VETERANS FOR PEACE, Chapter 23, MINUTES of meeting 1/20/2021

 

Present: Rev. James Swarts, Jeremiah Knowles, Bob Shearer, Marybeth Knowles, Arnie Matlin, Bruce Pease, Gail Stephens, Holly Adams, Jack Spula, Mick Cole, Helen Jaccard

 

Treasury Report

Marybeth: Chapter dues, as of today, 19 dues paying members and 4 gave larger contributions. Our current balance is $847.65 and the $50 contribution to RiseUp has not been cleared yet. This will bring our total down to $797.65. Total contributions from our chapter to the deported veterans in Tijuana is approximately $900.

 

Climate Working Group Report: Bob Shearer

Bob Shearer has been working with the VFP National Climate Working Group. Prior to retirement in 2009, Bob was in public service and worked with various state and local environmental agencies. 

 

The Climate working group was newly formed and the initial meeting had approximately 20-30 VFP members in attendance. Since the onset the Climate Working Group has been working on developing a mission statement, goals, and focus areas for work in relation to militarism and climate change. The Climate Working Group also hopes to form strong coalitions/partnerships with non-veteran organizations that also focus on climate change. 

 

The mission statement: Our mission is to educate and mobilize about the cost of war and militarism as it relates to the climate crisis and the increase of greenhouse gases.

 

Focus Areas: The carbon footprint in the US is larger than most other counties. 

The climate crisis affects indigenous and communities of color. 

Militarism and war increase the effects of climate change.

The financial cost of the US military and its wars instead of using those limited resources in affecting climate change

 

The group has already created some education materials, in the form of a brochure, that can be handed out at events. The brochure can be found by following this link: https://www.veteransforpeace.org/files/2416/0986/8375/VFP_Climate_Crisis_Group_Brochure_edit10-7.pdf

The Climate Working Group is focusing on a letter writing campaign to the Joe Biden administration in support of climate change initiatives. 

There is also a focus on the military ban on the federal carbon emissions restrictions. They will be creating educational materials to spread awareness and information. 

 

Nuclear Weapons Ban: Holly Adams from Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace

Holly Adams is a representative from the Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace (GVCP) and has been a member for approximately 20 years. Holly is a retired school teacher and yoga instructor. Currently, Holly and GVCP are organizing a demonstration/celebration on Friday January 22nd at noon in support of the Nuclear Weapons ban Treaty through the United Nations. Holly provided some background information about the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty through the United Nations (UN) and the world wide support. 

 

On 7 July 2017 – following a decade of advocacy The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and partners – an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations adopted a landmark global agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. On 22 January 2021, the treaty will enter into force. The treaty was strongly supported by the survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Hibakusha) as well as other countries who were tired of nuclear countries not living up to the Biological Weapons Convention Treaty of 1975. 

The United States was absent from the table when this treaty was presented. The way the treaty was written, once 50 countries had ratified the treaty it would become international law. October 24th, Honduras was the 50th country to sign the treaty. January 22nd the treaty will become international law. 

In celebration of the treaty, groups and organizations across the globe are having events in support of the treat. ICAN has a map at www.ICANW.org/events which shows events in support of this treaty all across the globe. In NYS there are other events occurring in Binghamton, Syracuse, and NYC. In a recent meeting of the General Assembly of UN December 20th, 130 countries voted yes in support of this treaty. There are 51 countries that have ratified the treaty. Another 86 have signed the treaty and are in the process of ratifying the treaty. Member countries must not produce, research, stockpile, use, transfer, threaten to use, or develop. Member countries cannot host other countries' nuclear weapons in their country. Prior to this treaty, nuclear weapons were the only WMDs not prohibited by the UN.  Countries that join can opt to join before or after eliminating their existing nuclear weapons which will be verified by the UN. The current nuclear weapons states will not be able to station their nuclear weapons in member countries. Member countries will have to submit regular reports on nuclear weapons programs until they are eliminated. 

The United Nation recognizes 193 member nations and recognizes 4 other nations. None of the nuclear weapon states have signed on to this treaty. Since none of the nuclear weapon states have signed they are not bound by the treaty but will feel the effects of the treaty. When other WMD’s have been banned, countries still changed some of their policies and stopped producing and investing in such weapons. Even though Norway did not sign the treaty, the Norwiegan pension fund stopped investing in companies that produce nuclear weapons. 

The treaty also lays out assistance for victims of testing. This support can take many forms such as financial assistance, medical care, etc. Some of this assistance can come from general UN members including those that have not ratified the treaty.  More than 2000 nuclear weapons have been detonated since 1945. Communities nearby and workers can be considered victims of testing. The treaty acknowledges that indigenous communities have been disproportionately affected by nuclear weapon testing. 

Local towns and principalities in the United States have declared support for the treaty and committed to divestment from companies that help develop nuclear weapons. Over 50 universities in the United States help research and develop nuclear weapons. 

 

A demonstration will take place on Friday January 22nd at noon for the TPNW EIF rally in Geneseo, New York at the intersection of Main Street and South Avenue by the town park.  Please bring peace signs, anti-nuke signs, VFP flags, etc to help promote a nuclear weapons free world. Church bells will be ringing across the country. It is more of a celebration than a demonstration or protest. 

 

Helen Jaccard, Project Manager of VFP's Golden Rule Peace Boat Project, and the VFP Nuclear Abolition Working Group

The Golden Rule peace boat was re-launched in 2015. The Golden Rule aims to advance Veterans For Peace opposition to nuclear weapons and war, and to do so in a dramatic fashion. They have recovered and restored the original peace boat, the Golden Rule, that set sail in 1958 to stop nuclear testing in the atmosphere, and which inspired many peacemakers and peace ships that followed. The restored Golden Rule is voyaging once more, to show that a nuclear peace is possible, and that bravery and tenacity can overcome militarism. Additional information about the Golden Rule can be found on their website:  http://www.vfpgoldenruleproject.org/

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Golden Rule has been docked in Hawaii and has taken part in some regional adventures. The Golden Rule plans to set sail again in May 2021; sailing to California, moving by truck to Corpus Christi TX in November 2021, and from December 2021 - February 2023 they will sail the “Great Loop.” The Golden Rule plans to be in Rochester August 12th - 16th of 2022. 

 

Chapter 23 can help prepare for the arrival of the Golden Rule by arranging events, lodging, and advertisements for its arrival. The Golden Rule often attracts local press which can be used to push the local initiatives of VFP chapters. Sailors of the Golden Rule will be available for speaking engagements with various organizations. 

Western NY Peace Center is located in Buffalo. The Golden Rule will be stopping in Rochester, Toronto, then Buffalo. The Syracuse Peace Council is also very active and has a strong anti-drone movement. 

If anyone has any further questions about the Golden Rule, you can email Helen Jaccard at vfpgoldenruleproject@gmail.com.

 

Deported Veterans and PPC: Marybeth Knowles

Recently Cesar Nunez, one of the advocates for deported veterans, posted a video of himself on social media discussing the promises of Joe Biden and other politicians that he has met with in regard to bringing deported veterans home within the first 100 days. The video can be found here on Cesar Nunez Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014732793911

Cesar is encouraging individuals and chapters to write letters to the white house in order to remind Joe Biden of his promises. Also, On Facebook you can like and follow these pages: Unified US Deported Veterans Las Vegas "The Barracks" and  Jesus Manuel Valenzuela for up-to-date information. Cesar Nunez also has videos of him on his FB page speaking with Pete Buttegeig and Tammy Duckworth. Recently, Cesar Nunez, Manny and his brother recently learned that they may be at risk of being deported again. 

Chapter 23 was initially brought to this issue through a veteran in NYC named Hans who is at risk of deportations. Currently Hans is working with legal council and fighting his deportation. 

 

PPC is focusing on efforts to gain membership; ramping up phone banking and spreading the message of the PPC. 

 

Miscellaneous Updates

More information about the Deported Veterans and Golden Rule can be found in the latest edition of the Peace Sentinel: Fall 2020 issue. 

 

James: The China Working Group is made up from mostly people on the Pacific coast which has been making it difficult to attend meetings. The China Working group is following the incoming administration and appointments. The group is concerned about the rhetoric from some of these appointments who are looking at China more as a threat rather than an economic competitor. As soon as Biden finished his speech today, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the People's Republic of China issued a statement sanctioning several Trump officials banning them and their family from entering China.  

 

Bruce: Continuing to contact members that need to renew chapter and national membership. Bruce has been able to renew several new members. 

 

Bob: Suggested doing a survey of the Chapter 23 membership to identify the skills and resources that we have available that may be interested in contributing to the working group or other initiatives.

 

Jeremiah: Provided information about the National Membership Committee and Transformative Justice Committee. Both working groups are still finding their footing. The membership committee is focusing on recruiting younger veterans and providing training for chapters in social media. The transformative justice committee is focusing on what transformative justice would look like for VFP.

 

If you are interested in being a part of the various National VFP committees, you can find more information by following this link: https://www.veteransforpeace.org/our-work/working-groups 

 

The VFP social hour is on Thursdays at 6:00pm EST via Zoom. You can join the social hour by following this link: https://zoom.us/j/324812650