Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Timid Center-Left" Recreates While Children Die In Flames

Kenny Cole "Control" from
Solo exhibit at UCCPA's Leonard Craig Gallery September 13th to October 31st. Unity, Maine. Print-A-Thon T.B.A.
Do not despair, for artists are among us.

NYU and Stanford law students have now researched and chronicled the horrors of what VP candidate Cherie Honkala of the Green party termed "the bleak future from a science-fiction movie" i.e. drones hovering overhead, attacking at will, and then attacking the rescuers.

"Timid center-left" news outlets like the New York Times even covered it. Meanwhile the Guardian covered evidence that the NYT colluded with the CIA over the tone of its coverage of the raid that killed bin Laden.

Facebook seethes with the denial of the Obama worshipers. They say they're afraid to lose women's reproductive rights, but I think it's more likely they're afraid to lose their get-out-of-racism-free cards. Whatever their motivation, they're willing to overlook the rampant death dealing and lying about it that Obama and his sponsors stand for.

But back to the art that lifts my spirit to resist.

My husband came home with a print from Kenny Cole's show, one the artist did in response to his struggles with the fact that so many liberals of his acquaintance just want to talk about their vacation, or their new skis, or their organic garden, or their grandchildren -- anything but the wars their taxes support, and their candidate plays like he directs. The print is called "Last Run" and I'll let the image speak for itself:

Also, two amazing artists will be joining in the effort to raise awareness about the killer drones on October 8 in Portland, Maine when CODEPINK local groups are sponsoring Die-ins around the city. Phui Yi Kong will lead the political theater troupe we are assembling, and she has promised to make more of her nifty drone hats for us to wear.

And artist William Hessian has promised to create some visual art about drones and to join in the actions outside Senators Collins & Snowe's offices, at Congress Square Park, at USM, and with a finale at Obama campaign HQ.

I'll be there while part of my heart goes with my CODEPINK sisters and brothers traveling to Pakistan soon to meet with the drone bombing victims and their families. Ground the drones!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Five Difficulties: Life Under Creeping Fascism & Fun At The Fair

It was super depressing being at the Common Ground Fair yesterday in full view of the many, many liberal supporters of the warmongering president and his second term in office. Many of them stopped by where we Bring Our War $$ Home campaigners were tabling with Veterans for Peace, to parade their ignorance of facts on the depleted uranium-dusted ground in Libya and Afghanistan, and of the children's limbs scattered by drone attacks all over the Muslim world. (At least we did get some material for our upcoming installment of Shit Obama Supporters Say, the October Surprise edition.)
VFP had cleverly brought a button making machine which drew enthusiastic youngsters, many of whom created their own images of peace or silliness (a whale that moo'd). But I'm haunted by the dad who stopped by to look at the literature and told us his son had been in Iraq. VFP member Richard Clement: "So was my son. How is your son doing?" Dad: "Not good. He's in the psychiatric ward."

I should have felt encouraged that we distributed so many t-shirts and quickly recouped the cost of producing them. Or that I got some new folks who signed up to receive news of the campaign.

But co-coordinator Bruce Gagnon's talk about the BOW$H campaign Friday drew only about six people, while mine yesterday drew all of ten. Nobody wants to talk about the invisible wars and the invisible drain on our resources.

The Common Ground Fair is about producing organic food locally, and the many crafts and skills that go along with living sustainably. Never mind that the oiligarchs are trashing the planet and its people halfway around the world. Liberals are smug with the good looking African-American family in the White House. All those inconveniently indebted college students and recent graduates were kind of invisible, too. Except maybe at the Cultivating Medical Cannabis talk so well-attended it spilled out of the tent on both sides. If you're jobless, it could be a way to make a living I guess -- one of their dads told us that was his son's plan.

Well, on we go. Anti-drone Die-in at Obama headquarters on October 8, in an attempt to use street theater to communicate with the public.
Nowadays, anyone who wishes to combat lies and ignorance and to write the truth must overcome at least five difficulties. He must have the courage to write the truth when truth is everywhere opposed; the keenness to recognize it, although it is everywhere concealed; the skill to manipulate it as a weapon; the judgment to select those in whose hands it will be effective; and the cunning to spread the truth among such persons. These are formidable problems for writers living under Fascism. -- Bertolt Brecht

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

U.S. Airstrikes Kill, Not Protect, Afghan Women

Source: Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty "Wounded Afghan women lie in beds in a hospital in Mihtarlam, Laghman Province, on September 16, when NATO was accused of killing eight women who were gathering wood."
Afghan women out gathering firewood to cook breakfast were victims of a U.S. airstrike last weekend in the mountainous eastern part of the country. Some are hospitalized; eight of them will no longer have to worry about their rights under NATO occupation, because they are dead. The president of Afghanistan bleated loudly while the U.S. apologized to the families. ("Apologized" in this context means saying we are fighting the war on terror and your mother/wife/sister/grandmother/daughter was just collateral damage and here's some money.)

According to the New York Times report:
The airstrikes took place in the Alingar district of Laghman Province. The coalition said the strikes were called in around 2 a.m. during a firefight with insurgents that had been spotted moving through the area...

Coalition forces were apparently unaware that village women sometimes go into the woods in the early hours of the morning to fetch wood for cooking fires they need to have going by breakfast time.
Source: Reuters / women gathering cooking fuel in Bagram, northern Afghanistan
Sign my petition here to ask Amnesty International-USA to stop promoting the lie that NATO presence in Afghanistan benefits women.

Women in Pakistan, another U.S. "ally" and one that shares that mountainous border with Afghanistan, get killed by airstrikes, too. As do their husbands/fathers/sons/uncles/nephews and even their todllers and infants.

Source: The Atlantic, from a story on women in Peshawar, Pakistan protesting airstrikes that kill civilians on a regular basis.
CODEPINK and allies will be making a trip to Pakistan to stand with the families of airstrike victims in October. You can still join the Peace Delegation, or make a donation for a scholarship.

Meanwhile blowback included violent demonstrations against U.S. visible presence around the world at embassies in Thailand, Indonesia, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Kashmir, London and Benghazi (killed the ambassador there). US News & World Report said their polling showed the embassy attacks were the most watched news stories last week, even more than infotainment about the upcoming corporate-sponsored presidential election.

Most in the U.S. will believe mainstream media spin that these demonstrations are about an amateurish film insulting the founder of Islam. Sure they are. Presumably they have nothing to do with decades of violent repression of democracy and life around the globe.

I'll leave you with a favorite tweet from first anniversary of Occupy Wall St. demonstrations in NYC on September 17:

AliAbunimah: BREAKING: NYPD vows to protect Wall Street holy sites from angry protestors bent on offending the profit. #s17 #MuslimRage

Monday, September 17, 2012

Police Harrass As Mainstream Media Trivialize #OWS 1st Birthday

Who works for the 1%? The NYPD, for sure. Here they are arresting activist Rae Abileah, co-director of the women-led peace and justice group CODEPINK. What did she do to deserve arrest? You can watch the video for yourself.

It occurred on Sunday Sep 16 during the Occupy Wall Street march to protest the proposed Spectra fracking gas line in NYC. CodePink sought to connect environmental and economic destruction by highlighting the big banks that back fracking, coal mountaintop removal, deforestation, and other disastrous projects.

See what a threat she is? She is opposed to destroying the environment for profit.

Mainstream media outlets spent the weekend minimizing and trivializing the accomplishments of the Occupy movement (I refuse to link to any such articles -- you will have to find them yourself, which should be easy, since those who follow 1% communication marching orders own most all the airwaves, newspapers and magazines). But they will have to work extra hard today to ignore the massive street presence (detailed here in Business Insider!) that will attempt to shut down Wall St. for #S17.
"Let me see your papers..." photo fromOccupy Tampa tweet: People who works in the Wall St area being asked for ID #ows #S17
Who works on behalf of the 99%? Livestreamers! Some say this alternative video method was born at Zucotti Park. Not sure if that is true, but #OWS busting out is definitely when I became aware of it. Here's a list to watch today for news out of NYC:   and and .

#S17 and #OWS already trending on twitter this anniversary morning at 6:50am Eastern time -- check there for more livestreams as events unfold. "Riot police donning gear" was just tweeted out by Allison Kilkenny, a good one to follow on Twitter.

Hooray for the citizen journalists who do the unglamorous and undercompensated work of bringing us the real news of our day! Kevin Gosztola has become a favorite of mine because of his coverage of the trial of truth-teller Bradley Manning. Here's his coverage in Firedoglake of Pre Anniversary Arrests by NYPD
Crowd at Spokescouncil meeting Sun afternoon in NYC. My prediction: you ain't seen nothing yet.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"There are still people who have not sold themselves to greed"

How often I feel that the struggle to save Jeju Island from a navy base is emblematic of our struggle all over the planet to preserve Earth as a place where humans can live, and to resist its destruction by powerful, wealthy interests served by their police and their armies.
An artist-activist whom I deeply respect and always enjoy working with, Natasha Mayers, shared this letter from a Jeju activist reporting on the outcome of the environmental conference that just ended there.  And I'm sharing it here because it so beautifully expresses the slogan we sometimes hear chanted on marches or at Occupy events? "Ain't no power like the power of the people, 'Cause the power of the people don't stop! (Say what?)" Put another way, the power of art and creativity are with the 99%. As is the love.

Well, as you all know by now we did not get the Gangjeong motion 181 passed. Which to be honest was a little expected as knew it would be hard to the government votes. But still as you saw from the numbers, the NGOs overwhelmingly voted for us and almost no one voted from the governments and we even got 20 in support from governments! And we have overcome enormous obstacles, oppression and harrassment and made many many new friends who worked insanely hard for us and for whom we are incredibly grateful. The IUCN itself may be a corrupt, corporate/government sellout monster, but inside it are many truly amazing and wonderful people. Especially awesome are our lawyers from Center for Humans and Nature, our many supporters for latin and south america, and many other people many of whom i couldn't even meet or don't know the names of, but did amazing work.

No doubt the korean government/navy will spin this in their favor, as they would anything really, but really this is a victory for us. We got so much more support than ever before, so many new people and organizations and lawyers and politicians, and media, from so many different countries around the world know about us and support us 100%. And many of them have said this is not the end, and they are going to continue this work both within the IUCN and through other ways, around the world.

We are all truly grateful to so many awesome people who really came together and worked incredibly hard day and night.

We feel so cared about and know that we are not alone here.

There are people who care about justice in the world.

There are people who care about the environment and the earth.

There are people who work with their hearts and fight for truth.

There are still people who have not sold themselves to greed and power, and become liars and slaves.

So yes, to be honest we are sad that our motion did not become a resolution. Of course we cried and felt rejected once again. But tears and rejection are nothing new to Gangjeong, and after tears comes dancing! And wow, did we dance and dance and dance and sing and yell! Then we cried some more, then we hugged, then we sang and danced, then we clapped for each other, gave speeches and more hugs, then we bowed to each other, deep bows to the villagers who have fought so hard for so long and to the people who have come from far away to work so hard for us.

We will not give up! We will not stop! Our cause is just! Everyone in the world must know the Gangjeong struggle! We may lose 1,000 meaningless battles, but we will continue on. You can keeping locking us in prison, You can keep deporting us and denying our entry to korea, you can can keep beating us as you do daily, you can keep treating us like criminals and animals, you can keep mocking us as you destroy all that is precious about life. We will continue to dance! We will continue to sing! And we will love each other, our community, and even you, our enemies, with all of our hearts! And maybe one day you will join us, as many already have, and as we join in solidarity with so many other similar struggles around the world.

Samsung, Daelim, Hired Thugs, Police, Coast Guard, Courts, Judges, ROK Navy, Ministry of Defense, U.S. Navy, Politicians, ROK Government, U.S. Government: You've fought for greed and for power, through violence, lies, and theft. You've already lost because you've lost yourself. We do not fight to win, we fight because we've already won. Peace has already won. We are just here to shout it from the streets!

No Naval Base! Justice for Gangjeong! Life and peace for all creatures of the Earth!

Sign a petition to Samsung and the government of South Korea here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

World's Largest Enviro Org Ethical Quandry: Serve Samsung or Earth?

Photo source: The Battle for Jeju Island: How the Arms Race is Threatening a Korean Paradise by Robert Redford
Contact:  Koohan Paik                                                        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Should it answer to conference sponsors Samsung and Korean government, or 
to its historical mission to protect  environment and social justice?
JEJU ISLAND, SOUTH KOREA – September 14 - The world’s largest and oldest conservation organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is holding its giant quadrennial convention on Jeju Island, South Korea. But what conference planners weren’t expecting was massive protests from the local community, joined by international activists, against a gigantic navy base being built seven kilometers away. As a result of this controversy, an emergency motion to stop base construction has been drafted, which will be voted on tomorrow, Saturday, September 15.
The South Korean government, which is subordinate on military matters to the U.S., under the US-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty, is building the enormous base on the coast at Gangjeong, a traditional farming and fishing community. If the project is allowed to continue, it will be large enough to hold 20 warships, including Aegis destroyers, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and 8,000 troops. South Korea is already one of the most militarized places in the world. But this new base is part of the Pentagon’s recently announced plan to move 60 percent of its military resources from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region – the “Pacific pivot.” The idea is to circle China with Aegis missiles. Islanders fear the base would destabilize the region, lead to a new Cold War, and turn their home into a first-strike target.
A recently leaked communiqué, obtained by a Korea National Assembly member, reveals the close connection between the Pentagon and base construction. The communiqué, sent by the commander of the US Naval Forces, Korea, to the South Korean defense minister, directly requests that the base plan be designed to accommodate an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
The base would also destroy local livelihoods, biodiverse habitats in land and sea, contaminate one of the cleanest and most abundant freshwater sources in the world, kill the planet’s largest temperate soft-coral habitat (15 acres), contaminate the rich volcanic soil in nearby farms as well as nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Korea’s last 100 dolphins which frequent Gangjeong would also suffer. The villagers have been protesting for over five years, facing arrest, imprisonment without habeus corpus, and daily police brutality.
On May 30, 2012, three UN Special Rapporteurs sent a joint allegation letter to the South Korean government regarding numerous “acts of harassment, intimidation and ill-treatment of peaceful protestors in Gangjeong village,” requesting a response within 60 days. That was three and a half months ago, but the Korean government has yet to respond.
An American scientist, Dr. Imok Cha, was deported upon arrival at the airport on the first day of the conference, where she was expected to give presentations on an independent environmental assessment that exposed the flaws in the Korean government’s Environmental Impact Assessment for the base construction.
Leadership at the IUCN conference have refused to give the Gangjeong villagers their own exhibition booth to expose the litany Korean-government violations, offering no explanation. On the last day of his tenure as president of IUCN, Ashok Khosla denounced the campaign to save Gangjeong Village from base construction, calling the movement “colonial” because non-Koreans were involved. However, attendees know the reason that IUCN officials have done their best to silence the Gangjeong villagers: the main sponsors of their conference in Jeju are the Korean government ($20 million) and Samsung Corporation, which is also the lead contractor of base construction.  Soon after Khosla issued his “colonialism” charges, a group of South Koreans representing 189 South Korean organizations, denounced Khosla, and charged him with ignoring their clearly expressed opposition to the base that had been going on for over five years.
As a result, a massive division within the formidable organization has been cleaved between its Secretariat and the 8,000 members in attendance who object to leadership’s decision to side with it sponsors. One organization, the Center for Humans and Nature, from Indiana in the U.S., has drafted an emergency resolution to stop the construction. It will be on the Assembly floor for a vote before international governments and NGOs, this Saturday (Korea time), the last day of the conference.
Many members feel the entire future and credibility of the 64-year-old conservation institution is at stake, if politics prevent the resolution from passing.
1009 General Kennedy Ave. #2 | San Francisco, CA 94129 US

Source: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
During the Stellar Avenger exercise, the Aegis-class destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) launches a Standard Missile-3 Block IA, successfully intercepting a sub-scale short range ballistic missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai. This was the 19th successful intercept in 23 at-sea firings for the Aegis BMD program. 

Courtesy: U.S. Navy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1% Steal Public Water, Sell It Back In Plastic To The 99%.

Nestle's "Back to School" ad co-opts images of powerful women & girls and their lifeblood, free access to potable water. I mean, which would you rather be? The cute, affluent, pink sweatered mom and daughter above...

or these youngsters spending hours each day carrying water for their families in Uganda? Source: The Guardian
From the facebook post of the first photo:
Back-to-school for your family? Don’t forget to stock up on Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water!
From the moment I learned decades ago that  Nestlé corporation was profiting from the starvation of infants they hooked on formula that was costly, unsafe, and destructive of their own mothers' milk supply for them (supply and demand being deeply, inextricably linked in this case) I have been on a boycott of all things Nestlé.

In the 80's and 90's bottled water became fashionable -- remember the  cachet of Perrier, and Calistoga Water in northern California, and Poland Springs in Maine?

But then I learned that Nestlé owned the Poland Springs brand and, far more importantly, its access to the great aquifer of the northern reach of Appalachia.

A decade or so ago I saw a film in which water rights activist Maude Barlow said that the most powerful thing a private citizen could do to protect common access to pure water would be never to buy it bottled, as a commodity. And I thought, now there is something that I can do.

Still struggling. Doing it most all the time except when traveling, and beginning to get my act together there, too. #1 Dump out metal water bottle before submitting to the hell that is TSA. Once in gate area, refill bottle and take it on plane. #2 Fill bottle from friend's Brita pitcher when staying over at her place. #3 Purchase portable Brita bottle to fill from taps when out and about, and then squeeze water through filter on demand. #4 Think about what it would take and what kind of grant to write to get my tiny little school off the endless supply of shrink wrapped "Poland Spring" water in plastic bottles that Nestlé supplies "free" while trucking off the Maine aquifer. And so on.
Source: Emily Posner / Eric Ruin Block Print 10 Plague Series
Thank the goddess there are fierce advocates for the 99%, defenders of water rights right here in my woods who have kicked some Nestlé butt in the past, blocking the corporation from further access to pump out the water table from under the citizens. Right now I'm helping them bring pressure on the PUC for a public hearing before granting Nestlé even more access in Fryeburg, up in the western mountains, where they are already pumping. Defending Water for Life in Maine shines the light I will follow into the gathering darkness, my kids not wrapped in the plastic cocoon of ignorance.

Successful Resistance To Save Jeju Island From Destruction By Navy Base

Last week I blogged about private-public partnerships being touted by, among other 1%ers, a World Bank speaker at an international conservation conference on Jeju Island. Now comes an encouraging report that the determined activists from Gangjeong village have gotten their message directly to the delegates. Re-posted from my friend Bruce Gagnon's blog Organizing Notes:

Great News From Jeju
Paco writes from Jeju Island, South Korea:
Basically things are going super well! Our presence at the IUCN WCC grows every day. Today many villagers and activists were both inside and out, dancing, talking, handing out information, inviting to tours, singing, etc. Everyone knows about Gangjeong, what has happened to us, and what is happening. Today I didn't meet a single person who hadn't heard of it, and 95% of the people I met were totally in support us, loved our resolution, our actions, and our talks. We barely gave out any of our newsletters today because almost everyone already read it!

Inside the WCC there were several great Gangjeong related talks and a press conference as well as a short Gangjeong traditional folk performance and short talk by Mayor Kang in the 3,000 seat Tamna Hall. It wasn't full of course, but there was a good crowd. We also got our revenge about blocking our booth and just set one up ourselves inside the main hall. Muc
h better position than the regular booths and totally free! After so much bad press, the police at the WCC are very careful with us.

Meanwhile back in Gangjeong the police are not careful with us and attacked the gate protesters 5 times today. There weren't many people because many people were at the IUCN. This new shipment of police (they change every 2 weeks or so) is from Seoul and they are very rude, violent, and rough. They especially don't like cameras and hit several peoples cameras and also aggressively blocked people who were not doing anything except taking pictures.

Tomorrow is another huge day, mostly in the village. a lot of people are coming to join another eco-cide tour of land and sea of Gangjeong. Also the IUCN has arranged for 100 of their top people to come to the village from 2-4 pm and have a meeting with the villagers. Don't really know what its all about, perhaps just a good will visit, hopefully nothing worse/sinister, hopefully something more supportive. Who knows what the police will do but probably they will hide again since so many visitors are coming.

The navy and ministry of defense are very scared of all the support and attention we are getting and are issuing several sudden and silly statements as well as suddenly publishing a poorly made English/Korean booklet about the naval base, which they are giving out at the WCC. It offers zero evidence for their absurd claims and sometimes even accidentally supports us.

Well once again, I guess not so short. Everyone is feeling very great about the all the support we've gotten. Everyone is also very tired from non-stop work in both the village and the convention center. The resolution was handed in. Now we wait to see if it is accepted and will go to voting.

Thanks for all your support! Keep up your great solidarity actions and spreading the word, and prayer, and general awesomeness!

We can do! Let's totally revoke the naval base!
Check our web site at
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space  (blog)

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Napalm As Entertainment: This Is What We've Come To?

NAPALM ENTERTAINMENT Air show in Brunswick, Maine Aug 25, 2012 Source: The Forecaster
You cannot make this shit up. Napalm was used to entertain the masses at an air show last month in Maine.

If you're as old as me or older you will remember the iconic photo of Vietnamese children running and crying as their skin was burned by jellied gasoline called napalm. It was nothing to be proud of.
Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo of napalm victims taken in 1962.
My husband says he wants to cry because "Now jellied gasoline is entertainment" and he's older too, and things seem to be getting worse rapidly as the U.S. spirals down into endless sensationalizing of the trappings of war. Delegates in either Tampa or Charlotte -- it didn't matter -- chanted USA! USA! USA! And the small towns we drove through on our way home today had flags lining the streets, so many flags a person could not count fast enough to count them all. And he had watched parents hoist their children up into the cockpit of military planes at the private-public air show where ordanance was displayed like eye candy, and kids gazed lovingly into computers that spilled arrays of weaponized aircraft and the killing devices they are "capable" of carrying.

And Canada withdrew all its diplomats from Iran last week, and gave the Iranian diplomats in Canada five days to clear out. And our tax dollars are flowing toward supporting Al Qaeda and other militants in a bloodbath to topple Assad out of Syria. And the two "good" things cited in a debate between the fiery and righteous Glen Ford versus a mealy mouthed progressive claiming wins for the current administration: killing bin Laden, and bombing Libya. WTF?

Ok, I'm ranting, because sometimes it gets so scary watching militarism gobble up every resource while most people stare into a screen and pretend it's not happening. Or, they stand up and salute pretty willingly when it seems they'll have to comply or else make waves.
Making the rounds on the the Internet: Hamburg, 1936, a shipyard worker photographed being the only one in a crowd not giving Nazi salute during the launch of a navy ship. Source: Washington Post
As the ice sheets melt and tap water catches on fire like napalm when lit after fracking. As Fuji-san rumbles within and the spent-fuel at Fukushima teeters in the bathtub on stilts -- men are lighting vast swathes of napalm and calling it entertainment.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Private-Public Partnerships All Over Threaten Earth, Home of the 99%

Source: Kevin Gosztola: Charlotte during DNC on September 5, just after Bill Clinton's speech
It has been a discouraging week. I cried inside while the present day equivalent of good Germans who looked away as the Nazis took over their government shared pro-Obama videos. The “good American” thinking is that I must hate the GOP for its attacks on women's rights and environmental truth so, ipso facto, I must value the Democratic Party as much as they do! The irony of hijacking Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, classic tale of the struggle to survive in a society that has criminalized poverty, is lost on them. Putting a pretty face on the destruction of a sustainable future for the 99% is a powerful drug.

Such productions make no mention of: wars against Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. Or drone strikes that kill children in Pakistan most every week. Of the $2 billion a week cost for the public-private partnership currently occupying Afghanistan. Or of the fact that, on Obama's watch, military spending has grown from 51% to 57% of the federal discretionary budget. Or of the federal level coordination of the police state in evidence in Tampa, in Charlotte, in NYC, etc. Or of how poorly African-Americans have fared under Obama.
Private-public partnership is an awkward phrase for the type of government otherwise known as corporatism, and PPP is a term popping up everywhere these days. In Maine, taxpayers this year have seen public funds flow toward private education ventures with close ties to lawmakers, and to a feasibility study for a 2000 foot wide "corridor" through the wilderness that would include mining rights and be privately owned and operated. (A must-read on this subject: Lance Tapley's piece in the Portland Phoenix "15 reasons the East-West highway will never be built".)

The PPP also surfaced in the tweets from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) being held, with supreme irony, on Jeju Island in South Korea. That's the location of an epic struggle by fishing and farming villagers intent on protecting their heritage and coral reef coastline from the depredations of the Samsung Corporation. A deep water port to help the U.S. Navy patrol the South China Sea is entombing the coastline with concrete while the South Korean government attacks non-violent resisters and denies visas to their supporters from away.
The IUCN blocked the Gangjeong village group from having a booth at its “conservation”conference on their island while Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre tweeted:

#iucn2012 keynote speaker Rachel Kyte of the World Bank calls for placing nature-based solutions at the heart of progress

RT @worldbank: "We need to build public-private partnerships to invest in our natural wealth" - @rkyte365 at #IUCN2012

She might as well have tweeted about the need for corporations and the governments they operate to co-opt international bodies like the IUCN. Putting an attractive “liberal” face on economic exploitation and the police state it requires is a growth industry in the 21st century.

As my husband stood outside Bath Iron Works this week protesting the launch of yet another nuclear-capable battleship built in Maine – the kind that will soon be able to dock on strategically located Jeju Island – some of the workers assured him that building weapons of mass destruction for the U.S. Navy had been a good paycheck for thirty years.
Under Democratic administrations, and Republican administrations. As Maine closed schools, failed to repair its bridges and roads, and cut services to mentally retarded elderly people.

Thus the era of public-private partnerships shapes up with austerity for the 99% and record profits for the 1%, under the spell induced by the most sophisticated propaganda ever.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Might Makes Wrong: Obama's Persecution of Whistleblower Bradley Manning

Inline image 1

We were at Obama campaign headquarters in Portland, Maine yesterday to stand up for imprisoned whistleblower Bradley Manning. There was only one person working in the amazingly obscure location chosen for the campaign offices in Maine's largest city, miles from downtown and upstairs from a mattress store that has been going out of business for several years. The lonely field coordinator working in an suite of offices devoid of volunteers would not take our petition because "I'm not at that pay grade." I left it there anyway, on the bathroom sink, and we shared a lot of stickers.

The petition is particularly poignant because its online version includes the testimony of scores of disappointed former Obama supporters, people who actually worked to get him elected in 2008. I printed it out and I suspect that Obama field organizers really ought to read it. A typical comment by a signer goes like this:
Judy Stiller signed
I gave money when I really could not afford to do so. I canvassed and used many social media websites to promote Mr. Obama for President. I regret every bit of it. President Obama has caved to the right at every turn. Do the right thing and let this young hero go free!
The field organizer tried to tell Portland CODEPINK Local Coordinator Pat Taub and I that "Many people don't realize that Congress hasn't let..." but I am afraid that I interrupted the flow of scripted response to criticism of the POTUS to share that imprisonment of Bradley Manning is all Obama's. Well, actually I said something like, "I'm not sure you understand -- under our form of government, the punishment of whistleblower Bradley Manning is the responsibility of the Executive Branch. Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department are also part of the Executive Branch, and their failure to prosecute war crimes that Manning revealed, meanwhile allowing him to be tortured at Quantico, has nothing to do with Congress."

It was exciting to know that people in more than 30 cities all over the U.S. were visiting Obama campaign HQ to share similar messages. Pat made sure to make that point.

It doesn't matter what pay grade human beings define themselves by. They still have hearts and minds, and we can still reach out to offer them some truth. I really should have heard her out, and not interrupted. My bad.

I came home to find exciting news of several bold actions by my Pink sisters and brothers at the Democratic Party national convention in Charlotte. Rae Abileah had interrupted Steny Hoyer's speech by unfurling a banner and calling out, "Bring our war dollars home!" a meme that originated in Maine and has spread widely during the time Obama has presided over a federal budget that climbed from 51% to 57% military spending.

Then, in downtown Charlotte, pinksters unfurled a giant pink slip with a version of the  slogan Obama campaigned on: YES, WE CAN END WAR. Twenty-three year old Codepink staffer Alli McCracken was surrounded by 32 police officers and arrested for attaching the banner unlawfully to a parking garage. The magnitude of this crime can really only be appreciated by viewing said pink slip, the handiwork of prop genius Tighe Barry.

To paraphrase one of my favorite Occupy Wall St. slogans, if banking regulations were enforced as well as ordinances against unlawfully displaying banners in this country, the economy would not be such a disaster for the 99%.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Afghan mothers say they are losing their minds despite "humanitarian" war on their behalf

In light of news that the president of Afghanistan has appointed a notorious torturer to head up that country’s national intelligence service, I recommend this powerful, insightful interview with Kathy Kelly. As a peace activist who has spent several months living in Kabul over the past few years, Kelly focused on Afghanistan in particular, but also spoke generally about why U.S. citizens stand passively by as their government bombs the world. And what do do about it.

CODEPINK Portland coordinator Pat Taub is a skilled interviewer who was able to frame questions eliciting an amazing amount of connected information in 28 minutes. One of the best Q & A exchanges concerned Hillary Clinton's and Amnesty International’s narratives that the U.S. military is in Afghanistan to protect women’s rights there.

Kelly responded that women from every ethnic group have personally told her they feel they are losing their minds from the stress of not being able to feed their children, and when told the U.S. State Department claims the military is there to protect women's rights, they are “mirthful.”

Later she offered a succinct analysis of the root problem:
If you can convince the U.S. public that there’s a humanitarian purpose…what you’ll win is a level of indifference, because people feel uncertain and they’ll be more cautious about opposing the war. Even though rationally they know there’s something fundamentally flawed about wars.
Fomer FBI agent turned peace activist Coleen Rowley published a related article this week, "Are Human Rights Becoming a Tool of US "Smart Power"? She wrote:
Sadly, Amnesty is far from being the only human rights or peace and justice organization being misled in varying degrees by the U.S. State Department’s newly minted “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” doctrine — otherwise known as “humanitarian intervention” — and its newly created “Atrocity Prevention Board,” chaired by Samantha Power, one of the main architects of U.S.-NATO’s bombing of Libya.
Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, the Peace Alliance, Citizens for Global Solutions, Think Progress, and AVAAZ are just some of the groups that seem to have swallowed that particular Kool-Aid.
She also noted the changes apparent in 21st century global geo-politics:
U.S. violations of ... international law of war, as well as violations of its own Constitution have, paradoxically, served to further erode whatever legitimate, pre-existing “Soft Power” it once possessed. America’s “moral authority,” its legitimate ability to educate, its leadership by example in pushing other countries to adhere to international law was quickly sacrificed by the deceitful means it used to launch the bombing of Iraq and Libya, as well as its institutionalizing an endless, ever-expansive “global war on terrorism.”...
If war is a lie generally, if institutional wars have historically been instigated, ratcheted up, waged, and later falsely ennobled through pretext and propaganda, if “Smart Power,” “Responsibility to Protect” and “humanitarian intervention” serve as little but better rhetoric and therefore an effective guise to sell military force to American citizens as a “last resort,” after having checked off diplomatic efforts (set up to fail) and harsh economic sanctions that starve civilians and kill children, doesn’t it make sense for human rights and peace and justice groups to renounce instead of embrace attempts of powerful governments to use them as “tools” of such policies?
Is there any hope for us?
What would truly be smart and could reduce atrocities in the world would be for “nongovernmental” groups and organizations professing human rights and peace as their cause to regain their independence by disentangling themselves from U.S.-NATO governments’ national interest agendas and reliance on military force. Once that’s accomplished, it might be easier for civil society to reverse direction away from the use of war and might-makes-right to what is actually smarter: the power of ethical and legal norms.
Because if Afghan mothers and their children don't have due process -- that is, are killed by drones in the absence of any recognizable legal proceeding -- ain't nobody got due process.