Jury being empanelled now

A beautiful morning in Wellington

Well, the trial process has started, but its venue – Court 3 of the District Court at Ballance St in Wellington – is presntly closed to the public while the Jury is being selected and empannelled.
I’ve counted 3 television networks and 12 media workers altogether waiting at the Courtroom doors, along with 40 supporters and family waiting for admittance.
Over the road another 60 or so are gathered singing and vigilling.
Peter, Adi and Sam are all in good spirits, and were bouyed by the procession of more than 100 from the Cenotaph to the Court.
Peter, as an ordained Dominican priest is the leading public figure, and as I understand it will be representing himself during trial.  Adi and sam each have legal representation, and the principle task in front of them is to get the waihopai three an opportunity to call a range of expert witnesses on hand.
As I understand it, the defendents want to run a necessity defence, while the lawyers also want to test the prosecution case.  All would like to win acquittals, but the three are personnaly prepared for conviction, and willing to do time in prison if it comes to that.
It’s a fine, even glorious day in Wellington.  The spirit is with us.

Mass for Waihopai/Ploughshares

Fr Peter urnane prepare the lter - with the US Embassy in the backgroundPrayer on the path to peace.

As the Waihopai Ploughshares head to trial tomorrow one of the defendents, Fr Peter Murnane, officiated at Mass this morning at the shrine outside the US Embassy.  About 40 came to worship and make communion with the body of Christ.

In his homily, Peter reflected on the nature of peace, and how it rests on the principles of repentance for wrongdoing, forgiveness of sin, and love for God and each other.  He drew attention to the Embassy and how the people living and working in it were in a state of constant fear- as shown by the weapons, defences and architecture of a building in the otherwise sweet sunshine and clear air of a beautiful Wellington day.

a reading from Paul's letter to the Corinthians

He contrasted that with the trees, grass, and living nature of the park in which God’s presence burned everywhere with green fire, and where we gathered to give thanks and praise.  He reminded us that God was also present in the hearts of those who worked for empire, and that our work as peace-makers was one of transformation rather than condemnation. 

So that while we might work to stop the military machine, and stop the bad behaviour of empire, the key aspect of our work was transformational as we called on God to restore the joy and clean hearts of all the Embassy personel, of ourselves, and of each other.

Then we made communion and prayed.

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Maori Welcome for peace activists

5.00 pm Wellington time, Saturday 6 March 2010

The shrine Adi built

Proceedings are under way for the trial of the Waihopai Dome-busters – Peter Murnane, Sam Land, and Adrian Leason.

Around 100 people (50 from Wellington, 50 from other parts of Aotearoa, and a couple of ring-ins from Australia, gathered at the Katherine Mansfield Park, in front of the US Embassy, to be welcomed by local Maori leaders.  The Embassy is typical of the Imperial American style, cameras, guard posts, steel bollards, high security fences and lots of reinforced concrete. 

On this beautiful Wellington evening the US Ebassy looked ready for war, even in this far flung outpost.

Katherine Mansfield Park has swings, trees, lawn, shrubbery and pedestrian pathways.  Today a shrine was added, created under the leadership of Adrian Leason, one of the defendents who face trial on Monday. 

 The shrine is a thing of beauty and power, proclaiming love, hope, and nonviolence as the future of humanity.

Talking Maori

The welcoming ceremony was conducted in Maori language, and the only words I could understand were “America”, “Afghanistan”, “Iraq”, and “Waihopai”.  It was explained to me that the welcome involved the visitors proclaiming their identity, presence and purpose, with the locals then reflecting on the river, mountain, and land before cohering with and welcoming the visitors.  The speaking sure sounded powerful.  Then everyone rubbed noses in a ritual circle.

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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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