Why have we spent $10 trillion on nuclear weapons over 70 years, when that could have been used for life-enhancing alternatives?
—  Sister Megan Rice, an 85-year-old Catholic nun, spent two years in prison for breaking into the Y-12 nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in 2012. Four days after her release from prison, she spoke to Democracy Now! about the experience.
Two Knots To Nowhere

Caleb’s brother, Cage, lives in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, an hour away from where I was this weekend. I tried to see him, but he recently got engaged to a woman. Knowing Zipperers as I do now, I know that this woman is his everything. They were having a romantic weekend, and not answering calls, so instead, Cage’s best friend Tyler came to visit me.

I knew Tyler through stories. That he had grown in Savannah, and then joined the military. According to Caleb, he moved up to Maine to be near Cage. What I didn’t know was that for many years, Tyler was stationed in Connecticut with the Navy. There, he had two sons, and an ex-wife. When his duty was done, he wanted to stay near them. He was sick of Connecticut. The Boston area is full of “Massholes.” Instead, he chose Maine, where the rents are cheap, the schools are good, and he knew he could find work as a fisherman.

Almost immediately after he arrived, he was offered a job by a man who owned a cod boat. Although Maine is known for lobsters, there are fishermen of all types in the water. Less cod fisherman these days, given that the government has reduced the amount they can take from the ocean. Ten years ago, 25,000 pounds. Today, 1,100.

The life of a fisherman is not easy. In the summer, they make money, and in the winter, they must make the money last. By March, it becomes difficult. In his sparetime, Tyler makes his own furniture, takes photographs, spends time with Cage and his son Jonah, and attends art school.

Knowing Zipperers as I do now, I knew Tyler would be sweet. And he was. When he arrived at my friend Kate’s house, he settled in. We offered him wine. He began telling stories.

Keep reading

Dangerous Nun, 84, Gets 3 Years For Assaulting ‘Merca’s Precious Freedom Nukes

by Doktor Zoom

Swift justice, after nearly two years, for three peace activists who broke into a federal nuclear weapons facility in July 2012. Once inside the super-secure Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee — they got in using wire cutters — the three members of the Plowshares Christian pacifist movement painted peace slogans and threw human blood on the outside of a uranium-processing building. Then, while waiting for someone to show up and arrest them, they had a snack.

The three radicals, Sister Megan Rice, who turned 84 on Jan. 31, Michael Walli, 64, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 58, were convicted of “sabotage” although they did not actually break any machinery (and were not even wearing or throwing wooden shoes). Walli and Boertje-Obed were each sentenced to five years and two months, and Sister Rice was sentenced to 35 months, which should teach her a valuable lesson about messing with Uncle Sam.


I am happy to announce that I’m the proud new owner of this great little spot in which my business partners and I are turning into a little #CoffeeShop called #DOCE #Coffee & #Brigadeiro at the #crossroads of #Chelsea, #MeatPacking and the #WestVillage. We will have the first three group V3 @SlayerEspresso machine in #NYC #happily serving #Plowshares Coffee Roasters #Colombian Blend and I’m working on shot called the #Terremoto which will make the #Miami #Cuban #Colado seem like a glass of warm milk. Our @Kickstarter will go live tomorrow with some exceptional and unbelievable gifts for our supporters.
You're in the Hole: A Crackdown on Dissident Prisoners

It was September 19, 2001. Elizabeth McAlister had not heard from her husband, Philip Berrigan, in more than a week. Such silence on Berrigan’s part was “most unusual,” she says. Convinced that something was wrong, she telephoned the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio, where the seventy-seven-year-old peace activist is serving a sentence of a year and a day for hammering on a military aircraft while on probation for a similar action in another state.

“It took ten phone calls to the prison to get them to admit to me that he was in segregation,” she says. McAlister also learned that Berrigan was being denied all phone calls and visits, even from family members. “I was not told why or for how long.”

Philip Berrigan was placed in solitary confinement on 9/11/01, with no notification given to his family and no rationale — other than John Ashcroft’s use of the tragedy to further isolate leftist prisoners.

(I never even knew this happened.)


These are the Disarm Now Plowshare 5. This is who was sentenced to prison.
activists sentenced for politically motivated break-in at tennessee nuclear facility

In July 2012, Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Gregory Boertje-Obed went through three fences at the Y-12 nuclear facility with bolt cutters, splashed human blood – including blood from activist Tom Lewis of the Catonsville 9 – on a building where enriched uranium was stored, and spray-painted antiwar slogans. They were found guilty in May 2013 of depredation of government property and injuring, interfering with, or obstructing the national defense. Today Rice was sentenced to 35 months in prison, and Walli and Boertje-Obed were each sentenced to 62 months.

The July 2012 break-in amounted to the biggest security breach in the history of the U.S. atomic complex. The overall cost to the government from the break-in will probably exceed $100 million.


Longer clip on Daniel Berrigan and the Plowshares Movement.

Repost: What follows is neither true nor false but what I know.

from Indypendent Reader via Jonah House (

“What follows is neither true nor false but what I know” by Carol Gilbert.

Below is a dispatch from Sister Carol Gilbert, who, along with her fellow dedicated anti-war activist, Roman Catholic nun, and state-branded “terrorist” -  Sister Ardeth Platte, was imprisoned for trespassing at a nuclear weapons complex. Sr.Gilbert has been writing about her experiences in prison.We’re proud to post those accounts here.

May 25, 2011
Dear Friends,
   Welcome to another of America’s gulags – this one in Eastern TN – the Blount County Correctional Facility in Maryville, TN!
   This is day number 15 and I want to begin the journey with a quote from Jarhead by Anthony Swofford and his experiences as a Marine in Operation Desert shield. “What follows is neither true nor false but what I know.”…and heard, saw, tasted, smelled and touched.

DAY 1. Around 7:30 p.m. we are placed in a typical holding cell with nomattresses, 2 benches of concrete, toilet/sink combo and blanket given many hours later.
   We are taken out one by one for processing which consists of answering typical intake forms, fingerprints, picture and hospital type bright orange arm bands to distinguish us from the county folks wearing blue/white armbands, the de-liceing shower and stripped uniforms (black and white if new; shades of grey if older (the color everything becomes) and flip flops for shoes. The one pair of old socks, underpants and t-shirt must last until commissary. We were supposed to get two of everything but they have run out with 2-300 extra. So no laundry bag or crate either.We make an attempt to sleep on the concrete slabs but it’s a long night. We tell stories, laugh, sing.
DAY 2 – Close to 8:30 a.m. we are shackled, given an indigent bag: one small comb, 2 tiny bars of soap, 2 sample size packages of toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. We are handed two towels and two sheets that I’m sure at one time were lily white.
   Carol, Ardeth and Bonnie are taken to the higher classification pod where all federal women prisoners are held. But Jackie and Jean go next door to the other lower classification pod – they would never keep all 5 of us together.
We are immediately surrounded by women offering us books, shampoo, etc. Because the Feds pay so much to rent this space, we are to receive a bunk and mattress which means some now go without and sleep on concrete until other places can be found.
   The jail pod has a large day room holding 8 metal tables with a metal stools built in. Each table holds 4 people, for a total of 32; there’s one stainless steel toilet/sink, two phones with one cement seat, one shower in the center and a small open area. 8 cells are on the bottom floor and 8 on the top floor. Each cell is 6 by 12 with bunk beds, toilet/sink combo, small metal desk-stool, and a small slotted window frosted so one can’t see out. Most cells hold three women and sometimes 4. So far I have had only two other prisoners with me. 3 is crowded!
   This jail has no TV, no newspapers one can subscribe to or magazines, no greeting cards, no articles, no quotes from Scripture on a letter, no puzzles, no games, no books from publishers, no, no, no, and no! They do sell a cheap radio for $45.00 plus $10.00 for ear phones and $2.25 for a battery. That cost means many go without.
Twice a week we are allowed to go to a cement cage outside with a net above to see the sky and feel the air and sun.
   Library cart comes once a week and each is allowed two books – a few good ones.
   Commissary is on Wednesday. A stamped business envelope is $.65 - $.21 for the envelope makes someone profit as does our liquid Fresh Mint toothpaste from India and our 3 inch toothbrushes (1 inch brush, 2 inch handle).
   Pens are only the cartridge and make writing difficult but the women get “vinegar bags” and use this as a tape to make them thicker. I’ll let you, the reader, research “vinegar bags”.
   Lots of commissary items are “Bob Border.” It would be interesting to follow the money trail for commissary. Another distributor is Maxima Supply, Holt, MI for hard candy.
   Our schedule is as follows:
            6:00 a.m.                      Bright lights on
            6:30 – 8:30 a.m.           Breakfast/Meds/Day Room
            8:30 – 11:30 a.m.         Lockdown
            11:30 – 1:30 p.m.         Lunch/Meds/Day Room
            1:30 – 4:30 p.m.           Lockdown
            4:30 – 8:30 p.m.           Supper/Meds/Day Room
            8:30 p.m.– 6:00 a.m.    Lockdown
   When we are in the Day room, our cells are locked. There are two stand-up counts – around 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. the lights are dimmed after 10:0.m. count but still bright enough to read.
   Meals -
            Breakfast          2 biscuits, Jelly, Sweet, watery Oatmeal, Carton of Milk, Coffee
                                    (the only exception is Tuesday when Cheerios replaces Oatmeal)
            Lunch               Peanut Butter Sandwich – one week
                                    Bologna-Mustard Sandwich – alternate weeks
                                    1 small bag plain Frito Lays’ Chips
                                    1 cup water
            Supper             Pinto Beans, Corn Bread, Cole Slaw,
                                    Mashed Potatoes/ Peas/ Green Beans (one of these three)
Jello or Package of Teddy Grahams
                               Every other night they will serve one or the other of the food below
                                                 Iceberg salad or Noodle dish,
Mashed or French Fried potatoes
Jello or Teddy Grahams
   The phone calls are from a company called City Telephone Coin and expensive. A study should be done on phone companies to jails and prison – who profits! A 15 minute limit and the call could be over $20.00
DAY 9 – All seven of us met in an intake holding cell for Mass with Fr. Brent Sheldon and Deacon Juan Hernandez from Holy Fatima in Alroa. Maryville has no Catholic church as the Catholic population in TN is 2%
This was the first time I ever went to mass in a holding cell and in leg shackles. (This jail has a practice of putting leg shackles on when moving outside the block no matter how short the distance.) What a gift to receive the Eucharist in this setting.
   It was here we learned we are not getting our mail. They claim we are getting too much and they don’t know how they will handle it.
DAY 10 – I was taken out for my PSI (pre-sentencing investigation) report so both probation and my attorney were present. It appears we will be taken from here and moved to a holding facility in Ocilla, GA until sentencing which looks like late September.
DAY 11 – Most of the women are here on drug charges of some kind. The drug of choice in this area is prescription drugs. The city is filled with these so called “pain clinics.”
this is also a holding facility for women going to TN state prison. Because of such over-crowding in the 3 state women’s facilities, women can be held here for years!
   Both of my cell mates are poor and had terrible childhoods – drugs, alcoholism, lack of education, early pregnancies. Their stories and tears are like so many others in here and across the country. We are warehouses with no real help and one wonders how the cycle can end. They believe God sent us to them as angels.
   A 70 year old LPN has been locked up here for three years for killing her abusive husband and trial date is now set for late August.
A disturbed, mentally ill woman here for 19 months awaiting her trip to state prison.
   The unique feature for us is that the women are all white! We understand themen’s blocks have lots of Hispanics from immigration and some blacks.
DAY 12 – We were taken in shackles, down the hall to medical for our T tests. A great time to visit with Jackie and Jean. We were able to sing Jean an early Happy Birthday as she turned 84 a few days later.
   Our cell block was put on full lock-down at lunch. This means we are in our cells 23 hours a day with one cell out at a time for one hour. There was no fight but things were getting a little tense with a mentally ill woman and a few other women who haven’t yet learned how to respond in a nonviolent way. We do not know how long, but the rumor is two weeks. That makes for a long day and so most of these young women learn the art of sleeping – such a waste!
   The hardest part is that I don’t get to talk to Ardeth and Bonnie!
   Sometimes the entire block has been locked down for as long as 3 months or more.
DAY 13 -  Today was our first serving of FRUIT since arriving! A small serving of mandarin oranges never looked or tasted so good. It’s the little things we appreciate.
DAY 14 – My first visit was from 7 – 8 p.m. through plexiglass with a phone. Four local peacemakers caught me up to date. These folks are doing the real work - SUPPORT
   Visits are 1 hour a week and your day and time of visit is determined by your cell number. Starting at 8:a.m. and the last visit is 8 p.m. This can make it difficult for someone who works and has the visitduring their work hours.
   I heard on my visit that Sr. Mary Dennis has a sentencing date of September 21st.
DAY 15 –The day is just beginningand our cell is brighter so we know the sun is shining even though we can’t see it.
Some final thoughts as I close out these first two weeks.
   I’m learning about the South with their biscuits and gravy, the accents, the country music, the new words for grandma and grandpa of mamow and popow, the missing or no teeth and the Body Farm.
   The University of TN is home to an anthropology Research Facility (The Body Farm). The founder and an author have written a series of fiction and non-fiction on the farm. I read Body of Betrayal (novel) which takes place at Y-12, Oakridge.
   There are some women who talk about the cancers, the class action suits, the deaths from exposure of relatives and friends at Y-12.
   I’m reminded once again how simple life can be, how little we need to survive. That grace is given when I see these women live this day by day and keep a sense of sanity after months and/or years in this place.
   The effects of a country that continues to spend billions on bombs and prisons can be seen, felt, heard, touched and smelled in this space.
   We are well and long to hear of your stories these past weeks. My gratitude, love, prayers and support.
                                                                                             Carol Gilbert,O.P.

An Extremist Upbringing, part III. Crawl before you can walk. I might not have known how to tie my own shoes, but I sure knew how to protest! #Me and my #mom at a local anti-nuclear rally. This is me as a preschooler. I would kill for those pants in my current size. Sharp as hell. #plush Banner somewhat unfortunately reads ”SOS - Save Life!”, which makes one think of the pro-life movement and all kinds of craziness. But the colors are super snappy! #peacemovement #svenskafreds #svenskafredsochskiljedomsföreningen #hippies #communists #antinuclearmovement #draftresistance #refuseresist #totalvägra #nogodsnomasters #internationalism #environmentalism #destroythemachines #monkeywrenching #plogbillsrörelsen #plowshares #pershingplowshares #plowsharesmovement #civilolydnad #civildisobedience #vintage #70s #80s

Immigration and International Conflict

This one wound up being a lot more about international conflict (and specifically about Vietnam) than about immigration.  Immigration really got shortchanged in the conversation, which was too bad.  Next time, I should either dump it (which I don’t love) or make it its own section (which sounds like a great idea, but makes me nervous because it’s not an area of expertise and also, it’s hard not to rush into the 1970s and NRMs).

We did a quick board exercise on in the 1960s and the ways the Immigration Act of 1965 shifted the US religious landscape.  Students seemed more interested in the stuff on Vietnam and other international conflicts (including India and Partition, during which I drew a questionably helpful illustration of Partition).

This was another media-intensive discussion.  We watched some great clips on the Domino Theory, and then compared MLK’s and Muhammad Ali’s perspectives on why the Vietnam Conflict was unjust.  (We used some clips to illustrate Ali’s distinctive speaking style as well.)

We closed by thinking about the Berrigans and other religious peace-making efforts.   Another, longer clip about Daniel Berrigan, and then a short discussion about Berrigan’s arguments about whose job it is to make peace (the Church, but not *just* the Church).  


  • Harvey and Goff, “New Immigrant Communities” (2007)
  • Berrigan, “Berrigan at Cornell” (1968)
  • King, “Beyond Vietnam” (1967)
  • Ali, “Muhammad Ali Speaks Out Against the Vietnam War” (1966)
  • Herrerra-Sobek, “Two Poems on Vietnam” (1999)

Key Words

  • immigration act of 1965
  • domino theory