Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bring Our War $$ Home from Bagram, too

Following a nation-wide conference call to ground the drones, Codepink's Nancy Mancias shared notes. A peace delegation that has just returned from visiting Afghanistan, and meeting with the wonderful Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, had this report from their survey of the giant U.S. base that houses Guantanamo East: The delegation held a silent vigil outside the gates of Bagram. They looked at the machines and said that's our money, that's our education money raining destruction on Afghanistan and the people. 

Malalai Joya is touring the U.S. right now and the Guardian published her must-read piece responding to the horrific photos in Rolling Stone of grotesque mutilation of people in Afghanistan, attacked by some un-brave troops. To whom shall I apologize on behalf on my nation? May their souls rest in peace.

A student shared this song by the performer Pink, "Dear Mr. President." The artist is talking to Bush Jr., but she could just as well be talking to the warmonger Obama. Substitute photos of people ill from the BP oil spill for the floating corpses of Katrina, and you'd be all set to rack up big profits at the expense of the health, wealth and welfare of we, the people.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dungeons & Dumb-dumbs

Dirty Tricks Department: Maine's (doubly) historic labor mural was removed over the weekend. The price tag for much maligned state workers to do so is undisclosed. Where the mural will end up, nobody knows. The City of Portland is backing away from enabling the sneaky removal, and may not offer it a home in City Hall after all.

The same week Gov. LePage announced he would remove the mural from a lobby in the Dept. of Labor because it is one-sided, he also announced that he would tax the rich in Maine, but he can't find any.

He said this once in class (see John Harlow's video here), and then repeated it for a newspaper reporter covering his appearance at University of Maine's Farmington campus.

Meanwhile the history buffs among us watch censorship rear its ugly head right out in the open. In the corptocracy, it usually works invisibly by shutting out much that is possible. The closing down, boarding up, tearing down style reminds us more of earlier eras of governments that worked on behalf of business, not for the people. Governments that controlled a restive underclass by whipping up hatred for scapegoats. As we now see in the many actions including preemptive prosecution against Muslims simply for being Muslim.

They and Bradley Manning are held incommunicado for immense stretches of time in a young human life, without being suspected or accused of any violent crime. They are in jail for what they believe, and because they are in one of two special prisons called Communication Management Units (article here about CMUs on Democracy Now!), there are twelve year-olds haven't spoken to their father in four years. Special prisons for ideological crimes looked too racist, so the prisons now receive environmental activists and animal rights activists to balance out the demographic of thought criminals.

Meanwhile, Governor LePage has special prisons in mind for Maine's indigent and homeless: “If it were up to me, I’d find a dungeon very cheaply and house them all.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Rah Rah Wars

Beautiful sad song and strong photographs, especially of children of war. Iraq, a war so old that early video of Medea getting dragged out of congressional hearing looks a bit dated. And one feels nostalgic for the turnout just before Shock and Awe shocked all into realizing that multitudes could struggle and the unpopular war would start anyway.

Other wars start with vibrant cheering from lots of quarters -- the first gulf war, say, or this one against Libya. These are generally presented as "short" wars; get in, and get out. And there is always some ex-son of a bitch of ours cruelly using his own people, using weapons we sold him. So it's the good old U.S. of A. to the rescue of the people.

Cool names help make rah rah wars: Operation Desert Storm. And a lot of ordnance has to be discharged in a swift, costly fashion right from the get go. Forty-five missiles tipped with depleted uranium warheads hit Libya, just like that. Operation Unified Protector!

In the interests of the civilians there, of course.

Because the wonderful U.S. which is the leader at so many things is also the leader at protecting the safety and security of civilians. Unless they happen to be standing in the path of some energy transport routes or something inconvenient like that.

Others seem be turning away from yet a third war, turning up on the bridge, calling up and donating to help support the struggle, turning away from the insanity of endless war against a nameless enemy who can never be defeated. Everywhere you look these days, folks want to bring our war dollars home.
...Helen Gearhart, an Iraq vet, speaks about her experience before being taken behind the police line at Quantico. Part of a great set by Ellen Rachel Davidson here. Bradley Manning, 303 days.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Maine Hogwash

This isn't the first time a mural about the people who work has caused trouble. Rockefeller Center tore down the mural that Diego Rivera and others had created in NYC in 1933 because the artist declined to obliterate Lenin's face. Ben Shahn organized the artists to oppose this. I wonder what he would say about the plan to remove the murals from the Labor Dept.

Maine's beautiful Dept of Labor mural by artist Judy Taylor was on the Daily Show, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, in the NYT and the Christian Science Monitor  even before today's rallies (there were two). An educational news conference in front of the mural by the Union of Maine Visual Artists and other artists and art supporters was held at the Dept. of Labor today at noon, while a slew of msm and indy media outlets carried stories about the murals.

Of interest also: there may be a state law saying that the governor doesn't have responsibility for the works of art on display in Maine public buildings. Instead, the State Museum does. I wonder if that's true.

Meanwhile, the whole hogwash continued to flow.

Maine's governor stated not just once but twice yesterday that he would tax the rich -- if only he could find any.
Bangor Daily News coverage here. Several online comments suggested he start looking in Bar Harbor -- where the Obama family went on vacation last summer.

Then there were posts like this one: “I cannot imagine being a company working with the Department of Labor to solve a labor relations issue and being called to a meeting in the Cesar Chavez” room."

Kind of like how people of color feel when they're in a public building and all the portraits are white?

This reminds me of a favorite quote from Cesar Chavez. Asked how he organized he said, first I talk to a person, and then I talk to another person. The questioner said, I know, but how do you organize people. And Chavez said, I told you.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

LePage aka whole hog at U Maine

The former mayor of Waterville, now Maine's Tea Party governor, spoke to Rep. Tom Saviello's class at UMaine Farmington tonight following the Support for Educators rally organized by students. Some from the rally audited the class, hearing the same old tired talking points rehashed for a fresh faced audience asking hard questions e.g. my dad worked for the state for 25 years and now he is getting screwed on his pension; my parents are getting taxed on their pension and consequently want to move to New Hampshire; if your pension raids cause workers to postpone retiring, where are the jobs going to come from for the recent graduates?

Suddenly the auditorium went dark. The light switch had been temporarily commandeered by pixies.

Instructor angrily admonishes audience that this class is for his students only, and they will be the only ones asking questions.

After being told by whole hog that the "only" path forward was to gut pension fund and increase the estate tax (oops, I think he meant increase the exemption for the estate tax -- from its present level of $1 million to $2 million)  a heckler burst out:

"Tax the rich."

Whole Hog: "I would love to tax the rich, if we had any in Maine." (Crowd laughs)

Heckler: "So it's people from out of state who put you in office, sir? It's rich people from out of state who funded your campaign then, and put you in office -- is that what you're saying? Not Mainers?"

Campus police who have mistakenly let hecklers enter now move forward to eject them. Governor's aides scrambling also.

Heckler: "I'll go. That's the solution. Bring our war $$ home. And tax the rich!"

Campus police were unable to ascertain the identity of the light switch pixies or the hecklers, and unable to follow them to their cars.
Mural of Maine labor history (detail).

Tomorrow, noon in Augusta: rally to save Maine's history of labor murals. Rachel Maddow covering the mural flap! Apparently she terms whole hog the most ultra conservative governor in the country.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The empire is naked. Bradley shouldn't be.

Thirty-four people were arrested on Sunday, March 20 after a groups of vets were refused the right to lay flowers on a memorial that is usually open to the public, located just outside the Quantico gates. The vets approaching the memorial solemnly were told they could throw the flowers through the fence but not approach the memorial itself. A sit down protest ensued, as did the use of excessive force .  This video shows Quantico riot policemen hurting Ann Wright, possibly because she was the first to sit down in protest. For shame.

This video captures the exuberant, slightly edgy mood earlier in the day at Quantico.

See the Iwo Jima memorial in the background? Many will tell you the men depicted were fighting to protect our freedoms.
The empire is naked. Bradley shouldn't be.

Protect the whistleblowers. Protect the truth. Free Bradley Manning!

At Quantico

Several hundred people gathered at Quantico Marine Base where Bradley Manning was in his 297th day of imprisonment. Visitors report that Brad says he is kept in solitary confinement all but one hour a day, and that guards wake him several times each night. Recently we heard that he was forced to strip and to sleep naked, or in a tunic like the one below, which he refused because it was so stiff and uncomfortable. He's already without pillow or sheets. Further, he is required to rise at 5am and stand outside his cell, still naked, during morning inspection.

If you have ever studied fascist regimes, then conditions of arbitrarily cruel and unusual treatments that seem to have no purpose other than psy-ops may sound familiar. (Right now I'm in an airport cafeteria with regular announcements from Homeland Security that our threat level is at orange today. 'Nuff said.)

Bradley is reported to have told a visitor that he believes the nakedness was added to his torture regime  after a demonstration of support outside Quantico. I was a little concerned that another demonstration would just makes things worse for the hero who leaked the “Collateral Murder” video, but Medea had assured me that people who were in touch with Bradley's people knew he wanted Codepink and the rest to be there.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of Bradley in detention. He's a symbol of so many of the things that are terribly wrong with our nation: the shredding of the Constitution, the blatant hypocrisy of the former professor of constitutional law in the White House, the fierce attacks on people whose alleged crimes are bringing the people authentic information. Couple this with the refusal to prosecute even a single one of the war criminals who lie us into wars against Iraq, Afghanistan – and now Libya – and it's clear that, in our country at least, it's much safer to be a warmonger than a whistleblower.

As I headed to Washington DC this weekend I donned my Free Bradley Manning t-shirt, and, when I stopped along the way to see my son, he showed up wearing his Free Bradley shirt, too. Cool.

It was an emotional rally, probably because of our awareness of the prisoner, isolated, so close and yet so far. We were in Prince William County, Virginia, and news that the police presence there would be aggressive understated the case. We were faced by about 60 police and military personnel including mounted police, riot police with shields and helmets, police with German shepherds, police with their faces covered holding assault rifles, regular police, and undercover police  – who were fairly obvious.

The event was well organized by Courage to Resist and Veterans for Peace, and after a rally we marched down to a spot within sight of the Iwo Jima memorial outside the Quantico gates. A number of people were planning to risk arrest by crossing the road with flowers to lay at the memorial. Halfway across they sat down in the road – which the police had closed after several hours of letting motorists drive by and see our messages –  and the rest of us gathered around chanting “Stop torture now” and “Free Bradley Manning.” There was a lot of energy in the chanting and we kept it up for more than an hour.

Alternative press were out in droves, photographing and interviewing a diverse crowd of oldsters, youngsters, and agents provocateur. I got my picture taken quite a few times after I stripped off my outer layer of clothing and stood in pale pink top and tights with tighty whitey style briefs over them. I held a sign with a large pink whistle and the slogan “Protect the truth” for a while, but eventually helped hold up faux prison bars and a large banner about protecting the whistleblowers.

At one point the riot police advanced with their shields forward and began pushing the crowd backwards, ramming the bars we were holding. There didn't seem to be any real purpose to their pushing us back since they had shut down the streets long since. Later, someone told me that people had been putting Free Bradley Manning stickers on their shields. So maybe they were pissed off about that. Some of the protesters were angry, too.

Two different people told me they saw police pick off a young woman from the very edge of the seated  crowd, four on one, and whisk her away before anyone could react. On the whole it had the feeling of a charged standoff with the crowd chanting and roaring energetically, and the cops fidgeting, videotaping, and glaring. Need I report the helicopter hovering overhead?

The police and military tactic of instilling fear through intimidation was no good. Larry, who has been at several of the demonstrations, said today's was by far the biggest (we guessed around 300 people) and most enthusiastic. Eventually, though, the buses came, and those of us with other places to get to boarded them with regret. I glanced back at the clump of maybe 100 people still in the street. “I'm sorry to be leaving them,” I said. Other people agreed.

I comforted myself with two thoughts. First, I knew that support had been organized, and I had just experienced it myself the day before. Secondly, many vets who were seated on the tarmac were also vets of civil disobedience arrests. Ann Wright, my shero, was among them. I brought a smile to her face with my silly fake nude outfit. And for that, I am thankful.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Arrested at the White House Fence

Women's a capella group Songrise performs at CODEPINK 's Women Say No to War Rally
Yesterday's Washington DC actions came on the occasion of 8 years of shock and awe in Iraq, but the dual focus of the day's events were the costs of militarism and support for Private Bradley Manning. Codepink (more photos here) held the first rally of the day in Lafayette Park with this terrific a capella group Songrise. These young women made everyone's spirits rise! We also heard from women working on housing, human rights, and the healing of our distressed planet.

Vets for Peace organized the next rally and we heard from Daniel Ellsberg, the Bradley Manning of his generation. Also Codepink co-founder Medea Benjamin, who had the crowd of about 1,500 shouting "Bring our War Dollars Home" in a call and response where BOW$H was the answer to a host of problems on the home front. We were proud to carry the Maine banner in the march afterwards, and to see the hundreds of pink BOW$H stickers made for the occasion.

Next order of the day: risk arrest at the White House. About 130 people remained inside the security barrier erected by SWAT team (?!) while hundreds more remained in Lafayette Park cheering us on. Mark and I met at a candlelight vigil protesting the impending attack on Iraq 8 years ago, and we celebrated this anniversary by getting arrested together. Here I am with the Pink goddess of activist hospitality, Joan Stallard, holding the banner we left impaled on the White House fence when they took us away.

Someone in the crowd claimed they saw Obama looking out the window of his home. But of course that was silly; the president was actually in Brazil at the time (see Axis of Logic article here: Obama trip aimed at salvaging US interests in Latin America). Somebody else said, "Maybe it was Michelle." This reminded me how I often wonder what the Obama daughters think about their government's foreign policies of bombing civilians around the globe while they attend the Friends school and learn about the force more powerful.

In the evening we were at a meeting on the cost of militarism that is organizing toward April 12 as Global Day of Action Against Militarism. Then we came home and had the best soup ever while planning for tomorrow. Whether or not to risk arrest at Quantico where Bradley Manning is now in his 297th day of detention? Virginia is not the District of Columbia, and word is you could be held for 48 hours if arrested. Time to put on the pink and get over the Union Station to catch the bus soon. More later...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Update from Fukushima

☆☆☆★ real news via Hisae Ogawa / Codepink Osaka JAPAN ★☆☆★★
Upon Ms. Goto's request, I am sending you hereby her report on the current situation in Fukushima City where she lives.  She would very much like to give the rest of the world the report on the situation she has been experiencing...

I was an administrator of the Center for the Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley that hosted her as a visiting scholar, and currently living in Tokyo. Please let people know of the hardship she and the citizens in Fukushima have been facing.
Thank you very much for your assistance.
Best regards,
Keiko Hasegawa Hjersman
Nobuyo Goto lives in Fukushima City.  The earthquake in Fukushima was magnitude over 6.0.  Goto lives in the part of Fukushima City 43 miles (70 kilometers) away from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Today, as of March 17, 2011, the current  evacuation warning has been sent to the surrounding homes within 18.75 miles (30 km), the evacuation order within 12.5 miles (20km ).

The Japanese Government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) have not disclosed accurate information and data, which has made inhabitants increasingly anxious and upset.

The water outage still continues in Fukushima City.  It makes it sound hollow for the residents to hear experts in Tokyo tells people to wash radiation off with water.

Former Governor of Fukushima Prefecture was opposed to Fukushima plutonium-thermal project.  But the Governor had to resign later, since the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors indicted him for a corruption charge. The current Governor approved the Pluthermal project that allows the use of the depleted nuclear fuel.  Unit 3 of the Fukushima plant uses the pluthermal.  Yesterday, the Unit 3 caught fire.  The complete cooling of pluthermal is said to take three years.

The citizens have been afraid of invisible radiation.  Some residents have already voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima City.  However, the majority of residents have been unable to evacuate due to the blockage of general vehicles on the highway, and interrupted Tohoku Shinkansen and local Lines. Even the people who own cars cannot escape due to the gasoline shortage. Goto was visiting the USA as a visiting scholar when the Hurricane Katerina hit in 2005, and the present status of Fukushima City indeed reminds her of the incident.

The residents in Fukushima have been encountering the growing food shortage, and there is a long line of people want of food.  In addition to the fear of the radioactivity, they have to face the fear of starvation.  The distribution of supplies has slightly improved, but the quantity has been definitely too small.

In spite of the above situations with the devastation from the Earthquake, frequent and strong aftershocks, the destruction of lifelines, and the nuclear power danger, the citizens in local communities have been enduring helping and encouraging each other.  They show their resilience standing in neat lines for supplies without stealing or robbing each other.

Report by Nobuyo Goto/Translated by Keiko Hjersman

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Terrible things to share

Interview with the astonishingly well-informed pediatrician Dr. Helen Caldicott of Australia, on the real nuclear threat right now, and for a long, long time to come.
Message about how to help. Source: 日本 Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo) via Codepink co-found Gael Murphy.
Dear friends,
Thank you very much for your warm messages and support to us. Your
messages are of great encouragement to us and all victims of the
disaster. We have translated your messages into Japanese and passed
them on to the victims and all Japanese people.

The damage caused by earthquakes and subsequent tsunami is so
horrible. All buildings were swept away. Thousands of bodies are
found every day. The number of those dead and are missing is expected
to be more than 11,500. The evacuees have increased more than
450,000. They are forced to stay at shelters with not enough food,
water, cloths, oil for heaters and gas for cars, etc.

In addition to that, the frightening accident of Fukushima power
plants is threatening the safety of people and their uneasiness is growing.

The municipalities and citizens of the damage struck areas have so
far given strong support to our signature campaigns for abolition of
nuclear weapons, our peace marches and the World Conference against A
and H Bombs. We have to help them when they are suffering.

Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo) set up an account and
called on Japanese people to donate to help the victimized people and areas.

Postal Money Order
Account No.: 00110-9-1780
Account Name: Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)

If you wish to donate or send support to the victims, we can accept
your donation at the above account. We will transfer your donation
to the victims or/and we will send necessary goods and services to
the victimized people and areas.

Thank you in advance for your support and cooperation. If there is
any questions/requests, please do not hesitate to ask us.


(Ms.)Yayoi Tsuchida
Assistant Secretary General
Japan Council against A & H Bombs (GENSUIKYO)
2-4-4 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8464 JAPAN
phone: +81-3-5842-6034
fax: +81-3-5842-6033

How is bowing in apology after you helped General Electric get rich at the expense of the Earth going to help?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

for 日本 with ♥♥

Children in Fukushima are scanned for radioactivity. Could someone remind me what standard of living we consider "worth it" even at the risk of creating these kind of memories for preschoolers?  Reuters photo via Al Jazeera
From Hisae Ogawa of Codepink JAPAN comes news of peril and survival, and relief efforts  getting underway. Even in the midst of the natural disaster compounded by radioactive contamination of Japan's people, Hisae-san was undeterred from her efforts to resist U.S. military bases in her native land. She wasn't too busy to share the text of this lecture by Kevin Maher, the ex-U.S. Consul General in Okinawa, given at American University last December. It is so full of fabulations and Orwellian talk that I was inspired to annotate it as I read. My comments, in bold, are dedicated to Hisae-san and all the brave protesters. May they be held safe from further depredations.

"U.S. Military Bases and Their Impacts in Okinawa, Japan"

-The controversial bases in Okinawa were originally in the middle of rice fields, but are now in the middle of towns because Okinawans allowed urbanization and population growth to surround United States facilities. Who do they think they are, using their own land as they see fit? Uppity natives.

-The US bases in Okinawa exist for regional security. for NATO. The Japanese obligation under the US-Japan security treaty is to provide land for bases. Because we say so. The relationship between Japan and the US under the security treaty is asymmetric and benefits the Japanese to the detriment of the US. This remark is such a steep lie it gave me vertigo. Japan is not obligated to defend the United States if US forces are attacked, but the United States must defend and protect Japan’s people and property. We can only imagine how much safer THAT makes the Nihonjin feel.

-Collective security is not a constitutional issue, but a policy issue. Remember that Constitution we insisted on that forbade Japan from having anything more than a self defense force,  and created all that asymmetry between us? Policy overrides it.

-Eighteen thousand (18,000) US Marines and an air wingare stationed in Okinawa. The United States needs bases in Okinawa for two reasons: bases are already there i.e. facts on the ground take on a life of their own and Okinawa is an important geographical location. Notice how these are the only situations where my fellow countrymen suddenly seem to develop a clear grasp of geography?

- (While showing a map of East Asia) US Forces Japan is headquartered in Tokyo and is the location of a logistics hub that would coordinate supplies and troops in theevent of a crisis. Misawa, an important base in the Cold War, is the closest U.S. base to Russia and the base at Iwakuni is only 30 min from Korea, yet Okinawa’s geographic location is important to regional security. Translation: we've got you covered. Okinawa is just one of many fiefdoms.

-Okinawa was an independent Kingdom paying tribute to China, although it has never been a part of China. The U.S. occupied Okinawa until 1972. For your own good.

-The Okinawan people’s anger and frustration is directed at Japan rather than the United States.The DPJ government does not understand Okinawa. The Japanese government does not have a “pipe” of communication to Okinawa. When I offer to contact people in Okinawa DPJ officials say “Yes! Yes, please!” Hilarious, in that this is probably his translation of DPJ officials saying "Hai, hai."  "Hai" is a very common polite word in Japanese, often meaning little other than "I hear you."

-One third of people believe the world would be more peaceful without a military. It is impossible to talk with such people. Mostly because they don't just say "Yes! Yes, please!" to my idiotic suggestions.
-The US will relocate 8000 Marines from Futenma to Guam in order to reduce the US Military footprint on Okinawa. The plan will allow the US to maintain a military presence in the region to provide regional security and deterrence capability. Under the Roadmap, Japan will provide money for the relocation and it is a sign of a tangible effort from Japan. ...

-Japanese culture is a culture of "Wa" (harmony) that is based on consensus. Consensus building is important in Japanese culture. While the Japanese would call this “consensus,” they mean extortion” and use this culture of consensus as a means of “extortion.” By pretending to seek consensus, people try to get as much money as possible. Okinawans are masters of “manipulation” and “extortion” of Tokyo. We taught them well (see Roadmap above).

-Okinawa's main industry is tourism. While there is an agricultural industry, the main industry is tourism. Although Okinawans grow goya, other prefectures grow more than Okinawa. Okinawans are too lazy to grow goya. This is so boorish it defies comment.

-Okinawa has the highest divorce rate, birthrate (especially out of wedlock) and drunk-driving rate due to Okinawa’s culture of drinking liquor with high alcohol content. Lazy brown skinned people should never do this, even though it may be fine even during the work day for people with the right genetic makeup.

-You should be careful about “tatemae and honne” while in Japan. Tatemae and honne is the “idea that words and actual intentions are different." e.g. see "Yes! Yes, please!" above. While in Okinawa, I said MCAS Futenma “is not especially dangerous." My statements caused Okinawans to protest in front of my office.Why can't they just forget about brutal rape and even murder of Okinawan women by marines already? Although Okianwans claim MCAS Futenma is the most dangerous base in the world, they know it is not true. Fukuoka Airport and Osaka Itami Airport are just as dangerous.

-Japanese politicians do Tatemae and Honne all the time Okinawan politicians will agree to a negotiation in Tokyo but return to Okinawa and claim they did not. The US Ambassador and other representatives to Japan are constantly criticized for speaking the truth because the Japanese culture is too focused on tatemae and honne. Wrong, that's NOT the reason. Guess again.

-The US Military and JSDF have different mentalities. The US Military trains to prepare for possible deployment, but the JSDF train without actually preparing for deployment. Possibly have they been infiltrated by "lazy" Okinawans?

-Local people oppose to night training by the US Military but it is necessary because modern warfare is far more important than human mental health, for which a good night's sleep is needed is often fought at night. Night training is essential to maintain deterrence capability. Because everyone knows that night raids in Iraq and Afghanistan have been really effective at reducing terrorism and improving security. Right?

-I don’t think Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution should change. I doubt it will ever be changed. It would be bad for the United States if the Japanese Constitution was changed because Japan would not need the United States’ Military. If the Japanese Constitution was changed the United States would not be able to use Japanese land to advance US interests. The high host nation support the Japanese government currently pays is beneficial to the US. We’ve got a very good deal in Japan. A deal so good that it made brave Japanese people protest outside my office.


That was the bulk of the speech. I'll add a link to the whole thing online if I find one.

Japan has quite a history of militarism itself. It's a casebook study for the need to bring war yen home, and what can happen when you fail to do so. A cabal of industrialists, generals and admirals led the country down a rapacious road of ruin. And to this day the weight of the industrial power that irradiated them remains firmly on top of the gorgeous Okinawa, forced to serve the U.S. military, "a good location" for tsunamis and worse.

ウチナー県 (Okinawan: Uchinaa-ken)

Friday, March 11, 2011


Afghan children
If we're already torturing "them" and bombing "them" with radioactive D.U., why does it seem especially chilling to have Muslims in this country targeted by show hearings in Congress?

If we're already keeping "them" incommunicado in special prisons called Communication Management Units, why does this particular parade of ignorance seem to up the ante of the violent rhetoric of our times?

Because...Eliminationist thought is a cancer.  Beware what follows on "them" being designated as the face of terrorism.

Peaceful people, come out of your living rooms. Come out of your cars, come out of your shelters.

Stand with me -- like an Egyptian -- against the violent international cabal of fascist godfathers.
Muammar Gaddafi & Silvio Berlusconi in Rome  

The State of Iraq, 8 years later

A man holds his wounded daughter outside in August 2006 after being injured in road side bomb explosion in Iraq. Photograph: Ali Abbas/EPA Source: The Guardian Iraq Database
The US War and Occupation of Iraq: What We Know, What We Don't Know 
by Janet Weil, CODEPINK

On this sad and shameful "anniversary" of the US bombing and invasion of Iraq, we know some things, and we don't know others.

We know that this war was based on lies, was opposed by an unprecedented coordinated wave of global protests, was not approved by the UN Security Council, and was completely unnecessary and illegal.

We know that officially over 4400 American troops ( for the latest number) have died horrible deaths in Iraq, that 6 Americans died in Iraq as recently as January 2011, and that tens of thousands have returned home maimed, blinded, scarred, and suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. We don't know how many young Americans have committed suicide as a result of their anguish and guilt.

We know that over 100,000 Iraqis have been murdered in this war and occupation, and that millions have been forced to flee their homes. We don't know an exact number of Iraqi deaths, but we do know that number keeps going up, every day.

We know about torture at Abu Ghraib and other sites in Iraq. We know who wrote the torture policy memos. We know that George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and other officials of the US government were responsble for terrible crimes against the dignity of human beings. We don't know when or if they will ever be held responsible.

We know about the use of depleted uranium. We know about the two assaults on Falllujah in 2004. We know that cancer rates there now exceed cancer rates in Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the dropping of the atomic bombs. We don't know what care, if any, residents of Fallujah are receiving.

We know the government of Iraq is unable to meet the basic needs for electricity, security, clean water and medical care for its citizens. We don't know when this will change.

We know that the US government has already spent over $700 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars in Iraq, to the profit of corporations such as Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel and others. We don't know when this pouring out of our war dollars will end, but we demand: Bring Our War $$ Home!

We know that the condition of Iraqi women has been severely eroded since 2003, and that their life expectancy and education levels now suffer as a result of the US war and occupation. We know many Iraqi women and girls have been raped, forced into prostitution, and widowed. We know many now have breast and other cancers because of exposure to depleted uranium and other carcinogens.

We know that children in Iraq have been severely psychologically impacted by the violence all around them, including house raids, seeing family members beaten and killed, and by direct assault. We don't know how this generation of children will grow to a healthy adulthood.

We know that tens of thousands of American troops, and over 100,000 military contractors, remain in Iraq, along with a vast amount of money and equipment. We know that the so-called US "embassy" is the size of Vatican City.

We know this war was about control of oil, about egos, about greed.

We know that war and occupation can never bring democracy.

We know we want Iraq to be a free, independent and thriving country, and we want the same for our own country.

We know we stand committed, as CODEPINK has been since fall 2002, to speak out and work for a better world.

Video here of Iraqi civilian deaths and casualties -- very moving.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day

Radiant! Codepink co-founder Jodie Evans with Congresswoman Donna Evans celebrating International Women's Day.

Here Jodie is a BOW$H muse inspiring me with her apron and war pie at the Iraq anniversary protest in DC last March. She's holding an FY09 version with "only" 51% going to military of fed budget (57% for FY11).

I have since embraced the apron as a utilitarian garment with a loooooong tradition of use by women. It is full of deep pockets for flyers, phones and cameras. It makes any outfit instantly pink. And, well, it goes with the pies.

Students leading: "Ain't no power like the power of the people, cause the potp don't stop! Say what?"
Boston Public Garden, March 5, 2011

I put on my apron and I went to the bridge to celebrate International Women's Day. There, our pink energy lifted us up above the dreary soiled snows and meltage of March. Women rising up, radiant, together, to bring our war $$ home where they belong.
Pinkster Pat Taub and I have worn a few aprons together this year. FY10 pie here in Wash DC last October.

Did you know Codepink published a great cookbook with recipes for how to make peace, pies, and community among women? You can check it out here. Power to the peaceful!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Uprooting trees

Human rights in the Occupied Territories Separation Barrier › Action against uprooting of trees in Beit Jala, 03.03.2010

I once learned that 60-80% of trees were believed to have been destroyed by war in Afghanistan 1980-present. What a shocking amount. War is one of the most destructive activities humans engage in, and it is an issue for the entire globe when our common Earth is threatened.

Here we see a woman watching removal of olive trees from her family's land in March, 2010 in Beit Jala. Settlements are allowed by Israel to continue to fence in agricultural land used by Palestinian families for herding or orchards. Bulldozers dig up trees and cart them away. Fences keep shepherds from grazing their flocks, or farmers from walking to their fields that need tending.

Occupation looks like a mad giant, careening through space,  crushing things under his feet.

Last night I went to a talk at Boston University by young Israeli resisters called Anarchists Against the Wall. Noam Lekach and Elinor Amit shared images like the one above which photographers collectively gather and save as documentation of the ever-expanding occupation of Palestine.

There were several current maps showing the absurd cantonment of the West Bank, and multiple walls with checkpoints that look like the Canada-U.S. border. These are staffed by private contractors. How tidy and profitable they look.

AATW presented exuberant photos of struggle with popular committees in occupied villages and towns. They go in support of what the local people are doing to resist the containment and destruction of the land. Cutting fence never looked so exhilirating, but they are always under threat of interference by IDF or settler militia waving automatic weapons.
Burning olive tree, which caught fire due to tear gas shot into the dry groves. Weekly demonstration against the Wall, Ni'lin, Ramallah district, July 17th, 2008. Keren Manor/Activestills

The apartheid is partly accomplished by roads that only Israel's citizens are allowed to drive on, many built with funding by U.S. aid.

Israel has been the largest recipient of cumulative U.S. aid since WWII.

Bring Our War $$ Home!

International Women's Day to BOW$H

Radio coverage by the Boston Community Reporters Project here.

Joining in: Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, Raging Grannies,  City Life, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, UPJ, and many more.

Melanie of City Life: need housing!
Melanie Griffith from City Life talks about the need for affordable housing, going unfunded as we squander resources on wars and occupations.

Ridgely introducing speakers
Ridgely Fuller of Greater Boston Codepink co-organized the event where the Pink Parasol Peace Brigade made its BOW$H debut.

and fund jobs now
"Come on people, let's turn this country round. Stop war spending, and fund jobs now!"
Trish on cuts effecting women
Trish filled us in on how budget cuts affect women and children the most. Want her shirt? Buy it here.
Bread & Roses
Greater Boston CP made this terrific banner to hang on the Massachusetts State House fence.
Sarah Roche-Mahdi of CP filled us in on the history of IWD and labor activism by women in Lawrence, Mass. who are reported to have invented the first moving picket line.

This was ironic because despite vigorous outreach by Ridgely, including standing in solidarity the previous weekend with the pro-labor rally at the state house in support of Wisconsin workers, no one from local labor organizations would agree to attend and speak at the event. Unions are still scared that cancelling weapons programs will result in job loss, I guess. They should read the conversion report put out by economists at UMass Amherst: building WMDs is a lousy jobs program.
Tamar & Brandeis students
Cambridge artist Tamar Etingen with students from Brandeis, on the bridge to say: women want peace!

Link to video of the event, including a great speech by Lara Hoke of VFP about her journey to the decision to speak out against war.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three reasons to BOW$H

Anti-War message at the Wisconsin protest
"Support Workers' Rights: Bring Our War Dollars Home!"
Pictured: Milwaukee's 3rd district alderman Nik Kovac is second from right. Erik Sperling of Wisconsin Peace Action is at far right.