British Aerospace, Plowshares, Drones and the Celtic "God of Thunder"

Ciaron O’Reilly
It was over a decade since Chris Cole and I had been at the gates of British Aerospace (BAE) Warton in Lancashire, England. That was back in the day when BAE were making their money from butchering East Timorese.

But our history with BAE goes way back before that. When those of us in the ANZUS Plowshares were released from U.S. prisons in 1992, following our New Year’s Day ’91 disarmament of a B52 Bomber and a year in custody, the F.B.I. had so much repsect for private property tha they gave us our hammers and boltcutters back! We shipped a set to Chris in England and on January 6th. 1993 he made his way into BAE Stevenage where he carried out £475,000 damage to BAE weapon systems. After two trials and 6 months in jail, BAE slapped a high court injunction on him. BAE later had Chris imprisoned for another 6 months under the terms of the civil injunction for writing a leaflet encouraging people to blockade BAE. But when Chirs was freed the British police returned the ploughshares hammer to him.

The hammer was passed on to four women, the “Seeds of Hope Ploughshares” who went to BAE Warton in January ’96 and disarmed a Hawk Fighter ready for export to Indonesia.

Following the July ’96 acquittal of the four women, we set up a community with East Timorese refugees in Liverpool and carried out sustained nonviolent resistance at BAE Warton. BAE struck back hitting 13 of us with high court injunctions and placed a spy in the Liverpool Catholic Worker.

They also ran a number of spies in the more moderate “Campaign Against the Arms Trade”.

So there was a lot of history with BAE as we headed north along the M1. The plan was 4 hours on the road, four hours vigiling outside the factory and four hours back to Oxford.

We were being drawn back to BAE Warton by the unveiling of the companies latest hi tech development in death dealing – “Taranis”. Apparently the weapon of choice these daze for government sanctioned assassination and untold collateral damage on the extremities of empire is the drone.

To paraphrase Pulp Fiction “If you absolutely have to kill every mother on the block to get your target, the drone is for you.!” The drone takes alienation at the point of production (of corpses and orphans) to its logical conclusion by removing the pilot. The guy presently pushing the button to unleash the U.S. hellfire missiles on to their unsuspecting victims on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border is a half a world a way in an air conditioned office/vault/bunker in Florida or Nevada. British forces in Afghanistan are presently using American Reaper and Israeli surveillance drones, but not for long! British Aerospace, always one for with an eye in the death dealing market, has spent £143 million developing the “Taranis” and this unveiling at Warton was about BAE’s “continued drive to convince the British Ministry of Defence to invest in the next generation of unmanned aircraft.” (Daily Mail)

Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is different from the UK’s current drones as it is designed not to be flown remotely from the ground via satellite, as current unmanned drones are, but rather programmed pre-flight to carry out its mission, whether intelligence, surveillance or armed strike. To make the aircraft ‘more stealthy’ i.e. invisible to radar, the drone’s bombs and missiles are carried internally.

So our humble effort at Warton last Monday was to break the consensus of silence and state a physical “no” to Defense Minister Howarth, BAE, Taranis, imperial wars and the policy of assassination and collateral damage on the empire’s extremeties.

Standing there at the gates of BAE Warton with our home made banners watching a stream of limos and sports cars reminded one of the film “Ironman” without the subplot of redemption and also of the many victims this factory has produced throughout the world.

Meanwhile in the U.S. good friends including Kathy Kelly, Fr. Louie Vitale OFM, Fr. Steve Kelly SJ and Fr. John Dear SJ are being taken before the Nevada Courts for their resistance at Creech Air Force Base to the U.S. drone wars on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
(Saormheáin Éireann Iúil 19, 2010)

Message is simple: No nukes

From: Times Union

Message is simple: No nukes

First published: Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lying on my back, in the middle of the road, crying and wailing, the police looked withdrawn and confused. The strength of the women who joined in this anguished lamentation, our expression of profound grief over nuclear weapons and the poisoning of the land with radioactive waste somehow touched upon the holy mother and the divine feminine. It is Easter Sunday 2010 at the Nevada Test Site. I have returned to protest nuclear weapons and again my behavior has taken me out of the logical and rational. It has left me feeling disoriented and disturbed, yet a powerful healing and life-affirming transformation has occurred. Isn’t this what Easter is about?

I want so much for Christianity to find itself, to give up violence and the mistaken belief in the right to kill. Jesus offer loved and the way of the cross. The bomb is the way of the sword, the ultimate weapon in our killing arsenal. Years ago, late Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle said, “Our nuclear war preparations are the global crucifixion of Jesus.” Recently the Indian writer Arundhati Roy has simplified this understanding. “If you are religious,” she said, “then remember that this bomb is man’s challenge to God. It’s worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that you have created.”

Near the Nevada Test Site exists a spiritual anomaly, the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet. It is metaphorically and literally an oasis, with natural springs offering life-giving water in the Mojave Desert. A visionary, Genevieve Vaughan, created this temple to Goddess Spirituality. Inside the temple the divine feminine is worshiped, most visibly in the form of Goddess Sekhmet, El Madre Del Mundo and the holy mother.

Genevieve wrote of her experience here in 1986. “I knew almost at once that this was the right place to build a temple to the goddess. The Earth at the test site is wounded underground. You can feel it in your body as you stand at the gate of the test site looking some 40 miles across the desert at the hills … Mother Earth is injured there, and nuclear waste is being stored in her wounds.”
Genevieve talked about wailing the test site. “We name the things we mourn for and moan, and scream our grief like banshees.”

The Judaeo-Christian tradition once recognized the need for lamentation more fully. It was past time for us to wail against nuclear weapons. We wailed our grief with our brothers and sisters of the Sacred Peace Walk and the priestess of the Goddess Temple. We writhed and screamed against the destruction of our planet. Hot tears streamed to the asphalt, and as we wailed, a Shoshone chief drummed what seemed like the calming and “steady beat of a human heart.”

Last Sunday, thousands of people walked from Times Square to the United Nations calling for nuclear disarmament and the implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Our message was simple and profound, summed up in signs that said, “No Nukes, No Wars, Fund Human Needs, Protect the Planet” and “It’s Always Been Wrong,” and the words Buckminster Fuller, “We Are Called to Be Architects of the Future, Not Victims.”

Some 1,800 people traveled from Japan, including survivors from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Giving the rally a gracious civility and gentle tone, they came bearing friendship and small gifts. Steve Wickham, a peace activist from Guilderland, encountered a woman, a Hibakusha, who survived the blast at Hiroshima. She was 13 years old in 1945. She suffered burns over 25 percent of her body, was rendered infertile by the radioactivity has bone and eye problems in her later life. Her peaceful nature and message was moving.

We cannot leave it to our leaders to abolish nuclear weapons. All of us as common citizens must speak out and insist upon nuclear abolition. Sunday is Mother’s Day. Let us all insist that we take care of our holy mother planet Earth, end the threat of nuclear annihilation and restore the balance of the divine feminine.

John Amidon is a member of Veterans for Peace in Albany. Wailing at the Nevada Test Site can be seen on YouTube at

Twenty-one persons detained at the end of the Sacred Peace Walk

Nine men and twelve women crossed the line at the enttrance of the Nevada Test Site, and were immediately directed to a detention “facility” near the entrance.
Banners were confiscated, except the US flag, which was rejected since the other banners were withheld.

Johnnie Bobb spoke to the policemen and the civilians representing the Department of Energy at the entrance about the not-honouring of the treaty according to which the test site is Western Shoshone Land. Making it a nuclear test site is genocide of his people extended, he said.

We will have full coverage and pictures of walk and vigils shortly.

Martin Luther King, April 4th

In international conflicts the truth is hard to come by, because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins.

But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth.

There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing, as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we’re always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on. Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony. But we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems.

I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.

Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

And don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, “You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name. Be still and know that I’m God.”

Choice quotes of Martin Luther King, Jr., on the occasion of the 42d anniverasry of his assassination, which coincides with Easter 2010, the conclusion of the Sacred Peace Walk.

Meanwhile, in Belgium – 2

Around a thousand people braved the cold rain in Kleine Brogel, Belgium, to demand the closure of the nuclear missile site in the name of international law, and have it turned into a nature area. Hundreds of them actually succeeded in entering the ground, despite a heavy presence of military guards and police. All of these were arrested and were still being interrogated at the time of writing. More later…

John Amidon’s notes on the Walk

Former NDE-coordinator John Amidon is very much present at the Sacred Peace Walk. He writes down his own serious notes with a light touch. Since I met him while he was singing Angel of the morning I quote him on that:

Andre and Annabelle and are from Holland visiting the Nevadea Desert Experience and doing prison work. At one point in his life, Andre had been a disc jockey. [He still is, actually – AdR]

For reasons I can no longer recall we began singing, Angel of the Morning. Andre knew most of the lyrics and soon Mary Ann and I were on you tube listening to a number of different version by the Pretenders, Juice Newton and of course Merillee Rush.. Since Mary Ann and I both enjoy the theater of the absurd, (much of life fits this description and nuclear weapons are truly absurd and so very deadly) and since I quite like Angel of the Morning, I rewrote a version of the song which I hope might be sung at the Nevada Test Site before crossing the line. There are some difficulties though as the song isn’t particularly easy to sing. Anyone have a spare karaoke machine they can lend us quickly. Below is Angel of the Test Site. Perhaps soon the Raging Grannies might add it to their song book. Then again, maybe not.

Angel of the Test Site

By John Amidon

(Sung to the music of Angel of the Morning)

There are no cuffs to bind my hands
Not if my love can change your heart.
There is a need to take a stand
Nuclear weapons tear us apart.
I choose to protest now
I see no need to drop the bomb,
So much better not to harm.

Just call me angel of the test site, Angel
Let my heart touch yours before you leave me, Baby.
Just call me angel of the test site, Angel
Then slowly turn away from me.

When the blast turns sunlight dim
Then it won’t matter anyhow.
When we dropped the bomb we’ve sinned
Something I ‘m trying to prevent now
Trying not to be victims of bomb,
Trying to avoid the harm.

Just call me angel of the test site, angel
Just touch my heart before you leave me baby
Just call me angel of the test site, Angel
Then slowly turn away
I won’t beg you to stay with me
Through the tears of the day,
Of the years, baby, baby,
Just call me angel of the test site, Angel
Just touch my heart before you leave me, baby

See John’s notes here.