Report on Global Network 10th Annual Conference in Berkeley

10-12 May 2002

Bruce Gagnon

The Global Network's (GN) May 10-12 tenth anniversary international conference and protest in Berkeley, California was a smashing success. Two hundred fifty persons from 12 countries attended the weekend of events that began on Friday, May 10 with a protest vigil at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale. At the Sunnyvale site, Lockheed Martin is now testing lasers for the space-based laser and airborne laser programs. Military satellites for war fighting are also under development at the facility.

After an hour of colorful bannering at the facility, a rally was held that featured a series of songs by the "Raging Grannies" made up of local members of Womens Int'l League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Others from around the U.S. and world spoke about why they had come to the event. A skit, by Mary Sprunger Froese and Loring Wirbel from Colorado Springs, made fun of the Pentagon and aerospace industry piggishly gorging themselves on taxpayer dollars.

Upon returning to the offices of our host group, Nevada Desert Experience (NDE), a wonderful dinner was held for us prepared by Food Not Bombs members in Berkeley. GN Board member Sally Light, executive director of NDE, did an incredible job of hosting the conference and was able to handle the millions of details that made the weekend event run smoothly. Sally arranged local home hospitality for over 40 out of town guests and well as secured excellent meeting facilities on the campus of the University of California in Berkeley.

Conference proceedings began on May 11 with Sally welcoming people to the conference and she explained the role that the University of California plays in the development of nuclear weapons and space projects.

Just prior to the start of the first plenary session, called "Int'l Perspectives on Preventing an Arms Race in Space", GN intern Ji Ho Park from South Korea presented a three minute video clip he created with documents he had gathered while in Colorado Springs for the annual aerospace symposium in April. Set to music by the group Rage Against the Machine, the high tech presentation revealed the latest pictures of the various space weapons systems now under development.

The plenary panel featured the following persons:

  • Regina Hagen (Int'l Network of Engineers & Scientists Against Proliferation, Darmstadt, Germany)
  • Satomi Oba (Plutonium Action, Hiroshima, Japan)
  • Jacob Grech (Australia Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, Melbourne)
  • Susan Pineda (People's Task Force for Bases Clean Up, Central Luzon, Philippines)
  • Edward Appiah Brafoh (Green Earth Organization, Ghana)

Regina told how Europe is now moving into space militarization, not wanting the U.S. to have total "control and domination" of space. Satomi spoke about how most Japanese do not know about the space issue and her determination to change that fact. Jacob spoke of the feeling of isolation of the Australian peace movement but their commitment to hold actions at Pine Gap in October. Susan gave a moving presentation about how the U.S. was putting troops back into the Philippines long before September 11 and the war on terrorism. Edward spoke strongly about how Africa suffers from AIDS and neglect while the U.S. wastes precious resources on Star Wars.

Following the session, Satomi Oba, much to her surprise, was awarded the GN's annual "Peace in Space Award" for her incredible efforts to translate and distribute the last two Karl Grossman space videos in Japan.

Since Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) was not able to attend we decided to split the keynote session into mini-keynotes which began with an 8-minute video clip from Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of physics at the CUNY. Michio was also unable to attend because he had long ago agreed to keynote a physics conference in Mexico City. But on the huge video screen overhead Michio analyzed current Bush administration plans to escalate the arms race, both with new "mini" nukes and space weapons.

Other keynoters included:

  • Karl Grossman (Professor of Journalism, SUNY)
  • Stacey Fritz (No Nukes North, Fairbanks, Alaska)
  • Kathy Kelly (Voices in the Wilderness, Chicago, IL.)

Karl reminded us how the U.S. is expanding plans to move more nuclear power into space during the coming years and about NASA's new major commitment to the nuclear rocket. Stacey reported on plans for a peace camp at Fort Greely in Alaska, June 12-16, to protest U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and planned NMD deployments at that location. Kathy moved us all with her report from her recent trip to Palestine and concluded by saying that even though she was riding first class on this train to hell she was refusing to pay for it by her resistance to paying taxes.

Following lunch there were two consecutive workshop sessions featuring ten choices during each session. The only complaints we heard all weekend was that there were too many good workshops to choose from.

The afternoon plenary session was called "Alternatives, Actions & Strategies to Keep Space for Peace" and this rousing session really capped off a good spiritied day of events. The presenters at this session were:

  • Dave Knight (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK)
  • Ardeth Platte (Jonah House, Baltimore, MD.)
  • Sri Raman (Movement Against Nuclear Weapons, Chennai, India)
  • Kimberly Ead (Vermont Peace & Justice Center, Burlington)

Dave stated that he was staying positive in the midst of all the insanity and believes that we have to work every possible angle, every non-violent path available to us. Ardeth, a Roman Catholic nun and a member of the Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares, spoke about the need to step forward into nonviolent resistance to the plans for global domination. Sri reminded us about the enormous tensions between India - Pakistan and reported on the extraordinary efforts of the growing Indian anti-nuclear movement. Kimberly gave a great rendition of Vermonters efforts to stop a pro-Star Wars resolution introduced by right-wing forces into the Vermont legislature and warned us all to be on the alert in our states for similar resolutions.

Our wonderful dinner that evening was hosted by the Korean Truth Commission which shared with us the horrible story about U.S. massacre of Korean civilians at No Gun-ri and they concluded by playing the BBC documentary (never shown on U.S. TV of course) that revealed U.S. government documents ordering the execution of civilians during the Korean war. Copies of the video were passed around and folks committed to showing them at home.

After a short break we had an entertainment bonanza with Lynda Williams (San Francisco), Holly Gwinn Graham (Olympia, WA), and Joel Landy (New York, N.Y.) each performing their incredible array of space related compositions. It was a treat and a pleasure for all of us. (The three have committed to putting together a music CD of their space songs and donating all proceeds to the GN.)

Our final day together, May 12, was the regular business meeting of the GN. Following local reports, treasurer and coordinator reports, a wide ranging strategy discussion was facilitated by Dave Knight from the United Kingdom. (A separate e-mail will be sent out soon with notes from this session once Dave and his wife return from their U.S. trip.)

It was decided at this meeting that the 2003 GN international meeting would be held in South Korea and Australia (two days in each country). The Bush administration is now moving to provoke tensions in the Asian-Pacific region. Confronting North Korea, as a way to incite China, now seems the likely scenario so it was agreed that the GN should make a real effort to meet in this part of the world. Australia also is a key in this scenario as the U.S. spy base at Pine Gap in Australia is instrumental to operations in
the Pacific region.

Throughout the weekend the dates of October 4-11 came up. This is the time that the GN will hold the "Keep Space for Peace Week: International Days of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space." Already several of the groups present at the conference were announcing plans for activities during the week. The GN pledged to send an official representative to the large action at Pine Gap that is 2,000 miles out in the bush of Australia. "Beat the bushes" should be the rally cry for sure!

And what better way to end the whole great weekend than with another party. Claire Greensfelder, long time supporter in Berkeley, told Sally Light early on that she'd like to have all speakers, home stay providers, and other guests over to her house for a backyard picnic after the conference so we all went over and had a brilliant (an English favorite phrase) time in Claire's wonderful backyard garden. The food was great, more music, and a wonderful time to just talk with our new friends and old.

All in all the weekend was an "ace" according to Jo Berry from Liverpool. The spirit was high and lots of good work was shared. Now we've all got to go back home and step up the pace to make sure that we can keep space for peace. Please join with us by holding local activities in your community on October 4-11.

Keep in touch too.

Thank you.

(Details of tape recordings of the Conference at: Network
See also: report from No Nukes North;
and conference details here)

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