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September 2007 Citizens Watch Newsletter

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Got Strategy

by Ann Seitz
from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

You are in a sunlit room, surrounded by advocates for peace, nuclear disarmament and a healthy environment. You see people of varying ages, and are gently embraced by positive energy. Hope and pragmatism are there. Opportunities and barriers are surveyed. Vision is much more than mere eyesight. Where are you?

You are at Tri-Valley CAREs' annual strategic planning retreat, held this year on July 28 and attended by two dozen of our board members, staff and volunteers. Throughout the day, ideas were shared, winning strategies were analyzed, and program priorities were chosen for the next 12 months.

To begin the planning process, we first held ourselves accountable to the goals we had chosen at last year's retreat by examining our major wins and ongoing challenges.

Recently, we scored a huge victory when, due to mounting public opposition, the government abandoned its plans to build a half-million square foot biowarfare agent research facility at Livermore Lab's Site 300.

We also celebrated that our efforts had ensured that no more plutonium came to Livermore Lab, despite the government's plan to double it. Our "stop the plutonium" petition campaign attracted more than 10,000 signatures, which had been our goal for the year. And, on a lighter note, our peace entry in the Livermore Rodeo Parade was a winner this year, earning a 2nd place trophy. These are but three examples; we truly had a lot to cheer.

Still, serious hurdles remain. Foundation funding for peace and disarmament organizations is shrinking. One of the challenges facing us in the coming months is to raise enough money to accomplish the great work we have planned. Committees were formed, and a good start was made.

Among the grassroots fundraising projects "hatched" at our planning retreat are a garage and bake sale (Sept. 22 & 23), participation in a "Run for Peace" (Oct. 7) and a "Monte Carlo Night" or similar event in 2008..

Following a lively analysis of our strengths and weaknesses, the numerous upcoming opportunities to create political change and the threats that could thwart us, we carefully picked Tri-Valley CAREs' priorities for the coming year.

We placed a major emphasis on stopping the Department of Energy (DOE) "Complex 2030" plan. We talked about the connections between the "Bombplex" (as we and our colleagues call it) and other key priorities, such as stopping the further development of nuclear weapons and preventing planned increases in plutonium activity at Livermore Lab.

We also discussed ways in which Tri-Valley CAREs can use the "Complex 2030" process to advocate for shrinking the weapons complex instead of revitalizing it per the DOE's plans.

Priorities we chose for the year also include halting open-air bomb blasts at Site 300; preventing biowarfare agent research at the Livermore Lab main site; promoting positive alternatives to nuclear weapons work; mobilizing youth and other key constituencies, and winning cleanup of the Lab's existing pollution.

While much was accomplished, our planning retreat was not all work and no play. In particular, we enjoyed a "pot luck" banquet, building community while we exchanged recipes.

The day went by quickly. Our facilitator helped keep us on track and our dynamic discussions led us to clear ideas about what needs to be done.

By day's end, we had our priorities and initial plans to achieve them. As the sun touched the hills, we bid farewell to each other and vowed to swing into action for another successful year.

We who participated in this year's retreat trust that we have done you, our members and supporters, proud - and we invite your active participation in refining and implementing Tri-Valley CAREs' strategic plan throughout the coming year.

It is through all of us working together that we will succeed in stopping new nukes, safeguarding our communities from pollution and moving our country and the world toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and war. Adelante!

Think Outside the Bomb

by Jedidjah de Vries
from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Students and young activists from all across the country came together in Santa Barbara, CA this August for the 6th national "Think Outside the Bomb" conference. Geared toward the next generation of anti-nuclear activists, participants were immersed in a whirlwind of lectures and workshops for 5 days. Tri-Valley CAREs' Outreach Director Jedidjah de Vries attended to bring the voice of Livermore to the students.

On the technical side, participants learned about the history of nuclear weapons, the current state of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and the Dept. of Energy's plans to revamp it. Discussion delved deeply into the nature of and reasons for nuclear weapons and current nuclear weapon policy. The level of analysis and understanding exhibited by the students was impressive. At times it felt more like a conference of Political Science or Sociology professors than of students.

Perhaps the most powerful sessions were those in which experienced activists shared their stories of resistance. Myrna Pagan, a native of Vieques, told how she was part of the movement that successfully forced the Navy to stop using her island as a shooting range. Steve Lopez of the Fort Mojave Nation related how his people fought nuclear waste dumping on their land.

Pagan and Lopez imparted not only their knowledge but also the inspiration and courage to keep up the struggle against nuclearism.

The students did more than just take in information. One of the goals of the conference was to contribute to the current momentum in youth activism. Workshops on direct action and media outreach helped students develop their own skills as activists. Time was set aside for participants to work together on current campaigns and to develop new ones. The conference helped connect activists from across the country working on similar issues.

A number of exciting plans -- such as campus-based student hearings on "Complex 2030" -- are sure to come to fruition in the coming school year.

What was most exhilarating about the "Think Outside the Bomb" conference was the sense of community. Over and over, participants and speakers remarked at the wonderful atmosphere.

Seeing so many young, energetic, committed individuals working together gave a feeling of hope for the future.

If you are a student or youth and want to know more about the "Think Outside the Bomb" network or the statewide "Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California," send email to , or call the Tri-Valley CAREs office.

Livermore Vigil to End the War

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

On Tuesday, August 28, about 40 community members gathered at the busiest intersection in downtown Livermore to call on our government to end the war in Iraq. People began by creating their own signs. Some chose, "Honk for peace," while others wrote, "Didn't we learn the lessons of Vietnam?," and, "Is Iran next?" Some called directly on our Member of Congress, Ellen Tauscher, to "Stand up in September" and end the war.

Our vigil was timed to coincide with events across the nation, sponsored by Ours had a uniquely local "flavor." For one thing, it had a soundtrack, as the downtown association holds live concerts every Tuesday evening.

Vigil participants spread out to cover all four corners. Many, many drivers honked in support. The "foot traffic" supported, too, some picking up signs and staying. We had planned to be there from 5 PM to 6:30 PM. Many participants stayed until 7 PM, and a contingent of local youth remained at the intersection, holding signs aloft, until 8 PM. It was an important act, making ourselves and our opposition to war visible in our community. Such action empowers others.

Alerts 4 You

from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Thursday, September 20
Tri-Valley CAREs meets
7:30 PM, Livermore Library
1188 So. Livermore Ave.
(925) 443-7148 for details

Join us. Old friends and new members alike are welcome. At our September 20th meeting, we will share information on bomb blasts at Site 300, new nuclear weapons, Congressional actions, Lab plutonium, and the upcoming public hearings on DOE's "Complex 2030" plan (dates and times are yet to be announced by DOE).

We will discuss our October 3 community meeting on how to stop the "Bombplex." We will also report back on local actions to end the war in Iraq. Your participation makes us stronger and helps us win peace, justice and a healthy environment.

September 22 and 23
TVC "Garage" Sale and Bake Sale
9 AM - 3 PM, Saturday and Sunday
Tri-Valley CAREs' parking lot
2582 Old First Street, Livermore
(925) 443-7148 for details

How can you raise money for your favorite peace and environmental group? Donate goods to our garage sale. Or, sign up to bake something for us to sell. You can also volunteer to help us staff the sale. And, of course, please do come by for a little shopping on the sale weekend.

Wednesday, October 3
Stop the "Bombplex"
Community Meeting
7 PM, community space at
United Christian Church
1885 College Ave., Livermore
(925) 443-7148 for details

Discover how your voice can stop nuclear weapons. The Dept. of Energy is planning a new, revitalized nuclear weapons complex, which it calls "Complex 2030." The DOE wants new nukes, to be designed here at Livermore Lab. We envision positive alternatives and a world free of nuclear weapons. With your voice and ours, we will stop the "Bombplex" where it starts -- at the Livermore nuclear weapons lab.

This important community meeting will open with experts who will offer briefings on the "Complex 2030" plan to revitalize the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and explain its connections to Livermore Lab. Then, in small groups, we will formulate our plans for the future - terminating all plutonium activities, halting the "Reliable Replacement Warhead" program, closing the Lab's Site 300 to bomb testing, and more.

On Oct. 3, you will learn how DOE's version of "Complex 2030" could impact your health, pollute the environment and trigger global nuclear proliferation. And, you will discover how it can be stopped. We will prepare you to participate effectively in the legally-mandated public hearings that DOE will hold later this year. Join us. Your attendance is vital.

Sunday, October 7
"Run for Peace"
10k run, 5k walk/run
10 AM start, Berkeley Marina,
Cesar Chavez Park, 200 Marina Blvd.
Pre-register by Oct. 1
Questions? Call (925) 443-7148

We invite you to have fun and benefit Tri-Valley CAREs. Pre-register by 5 PM on Oct. 1 at, and the $15 fee (with a $3 processing fee) includes mailing of a pre-event race kit, water along the route, and more. Next, get your friends and family to sponsor you for each kilometer. Ask your sponsors to make their checks payable to Tri-Valley CAREs. Tell your sponsors that their donation is tax-deductible.

Senator Feinstein, Key Representatives Say No New Nukes

by Marylia Kelley
from Tri-Valley CAREs' September 2007 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Recently, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bill designed to cut all funding for the Dept. of Energy's new H-bomb program, the so-called "Reliable Replacement Warhead" (RRW). The legislation would prohibit any funding for the RRW program through Fiscal Year 2010.

Further, Feinstein's bill would require the next President to conduct two distinct analyses of the nation's rationale for its post-Cold War arsenal.

The Nuclear Policy and Posture Review Act (S. 1914) is co-sponsored by Senators Collins (R-ME), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI) and Kennedy (D-MA). Senator Feinstein is presently seeking additional co-sponsors for the measure.

Feinstein called the bill "essential to put the brakes on the Bush Administration's push to develop the Reliable Replacement Warhead..."

She further characterized the RRW program as "a dangerous course" that "will encourage the nuclear proliferation we are trying to stop."

The provisions of S. 1914 would:

  • Prohibit appropriation of any funds for the RRW program for FY 2008, 2009 and 2010 - and until the two required reports detailed below are delivered to Congress.
  • Require the next President to conduct a nuclear policy review to consider a range of options on the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security policy.
  • Allow the next President to reach out to outside experts and conduct public hearings to obtain a wide range of views on what U.S. nuclear weapons policy ought to be.
  • Mandate that the nuclear weapons policy report be delivered to Congress by Sept. 1, 2009.
  • Require the Secretary of Defense, following the completion and submittal of the nuclear policy report, to produce a new nuclear posture review (replacing the Bush Administration's NPR) to clarify U.S. nuclear deterrence policy and strategy.

While the most concrete element of S. 1914 is the elimination of funding for the RRW program, perhaps its most exciting and innovative aspect is its encouragement of a broad public debate on nuclear bombs and why we have them. This is something that Feinstein's staff has been discussing with constituents, and it is important to note that the legislation attempts to enhance our democracy as well as nuclear sanity.

In other RRW budget news, the two top members of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee released a scathing letter in August reiterating their opposition to the RRW program and defending their decision not to appropriate funding for it.

The letter from Representatives Pete Visclosky (D-IN/Chair) and David Hobson (R-OH/Ranking Minority Member) came in response to a short (3-page) "report" issued in late July by the Bush Administration warning of dire consequences if the Congress did not fork over money for the RRW program forthwith.

The two influential lawmakers wrote that they were "disappointed" the Administration "dismissed" the policy concerns raised by the House appropriators when they voted to withhold RRW funds. Visclosky and Hobson also called the report's bald assertion that the U.S. might need to "return to underground nuclear testing" unless it got RRW money "irresponsible."

Next steps: When Congress resumes this month, the issue of RRW funding for the coming year will go to a "Conference Committee" because the House voted zero funds for RRW while the Senate gave it $69 million of the $89 million that the President's budget requested. Whenever the House and Senate budgets differ, it goes to Conference Committee to hammer out a final number.

Thus, the timing of Feinstein's bill is crucial. If S. 1914 attracts a lot of co-sponsors, it will send an important message to the Conference Committee.

What can you do? First, all of us who are from Calif. should write or call Senator Dianne Feinstein and thank her for introducing the bill. Often, we forget to speak up when we are in agreement with a measure, and that's a mistake. Second, Call Senator Barbara Boxer. Ask her to co-sponsor S. 1914.

Not a Californian? Call your state's Senators and ask them to co-sponsor S. 1914. Have family or friends in other parts of the country? Get them involved, as well. Nuclear weapons are too important to leave the decision-making to the DOE and the weapons labs. Senator Feinstein has the right idea. A vigorous public discussion on nuclear policy is long overdue.

Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121. Ask for your Senator. Then, ask to speak to the Defense Aide. For more information on RRW: See, also, the "Alerts" on page 3 and the enclosed insert.

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