Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PINK images from a decade


Ok, you know how this works. LIFE gets to use photos of us for free in a review of unforgettable images from the decade, and we get to link to them (hundreds of them!) but only in a way that helps drive people to the LIFE website. If I thought my readers were suspectible to the bland, sentimental flavor of manufactured consent served up by Time-Warner Corp., I probably wouldn't use this photo of the back of my head (that's me holding the Got diplomacy? sign behind Gen. Petraeus).

He was talking to the House Appropriations Committee. I'll give you three guesses why he was there. No, it wasn't to point out that there is No Military Solution to be had in Afghanistan. That was a given. You might think that wouldn't be a good premise for requesting additional billions of dollars in war spending. But you would be wrong.

There is an profitable solution in Afghanistan, and that's what the general was there to discuss and CODEPINK was there to protest.

Build lots more ordnance, keep dropping it on civilians, little kids and grannies; then you can justify the endless war by creating more militant resistance, then spend more on bombs and drop them, and...
Timothy Geithner testifies to Elizabeth Warren's TARP committee just after becoming Secretary of the Treasury.
you and your cronies can get super rich. There will be a few unpleasant hearings where you will need to put in some face time, but most of those authorized to question you owe their seats to campaign donors you work for. And the people asking the real questions can be safely ignored. Or can they?

Monday, December 27, 2010

There is so much of truth

There is so much of truth; out there, there is no lack of it. Rather, it is awash in a sea of lies.

There is so much of information.

Mark reading Laurie Arbeiter's account of the Gogosian gallery incident at Anselm Keifer's "Next Year in Jerusalem" show, job hunting, nature shows, young Israeli women telling of their recent period of servitude in the armies of occupation. All of us riding on the information stream.

One young woman saw a burned and beaten boy in IDF custody; then she was ordered to carry back the request that the truthful report of the incident be changed.

Which it was. Now we know the truth about that.

What difference does it make -- is it enough to know, or do we have to do something? (Like I am doing by sharing the video with you here.)

Do we need to tip the balance from lies out there to truth out there, and how could that even be done? With good creative? Or the right opportunity? 15 minutes of fame devoted to truth. As if fame were not a central untruth itself. The false cult of personification; celebrity spokesman for truth sounds like an oxymoron.

Still, we are inspired by examples. Rob paints truthtellers with their own words by their faces.

What signs shall we hold up, and where, to truly witness for truth? Another female IDF vet:

"It's part of what I carry with me." She remembers wanting to comfort a screaming baby. It was her 20th birthday and the IDF was blowing up Palestinian houses. The mother of the crying child appeared, and looked at her with pure hatred. She says:
“I realized that I was in deep trouble. There was no way back. I thought that I had a solid outlook on life but here everything falls apart ... You get used to it. You can't feel so much all the time."
Another who stayed drunk for a time after she got out wonders, “How in the hell did I ever think I'd be able to forget about it?” Then the film presents a jingle, "La la la you're getting out of the service, and next year you'll be fine."

And that's an order.

The absurdly overprotective Jewish parent stereotype of U.S. culture was explained a response to the Holocaust, and pogroms of the past.

In Breaking the Silence, we find firsthand reports of a dystopian Zionist culture that eats its own young along with the young of its prey.

Bullets for shepherds, and PTSD all round. A policy containing the seeds of its own resistance.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Laughing all the way

CODEPINK activist and Veterans for Peace member Lori Perdue being arrested in front of the White House Dec. 16.

Lori reports she was smiling in response to the cheers of the crowd of supporters watching 130+ people get arrested.

Here's a picture of Will Hopkins, another Vet for Peace, getting arrested, laughing despite being down on the icy sidewalk after 4 1/2 hours standing in the snow. I love how the cop seems to be laughing also.
Photo linked from P.A.inT. blog post "My friends were the ones in jail...
These faces in action are the reason that our government puts so very much effort into dividing us. Why do you think Bradley Manning has been in solitary confinement for 209 days?

Do you notice how legislation is so convoluted that it's nearly impossible to decide which is the right side to be on? Or to comprehend what your rep or senator's yes vote or no vote even means? This also serves to divide us. The failed DREAM act is a perfect example. The poison pill of enlistment as a path to citizenship peeled off a lot of early DREAM supporters who just couldn't swallow it. This in turn caused bitterness on the part of the masses of young undocumented immigrants who can't get college loans or other services to get on with their lives.

Or take the historic repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which passed even in these reactionary times because it will help with military recruitment. Don't get me wrong -- I've lobbied on behalf of DADT repeal, called my congressional reps, written letters, etc. because I believe in equal rights for all. At a holiday party last weekend, we drank a toast to the repeal of DADT and wondered aloud if Bradley Manning knew it had happened. Medea just wrote a great piece titled: "To the LGBT Community: Now that you can join the military, please don't!"

Last June Rep. Chellie Pingree told us in Freeport that she had voted "ought to pass" to send the FY11 "Defense" Authorization bill out of the House Armed Services Committee to the floor because at that time it contained DADT repeal as an amendment and, "I will still have plenty of time to vote 'no' on the bill itself." In the event, DADT was repealed separately, and Chellie did vote no as she said she would. But the vast majority of Congress voted to authorize the largest military spending bill in recorded history. If she and others had killed it in committee, that would have been that. So, do we thank her or spank her?

And while you were trying to keep your eye on that ball, NATO began invading a country with nuclear weapons and a lot of bad feelings toward the U.S. of A. Ok, maybe it was inevitable since we've been bombing them now for months, but I thought Obama said he was against stupid wars? The current and informative Afghanistan War Weekly is up on the United for Peace & Justice website -- highly recommended.

Stick together, and keep laughing. This might help:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

See no evil, hear nothing but NPR, say Merry Xmas!

'Tis the season of holiday parties, a chance to see people and relax a bit. Mark and I don't get invited to old friends' dinner parties much anymore; no one would ever say why, but I imagine it's because people are afraid we will talk about politics and bum them out. We did get invited to a neighborhood Christmas party last week, and went and had a good time. Tonight we will drive about an hour to attend the annual holiday gathering of a peace and justice group in the western Maine mountains. I'm sure it will be a very different crowd.

At last week's party I wore what my husband affectionately described as "your Bradley Manning schoolgirl look." I put a festive red cardigan over my Free Bradley t-shirt, and then asked myself what a high school kid would wear with such an ensemble (short skirt over leggings plus boots). I love my Bradley Manning t-shirt but don't get to wear it much. It's too cold outside, and I don't dare bring political messaging to my place of work.

Only one person remarked on my shirt, asking me about its cool graphics. When I said it was Bradley Manning he replied, "Who's that?" I said it was the person who supplied WikiLeaks with the info in the first place. Still no recognition. This person has advanced degrees and teaches at a local college. "I am sorry I asked, please stop. I have been depressed lately," he told me. Wow.

I was careful not to bring up politics because NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT! When they ask what I have been up to lately, they do not really want me to tell them. I talked about the weather, holiday plans, people's health, family news, and anything else but. Old friends we have kind of lost touch with avoid us because they are afraid we do not know how to act politely at parties anymore. I was determined to prove them wrong. But I suppose I blew it in advance by wearing my t-shirt.

Anyway, I was in a discussion about the weather for upcoming holiday travel with two people I have known for years. They were wondering if it was snowing in Washington DC that day and I said that it was because I had just seen a video of a snowy scene where "hundreds of people got arrested today for chaining themselves to the White House fence."

The two partygoers turned away from me in unison, as if we were in a dance that had been rehearsed.

Which I suppose we were.

Most of our these local friends started out standing on the bridge with us in '03, '04, maybe '05. Then a lot of people quit coming. I have never challenged anyone on this or asked them to defend their decision, but a ton of them have rushed up to me in the produce department or at the post office to apologize guiltily, mostly explaining either that they were too busy or stopped because "it didn't make any difference -- nothing changed." (The general public in the U.S. has the historical awareness and political sense of very young children.)

Over the years many, many people have thanked Mark and me for continuing to publicly vigil for peace, and to protest the wars. I think the message is: Keep it on the bridge where it belongs, but don't bring it to our parties.

Almost all of these people do charitable works, and a lot of them happen to be artists. Either they do not consider political organizing fun, inspiring, and exciting -- or it's too scary. Maybe some combination of the two.

Maybe there is a lot of guilt for continuing to live well while children in Afghanistan starve and freeze in between air strikes we are financing.

I can't be sure about any of that, but I am pretty sure about this: any literate person with Internet acces who cannot identify Bradley Manning is in a willful state of ignorance.

Bliss? I doubt it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Real Men Make Peace

Mounted police running away from CODEPINK activists in DC! at... on Twitpic
Mounted police flee?
CODEPINK in DC today at the mass mobilization of Vets against... on Twitpic

Sadly, I could not be in Wash DC with the hundreds who were arrested in front of the White House yesterday, or at the solidarity rallies in Bangor, San Francisco, etc. "Veterans for Peace have been asking for a meeting with this president (Obama) on behalf of the majority for years...We can't get a meeting ... we're going to go to jail...the people who have not been charged with any crimes are in jail, and the criminals are roaming free," said an anonymous participant interviewed in front of the White House.

WE NEED A PEACE PRESIDENT and REAL MEN MAKE PEACE were messages brought by Codepink women to the rally. Jodie and Medea were among those arrested for failing to disperse, after the crowd threw postcards over the White House fence in a symbolic yet very real attempt to bring the voice of the majority of Americans to the seat of power.

I was consoled by being able to hear an excellent update on NATO-focused organizing in Europe on a conference call yesterday of the UFPJ Afghanistan working group . Elsa Rassbach is an activist and journalist in Germany who reported on the recent counter-NATO Summit Conference in Lisbon Nov. 19-21, where she represented Codepink. She also told us about the Peace Yes, NATO No demonstration in Lisbon Nov. 20, with approximately 30,000 marching "including more than 100 organizations such as trade unions, retirees, and academics."

One of the things she said last night on the call stayed with me: "If you look at a map, NATO is where the white people live. NATO is made up of what were the colonizing nations."

As NATO continues to arm itself for global domination, the regional designation of North Atlantic will probably be lost to history; later generations (if there are such) will remember it as the military arm of the multinational corporations that grew like cancer under state-subsidized capitalism.

Germany's participation in the occupation of Afghanistan has grown increasingly unpopular with its own people, and the role of Bundeswehr officer George Klein in calling down an airstrike that killed 142 people in Kunduz continues to be a cause célèbre in Germany. Elsa noted news that mandatory national service in the military or an alternative has just been abolished, replaced by a U.S. style system of "volunteer" soldiers. Germany's Bundeswehr
"recently began a rather massive and costly U.S.-style recruitment effort in the schools and job centers as well as via advertising. The German peace movement is countering an
anti-recruitment campaign, with participation of teacher unions, called "School Holiday for the Bundeswehr" that  opposes access of the military recruiters to the schools."
 Sound familiar?

This news made me think of our friend Arne who helped found our local Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice group and was a German father of young children. Occasionally on local access t.v. you will still see him in a discussion about militarization of public schools in Maine, holding aloft a copy of Time for Kids with a cover glorifying combat troops, saying his son had received this material from his third grade teacher in Waterville. Arne and his wife decided to move back to Germany, because he said Germans would never dream of allowing military recruiters to use public school space and time.

I wonder how they will choose to educate their children now.

I wish my teachers' union here in the U.S. was willing to stand up for the right of students not to be preyed on by NATO in the lunchroom.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Spanner in the works

Sometimes you look back at those big, old, dumb empires lumbering around embarrassing themselves, kind of like the decrepit old Elvis -- Ottoman mobs smashing an observatory newly built, French royals fleeing as mobs tore apart the Bastille prison, Charles and Camilla sitting shocked in their Rolls Royce as university students in London holler about the 300% hike in tuition that the Liberals voted in after promising during elections not to do so -- and you wonder. How could the imperial heads of state not see the writing on the wall? (You can add your name to the wall here.)

Propaganda and public education are twin subjects of this great Truthout article exploring how we got into the mess we're in today.

Thomas Jefferson, slave owner, had this mission statement for free public education K-grad in Virginia:
1. To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business.
2. To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts in writing.
3. To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties.
4. To understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either.
5. To know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor and judgment.
6. And, in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness, all the social relations under which he shall be placed.


Status check, U.S. seat of empire, 2010CE. How are we doing?
Time running out for the rule of the kleptocracies?

In breaking news I see that the U.S. Army has banned the use of thumb drives (or nerd sticks as the kids sometimes call them), USB drives, and writeable CD's on computers. This is a strike against freedom of information, and the best kind of news a counter recruitment worker like me could wish for. Once potential enlistees get wind of the fact that they can't download music and lip synch to Lady Gaga while they toil in the imperial cyber-mines, maybe they will think again about not signing eight years of their life and possible all of their sanity away for the money to buy a new pickup truck or Harley.

Then again, since that news is buried in an obscure technology publication, and news that the House of Representatives just voted 212-206 to pass the FY11 Defense (sic) Appropriations Bill is not so much as mentioned in newspapers of record, much less on the front page...methinks we will continue in ignorance.

Maine's Rep. Chellie Pingree voted yes to spend many more billions for wars. She may not think people are watching. But some of us are. Let's hope an angry mob doesn't surround the private jet she and her boyfriend ride in. If I stumbled on to that kind of opportunity, I would not break any windows or throw any paint. I certainly would not chant "Off with their heads" like the English students did. 

I would urge everybody to link arms and just sit down and stay there. Nonviolent methods are the most effective way to throw a spanner in the works. 

Look for the kickoff to the new season on December 16 at the White House.
art credit: Brian Reeves, Slopart

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

questions

Am I the only one to think it's sad how sex has come to be just another commodity, used to tweet impressively about, or to honeytrap someone? After Bill got honeytrapped in the Oval Office you'd think men would be on the lookout for this. Assange is just doing what any other rock star does, enjoying the groupies. Who among us would resist this?
The Monica Lewinsky's of history aren't that hard to spot, are they? Apparently they are, and in the modern shame culture having your dirty linen aired is obligatory somehow. So Julian isn't overly careful who he sleeps with, but WikiLeaks is careful what it releases after vetting and redacting and verifying.

Which is more important to do carefully?

Once, little children knew about semen stains on a woman's skirt, and that was what passed for news during the Clinton administration. While the School of the Americas trained torturers, and bombs dropped here and there on civilians, and people were given malaria drugs that made them go mad. Or maybe that last one is a more recent horror?

Instead of being horrified at the actual sordid contents of the cables, the government only squawks like an scalded hen at the people sharing the strange, faceted chunks of reported truth. And then the corporations quickly shut down WikiLeaks, who are basically journalists, as if they were criminals. Amazon,  PayPal, Visa, Mastercard -- they all fell in line and canceled WikiLeak's accounts. Even though the New York Times can report on the leaks without being shut down.

I read a comment where somebody said, So Visa now decides what I can spend my money on?

The revealed fact that EU membership means anyone another nation in the EU wants, you extradite without question seems important -- or do you? Is that the point of the EU?

At least one silver lining is that U.S. kids are hearing about European laws for a change.

Meanwhile, the empire crumbles. Where will it end?

Good night, Bradley Manning.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Does information want to be free?

Bradley Manning is a like an actor up on a stage -- remotely far above the rest of us. In solitary maybe (but I sure hope not). For 194 days. Bradley has become iconic, immobilized in the spotlight.

Meanwhile Julian Assange darts around the globe just out of reach, having his accounts slam closed behind him. Being accused of rape, allegedly for not using a condom (?!).

But besides the theater, an interesting question hinges on whether the world is a better place or a worse place since WikiLeaks started publishing State Dept. facts.

Here are some that caught my attention in a NYT article today. "Well it's 1-2-3 what are we fighting for?"

The list includes “the world’s largest integrated chemical complex” in Ludwigshafen, Germany; the Nadym gas pipeline junction in Russia, which is described as “the most critical gas facility in the world”; and the Abqaiq Processing Center in Saudi Arabia, which is called the “largest crude oil processing and stabilization plant in the world.”
The article pointed out you could easily look up most of the places on the list, and several are so large they are visible from the air.

I wonder: How much security has been breached by publishing the list? Is the tradeoff with the people's right to know worth it?

Have U.S. diplomatic relations been irreparably harmed by the revelations?

Nowadays we have corporate journalism but only rarely true investigative journalism in commercial publications. The Leaks thus fill a role of providing evidence of facts on the ground, at least facts as presented by employees of the U.S. State dept. to their superiors.  One of the most important things that comes to light is the extreme lack of accountability in how funds paid for by borrowing are spent.  Waste has the meter spinning wildly on the Cost of War website. Occupation of other countries is damned expensive. Occupying Afghanistan costs three times as much as did Iraq, economists opine.

Some truth, Bradley, was in order. Thanks for throwing yourself on the grenade to get us some of it. And Happy Birthday.
Click here to support Bradley Manning

Click here to send holiday cards!



Sunday, December 5, 2010

How to keep going

Ground the drones activists in the Nevada desert near Creech AFB  take a break from protesting to pet some horses.

This picture is the kind of thing I think about when people (often) ask: "How can you keep going with the peace work? Don't you get tired? Don't you get discouraged?" This is when I think, But I meet and get to work with such interesting people all the time! I feel discouraged at shopping malls, not at peace actions.

Yesterday was like that; a bunch of us stood vigil in front of Bath Iron Works, where General Dynamics pays workers to put Depleted Uranium weapons on warships at your expense. Strong youth presence, great energy, a good turnout, and the CEO saw us as he came out of their administration building (a BIW worker standing with us tipped us off to that). Thanks to Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm for their organizing and their flyer:
"Although we inflict war on countries thousands of miles away, we live in a fantasy in which we don't see or feel the war is raging. But it is raging and children are dying, and this is our responsibility." 
The vigil will continue each Saturday 11:30-12:30 through the season of Advent.

After the vigil a group got together at Addams-Melman House to think about where the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign is headed, at least in Maine. We had some old hands and some new ones that want to bring the campaign to their local communities. Good discussions about effective communications and timing; Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be the one year anniversary of the launch of BOW$H in Maine. Possible actions: more community forums, perhaps with a women's focus in March; more art and image making; more presence in the Halls of Flags at the State House; flight of the green angels; and a possible "instant consensus" tool for examining political lying. Detailed notes will go out to our lists soon via email, and thanks to Sally for that effort.

With a new governor coming into office in Maine who claims he is going to balance the budget, Bruce urged us to communicate with him via the online tool created to gather input from citizens. Leaders who say they are going to balance a state or town budget without addressing the billions of (borrowed) $$$ wasted on wars are just lying, because it won't be possible.

You can't say half of the federal budget is off the table without impoverishing the programs scrambling for the remaining funds, and let's not pretend otherwise.

One Virginia class submarine = the money saved by freezing all federal government workers' pay. Oops, I meant, all federal government workers except the military.

Speaking of pretending, let's not pretend that Amazon.com kicking WikiLeaks off their server is anything less than caving to pressure from the feds. Kind of like you see the King of Spain doing here in the photo accompanying an excellent article in Mother Jones about the inner workings of pressure to protect U.S. war criminals from prosecution anywhere in the empire upon which the sun never sets.
Francis Ford Coppola could have directed this photo op.
Daniel Ellsberg urges us to follow his lead in boycotting Amazon.com (which will hurt me more than it hurts them, for sure) and letting them know why. The farce of vilifying truth tellers like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, while protecting mass murderers from their day in court, continues.

Here's one last photo from the Nevada desert. Where do I get one of these banners??? Dear Santa....

Friday, December 3, 2010

War wasting funds, lives, environment

Draw-a-Thon II interview with Kenny Cole, artist whose drone show "The Hellfire Story" at SPACE Gallery in Portland hosted the 'Thon. Here he talks about preaching beyond the choir.

Here in Maine we are preparing for an organizing meeting to check in about what the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign has been up to lately, and to make our plans for the future. The recent Maine Peace Walk with Veterans for Peace and Buddhist monks and nuns in the lead got press throughout the state (links here, here, here and here!) and helped spread the cost of war message far and wide before ending at the Draw-a-Thon on Veterans Day.

Revelations are coming thick and fast from WikiLeaks' trove of U.S. diplomatic cables; it will be impossible to digest all the information in time for tomorrow. So many wasted funds could provide a useful focus: Karzai administration corruption, "aid" to the empire's many client states, and taxpayer funded State Dept. providing intel for private corporation Blackwater (name hidden, unlike your private parts if you decide to fly home for the holidays).

Activist Tom Sturtevant had a great idea recently about focusing on the Blue Angels' colossal waste of fuel, funds, and immense carbon footprint. How are we still affording stuff like this? Let the unemployed eat jet fuel! We will discuss this at the meeting also.

Before the meeting many of us will stand with the annual weekly advent vigil at Bath Iron Works. BIW is the largest employer in the state and one place where it is believed workers put depleted uranium weapons on Aegis destroyers. Is this any way to make a living?

This Sunday evening there is a good informational program on D.U. that Codepink organizer Beth Adams has put together with help from her friends. That event is Dec 5 in Portland, Maine 7:15-9:15pm at Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Church, 80 Sherman St., Portland, ME. 

fmi (413)-522-7505
A Community Discussion and Action Ideas will follow. Identical programs will be presented in Hartford on December 4th and Portland, Maine on December 5th. The program is jointly sponsored by: The American Friends Service Committee of Western Massachusetts, Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, The Alliance for Peace and Justice, Western Massachusetts Code Pink and the Nuclear –free Future Coalition of Western Massachusetts, and more!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"souls who you are unwilling to 'count' and we are unwilling to lose"


Open letter from Afghan Youth to our World Leaders

Dear Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton, Mr Petraeus, Mr Rasmussen, and all our world leaders,

We are Afghans and we ask the world to listen.

Like yourselves, we couldn‟t live without the love of our family and friends.

We were hurt by your criticism of Mr Karzai for voicing the people‟s anguished pleas, “Stop your
night raids.”

Please, stop your night raids.

If you could listen, you would have heard 29 NGOs in Afghanistan describe how we now have
“Nowhere to Turn”.
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/conflict_disasters/nowhere-to-turn-afghanistan.html

If you could listen, you would also have heard Mr Karzai and the 29 NGOs express concern over your
Afghan Local Police plan; the world will henceforth watch our militia killing the people, your people
and our people, with your weapons and your money.

If you could listen, you would have heard the sound of your drones crystallizing the nights of hatred
among the Afghan, Pakistani and global masses.

Instead, we hear your determination to „awe, shock and firepower‟ us with Abrams tanks. We hear
distant excitement over your new smart XM25 toy, a weapon you proudly proclaim will leave us with
„nowhere to hide‟.

Nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide.

Your actions have unfortunately dimmed our hopes that we the people could turn to you. Along with
our Afghan war-makers, you are making the people cry.

Yet, we understand. You are in the same trap we‟re in, in a corrupt, militarized mania.

Love is how we‟re asking for peace, a love that listens, and reconciles.

And so, we invite you to listen to the people of Afghanistan and to world public opinion on the Global
Day of Listening to Afghans, to be internet-broadcast from Kabul this December.

It is time to listen broadly and deeply to both local and overseas Afghan civil groups and the numerous
alternative solutions they have proposed for building a better socio-political, economic and
religious/ideological future for Afghanistan.

We have shared the pain of our American friends who lost loved ones on September 11, by speaking
with and listening to them.

Though, if the world could listen like these American friends did, the world would know that few
Afghans have even heard about September 11 and that no Afghans were among the 19 hijackers. The
world would have heard our yearnings as we were punished over the past 9 years.

If the world could listen, they would know how much we detest the violence of the Taliban, our
warlords, any warlord, or any bullet-digging finger-trophy troops.

And now, for at least another four more years, we will grieve over souls who you are unwilling to
„count‟ and we are unwilling to lose.

It is extra painful to us and to your troops because clearly, there are non-violent and just alternatives.

We understand the pain of financial hardships but try telling an Afghan mother about to lose her child
or a soldier about to take his life that the only way their illiterate and angry voices can ruffle the posh

feathers of our world leaders is when it disturbs not their human or truth deficit, but their trillion dollar
economic deficits. How do we explain that without denuding ourselves of human love and dignity?

What more can we say?

How else can we and our loved ones survive?

How can we survive with hearts panicking in disappointment while perpetually fleeing and facing
a ‟total‟ global war, a war that wouldn‟t be questioned even in the crude face of a thousand leaks?

We would survive in poverty, we may survive in hunger, but how can we survive without the hope that
Man is capable of something better?

We sincerely wish you the best in your lives.

We are Afghans and we ask the world to listen.

!‫سالمت باشین‬

Salamat bAsheen!
Be at peace!

Meekly with respect,
The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fresh priorities


Great action by high school students from an Upward Bound team in Holyoke, Mass. making this video that says it all: $1 trillion wasted on war has left many children living in poverty and many schools under funded. Health care and jobs are other needs going unmet.

Pat Taub and I made an office visit to Sen. Olympia Snowe's staffer Brian Whitney in Augusta this week. Pat explained how women are not experiencing improved living conditions or rights under the ten year NATO occupation, and how Afghanistan is the worse place in the world to be born according to the UN. I explained how the Bring Our War $$ Campaign works in Maine at the local level, and how it is spreading nationally. Rep. Chellie Pingree and Rep. Mike Michaud both have refused to vote for war supplemental funding bills, and both were just re-elected.  Mainers heading into the next state and local budget crunch know where 54% of federal spending is going. Does Sen. Snowe?

ACTION TO TAKE RIGHT NOW:
Click on the link to the text of a great online petition from Military Families Speak Out. Sign it and share it with your friends.

Petition to Obama & Congress: Bring Our Troops And Our Tax Dollars Home!

Online petition to President Obama and Congress – These Wars Are Costing Us Too Much!

Over the next several months we want to gather tens of thousands of signatures on the petition, which will also spread the word about the campaign and build participation.
(Text of the petition is below -- click here to sign).
 Dear President Obama and Members of Congress:

As of November 2010, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have lead to:
• the deaths of over 5,787 American service members
• the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghani and Iraqi civilians
• over 2,000 suicides of American veterans
• over 40,000 injuries to American service members

In financial costs:
• It costs $1 million to keep one soldier on the ground in Afghanistan for one year.
• The operational costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already surpassed $1 trillion.
• The total projected costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is $4 trillion, including an estimated $1 trillion to provide care for returning veterans.

These wars are not making us safer. They are betraying the values that lead many of our young men and women to volunteer for their country and are ransoming the futures of this generation and the next. These funds should be used to take care of the troops when they come home, rebuild our economy, and protect our communities.

Enough is enough! Bring our troops and our tax dollars home NOW! 

If you haven't already done so, you can sign the CODEPINK petition to Congress to BOW$H here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

thankfully



Thankful for art, and intelligent response to the brainwashing of a lifetime.

thankful for the collective wisdom of the people
photo: Roger Leisner

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Decider

bush true crime

Big decision today -- where to move the memoirs of a war criminal?

A man who once claimed "I am the decider" has had help writing a book defending his actions in office e.g. authorizing torture. Another head of state has called him a liar for his claim about support for the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The list of his crimes is really too long to chronicle here. A special prosecutor should be put on the job immediately.

But since the current faux decider works for the same bosses, it hasn't happened and it won't.

Maybe I'll also move The Audacity of Dangling False Hope around at Borders today while I'm there. Maybe to the horror section.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fiddling around on facebook?

photo: Brian Reeves
Slacktivists, couch potatoes, facebook fiddlers -- whatever they get called, it doesn't sound good. Another derisive term I really hate is sheeple.

Looking past the name calling, I see that people are called to action at different times and by different circumstances. When people are ready, they fall eagerly upon the tools at hand and get busy. Until then, there is always some idle amusement to while away the hours.

My CODEPINK friend Janet has been urging me to write up what I told her about why facebook has been such an effective tool for me as an organizer.

Janet and I are facebook friends, but like many of our middle aged cohort, we are disinclined to spend untold hours in front of a screen virtually interacting with others. We really like real time face to face contact with others, even perhaps believing a minimum amount is critical to our morale and mental health.

If your inbox is anything like mine, it's stuffed to the gills and I only ever open a small fraction of it. So people emailing me cool links sometimes get through, and then I know I miss a lot. Priorities and time pressure have a lot to do with which emails I open.

I only go on facebook when I have a bit of time. Besides using it to create events I can invite local friends to easily, I post status updates occasionally, especially as reminders of events about to happen. I like to set my News Feed to Most Recent instead of Top News, which is prioritized according to how many comments an item gets. On Most Recent I get a steady stream of what a wide ranging group of people think is worth reading or watching.

Items come and go, but a good item will have a long life due to a chain of sharing. If I miss it the first or second time, I could see it again as subsequent people share it. My facebook friends act as a filter that bring me news, often from publications I would not otherwise visit -- local newspapers, websites, foreign news sources, and so on. Sometimes I explore from that point if I see other links that look interesting. This has broadened my reading. Hooray!

Video as a medium has opened up for me largely as a result of facebook posts. Here's my current favorite. Why is disturbing economic news so hilarious when presented by robo-voiced characters speaking slightly fractured English? I don't know, I just enjoy it.


Another good part about sharing articles or videos is they are automatically put in a folder called Links. I went to Preferences to make it visible on my Profile. I can search through this folder when I'm looking for something I read or saw, but I can't find a way back to it by googling or otherwise searching. Links is a chron file of what I found interesting or significant. Kind of like how people like my grandparents would have kept newspaper clippings, but much more dynamic.

I hope you find your best tools and put them at your service, whether your chief concern is environmental justice, prison justice, human rights, or bringing our war $$ home.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Drawing a crowd

Images from Draw-a-Thon II at Space Gallery in Portland, ME on Veterans Day.

For a good look at the art created by 40+ artists, go to the Maine Drawathon flickr site here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day of ArT & activism

Maine Peace Walker & Northampton BOW$H organizer Beth Adams joined Codepink and artists of Draw-a-Thon II making signs to welcome the Peace Walk and Vets for Peace as they passed by in the parade.

Many streams converged on Veterans Day when Space Gallery hosted Draw-a-thon II to Bring Our War $$ Home. 30+ artists + Buddhist monks and nuns leading the Maine Peace Walk with drums and chanting + Pink women + Vets for Peace + general public age 2 to around 90 being artists or subjects + Kenny Cole's amazing show "The Hellfire Story."

 
The show features one drawing for each time a Predator Drone has delivered a Hellfire missile to Earth. These drawing hover overhead and throw long shadows, mounted as they are perpindicular to the walls. They are b&w and yellow. Red paintings of hell cover the white walls at floor level. (Kenny himself is a blue triangle in some photos. Nice job.)

The generosity of spirit on the part of participants started with Kenny and Space offering to host a Draw-a-Thon. Artists come from all over for these events.There were many young artists this time, which was good to see. Our friend and fine printmaker Tamar Etingen came from Cambridge for the day. Poet Martin Steingesser led the crowd in chanting as he recited a poem about what the CEO of General Dynamics does with all that money. Many people had their portraits done by artists who specialize in it. It was fun to watch the process and the reaction of those who posed. The artists worked hard all day. Here's an amazing wall of art to delight the eyeballs and help spread a BOW$H message.

The special presence of Veterans for Peace and Buddhist nuns and monks who had just completed a 130 mile walk through Maine was also a factor. We had greeted them from the sidewalk in front of Space Gallery as the annual Vet's Day parade passed by, and we were honored to feed them before many departed back to Massachusetts or New York. Lovely Vanessa is a new friend from the walkers who was interesting to talk with about education.

Many walk in families with young children joined the Draw-a-Thon. The age range went from 2 to about 90. Homeless youth joined in creating images of beauty and healthy priorities. People were fed. Minds were fed. The national priorities project website was consulted. What slice of pie is transportation anyway? (A depressing 3% for both fy10 and fy11.)

Breakfast and lunch were provided by Codepink Maine's hospitality wagon. Pat Taub is an amazing whirlwind on the Portland scene now and she had cleverly arranged with Local Sprouts eatery to deliver hot soup and trays of sandwiches made from local farm production.Well fed artists are productive artists!

Lora has her portrait made by Rob.

I had a portrait made wearing my pink hair by Paula Dougherty who in Feb. had made a beautiful drawing of a pregnant woman that I photographed. The flash of the photo landed in the center of the swollen belly as an orb of light. We both loved that coincidence.

That picture and others from both Draw-a-Thons are on display until Dec. 5 at the Meg Perry Center of Peace Action Maine, 644 Congress., Portland.
Cori, thank you for the beautiful garden picture.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Many hands make light work

Photo courtesy of Afghan Women's Writing Project. 
Lend your ears to their voices here.
I guess I get discouraged a lot faster than most people. (But maybe I get encouraged faster, too.) The rout of so-called progressives in the mid-term elections was in the cards from the moment candidate Obama went back to his seat in the Senate and voted yes on that year's war supplemental funding bill.

Sometimes it just takes a couple of years for those kind of chickens to come home to roost.

The sold out Democratic Party deserved to lose, and they did. So be it. Read 20th century history of Germany if you want to find out what happens next.

Meanwhile, let's keep joining hands in a circle with people who manifest the power of solidarity, and love for their fellow human beings. That means all fellow human beings, not just the ones with the correct understanding of what's going on. I don't like effigy burnings. 

Here's what I do like:
Peace walking  
Buddhists and veterans and college students and others are doing it in Maine this week. I do it on my local bridge every Sunday for an hour. It fits with my schedule and over time it has become one of the deepest experiences in my life. It also offers opportunities we did not anticipate. Try it and you might find strength in it, too.

Writing
A friend I grew up with and I have been collaborating on a novel for teens about a family with a veteran dad who has PTSD. We are just finishing our first draft and it has been a great learning experience. I've listened carefully to the stories of family members of soldiers who come home thus afflicted. It affects everyone in their family and, really, their community. Our friend Dr. Bob Hayes talked about this with us last Wednesday night in Waterville after a potluck supper for the Maine Peace Walk.
Another wonderful peace walker and news bringer on Wednesday night was Beth Adams, who brought a greeting from Northampton, Mass. where a BOW$H resolution was recently passed. A great public forum with lots of testimony from community members was an important part of their process. During our discussion Bruce Gagnon mentioned that a lot of our fellow citizens are looking around for explanations about why they and their loved ones are in economic distress. "Let's help them find the war spending answer." I said I know people working on the campaign in California, South Carolina, Pittsburgh, PA and New Mexico. And Maine organizer Gary Higginbottom went to NYC this weekend to share BOW$H news with a regional conference of United National Antiwar Conference folks.

Art!
The 2nd Draw-a-Thon to Bring Our War $$ Home will be happening this Thursday (11/11, Veterans or Armistice Day) 10am-4pm at Space Gallery in Portland, Maine. Artist Kenny Cole just unveiled his show on drones and the suffering they cause "The Hellfire Story" to huge crowds and will host the 'Thon there. A potluck lunch for the artists and any peace walkers who are still around will begin at noon, and your contributions are welcome if you are in the area.

Artist Corliss Chastain with her painting of gold coins showering down on student loan debt. Pat Taub and Mark Roman installed the show of images from our last Draw-a-Thon.

CODEPINK Maine put up a show of some of the images from last February's Draw-a-Thon in Bath. The exhibit at the Meg Perry Center of Peace Action Maine in Portland will stay up all month, and it is mirrored by a smaller display in the front window of Local Sprouts, a healthy foods eatery across Congress Street.

The prominent national group Veterans for Peace was not invited to participate in the annual Veterans Day parade to Portland City Hall. Last year they carried a banner calling on the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan, angering some organizers of the parade. We shall see how they participate this Thursday before joining us at Space Gallery.

Artist Rob Shetterly will be on hand along with others offering portraits of veterans and peace lovers. Artists Natasha Mayers and Brian Reeves have contributed a lot of energy to this event already. You can see a full list of participating artists here on Kenny's Draw-a-Thon blog.
Last year's Draw-a-thon in Bath: artists at work!
The Union of Maine Visual Artists along with Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and CODEPINK Maine are co-sponsoring.

Join us, because many hands make light work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

130 miles for peace in Maine

Peace Walkers join hands, cast long shadows as they set out from Univ. of Maine Farmington.
Great article on their effort here in local newspaper, the Daily Bulldog.