Bix and Joe are on the road again

Greetings Plowshares Friends! This just in from Joe Power-Drutis, our roving reporter, who is travelling with Bix around Europe.  What a whirlwind tour!!!  

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Greetings from the mother country,

Bix and I find ourselves in the land of the great lady Elizabeth and
Harry Potter; where I might add the muggle cap my daughter Tamara gave
me hardly creates a stir. We are aided by travel companions Helen
Young and her photographer Flavia Fontes. Helen is producing a
documentary of the November 2, 2009 Disarm Now Plowshares action
involving Steve Kelly, SJ, Sr. Anne Montgomery, Lynne Greenwald, Susan
Crane and Bix. Helen hopes to complete it with footage of Bix
traveling through Norway, Sweden, England, and Scotland. By following
the following link     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helen-young/2012-greater-tacoma-peace-prize_b_2287247.html
an article Helen wrote for the Huffington Post, you will have the
initial reason why Bix and I are here.

Bix and the organizers of this year’s Pacific Life Community Retreat
thought it fitting for us to confer with Catholic Worker communities
and other significant people working to dismantle nuclear weapons and
Trident Submarines in England and Scotland. Our intent is to film,
document and bring back this information to the people coming to this
year’s Pacific Life Community retreat, the Sons and Daughters of
Norway and other interested groups in the Northwest.

My initial plan was to write frequent short updates on our travels in
the region and to send them back via Plowshares News to anyone
interested; however, our packed schedule nixed that. We departed
Tacoma on December 6th and it has been a roller coaster ride all the
way; with action and schedules trumping writing time.

Today is Sunday, Dec 16th and we are allotted a day of rest here in
Oxford. Tomorrow we will continue our journey north into meet up with
Angie Zelter in Wales and beyond to Scotland; there we will connect
with Brian Larkin & Jane Talent, long time peace activists at the
Faslane Peace Camp, a permanent peace camp sited alongside the Faslane
Trident Sub Naval base. We will then travel to Edinburgh to visit
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, one of Scotland’s foremost critics of nuclear
weapons and especially the Trident Submarine.  On Dec 23rd we fly out
of Glasgow, and return to the Northwest.

We are now at what is commonly referred to as Oxford University, a
consortium of 38 colleges and 6 religious orders – Jesuit,
Benedictine, Dominican, 2 Anglican and a Baptist; all  mixed within a
fascinating labyrinth of old world passageways. It is the home of
Gerry Hughes, SJ, who resides at Campion Hall. Bix and Gerry’s special
friendship goes back to the years 1956-59 when they studied at the
Jesuit Theologate in Frankfurt. Both Gerry and Brendan Callaghan, S.J.
Master of Campion Hall, have opened their home and are caring for us
for the duration of our 2 days stay in Oxford. Our time together with
Gerry is worth the trip alone; his insights and knowledge of ‘what is
real’ is reflected in his every word and footstep. Truth be known, it
is Bix that is the driving force behind our daily schedule, no
surprise by all who traveled with him to Japan. Thanks to Gerry, Bix’s
minions will be allotted a few hours of rest so he and Gerry can have
time together.

Leaving Norway on Dec 13th, we landed in London and after jumping
through all of the hoops necessary to get out of the airport, we
snagged a rental car and made straight for our friends and hosts at
the London Catholic Worker who lovingly took in us four weary
travelers. They were a site for sore eyes after bumbling our way
through the heart of London on “the right-their left” side of the
road; of course the Brits feel the colonies were just being
oppositional by having “the yanks” drive on the opposite side of them.
Not wanting to be “dodgy”, that’s for you Dave, I took up no argument
with that issue. Our hosts, Martin Newell C.P. , Ciaron O’Reily, Dave
Nash, Conner Wurth and Roland Dale showed us every kindness possible
as we shared stories of resistance and how our two communities are
alike and different. We were also fortunate to share time with Bruce
Kent, former director of the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament UK
(CND), Ms.Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi International
and Dr. Rebecca Johnson, one of the UK’s foremost experts on nuclear
weapons and a peace activist.

Going backwards, our plane from Tacoma took us over the Artic Circle
and into Iceland, where at the Reykjavik airport, we met up with Helen
and Flavia, who departed from New York – then the 4 of us were onto
Oslo and the beginning of an exciting adventure. We arrived on the 7th
and were “supposed” to use the 8th to recover from jet lag; but, Heir
Fuehrer Bichsel plotted our course right off to Sweden where we would
drive the beautiful countryside of Norway and Sweden in the morning,
spend the afternoon and early evening with Per Herngren then return
late to Oslo. Per founded the Gothenburg Catholic Worker, Vine and Fig
Tree and has been involved in Plowshare Actions in the US, Scotland
and Sweden over a 25 year period. On April 22, 1984, Per was involved
in the Pershing Plowshares action along with our beloved Sister Anne
Montgomery and 6 other activists in
Florida.

Fortunately Heir Fuehrer saw fit to allow his minions to rest some and
for the better part of the 9th we did just that, and so did
he.

Dec 10th – Following the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony Bix and
Helen met with Dr. Bjorne Hilt who is with the International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Dr. Hilt stressed that
in the event of a nuclear war, and given the sheer size of our present
day nuclear weapons, the medical community would find it impossible to
address the needs of survivors.

On Tuesday the 11th we met with Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime
Minister of Norway and presently the administrator for the Oslo Center
for Peace and Human Rights. He explained that his work was primarily
to address governments working together to correct human rights
abuses. We also met with Steinar Bryn of the Nansen Center for Peace
and Dialogue, who is currently working to resolve conflict with
peoples in the Balkan States.

In the evening time we met members of 3 anti nuclear organizations who
were having their end of year meeting. We shared thoughts and ideas on
the elimination of nuclear weapons as well as human needs.

On Wednesday the 12th we had lunch with Hanne Aaberg, Secretary
General of Norwegians Worldwide, and co-workers Maria Vang Ormhaug,
Turid Johannessen, Ingrid Margrete Hillestad, Lisbeth Bo Haaverstad,
and their intern Linda; they work to keep Norwegians Worldwide
connected with their home country. Over lunch we very much enjoyed
sharing hopes and dreams for a more peace filled world. A special
thanks to Maria and Turid without whose assistance we may still be
driving around in circles in the downtown core of Oslo. (Small hint,
if you ever go to Oslo – no GPS system works in the downtown core due
to massive street changes and no satellite map updates)

In the afternoon we met with Geir Lundestad, Director of the Norwegian
Nobel Institute who responded to questions about the controversy
surrounding the European Union receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. We met
around the table that is used for the selection of the Nobel Peace
Prize recipient (s).

The day ended with a tour of the Nobel Peace Center which features an
elaborate Gandhi display.

On the morning of Dec 13th Bix spoke with the Academic Coordinator for
Peace and Conflict Studies, Torstein Dale-Akerlund and a group of
students at Bjorknes College. Several students from Pacific Lutheran
University in Tacoma were in attendance.

After another exciting road trip to the airport we managed to make it
to our 3:15 flight to London. I will try to update more regularly as
we head north – but one never knows.

Bix: In the Audience at the Nobel Peace Prize

Friends, Here is the latest on Bix’s European journey that began with a stop in Oslo to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies.  Documentary filmmaker and producer Helen Young, who is accompanying the Jesuit on his mission, wrote a column in the Huffington Post, which I have posted in its entirety here.  The source URL is http://www.huffingtonpost.com/helen-young/2012-greater-tacoma-peace-prize_b_2287247.html.  Peace on Earth (or else!!!), Leonard

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In the Audience at the Nobel Peace Prize

by Helen Young, 12/12/2012

They were all in one majestic room: Norway’s King and Queen as well as the Crown Prince and Crown Princess; the leaders of 20 European nations including Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Francois Hollande; the European Union’s Nobel Laureates and their entourages; plus hundreds of other dignitaries. They filled Oslo’s massive and beautifully ornate City Hall. And there, too, among the VIPs sat an 84-year-old Jesuit priest who had traveled half a world away from Tacoma, Washington to be there. He seemed to be as well dressed as the rest of the crowd, though he admitted his black suit jacket and trousers had been purchased at Good Will. But to know Father William Jerome Bichsel is to understand that he does not place much importance on appearances. He’s focused laser like on action, and what the next best action needs to be to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

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Father Bichsel, whom everyone calls Father Bix or just plain Bix, was invited to the Nobel Peace Ceremony after he was awarded the 2012 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize by the Scandinavian community in Tacoma a few months ago. The award is bestowed annually on an individual whose life exemplifies a dedication to peace. The elderly priest had just been released from federal prison because he and four other activists broke into the U.S. Navy’s Trident nuclear submarine base near Seattle, which houses one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the country. Acting as citizen weapons inspectors, the intruders, whom prosecutors called, “The Bangor 5,” were intent on exposing America’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Father Bix has spent a lifetime “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable,” says Tom Heavey, a U.S. military veteran who headed up the committee that voted to give the elderly priest its Greater Tacoma Peace Prize. Heavey admits he wrestled with the decision to give the priest the award, because Heavey is “uncomfortable” with some of the priest’s protests actions. In the end, however, Heavey decided Father Bix deserved the honor and that it was the right thing to do.

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One wonders if there was similarly such soul-searching among the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee whose choice of the European Union as this year’s Laureate has sparked so much controversy.  The EU is mired in a three-year-old debt crisis causing rampant unemployment, with some countries in the group teetering on bankruptcy. Several previous Nobel Laureates have sharply criticized the decision including, Desmond Tutu who called the EU an organization based on military force and not deserving of the award. Despite that one cannot overlook the progress in peace the group has fostered over the last 60 years, culminating in a unity among nations who were at one time often at war with each other, such as Germany and France.

At the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, Father Bix listened intently to the speeches and said he came away feeling an opportunity had been missed. He commended the remarks of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who described the European Union as supportive of disarmament and against nuclear proliferation.  However, Father Bix said he wished that the support had come in the form of some concrete action from the EU instead of just words.

Government brings draconian charges against Transform Now Plowshares

Thanks to Ralph Hutchison, of OREPA, for this latest and thorough update on the governments latest shenanigans related to Transform Now Plowshares:

(December 6, 2013, Knoxville, TN) – Prosecutors made good on a threat on Tuesday when a grand jury in Knoxville, Tennessee handed down a superseding indictment charging three nonviolent peace activists under US sabotage laws. The three count indictment drops a previous trespass charge and includes two previous charges—together the three charges carry a total of 35 years in prison. Continue reading

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