Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Occupy Together, Because You Can't Arrest An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Women Occupy discussion topics

You can't arrest an idea whose time has come, and the gathering of about 150 occupiers from all over the state of Maine last Saturday in Augusta was brimming with ideas. People of all ages came together as the 99%, and the youngster on the left wanted people to think about an economy that is based on value rather than on cash. She joined the Alternative Economies breakout session and explained her idea; she also listened to the ideas of people who have experienced those kinds of arrangements. The next day she told me, "I want to do more stuff like that. Stuff that changes things and make it better."

Introductions during which people identified where they Occupy ... Portland, Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Ellsworth, Blue Hill, MDI (Mt. Desert Island), Waldo County, Mt. Washington Valley/Conway, Boston, Wall St., cultural mythology,  the food supply, independent media.

Portland, Maine was identified as the longest continuous occupy encampment in the country -- established October 1 and still going strong despite punishing cold, and an eviction notice from the city hanging over their heads since December 15. They have vigorously pursued relief in the courts, and are awaiting news on a permanent injunction to halt eviction.

Occupy Augusta pulled up stakes rather than apply for a permit, removing their Capitol Park teepee with dignity and self-respect, continuing to hold General Assemblies each Saturday at 5pm indoors.
In our diversity lies our strength!

After an amazing rapid whole group share of examples of occupation that covered centuries, we moved into small groups with people we didn't know to address two prompts:

1) Why did you join the Occupy movement? 2) What's special about the Occupy movement?
This was ably modeled by Curtis (above, left) who responded:
  1. To gain experience. Our world's falling apart and many people don't seem to care. But those who do care need to get together, share knowledge, and form a movement.

  2. It signifies nations all across the world rising up and demanding an end to the common ills we all share – war, poverty, unemployment. Shows the governmentts that we, the workers, will not be silent. We will fight back, and take what's ours.
I joined a group to talk about Media. Ten people briefly discussed the problems with mainstream media, and then spent most of the time talking about alternative media in forms including local access tv and radio, online news, YouTube, blogs; and direct actions/publicity stunts that attract MSM attention. Further uses of MSM included letters to the editor, online comments, developing relationships with reporters, and providing press releases to reporters. The role of drum circles at Occupy sites from Wall St. to Maine to Native communities in Canada was examined also, with reference to their importance in building community, and as an outlet for expression that is non-verbal.
Then I joined a group to talk about Food and Land. About 35 people gave examples of local food production and land use including becoming farmers, supporting the work of farmers, addressing the problems of landless farmers, various land use schemes, cooking, educating, gleaning, and exchanging food for work. Then the group brainstormed ways that the Occupy movement can or does connect with food production/land use.

This is a strong strand for Maine and there are years of intelligent collaborative effort to build on. A murmur of delight went through the crowd when I mentioned a Wall St. tweet I'd seen that the OWS  kitchen had quickly organized to feed the largest number of folks ever, daily, in NYC. No wonder they were perceived by authorities as such a threat!

Further news of the 99%: While we were meeting, Occupy Oakland in California was being tear gassed, beaten, shot with rubber bullets and flash bang grenades, and arrested in droves (especially reporters). Their crime: trying to occupy a years vacant building to establish a community center. Solidarity events broke out everywhere on Sunday. Here's an inspiring video from Occupy Boston:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Afghanistan, Where Empires Blunder Onto Rocks That Sink Them

At one point, soldiers in 3rd Platoon talked about throwing candy out of a Stryker vehicle as they drove through a village and shooting the children who came running to pick up the sweets. (Source: RAWA; Photo: Rolling Stone)
Those in the know about Afghanistan have been saying for at least the past year that it's not a matter of if NATO's imperial project will fail, it's a matter of when it will.

Like a luxury cruise liner puffed with pride at its own awesomeness, the war to control the eastern flank of Iran has blundered onto rocks that have torn a hole in its hull; it is a matter of time before the ship rolls on its side, spilling any number of additional poor souls into treacherous waters. The captain may stall for time, clinging to denial, but his boasting is no match for actual defeat, and shipwrecks have little use for hubris. In the end he will be lucky if he trips and falls into a lifeboat -- much luckier than he deserves.
Source: AP/Pier Paolo Cito

I survey the dark clouds of bad news with the hope of a silver lining: that necessity will force a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2012, including mercenaries and, especially, robots.

Pakistan, too, has suffered terribly from air strikes on civilians as well as its own military personnel as the joystick warriors of Barack Obama continue to pummel the world from the safety of desk chairs. From an Associated Press report than ran in the Guardian "Costs soar for new war supply routes":
The U.S. is paying six times as much to send war supplies to troops in Afghanistan through alternate routes after Pakistan's punitive decision in November to close border crossings to NATO convoys, the Associated Press has learned.

Islamabad shut down two key Pakistan border crossings after a U.S. airstrike killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers in late November, and it is unclear when the crossings might reopen.

Pentagon figures provided to the AP show it is now costing about $104 million per month to send the supplies through a longer northern route. That is $87 million more per month than when the cargo moved through Pakistan.
Here's an old map of the plans in place three years ago for just such a contingency.
Source: Youth Atlantic Treaty Organization blog post from Dec, 2008
In the fall my husband ran the most current numbers he could find for total cost of the war in Afghanistan, and at that time it was a bit over $200,000 a minute. If the factor of six were applied (remembering that factor only relates to transport) we'd be at well over $1 million a minute. Dare we hope that spending $1 million a minute on a foreign war might be a threshold that the U.S. taxpayer will refuse to cross? Because every time a drone crashes (and they often do) it costs at least $2 million.

There is no shortage of bad news of conventional warfare, either, whether insurgents taking credit for shooting down a helicopter full of Marines, or for assassinating a local official during prayer allegedly because he spoke out against the Taliban. After a decade, stories of soldiers (and collaborators) dying have become routine. If you know where to look.
Source link.
But other, more ominous, cracks are rapidly appearing in the hull of imperial hubris. After a man in an Afghan army uniform killed several French soldiers, France suspended its operations and appeared to be contemplating urgent withdrawal from the failed Afghanistan project. Taliban leaders issued a statement taking credit for recruiting the gunman.

Meanwhile a classified report on attitudes among troops on both sides turned up in the New York Times even before the bad taste left by the video of Marines pissing on dead Taliban fighters had subsided. From "Afghanistan's Soldiers Step Up Killings of Allied Forces":
...deep-seated animosity between the supposedly allied forces, according to American and Afghan officers... the contempt each side holds for the other, never mind the Taliban. The ill will and mistrust run deep among civilians and militaries on both sides...
[quote from the internal report] “Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history),”
In a nutshell, U.S. forces see the Afghans as unreliable, while Afghans see the U.S. forces as childish  bullies. You can see some of our military personnel here bragging on Facebook.

Night raids have been a bone of contention for years, traumatizing the families whose homes are invaded as well as the soldiers who kick down the doors and then must lived with the knowledge of having terrorized women and children. I was going to add elderly but, with a life expectancy of 44 years, I'm not sure how many Afghan families have old family members after thirty years of continuous war. I did read that polio cases have risen dramatically since war has disrupted what had been a successful vaccination campaign.
Source: CNN report that Taliban emailed saying polio vaccinations will be supported.
How much longer should the people of Afghanistan be made to suffer? Could there be a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel? From the AP story on supply lines referenced above:
There may be, however, some movement by Pakistan to allow certain civilian Afghan supplies through the closed routes. Dependent on Pakistan for its imports, landlocked Afghanistan has asked authorities in Pakistan to release hundreds of vehicles stacked with goods and fuel that are being held up along with NATO supplies. Pakistani officials say they are sorting through the thousands of stranded vehicles to push through supplies for Afghans.
Damn public opinion, full speed ahead, says the Pentagon. I hope they run out of $$ soon, says the 99%.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cannon Fodder Is Cheap But Drones Are Mega Expensive

REAL MEN MAKE ART, NOT WAR. Draw-in to Bring Our War $$ Home, Augusta, 2-18-10.
"Friendly" drone fire, the ultimate oxymoron, was the fate of two young U.S. citizens killed on April 6 in Helmand, Afghanistan. They died as the result of operator error on the part of their own side. Too many guys on too many computers with too many chat rooms to keep track of, or something like that, led to their deaths.

According to Nick Turse in "The Crash and Burn Future of Robot Warfare" (Truthout): 
In 2001, Air Force Predator drones flew 7,500 hours. By the close of last year, that number topped 70,000.
And as we all know, the new improved U.S. Military with the continuing gargantuan budget plans to downsize personnel in favor of more -- you guessed it -- robotic warriors. Would it surprise you to know that some of them have already "gone rogue" i.e. escaped from human control?

Apparently a lot of drone accidents happen. More than 70 times in the last decade, drones have crashed or exploded, resulting in $2 million OR MORE in damages EACH TIME.

But no price is too high for the fanatical adherents of the empire, those still true-believing enough to cheerfully send their kids into the meat grinder. From this account on PBS of the friendly fire incident:
 “I know whoever was at that joystick is devastated,” said Jerry Smith, the father of [the late] Marine Sgt. Jeremy Smith.  ”If I could meet them, I’d hug them and tell them I don’t have any ill feelings toward them.
I know their daddies are just as proud of them as I am of my son.”
Wow. Life is growing increasingly cheap in the 21st Century. As the industrialized rule of patriarchy confronts the reality that its continued domination of the planet is regarded by most as being anti-life, it reacts by becoming even more anti-life.

Will the 99% seize control of itself, and its necessary stewardship of the Commons, before it's too late?
A bowhead whale, among the oldest mammals on earth and the only whale that lives exclusively in arctic waters, which is under increasing threat from arctic oil exploration and increased risks of oil spills. (Image: Copyright Martha Holmes | naturepl.com/ARKive.org)
Or will the drone masters and their fodder take us all down with them?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Truth Is Behind the Lies People Tell Themselves About Their Empire

Source: Al Jazeera Witness "Four Days in Guantanamo"
A lot of angry responses to the satirical video my husband and I made about the rationalizations people tell themselves in order to continue to support their naked emperor, and some of them mistook us for actual Obama supporters. Stuff Obama Supporters Say has 13,000+ views after a couple of days on YouTube, and 100+ comments in a lively debate where it was posted to Common Dreams (thanks, Abby Zimet).

As one critic of the video put it, "But some of those things are true." In celebration of the success of stop SOPA/PIPA blackout day yesterday, I have used the Internet and yes, Wikipedia, to unearth some nuggets of truth alluded to in the video. It was our intention to lampoon those in denial; the ugly facts of detention in Guantanamo or Bagram, where our tax dollars support the torture of kids as young as 15, are out there just waiting to be discovered. But the mainstream media feed in the U.S. will, as a matter of policy, not help people discover many facts. Instead, it will enable the skewed priorities of valuing organic gardening over drone attacks on civilians.

Inverted priorities have been typical of affluent imperial citizens throughout history. What did "good Germans" mainly do to support the Nazi's genocidal plans? They looked the other way.

Quite possibly they were afraid -- and rightly so -- of becoming the victims of indefinite detention.

Feeble thinkers, they believed that the rule of law was not important to them, because they were not criminals (or Communists, or trade unionists, or terrorists, etc.). A basic failure to understand why the writ of habeas corpus is the cornerstone of equal access to justice goes hand in hand with the failure to understand why the rights outlined in the first ten amendments to the Constitution are worth struggling to uphold.
Source: Mother Jones article on Iranian government's plan to send Obama a pink toy model of the U.S. drone that landed in that country last month.
If I don't see any drones patrolling my skies (yet) then they must not be a problem for me -- right?
Source: http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com reprint of Al Jazeera article UK: Campaigners Seek Arrest of Former CIA Legal Chief over Pakistan Drone Attacks
(Obama thinks he is such a good father, he can joke around with his pals about ordering Predator drone strikes against boys that might be interested in his daughters.)

And who is Bradley Manning anyway?
Logan Price, a 27-year-old activist, said he went up to the president and asked why he hadn’t addressed the concerns of the protesters. “I thought that Bradley Manning was the most important whistleblower of my generation..."
Source: Politico
( Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images / March 14, 2011 ) via CODEPINK blog PINKTank

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter Catalog: Sh*t Obama Apologists Say

The above is a joke. 


The report below, on the other hand, is one small part of what's really going on as we head into 2012, which is sure to be a wild ride.

From Al Jazeera: "Romania's PM warns protesters on fifth day."
Boc's message came as more than 1,000 people braved freezing temperatures to rally in central Bucharest on Monday, chanting "Freedom" and waving banners that read: "Hunger and poverty have gripped Romania".

Smaller protests also took place in nearly 12 other Romanian cities.

People of all ages
Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from Bucharest on Monday, said the protests have brought people of all ages to the streets. "It's safe to say there's a broad cross-section of society joining these protests.."
 Rock on, 99%. Chris Hedges thinks you are the reason that NDAA passed. In Truthdig:
I suspect it passed because the corporations, seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, do not trust the police to protect them. They want to be able to call in the Army. And now they can.

Text of Hedges’ Legal Complaint

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wall St. = War St. Amen To That, Brothers and Sisters.

Source: Black Agenda Report blog by Glen Ford.
Looking forward to some fun today, making a copycat video in the "Sh*t Folks Say" series which has lampooned, among other groups, Ron Paul supporters. A compilation of some of the funnier ones here in Mother Jones inspired me to look for the inevitable "Sh*t Obama Supporters Say" but oddly enough I could not find one. Since my husband comes home regularly steaming over shi*t people have said in his presence defending the Obomber, I knew we could generate plenty of absurdities.

Online to do a bit of research, of course I thought of Glen Ford and the Black Agenda Report, who have been telling it like it is all along about the first Black man in the White House.

I also remembered one of those Xtranormal animated shorts with the cute bunnies and teddy bears discussing economic policy (my all time fave is the one where they explain, in context, quantitative easing). So I mined the video below for some sh*t Mark can say while cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, or splitting wood outdoors on a gorgeous winter day like today.

Arguing with an Obama Supporter
by: mjk2527

I'm going with an LLBean catalog-type look because I think that's a neat cultural fit for privileged  liberal white people still clinging to their get-out-of-racism-free card by making apologies for the warmonger and civil liberties destroyer Obama. I know, I know, the video should be funny, not bitter. Working on that.

It is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day off for many of us clinging to our middle class jobs. Dr. King was angry but he did something about it, and we're still reflecting on his words and deeds even while knowing that he was a cheating husband and a male supremacist.

In my opinion, you will know that the old order is crumbling when you stop seeing the patriarchy still in charge. We are a long way from that yet. But the cracks are in the foundation. And humans probably won't survive unless this great sea change back to being guided by the collective wisdom of the indigenous grandmothers happens pretty damn soon.
Source: International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers website
Mission statement from their website:
We represent a global alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all Her inhabitants, all the children, and for the next seven generations to come.

We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth and the destruction of indigenous ways of life. We believe the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future.

We look to further our vision through the realization of projects that protect our diverse cultures: lands, medicines, language and ceremonial ways of prayer and through projects that educate and nurture our children.
I'll just end by saying my belief that it makes very little difference who ends up in the White House. As long as we have the current system in charge of the commons of Mother Earth, humankind is doomed. I intend to keep raising my voice, though, and having some fun doing it -- while we ride into an uncertain future on this heavily armed missile that our planet has become.
Methane Plume under Arctic Ice / Source: bpoilspillcrisisinthegulf.webs.com

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why I Am Going To Occupy AIPAC. Won't You Come Too?

I am going to occupy AIPAC in solidarity with my sisters who were assaulted last year: Rae Abileah in Congress during Netanyahu's speech, plus four activists inside the AIPAC gala.

What is AIPAC? An acronym for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobbying group that makes sure $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel (the 5th wealthiest nation in the world) continues every year, pressuring Congress and the White House on various foreign policies by means of campaign contributions and other inducements. AIPAC could be the poster child for the baneful effects of money on government decried by the 99%.
Source: the fabulous artists of Occupy NH Primary.
I am going to occupy AIPAC because a war with Iran would be large scale disastrous for the world.

Move Over AIPAC Demo outside AIPAC Conference in DC
I am going to occupy AIPAC because my government targets people organizing to bring attention to apartheid and injustice in Palestine, harassing activists by means of search warrants, theft of their property, grand jury subpoenas, and terrorism charges; and that makes me scared, but I am inspired to face down my fear.

I am going to occupy AIPAC because I want Congress to bring our war dollars home from Israel. I want U.S. troops to stay out of Israel, and I'll bet you their moms and dads want this, too. The federal government no longer represents the 99%, so I take to the streets.

I am going to occupy AIPAC because I have never been in direct action targeting AIPAC. It's a dirty rotten job, but somebody's got to do it.

Graffiti Wall
Apartheid wall at Move Over AIPAC actions in DC last March.
In solidarity with many inspiring organizers who have made it their life work to witness for the truth of the unholy alliance between NATO and the current regime in Israel, on behalf of the 1%, and to further my own learning, I will occupy AIPAC.

Go here to register, see a schedule of events for Mar 2-6 in Washington DC, and learn more about how to Occupy AIPAC, not Palestine.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sampling Occupy Demonstrates "The People Can Have Anything They Want"

“The people can have anything they want. The trouble is they do not want anything. At least they vote that way on Election Day.”
Eugene Debs, Socialist candidate for president several times in the early 20th century, as quoted in this analysis of the effect of the Occupy movement on elections by blogger Kevin Gosztola. I've been reading him with interest since he did such a great job covering Bradley Manning's pretrial hearing, and he nails it here:
Is it any wonder why the Occupy movement is so refreshing? It has forced progressives to confront their role in a liberal class that has betrayed Americans in the past decades.
It may be that the time has finally arrived when the people do want something. Here's the crowd that turned out for the New Hampshire primary to (joyfully) express their dissatisfaction with corporate controlled "representative" government. These people want music, and they want to raise their collective voice.

Occupy can and has changed the mainstream media narrative. Reporting on a survey conducted by Pew about the growth in perception of class conflict in the U.S., the NYT made this absurd statement:
...experts said, that the groups that traditionally benefit the most economically — women, whites and those in higher income groups — seem to be the most concerned about class conflict. 
Women traditionally benefit the most from capitalism under patriarchy -- what planet is the NYT on?

A snapshot of what the people want right now -- at the inception of the year of great change, 2012.

Women occupying want a full voice, and they mean to have it.

Young people carrying the burden of education debt want relief.

The 99% want to throw off their shame and tell their story to the world.

They want to express what's on their mind using creative media like Occupy the Wall (very fun to draw on, try it).
Occupiers want to have fun challenging the financial elite's death grip on our collective resources. photo credit: Bess Adler
The people want to protest the Citizens United ruling that corporations are supposedly people, and money is supposedly a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Occupy the Courts January 20.

People want homes. Occupy Foreclosures is seen by many as the best alternative to occupying parks and getting pepper sprayed while police throw your media equipment into garbage trucks. At least during winter in the northern latitudes. Occupy Spring!

Indigenous people want what they have always wanted: for the commons of earth, water and air to be shared not privatized. For human beings to live respectfully as guests of the Earth Mother.

A dear activist and organizer in Maine died last week at a ripe old age. Tom Sturtevant was a retired teacher who was an excellent mentor to many of us in the peace movement. He often sent news articles he thought would be of interest, and the last article he sent to me before his passing was, "In solidarity, Occupy group joins with Native Americans" from the Boston Globe's coverage of the National Day of Mourning aka Thanksgiving.

I imagine that Tom felt he could go, because big changes and connections were underway, and the 99% was finally waking up to want something.
Tom Sturtevant in front of the Brunswick Naval Air Station. He organized this protest of the fuel wasting air show last summer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guantanamo And Bagram Are Torture Prisons Funded By U.S. Taxpayers

Sign Close Guantanamo With Justice here, and learn more. Source: Center for Constitutional Rights.

It has now been ten years since the indefinite detention center at Guantanamo was established, ostensibly to conduct the "war on terror." Failing to close the notorious torture prison (see guard Chris Arendt's testimony above for details) is a broken promise made by candidate Obama, at the rotten center of denial employed by the complicit, who cover their eyes and ears in order to keep supporting him.

Last month our corrupted Congress passed and our corrupted president signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, re-funding the military machine for another year AND making it illegal to release detainees who cannot be convicted of acts of terror due to lack of evidence. Your taxes will continue to feed them -- except that right now they are on hunger strike to mark the 10th anniversary of this particular island in the gulag archipelago -- as they will not be returning to their families, or to residence in a host country. Ever, apparently. It is gruesomely fitting that the legislation refusing to allow these men to be released was packaged with a law enabling the U.S. government to indefinitely detain anyone, anywhere, if deemed a threat by whichever warlord happens to be in the White House at the time. RIP, habeas corpus.

When the purpose is justice, wrongfully imprisoning a children's humanitarian relief worker is a tragedy. When the purpose is intimidation and the display of brute force, locking up Lakhdar Boumediene works as well as does keeping alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning in solitary confinement for months before a day in court. The message your government is sending you: Be frightened, be very frightened -- you could be next.

Obama may have inherited Guantanamo, but Manning and the torture prison at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan are all his. In recent days U.S. mainstream media have largely ignored an investigative report of torture and indefinite detention at Bagram -- funded by you and by me, unless you've figured out how to resist paying war taxes.
Source BBC: "Afghan investigators have accused the US Army of abusing detainees at its main prison in the country, saying inmates had reported being tortured and held without evidence.
Today I wish I were in Washington DC to join my CODEPINK sisters, Amnesty International and others who are paying attention, to form a human chain around the White House, dressed in the iconic orange jumpsuits of Guantanamo.

A decade of torture in the beautiful setting of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, thus commemorated. Since I cannot be there, I will instead offer this beautiful rendering of the Cuban song Guantanamera, meaning "woman of Guantanamo," superbly performed by Celia Cruz. My mother used to sing this song when I was a child. To the lost innocence of a girl who once believed in the words of the U.S. Constitution -- and to my fellow citizens who still hold to their belief that all human beings are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, innocent until proven guilty -- I offer an additional verse?
You broke my heart when you tortured
The beautiful ones, and the bad ones.
You broke my heart when the young soldiers
Had to watch all this being done.
How could our Constitution
ever stand for something like this?
If there is such a thing as a court,
I hope all you torturers stand before it.

Guantanamera...oh women of Guantánamo
And may the indigenous
grandmothers save us.

Bring our war $$ home from Bagram, and Guantanamo, and the rest of the torture archipelago.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

If You Believe It's China v. U.S., Which One Is The 99% ?

Corporate media outlets such as Time and the Wall St. Journal bring us news like this Tibetan nun burning herself as a protest against Chinese government policies while not bringing us news about Bradley Manning. Photo source: Guardian, "Why Tibetan Buddhists Are Burning Themselves Alive In China".
Fascinating article in my inbox this morning, especially as a follow-on to musing yesterday about whether the U.S. v. China is the false dichotomy du jour.  John Chan writing for World Socialist Web Site reported under the headline "Afghanistan signs oil contract with Chinese giant":
The US has tacitly allowed China to establish a presence in Afghanistan, largely because such investments could improve the (sic, I think he means Afghanistan's) financial self-sufficiency. At present, 90 percent of Afghan government spending depends on foreign aid. After the Aynak copper mine deal, Taliban insurgents stepped up their activities in Logar province, prompting the US to send 2,000 troops to the region.

Because of the unstable security situation, progress on Chinese investment projects has been slow over the past few years. As a result, China is completely dependent on the US and allied forces to provide protection, which could change if relations with Washington worsen.
Who's zooming whom here? I wonder how U.S. military families would feel about knowing their loved ones are risking everything, not just to "protect U.S. interests abroad," but for Chinese company profits, which similarly depend on a steady supply of fuel.

The article cited two deals, including this one, where state-sponsored energy companies in China outbid rivals from the U.S. and Canada by a mile. Sounds like long-term strategic thinking on the part of a region that has a lot of mouths to feed, and an extremely long history of top down management.
Dong Xuan, the daughter of Chinese rights activist Ni Yulan, testified on behalf of her parents [Reuters]
Don't think the 99% aren't rising up in China as they are all over the planet. News of this may be suppressed but popped up here and here recently. I've also seen references to the "Great Wall" of Internet censorship that U.S. media outlets tout, as an explanation of why we don't hear more about the economically oppressed there rattling their chains. But this, too, strikes me as an attempt to mask the fact that the Internet is heavily censored for us all.

Here's what journalist Jeffrey Kaye writing in Truthout about the Danish government's Iraq torture scandal had to say about that:
...attempts to verify details of "Iraq War Logs" information were stymied by what appears to be an Internet-wide suppression of the formerly available documents.
I have no doubt that the files still exist on many a server, and that the brainy and the brave will find ways to share them (despite brutal attacks by the U.S. government on alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning, and the banking blockade and legal harrassment of Wikileaks journalist Julian Assange). You remember the Iraq War Logs don't you? They were the trove of authentic information that contained the Collateral Murder video of soldiers in a helicopter gleefully shooting up a van full of children in Baghdad.

This sort of behavior transcends national boundaries -- though it is often fueled and enabled by racism. So does the eviction of indigenous people from ancestral lands that contain coal, oil, or potable water beneath their surface.

So before I start flag waving for my side in the big U.S. v. China game, I want to take a step back and think about headlines like Time's "The U.S. Military Eyes the Asia-Pacific, and China Shrugs?" this way: What would the 1% do?

Sichuan striking workers and riot police. Source: Weibo.com
Occupy Oakland police presence. Source: Politico

Monday, January 9, 2012

Occupy the Narrative: Inside/Outside Protest Pen at NH Primary

Nearly full moon over the encampment site at Occupy NH in Manchester. A group of us went down from Maine to join people coming from around New England and other locations to occupy the primary. We arrived in time to join the LGBT equal rights march to Veterans' Park, which was the original ONH site.
The Beacon was there, courtesy of Occupy the Light from Providence.
The Elephant In The Room was there from Occupy Boston, and appeared to be a livestream station as well as a great visual. I saw at least three other livestreamers in the course of the afternoon and evening, including a woman who said she had come from OWS.

Greater Boston CODEPINK women joined us outside St Anselm College where the candidates "debated" on Saturday night. Ridgely, Lois, Trish, Pat and I stood by the street with banners and pink roses. The funeral for the American Dream passed by us with candles, and then we followed them up the hill where we were all herded into a protest pen aka free speech (sic) zone by the police claiming that anyone with a sign had to be in there even though one officer told us he disagreed with the policy.
There seemed to be about 250 occupiers, and a roughly equal number of GOP candidate supporters of various stripes. The Ron Paulites were the most vociferous, insisting that anyone bearing an antiwar message MUST support their candidate. (Sorry, too racist/anti-immigration for me, based on my own research of a few years ago.) Many of them joined in chanting “We are the 99%” with occupiers, which is the first time I had observed this blend. The protest pen served its purpose by having only one side that faced the sea of media trucks, a side that was quickly dominated by those with commercially printed signs for leading GOP candidates. The shouting crowd behind provided background roars while TV viewers at home saw the placards approved by the Dept. of False Dichotomy. Nifty huh? 

The 1% does many things well. Manufacturing consent has been a strength but is unraveling; manufacturing Potemkin village-type “news” continues to be a speciality. Funding and arming a police state in the U.S.A. is proceeding apace – note this news of anti-protest laws announced by the former White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, now mayor of Chicago where NATO and the G-8 will convene in May. Oops, did he misspeak when he originally announced the laws were temporary?

As my buddy Bruce Gagnon is fond of blogging, better rattle your chains now while you still can. Inside the protest pen or outside the lobbyist hotels, or wherever you may find yourself.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bring On The Light To Dispel The Lesser And Greater of Evils

THE BEACON (image by Ari Kalinowski)
Occupy the Light is helping to Occupy the NH Primary! and today I will get to see and maybe even help with The Beacon. The words of occupiers are projected onto all four sides of a tent, allowing creative types to occupy the narrative about #OWS. I have been doing interviews with occupiers from the first day I joined in, and I am super excited about experiencing this blend of visual art, spoken word art, and bat signal-like technology.


Dodging slavish coverage of pronouncements about the future (sic) of our attempted military dominance of the planet, I skipped links to USA Today / Fox News / et al. and went for the Guardian. I was glad I did. Here are some nuggets from Ed Pilkington's informative article "Barack Obama sets out plans for leaner military in historic strategy shift."
Obama became the first president to announce a strategy change directly from inside the Pentagon..."Yes our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats."
For good measure, [Obama] added that the defence budget would continue to be larger than it was at the end of George Bush's term, and larger than the military spending of the next 10 countries put together.
Former CIA director and current Secretary of "Defense" Panetta was also on hand to help cover the talking points, saying:
"Make no mistake, we will have the capability to defeat more than one force at any time."
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Air Force Senior William Swain operates a sensor control for an MQ-9 Reaper during a training mission on Aug. 8, 2007, at Creech Air Force Base.
 How to spend less and while spreading death ever more widely i.e. into east Asia?
Panetta said: "As we reduce the overall defence budget, we will protect and in some cases increase our investments in special operations forces, new technologies like unmanned systems, space and in particular cyberspace capabilities and in the capacity to quickly mobilise."
Promising more drones horrifies me, but the last part made me giggle i.e. the notion that the bloated empire of defense contracting will be able to beat the 99% in cyberspace. LOL

Putting a narrative out there is a stronger suit for the 1% than information control. Right now corporate bosses could be playing us by promising to spend less at a splashy news conference, but actually planning to -- oops -- lose a billion or trillion dollars to bad accounting practices concealed in a future endless fog of war. As I noted here yesterday, that's the gambit with announcing fewer generals while actually appointing more of them. Speaking of narrative, here's a refreshing dose of truth about the U.S. military budget and strategy from Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis that just landed in my inbox.

Now we hear Democrats like Obama and Panetta accusing Republicans in Congress of blocking funding for the military. Without a hint of shame. I think that when our government officials "threaten" China with our mighty force, we need to remember who holds the IOU's. These celebrity spokesmen work for  corporations, ones who own them so wholly they can compel them to embarrass themselves delivering lines like "winning the future." Or this gem, delivered by Obama on the occasion of the "end" of the war on Iraq:
“That’s part of what makes us special as Americans. Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right.”
What I am thinking is, if the U.S. starts using drones a lot more against people around the edges of China, won't that still be the 1% attacking the 99% ? There are a whole lot of false dichotomies floating around in the air when the big boys assemble and speak into microphones at the Pentagon, that is for sure.

Occupy False Dichotomy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sheep No More: Occupy the NH Primary

art by William Hessian
Occupy the NH Primary is upon us this weekend and it looks to be a rollicking good time, with occupiers from around New England converging on a media circus with no shortage of clowns. I was adamant about not participating in any way in the false dichotomy show of the 2012 presidential elections, but when I saw the lineup of events, actions, and presentations from so many of the 99%, I got interested in the opportunity to meet up in NH.

I still plan to Occupy the Vote come November and really any time from now on when I am faced in an election booth with a choice between two evils: just write Occupy in on the line provided. It would not surprise me if a well-organized effort to do such resulted in that being the leading vote getter in some precincts. Would the corporate owned mainstream media be able to ignore that?

Quite possibly they would. After all, where are you reading about the U.S. preparing to send several thousand troops into Israel besides Mondoweiss and a couple of Israeli news outlets? The corporate false information feed is too busy beating a steady tattoo for war with Iran to report inconvenient truths that might alarm the populace. So while I'm reading about the fact that there are more generals, admirals and other top brass than ever before -- bleeding the national coffer$ dry with their salaries and their perqs and their fully funded retirement pensions -- the MSM is spreading Obama false claims to be paring down the military by firing the grunts, and just using robots like the flying drones wherever possible. Not a very original strategy as sci fi novelists began spinning out this scenario decades ago, including the numerous civilian deaths likely to result from war by remote control. Just ask the children of Afghanistan and Pakistan and Gaza and Yemen and... about it.

Real news from Maine: artists are converging for another Draw-a-Thon, this time in response to the Occupy movement: Saturday, January 21 10am-4pm at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell (right on Augusta's doorstep). In Manchester, NH this weekend 'll be distributing t-shirts and pillow cases that we printed with some of the stronger graphics generated at Bring Our War $$ Home Draw-a-Thons.