Author Archives: Brad Geyer

COVID Resources – WI and Dane Co

Resources related to COVID from Gov Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes (14 August 2020)

State of Wisconsin – Resources

Dane County Human Services

“On behalf of the people of Wisconsin, Lieutenant Governor Barnes and I hope this email finds you safe and healthy. As we have done throughout the past several months, we would like to provide you with the most up to date and accurate information available regarding the current public health crisis.

 

As of August 14, Wisconsin has seen over 63,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Over one thousand  Wisconsinites have died from COVID-19. I would like to extend my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost someone they love during this pandemic. Our entire state is thinking of you and holding you in our hearts, and our administration will continue to do everything we can to limit the spread of COVID-19.

 

Unfortunately, throughout July we saw a surge in new cases across our state and, although we are fighting the same pandemic, we now find ourselves in a completely different situation. Although our local public health officials and frontline workers have done a heck of a job keeping our communities safe, July’s rise in cases reinforces the reality that COVID-19 does not stop at county or municipal lines. That’s why, on July 30, I declared a new public health emergency and issued Emergency Order #1 to put in place a statewide face covering requirement. Emergency Order #1 implemented the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations requiring face coverings and masks and allowed Wisconsin to join the vast majority of states in recognizing the importance and effectiveness of face coverings in preventing the spread of COVID-19. If you have questions about the statewide face covering requirement, please consult this list of frequently asked questions. 

We recognize that many Wisconsinites continue to struggle financially. You may find it useful to know that the Public Service Commission (PSC) voted in late July to prohibit utility disconnections until at least September 1 and will meet later this month to determine if a further extension is necessary. You can learn more about this decision and how it may affect you here. We have also included a more comprehensive list of financial resources below:

  1. If you are struggling to pay for groceries, you may qualify for the Department of Health Services’ FoodShare program. 
  2. If you are struggling to afford health insurance, you may be eligible for one or more programs offered through the DHS or the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. 
  3. If you are struggling to pay your rent, you may be eligible for the Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program. 
  4. If you are a low-income parent or are pregnant and low income, you may be interested in the programs available through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.
  5. For more general resources, please see the following list available under the 211 Program. You can also call 2-1-1 to be connected to resources over the phone.
  6. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) funds, you are not eligible under state law to also receive UI, but you may be eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Insurance (PUA). We encourage you to apply online for PUA. Our administration is also advocating for the state legislature to change state law to ensure SSDI recipients can qualify for UI in the future.
  7. If you are a farmer who has suffered economic damages to the COVID-19 Pandemic, you may be able to find financial resources through the Department of Revenue’s Wisconsin Farm Support Program. Applications are due by August 24.
  8. You can also complete the “Request for Assistance” form on my official website. This will connect you with a caseworker within our office.

State of Wisconsin – Resources

Dane County Human Services

Lanterns for Peace 2020

Join us from your home for this family friendly event to commemorate the lives lost in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings 75 years ago and make sure that such nuclear attacks never again take place. We remember the past, so that we can envision and work for a peaceful, just and nuclear-free future. Due to COVID-19, there will be no public gathering for Lanterns for Peace but we will still be holding a lantern launch streamed online.

Lanterns for Peace 2020 Youtube Video

Lanterns for Peace: Physicians for Social Responsibility-Wisconsin

 

 

The use of nuclear weapons is a war crime.  The use of nuclear weapons violates multiple parts of the Laws of Armed Conflict.


Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum—America’s shrine to the technological leading edge of the military industrial complex—hear a familiar narrative from the tour guides in front of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped an atomic weapon on the civilians of Hiroshima 70 years ago today.

The bomb was dropped, they say, to save the lives of thousands of Americans who would otherwise have been killed in an invasion of the Home Islands. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were largely destroyed and the lives of between 135,000 and 300,000 mostly Japanese women, children, and old people were sacrificed—most young men were away at war—as the result of a terrible but morally just calculus aimed at bringing an intractable war to a close.

This story may assuage the conscience of the air museum visitor, but it is largely myth, fashioned to buttress our memories of the “good” war. By and large, the top generals and admirals who managed World War II knew better. Consider the small and little-noticed plaque hanging in the National Museum of the US Navy that accompanies the replica of “Little Boy,” the weapon used against the people of Hiroshima: In its one paragraph, it makes clear that Truman’s “political advisors” overruled the military in determining the way in which the end of the war in Japan would be approached. Furthermore, contrary to the popular myths around the atomic bomb’s nearly magical power to end the war, the Navy Museum’s explication of the history clearly indicates that “the vast destruction wreaked by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the loss of 135,000 people made little impact on the Japanese military.”
Indeed, it would have been surprising if they had: Despite the terrible concentrated power of atomic weapons, the firebombing of Tokyo earlier in 1945 and the destruction of numerous Japanese cities by conventional bombing had killed far more people. The Navy Museum acknowledges what many historians have long known: It was only with the entry of the Soviet Union’s Red Army into the war two days after the bombing of Hiroshima that the Japanese moved to finally surrender. Japan was used to losing cities to American bombing; what their military leaders feared more was the destruction of the country’s military by an all-out Red Army assault.

The top American military leaders who fought World War II, much to the surprise of many who are not aware of the record, were quite clear that the atomic bomb was unnecessary, that Japan was on the verge of surrender, and—for many—that the destruction of large numbers of civilians was immoral. Most were also conservatives, not liberals. Adm. William Leahy, President Truman’s Chief of Staff, wrote in his 1950 memoir I Was There that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.… in being the first to use it, we…adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

The commanding general of the US Army Air Forces, Henry “Hap” Arnold, gave a strong indication of his views in a public statement only eleven days after Hiroshima was attacked. Asked on August 17 by a New York Times reporter whether the atomic bomb caused Japan to surrender, Arnold said that “the Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.”

Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that “the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan…” Adm. William “Bull” Halsey Jr., Commander of the US Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946 that “the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment…. It was a mistake to ever drop it…. [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it…”

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, for his part, stated in his memoirs that when notified by Secretary of War Henry Stimson of the decision to use atomic weapons, he “voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives…” He later publicly declared “…it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” Even the famous “hawk” Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Twenty-First Bomber Command, went public the month after the bombing, telling the press that “the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”
The record is quite clear: From the perspective of an overwhelming number of key contemporary leaders in the US military, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not a matter of military necessity. American intelligence had broken the Japanese codes, knew the Japanese government was trying to negotiate surrender through Moscow, and had long advised that the expected early August Russian declaration of war, along with assurances that Japan’s Emperor would be allowed to stay as a powerless figurehead, would bring surrender long before the first step in a November US invasion, three months later, could begin.

Historians still do not have a definitive answer to why the bomb was used. Given that US intelligence advised the war would likely end if Japan were given assurances regarding the Emperor—and given that the US military knew it would have to keep the Emperor to help control occupied Japan in any event—something else clearly seems to have been important. We do know that some of President Truman’s closest advisers viewed the bomb as a diplomatic and not simply a military weapon. Secretary of State James Byrnes, for instance, believed that the use of atomic weapons would help the United States more strongly dominate the postwar era. According to Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard, who met with him on May 28, 1945, “[Byrnes] was concerned about Russia’s postwar behavior…[and thought] that Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might, and that a demonstration of the bomb might impress Russia.

”History is rarely simple, and confronting it head-on, with critical honesty, is often quite painful. Myths, no matter how oversimplified or blatantly false, are too often far more likely to be embraced than inconvenient and unsettling truths.

Even now, for instance, we see how difficult it is for the average US citizen to come to terms with the brutal record of slavery and white supremacy that underlies so much of our national story. Remaking our popular understanding of the “good” war’s climactic act is likely to be just as hard. But if the Confederate battle flag can come down in South Carolina, we can perhaps one day begin to ask ourselves more challenging questions about the nature of America’s global power, and what is true and what is false about why we really dropped the atomic bomb on Japan.”

Faith Leaders of Wisconsin Oppose F-35 and the War Profiteers

A full-page ad appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal – July 29, 2020 – speaking against the F-35 fighter jets for reasons of social and environmental justice, and world peace. It’s signed by a long list of clergy and other faith leaders who call the proposed deployment “morally offensive”. 

Faith Leader Ad from WI State Journal

Connect with Interfaith Peace Working Group

Text of letter:

We, the undersigned faith leaders, wish to publicly raise our voices in opposition to the basing of an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Force in the Madison community. For a number of reasons, we find this deployment morally offensive and feel compelled to speak out against it.

First, the F-35 is not just the most expensive weapons system in the history of our planet. It is also a critical component of our country’s new nuclear strategy. This plane is sometimes called the most dangerous weapon in the nuclear arsenal of the United States because it is designed to carry the B61-12 guided nuclear bomb, a bomb small enough to be considered “usable” in the minds of some war planners.

Starting with Barack Obama and continuing with Donald Trump, the horrifying idea of a “winnable” nuclear war has been revived as official policy and the F-35 is at the heart of this nightmare notion. Defense analyst Pierre Sprey has pointed out that the F-35 was mentioned eight times in the Nuclear Posture Review released by President Trump and the Department of Defense in 2018.

 (See Nuclear Posture Review, Office of the Secretary of Defense, February 2018)

The Air Force has assured us that the jets coming to Madison will not be equipped with nuclear weapons. Pierre Sprey, who helped design two previous jet fighters, said that, while no F-35s are currently equipped for nuclear bombs, all of them could be in the future. One year ago, Sprey addressed the state legislature in Vermont, where residents were also assured that their airbase would have no nuclear mission. The F-35 “will be the first weapons system deployed with this whole new emphasis placed on small nuclear weapons,” he told the legislators. “The F-35 is the opening wedge for the small nuclear warhead and the supposed ability to fight a small nuclear war, and that will be coming here.” (See Public Testimony by Pierre Sprey, Vermont Senate Government Committee Hearing, May 7, 2018 and Vermont Senate Resolution 5 adopted by Vermont Senate, May 23, 2018.)

Pierre Sprey written testimony May 7

We find the F-35 to be a morally offensive weapon system not just because it threatens the planet and its people but also because it claims funds desperately needed to address urgent human and environmental needs. As Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis of the Poor People’s Campaign and Stephen Miles of Win Without War wrote recently, “funneling trillions of dollars into institutions designed to violently protect the status quo – be they police or military – does not make ourselves, our loved ones, or our communities safer. As cities and states face budget crises, education and healthcare find themselves on the chopping block while police budgets are protected and even increased. This makes us less, not more secure.

“As demands to demilitarize the police and redistribute funds to programs of social uplift gain traction across the country,” they continued, “we call to similarly reimagine our approach to national security. To create real security, we must slash the Pentagon budget, dismantle the war economy, and invest instead in meeting everyone’s basic human needs.”

We also oppose this project because it will have a disproportionately negative impact on low- income people, people of color, and children, groups whose well-being is one of the highest priorities of our faith communities. The Air Force itself made this clear in its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  It admitted F-35s will bring more air and noise pollution to parts of the north and east sides of Madison which are home to significant populations of poor people and people of color.

Low-income residents and people of color have long fished in Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona, some for subsistence. Their children play in the creek, now one of the most polluted bodies of water in Wisconsin. Their health is at risk because the creek, the groundwater (and some of our drinking water) has been contaminated with Per and Polyfluoroalky substances (PFAS) and other toxins related to Truax Field.

We are also concerned about the noise the F-35s will bring. There has been much debate about the severity of this noise, but two things are clear: the noise from the current F-16s is nearly intolerable now for those who live under the flight path. The noise from the F-35s is likely to be considerably worse.

There is a growing body of evidence, including that cited by the Air Force EIS reports for Vermont and Madison, that the negative impact of noise on children is far greater than on other people. Heightened noise interruptions for children – in school, on the playground or at home – can lead to delayed speech development, reduced attention, and impaired concentration. It can also cause long-term memory problems and decreased math and reading comprehension. (See Dr. Elizabeth Neary, pediatrician, “If We Care About Children, We Should Oppose F-35s in Madison, guest column, Capital Times, October 31, 2019; Public Health Madison & Dane County, Noise Exposure: Health Effects & Equity, flyer, September, 2019; and Anne Tigan, RN, Letter to School Board & Brief Bibliography, September 22, 2019).

Dr. Elizabeth Neary: If we care about children, we should oppose F-35s in Madison

There are approximately a dozen K-12 schools and 15 childcare centers in the vicinity of Truax Field, where the sound will be the greatest. According to a 2018 neighborhood study by the City of Madison, kids in the Truax area are struggling even before they start school, with only 48 percent considered “kindergarten ready.” (See Neighborhood Indicators Project, City of Madison Planning Division, 2018 Edition.)

Neighborhood Indicators Project website

One of the schools destined to suffer the worst noise impacts is Hawthorne Elementary, where most children are low-income and of color. In a city struggling to overcome persistent racial disparities, flying an obnoxiously noisy fighter jet over our elementary schools more often is likely to intensify these disparities.

Some people say the sound of fighter jets is “the sound of freedom.” But in fact, for children in the area around Truax, the sound of fighter jets is a horrific noise signifying a threat to health and a barrier to learning; and for children in countries that the U.S. bombs or countries that are bombed by their own governments with jets and bombs provided by the U.S., the sound of fighter jets is the sound of danger, oppression, fear and death. To many people who care about peace, justice and the health of our planet, the sound of a fighter jet is a sickening sound.

Finally, we oppose the F-35 for ecological reasons. The U.S. military is the world’s worst polluter. In 2014, a Pentagon official reported that her environmental program office had to contend with 39,000 contaminated areas spread across 19 million acres in the United States alone. Almost 900 of nearly 1,200 Superfund sites in the U.S. are abandoned military facilities or sites that support military needs, not counting military bases themselves. The Pentagon has stated that 651 military sites are contaminated with toxic PFAS substances. (See Whitney Webb, U.S. Military is World’s Biggest Polluter, MintPress News, May 15, 2017 and Pentagon Report 250, New Sites Are Contaminated with PFAS, Military Poisons website, March 19, 2020.)

U.S. Military Is World’s Biggest Polluter, Whitney Webb 

Pentagon Reports 250 New Sites Are Contaminated with PFAS

The Air Force and Air National Guard at Truax have been polluting the water and soil in our area for a half-century or more. When the Air Force proposed a major demolition and construction project for Truax Field in early 2019, the EPA instructed the Air Force to describe how the proposed project might affect water bodies listed as “impaired” by the Wisconsin DNR, and to document the presence of what it called “legacy pollution” (PFAS and other chemicals), and how it proposed to address these problems. The agency also recommended that the Air Force “ensure that the project would not have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and/or low-income populations.” (See Environmental Assessment for Construction and Demolition Projects at the 115th Fighter Wing Installation, Dane County Regional Airport, Madison, Wisconsin, March 1, 2019 and Letter from Kenneth A. Westlake, Chief NEPA Implementation Section, Environmental Protection Agency.)

Environmental Assessment for Construction and Demolition Projects at the 115th Fighter Wing Installation

The Air Force quietly completed its environmental assessment (EA) process and basically ignored all these issues.

So far, the military has refused to clean up the messes it has made. The Department of Defense does not accept responsibility for its destructive environmental behavior and the Air Force has even been claiming in federal courts that “federal sovereign immunity” allows it to disregard any state’s regulations pertaining to PFAS contamination. The refusal of the military to clean up the environmental messes it makes is understandable, since its mission is not environmental stewardship but the expansion and protection of U.S. domination, often pursued through violence and war.

In closing, we believe it is worth pointing out that our last two concerns, our concern for the most vulnerable among us and our concern for the environment,  are deeply intertwined, since the people who most often bear the brunt of  environmental destruction and deterioration are the poor and people of color. This has been the case for so long there is now a term for it: environmental justice. When the Air Force proposed a major demolition and construction project for Truax Field in early 2019, the U.S. EPA advised the Air Force that “communities with environmental justice (EJ) concerns are located near Truax Field.”

With all these concerns in mind, we call on U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin to reverse her position on the deployment of the F-35 at Truax and to oppose the Air Force’s plans to station the F-35s in Madison. Likewise, we call on Congressman Mark Pocan, Governor Tony Evers, and Wisconsin Adjutant General Paul Knapp to inform the Air Force that they oppose this project.

We ask the citizens of Madison to contact these public officials, urging them to oppose the deployment of the F-35 at Truax Field and to advocate with the Wisconsin Air National Guard that Truax Field be assigned a new mission more in keeping with the humane values of peace, equity, sustainability and concern for the health and security of our neighbors and neighborhoods.


Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin   

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Yours in Peace

Rev. Scott Anderson, pastor, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Annie Bachman, Madison Tao Shiatsu Center
Rev. Mary Kay Baum, pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Rev. Ann Beaty, pastor, First Congregational United Church of Christ
Rev. Peter Beeson, lead pastor, St. John’s Lutheran, ELCA
Vicki Berenson, Society of Friends (Quakers)
Rabbi Jonathan Biatch, Temple Beth-El, Reform Judaism
Rev. Winton Boyd, pastor, United Church of Christ (UCC)
Timothy Cordon, First Unitarian Society Social Justice Ministry
Rev. Cindy Crane, pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Dr. Jerry Folk, pastor, ELCA, Interfaith Peace Working Group
Rabbi Betsy Forester, Beth Israel Center
Rev. Kristin Gorton, pastor, Memorial United Church of Christ
Rev. Phil Haslanger, pastor, United Church of Christ
Rev. Eldonna Hazen, pastor, First Congregational Church, UCC
Rev. John Helt, pastor, United Church of Christ
Rev. Sonja lngebritson, Community of Hope UCC
Jane H and Vince Kavaloski, Society of Friends (Quakers)
Linda Ketcham, United Church of Christ
Dr. Paul Knitter, Emeritus Prof. of Theology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary, New York
Dr. John Leonard, PhD, Professor of Religious Studies, Edgewood College
Rev. Lex Liberatore, pastor, Lake Edge United Church of Christ
Rev. Thomas F. Loftus, pastor, ELCA
Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, Executive Director, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
Sr. Maureen McDonnell, O.P., Interfaith Peace Working Group
Sr. Reg McKillip, O.P, Peace and Justice Promoter, Sinsinawa Dominicans
Fr. Jim Murphy, pastor, Roman Catholic Church
Rev. Kenneth Pennings, Associate Pastor, Orchard Ridge UCC
Dr. Carmen Porco, pastor, American Baptist Church
Carl Rasmussen and Catherine Crow Rasmussen, United Church of Christ
Rev. Franz Rigert, Conference Minister, Wisconsin Conference, UCC
Rev. Dr. Larry Sexe, pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;President, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
Rev. Valerie Showalter, pastor, Mennonite Church, USA
Rev, Bryan Sirchio, pastor, United Church of Christ
The Sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery
Rev. Frederick R. Trost, pastor, UCC, Interfaith Peace Working Group
Rev. Nick Utphall, pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman, Congregation Shaarei Shamayim


Sponsored by Interfaith Peace Working Group

The Interfaith Peace Working Group (IPWG) is made up of members of various faith communities and communities of conscience who believe in the sanctity of life and are committed to the struggle for peace, justice, and the care of creation.

The mission of IPWG is:

  1. to increase the understanding of nonviolence in faith communities and communities of conscience as an important part of these communities’ visions and as an effective force in the struggle for peace, justice, and the care of creation.

  2. to advocate for significant reductions in U.S. military spending and the use of all savings achieved to address urgent human and environmental needs.


    https://www.safeskiescleanwaterwi.org/faith-leaders-oppose-f-35-fighter-jets-wisconsin-state-journal-7-29-2020/?fbclid=IwAR2o6WJh-ye00wqLGG5TReAnxvqWoKaBwg02aC2pp1pHWxwRFb7-c7DWR44

Eken Park Resists the Military Industrial Complex

Eken Park Resistance Group Letter

If you’d like to learn more,or sign on in support… please be in touch with Eken Park Resistance at
Dear Community Leaders,In April, our neighborhood learned that we face a bleak future––one that will disproportionately impact those of us who are people of color, low income, and children, and leave our homes “incompatible for residential use.”

F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will soon rip through the place we live and love: Eken Park.

We know from personal experience that there is reason to be very afraid. When the current F-16s takeoff or maneuver overhead, our children cover their ears and scream. The aircraft are dangerously loud. Everyone agrees, even the Air Force, that the F-35s will be worse.

It isn’t our small homes, backyards, swing sets, neighbors, or kids that are incompatible for residential use. We do have a corrosive force in our community––but it isn’t us.

The Air National Guard violates nearly every value our progressive community claims to uphold. It is everything we strive to overcome.

It has polluted––perhaps permanently––our lakes and drinking water with PFAS “forever” chemicals. The DNR has found it in violation of spill and environmental remediation laws.

With at least six instances of sexual assault and harrasment against female members of the 115th Fighter Wing’s Security Forces Squadron, the Air National Guard is a hive of violence against women. When someone tried to stop it, they were met with retaliation and reprisal.

And now, the result of a disgracefully undemocratic process, Madison may be subjected to a squadron of immoral machines, monuments to mass violence and corporate power. At this moment of pandemic and economic collapse, each of us knows the F-35s are a tragic misuse of resources. We need that money for the health of our families, community, and planet.

Neighbors: let’s stand together to stop this blight. The F-35s are not inevitable.

Community leaders: this is a test of your progressive values. Do everything you can. Creatively and vigorously use our collective power and resources––legal, financial, and otherwise––to protect us.

The Air National Guard is incompatible for residential use. It’s time we tell them to leave.

Eken Park Resistance Group Letter