Tuesday, March 8, 2011

VFP Northern California Convention

Phil's summary of the VFP Northern California Convention in Ukiah, CA on March 4-6, 2011 is so good that I decided to start with it and edit my own later (see below).  It was an excellent conference and we're really glad to have attended.  Approximately 50 people were there on Saturday - we met many wonderful, dedicated activists and made lots of new friends!
One thing I'm really upset about is the new torture procedure laid on Bradley Manning, where he is forced to sleep naked under a stiff, scratchy wool cardboard "blanket", then stand at attention naked each morning to receive his underwear back for the day.  The wool is giving him a rash, and now he has no underwear to protect his privates from it.  THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!!!  As soon as I can get to a thrift store, I'm going to buy some men's underwear, write STOP THE TORTURE on it, and send it to the brig commander, base commander, the Pentagon and The White House.  I know it will take weeks to clear through security, so I'll also be sending postcards to the above.  In addition, I want to write letters to editors of local newspapers (words such as these):
PFC Bradley Manning, accused of releasing video and documents to WikiLeaks, has been charged with "aiding the enemy", which carries a death penalty as punishment.  Contrary to the psychologists and medical doctors at the Quantico, VA Marine Brig, his captors are now forcing him to surrender his underwear every night for 7 hours and sleep completely nude under a stiff, scratchy wool/cardboard "blanket".  I call on all concerned citizens to contact the Quantico Brig, their senators and representatives in Congress and demand an end to the 23 hour a day solitary confinement and torture of Bradley.  The brig psychologists have determined that he is not a danger to himself and others and should not be the recipient of this harsh treatment.    
President Obama said that we don't torture our prisoners - this is not true - we do, if they are political prisoners, even before they are convicted of anything.  We are all supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, right?
Bradley Manning tried to inform his command of the war crimes he read about as an intelligence officer.  They told him to cover it up.  He refused and followed his conscience, the Nuremburg Principles, and the Geneva Conventions by informing the public - he is a HERO, not a criminal.  Exposing war crimes is a duty, not a crime!
Helen Jaccard
Report from Veterans for Peace Regional Convention in Ukiah March 4-6, 2011
by Phil Pflager

VFP101 members Anne & Phil Pflager and George Johnson attended the conference and agree that the trip to Ukaih was worth the drive. In addition to good presentations the food was excellent. The Ukiah chapter, VFP116, worked to gain access to the Ukiah Veterans building for a nominal fee. Other veteran groups chartered by congress have free use of the building and some of those groups feel that since Veterans for Peace is not chartered they should pay the same price as the general public for use of the building. VFP116 is working to correct that situation.

The Veterans Building has a kitchen so VFP116 hired a caterer to serve all meals. The cost of meals was included in the attendance fee of $50.00. Not bad for dinner Friday, breakfast lunch and dinner Saturday and breakfast and lunch Sunday. It was a great idea to have the meals in the building because it kept the group together and gave people more time to get to know one another.

The Friday night social started out with poetry, music by Annie and the Vets then ended with song by the Ukiah Raging Grannies. After introductions Saturday Fredy Champagne of chapter 22 gave a rousing introduction to their project the "Golden Rule." The Golden Rule is a thirty-foot ketch that sailed into the U.S. government nuclear testing zone in the Pacific. After several decades the Golden Rule was battered by storm and sunk off Eureka. It was salvaged by a local shipyard owner and was to be cut up until VFP chapters in Garberville and Humboldt Bay got involved and decided to restore it to carry on the struggle against nuclear weapons and warfare. (from Grandmothers for Peace International spring 2011) For more information on the Golden Rule project see:

The Golden Rule Project

Saturday after lunch a representative of each of the VFP groups attending gave a group report then Jeff Patterson of "Courage to Resist" did a presentation about Bradley Manning and the tortuous conditions he is being held under. Courage to Resist is funding a lawyer to assist Bradley in his defense and states that "Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime." It appears that the military is trying to break Manning so they can avoid an embarrassing trial. For more information on the situation please visit:

There was a "Utilizing Social Media presentation" on media Saturday afternoon that demonstrated that press releases are important and should be written like a news story, not like a press release. It is better to hold actions in the morning or early afternoon, not at noon or six pm when the news is on the air.

Peter Phillips was the keynote speaker Saturday evening. He did a powerful presentation that I captured with my Flip Cam. I have posted the thirty-minute presentation on YouTube at:

After breakfast Sunday morning members had the opportunity to give a short presentation on any subject of interest to the group. George spoke about "Banished Veterans" and I talked about the advantage of having someone in the group like Doug Nelson who is knowledgeable of veterans rights to help them to find the route to benefits legally granted them.

George decided to stay over until Monday to deal with the VFP table while Anne and I left Ukiah before lunch. It was a good meeting and I hope one day we can hold a central California convention in the Bay Area.

Phil Pflager
Chapter Contact VFP101

Veterans for Peace Ukiah regional convention (10min)

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