Peace Letters of the Month
Each month we publish the best peace letters that were published in The Kansas City Star in the previous month. Before the PeaceWorks Annual Meeting, we select the best letter of the year, award the writer with a year's free membership in PeaceWorks, and invite the writer to the Annual Meeting.
It is possible to recognize that the late Judge Antonin Scalia was a significant voice on the Supreme Court but not mourn for the demise of the concept of "originalism," which he championed in his interpretation of law (2-15, Editorial, "Scalia's legacy is polarizing; Congress must not make it worse").
To try to validate modern legislation against the backdrop of the 18th century society in which the framers of the Constitution lived is nearly impossible. Many new insights, scientific and human breakthroughs, and historical developments span the years between our time and theirs.
If the Constitution is to remain a viable document for America, those developments must be taken into account if laws are to serve the common good today.
Hopefully, the president will nominate a successor to Scalia who will embody Scalia's conscientiousness but also let his or her thinking reflect this time in our country's history.
No guns on campus
Forcing Missouri colleges and universities to allow guns on campus is an overly broad and irresponsible idea. Our kids deserve better.
Although it is certainly legal to carry a concealed weapon in Missouri if one has the proper permit, that does not mean it is in our students' best interest to allow these weapons on the quad, in the dorms and in the classroom.
A college campus is a congregation of young people. Many are experiencing new situations and peer pressure and making big decisions on their own for the first time.
While we would have a lawfully obtained weapon now stored in a dorm closet, we may also have a roommate experiencing severe unreported depression, a curious suitemate who binge drinks and has never seen or held a gun, or a casual new acquaintance with a criminal background.
Does Missouri really want guns everywhere? Would guns on campus have made recent high-profile protests safer?
I think not and encourage Missourians to fight for more sensible ideas from our elected officials.
Jessica B. Pastorino of Parkville is a leader in Moms Demand Action, Kansas City, nonprofit group interested in sensible solutions to gun violence. She owns a small business specializing in mergers and acquisitions. She is a 1999 graduate of California State University-Long Beach with a bachelor's degree in creative writing.
She and her husband, Vince, have two sons — 6-year-old Nico and 4-year-old Mateo.
Voters should beware of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.
An example of Cruz's mean-spirited lack of judgment began in 1997, when Michael Haley was arrested for stealing a calculator at Wal-Mart. This merited a two-year prison term, but prosecutors mistakenly labeled Haley a habitual criminal and fought to give him 16 years.
Cruz was solicitor general of Texas, and instead of correcting the mistake Cruz fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep Haley locked up. Imagine the cost to Texas taxpayers.
Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Cruz, "Is there some rule that you cannot confess error in your state?"
Cruz talks of Christian values, but he does not know the meaning of mercy or compassion. He is a dangerous zealot with no common sense.
Haley served six years, and all because this brutal politician has no business wielding power. Power without mercy, compassion and common sense is the recipe for a dictator.
Beware of Sen. Ted Cruz.
It is amusing that we are placing so much emphasis on the danger from terrorists and acts of terrorism in the U.S., when in fact a more significant and realistic danger is from U.S. citizens with guns.
The number of citizens killed by other citizens (non-terrorists) with guns is significantly greater than the number killed by terrorists with guns, bombs and everything else.
The difference isn't even close, and yet no meaningful objection to gun ownership is being expressed to solve the problem. To substantiate the degree of the problem, gun homicide rates are highest in states where gun ownership is highest.
If gun ownership is permitted by the Second Amendment for members of a "well-regulated militia," then let people insistent upon owning a gun join a well-regulated militia as the Constitution requires and let them be trained in weapons use and the weapons registration.
Hugh J. Taylor
Threats to humanity
The original intent of modern medical science has been to save lives.
Although it was a noble gesture, it has resulted in a disruption of the natural order of population control described in the mythical mission of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
As we see in each day's news, entire hordes of humanity are dying in boats at sea or are being stopped at the borders and beaches of more favored nations.
Forgotten since his appearance in World War II, a fifth horseman is saddling up and being welcomed in certain venues by power-hungry individuals who intend to use him.
His nickname is "Nuke."
William H. Finnegan
Oppression in US
We purport to fight terrorism by our aggressive postures and behaviors. We profess to preserve and promote democracy by shrouding ourselves and our global neighbors in a perpetual slavery of fear and mistrust.
We squander trillions of dollars on national defense while the reality of dehumanizing poverty oppresses millions of our own citizens and hundreds of millions around the world.
At the end of the day, or when we take a deep breath to disengage from the frenzy of our lives, don't we see this all as insane, unjust and immoral?
The Iranian deal is a good deal for all. Its rejection would mean almost certain war with Iran.
Its acceptance will mean that war is averted for now and maybe longer. Its acceptance may eventually lead to the warming of relations between Iran and the rest of the world, with a resulting increase of peace and prosperity for all. Opposition to the deal doesn't make sense to me, and much of that opposition seems to rest on very dubious grounds.
First, this is not a peace treaty. It is a limited but important multinational, United Nations-sanctioned agreement on limiting Iran's nuclear ambitions with a very strong international verification design.
Second, this is not the Munich/Chamberlain agreement. It deals with no matters outside of nuclear technology.
Third, it relieves the plight of the Iranian people, potentially building some goodwill and at least opening the door a crack for future peaceful relationships.
Last, should all else fail, we can take military action.
Its acceptance then would only be to our, the world's and Iran's benefit. War is avoided in the short run, the Iranian people's lives improve with the sanctions lifted and war might be avoided in the longer run.
PeaceWorks-KC and Physicians for Social Responsibility are holding a two-month exhibit, "Hiroshima & Nagasaki: 70 Years Beyond the Bombings," at the Miller Nichols Library at UMKC.
The world is more impoverished and more insecure from continued improvements to weapons of mass destruction since 1945.
We are addicted to the end game of mutual assured destruction while one billion persons are on the verge of starvation.
Albert Einstein said, "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking. … The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind."
Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Can we find our right mind, character, humanity and courage to save ourselves from ourselves by eliminating all nuclear weapons?
Overland Park, KS
CIA, Bush, torture
Thanks to all those whose patriotism and moral judgment do not jibe with the former Bush administration and the CIA operatives who nodded to black sites and torture of prisoners.
Maybe they need to be pardoned so at least their crimes would be seen as criminal and there would be recognition by our nation that these crimes should never be acceptable practices.
For any sense of patriotism, those involved should be sent to The Hague and tried for war crimes.
Focusing on police aggression may miss the point, although it is an important issue. The criminal/court systems of Ferguson, Mo., and communities of the like result in decades of frustration, which often leads to some sort of criminal activity.
The real problem is poverty, racism and the entrapment of residents in the legal system. What has been recently described as white rage is at the heart of the problem.
It is time to deal with the source of problems and not the results.
Everett Murphy, M.D.
Wrongs of torture
After seeing the movie "Unbroken," I find it hard to understand how anyone can condone torture in its many manifestations. Yet that is exactly what the Bush-Cheney administration has done.
In their youth, former Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush pursued military deferments to avoid war and the opportunity to demonstrate personal courage.
After 9/11 they chose a path of false expediency rather than honor our society's commitment of demonstrating mercy and magnanimity to our enemies when faced with evil.
Now they deny having used torture while celebrating their application of its techniquest. A partisan and politically divided citizenry refuses to pursue justice for those who authorized torture as a governmental policy and legalized its implementation.
History will not be so kind, and morality is not so easily manipulated. A true war hero, Sen. John McCain, has spoken as witness for both.
Cure fever of war
The fever of war is present, and it is growing furiously and spreading over the world. It touches the lives of all people.
The fever in warring nations is bringing great fear and death to millions of innocent people, and the destruction of lands is indescribable. It seems that there is no fever that is worse.
It is unimaginable to realize the damage for us when and if the fever touches our land, and our millions will join with the now suffering millions.
This fever must be checked. It is not too late. We must act now.
What can we do?
Allow your mind to think about the powerful weapon we have but is not yet in use. If used properly, I feel the fever of war will lessen.
The printed word is powerful. Its message can be strong and lasting.
Instead of showering bombs, before it's too late, let's have one month of showering messages that will bring hope to victims and bring fear and concern to the enemy. Let the best minds in our country form the messages to be given.
What action for the warring nations, other than ruining everybody and everything with bombs, would we share?
Action for justice
This is the season when generosity abounds. Providing food baskets and adopting a family are popular choices for expressing that one cares.
The quick gratification of doing good can be at the expense of the receiver’s dignity. Most people want a good job, a livable wage, health care and a retirement fund for their old age.
Charity is brief. Justice is longstanding.
The way to end low wages and living without health insurance and retirement funds is to make major structural and legislative changes.
--Support fast-food workers. Walk with them when they protest for a living wage and a union. Learn more from Stand UP KC at www.standupkc.org.
--Talk to home-care and household workers. Find out what they need to have a future. Learn more from Missouri Jobs with Justice at www.mojwj.org.
--Contact your elected legislators about expanding Medicaid so those without medical coverage can have access to medical care. Learn more from Communities Creating Opportunity at www.cco.org.
None of these actions costs much in the way of dollars, but they do require a serious effort on our part.
Justice levels the playing field.
Justice is about making sure those without have the quality of life that we all want for ourselves. These actions are the gifts that keep on giving.
Capital punishment damage
It seems to me we killed a dead man last month (11-19, A8, “Appeals rejected for man convicted of area slaying”).
When the state executed Leon Taylor, the one who died wasn’t Leon Taylor the murderer. He died years ago.
The Leon Taylor we killed was the reborn Christian who regretted taking a life and tried to atone by bettering himself and the lives of others in prison—where he might rightly have spent his remaining years had we not snuffed out his humanity.
So many aspects of this case were unclear, yet we passed an absolute judgment:
a) We judged the condemned as beyond any possibility of reform.
b) We judged our court system to be beyond error or reproach.
c) We used violent means toward a supposedly nonviolent end in a vain attempt to teach non-killing by killing.
I find myself increasingly distressed by such assumptions, wanting to say to a state government that has executed 11 persons since November 2013: NOT IN MY NAME!
Jim Hannah of Independence is a retired magazine editor and minister with the Community of Christ. He has lived in the Kansas City area 25 years. This letter was chosen as the letter of the week Dec. 1, 2014.
Accountability in war
Unbelievably, the United States is once again at war.
Americans need to stop and think before we so cavalierly agree to more war.
How do we pay the billions needed for another long war, and who will serve? No American has paid increased taxes to pay the upfront costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars were financed by borrowing, which massively increased our deficit, passing the true cost of war on to future generations.
Where is the fiscal responsibility here?
Americans want protection but don’t want to serve in our military. Instead, Americans prefer to send the less than 1 percent, who serve multiple tours of duty.
There is no shared sacrifice here. Our mantra appears to be “Protect us but don’t tax or involve us.”
Maybe if Americans had to pay the true costs of war we would have fewer wars, focusing our intelligence, money and efforts on alternatives to war. Which, by the way, costs a lot less than war, with hope of a more positive future versus endless war.
Contact Sens.Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and your congressional representatives and demand answers about more war.
Letter paragraph 1.
Letter graph 2.
Great costs of war
“The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign relations, is to have with them as little political connection as possible.”—George Washington, 1796
“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.”—Dwight Eisenhower, 1961.
The Vietnam War, “Charlie Wilson’s War” arming Afghans in their fight against the then-Soviet Union and teaching the Mujahideen to use our weapons, and President George W. Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 all were major blunders costing untold harm and staining our national honor.
American voters are to be blamed for electing and re-electing weak-kneed, milquetoast congressmen and senators who were afraid to stand up against those with ulterior motives to have the country spend its blood and treasure for their own ends.
Does anyone remember the sage advice of our first and 34th presidents?
Real war pain
Other people, I am sure, have shared my wondering about what happens to the children who are exposed for years to the violence, cruelty, death, loss of family and displacement of war. In the Middle East, many children have known nothing but this for years.
This has been the reality of their lives.
We ask how people can commit the atrocities we see on television. Well, they haven’t seen it on television. They have lived it and suffered from it.
How have they been able to learn that there is another way to live?
We ask what happens to them. We will see on television.
KC’s nuclear threat
Last month, government officials and Honeywell leaders dedicated the National Security Campus where nuclear weapon parts will be made and procured. A Honeywell spokesperson said, “For more than 65 years, we have helped protect our nation and have been a responsible business partner and employer in the Kansas City community.”
What exactly does it mean to protect our nation? Does anyone feel protected from the threat of nuclear annihilation that hangs over all of our heads?
What exactly is a responsible employer? Is it one that has exposed its workers to toxic materials, leading to deaths and terminal illnesses?
In the name of national security, Honeywell failed to notify its employees—and those of other federal agencies at Bannister Federal Complex—about the contaminants to which they were exposed. The new complex is now our very own “insecurity campus.”
For this reason, PeaceWorks-KC assembled to protest the dedication with its own “Dead-ication” and staged a funeral procession to grieve the workers’ deaths and the threat nuclear weapons pose to the survival of the planet.
We in Missouri have executed eight men in nine months. As of Jan. 1, there were more than 3,000 people living under the sentence of death in this country.
Less than 1 percent are executed each year. Three states account for 20 of the 26 executions in the U.S. this year—Texas seven, Florida seven, Missouri six.
How are decisions made as to who is chosen to die? Does each of the accused have fair, unbiased, adequate representation?
As of March, there had been 144 persons exonerated in the U.S. since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. Six had been in Missouri.
Sadly, none of the executions has brought the victims back to their loving families and friends. Their pain and grief continue.
In addition, each execution creates another grieving family. Each person executed had loved ones who knew there was more to him than his most violent act. Their grief also continues.
The convicted are in the custody of the Department of Corrections, which in Missouri is fast becoming the Department of Executions. Let’s execute justice, not people.
Children of God
Unless we see that Israel and Palestine are both children of Abraham, children through his son Isaac and through his son Ishmael, peace in the Middle East has little chance.
The lives and property of civilians are sacred. This is the core of every sacred tradition. The Bible does not say 200 eyes for an eye—and even taking one eye for an eye in time leaves the whole world blind. Violence simply needs to stop, and healing must begin.
I propose that the two people begin with the foundation of respect for each other as monotheistic religious traditions in the lineage of Abraham and that both sides honor the ethical principles of that tradition in terms of life and property, as though the other were in truth an honored brother.
Bridging the divides
Michael Brown and three other unarmed black men have died at the hands of police officers in the past few weeks. These wrongs go deeper than isolated incidents.
These wrongs appear societal in nature, of the great divide present, of fears, anger, distrust and frustrations that exist. Do we truly love our neighbors as ourselves?
If we did, then our relations with black, Asian, Native American, other minorities, gay, Jewish, Muslim and international peoples would truly be different. We would truly get to know them.
We would socialize with them. We would eat with them. We would welcome them into our homes. We would welcome them into our places of worship.
We would welcome them into our families. We would have meaningful dialogues and truly understand each other. We would come to each other’s defense and honor.
We need to practice the Golden Rule of love, and live nonviolently. We need to see through each other’s eyes, minds and hearts. We need to disarm ourselves of weapons of war, hatred and racism.
Chair, PeaceWorks-KC Board
Freedom Summer II
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, when students and clergy descended on Mississippi. Their purpose was to educate African-Americans and register them to vote.
Mississippi’s government segregationists and the Ku Klux Klan saw these actions as anathema to their long-held tradition of white supremacy. Many people were beaten, homes set on fire, crosses burned and indignities faced because the students and clergy held that the right to vote belonged to every citizen. Some were killed in the voting rights fight.
Today, the American Legislative Exchange Council and tea party have pushed restrictive voter-identification laws and limits to early voting. The Supreme Court gutted a critical portion of the Voting Rights Act, adding insult.
States in the Old South rushed to implement voter restrictions, knowing that these repressive laws overwhelmingly affect African-Americans and people of color.
No longer garbed in white sheets, the new dress for racism speaks of “welfare queens” and “entitlements,” promoting anger, fear and distrust.
It’s past time for this country to face our continuing myth of white supremacy and legacy of slavery. It’s time for another Freedom Summer to reinstate comprehensive voting rights for all.
America has 5 percent of the world’s total population but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the majority for nonviolent offenses.
I volunteer at a program that provides assistance for recently released prisoners. I cannot tell you how many clients I’ve met and thought, “They should never have gone to prison.” It’s ridiculous what some people are sent to prison for.
In many cases this leaves children without a parent, families without a bread-winner and innumerable hardships of every imaginable kind for the incarcerated people and their families. After imprisonment, their lives are shattered.
They often are denied the right to vote and have trouble gaining employment, housing and even food stamps. Their opportunities in life are severely curtailed, even after they’ve “paid their debt to society.”
We simply have to begin using common sense and discontinue the mantra of punishment. Punishment is not always the answer when actions are taken that harm others or society.
We can use our intelligence to correct wrongs without being gratuitously harsh. The current system is cruel, wasteful and just plain ignorant. Additionally, we have two justice systems, one for the rich and another for the poor.
Mary Sanchez column
News of the firing of Colleen Simon and the failure of the leadership of Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese to consistently demonstrate fairness and to embrace all persons was not a total surprise (5-15, Commentary, “Church fumbles chance to change”).
It is another indication of how the Catholic Church continues to support bishops who have no business serving in this capacity.
Ms. Simon served St. Francis Xavier Church well during her much too short tenure. Those involved in getting her fired need to be held accountable. Their failure to demonstrate the message of Christ in all they do demands that they also be fired or removed.
How many more instances of failure to lead must Catholics in this diocese endure?
Obama and drones
President Barack Obama recently sent drones, which killed nine “suspected terrorists” and three civilians. Mr. President, who helped you make this determination?
Do you really have the authorization, under our Constitution or some other decree, to kill people in a foreign country? Please, Mr. President, stop it.
I still have the Fort Hood tragedy on my mind. I send my condolences to everyone involved.
Again I am reminded of our need for connectedness. A lack of connectedness and relationships leads to acting out in the form of violence.
Isolation cannot be underestimated. As a society, we need to promote peace and diplomacy, both of which start with connectedness and relationships.
It has become too easy to segue from sound bite to aggression and violence. We need to shift our collective consciousness to negotiation and harmony. We need to realize that dumbing down to aggression is a disaster and a short-term solution.
Money has been made from glamorizing violence. For some it makes good cinema.
We need to focus on the hero who averts war and violence. We need to glamorize promoting peace. We need to cultivate the next generation of negotiators and diplomats.
Bullying is never good leadership. We need to open a nationwide dialogue.
Let’s talk about peace and diplomacy. Our future depends on it.
Costly death penalty
Curtis McCarty, who had been on death row in Oklahoma for 19 years, recently told his story at Donnelly College. He is one of the 311 persons released since 1993 through the Innocence Project, an organization committed to exonerating wrongly convicted people using DNA testing.
Because of prosecutorial and forensic misconduct, McCarty was convicted of murder in the late 1980s. After being retried, he gave up hope of being exonerated. Then an FBI investigation found that the Oklahoma City Police Department had falsified DNA evidence in several cases, including his. He was exonerated in 2007. He received no compensation from the state, and his record hasn’t been expunged so he is unemployable.
Our criminal justice system is flawed. Innocent people have been imprisoned, and some have been executed.
Kansas is one of 32 states with the death penalty. There’s a bill in the Kansas Legislature that could repeal the death penalty.
It is the only humane thing to do to avoid the possibility of killing innocent persons. Those who are truly guilty of heinous crimes should be sentenced to life in prison without parole, which has been proved to be less costly.
Wasted tax dollars
I’m unhappy to learn that 40 cents of every one of my 2013 federal tax dollars went to fund current and past wars, according to the Quaker advocacy group the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
We have some critical needs as a country—how to respond to the effects of climate change, how to repair our crumbling bridges and roadways, and how to bridge the growing divide between rich and poor.
I want to see more of my tax dollars going to these priorities rather than to the Pentagon. I hope that mysenators, Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, will work to make this happen in the coming year.
They can start by eliminating the more than $100 billion of documented waste, fraud and abuse found in the Pentagon’s budget every year. We might disagree about the need to invest in the tools for war, but surely we can agree on the need to spend our tax dollars responsibly.
A global crisis exists with the standoff between Ukraine and Russia, with other world powers involved. I compare this to the 13-day Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, when the United States would not tolerate nuclear missiles in Cuba, leading to a blockade, a showdown and a near launching of a nuclear exchange.
What a sobering lesson. Now, Russia has sent troops into Crimea and Ukraine’s border and has made demands.
The U.S. has sent F-15 fighter planes to Lithuania, rallied Baltic countries, sent warships into the Black Sea and placed advisers in Ukraine. Elected by a majority of voters, Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was forced to leave Ukraine.
Crimea residents may vote to join Russia. Both sides have valid issues, but war would be a tragedy of epic proportions.
The world’s citizens must demand a stand-down and immediate freeze of all military actions, lest a nuclear exchange occur, even if limited. I hope and pray politicians, philosophers and moral and religious leaders sit down together and come to a just peaceable resolution.
The world should not tolerate destructive power politics that endangers our planet.
Chair, PeaceWorks-KC Board
Up until the Vietnam conflict, the longest war our country had been involved in was the Revolutionary War (eight years). The many other conflicts were resolved within the term/terms of single administrations.
We have now seen three major wars—Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan—that have spanned at least two administrations, the first initiating hostilities, the second contending with it regardless of his agenda.
And all three wars seem to have been ill-conceived and ended badly.
War is not to be entered into lightly, regardless of circumstances. We do not want to see such fiascoes as the 30-year or 100-year wars that devastated Europe.
Death penalty debate
Missouri and in particular Attorney General Chris Koster are moving very quickly to clear a backlog of people on death row. The Department of Corrections is now obtaining the drug for its executions in what appears to be an illegal manner from an unregulated pharmacy in Oklahoma.
The execution of Michael Taylor is scheduled for Feb. 26. Taylor was convicted of raping and murdering 15-year-old Ann Harrison after kidnapping her from a school bus stop in southeast Kansas City in 1989.
I cannot imagine the anguish of the families of murder victims; they did nothing to deserve the pain. Why do we inflict that same pain on the family of the condemned? Taylor’s family is innocent as well. Please, Gov. Jay Nixon, commute all of these death sentences to life without parole.
So let me get this straight. JE Dunn believes in following church teaching when it fits its needs, such as when the company wants to keep its employees from being covered for the morning-after pill. But, when it’s not convenient to follow the church, such as when Dunn was the general contractor for the new nuclear weapons parts plant, then it doesn’t have any problem ignoring those teachings.
You know, the ones that support nuclear disarmament and oppose nuclear weapons.
How do you spell hypocrisy? JE Dunn.
A pox on both our houses—Russia and the United States—for continued development of nuclear weapon technology (1-30, A1, “Russian testing strains accord”).
PeaceWorks-KC deplores Russian testing of new ground-launched cruise missiles. PeaceWorks-KC deplores U.S. improvements and production of nuclear weapons parts at the Kansas City plant of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Both Russia and the U.S. violate the letter, intent and spirit of landmark arms-control and reduction treaties. Both parties are complicit in global suicide policies.
It is late in the day for efforts to save the globe. Demand that both parties stop this madness and redirect their energies to solve local, national and international crises in health, education, job training and protection of the environment.
If God or ethics or morality are the light of the world, we must walk away from the darkness and destruction these weapons can inflict.
Yes, we were the first—the first to drop nuclear and plutonium bombs on civilian women and children. Yea for us.
The United States was the first to need superfund programs to handle the radioactive waste destroying our land, making people sick and even killing our own people. Yea for us.
The U.S. was the first to spend billions on these weapons when we could spend it on, I don't know, education, health care, developing alternative clean energy. Silly things like that.
I would ask the Nov. 25 letter writer whom he thinks nuclear weapons would deter? Not suicidal terrorists, that's for sure.
The more weapons we produce, the more the terrorists like it. Yea for us.
The more radioactive waste we leave behind, the more the American-haters like it. Yea for us.
Work for peace
Norman Solomon recently delivered a petition with 100,000 signatures to the Nobel committee, asking for Bradley Manning to receive the Peace Prize award. I signed this petition because we needed to know our government's operating philosophy. He had voiced concern to a superior who was not concerned, and the citizenry needed this information.
We need to make the changes to actually work for peace. Dennis Kucinich and others tried to get Congress to make changes to no avail.
Now we see that our State Department isn't "doing statesmanship," and has been embarrassed. Let's have the State Department work for peace. Then it wouldn't be embarrassed.
Taxes pay for our government, and we should not be shut out of decision-making. Our military and State Department should be doing their best for the citizenry and fostering peace in the world.
We should not be using the military to carry out the wishes of corporations.
Ban nuclear arms
Maybe it is a blessing in disguise that the Air Force can't seem to keep the blast doors closed and secured on its nuclear missiles (10-23, A2, "Crews left blast doors open"). It's a reminder to all of us that we aren't mature enough as a society to control these weapons.
A mature society wouldn't have them in the first place. Let's be rid of them.
Let's open the door to a nuclear-weapons-free world.
Shut down the war machine. Then, we have a balanced budget and health care for all.
Chair, PeaceWorks, KC
Practical U.S. defense
The city shouldn't be involved in supporting a federal nuclear-weapons parts plant. The U.S. should have an honest account of the costs involved.
The nuclear-weapons industry, a 20th century Cold War dinosaur, is in decline. The city should instead promote sustainable industries that create many times more jobs.
Nuclear weapons are the biggest threat to our safety: Weapons of mass destruction can wipe out all life on Earth several times over. A worldwide movement seeking a treaty banning nuclear weapons gathered in Oslo, Norway, with representatives from 127 states, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, UN agencies and civil society actors.
In these times of sequestration, we need to turn to affordable, practical forms of defense.
Kansas City, Kan.
According to international law, the United States cannot undertake any military response to the supposed use of chemical weapons in Syria without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, an approval that could never be obtained.
Further, according to international law, the heinous crime of chemical weapons use should be handled by the International Criminal Court, not by the vigilante action of the United States.
Most important, any military action by the United States would considerably complicate reaching a peaceful settlement to a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced perhaps 7 million others.
Americans should also realize that U.S. moral outrage over the use of chemical weapons is extremely hypocritical, given our government's knowledge of and acceptance of the use of mustard gas and sarin gas by Iraq in 1988 in the Iraq-Iran War, and our continued willingness to employ internationally condemned white phosphorus, napalm, cluster bombs and depleted uranium in U.S. military actions.
I urge you to communicate your opposition to U.S. military intervention in Syria to your representatives and senators.
War vs. peace
Regardless of a possible U.S. military strike in Syria, the honorable John Kerry was explaining the illegal use of chemical weapons detonated in Syria. He spoke of the immorality of their use, the obscene, despicable, deplorable act of detonating a banned weapons product.
He is, however, careful not to point an accusing finger. Maybe this is because he has not developed amnesia toward America's continued efforts at maintaining nuclear-weapons delivery systems.
With the use of the civilian employees at Whiteman Air Force base, many Americans have a vested interest in the nuclear-weapons mission. After all, nuclear weapons and the chemical devices detonated in Syria are no more than specially designed products manufactured by skilled tradesmen.
Regrettably, building weapons of mass destruction has, since the early mining of uranium, been an economic boon for untold thousands of investors and highly skilled workers. Making a living by "peace through superior firepower" has become the norm.
Is not the counterbalance to a peace-based economy a warfare economy?
Is war a good trade? Maybe if you don't mind the blood of the innocent mingled with the blood of the guilty on your hands.
John P. Montgomery
Abandon the bomb
A guard unit at Whiteman Air Force Base can drop the bomb. Yes, the nuclear bomb (8-17, A1, "Guard unit in Missouri makes history").
Jesus said, "I have come to set the Earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" (Luke 12:49-53. It could be the gospel for today.
Is it our right to set the Earth on fire? Do we usurp what belongs solely to God?
Why do we continue to think, create and prepare to use the bomb that would reign terror and cause untold destruction on many children, women and innocent noncombatants?
Have we lost our right mind?
We must fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves to aid in God's creation and love, to heal, to bind wounds and to be the voice of conscience. In the words of Albert Camus, "Be neither victims nor executioners."
Henry M. Stoever
Chair of PeaceWorks, KC
U.S. aid to Egypt
Do we really need to give this Egyptian government $1.3 billion every year?
About 700 Egyptians were killed by their government last week alone, along with several thousand seriously wounded.
We, of course, are short on funds for food stamps for our own elderly and disabled. Please tell me we are not borrowing this $1.3 billion from China.
This is insanity at its lowest level.
Brave truth tellers
Just when we thought the system was completely dysfunctional, whistleblowers Bradley Manning and Kevin Snowden bring us the truth about the situation we find ourselves in.
Suddenly and clearly we recognize it’s not just the Republicans and it’s not just the Democrats, it’s the system itself. And it was us.
We were expected to remain cowered while our representatives enriched themselves at our expense. All the while fronting for the largest organized-crime syndicate in the history of the world, the military industrial Congress complex, which President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about decades ago.
So now they agree, the truth tellers are the criminals, not those responsible for the illegal wars and occupations, torture and profiteering.
They’re scared. The jig is up. We know and we’re angry.
Viva whistleblowers. Legalize the truth; prosecute liars who murder and spawn death for profit.
Exception of war
Have you noticed that the austerity scolds never tell us that we can't afford another war?
Seniors, poor people, education, infrastructure and wage earners are supposed to dutifully sacrifice while our government pours money into the Pentagon—even spending billions for weapons the military insists that it does not want.
Although the scolds constantly warn of disaster because of excess spending, they campaign for yet another wildly expensive Middle East military intervention. Never mind that the totally unnecessary Iraq war is estimated to have cost more than $4 trillion and has, in effect, delivered that country to Iran.
Overland Park, KS
End gun violence
A saying attributed to George Fox, founder of Quakerism, is that you will give up your sword when you can no longer wear it. Likewise with guns in our society.
Urban gun violence has reached a point where even those in the thick of it are ready to limit it. A gun culture with no aim but the killing of people begets and glamorizes violence.
Its many victims are paying its social and psychological cost. We respect the use of guns for recreation and responsible hunting but cannot see a reason to allow weapons that can only be used to kill people. No one should have to live in a city where such violence leads to a state of constant defensiveness. We believe that valuing gun safety and limiting gun size and availability would help everyone return to a life of trust and of respect for the light within each person.
Penn Valley Friends Meeting (Quakers)
Cut U.S. military
Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan recently stated that the United States spends more on national defense than the other top 10 nations combined. There cannot be any reasonable justification for such an expenditure.
Former President and Army Gen. Ike Eisenhower warned that we should be concerned about the military-industrial complex. Now it is obvious why he made that warning.
The current defense budget could be reduced to much less than half without affecting security or military service people. To try to enact such a reduction would expose the military-industrial complex through its objections and in the form it might choose to express such objections.
What an unspeakable horror a bombing is—whether in Boston or in Baghdad. The lives of young people, of children, and the integrity of human bodies are disrupted and destroyed.
In the weeks after the Boston tragedy, let us not forget that we are responsible for similar attacks, albeit perpetrated by drones and fighters behind computers at military bases in the United States.
We send drones to too many countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. These people are our brothers and sisters, too.
Let’s mourn our dead and tend to our injured. And then let’s demand an end to drone attacks and demand accountability for what they have done.
Not to minimize the horrific tragedy that occurred in Boston, where three people died and more than 100 were injured, but let us put events in perspective.
As it should, our government will spend millions of dollars to find and prosecute the perpetrator or perpetrators of this heinous crime. Every day in America, on average, 33 people are murdered or accidentally killed by guns.
This is the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing and killing all aboard once a week. Is our government doing anything to curtail the 11,000 homicides annually by gunfire?
Justice on hold
Gov. Sam Cutback … er … Gov. Sam Brownback has reorganized the social services arena in Kansas so horrifically that he has taken the services out of the Division of Children and Family Services. The office has become so unresponsive, inaccessible and dysfunctional that we can no longer tolerate it and must take our concerns to the level of protest.
Gov. Brownback and supervisors at the Kansas City, Kan., Division of Children and Family Services:
We are tired of never being able to reach anyone by phone and then going to the office only to wait hours on end to be told, “We don’t know about your case.”
We are tired of calling the state ombudswoman for resolution only to be told that her hands are tied, too. We are fed up with the convoluted manner in which Medicaid claims are stalled and pushed back.
We may be poor, but we’re people, too, many of us with grave and painful medical issues. Sorry, but we can’t handle this “right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing” monstrous bureaucracy.
Gov. Brownback, quit your stallin’, the phone call is for you, and justice is callin’.
St. Lawrence Catholic Worker House
Kansas City, KS
Vote against weapons
With Lent and the closeness of the April 2 ballot, I turn to Scripture for guidance on preventing future city contracts for nuclear weapons parts production.
Do we choose life, be transformed by God and repent? Or do we build more weapons of mass destruction?
I hope Kansas City votes yes on Question 3 on April 2.
Vote for Question 3
There are 890 — make that 890 times two — reasons to vote yes on Question 3 on April 2 to limit Kansas City’s future financial involvement in building nuclear weapons components.
As of June 2012, the Department of Labor identified 898 toxins used at the old Bannister Road facility potentially or actually contaminating air, soil or water.
A Kansas City television news station lists a strikingly similar number of workers whose illnesses or deaths are thought to be associated with environmental exposures at the plant — 892.
The Bannister plant was notorious for environmental and safety hazards. Why on earth (or in Kansas City) create a hazardous mess at a second site?
As a test of good faith, did the Kansas City Council follow through on the one citizen initiative it passed, finding productive and safer ways to use both plant sites? Or was it tossed in the waste bin, assuming no one would check back?
The wording of Question 3 is confusing. Vote yes to say no to nuke financing. It is a crucial vote.
Vote yes on Question 3.
Nuclear plant vote
The new nuclear weapons parts plant at Missouri 150 and Botts Road is touting a LEED Gold certification, which means it is a clean, green building. This is an oxymoron.
Nuclear weapons will never be safe to build, and workers will continue to become ill, as they have at the old nuclear weapons parts plant on Bannister Road. The toxic metals that are manipulated, the waste produced and the equipment used remain the same.
The only difference is now these weapons will be made in a facility that has grass on the roof and energy-efficient light bulbs.
My great-grandfather died from working at the Kansas City facility, and many more people are living with chronic illnesses from working on these weapons.
When will we say enough is enough? We are decreasing our supply of nuclear arms every year, but we just used Kansas City municipal bonds to help finance the new location.
Kansas City wants jobs but not jobs that come with the hefty price tag of losing a loved one to sickness and death. Vote “yes” on Question 3 on April 2 to stop the city’s financial involvement in the nuclear weapons industry.
Nuclear ballot question
In response to the new facility for the National Nuclear Security Administration at Missouri 150 and Botts Road, if this were all about maintaining jobs in Kansas City, are we at all concerned about what kind of jobs our citizens have?
Handling materials in a nuclear weapons plant sounds like one of the worst jobs you could have.
There are many cases of people who worked at the old Bannister Road plant who have died from cancer-causing toxins that they were exposed to.
This number includes only families that have come forward.
Do we not care about our citizens enough to at least provide jobs that are non-toxic?
What is more outrageous is that Kansas City has funded this project using blighted neighborhood bonds.
Vote yes on Question No. 3 on April 2 and prevent Kansas City from funding nuclear weapons in the future.
April 2 nuclear issue
Vote yes for Kansas City and vote yes for the Earth.
I love Kansas City, even though I live next door in Independence. I’m sorry I can’t vote on the April 2 ballot.
Kansas City residency determines who will vote on whether a nuclear-weapons building is enabled by the city’s tax dollars—your tax dollars.
But nuclear contamination, borne by wind and water, does not stop at city borders. Anything to do with nuclear material (weapons or waste) cannot be a NIMBY (not in my backyard) issue.
It’s a global issue.
So, good neighbor, when you have the opportunity to vote locally for such a global issue, don’t let it pass you by. Remember, what we do to the planet, we do to ourselves … and our children.
Vote yes on Question 3. Stop the city’s future support of nuclear-weapons parts production.
Please make sure everyone you know in the neighborhood understands this vital issue.
U.S. citizens targeted
It is troubling to read about U.S. citizens being murdered by drone strikes. Since when do we officially condone murder of U.S. citizens by our own government without benefit of trial? How does this differ from totalitarian regimes? Where is the outrage? Is it OK just because it’s not happening on our soil? I don’t think so.
Being a citizen of the U.S. has constitutional protections afforded to all, suspected terrorist or not. Since all elected officials are sworn to protect the Constitution and laws of the United States, it would seem to me that if a U.S. citizen is purposefully killed, it should be followed by impeachment of all elected officials involved and then criminal proceedings against them and everybody else involved.
If we citizens continue to look the other way, where does it stop? Are we better than totalitarian regimes only because we haven’t killed as many of our own citizens yet?
Death penalty cost
During this critical period in which the Missouri General Assembly is striving hard to attain a balanced budget by cutting services, I have become even more aware of how costly a drain to taxpayers the death penalty is.
In Missouri, the budget is strained to provide Medicaid services to poor citizens. Education cuts are causing many of our children to suffer.
Thus it is time that we, too, begin questioning the cost of the death penalty versus a sentence of life without possibility of parole. Senate Bill 61 is calling for a careful study of how much the death penalty is actually costing Missouri taxpayers.
Sen. Mike Parson is the chair of the Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee, which is hearing that bill, determining soon whether it should move forward for action.
It makes sense that our representatives in Jefferson City, stewards of our taxpayer dollars, investigate the cost of executions in Missouri to determine whether in these times of economic hardship and deep budget cuts, the death penalty is something that we can any longer afford.
Susie Roling, MSW
Enough of violence
Sadly, the loss of 20 children and six saintly school adults could have been prevented, as well as all the other killings over the last five years. It is sad that our country has trillions of dollars to spend on new state-of-the-art nuclear defense plants like the one built in the south Kansas City area with the blessing and support of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and former Sen. Kit Bond.
That’s money that could have purchased state-of-the-art mental health centers for youths and adults.
Instead, it’s being used to enrich the elite of the elite of the Honeywell Corp.
In the history of this great nation, nuclear weapons have been used only twice at the end of World War II and at a cost of many lives.
Our leaders tell us that they are only looking out for those needing jobs by funding the defense plant.
They say these are good jobs. Could be. But at what point do the people of America say enough?
God bless America.
Nuclear violence in KC
The Jan. 28 front-page article in The Star, "Honeywell plant on the move," projects a $4.76 billion cost over 20 years in the face of concern about the economy.
Certainly we could question the high cost. But we also have to ask, "How does building nuclear weapons leave a positive legacy for our grandchildren?"
Those who wish to make money off this project would have to ignore this question. And it is not just about jobs.
It's about what serves the common good. In Kansas City, members of the public will have a chance to express their opinion in a vote on April 2.
People can curb this kind of boondoggle by voting "yes" on Question 3.