Dear Friends: The Muste Institute is turning 40!
It’s 2014, and the Muste Institute is turning 40! Join us in celebrating this anniversary year, as we look back with pride at all the amazing projects you have helped us to nurture and sustain over the decadesand get ready to expand this vital work in the coming decades with your support.
In 1974, seven years after A.J. Muste’s death, a group of anti-war activists formed the Institute to honor his legacy. We started without any money; our founders believed, as did A.J., that if a project is important and valuable, all we have to do is ask, and the people who believe in it will give what is needed to make it happen.
They were right. Your generosity over the past 40 years has allowed us to be fearless early supporters of the most grassroots, innovative nonviolent projects. Your gifts to the Muste Institute have played a crucial role in:
We’re excited to start off our 40th year in a strong position to plant the seeds for future victories, thanks to your enthusiastic response to our November letter from Rabbi Alissa Wise.
Jeanne Strole and Jane Guskin
Keeping Nuclear Bomb Cores Off Our Roads
The Muste Institute granted $1,500 in September 2012 to help Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) mobilize against a plan to transport plutonium bomb cores.
It was during conversations with congressional staff in Washington in March 2012 that we at Tri-Valley CAREs first learned of a proposal to put whole plutonium bomb cores on the road from the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico to the Livermore Lab in California. There had been no public announcement or environmental review, despite the plan’s obvious dangers. Even now, the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s plutonium transportation plan remains shrouded in secrecy.
Hanging in the balance is a stark choice of values: do we prioritize the weapons labs or public safety?
Radioactive plutonium cores are the A-bomb components of modern nuclear weapons. The first plutonium atomic bomb was the one tested at Alamogordo, New Mexico in July 1945. It was then used as the model for the bomb dropped on the people of Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945, which left as many as 80,000 dead.
The government’s plan would put these plutonium bomb cores on a “road trip” of about 1,200 miles across New Mexico, Arizona and California. Upon arriving at Livermore Lab, at the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area, these bomb cores would undergo “shake and bake” testing. This involves a shaker pit to vibrate the plutonium cores, a thermal unit to heat them and a high crane from which to drop them. The purpose is to see how the plutonium bomb cores will respond in storage, transportation and “use” environments (meaning nuclear war).
Following the “shake and bake” tests, the bomb cores would be loaded into trucks for the 1,200-mile return trip to Los Alamos, through California’s agricultural Central Valley and the densely populated greater Los Angeles area. When we asked the National Nuclear Security Administration how often these bomb trucks would roll, we were told the number of trips would be based on the needs of the nuclear weapons campaigns each year.
Livermore Lab houses the “shake and bake” equipment but lost its security authorization to house plutonium bomb cores, so its officials plan to obtain “variances” to the nation’s nuclear safety and security regulations every time the cores arrivealthough a 2008 review stated that only four trucks would be needed to move the equipment instead.
We at Tri-Valley CAREs believe that public education and organizing are essential to stopping this dangerous plan. We launched our campaign with a community “town hall” meeting in January 2013. The meeting included environmental, legal and nuclear weapons experts who watchdog both the Livermore and Los Alamos Labs.
We held the town hall in the largest available community space at the Livermore Public Library. We had Spanish translation available in a conversational setting. The meeting successfully engaged scores of new community members regarding the government’s proposal and the threat it poses locally, in towns along the transportation route, at Los Alamos, and, potentially, around the world in the event of a major catastrophe.
The meeting also presented alternatives to the government’s plan from decommissioning the “shake and bake” to moving the equipment to where the bomb cores are located. After hearing from four panelists and engaging in some lively Q & A, the participants broke into action groups.
It was particularly exciting to see new people become engaged. Participants moved their chairs into smaller circles where they developed strategies, practiced talking points and took on follow up tasks, including gathering petition signatures, contacting groups along the transportation route, writing elected officials and more.
From this foundation, we continue to mobilize residents to challenge this plan through letters to the editor, the petition campaign and sit-down meetings with youth, other community members and decision-makers.
One initial successful outcome is a formal letter Tri-Valley CAREs received from the government official in charge of the plutonium plan, committing to a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before moving forward. Tri-Valley CAREs is following up, as the agency official did not commit to producing a full Environmental Impact Statement and holding public hearings. Another success can be seen in the 3,000 signatures gathered so far on our petition to stop the transport of the plutonium bomb cores.
Tri-Valley CAREs will continue to organize the community, gather petitions, and coordinate with other groups to ensure that this plan is changed. If the government tries to move forward, we will mobilize people to comment on the NEPA environmental review document. Finally, we are developing a contingency plan to bring litigation in federal court if necessary.
We are asking groups in directly affected states to take action with us to prevent the transport of plutonium bomb cores through their communities. Please check www.trivalleycares.org or call 925-443-7148. Further, we invite peace and justice advocates everywhere to join the struggle to stop the continued development of nuclear weapons and move this country and the world toward their permanent abolition.
Sallie Marx, 1929-2013
Sallie Marx speaks at a Tax Day action in front of IRS offices on April 15, 2009. An enthusiastic war tax resister and activist, co-founder of NYC War Tax Resistance and People’s Life Fund, she often rode her bicycle to the Muste building to attend meetings and pick up mail. Sallie died on November 11 at age 84. Her generous heart, good humor and dedication are missed. (Photo by Ed Hedemann.)
Howard Clark, 1950-2013
Wearing a long pink wig and a pink vest, War Resisters’ International (WRI) chair Howard Clark (below, at right) sings with other antiwar activists at the July 2011 “War Starts Here” international peace action camp in northern Sweden. WRI, a sponsored project of the Muste Institute, helped
Howard died unexpectedly on Nov. 28, leaving an impressive legacy of action and inspiration.
Read or sign the book of condolences for Howard. (Photo by Ofog.)
Social Justice Fund Grants,
The Muste Institute's Social Justice Fund makes grants for grassroots activist projects in the U.S. and around the world. If supporting nonviolent action for social justice is important to you, please donate now to help us expand this important program. Thank you!
Center for Participatory Change, Asheville, NC: $2,000 in September for the Popular Education Institute for Grassroots Peer Advisors, bringing together grassroots social justice groups in western North Carolina to build capacity and collective power and share skills and knowledge to achieve their goals.www.cpcwnc.org
Connection e.V., Offenbach, Germany: $2,000 in December for the Eastern Mediterranean Conscientious Objectors Network strategic gathering, bringing together activists from antimilitarist movements in Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Greece, Turkey and elsewhere to exchange experiences and strengthen collaborations. www.connection-ev.de
Georgia Women's Action for New Directions, Atlanta, GA: $2,000 in September for a Rural Engagement Internship Project promoting cleanup and environmental monitoring at the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons facility and challenging the expansion of the nuclear Plant Vogtl. gawand.org
New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership (NYACT), New York, NY: $2,000 in September 2013 (via WESPAC Foundation) to educate the public about the role of Cornell NYC Tech and its sponsorsTechnion - Israel Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Google Inc.in developing and deploying communication surveillance technologies used in drones by military and police forces around the world. nyact.net
Peace & Justice Center, Burlington, VT: $2,000 in September for The Cost of War: A Focus on Drones, a campaign to educate the public in Vermont about the consequences of the military use of unmanned aerial drones. www.pjcvt.org
People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), San Francisco, CA: $2,000 in December for the Black Priorities Project, to carry out listening sessions with low-income Black residents in the San Francisco area to identify key forces displacing Black families, and to develop a comprehensive policy agenda that will help Black residents stay in or return to San Francisco. www.peopleorganized.org
Voice of Women Uganda, Kampala, Uganda: $1,500 in September for a campaign to educate community leaders and families in the Ssenge, Kasengejje and Naluvule communities about gender-based violence and human rights, and to train women in these communities as change agents to reduce gender-based violence and seek justice.