We heard gunshots as we were having dinner in the community of Filipinas (
The bursts of gunfire were becoming longer and the direction of the sound was changing. It seemed as though the shots were coming closer. There was a particularly long, and ugly, burst of automatic rifle fire. At one point, shots were fired in the plantain grove – 100 yards away.
We also heard explosions which could have been army mortars or guerrilla cylinder bombs. The guerrillas sometimes launch propane cylinders filled with shrapnel – deadly devices that often veer off course and miss their intended target.
A group of soldiers had set up camp in the neighboring house – 50 feet away. I was afraid that the explosions could have been cylinder bombs and that the guerrillas would attempt to hit the army encampment. I counted the explosions (something else to focus on) and noted 16.
“My God! My God!” cried the woman who had invited us for dinner. “Why don’t they just leave?” she said in relation to the soldiers. She was also afraid that their presence would draw bullets or bombs.
I motioned a few times to my friend Nidia and mouthed, “Let’s get on the ground!” but she and the others didn’t seem to think that was necessary. We heard some more shots and I finally said to everyone, “You can stay seated, but I’m going to get down on the ground.” I then laid down on the dirt underneath the table. The family puppy joined me and I nicknamed the two of us, “The Brave Ones.” The sight of the gringo and the puppy provided some comic relief and, at that point, the gunfire and explosions ended.
I dusted myself off and we walked to the center of the community. Gunfire sounded again while I was inside a small store. This time I didn’t hesitate – I immediately laid down on the floor. I looked at my watch and noted that it was
A helicopter came and circled overhead five minutes later. A roar of machinegun fire came from the helicopter – the ugliest sound I’ve heard in my life. I looked behind me and saw Nidia crouched underneath a table with her son Brandon, who was crying. One of the bullet cases tore through the metal roof of a house fifty yards away and landed on the ground a few feet from a mother and child (see attached photos).
The following morning we learned that four soldiers had been seriously wounded in the attack. The troop commander came to talk with us and we expressed our sorrow for those soldiers. We stated our concern that the ongoing presence of soldiers in the community, and encamped in people’s homes, was putting the civilian population at risk. The guerrillas were also endangering civilians by attacking the soldiers inside the community.
We had traveled to Filipinas for a human rights workshop organized by the Arauca Peasant Association (ACA). The workshop was suspended because of the danger posed by the presence of the soldiers and guerrillas. The troop commander told Nidia, the workshop facilitator and me that we would have to leave the area. Before leaving, we went to the home of the ACA president – at least ten soldiers were encamped around the house.
Gunshots rang out again about half an hour after we left Filipinas. The ACA president’s horse was struck by one of the bullets and killed.
I’ve been experiencing a growing commitment to the non-violent struggle for justice. The actions of both the guerrillas and the soldiers put the children and adults in Filipinas at grave risk. Seeing their fear, and experiencing my own fear, has deepened my opposition to the blind hatred embodied in the barrel of a gun.
In love and solidarity,
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Not long ago, I was reading a narrative written by a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. She wrote of memories no one with compassion would wish on another human being. She told her story because she realized that even if she tried to put those memories behind her she would not be able to do that, and she was not naive about Japan's commitment to all out war or trying to assert that the rationale for bombing did not exist. She told her story as a human cry of anguish, a universal cry...as Scott's cousin, I have wondered if, and have been asked if he has some kind of a death wish to put himself into these circumstances...as if he really has a choice. It may be a luxury of some kind for me to think that he does have a choice. If I had a choice, I would not have chosen to have had to experience living downwind of above ground nuclear explosions as a child, and I cannot seem to forget that...so I have empathy with Colombians, but I cannot focus on them alone, interesting neither can Scott, but I cannot deny that I have the desire sometimes to take him away from the violence he seems to need to seek- perhaps to come to terms with something within himself. Cousin Alexis
I find honest narrative difficult to find...even those with the purest motives have something to gain by appearing to have a moral high ground which is impossible to maintain for any one person. Perhaps especially when we lose ourselves in the apparent justice of our cause, we begin to lie it seems... and to accept lies in ourselves and others that in other contexts we would not or should not tolerate. Cousin Alexis
I have the need to clarify that I do consider this entry of my cousin to be honest narrative. It speaks for itself. I am saddened if my own words here detract or distract from what Scott shows. Perhaps later, I will offer a few more words of my own. Cousin Alexis
Scott's slide show where Nidia spoke about soldiers contaminating her and her children. All I can do is reference my own experience of having my mom tell me about crossing the Nevada desert during atmospheric nuclear weapons testing and fearing she had been exposed to fallout while pregnant with one of my siblings. On certain internet service providers, when I write about this, I can see the words being changed as I write...now that
president Obama is in office, I am not noticing that happen. I just need to share this. Cousin Alexis
What I thought I saw could have been a mental distortion of mine because of my own fears...I own that...but the Bush presidency had a lot of frightening aspects to it for me. Cousin Alexis
Once I was gathering signatures, here in California, in support of a universal health care initiative. It was an instructive experience...we have amazingly huge disparities of wealth in California. Some people signed the petition readily...but the question which many seemed to fear the most was when I would ask them what they would do if they lost their health insurance. Our economic problems here are giving many a chance to ponder that question in very immediate ways. Andre Sakharov...dissident in the former Soviet Union saw through the lies of communism as a result of being coerced into using his brilliance to assist in the development of weapons of mass destruction...but he was not uncritical of capitalism either. There is an old saying that when we tell the truth we shame the devil...Sakharov sought to tell the truth in his country, and his life was as at risk as those who try to tell the truth here about the darker sides of capitalism. I don't think I have the entire right to tell other people's stories...in this country where computers are mined for information...which could be used to deny others medical benefits.Here in California...we have "rights" theoretically...but when we lose our jobs, and the unemployment rate is onerous...it is difficult to actually be able to afford to continue paying for our medical benefits...technically we have the "right" to do that...so becoming comfortable with mortality is simply a good idea. I thought about that when the words in my messages were being scrambled. Cousin Alexis
It is my opinion that a major reason we don't have a comprehensive health care system here in the United States is that our particular economic system is fairly diabolical, although there is much promise and potential for change embodied within our form of government. There does not seem to have been a serious intention, for example, of paying conscientious attention to the medical needs of children made ill by our weapons experiments conducted in the last century. I appreciate the efforts being made to maintain this website...hopefully these efforts being made by my cousin, by members of this group he helped to found, and by other compassionate souls are not wasted on a world that sometimes seems bent on having to re-learn the bitter lessons of war time and time again. Cousin Alexis
I continue to think about Robinson...the one who still exhibited a sense of hope who Scott wrote about in an earlier entry. While it is good to hear about the hopeful ones and they inspire us, the truth is that I have long had a special regard for the plight of the suicidal folks in our world and in our own communities in the United States. To have emotional depression and alienation exist in a violent culture seems only to be expected. I spent quite awhile setting up meetings for disturbed children. Some of them had parents who were being sent on repeated deployments in our military. In the meetings, the source of the child's disturbance would become clear. It appears that eventually violence harms and even kills the spirit in people. Here in California, we have creeping urban blight within the midst of communities which also exhibit ostentatious material wealth...and many disaffected young people who look numb somehow. Being surrounded by violence in entertainment media and in the news seems to numb the spirit and it takes effort to mitigate those effects. Alexis
My cousin, Scott, writes very well, even after having witnessed the sights and sounds of serious violence. Here is my problem...when I heard and read that formerly classified documents related to weapons testing in this country had been declassified, I tried to pay attention...but I succumbed to grief reading about what has probably effected so many of us here in the United States. I believe this is normal grief, but there are few outlets for it. We are supposed to consider the possibility of destroying life on earth just one acceptable possibility of war...and one which fits in with conceptions many hold about the necessity of Armageddon. I struggle with belief and spirituality given that so many true believers...of whatever stripe...communist, capitalist, and religionists of many faiths hold to the fundamental sense that death is merited by those who disagree with them. In grade school, living in a community which was a "first strike" target on the nuclear world map...a strike from what was then the Soviet Union, much was made of the destruction being planned by our enemies...little did I guess that our own weapons testing was harming so many. Fifty thousand dollars is the award for proving yourself to be a "down winder" of weapons testing...and that money is supposed to compensate you for knowing that you have been contaminated and that your descendants could experience illness into the future...money paid to accept a burden of contamination for our children. It is supposed to be sanity to think that is an acceptable price. So perhaps I reject sanity in this context. We as a country ask down winders to accept being paid to have unwittingly cooperated with their own destruction and possibly that of their children...my experience and understanding of what has been wrought in this world through human hubris defies consolation. I write because, by some miracle, I have the ability to think. To me, sanity would mean that we should not be taught to cooperate with our own destruction. Cousin Alexis
Before leaving this site now, I will assert that I believe that love will overcome hate and hope is a more powerful force than despair. At any one given time on the planet, there is probably much more good happening than evil. Compassion makes boundless progress, and humanity progresses...but the darkness needs to be confronted...Scott's pictures show the horror and trauma of war. We have the chance and choice to change this grief, but it seems that we have to look at darkness fully to be motivated to change it. I thank Scott for taking the risks he takes in showing us what needs to be confronted. He has my regards and love, Alexis
Here is an anecdote, and factually true...about someone I knew who had been employed during atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. He was older than most of my other classroom volunteers. He was stepping in to my class to help as a family member of a child whose mother was a young relative. He had directly participated in nuclear weapons testing in the Nevada desert. (He had odd and difficult health problems as well.) At one point, upon seeing the incredible destruction that the bombs were producing, he appealed to his supervisors to allow him to get a psychiatric exclusion because he did not feel that he had a personality fitted to participate in such efforts. He was not allowed to have an exclusion...basically he was required to override misgivings that,in my view, were sane. If I had only read about this as a child- while thinking that he were a citizen of the Soviet Union- I would have believed it...not thinking I would someday hear such a story from a citizen of my own country. Is any economic theory or political system authentically good when the proponents of that system seek to override basic human decency to coerce others into these actions? If some of us, including Scott's friends in El Salvador and Colombia want to believe we are communist...let us look into the faces of the disfigured in those areas where "Communists" tested their bombs and explain the merits of that system...and if anyone wants to be an enthusiastic "Capitalist"...don't disregard the plights of the innocent, powerless, and unwitting souls, including perhaps some of our own descendants, who have been, and will be sacrificed, for this possibly equally ignominious system of thinking. Still, love itself exists...the light of the Spirit can be intuited, even as we know the lack of it. The spiritual force which allows and calls us to love, a force that we do not in fact understand and, in my view, we cannot adequately name, impels us forward beyond our labels, and beyond the currently honed ideologies which have had the support of all of the world's armies...ideologies which will always be deficient since human beings are incomplete. My sanity seems to be found by the acknowledgment of love and wisdom which will be eternally larger than we ourselves are. I say this as someone who knows grief, terror, and cynical disbelief as well as I know faith and is aware of the tenuous fact of her own existence... born downwind of those life-annulling weapons tests whose after effects cannot be measured in potential destruction now or into the future, born in the United States of America...a country which holds itself to be a beacon to the world in respect for human rights, freedom, and democracy. Can this country be a beacon which many long to believe it to be? If we do not represent hope and progress, then what do we represent? Cousin Alexis
August 6th, when our military followed the orders of President Truman was simply one more date which culminated in a final premeditated act targeting a civilian population.I am glad that my friends' relatives were spared a horrifying death in a "conventional war" which was a predicted outcome of a ground invasion of Japan...but the tenderness with which some Japanese children helped the dying while dying themselves fits with my experience of children. After teaching school for so many years, I learned that altruism seems the most conducive emotion to true learning. Perhaps I only see what I want to see, but it is difficult to see through my tears today. Cousin Alexis
There is a vast story of research on atomic materials, but I could never tell all of it...we all know something of it as the values embodied and the security apparatus supporting weapons research is with us today. We all have part of the story...we are all "down winders"...and the Colombians, though not in direct line of fallout on any map I have seen published inherit the results of a belief that our technological progress justifies grievous acts. Sometimes I mentally trivialize all of this...who could do otherwise and live? My story is not my story...it is a universal cry of anguish, but my soul is not broken...if I speak, and use this tainted medium to express myself, I trivialize everything...still in deference to my humanity and yours I write on about my experience. Cousin Alexis
I hope not to disappear into our criminal justice system, or an insane asylum...and hopefully there would be an interest in my fate if I did...but others have. Who remembers them? I will stop now because fourteen comments, at this moment, seems a nice even number...I won't use an exponent today. I hoped to encourage a world of exponents used by younger, healthier generations of North Americans...I think I have done that to some degree. Cousin Alexis
Now that President Obama has been in office for awhile, I may become more public on this blog...because of many reasons which may or may not be valid. What I want the world to know is that here in Sacramento California we are trying to understand the young people who have allied themselves into criminal gangs, many of which now have transnational connections. Sometimes my own fear blinds me..and I am unable to see the humanity in those who would surely kill if they could. Personally, I don't believe children are born to be pacifists (nor are they born to be consciously violent). What I have seen is incredible response within children to kindness...part of the sadness of Colombia is the same sadness that is here in our streets...children caught in life circumstances that deprive them of empathy. I have had the incredible privilege to be part of programs which have had the passion and compassion to develop altruism, empathy, and wonderful qualities too numerous to mention in children. Once in awhile, I become zealously committed to nuclear disarmament and go to a demonstration outside of one of our weapons facilities. I have to have a sense of humor about the whole thing because conventional war is as murderous and has horrifying long term consequences also...I have to admit that it may be possible that conventional war is less likely because world powers keep each other at bay with the nuclear threat. I put my thoughts on this blog because for years I have appropriately constrained myself from raising these issues directly to children...as an educator my role is not to horrify these children with the type of news that is all around them...it is to provide a calm and purposeful presence. Over thirty years ago, when I physically constrained two fighting sixth graders, I had much more energy than I do now, otherwise I would be seeking another teaching position (pause while I have tears regarding this. Given that I now have a pension, I am finding useful purpose in contributing to this blog. I hope these thoughts will contribute in some small way to the human community as we struggle with peaceful solutions to our common problems and I also hope that my thoughts will dignify the life of my cousin should something dire befall him. I appreciated the life of Terry Frietas and his companions as well.
Interesting blog. Please take a look at my blog when you get a chance @ http://amte.wordpress.com If you're interested, we should link to each other.
To the blogger from wordpress.com...I want to thank you for your comment, but I may not have time to look at what you write. I have very limited time for blogging and this is the only site to which I currently contribute. I encourage you to continue checking this site if you find my writing and my cousin's work in Colombia illuminating. In addition to having followed the war in Colombia for a long time irrespective of knowing that my cousin was involving himself, I have a long record of involving myself in the additional issues which I raise here. I just don't have the time to do more, but thanks for taking the time to comment. Cousin Alexis
There is a small community in the North Eastern part of California that my husband and I enjoy visiting...stories are told there about strange looking clouds which floated up from Nevada in earlier years. When the local people would wonder about it, the doctor in town alluded to the weapons testing in Nevada as the source and also the probable cause of later cancers. It is small, patriotic communities like this which also contribute soldiers to our military. There is no record of fallout reaching that community, but I believe what those who have lived there say. I think Sakharov would have believed them as well...there is a translation of a Russian saying I once read which admonishes people to trust your own bad eyes before someone else's good ones. We need to learn to trust what we see...the love in each other's eyes as well as the despair and also the fear. I don't know where Scott is now, but somehow I feel his presence. The hopes for the future depend on something much larger than the ideologies of the past. I feel the need to speak, to make myself known...here in Sacramento we have decommissioned several of our military basis. We lived under the watchful eyes of the Strategic Air Command for years here...the sky seems liberated now and I pray we don't return to the thinking of the past that kept the fear and terror of destruction as a theme in this beautiful city. Cousin Alexis
I am taking a moment to say that the process by which children learn to value the word over the fist is very instructive. When I was teaching, sometimes I would begin a school year with a class of children who had few common words to share between them...as they became exposed to English it was fascinating to watch how they appreciated the breadth of experience they could attain with communication skills. There was much to be shared, many experiences to be developed between them, and problems to be solved together when a common vocabulary became amenable to use between them. The power of a word is immense...exponentially more powerful than a blow from a fist...or a bullet. In your blog, amte, you comment that it is sometimes necessary to pick up a gun to abolish the gun...that phrase conjures up memories of how we are told that each war will be the war to end wars. The way of the gun is the way of the fist, but the fist made into a killing machine. Nonviolent movements make amazing progress...and yet are often universally scorned by those who believe in the necessity of the gun. In my view, when we pick up a gun, we further the interests of those who make the gun...ideology becomes irrelevant...as I shared before, the ultimate weapon is impervious to ideology...nuclear fallout can create a nuclear winter, withering life on earth. Fundamentally then, it is irrelevant which ideology is used to justify a war of that nature...those who truly understand the nature of contemporary weapons, as well as the enlightened among us from all times in history, understand the futility of a peace based on who most skillfully wields the weapons, but I thank you, amte, for otherwise such informative blog comments. Cousin Alexis
I choose to share on this blog site because my cousin is one of the founders of this group...which raises for me the reality of complexity. The most effective peace work is done, I believe, by assisting in the deconstruction of the myths and lies which motivate us toward war. Colombia demonstrates how difficult such projects can be in real life. Colombians are caught, like the rest of us are, in a web of myths and lies.During the duck and cover drills of childhood, how many of us really believed we would survive a nuclear attack? One of the characteristics that is necessary for peacemaking projects to succeed is that the individuals involved need to want to dissect and demystify myths that keep them at war. It is the human condition to live in real societies which lie and develop myths all the time which have no foundation in fact or truth. The real task then seems to be how to maintain a loving and serene spirit in this web. All of my life I have wanted to know what to believe about eternal truths...to have the luxury of knowing what to believe so that I could relax and be more loving...but no one of us actually as that luxury...the truly enlightened ones then transcend all of the fighting by understanding the primacy of loving in the human condition. I have managed to find incredible loving relationships in some of the most unlikely circumstances...I can tell you from my experience than most people when given other tools than murder will use them. I don't have the luxury of living in a predominantly socialist country, so I have to navigate here within the myths and lies of this country. I can find tremendous good here when I look for it, and also evil beyond my comprehension. I choose not to demonise this system because it appears that the reality of finding good and confronting evil is always there. Countries and societies in general have much high sounding propaganda to justify their war ma chines. Cousin Alexis
There are in fact circumstances under which I am tempted to condemn the economic system under which we live. One of these circumstances is watching attempts at creating a universal health care system fail time and again here in the United States of North America. I have been reminded of this recently reading news that President Obama may apparently be on the verge of deciding to abandon one of the reasons why I and others elected him...precisely to provide a public option for health care to all citizens. Just as the citizens of the former Soviet Union endured years of abuse, oppression, and neglect while they were exposed to the effects of weapons testing in their country, many of the citizens of the United States, in my view, continue to be abandoned to the effects of ill conceived military and corporate behavior which continues to harm public health and the health of the ecosystems in the United States. Although these aspects of our system need to be condemned, simple condemnation does not engender the energy needed to change it. Still, I must make my voice known...in similar ways to those who pressed for other positive changes which were not made within their lifetimes, such as an end to slavery and providing women the right to vote. Sadly, at a small gathering here in Sacramento, I once mentioned Scott's work in Colombia. I said that although I very much admired what Scott did, I felt that we need to work as effectively on behalf of our citizens here. Someone in that group shared a perspective which included the view that if Scott were as effective on behalf of citizens in North America as he is on behalf of Colombians that he would probably not survive. I considered that a sad and telling comment, and although I hope it is profoundly untrue, I understood how such a comment could be made. Alexis
Nevada Desert Experience, Abolition 2000, the National Association of Radiation Survivors, Catalyst magazine...are just a few organizations which have worked to raise awareness about the Nuclear threat and or the dangerous effects of various types of contamination by our military. I have had some involvement with all of these organizations. Catalyst is or was in Utah. I interviewed a woman writer for Catalyst several years ago. She was not well physically, perhaps since she grew up in Utah which is on most fallout maps as having been quite contaminated. She had written some award winning articles on issues related to downwind effects of military contaminants, and in one article described the untimely deaths of close to 6000 sheep in an incident which the military later admitted causing. The admission came after years of denial, and since doctors were constrained from telling people the nature of illness related to military research, it may be impossible to gauge the number of civilian deaths from the incident. Sometimes it can be deceptively easy to believe that most of the world understands the self destructive nature of pursuing weapons research because of the amazing people I have known...obviously with more countries trying to develop nuclear weapons, it is clear that ignorance about these weapons still prevails.Interestingly, I personally have never wanted to earn a living primarily as an "activist" and have complied with a large number of credentialing requirements in the state of California so that I could earn a living in a more mainstream manner. Unfortunately, reality is that our country is still very much in love with our own weapons, and perhaps understandably so due to the horrific nature of world war two...so educators such as myself who are concerned with harms caused by the military speak in whispered voices to each other in the halls of our schools. Administrators who directly confront militarism do so at peril to their livelihoods. Sharing on this blog provides a chance to express what I know. Perhaps it is important for all of us to know that some of the most enlightened teachers were unappreciated in their lifetimes...Socrates was asked to drink hemlock and Jesus was murdered...I will never be as well known or as well regarded as either of those two individuals I have just mentioned, but I use those examples to make a point. There can be a price to be paid for having an understanding and insight that may be ahead of one's time. Up to this point for me, the price is small...I have had the wits, or just the good luck not to be beaten or arrested while exercising my rights to freedom of assembly protesting outside of weapons facilities. It has been amusing to know that most of the time, when I have spent time picketing outside of a weapons facility, my students would never have guessed that protesting was a "hobby" of mine. What I wanted them to learn was that in real terms, language trumps physical force in the long run, so that they could apply that knowledge themselves. My stance on weapons issues is not something they needed to know in order to understand the value of learning. Also I would have jeopardized my livelihood had I been too overt about my views in the classroom. Alexis
Today, I will enjoy sunshine, friendship, animals and as much as I can experience of that which reminds me of my tremendous capacity to appreciate this earth. We human being are born with a capacity to appreciate this planet, to love it, and hopefully to defend it. My hope is that this love which is a gift within our souls will triumph over the will to power which leads us to destroy. Perhaps as a species we have needed the most horrific of weapons to push us beyond our love for them. As a down winder, I have learned that in this era it is important to know that to feel so moved by any cause as to love a weapon which defends it is to love death itself. The weapons we have today have such destructive power that it is incumbent upon us to love peace more than war...people with more wisdom and erudition than I have tell us that we either find ways to live in peace or we will perish together "as fools". Now, I will leave this fascinating but limited machine, and visit this incredible planet which I have inherited through the result of forces I cannot name. Forces which will always be more powerful and complex than any political, religious, or economic theory which competes for the allegiance of human beings. Theories which are invented by us...a small, hairless, and intelligent species which needs to understand it's place in this universe. We can destroy...but we cannot create this world. Let's accept that we love it, open ourselves to that love, and find ways beyond the violence that we sometimes cherish in the smallness of spirit which bedevils us. Alexis
I have a somewhat "absurd" obsession with attempting to be factually accurate when I share what I have observed, read, and experienced with regard to contamination issues. In fact, it is my belief that for a civilian to be accurate about military contamination issues is probably impossible. Hopefully I will be forgiven a distortion here and there since these topics are difficult and painful to explain, as they must be for many of us who come to understand that they themselves or family members may come from potentially contaminated areas. I realized after I had shared on this blog spot with regard to the deaths of six thousand sheep, and further commenting on how impossible it would be to gauge how many civilian deaths were involved, that I had extrapolated some conclusions gleaned from reading other information related distinctly to nuclear contamination. Actually, the incident involving the deaths of six thousand sheep which the woman from Catalyst magazine had identified years ago was an incident involving another type of weapon (i.e. non nuclear, but lethal nevertheless.) I am not actually sure whether medical people were constrained from discussing the incident involving the deaths of six thousand sheep (and who knows who or what else in addition to the sheep died.)From what I read about nuclear contamination, it seemed that such censure regarding information related to other types of military contamination was possible. I feel the need to correct myself in order to be "fair" and "objective"...which of course, as a civilian with regard to these issues I will never entirely be able to accomplish. I am convinced from what I have read, seen, and experienced that it is intentional that civilians are kept ignorant. I can be accurate when I say that I was horrified when I began to understand that potential harm had likely been covered up because I, as a child, had believed much of the high sounding propaganda I was taught and which I took for many years to be true...ideals, for example, about the inherent worth of an individual human life, about equality for all, and about how the United States cherishes freedom of thought and expression. Actually I do believe that the propaganda I was taught as a child does reflect important universal values...and if those values fail here, they will certainly arise elsewhere. I hope I passed enough regard for these ideals to my students that they will be able to carry a regard for them into the future...whether in this country or another one. Hopefully, those values can prevail in North America. We certainly have many examples of individuals who truly sacrificed to bring them about here. Cousin Alexis
A fact which can be verified includes the dropping of the first in a series of atomic bombs during the series of atmospheric nuclear tests which took place in the United States over the desert in Nevada on January 27th, 1951. No warnings to the public were made from my reading. There was no attempt made to prevent fallout from spreading. Fallout dispersed widely, and these tests continued for more than another decade. I encourage everyone to investigate these facts for themselves. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which purports to compensate victims of radiation poisoning in the United States, was passed only after quite a number of years during which residents downwind of the test site had watched their family members die. Deaths continue to occur...it is not an "old story"...fallout contamination will never be an "old story" since fall out products of a nuclear weapon include seriously persistent forms of pollution. As the civilian population down wind of the Nevada test site began to suspect a military cause of the deaths that began to occur too often among them, groups of citizens from areas downwind of the Nevada test site traveled to Russia and met with down winders in Russia. I personally was inspired by the actions of those in the former Soviet Union who successfully confronted their government to stop the tests there. My hope is that if these stories are told often enough that such cynical disregard of civilian populations such as that which happened during the atmospheric nuclear tests of the "cold war" will be repeated with reduced frequency and hopefully extinguished from this planet.
Even if my hope proves to be futile, I must tell what I have discovered...just as Scott must tell the story of the ravaging of Colombia. Perhaps these words will support others as they continue to understand the importance of being active on behalf of the future of this planet.
If the governments of the former Soviet Union or the United States had truly intended to bring economic systems to the world which were authentic and valid rather than simply to dominate the planet for the sake of their ruling elites, it is my view that neither government could have shown such disregard for their own citizens, or for the future of the entire world as was shown by those tests. There is not language strong enough to condemn the cynical manner in which civilians were then left to die as a result of those tests, or for the ways in which these issues have continued to be marginalized. Even today, those who realistically grieve and long for a time before the possibility of planetary destruction was made known to countless vulnerable young people are pushed aside as irrelevant. I assert that economic systems which have the best interests of the world at heart will not need the force of a weapon of mass destruction to coerce others into cooperation. Personally, I cannot then join in true unity with those who consider themselves enthusiastic proponents of either capitalism or communism. I extend to those proponents my love, but not my agreement with their enthusiastic support of systems which have proven themselves only too imbued with a love of force. The economic system which will capture my heart has not yet been discovered...it will attract attention because of an authentic concern for a higher good, and not because of coercion through militarism. I express my gratitude at being given apparent freedom of expression here in the United States by using that freedom. Hopefully, we in North America do have the ability to bring about an evolution of consciousness which will continue to change our present system for the better...precedent already exists that great progress is possible. Cousin Alexis
The stories I tell here can be independently verified, and if necessary called into question...too often they are ignored. To set the record straight, the deaths of the six thousand or so sheep was related to a release of a toxic "nerve gas".
The woman from Catalyst magazine told me that not only did the military cover up this toxic release, but that false stories were planted in the news media to cover up the incident. So I say, where is the evidence that these kinds of things cannot happen again? Additionally, I commend to you the name of Olzhas Suleimenov, one of the more recognizable names of individuals involved with the movement opposing nuclear weapons testing in the former Soviet Union...I share with Olzhas the joy of publicly reading poetry, and I celebrate with him that we both have survived. I invite the readers of this blog to celebrate the life of Mr. Suleimenov. The fact that people such as this live on this planet causes my heart to sing, and to reaffirm the presence of good. I wanted to share his name. All of what I tell you I have committed to my own memory...these memories make up who I am...but I am not offended if any of the readers of this blog check the veracity of my memories. Indeed all of what I say should be verified to see if it is factual. What would be sad would be to forget or dismiss what I tell you. If it were not for poets like Mr. Suleimenov and many other people of good will who have risked their lives, perhaps the people of this world would have already destroyed themselves. So I commend to you the name and life of a wonderful human being...Suleimenov. Again, thanks to all who maintain this website. Alexis
David Dionisi is an American who was a former "true believer" in our current system who worked in our intelligence community for quite a number of years. He is very well traveled and has written a book worth reading which warns Americans against dependence on our current level of militarism as an avenue to future international development. Sadly, wonderful well meaning Colombians and others of us often find ourselves caught in paradigms of the past which compel falsely based choices between systems which have been bent on world domination, rather than on authentic international development which is not coercive, but empowering. Mr. Dionisi once participated in efforts within our intelligence community which he came to see as lacking (and also quite dangerous to civilian welfare of many in the United States as well as abroad). Like my cousin Scott, Mr. Dionisi is now a volunteer who supports many wonderful projects internationally as well as writing. The Russian, Andre Sakharov, seemed quite correct that rapprochement between capitalism and communism was and is necessary for a future that does not lead to a true war which will end all wars because of the lack of survivors who would remain. He was willing to pay with his life to share his message with the world, and though in technical terms, he did not die as a result of an assassination attempt, the stress of living with repression and at least one probable attempt to end his life probably caused a relatively early death. Still, the evidence is that he died with a sense of meaning and purpose. What better death can any of us achieve? Mr. Sakharov understood the nature of contemporary weapons because he helped develop them. As the story of Adam and Eve metaphorically suggests...it seems to be the fate of we human beings to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We cannot escape the implications of what we discover on this earth as much as we may like to escape those implications. Mr. Sakharov learned to abhor that which he had helped to discover. It is important to remember that he only helped to discover the way amazing nuclear energies can be harnessed into a weapon...he did not create those energies any more than his American counterparts created them. Mr. Dionisi and Mr. Sakharov are role models of people have gone beyond crippling paradigms of the past which keep so many of us harnessed to systems of thinking which only fuel international militarism. They are examples of good people who were once caught in false paradigms ...a condition which may be a universal human dilemma. Through the suffering they experienced by seeing the evil of the efforts in which they once participated, they were compelled to change. What compels this type of change? This is something worth considering, and thinking about this can provide hope for the future. Cousin Alexis
To those of you who find my writing interesting, I want to point out another potential avenue to read it. The online version of Because People Matter is now available. For years, this publication has been a voice for writers in Sacramento who have not been paid journalists. The development of this on-line version is a recent development in our city, but those of you interested can type in the title" Because People Matter" and find it online. Much of what I have shared here, I had hoped would be published in that magazine in the past, but given that it was a paper version and much more cumbersome to access than online, it was difficult to actually have an article printed in it. There are impressive plans conceived of by the originators of that publications to assist writers get into print who normally would not have access. I admire efforts such as this. Alexis
Humor...one way to deflect concern. A down winder goes into a bar and there is an international ad campaign to promote Jack in the Box...so Jack says: Our Jumbo Jack is "the bomb"...now in which country would he be referring to the first bomb dropped in the series of atmospheric tests dropped the year of the birth of your family members. The cousin
Sakharov, Russian dissident wrote extensively...there is a profound place of the importance of an obscene joke in the evolution of his thinking...better words can be found. His work was smuggled out of the country where he lived in internal exile. Read, read, read, about Jack in every country...Jack gets around on a corporate Jet...Jack be nimble...and perverse...culturally specific terms in international propaganda.
Conspiracy theories are part of the possibly delusional thinking of the publishers of the off-line press. Which networks are the most international? Peace activists the world over know the meaning of dual use technology...but it would take the kinds of credentials that Jack had to understand how to induce psychosis in a rival who is experiencing profound culture shock and trauma. Prima
If the prima lives long enough she will tell the obscene joke which of course is now famous...muy famoso...the fathers of the doomsday machine...our fathers who art in heaven...understand obscenity like no other group...and now a word from our various sponsors...which word will be mispelled next?
There are in fact no words for explaining the intolerable, the obscene, and the inhumane effects of testing weapons on civilian populations. When I attempt to describe these circumstances my sense of the absurd, the strange, the hardly believable, and my knowledge of the perverse characteristics in the makeup of our geopolitical human community makes it impossible to go further. At these junctures it can be somewhat emotionally dangerous to continue with this line of information...and of course since annihilation is the name of the game in the "real world" of making certain of us expendable, my confusion is appropriate. So I will stop here for now...and when I have a chance, I will hope to return with more specifics on Sacramento's alternative media folks. We have a number of fascinating real world environmental efforts which in Sacramento which hopefully can inspire...but the story of the years of death which resulted in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act is one which will always need to be explained. Cousin Alexis
While it might be more helpful to Scott and I if I take time away from sharing here, if any one has managed to read this far, I have one more correction to something I stated earlier. I mentioned that Utah, on most maps shows contamination...actually every map I have see published shows the state of Utah as having been covered in fallout for years. Though perhaps many would prefer that Mormon ways of life go the way of history, I have seen my younger relatives in Utah question those traditions and change.My Mother's family and many of my earlier memories and personal history is connected with Utah. Fall out maps which have been accessed by those who write on this topic appear to have been sanitized as well- if one believes, for example, the personal accounts of those even in California who saw strange clouds that have not been seen since the years when our government made rivaling the Russian testing a top priority. The pictures of the Russians with their deformities resemble those in downwind communities in the United States...if we look, we see the humanity in their eyes...and hopefully this humanity transcends ideology and the supposedly rational reasons we have all been taught that one system or another is somehow superior. Any weapon which leaves contamination for future generations is and has been called a crime against humanity...the testing, threat, and use of a nuclear weapon is just that. God forbid that any of the leaders in South America find justification in developing these weapons as it sometimes appears that they would like to do. I have said all that I can say for now and remain somewhat reasonable, but hopefully those who read this will be able to make constructive use of this information. Alexis
Just a simple event...like seeing a bumper sticker which proudly states "army wife" upsets me...who isn't an "army wife" here in the militarized North American enclave? 1951,1951,1951...when the North American militarists continued to sacrifice the children.Los Alamos...was a school before being commandeered by the army...a school for young men with breathing problems...then when the Army got involved the school was closed and the testing began. Our museums boast of our proud accomplishments...while Scottie, my younger cousin who never had a draft number decided to delight himself by stopping in to view the remains of the priests in El Salvador, others were viewing the downwind scenario. His cousins being raised Catholic were much more aware of the carnage in El Salvador and much closer to it geographically. When souls are truly broken, words are impossible.The Prima
When Scott published the picture of the explosions of the building where he lives when he is in Colombia, I was so upset that I almost willingly signed myself into a psychiatric unit...but it isn't that easy to get into one...veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan I am sure are hitting the streets while the professionals in their safe offices do statistics. Cousin Alexis
For awhile, there was odd "chatter" about Colombia in the background of my car radio...separate from the actual news story that was being broadcast. I do believe this was designed to destabilize my husband and I...this type of thing has been my experience as a teacher, union organizer, and political activist. I found ways to elude this chatter. Cousin Alexis
I have a relative who I loved a lot who retired from a career where he was involved with computer upgrades to assist police agencies in Idaho with surveillance...he said it was his knowledge that surveillance of the citizenry here in North America is pervasive. He was saddened about this, but he did not become active with his concerns...he had a family. When he died there was sadness, not peace in his face. Alexis
It seems interesting and odd that we import so many of our medical people from countries who are more repressive than this one...people much more likely, I think, to not question our political protocols. The Vietnamese school nurse with whom I worked was interested in advanced studies doing statistical documentation of disparities between ethnic groups in our health system...but she had all of the best medical care arranged for herself and her family. This proves nothing...just like health statistics released fifty years after a toxic event prove little to the dead. Friendship is always odd and messy, and it is in the little details of the real world tainted as it is with so much violence where we all are required to live in...no socialist utopia, or capitalist nirvana exists without the violent underpinnings of the real world...and yet efforts toward conflict resolution show true complex and even statistical results. As a down winder, watching health effects in my own family which make the crucifixion of Christ look like a three day walk in the park...I do not feel like I had the "luxury" of choosing my issues quite like little Scottie, my boy, had as the luxury of his educational interests. Cousin Alexis
My mother said she had trouble with the pregnancy after a trip across the desert in 1951...this proves nothing...in the real world nothing is proven until enough harm is done. Without universal health care we die trying to get assistance. We are educated under a mushroom cloud of uncertainty, and given hosts of patriotic stories to cover up today's complex scandals. The Vietnamese nurse was careful with our records...but many records are never kept. We don't study what we don't want to know, and we document harms done interminably...how many ways do our school systems document failure? I have been part of the process so I know the interminable documentation of our flagging educational statistics which reflect the cruelty of poor nutrition and the legacy of exploitation and poverty that our country has produced...but look, here is a smiling young soul fresh from some conflict area so happy to have arrived here, where at least there is enough hope or an illusion of hope to make the next day possible. Where do we find the time to participate in some anti- weapons demonstration when those who arrive here just want to be safe, and it is the educational professionals who are required and desire to provide that safety...so we push away the doubts as we watch our family members writhe in agonized terror, because even Mom was taught that those bombs protected us from something much more hideous than uncertainty...something more public like the bodies in the death camps. So put away the fear while the family dies slowly...and civilians in El Salvador and elsewhere are tortured by people with American accents...after all torture exists on the other side and the other other side and the side after that and how do we talk about this reasonably???Even today, we eat polite dinners with each other and hope that cancer is just something that any family gets...and it is...but not every family has members born in a downwind area. So nothing is proven, except that others are suffering as well...but that proves nothing. Cousin Alexis
Today I have some real world tasks to perform so I am up very early. Stream of consciousness is a literary technique, and it is sometimes useful. Remember reading The Sound and the Fury...talking about downwind experiences is like reading that book, but fifty years of statistics give us a real world message. The ideals of North America are impossibly high and it has been an agony and a pleasure to be a citizen here in these United States...the best teaching is in part agony, and I expect that is true all over the world. Educators have the joy and the agony of losing themselves for the next generations but now that I am at retirement age complete with emerging grey hairs I give public vent to the insane agony which has motivated. I wished that there were a good side and a bad side in Colombia, but it is a darkness like the culture here to my mind...I can spout statistics, but cannot reasonably share how it feels to have one of my few surviving relatives be on an accompaniment project in Colombia of all places. He has my love, my rage, my jealous concern, my regard, my sense of a family I don't know well enough in my mind. There is always another war to obscure how I feel and how I see life, and I have many veterans in my family. I am married to a veteran. He had a draft number. We all would have liked to have been better human beings. War should be...to go away and do your time in the military and get it behind you...during Viet Nam there was a draft you know. People my age had draft numbers. We are not a group to be envied. Between fifty six and fifty eight thousand of my contemporaries died in South East Asia and it occurred to me recently how few people remember that statistic. Any reader can check these memories. So, Scott, you don't keep going back to war zones for the rest of your life. That kind of a life may be for other people's cousins....other people. Cousin Alexis
Right at the time Scott's building was bombed, I was working in a school where the administrator was from El Salvador originally...and I was being attacked by a disabled student who had limited vocabulary. Our autism rates continue to climb here, and the student was not autistic but was very language delayed. I broke a bone, and now I have a certificate of apparent sanity provided by the group of therapists I contacted at the time because I needed to document both my injury and my response to it as a job responsibility. I was also listening to chatter featuring the name of an agent named "Anaconda"...I was not the only one who heard it...another friend of mine who I would probably call a liberal voter (except I don't like labels) also heard the code name "Anaconda" and since we both heard it and I have a certificate of apparent sanity, I mention it here. So develop a sense of humor and take a walk outside if you hear strange things on your radio...but for awhile I was having difficulty walking and things got somewhat strange for friends and family members of mine...none of us has the time or technical expertise to thoroughly understand our rapidly advancing technologies, but we work in systems which employ them all the time. Perhaps by practicing on non dangerous people and activists, agents like Anaconda might actually intervene on some one who is truly dangerous...drug trafficking is a major horror story out here, so a sense of humor is important these days. I just wanted to clue in folks in other states who may read this blog...the bad boys from South of our border do show up as far up as Oregon and probably farther now...regards from the Cousin. PS.I was taught by the example of my relatives who were in law enforcement not to run when there are folks "gunning" for us...not that I wouldn't like to do that, but I learned to be responsible.
I really don't have time for the fact that my cousin who is younger than I am decided to make Colombia the focus of his current existence. I am too busy dealing with the presence of youth gangs in California made up of disaffected young people...some of whom climbed into the windows of our home in 2006, made off with personal financial information and began defrauding us through the use of computers. We all respond differently to unexpected events, and since showing fear, discussing fear, responding to fear, or even acknowledging that fear exists is not supposed to be in the vocabulary of a North American daughter of militarists, it has been difficult for me to admit that the incident scared me. Scott discussing fear in Colombia has liberated my ability to describe my fear. Scott and I share a great grandfather...whose proudest accomplishment seems to be his military service, so Scott discussing his fear may be a violation of our common familial code...but our common veteran who we share is on his mother's side so perhaps discussing fear became more acceptable in his family over time than it has in mine.
I feel vulnerable in my present neighborhood, but life being what it is, that particular crime may never happen again...and I need to keep a focus. During training to teach we are always cautioned against any tendency to stray from the objective. The objective of this blog is too keep the focus on the downwind scenario of nuclear weapons testing in Nevada...but there are so many downwind situations now that I am getting distracted. Nidia distracted my attention onto her downwind scenario. Wanting to show support for Scott I try to understand what version of solidarity I should adopt...I would like to jump on some bandwagon here...acknowledge that Uribe is in the pocket of the United States, condemn Capitalism and get into line in international solidarity with the left, but I am really more concerned about who is getting ready to develop nuclear weapons capabilities. Scott signs his pieces "in love and Solidarity", and I hardly have time to reflect on which version of Solidarity I find most repugnant as a down winder, knowing as I do how true believers in any movement are so willing to justify force...we are blind to the casualties of the opponent...or if not we need to explain ourselves. So much for my early morning attempt to role back nuclear proliferation in the name of international humanity...I hesitate to use the word solidarity although I like it...it makes me feel warm and fuzzy until I think about the downwind scenario which we North Americans share with those victims of Soviet "solidarity"...the people of Kazakhstan. I read way too much, and have always been told that I think too much. So I will close with a different response..."In love and complexity". Cousin Alexis
There is a strange urgency in what I write in part because I am profoundly aware of how lucky I am to be able to express anything coherent at all, and to be able to have anything resembling a decent life. People in my age group rarely were truly prepared to be thrown into war zones and I have an odd jealousy because Scott, my younger cousin, has had the advantage of love, support and spiritual preparation before going into these circumstances. I am glad that he has had this but frightened because everyone has their limits. There is a gap between Scott's experiences and mine in life which comes out as facetiousness and inadequate self expression when I write but the "truth" in my complex perceptions is what I have to offer. Alexis
Marie Curie is credited with discovering the phenomonom of radiation, but then excluded for awhile from membership in the French academy of science...she was a woman and not born in France. A fascinating woman, she was not attempting to discover a weapon, but of course, even then it was understood that in the wrong hands discoveries of this magnitude could be dangerous. Alexis
Despite trepidations about my cousin doing this work, I can close my eyes and focus on the simple beauty of one person assisting another as when Scott translated for Nidia...I had read about his other activities on line, but had not seen him do a presentation in person until I had the opportunity to be in Portland. I feel I have been a very difficult person for Scott...but I make my chiding of him known in order to educate others...nothing is fair or rational about my feelings...I am no saint. Not to have been conscripted as a child soldier or be starving in an impoverished country are luxuries I did not earn for myself. I reassert that my experience with other people- after years of teaching in a city which receives large numbers of refugees from areas of intense conflict- reinforces the sense that people will use other means than violence if they are provided those tools...I look for examples of projects where those tools are being provided. Cousin Alexis
Three interesting books to read simultaneously would be biographies of Edward Teller, Marie Curie, and Andre Sakharov. Three individuals gifted with high intelligence levels in the sciences...they are also books which provide profound insight into political oppression...but then, who would take the time to do that for a family member who looks at that without adulation? The cousin
There is something about writing into this inanimate window that allows me to put things into words that cannot be said very easily to other people. In California, generally there is little concern about downwind effects from Nevada tests...except as I have indicated in certain small areas. We have other, similar issues...like breathing problems in the young due to particulates in our air. The types of epidemiological studies which, in the aggregate, provided the basis for the radiation exposure compensation act can be used as an example of other types of studies and actions that need to be taken to re mediate other environmental problems in this country. The fact that this country has demilitarized to the extent that we have seen in Sacramento can be hopeful...perhaps a window of hope before the next arms race begins and it is important to maximize this time. I don't have enough time to express all of this to anyone because of demands on my time which are difficult to address and confront. When I followed Scott's entries online before I contacted him, I came to the conclusion that my cousin was and is someone who could understand something about my concerns, but it is obviously irrational for any one of us to attempt to confront international militarism in total. Nuclear proliferation issues are exactly that large...they encompass almost the entirety of what motivates the human race to fight to the point of self destruction. The strangeness of the health problems I have seen unfold in my family points to the possibility that those tests in the desert were involved...so I grieve...I and others who come to understand the nature of being a down winder are expected to sacrifice everything for this country...potentially our ability to bear children, our expectation to have a normal lifespan, our sense of personal safety in this world, and if we are not careful our faith in anything good that any government can offer this world. I have a track record of fending off despair...to the best of my ability by holding to a belief in the love I have seen expressed in the lives of other imperfect souls like myself who nevertheless find ways to love even when despair would be the most rational approach. Without reasonable outlets to express my concerns, though, I find that anger can influence my behavior...which is exactly the type of despairing behavior which seems to drive the human race toward war. I have studied and in part seen abundant alternatives for peaceful interventions where complexity is examined and addressed so that a sense of peace can replace a need for vengeance. I am not always able to get to that place of peace within myself...and I have apologized endlessly to Scott for not being able to find it in relation to him...but total peace in my heart in relation to his efforts has not been a blessing I have received. I think he is doing amazing things, but I have needed to share my concerns with this group he helped to found...as a group concerned with justice in the America's seems an appropriate forum for my voice. Who am I to Scott? Only a family member...and a somewhat distant one that he has seen three times in his life. What claim do I have on his attention? Only a very small one in reality...and still I am compelled to speak. Cousin Alexis
This morning I am reading an article written by a down winder from Idaho. Apparently many Idahoans got more exposure than those in the 21 counties in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona which are covered under the radiation exposure compensation act. Idaho apparently has four of the five hottest counties in the nation with regard to fallout in the 50's. The hottest county is in Montana. At the time of this article, written in 2004, neither Idaho nor Montana was include in this legislation. The hottest county is in Montana according to the article. The woman who wrote the article has likely died. The article is excellent and she thought she would live longer than the statistic would indicate for her cancer because she had children. Her crime was drinking the milk from the cows on the land where she grew up. Her parents felt guilty because they didn't know...which brings my mind inexplicably to our concerns in Sacrament. We are the most diverse city in the nation according to an article that I read recently...everyone is married to everyone here. One of my Hispanic administrators who leans to the left politically showed an interest in Scott's work, but since his spouse's family members had fled Cuba, he wanted me to be discreet when discussing anything having to do with military issues when she was present. As in my family, those who had done military service in his wife's family did not want to think they actually killed anyone...sure, they shot their weapons, but did not want to think that death actually happened. It took me eight years to get married because my husband had been drafted. I wanted to attract a pacifist who knew enough to do something else, but that did not happen and in many ways my husband is a better person that I experience myself to be. Personally, I think that Che did hate Americans enough to want to bomb New York...I don't want to see that happen so if I have to suffer with the knowledge that I am being watched, so be it.
Sometimes I suffer from inarticulate rage, but like Anne Frank asserted...the signs in my life point to the fact that human beings really are basically decent at heart. Cousin Alexis
Of course I realize that Che is dead. The current enemy which has apparently justified the patriot act is of course a very different one but I am not going to talk about that here. At one point, I had read and understood a lot about the circumstances of Che's death. For the sake of this blog, I attempt to discipline my thinking to what I have learned about the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. No family member of mine that I know about will ever benefit from the provisions of that legislation, so sharing about it here is for informational purposes...we could say it is a labor of love, but it is also an attempt to come to terms with what I learned just trying to understand certain health issues. Cousin Alexis
The hottest county is in Montana? That is not reflected on maps published on the subject of downwind exposures...I am sure I could spend my life doing an advanced degree, or several advanced degrees on this and never actually explain the situation.What seems clear is that this is a bigger story than will ever be told. Cousin Alexis
I offer my comments because I am the type of person who read beyond the curriculum in school.Someone who reads like I do will read this and it may help them out. I have a long and strong track record of caring about this world and I have traveled a fair amount. In attempting an understanding of familial health issues I kept finding out a lot more than I wanted to know. It is just that simple, Cousin Alexis
In Sacramento members of various faith communities gathered to read the names of the dead in the Middle East. A Palestinian American read for us in Arabic the names of the dead Iraqis and others...civilians like us and others. We did not copyright anything...and government maps of downwind trajectories of nuclear fallout do not belong in anyone's private book. In my opinion it is public health information...I can't begin to name all of the counties covered in those maps...over and over the states involved included Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and more....and in contradiction to visual presentations which have been published, trajectories of fallout traveled over California in several places including San Luis Obispo County before circling back and traveling East over the rest of the United States. Montana isn't mentioned as often as other states, but what is important is who wrote which version. Montana is heavily militarized even today. No one is going to come and apologize.
After reviewing a biography of Marie Curie, I see no evidence that she was ever accepted into the French Academy even though she was given two prizes for her work in physics and chemistry. It was a short jump, if we use geological history as a measuring stick, between her discovery and the developments of the human race which resulted in the ability to destroy the entire planet. A note of hope is that Corbin Harney, who was a spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone and who spent many years demonstrating to shut down the test site in Nevada- as it is located on land which belongs to the Western Shoshone- died of natural causes after a long and full life. Given that I do not find the topic of planetary destruction amenable to the employment of sophisticated literary devices, I violate a lot of what I was taught to do as and educator when I write about this. Please pardon the run on sentences and illogical constructions, but check out the veracity and factualness of what I share. Thanks, Cousin Alexis
Sheri Garman, the woman I referenced in an earlier entry who is/was a down winder from Idaho wrote "I was raised on a dairy farm, in a great place by great parents...I was exposed, according to the National Cancer Institutes's estimate, to at least 92 rads of iodine-131. I received 75 rads of radiation from one test alone on June 5,1952. I was less than six months old." Personally, Cousin Alexis has never been as effective at interpreting the results from dose reconstruction studies as Sheri is in her article because I have a tendency to break down in tears when I try to present the information. Although I, Cousin Alexis, generally try to avoid hyperbole,exaggeration and lying when discussing any one topic...and of course with my number of credentials I could be professionally liable in some way if I provided misinformation...I have found it impossible to present this type of information in any reasonable way. By the way, she writes that her dose was about the equivalent of 10,000 x rays. Sometimes I, Cousin Alexis, become so disturbed by all of this that I begin to make it impossible for others to love me...but there those who do love. I am not a proper vessel to relay this information. Cousin Alexis
If you come from a downwind area and you travel to do some research- say on family heritage, people tell you their stories. It isn't even a mystery. I stayed at an Inn near where Mom was born. The Innkeeper's mother had been awarded fifty thousand dollars for her cancer...so what happens to those without a family to assist them to support their claims, and those without health insurance? How far does fifty thousand dollars go if you are unemployable? Go ahead, swim, play tennis, and enjoy the view from the hotel Downwind. There are those well able to reduce this to statistics...but I myself have learned to focus on the beauty of the stars and find some joy in simple things, in addition to analyzing statistical data in my recent sociology class from six different perspectives. Cousin
What poisoned us as down winders was not simply a contaminant, it was a false choice between economic paradigms. Sakharov liberated his thinking from that web by insisting on rapprochement between our systems. I appreciate looking at models of conflict resolution which have nothing to do with the tension between "capitalism" and "communism" or some brand of "socialism" or some other ism which competes with our system. Looking at the world through a different lens is helpful. One example is the work of a group called "Responding to Conflict"...the founder of the group was invited to mediate in a conflict between tribes in Africa. He was invited to assist these people to find a way out of the need for the vengeance type of killings which had afflicted the area for year. He assisted these people to see who was actually benefiting by the continuance of the conflict and what unjust conditions for all of them were being perpetrated by continuing in the path of mortal conflict. There came a time when violence had happened and he went to the group which had invited him and he listened to them for hours and hours and hours, he listened to them process the thinking that moved them toward vengeance. He listened as they went over the need to respond with violence, and how they were motivating themselves to believe how necessary vengeance had become. Through his listening, which exhausted him at one point to the point of having to go to another room and lie down, the members of this warring tribe were able to talk themselves through and beyond the seemingly endless cycle of retribution which had come to characterize their lives. This act of constructive listening, which this person provided, assisted the group to liberate itself and move forward. Thinking of examples like this of how people liberate their thinking from paradigms which enslave them to a bitter past, gives freedom. Cousin Alexis
I may be beginning to touch within myself the place of unease which has afflicted my consideration of Scott's work. I do this with tears...I so much want to liberate us both from a false choice between paradigms which has afflicted this world for too long and brought it to the brink of destruction. May those dark days of the cold war never be repeated, and I long for the day when we can liberate our hearts and minds from those effects. If I have said nothing else clearly here, I hope the simple example of conflict resolution that I have shared can assist us to liberate ourselves from being caught in a vice of historical conflict and retribution. Cousin Alexis
I recently read in an email from my cousin about changes in his work. Memories of mine while he has been in Colombia include talking with our Vietnamese nurse about the horror of Colombia...as a team we dealt with the effects of substance abuse on too many children. She had a son, and I shuttered to think about her son being used in a horrifyingly mercenary way as we do to male children by drafting them and pushing them into cynical conflicts. I recently read that the lack of school nurses nationally will put the children of the United States at risk if the swine flu becomes a major pandemic. Of course, this could have been a preventable problem if we had summoned the political will to act in behalf of the children of the United States before these conditions arose...why are there so few school nurses nationally? The memory which I found most enraging which I share somewhat with Scott is the memory of the union organizer, Luciano, who was murdered in Colombia...I had been a union organizer in the past and had also sought work as a cab driver and attempted to become less visible.My middle name is Lucile...I am called "Luz" or Luce sometimes...and I imagine that Luciano was stabbed possibly by someone paid as little as ten or twenty dollars to take a human life. I continue to witness the streets of California de-evolving as we continue to slash the budgets to our human services...recently I sought work in a district which I then discovered had recently laid off 58 full time equivalent staff including teachers and counselors. The superintendent of that district is retiring. I ask myself...when does a youth gang become a death squad? From California...Cousin Luce (aka Alexis)
A group of us, years ago, assisted an instructor at one of our community colleges to provide a class on Asian American literature. We had low enrollment...fourteen, and the college required twenty students, so we petitioned the administration to let the class go ahead. We learned together in a little oases of human connection, how America is in the heart. America isn't a place. What we are here, at our best, is a way of being. Our worst is indescribably horrifying. As far as my delusions, I need to share that there really was no Vietnamese nurse. She had arrived here at nine years old. Our last names do not define us. I try to emulate those who go to the mountaintop...and somehow it does appear that humanity will see the promised land. Please pardon my digression. Cousin Alexis
The "mortgage crises" which is pushing many out of their homes is reminiscent of downwind syndrome. Inadequate regulation and a legal system which condones predatory lending is very evident in California. Since this blog is about the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, I will point out that one of the first cases filed on behalf of citizens downwind of the Nevada test site which was adjudicated in favor of the victims was filed in 1979. The decision in favor of some victims was handed down in 1984, but overruled in April 1987 by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on the ground that the United States was protected from suit by the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity...a legal doctrine which prevents the country from being held liable in these types of cases. In January 1988, the Supreme Court refused to review the Appeals Court decision. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act is too little, and way too late. The fact that my comments don't appear on the Colombian Journey blog which my cousin has set up, and which now carries the bulk of his comments from Colombia seems to demonstrate the discomfort that we have in the United States, as a nuclear power, with the topic of how to deal with collateral damage of our own citizens right here in the United States. Anyone reading Scott's comments is aware I am sure that he is a good person, with a great heart and a sincere desire to accomplish good in the world which he is doing, but I have to admit that even in my own family I sometimes feel that I am "disappeared" for being concerned about serious issues which occur right here in the United States. Sometimes I resent that fact, and sadly I find that others can learn more from my resentments than from my sanguine loving feelings towards family members...so I give my feelings of being sidelined and ignored vent here. Cousin Alexis
I am not implying that, if I were Scott, or members of his group that I would have a clear idea of what to do with my comments...I myself don't even have a clear idea of what to do with my comments except give voice to them. I haven't cited sources here at a professional level because I did not hear about downwind syndrome in any professional context. I cannot even describe the terror of having my mother tell me about worrying about her pregnancy as the result of those tests. Now, my parents are getting too old to remember details, and frankly they never agreed on much of anything anyway. I am just one of the countless people who learned, as a young person, that in contrast to the hypocritical ideology spouted by our government, which may in fact be one of the most developed governments the world has yet seen, I and my family were expendable and our lives were cheap when looked at in the context of geopolitical power plays. Like the hibakusha I feel it is a human duty to speak out about this...nuclear weapons are unlike any others. The world should never trivialize this fact. Cousin Alexis
I am taking a moment to note that there is a study which has been released recently, published by epidemiologist Joseph Mangano. He analyzed the effects of strontium ninety on the health of those who had been found to have strontium ninety in their teeth. A quick recap of his conclusion was that strontium 90 apparently contributed to increased mortality from cancer among those born during atmospheric nuclear testing. Cousin Alexis
As the holidays approach, I am going through memorabilia. Today I reread an article I wrote back in 1997 and it was published in a faculty newsletter. It concerned atmospheric nuclear testing and the part played in that endeavor by a person who was a volunteer in my class that year. The volunteer felt sad about participation in those testing events, but went far beyond expectations in contributing to our classroom, and was a very good person at heart. In the article I wrote, I quoted from a Professor Howard Ball, who had been on staff at the University of Utah. Professor Ball had written a book called Justice Downwind...and estimated in that book that 620 kilotons of radioactive debris had fallen from the sky during the years of nuclear testing between the years of 1951 and 1958...atmospheric testing continued beyond that time until 1963. During the administration of former president Bush, when I wrote about these things on the internet , I actually saw the words being changed in front of me as I wrote...also our home was vandalized and we were victims of such pervasive identity theft that it was impossible not to become unnerved by it. I heard strange chatter which was dubbed over the usual newstories on my car radio about the war in Colombia, and odd subtitles appeared on my television in Spanish...now granted, I was unnerved, but I know what I heard and saw. I mention these things in case anyone else experienced similar happenings and was similarly unnerved. There is no possible way for a civilian to know if there was any coordination or intentionality to these events, but I believe they are worth mentioning. These odd circumstances have stopped...but I have also become less vocal about events in Colombia and more preoccupied with protecting myself from future crime...I was extensively educated by Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist Christians...many who were pacifist...and I believe that my extensive education has saved my sanity. I send all my wishes for a lovely holiday season. Let's look for the good, lest the darkness overwhelm...Cousin Alexis
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I have a slight knowledge of linguistics, but cannot place the script of the non-English comment on this blog spot. Human language is larger than an individual human, and perhaps it may be fitting that the comment is not in English. The topic of nuclear proliferation is larger than any one language...what does this have to do with Colombia? It seems that Colombians are caught in the paradigms of the last century which motivated an incredibly lethal arms race...how do we as a world free ourselves from such and ideological hell? The Cousin
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Well, off shore companies tend to not attract me...so I care more about keeping life here healthy. I check this blog now and then for interesting, serious commentary...and find too many Americans lack the capacity for serious commentary. As far as I am concerned, our own ignorance is and should be a national security concern. The cousin
Well, I was considering sharing the joke which was pivotal in turning Sakharov into a peace activist, but was sidetracked by an article about the University of California tracking radioactive exposure. Recently I read that American products simply are not considered "safe" in a general sense.That does not bode well for the international marketplace.I am certain that the internet can be more effectively used than what I see so far here at this sight (not including of course my cousin's amazing footage of the children of Colombia). The Waiting Cousin
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Now, class...I can see that it is going to take a looong time before you get to hear the joke made by Mr. Sakharov. That's o k because, in addition to having been the cheese that stood alone for a very long time in childhood games, the cousin has an understanding of the United States Constitution and had found the filibuster an interesting tactic. Ahora, otra vez!
Here I am reeling from the effects of President Obama's visit to Norway...and I realized that I stated that Mr. Sakharov actually made the joke himself which initiated the change in his approach to life. That was an untrue statement...he did not actually make the joke himself, he heard it made by someone else. For Sakharov and the rest of us, it was a pivotal point in history, I like to believe. Perhaps we could make a game show out of it, class...who would like to volunteer? I know someone can do this...someone with an in depth knowledge of history. The Cousin
The BBC has an interesting blog spot for the reaction to President Obama's Nobel prize. Comments are multiplying on that spot. Here in California, we had some high profile "problems" with blogging during the presidential campaign, but we have much more freedom than in Cuba to engage in this type of communication. Let's not waste the opportunity. In Colombia, things may seem simpler, but communication is something we all need to practice. La Prima
The BBC blog spot has a moderator...the good god fearing English apparently need a moderator. Here in the United States possibly we can do without one, but the joke heard by Sakharov was obscene. I would not want to get into the joke without setting an extensive context...as if the whole business of the arms race is not obscene enough in itself, I would have to pretend to be dispassionate about the subject if
I tell it without some assistance and context. Cousin
As someone with a passing understanding of linguistics, it always troubles when there is a false cognate on the loose...for example reading a book on genes is not reading a book on jeans...husbands and wives can have some serious deliberations on false cognates, but off shore companies are even more of a concern due to the economic hardship which results from evading responsibility here...or hear? Prima
Some ideas for positively responding would be walkscore.com. Reduce your reliance on oil as a fuel, and pay rigorous attention to the quality and characteristics of alternatives. Point out the cost...cuesta mucho.Look beyond stereotypes...even Screw---ge had some good points. Stay active and don't let friends and relatives engage in fuzzy or simplistic thinking...ask yourself why you have worked so hard. Prima
Wherever we spend the holiday season, let's think about how we educate ourselves and others. Sometimes staying where we are requires as much courage as we have. There are so many stories I could tell, and so could Scott. How do we make statistics come alive? As Americans, we have the same responsibilities as other citizens of the world to reject a disassociated state of being. Cousin Alexis
Writing...a discipline...sometimes while mulling over the difference between a false cognate and a faulty syllogism, I loose the point. I have to think about human contemporaries...the short distance between studying a phenomena and menacing others with it. A veces tengo enojado. Luz
We like to think our behavior has no effect on others sometimes...we like to think, we like to think, we like to think, we like to think....a lot of us were extensively beaten as children for asking a lot of questions...but we still like to think...think, think, think and too many people know that...turn to page 62 in your history books...we are not discussing anything but what is in the curriculum...no tenure for you. Prima
Someone said something about an obscene clone fall...but perhaps that clone, whoops, class clown was not on page 82 when everyone else was under their desk because of solidarity with what was that sense of solidarity?...o yes and the obscene...teachers can loose jobs over obscenity...but don't tell that to Haggis Mcbaggis...he never makes it...home for Christmas...too busy feeling solidarity...with what was that statistical indicator of economic wellbeing?...why go home...no one really knows anything there...or how to suffer in a glowing way where we enjoy the company of the young, beautiful and the electable. Please pass the haggis. Cousin A---lexis????
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Which direction has the doomsday clock been moved...the clock maintained by the Union of Concerned Scientists...forward, or backward? This is not multiple choice...not even an essay question. Perhaps this is the self professed, but perhaps addled professor...Cousin??? Alexis
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I try to communicate in a direct, non confrontational way but that is not possible for me all the time...children of the American Military establishment here in Sacramento present "performance art", my interest in it is working out suicidal feelings which I try not to massage...but how would you feel if you saw so many dying horrifying painful deaths while cruel statistics mount? Glib comments by the World War two generation aggrandizing themselves while they ignore the deaths of their own children are too frequent in my life...I despise the statistics which annihilate in the name of nationalism...I reach out to a younger, hopefully healthier generation...do everything you can not to allow your own self sacrifice to the war monster...whatever "ism" you claim don't buy into nuclear Armageddon...and thanks for making positive use of my pain...cousin Alexis
My cousin Scott took serious issue with Al Gore...but what I appreciated was Mr. Gore's writing about feelings he has which I have shared...no therapy entirely relieves the feelings...emptiness, I have no children, wanted to but could not...like so many here...I have neighbors who left horrifying violence elsewhere but have not found a safe place here to bring their children forth...I see why Scott is attracted to the exuberance of Colombians, many of whom can joyfully move forward and even bring children forth...as my husband and I attempted, but for us I believe this world was too dark to allow conception. Love in the time of cholera might be an apt metaphor for my romances...always kind of a dark horror over the boyfriends going forth into some killing field, and then...no children...Scott's pictures do show amazingly beautiful smiles...thanks Scott...I sometimes think you and I look at each other with the empty eyes...my mother uses the term "vacant" eyes which too many North Americans seem to share...we try to look at each other, but something does not always connect...still I try...with love as I can find it...you bring beauty into my life...Cousin Alexis
I have to admit that I would have liked to have gone dancing with my husband yesterday...instead I was involved as a victim with a potentially gang related crime at a United States Post Office. I am online today reporting it to our police agencies. I don't have dramatic pictures as Scott publishes, but there were a variety of people who witnessed the situation...usually people are afraid to step forward, and a lack of witnesses who will talk to law enforcement because witnesses are targeted. Since past crimes against my husband and myself have involved the internet, I become disconcerted by what appear to be gang related events in my life, especially when the perpetrators are once again using computers to transact business.I think this is worth noting here at Community Action for Justice in the Americas.Today, I hope to attend the Quaker Meeting with my husband and possibly have a clearness committee engaged to assist us with our ongoing response to being targeted. Our entire neighborhood is actually being "terrorized"...I don't want to go into detail to protect the anonymity of the vulnerable. Cousin Alexis
Of course I am thinking about who might be "more vulnerable" as I contemplate the current crime. The home on the corner did not discriminate relative to employment and I have always appreciated integration. Unfortunately the products they enjoyed selling were comparable to Colombian products...I really have no idea who was supplying the merchandise, but the police would have some idea. Since that experience of having folks clime in our windows in the spring of 2006, personal economic material of ours has been distributed to a wide variety of ethnically diverse individuals.My practice of attending twelve step groups has demonstrated that even the most disturbed among us have a possibility to attain a high degree of mental health, and investing too much time in being vindictive harms my own thinking...still I can't help but wonder about the present situation with the post office and if there are links between that situation and this one. Linguistic competence aside...there are just some situations where it is almost impossible to understand others even if we do share a few words of a common language. I humbly acknowledge...or perhaps I am only pretending to admit that I myself have engaged in crass behavior in relation to my own biological issues...and have had a slight addiction or two although I have no criminal record. Given the numbers of conflicts the United States engages internationally, and the sometimes sad and unfortunate fate of the refugees, there is almost no hope of not offending someone here. I remember when the Vietnamese woman was living across the street, we used to discuss positive approaches to our community. She and her family have moved on now. Sometimes the practice of thinking actually interferes with my ability to stay connected to the nameless source of love and light which seems to motivate the universe, so I try not to think...but the current "criminals" have a sense of humor and enjoy shopping at a butcher shop. I appreciate the many diverse comments on this blogspot because they remind me that even my deep fear does not make me the center of the universe...my attempts have "controlling" others are generally unwelcome. I am just one of many cousins of Scott...writing from California.
If I wait to be more eloquent, clear and descriptive about my thoughts they may never be expressed...I apologize for a vague writing style at this point...many of us born during atmospheric testing and tagged with the cloud of military conscription hanging over our most intimate relationships have affects in our lives such as post traumatic stress disorder which alters our ability to clearly express ourselves...difficulties with self expression can be devastating in creating warm, close family bonds. Militarism comes with a high price tag. Traumas such as this current one... an apparently coordinated burglary in a Post Office where there was potential for escalating violence make it difficult to maintain mental clarity. Is this part of "downwind syndrome"? Hopefully not- as an antidote, I notice that the sky was absolutely exquisite today. I realize that Colombia's exports are not those we have learned to fear, but when drug runners take over the region where one lives, it is often Colombian exports which come to mind. Cousin Alexis
No comments yet...the joke heard by Mr. Sakharov...who has living children related to him was horrifying with regard to what it teaches about the influence political maneuvering has on even the most intelligent, inventive, insightful and compassionate people we can all imagine. I have a headache today, and hoping that I don't have to live like a refugee, as the song went. Given that the post office is a Federal Facility, it is difficult to say where being the victim of a crime there will influence my life in the future.I am reluctant as a down winder, and therefor a pariah to contaminate your newer spot...since it isn't particularly simple technically for me to access, I suppose...well what I suppose is kind of a private matter. Great to see the beautiful smiles of your friends...life just never seems fair and given my headache, I will refrain from further commentary.
Probably the most interesting dissidents in my estimation are those which confront the arms buildup and the geopolitical realities involved. The Rosenburgs, Mordechai Vannunu in Israel, and a list too long for this site come to mind.Those I have known personally are deeply committed to spiritual disciplines and care deeply about the fate of this earth.Given my short work history as a union organizer, however, many issues have played a role in my life.I have a much longer work history as an educator with certification in multilingual cross cultural linguistic development and drop out prevention. I keep track of statistics to the point of absurdity sometimes. Given my disturbance over the latest crime involving myself and my husband, family members encourage more counseling...psychiatrists are frequently Freudian...penis envy? Odd that this computer is finding mispellings and can't provide corrections. Cousin Alexis
Barak Obama, our current president, was in Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize...and left out the salient issues relative to why he was awarded the prize in his speech...his interest in nuclear disarmament was the primary motivator in his award.John Kennedy, before his assassination began to show a deep awareness of the arms race's destructive potential and threat to life on earth. Cousin Alexis
What has been interesting to me is the amount of money one can spend talking to a psychiatrist or psychologist about their theory and then have them refuse to look at any article, read any blog spot, or evaluate any information I bring to them which falls outside of their theory of human behavior. Now, class...why would there be such myopic vision on the part of most mental health therapists in dealing with Cousin Alexis?
St. Alexius provided the Alexian brothers with the avenue to their identity. The root, en espanol raiz, of the name Alexius is apparently the root which underlies names like Alex, Alexis, Alexander, Alexia, Alexandria, perhaps a laughable non de plume for Scott's Cousin...the self appointed, but possibly addled professor from California would be St. Alexius...we all have our good points, but personally I may defy a Freudian analysis since my own penis envy, as far as I am aware, has not involved wanting to have one attached to my own body...but obscenity is apparently beyond my ability to recount, as each and every time I attempt to retell the obscene joke heard by Mr. Sakharov I am, for some reason, unable to proceed. Amazing how the fate of so many can rest on an obscene joke which cousin, St Alexius, here can't seem to retell. Cousin
This morning, as I monitor our accounts for any continuing fraud problems, I am looking over my autographed copy of the book I bought after listening to Helen Caldicott...she is an Australian woman and a physician...I believe her husband deserted her for a younger woman.Unlike Marie Curie. whose husband died and thus left her behind in a "respectable" fashion, Helen was merely abandoned. Helen helped to found, and was the first president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Woman's Action for Nuclear Disarmament. Alexius
I had heard or read that Dima Sakharov, Andre Sakharov's son had been involved in some type of music...and had an alcohol problem at some point...his father's life of course a central theme of his own...we share so much in the two countries who planned so much damage while voicing so much solidarity with our ideals of world change. There are so many young people who captivate my mind as I ponder the shifting budgets...and no health care for so many here in the land of the free and brave, never the despondent or the depressed...what color is your fear? What is your metaphor for change? Alexius under the stairwell
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