence of up to 25,000 troops for a decade. Support legislation to fund Afghanistan civil society-led development efforts.


Legislative action: Focus on pressuring the administration regarding residual forces – no decision made yet on how many troops/contractors will be staying behind; originally 25,000 was the number floated around – now 0 – 15,000 = somewhat of win and clearly open to public opinion. –   Pressure Congress to tell the president: no contractors or troops left behind.  

-   Support Rep. Barbara Lee’s legislation: HR 200, Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act (same as previous) – 70 co-sponsors last session – Goal: at least 100 –  Support various amendments in the authorization and appropriation processes regarding quicker troop withdrawal, no residual forces or permanent bases and support for Afghan-led development -  Keep Afghanistan in the media

-Continue to lead Afghanistan Policy Working Group            


III.  Stopping Drone Warfare and Surveillance

 Legislative action:  Top 3 ideas for action or Congressional pressure:          1. Call on Congress for more transparency on the decision making process of the administration/Pentagon/CIA on how/when drones are used (the military and CIA have separate drone campaigns). 2. Get armed drones out of CIA completely. 3. Bring up this issue in the media in a more in-depth way. Media paying more attention as are members of Congress.


Base building and alliance building: main tactics are public education and media work. Participate in and promote April Days of Action against drones, targeting bases, corporations and universities engaged in drone warfare and research.


IV.             Building Peace with Iran – Policy Goals: Build support for diplomacy, prevent military intervention and end sanctions that hurt the Iranian people.


-  Legislative Action: Build support for Rep. Barbara Lee’s Diplomacy with Iran legislation. Oppose AIPAC legislative proposals designating Israel as a “major strategic ally” of the U.S. and calling for U.S. support if Israel attacks Iran.

-Media Action Opportunities: -  Next round of P5+1 talks Feb. 26; Op-eds before, during, after talks and LTE on stories on need for diplomacy.


-Netanyahu put summer deadline on Iran halting enrichment – may be stepping back from this so watch as gets closer, again mostly a media opportunity.

-  Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East conference to be held in Finland has not yet been rescheduled, we’ll support if and when it happens. Possible NGO side summit we might promote and participate in, otherwise mostly a media opportunity.

            V. Nuclear Disarmament


1. Campaign Goals


A. Radically Downsize the Budget for Nuclear Weapons “Modernization” of the Production Complex and Delivery Systems


Cutting the Nuclear Weapons Complex

-Stop construction of new nuclear weapons facilities that would increase nuclear weapons production capacity, the CMRR at Los Alamos, NM, and the UPF at Oak Ridge, TN.

-Stop Life Extension Programs for obsolete weapons, or that would make changes to a warhead giving it new capabilities, such as LEPs for the B61 and the W78.

-Increase funding for dismantlement and increase dismantlement rates.

-Stop the MOX fuel fabrication program and construction of the fuel fabrication facility.

-Redirect funding from MOX to and increase funding for genuine nonproliferation programs.


Cutting Boondoggle Delivery Systems

-Cut funds for the planned fleet of 80-100 new long-range bombers

-Cut funds for the planned fleet of 12 new ballistic (SSBNX) submarines


B. Obama Administration Executive Actions


  • Push the Obama administration to issue a nuclear “policy directive” that moves nuclear policy towards a nuclear weapons free world
  • Have the President direct the Pentagon to change targeting requirements and take the nuclear alert posture off of hair trigger alert.
  • Push the Obama administration to start negotiations with Russia that reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles further, and include all types of nuclear weapons (e.g. tactical and reserve)
  • Push the Obama administration and members of Congress to keep emphasis on the ultimate goal of getting to zero.
  • Push the administration to quickly get to New Start Stockpile Levels

2.  Strategies, Outputs, Activities


Increase congressional support for changing priorities in the nuclear weapons budget, cut funding for facilities and programs that undermine nonproliferation and disarmament, and increase/preserve increases for nonproliferation and disarmament.


A. Leadership Strategy:


  • Build robust grassroots/grasstops coalitions in districts to push MOCs with credibility to become stronger champions on nukes spending, new “Markeys” (First half of the year, tell MOCs how to take pro-active steps. Lay groundwork for specific decisions made (e.g. amendments to cut money) in second half of the year)


Possible Targets:Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Rep. Adam Smith, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Democratic Senators


      • Letter to the President supporting the Prague Agenda
      • Author Dear Colleagues about further cuts
        • Dear Colleagues to Committees recommending specific cuts?
      • Introduce Legislation
        • SANE Act Style?
        • More specific short list of cuts?
        • Topline number cut?
      • Introduce Amendments in Committees/Floor
      • OpEds around nuclear or budget hooks in news

      • Find new grasstops, build list of in-district assets
      • Travel into the district to meet in person
      • Set up and attend in-district meetings with MOCs/Staff
      • Set up Virtual Lobby meetings with DC Staff
      • Group Sign-on letters
      • OpEds/LTEs
      • Phonebanking: push calls into the MOCs office
      • Keep indistrict assets informed on breaking news, opportunities to weigh in with MOCs
      • Sample Email alerts, press releases, postcards, other advocacy resources
      • Educational events
      • Media events

B. Budget-Power Targets/ Grassroots Pressure Strategy


  • Build constituent contact in districts to push MOCs that are targets of the larger nukes budget campaign. Pressure them to support the targeted cuts prioritized by the nukes budget campaign. (Second half of the year- Committee decisions on Approps/Authorization bills, push to get votes on bills/amendments.)


      • Targets Sens Corker & Alexander, Sen Def Approps, House Def Approps

      • Get Committees to vote for cuts (less likely on the Floor)
      • Introduce amendments in Committee


      • Find grasstops, build list of in-district assets, relationships from New START efforts
      • Nationwide In-district lobby days
        • Focus on grasstops in target districts having in-district meetings w/ MOCs/staff
      • OpEds/LTEs in local media
      • Phonebanking: paid or coordinated phonebanking into district before committee votes with general message
      • Group Sign-on letters
      • Keep in-district assets informed on breaking news, opportunities to weigh in with MOCs
      • Sample Email alerts, press releases, postcards, other advocacy resources



Possible New “Don’t bank on the Bomb” Boycott/Divestment Campaign


National PA/PAEF staff, in consultation with affiliate leaders and our Nuclear Disarmament Strategy Group, will decide in the first half of 2013 whether to launch a new boycott/divestment campaign targeting not only nuclear weapons corporations, but the companies that finance them.  If we go forward the campaign would likely be a mostly educational, public relations, online/social media campaign. It could have two possible levels: a “broad brush” listing of all companies in the Don’t Bank on the Bomb report, and also a more targeted approach (Bank of America or Wells Fargo and TIAA-CREF, for example). The campaign would afford us possible opportunities to build alliances with other boycott/divestment or corporate accountability campaigns and perhaps bring new folks into nuclear disarmament work.



VI.             Peace Voter


–Participate in special elections such as helping Rep. Markey in his Senate race in Massachusetts. Be prepared for other possible special election opportunities.


–Fundraise for Peace Action PAC.


–Plan and prepare for 2014.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,573 other followers

%d bloggers like this: