BCP&J E-Newsletter –- March 11, 2008


Berkshire Citizens for Peace & Justice

175 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 01201



Contents (Click on the link)


                                            Upcoming BCP&J Events
Location of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church in Pittsfield


                                            Descriptions of Upcoming Thursday Night Videos
                                                 Four part series on various religious fundamentalisms -

                                                 Should be some interesting discussion after the videos

                                                    - March 6
    - March 20

                                                    - April 3

                                                    - April 17


                                            Notes from the February 28 meeting

                                            Plans for a March 22 event marking the Fifth Anniversary of start of

                                                    the present war in Iraq (Complete information from Don & Merry Lathrop)

                                            Berkshire Community College Events
                                                    - Global Issues Resource Organization (GIRO) meetings (All are welcome.)

                                                    - Berkshire Community College Diversity Events scheduled for the spring semester

                                            Some Other Events (Non-BCP&J and Non-BCC)

                                                     - March 27, at Green Mountain College's Ackley Auditorium - Camilo Mejia will speak  at 7 pm

                                            About Peaceplans

                                            Cost of Iraq War as of Jan. 24, 2008

                                            Quotes (Lakota Chief Yellow Lark's Prayer to the Great Spirit - Relates to our Fundamentalisms series)<

                                            About Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice (BCP&J)

                                            Contact Information

                                            Fair Use Notice




Upcoming BCP&J Events

Text Box: Weekly Peace Vigil each Thursday at Park Square in Pittsfield, 5 to 6 P.M.  The Vigils are held in cooperation with Berkshire Community College’s Global Issues Resource Organization (GIRO).






Thursday, March 13 -- We will have a regular business meetinng at the UU Church in Pittsfield.  The meeting will start  at 7:30 p.m.  One main agenda item will be a review of plans and preparations for our March 22 event.


Thursday, March 20 -- On March 6 we began a four-part look at religious fundamentalisms by showing "God Fights Back - 1979."  Tonight we'll have Part 2 of our four-part study.  Tonight's video, "The Land," taken from the series, The Glory and the Power, documents the intense commitment of contemporary ultra-conservative Jews.  Discussion will follow the video.  UU Church in Pittsfield, 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, Mar. 22 – Keep this day open for a march and service in Pittsfield to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the current war in Iraq.  A major piece will be remembering those who died in the Iraq War during the last year.  Current plans are for a 2.6 mile route that passes by many Pittsfield churches.  The route begins and ends at about the same place so that we will be near our cars at the event's conclusion.  Click here for complete details.


Thursday, March 27 -- We will have a regular business meetinng at the UU Church in Pittsfield.  The meeting will start  at 7:30 p.m.


Thursday, April 3 --  Part 3 of our four-part look at religious fundamentalisms.  We will view a Bill Moyers account of Christian Zionist activity, followed by his discussion with a rabbi and an evangelical clergyman.  Discussion will follow.  UU Church in Pittsfield, 7:30 p.m.


Thursday, April 10 -- We will have a regular business meetinng at the UU Church in Pittsfield.  The meeting will start  at 7:30 p.m.


Thursday, April 17 --  Tonight we will conclude our fouur-part look at religious fundamentalism.  Tonight's first video, "Islam vs. Islamists," explores two avenues of contemporary Muslim activity.  This hour long film will be followed by a half hour documentary by Landrum Bolling entitled "Searching for Peace in the Middle East."  Discussion will follow the two videos.  UU Church in Pittsfield, 7:30 p.m.

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Descriptions of Upcoming Thursday Videos


Videos are shown on first and third Thursdays of each month (and on most
5th Thursdays in months having them).  Discussion follows the showing of
each video.  Videos are shown at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church
at 175 Wendell Ave. in Pittsfield.  All are welcome.  There is no charge.


Four-night series of videos and discussion on various types of religious fundamentalism
(March 6, March 20, April 3, and April 17)



Human beings are separated by race, gender, ethnicity, degree of economic well being and religion.  While we have little choice about the first three designations and there is often minimal opportunity for those born into economic misfortune to greatly improve their lot, religion is a matter or choice.  Yet war is frequently fueled by religious hostility, among other causes.

Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice will show films on four nights which explore religions, particularly of the fundamentalist nature, which can lead to violent hatreds being acted out.  It is our hope that these films will prompt discussions which can lead to better understanding of the impassioned commitments of our fundamentalist brothers and sisters and help us to generate potential paths toward peace where these beliefs inflame violence. 

All films will be shown on Thursday nights at the UU church in Pittsfield, at 7:30 p.m.  On March 6, "God Fights Back - 1979" explores the rise of contemporary Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu fundamentalism.  On March 20, from the series The Glory and the Power, "The Land" documents the intense commitment of contemporary ultra-conservative Jews.  On April 3, we will view a Bill Moyers account of Christian Zionist activity, followed by his discussion with a rabbi and an evangelical clergyman.  Lastly, on April 17, "Islam vs. Islamists" explores two avenues of contemporary Muslim activity.  This hour long film will be followed by a half hour documentary by Landrum Bolling entitled "Searching for Peace in the Middle East." 

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Notes from the February 28 meeting


Major item of discussion was:


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Iraq War Commemoration Walk and Ceremony

Pittsfield, March


Dear Peace Advocates,

The walk and memorial described below are reminiscent of a walk and program we had two years ago where about 80 folks participated.  We hope you will come and bring friends.  Out of the more than 100,000 people in the area, there should be well over a 100 concerned enough about ending the war in Iraq to come out and join us.  Displays of public sorrow and outrage over the war at this time in an election year are particularly important.

Don Lathrop



To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq, a walk for peace, sponsored by Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice and GIRO (the Global Issues Resource Organization of BCC), will be held from 9 AM to 11 AM on Saturday, March 22 to remember those who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some signs will be provided or people can bring their own.  To symbolize a focus on the moral sanctity of life and the tragedy of death, the route will deliberately pass by many churches.  People are invited to join the walk anywhere along the route. 

Starting at South Congregational Church on South Street, the walk will go west on Church Street, cross Center Street in front of CVS, pass the Salvation Army, cross West Street at Onota Street, pass the Second Congregational Church, turn right onto Columbus Ave, left onto Dewey Ave. past Victory Temple, turn right onto Linden Street past the Price Memorial AME Zion Church and the Christian Center.  Turn right onto Center Street, left past St. George Greek Orthodox Church on Bradford Street, right near St. Joseph's Church on North Street, left at Melville Street, right onto First Street, pass Zion's Evangelical Lutheran Church, right onto Fenn Street, in front of the First United Methodist Church turn left onto Allen Street and walk between St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and the First Church of Christ on Park Square, south onto South Street past the First Baptist Church, and end back at South Congregational Church.  The route is approximately 2.6 miles and should take less than the two hours allotted. 

At 12 noon, there will be a commemoration service at South Congregational Church to honor the 882 members of the military who were killed in Iraq during 2007.  The names of the cities where they lived will be read, with interludes of flute music by Eric Marezak of Knox, NY.  The program should take about 2 hours.  People are encouraged to attend all or part of the ceremony.  Welcome will be given by Rev. Joel Huntington, pastor of the church.  A donation to thank the church for opening its doors to us during this busy Easter weekend will be welcome.  There will be no rain date for the event.

Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice and GIRO sponsor the weekly vigil at Park Square each Thursday from 5-6PM.  The vigil began six months before the war in Iraq and is in its sixth winter.  All are welcome to join for all or any part of the hour.

Marion Lathrop
10 Dean Hill Road
Canaan, NY 12029
Tel. 518-781-4681

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Berkshire Community College Events



All are welcome to attend meetings of GIRO (Global Issues Resource Organization).  Meetings are now being held on Mondays at 12:00 noon in room 104 of Melville Hall.


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Some Other Events (Non-BCP&J and Non-BCC)


 Thursday, March 27, in Green Mountain College's Ackley Auditorium, Poultney, Vermont. Camilo Mejia will speak at 7 pm. Here is what Wikipedia currently has about him:


Camilo Ernesto Mejía (b. Managua, Nicaragua, August 28, 1975) is a Nicaraguan American who is a former Staff Sergeant of the Florida National Guard, anti-war activist, and author. He is a former student of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, where he intended to major in psychology and Spanish.   Mejía spent six months in Iraq, then returned for a 2-week furlough to the US after which he did not return for duty. He was charged with desertion and sentenced to one year in prison for refusing to return to fight in Iraq. In March 2004 he turned himself in to the US military and filed an application for conscientious objector status. Mejía was placed under court-martial, and claimed that he left his post in order to avoid duties that could be considered war crimes: more specifically, the abuse and torture of prisoners. One of his attorneys, former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark, claimed that he was thus protected from desertion charges by international law.


On May 21, 2004 Mejía was convicted of desertion by a military jury and sentenced to a year in jail and a bad conduct discharge. Under Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, conviction on the charge of desertion during time of war can result in a sentence of death. Mejía served his time at the Fort Sill military prison in Lawton, Oklahoma. During his time in custody he was recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience and was awarded by Refuse and Resist with its Courageous Resister Award.


Camilo was also recognized by the Detroit City Council with a commendation for his stand. Detroit was the first city where Mejía spoke at an anti-war rally.

While confined, local and national activists organized a series of vigils outside the gates of Ft. Sill, including one attended by Kathy Kelly and other members of Voices in the Wilderness.


Camilo Mejía was released from prison on February 15, 2005. Since his release, he has spoken at many peace protests and to the press about his experiences and his opposition to the war in Iraq.


Mejía has recently written a book entitled Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia which recounts his journey of conscience in Iraq.


        Quote from Camilo:

"I say without any pride that I did my job as a soldier. I commanded an infantry squad in combat and we never failed to accomplish our mission. But those who called me a coward, without knowing it, are also right. I was a coward, not for leaving the war, but for having been a part of it in the first place. Refusing and resisting this war was my moral duty, a moral duty that called me to take a principled action. I failed to fulfill my moral duty as a human being and instead I chose to fulfill my duty as a soldier. All because I was afraid. I was terrified. I did not want to stand up to the government and the army; I was afraid of punishment and humiliation. I went to war because at the moment I was a coward, and for that I apologize to my soldiers for not being the type of leader I should have been."


In August 2007 Mejía was named the chair of the board of directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War.


Camilo Mejia in an undated photo, holding a


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About Peaceplans


Peaceplans is a web site for posting information about peace-related events and issues in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Joining Peaceplans is a good way to stay in touch with events in the area. To join Peaceplans, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Peaceplans/

Once you have joined, make it a habit to regularly check the latest messages at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Peaceplans/messages


You will also be able to post messages yourself.


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Cost of Iraq War as of January 12, 2008


(From www.costofiraqwar.org and http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home


Cost to U.S. - More than 4,000 military deaths; more than 900 civilian contractor deaths; more than 200 NGO American deaths; more than 27,000 service people wounded; $489 billion.


                                 Financial Cost of the War in Iraq as of January 24, 2008


    Entire Nation   Massachusetts   Pittsfield
  Cost of war in Iraq $488,500,000,000   $13,800,000,000   $70,289,000
  Number of children for whom we could have paid the cost of Head Start 58,016,532   1,638,952   8,348
  Number of children who could have been provided health care for one year 177,774,125   5,022,074   25,579
  Number of elementary teachers who could have been paid for one year (includes benefits) 7,230,179   204,251   1,040
  Number of students who could have been provided full one-year scholarships at public universities 52,601,491   1,485,979   7,569
  Number of affordable family housing units that could have been built 3,256,667   92,000   469
  Number of homes which could have been provided renewable electricity 760,916,796   21,495,705   109,486
  Number of elementary schools which could have been built 36,581   1,033   5.3
Affordable housing figures are based on an average cost of
$150,000 per unit.  Other figures are based entirely on data
from http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar/





 Trade-offs: How the $70.3 million Pittsfield has paid for the war might have been better spent:

   For the Methodology of the National Priorities Project, see below or go to http://www.nationalpriorities.org/cms/content/notes-and-sources-tradeoffs

    Notes and Sources regarding figures for cost of war and Trade-offs

Military Programs and Cost of the Iraq War:

For the following programs, we calculated each state's share of taxes paid into federal funds revenues (based on IRS data). This includes individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, excise, gift and estate taxes. Each state's share of taxes was then multiplied by the total amount of the given item. The Congressional District share is based on its population and median household income relative to the total state figure.

Amounts for military programs are for the proposed spending in the President's budget for fiscal year 2007 presented in February 2006.

Ballistic Missile Defense: According to the Center for Arms Control and Nuclear Proliferation, the total proposed spending for ballistic missile defense in the fiscal year 2007 budget would be $11 billion. This amount includes Space Based Infra-Red System - High.

Nuclear Weapons: According to the Budget of the United States Government, FY2007, spending on Department of Energy's Atomic Energy Defense Activities would be $17 billion.

Cost of Iraq War: The total amount allocated for war and occupation in Iraq is approximately $456 billion through fiscal year 2007. This amount will be updated with information on fiscal year 2008 when appropriate. For a discussion of the amount requested for FY2008, click here.

This number is based on an analysis of the legislation in which Congress has allocated money for war so far. Funding for the war has been initiated by the Bush Administration in supplementals:

Please note that the Department of Defense was also permitted by legislation to transfer funds from other operations (peacetime, Afghanistan, etc.) to the Iraq War, and so estimating war costs based on Congressional legislation is not enough. An article offered by the Strauss Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information offers greater insight into the problems of truly knowing how much has been spent on the Iraq War or other military operations. A Congressional Research Service report also discusses the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tax Cuts:

Each state's share is based on how much they received in federal aid to states for fiscal year 2004, the most recent year the data is available. The Congressional District breakdowns take the proportion of the state's population as its share of the state's federal aid to states.

$56.5 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%: According to the Tax Policy Center (Table T06-0034), the wealthiest 1% would receive one-fourth of the tax cuts this year (which would total around $220 billion).


Elementary School Teachers, Music and Arts Teachers, Public Safety Officers, Police Officers, Firefighters, Nurses, and any other occupation: Each state's number is based on the average amount of annual pay an elementary school teacher receives, plus 25% for other expenses associated with employment such as benefits. These numbers are for 2005 from the Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.

Head Start Places for Children: We calculated cost per child numbers for each state based on state numbers from the Administration of Children and Families' Head Start Bureau. These numbers are from 2005.

People or Children Receiving Health Care: The state numbers are based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Data Compendium. They represent the average Medicaid outlays per person or per child in each state for 1999 and 2000, and then are forecasted for 2005.

Elementary Schools: The cost of a new elementary school is based on the median amount spent on a 65,000 square foot elementary school in 2005, as reported by the School Planning and Management's 11th Annual Construction Report. A 65,000 square foot elementary school can accommodate roughly 500 students. Regional differences in cost are reflected in each states totals.

Scholarships for University Students: The number for each state is based on the cost of tuition and fees at that state's flagship university for the 2005-2006 academic year. Data on tuition and fees are available at the National Center for Education Statistics' College Opportunities On-Line (COOL).

Affordable Housing Units: The number for each state is based on Census 1990 and 2000 housing values. We have taken the average of the median and lower quartile values, and forecasted for 2005. This may be a fairly rough estimate of what is would cost to build affordable housing, but does constitute a good estimate of an inexpensive housing unit in each state.

Housing Vouchers: On average, each housing voucher is worth $6,665. While there is some variation between cities, we used the national average for each state because it represented the best guide for the value of a housing voucher. This amount is from the Congressional Budget Office.

Students receiving Pell Grants of $4050: The maximum Pell Grant award is currently set at $4050. We used that number for each of the states and for the United States as a whole. Information on the Federal Pell Grant Program can be found at the Office of Postsecondary Education at the US Department of Education.

Homes with Renewable Electricity : The average kWh per home was calculated with data from the Energy Information Administration on total residential electricity useage (by state) and number occupied households. The cost of wind energy is approximately 8 cents per kWh according to research done by Ryan Wiser and Edward Kahn at Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory. For our estimations, we've used 8 cents.


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Some Important News Items for the Week


None currently listed.


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Some Useful Links

None currently listed





Text Box: The above links are provided as a convenience. However, as the updating of web pages can affect links, it may occasionally happen that a link provided in this newsletter will not work.



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During our lively discussion on March 6, following Part 1 of our four-part video look at religious
fundamentalisms, some comments were made regarding how Native American religion and
spirituality could serve as an example for us. While we shouldn't lump all Native American tribes
together, there is an old and oft-printed prayer which has been said to be representative of Native
American culture. Look at the prayer and judge for yourself whether it displays humility, concern
for others, and appreciation of the environment.


Many different versions of the following prayer attributed to Yellow Lark have been published. The

prayer has been given several different titles. It is probably best known as "Sioux Prayer", "Great

Spirit Prayer," or "Prayer to the Great Spirit," but has also been called "A Native American Prayer

for Peace." The versions range from about 130 words to slightly over 200 words. Several of the

versions may be authentic. Below I will give two versions, one of the longer versions (177 words)

and then one of the shorter ones (153 words).


There has been some controversy about Chief Yellow Lark in the past. While some people have said
he was Blackfoot, Chief Yellow Lark was Lakota. He was an Indian Missionary and Medicine Man.


Great Spirit Prayer

A Native American Prayer by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark

(177 word version)

Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind,
Whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me; I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty,
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Help me to remain calm and strong
in the face of all that comes towards me.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
Help me seek pure thoughts and act with the intention of helping others.
Help me find compassion without empathy overwhelming me.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy - Myself (My fears and my doubts).
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.

So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to you without shame.

 Translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887,
as published in Native American Prayers, by the Episcopal Church.



Great Spirit Prayer

(153 word version, known to be one of the authentic ones)


Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds,

and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.

I am a man before you, one of your many children.

I am small and weak. I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold

the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things you have made,

my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise,

so that I may know the things you have taught my people
- the lesson you have hidden in every leaaf and rock.

I seek strength not to be superior to my brothers, but

to be able to fight my greatest enemy - myself.

Make me ever ready to come to you with clean hands and

straight eyes, so when life fades as a fading sunset

my spirit may come to you without shame.

Lakota Chief Yellow Lark [1887], Indian Missionary and Medicine Man


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About Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice


BCP&J is open to all people interested in promoting peace and justice who live, work, vacation in, or visit Berkshire County.


REGULAR MEETINGS are held every Thursday, 7:30 to 9:30 pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield, 175 Wendell Avenue (one block up Broad St. from Rt. 7 & 20, and on the corner of Wendell Avenue and Broad St.).  Meetings on 1st and 3rd Thursdays (and some 5th Thursdays) are devoted to showing educational films/videos followed by discussion.


A representative sample of our other activities has included:

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Contact Information


For comments or questions regarding this newsletter, contact George Desnoyers at 443-4298 or gdesnoye@berkshire.rr.com


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FAIR USE NOTICE. This newsletter may contain copyrighted material, and some uses of copyrighted material may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. All copyrighted material in this newsletter is provided without charge and for educational purposes -- to advance the understanding of topics and issues important to the advancement of peace and justice in our time. All copyrighted material is provided in the belief that its use in this newsletter constitutes a “fair use” as provided for in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. Determination of whether copyrighted material shall be used in this newsletter involves the consideration of the following factors: (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors. No copyrighted material in this newsletter should be reproduced or distributed if the reproduction or distribution would diminish the potential market or value of the copyrighted work. If you wish to use any copyrighted material provided in this newsletter for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use” as provided for in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 



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