Saturday, April 23, 2011

Asheville Area War Tax Resisters Steve Magin and Jim Stockwell
(holding banner) add a War Tax Resistance message to MoveOn rally 
Steve Magin lives simply in a mountain holler of Madison County in Western North Carolina where he helps local farmers and friends each tax season as a volunteer tax preparer.  He tries to pay his fair share.  This tax day, April 18, Steve made his annual trek into Asheville to the IRS office, checkbook in hand. He was ready to pay his federal taxes, with one condition:  He would not pay for weapons and war.
Once again, as has happened year after year in this endless war economy, Steve did not get the official assurance from the IRS employees that his tax monies would not be used to support militarism and war. And once again, Steve left the office without submitting his check and paying for war.
For more than a decade Steve Magin has made this courageous pilgrimage of conscience, and every year he redirects his resisted war taxes to support local and regional work promoting peace and social justice.
After his visit to the IRS office, Steve joined several other members of the WNC War Tax Resisters, WRL Asheville, and the New South Network of War Resisters at the Asheville Postoffice.  We distributed the latest copies of the War Crimes Times, a locally produced publication of Veterans for Peace.  The theme of the issue is:  "How is the War Economy Working for You," and includes a centerfold with the War Resisters' League tax pie chart. 
After many conversations with tax payers at the mailbox, we marched to a local park to join the gathering calling on corporations, particularly Bank of America, to pay their fair share.  We added our voice to the gathering with the message that true patriots must question where their tax dollars go, and take personal responsibility to withdraw support of war crimes.  The MoveOn gathering drew about 100 people, and we continued with distribution of the War Crimes Times, which most people readily accepted. 
Steve Magin will be speaking about his life as a war tax resister and the direct action he takes each tax day, as a panelist on April 30 at the Southeast Nonviolent Direct Action Trainers' Gathering in Asheville convened by the New South Network of War Resisters with support of N.C. Peace Action and the Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia and numerous local organizations and donors.

For more information about ways and means of war tax resistance contact:  National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee and for inspiration, watch the video "Death and Taxes" – a 30-minute film about motivations, methods, risks, and rewards of war tax resistance, edited by Asheville's own Carlos Steward.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hundreds Rally to Resist Tennessee's "Secret City" Y-12 Bomb Plant

 Soldiers in camouflage uniform were dispatched  from the federal side of the barbed-wire fence after the April 16, 2011  rally at the gates of the Y-12 bomb plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Their mission?  To untie the hundreds of paper peace cranes fluttering along the length of the perimeter fence.  

We who marched to the gates of this hellish place through the streets of Tennessee's "secret city," came from throughout the Southeast and as far as Michigan. We were perhaps outnumbered  by the armed security forces on alert behind the barbed wire. Numerous high powered cameras recorded our arrival, no doubt zooming in to capture close-ups of the gathered resistance to the crime and to President Obama's $6.5 billion allotted to pay for more nuclear weapons production at Oak Ridge.

The W-76 and W-76-1 thermonuclear secondaries produced at Y-12 are designed and produced to unleash 100 KT of uncontrollable and indiscriminate heat, blast and radiation, six times more than the Hiroshima bomb, according to a 2009 report in the  Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

As we approached the gates, with Japanese Buddhist drumming and chanting, an officer with the bomb plant security detail issued his gruff order:   "You have five seconds to vacate the road or you will be arrested."  We all complied. There were to be no arrests this time. This was a contrast with the July 2010 civil resistance there where 37 were arrested declaring "Independence from Nuclear Terrorism."  A court date for dozens of these is expected in May at the federal courthouse in Knoxville.

 "U.S. law and international law as U.S. law prohibit threatening or inflicting indiscriminate harm and unnecessary suffering, in any circumstance in war or peace.  Because all nuclear weapons “cannot be contained in space or time,” any use would, ipso facto, constitute a crime against humanity and a war crime including those prepared for use at Y-12."
International Law, Y-12 & Civil Resistance

Story and photos:  Clare Hanrahan

Monday, April 11, 2011

Walking for a Nuclear Free Future: Asheville to Oak Ridge, TN

Pilgrimage for a Nuclear Free Future steps out from Asheville, NC  to join the April 16 Direct Action and march from Bissell Park in Oak Ridge to the gates of the Y-12 bomb plant.
The mountainS of Western North Carolina once again reverberate to the Buddhist drum and the  sounds of the mantra NA MU MYO HO REN GE KYO.  This is the deeply resonate chant of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order as they make their way, step by step,  to the gates of the Y-12 nuclear bomb factory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. A dozen walkers set out from Asheville on April 8 for  the 12th annual pilgrimage to the "Secret City," part of the Manhattan Project where fuel was enriched for the world's first atomic bomb.  I joined them for two days of walking through the greening mountains, rich farmland and blooming meadows. Along the way we found a resting spot on the shady lawn of a man who told us his father had worked at Oak Ridge and had since died from a form of cancer caused by the radiation exposure.  "Ya'll are welcome to rest here as long as you want," he told us.

The rural route to Oak Ridge winds through some of the most beautiful land in the country. Our friends Brother Utsumi and Sister Denise have been walking the highways and byways of the Southeast U.S. for over twenty years, each step a prayer for peace. On this walk every step seemed weighted with grief over the ongoing tragedy in Japan.  Bro. Utsumi's sister and other family members live close to the earthquake and Tsunami disaster area. "We Japanese have a special duty to speak out against the use of nuclear weapons and power," he told me.  His particular focus has been the nuclear bomb plant in Oak Ridge. Brother Utsumi is a Japanese Buddhist monk, and Sr. Denise is an American woman and former journalist who joined the order twenty years ago.  The two are a familiar presence at actions for peace throughout the Southeast.

The Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN  is the last full-scale operating nuclear weapons production plant in the United States.  Y12 makes the thermonuclear "secondaries" --the part that turns an atomic bomb into a thermonuclear bomb. A new bomb plant is proposed for Oak Ridge as a "Uranium Processing Facility" to manufacture parts for the thermonuclear warheads, according to the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, a grassroots group that has been educating and acting for the abolition of nuclear weapons for close to thirty years.

On Saturday, April 16, an Action for Abolition will draw nuclear resisters from throughout the country to the gates of the proposed $6 billion dollar new bomb plant.  This youth-organized event will begin in Oak Ridge at 1 p.m. at Alvin K. Bisselll Park, corner of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Tulane Avenue and march to the Bear Creek Road entrance to Y12 on Scarboro road in Oak Ridge.  According to the organizers, some people may choose to risk arrest in acts of civil resistance during this action for abolition.  For more information contact organizers at: or call 865-776-5050.  A carpool from Asheville is forming and will leave Earth Fare parking lot in West Asheville at 9:30 a.m. Saturday April 16 and return late that evening.
"Nuclear bombs, whether they're used or not, violate everything that is humane. They alter the meaning of life. Why do we tolerate them?"   Arundhati Roy, Author

Photos:  Coleman Smith, Story by Clare Hanrahan 

Sr. Denise & Bro. Utsumi explaining the Peace walk while environmentalist Rusty Sivils listens