Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

anyone home at the White House?

cj has posted the alert sent out by Jody Dodd about the crisis at the NPT Review at the UN. When I called the White House (202-456-1111) I never talked to a real person. I spent an hour and a half, making three different 1/2 hour phone calls (not to mention about $5 in long distance charges)and only got the boring taped recording over and over. I could have left a message on the machine, but I wanted to talk to a human being.....and never did. I was so disgusted I wrote to Jody and Mary Day to share my frustration. They suggested I share it on the WILPF blog. So, here it is.

Dear Jody, Thanks for this alert. I have sent the word out to the Catonsville branch and alerted the Baltimore branch and called several other folks as well. When I called the White House, which I've done numerous times in the past, I decided, as usual, to stay on the line for a real person.
I waited and listened to a recording for half an hour and then the recording just stopped and the line went dead. I called and listened for another half hour. This time I was getting mad. I DON'T THINK THERE IS ANYONE THERE TO TAKE COMMENTS....or we are keeping them so busy with our calls they just can't keep up. I've been wasting good long distance time, not to mention keeping my line busy for over an hour. I did manage to dust my entire apartment and clean off the kitchen counter while waiting. I'm beginning to feel like an investigative reporter. I think I'm on to something here. There are no real human beings at the White House! I'm going to try again....this time I'll clean the bathroom while waiting. If there is still no answer I might call a friend at the Balt. SUN to check it out.
I did call Sen. Barbara Mikulski's office just to let them know I think the White House comment line is a fraud. Generally she's on our side.
I'll try making my comment to the machine, but knowing the folks at 1600 Penna. Ave, those tapes probably go right down the toilet.
Sorry to be letting off steam to you....but I really am disgusted with that whole bunch! I thought you all up there in Philly would have a sympathetic ear.
Peace, Phyllis
PS. I did spend another half hour listening to the recording and then it stopped and the line went dead with a buzzing belt to the ear. Just now when I tried to call and leave a message on the White House comment machine, the recorded voice told me that "Because of today's special event the White House comment line is closed." Huh?
So, I've just sent a FAX (202-546-2461)....which the machine told me was received.

It's tough work being a citizen of democracy! But, don't tell the people of Iraq I said so.

Peace...and always, Hope. Phylup aka Phyllis Yingling

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Emergency

I received this information from Jody Dodd, our Leadership / Outreach Coordinator in the US WILPF national office in Philly.
There is an emergency at the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. The following quote from Rhianna Tyson, WILPF's Reaching Critical Will associate sums it up:
This morning some diplomats were practically in tears saying, 'this means the end of the NPT regime, we cannot say with a straight face that the NPT will be here in five years for the next review conference.' They were predicting - I heard some diplomats saying over lunch 'By the next review conference there could be ten more nuclear weapons states'. There could be some sort of nuclear terrorism attack, who really knows. And if something happens, if another state acquires nuclear weapons, if terrorists acquire some sort of nuclear device, then that's going to be the last bit of evidence that anybody needs to say 'look, the NPT failed and it did not work and it did not save these people from nuclear annihilation. If we thought the NPT was in a crisis before this Review Conference started, it's in a much greater crisis now.
Check out Banning the Bomb for more information and for video reports from the nuclear NPT Review Conference.

Also read News in Review, the only daily NGO newsletter from the NPT Review Conference from International WILPF.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

news from Baltimore

Things have been happening here in Baltimore. Not only did the Catonsville and Baltimore branches have a fantastic celebration of WILPF's 90th birthday at Goucher College back on April 9, with our International president, Regina Birchem as the primary speaker, but on May 15 we held a Counting the Cost vigil across the street from the Homewood Campus of the Johns Hopkins University. Twenty-five people stood at this busy intersection holding a huge banner that read COUNTING THE COST OF THE WAR IN IRAQ with smaller banners that read, Counting the Cost of the War in Iraq, More than 1,600 U.S. and Coalition Forces and over 100,000 Iraqi Civilians have died. End the War! WILPF members were joined by people from Pax Christi, Military Families Against the War, Code Pink, and Baltimore's Pledge of Resistance. We ranged in age from a baby in arms to an 89 year old Baltimore WILPF woman. Our silent vigil was greeted with many friendly honks and people flashing the peace sign. The big disappointment....no students or faculty from Johns Hopkins or other nearby Universities showed up in spite of strong efforts to encourage them. It was exam week. I guess an hour away from the books was just too much to ask. Will it take a military draft to get students riled up enough to hit the streets? I know there are peacemaking students on campuses. We were just sorry none of them joined in this event.
On Monday, May 23 there was GREAT CELEBRATION at St. Peter Claver church in Baltimore, home parish of JONAH HOUSE of Berrigan Fame. Sr. Carol Gilbert was home!
After 30 months of incarceration for using her hammer on the tracks a nuclear missile silo in Colorada in Oct. 2002 she had been released from prison in Alderson, WV the day before. The really good news was that the probation office had said she could spend her three years of probation in Baltimore at Jonah House, instead of at a homeless shelter in Denver as they had previously decreed.
There was a loud cheer among the nearly 200 peacemaking Carol Gilbert fans as they learned that she could live at Jonah House in spite of the fact that it was the abode of that "terrorist/felon", WILPF sponsor Elizabeth McAlister. The Baltimore SUN wrote all about it in a fine article on Tuesday.
Check out www.baltimoresun.com May 24
Peace, you all. Phylup aka Phyllis Yingling

Life Would Be a Dream if Every City was Santa Cruz, California

The following update from Santa Cruz, California comes from Sandy Silver, our US Section President. Please feel free to share your experiences with WILPF on the local level via the comments section.

Last week, the Philadelphia office received an email from a UC Santa Cruz student who is a member of Students Against War. One of their goals is the demilitarization of UC institutions. They were in the midst of organizing carpools to attend the UC Regents meeting in San Francisco to protest against the continued operation of the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory, and asked for WILPF's support.

The email was immediately forwarded to several WILPF members in Santa Cruz. I contacted the student and invited her to the local branch meeting, which featured a report back from the NPT meeting in New York and an upcoming protest at Vandenberg AFB. The speakers at the program were the three WILPF members who had attended the NPT meeting and who had been three of the 40,000 people who marched in New York in support of the NPT. One of the three WILPF members is the Mayor of Santa Cruz.

Although she couldn't attend, she alerted others in the Students Against War, and another student came. She made the announcement about the upcoming meeting of the UC Regents and received a very warm welcome. She stayed to hear the report back about the NPT, took lots of notes and was very enthusiastic about the work of WILPF.

The Mayor of Santa Cruz is also a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz in the Community Studies Department. After the meeting, I introduced the student to the Mayor and they immediately exchanged email addresses and he offered to post flyers and contact other faculty members. He also told her that he will be making announcements in all of his classes and will encourage other faculty members to do the same.

Another example of "Making the Connections"!!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Straight Talk

More than 15 NGO reps spoke to the NPT review conference delegates at the UN Wednesday. A lot of work and preparation went into making every one of those speeches powerful and impressive.

Nevertheless so many speeches is too many speeches. I watched delegates in the audience talking on cell phones, chatting with visitors and "working the room." This may very well be the norm but it highlighted the issue of what kind of impact all the NGO speeches were actually having on this distracted audience.

A recurring complaint of the NGO community is lack of meaningful contact with UN delegates. Perhaps it would have been more productive to set the tone for the meeting with one or two speeches and request that the rest of the time be used for face to face dialogue?
Anita Pulier

Monday, May 09, 2005

Practicing What We Preach

UN delegates and staffers puff away under the no smoking signs down on the UN's lower level in the windowless Vienna Cafe,

But I was shocked recently when two of us WILPFers were taking a coffee break in the Cafe, and a couple of young, devoted environment-protecting NGOers joined us and lit up. In fact, one guy casually flicked his ashes into my friend's full, steaming coffee cup. When he realized his gaffe he was embarrassed and got on the long food line to fetch a fresh cup .He was a good guy just breaking one little no smoking rule and subjecting all the non-smokers to the well known risks of second hand smoke. What's the big deal? Why get so exercised over trivial acts when we face nuclear annihilation?

Somehow it was a big deal. If these gung-ho environmental activists could happily sit blowing smoke into my face right under a big no smoking sign I wondered how the nuclear States could ever be convinced to follow the rules of the NPT.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Depleted Uranium Denounced

A meeting on May 3rd at Manhattan's New School University featured ex-US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark. The focus of this meeting was Depleted Uranium [DU] and its devastating effect on the US soldiers in Iraq and of course on the Iraqis. One of the speakers was a US Army veteran who said that he suffered DNA damage and attributes his baby daughter's serious birth defects to his wartime exposure to depleted uranium.

DU is leftover garbage from manufacture of fissionable uranium for bombs and nuclear power plants. The US has been using cheap and heavy DU for armor-penetrating missiles and bullets since its first war on Iraq. DU is effective, but radioactive and highly poisonous and is blamed for the alarming rise in cancer and birth defects among exposed Iraqi civilians in Metal of Dishonor, written by Clark and co-authors.

This health catastrophe in Iraq was portrayed in presentations by a photographer and by a cinematographer who spoke at the meeting. Ramsey Clark then elaborated eloquently on this problem and the mind-boggling proliferation and deployment of US nuclear weaponry.

Women’s Strategy Session for the NPT

At the May 2nd Strategy meeting on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, organized by the New Japan Women's Association, we all wept as one of the visiting hibakusha described what it was like to live through our nuclear attack. We could not understand a word of the lovely and emotional song that concluded the meeting, yet the whole audience connected.

Hundreds of women who had just flown from Japan showered us with exquisite origami peace doves, hand colored cards, pins, and bombing photos. In Japan, gifts are a way of greeting. I wish I had known to come with gifts for them.

This kind of meeting reinvigorates the anti-nuclear movement by linking us emotionally with the victims of these hideous weapons.

UN NPT Review Conference

The UN General Assembly is now reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]. NGOs were invited to observe and "civil society" is welcomed in the delegates' speeches, but are being marginalized. Rooms for our special meetings are too small and uncomfortable. Special security for the current session has the NGOs strictly limited to the 3rd levelGeneral Assembly interior "nosebleed" section of the General Assembly auditorium. From that vantage, where much of the view of the hall is blocked, it looks like most of the UN delegates are not bothering to attend. Perhaps this is because, as of this writing 4 days after the meeting began, there was still no agenda and the few delegates present were marking time posturing at the podium to declare how thankful and honored they are to have this opportunity to address… whatever.

So far, the real action is with the NGOs and the peripheral meetings. We remain hopeful that by today there will be an agenda announced.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Models of Occupation: Israel and the U.S.

MidEast Campaign Leadership Team Member Libby Frank pointed me to this extremely insightful and brief comparison of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

"Models of Occupation," by Neve Gordon on ZNet

Women Challenge U.S. Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East is one of the two incoming national campaigns of U.S. WILPF. The campaign will begin at the Triennial U.S. WILPF Congress in San Francisco this August.