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June 29, 2009

Monday Evening Missile Launch Protest

Gotta hand it to the dedicated souls in Vermont's peace movement. On Monday evening, from 5 to 6 p.m., members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom are going ahead with a scheduled demonstration to protest the U.S. government's test launch of a Minuteman III missile, Vermont rain be damned.

Beginning at the downtown Burlington offices of Rep. Peter Welch, the group will make their way to Senator Leahy's office, then up to Bernie's pad on the top of Church Street to voice their outrage over the fact idea the U.S military needs to see if these nuclear bottle rockets still work.

As someone who's had the privilege — if you can call it that — of climbing down into the silo and launch facility of an actual Minuteman III missile at Malmstrom Air Force Base in northern Montana, I can assure you, these are some scary WMDs. Back in 2000, after a four-month background check, I was granted permission to interview U.S. Air Force missileers who sit in a hole in the ground 24 hours each day waiting to turn the key that blows up the world. Talk about hours of utter boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. They have to figure out if the codes coming into them all day are just practice war games or the actual judgment day.

One of my favorite parts of the story, which I wrote for the alt-weekly, Missoula Independent, was asking a female missileer how she explained the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction to her 5- and 6-year-old daughters. And you thought summarizing your job description on a resumé was tough.

Tres insouciant, M. Picard. There was also a protest at Vandenburg Air Force base with participants from Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Catholic Worker, Global Network for Peace and other peace groups. I am grateful that people stand up and protest this proliferation of the nuclear nightmare which has been led by the United States for over 64 years. Vermont legislators did not respond to the Burlington protest nor did President Obama respond to a letter signed by hundreds asking him to cancel the June 29 Minuteman missile launch because it contradicts what he said in the Prague speech.On August 6 2009, Nuclear Disarmament Day, come to the Burlington City Hall at noon, listen to proclamations from both Mayor Bob Kiss and the Vermont legislature calling for a world without nuclear weapons. Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines will be keynote speaker.Despite the dumbness of the media, people are awakening and taking responsibilty in their hands, holding that little Baby Peace in their hands and rocking on.Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Rocks!

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