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Peace & Justice

Hiroshima Day marked by Kansas City activist sentencing

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Offering the U.S. magistrate judge hearing her case a tiny box from Japan carrying a tightly folded peace crane, a Catholic activist here was sentenced to eight hours of community service for having blocked the entrance to a local nuclear weapons manufacturing facility.

The civil disobedience sentence in federal court came on the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Jane Stoever, a local peace activist, had pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charges stemming from an action with three others June 18. The others agreed to pay fines and were not called before the judge.

Stoever, who was represented by her husband, attorney Henry Stoever, had asked for community service in lieu of a fine.

In her statement to Judge John T. Maughmer, Stoever called attention to a speech given by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kan. May 8.

In that speech Gates noted that the last decade has seen an explosion of defense spending almost like a ‘gusher’ and promised that “the gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.”

The weight of violence

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ESSAY

No act is more violent than taking another’s life. Four years of my life were defined by training to commit, attempting to commit or committing these very acts of violence. During this period I was one of the unfortunate Marines put into situations where murder seemed to be my only option. For me, this taking of lives was only half of the sad and violent story that was my life from ages 18 to 22.

Secret wars and the Gospel of nonviolence

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Viewpoint

On June 4 a front page story in The Washington Post appeared titled: "U.S. 'Secret War' Expands Globally." The article reported that special operations forces are now deployed in 75 countries in a secret war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups. Plans exist for preemptive and retaliatory strikes to either avert or respond to a specific attack. Unacknowledged CIA drone attacks in Pakistan, along with unilateral raids in Somalia and joint operations in Yemen, are all an integral part of this secret war. The proposed administration budget for special operations is $6.3 billion for fiscal year 2011, plus an additional $3.5 billion in 2010 contingency funding.

Military spending

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It is a rare day when Pentagon leaders and peace activists are reading from the same page, but the crush of two ongoing wars and the deep recession have forged a broad and unlikely alliance arguing for significant cuts in U.S. military spending.

The most recent demonstration of the growing consensus for military cuts was the much publicized statement issued July 6 by U.S. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), who not only come from different sides of the aisle but from differing perspectives on most issues. On this issue, however, the two agree, calling for “substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts.”

Bishop to Congress: 'Immigration is humanitarian issue'

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WASHINGTON
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the problem of immigration should not be dissected as an economic issue, but as a humanitarian one.

Bishop Kicanas made the remarks July 14 before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.

"The current immigration law we have today fails to meet the moral test of dignity to the human person," said Bishop Kicanas, whose diocese runs along the whole of the Arizona-Mexico border.Referring to a tough new law passed April 23 in Arizona but not expected to take effect until July 29, he said it was "only providing a Band-Aid unless new federal laws are made."

He made a clear distinction between those coming to the United States to work and those coming to do the nation harm.

"From a moral perspective, we cannot accept the toil of immigrants without providing them protection," Bishop Kicanas said.

The testimony the bishop delivered made several points about what comprehensive immigration reform should include.

Presbyterians take half step on gays

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In a whirlwind of activity, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to lift a ban on partnered gay clergy, but turned down a bid to expand its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

The more than 700 Presbyterians gathered for their General Assembly in Minneapolis also adopted a 170-page report on the Middle East and denounced Caterpillar Inc. for allowing its machinery to be used for “non-peaceful purposes” in the region.

With just more than 2 million members, the PCUSA is the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination, though like most mainline Protestant churches it has been bleeding members for years. Nearly all of mainline churches have been roiled in recent years by internal debates over gay marriage and gay clergy.

The PCUSA clergy resolution, which passed on Thursday (July 8) by a vote of 373-323, strips any mention of sexuality from ordination requirements.

For the fourth time in nearly a dozen years, the denomination's 173 regional governing bodies, called presbyteries, must now decide whether to ratify the General Assembly's vote to allow partnered gays to serve as elders, deacons, and pastors.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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