Penguins for Peace

There’s a new peace group in Cairns.

A bunch of us has met twice now, and we’ve talked about how to stop US warships from visiting Cairns.

Margaret, Steve, Rob, Mike, Paul, and I have made decisions about the what, how and who of taking effective action.   Trish, Sarah, Polly, Carla, Jonathon and Stu will join in the training, and the support/action.  We are going to make the US Navy’s job a lot harder every time they come to Cairns.

We’re meeting again on 3 March to move the costumes forward (penguin/stinger suits), and decide on a training program and public launch.

We have three swimmers, a media guru, a techno-geek, a community artist, and a bunch of otherwise ordinary folk willing to witness, support and organise.  We’ll take dramatic and effective NVDA every time a US warship arrives.  We’ll use that NVDA to spread the word and build the movement.

Our action will be to swim out in front of arriving US warships – to make them stop and wait while Queensland water Police clear us out of the way.  With three swimmers, all of whom will non-cooperate (and two of whom will be fit), it ought take Police an hour or more to do that job.  For that hour, the US Navy ship will be vulnerable.  Under tow in a foreign civilian port.

A big and important warship – like the USS Blue Ridge – might be kept vulnerable for several hours.

If we can achieve these modest goals the US Navy will stop coming to Cairns.


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Waihopai Dome-busters On Trial

Beating Swords into Ploughshares

Last Saturday I went to Brisbane for gathering of Catholic Workers and friends.  The guest of honour was a 69 year old Dominican friar, Fr Peter Murnane.  Peter was born in Cobden, western Victoria.  He’s spent the last eighteen years living in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In April 2008 Peter was one of three Catholic Worker activists who, calling themselves ANZAC Ploughshares, broke into the US run Waihopai spy base outside Blenheim in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. After they broke in they deflated a radome, exposing the satellite dish within. Waihopai is a ground receiving station for space-based signals and electronic “intelligence”, which is then fed into the US “Defence” (war-fighting) system.  The other Catholic Workers are young organic farmers, Sam land and Adi Leason.

Just like Pine Gap in Australia, information received at Waihopai is a key weapon in US wars around the world.  The intelligence  is used to generate real- time battlefield information, and to discern military, economic and political targets for operational purposes.  The US military calls this space-based intelligence capacity a “force multiplier” – and has been accelerating its use since 1991 and its first war against Iraq.

Peter Murnane says the information collected at Waihopai is also used to identify people for the US “extraordinary rendition” program where suspected “terrorists” are kidnapped and tortured in CIA black ops.  Waihopai is part of the Echelon eavesdropping program of US intelligence.

When the ANZAC Ploughshares deflated the Waihopai dome, they not only exposed the role of that spy base in waging global war – they also showed how it’s possible for human beings to act directly and effectively against war.

They are Catholic Workers implementing on Earth the promise of God and the prophecy of Isiah.

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