Monday, December 30, 2013

What's YOUR New Year Revolution?

"More than 100,000 people turned out in Seoul, South Korea to call for the resignation of right-wing President Park, the daughter of a former US puppet and brutal dictator.  The South Koreans have had it with their corporate dominated government that has drowned their democracy and they are non-violently pushing back." Source: Organizing Notes
My Codepink sister Pat Taub, a local organizer in Portland, Maine, spoke to her grandson on the phone yesterday.

Max asked, "Nana, what's your New Year revolution?"

An essential question indeed.

As Pat and I and other Codepink Mainers prepare to stage a Drone Die-In in front of Senator Susan Collins' Portland office today, we are feeling conflicted.

We're thrilled to be delivering a petition to Collins objecting to her vote against revealing the number of civilians killed by U.S. drones. More than 300 people signed it, and if her staff won't take it from us (which is how our "representatives" tend to handle petitions, almost as if they had never studied history) we plan to emulate Martin Luther and attach it to their door.

Probably with pink duct tape rather than nails.

We'll keep the die-in brief since the sidewalk will be snowy and the weather will be windy. Long enough to hold signs remembering each of the victims who died in the drone attack on a wedding party in Yemen December 12.

So why are we conflicted?

Because today is the day long term unemployed workers stop getting a check to tide them over until they can find the elusive next job. After having unemployment insurance deducted from their paychecks for years back when they did still have jobs.

Maine is a state with a high unemployment rate, a high childhood poverty rate, and a high domestic violence rate.

It is a state where our ALEC sponsored Tea Party governor won't take federal Medicaid funds.

It is a state where the savage inequalities of public education funding could not be more stark.

Most of the Mainers who will struggle with the loss of unemployment compensation will have very little in the way of social safety net under them to break their fall.

The low income families in my community are headed by parents who mostly work in the woods twitching out lumber or who commute into town to work at McDonald's, Walmart or Dunkin' Donuts.

If they aren't lucky enough to have a car or a ride with someone who does they are out of luck, because there is no public transportation system to get them to a job if they could find one.

College graduates in Maine are staggering under crushing debt loads -- and there are few jobs for them, and no unemployment compensation either.

Drug and alcohol addiction are rampant in Maine.

Our social workers are tapped out and exhausted.

Yet over the holidays, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2014 allocating around 60% of the spending in the coming year to the Pentagon and its contractors -- again. Over half the discretionary budget of the U.S. has gone to the military every single year Obama has been in office.

Oh, and that includes the NSA -- funded by the Pentagon -- which it was revealed yesterday halts shipments of computers bought online and installs spyware in them. That should be good for business.

Are we revolting yet?

The New Year revolution that I want is this: the people rise up and demand that the federal government bring the war dollars home and use them to meet people's actual needs. Or abolish the government.

Currently we pay taxes so that the CEOs of military contractors can become even more fabulously wealthy. The U.S. military is gobbling up territory all over the globe, at huge expense. Weapons and spying and military expansion are taking money from the mouths of children, 45% of whom are already growing up in poverty. And our elected officials mostly represent their campaign donors, those very same corporations who profit from their bad policies.

It's a system ripe for a New Year revolution.




Sunday, December 29, 2013

Spread Some Love With The Afghan Tree Project 2014

Two weeks left of the very successful fundraising campaign for the 2014 Afghan Tree Project. Among other things, this year funds will be used to start new nurseries in Kabul that will employ Afghan widows. Food, shade and jobs for women -- what's not to love?


I was honored to help the campaign by tweeting out photos and news of their mad success over the past six years (follow them @AfghanTrees).

Tens of thousands of tree saplings have been started, nurtured and shared with hungry families. You can see more photos on (and like) the facebook page for the Afghan Tree Project.

Be part of Afghanistan's revitalization by donating to the Afghan Tree Project 2014 on indiegogo today!

Visit the Afghanistan Samsortya website to learn more about this wonderful organization. Samsortya means "revitalization" in Pashto.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

When Drones Fly, Civilians Die But @SenatorCollins Doesn't Want You To Know About It

Photo of blockade protest "US drone strike in Pakistan kills 3 militants" source: Washington Post, Dec. 26

On Monday, December 30 activists from CODEPINK and allied groups will stage street theater protests of weaponized drones at the Portland, Maine office of Senator Susan Collins.
When the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed a provision requiring the Obama Administration to publicly report on who is being killed by U.S. drone strikes, Senator Susan Collins voted no,” said Lisa Savage, an organizer of the December 30 event and local coordinator for CODEPINK in Maine. “The U.S. counts civilians it thinks have been killed by drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, but they won’t reveal to taxpayers what that number is. Could it be because our government doesn’t want us to know the number of innocent people going about their daily business who are killed by drones?
petition to Senator Collins will be presented to her office staff with signatures from constituents calling for transparency and the right of citizens to have accurate information with which to engage in public debate. The petition is sponsored on the website of CODEPINK, a women-led peace and justice organization that has worked internationally to call attention to the many innocents killed by U.S. militarized drones. Click on the link to sign it if you have not yet done so.
During November CODEPINK organized an international summit on drones in Washington DC that included testimony about drones strikes on civilians in Yemen. A briefing for members of Congress was attended by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine where she heard from people who have survived drone strikes or lost family members to drones. 
On December 13, following a drone strike that killed 17 members of a wedding party in Yemen, Pingree tweeted:
The Obama administration's controversial “kill list” using targeted assassinations and so-called “signature strikes” against civilians in predominately Muslim countries around the globe has been the subject of controversy, especially since the publication of a study by Stanford and NYU law schools documenting effects of drone activity on the civilian population of Pakistan. The report contradicts the claim by administration officials that few civilians are harmed in drone strikes against militants, and notes that for the purposes of government reporting, any male between the ages 18-35 is counted as a militant.
Last year CODEPINK organized a march in solidarity with drone protestors in Waziristan, a part of Pakistan that has seen thousands of civilians killed by drones. That action aimed to “put significant pressure on the Obama administration to come clean about these drone attacks, to recognize how inhumane and counterproductive they are,” said CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin. “We will continue to find ways to protest these barbaric assassinations until they finally end,” added Benjamin, who visited Portland last July on a speaking tour to promote her recent book Drone Warfare: Killing By Remote Control.

For more information, contact: Patricia Taub - Local Coordinator, CODEPINK Portland, Maine (207) 542-7119

Monday, December 16, 2013

Women Lead To Peace Initiative For #Syria

Source: The Guardian, Syrian refugees face extreme hardship as blizzards hit region
An exciting initiative for peace and security in Syria, which has seen 7 million people displaced by war in recent years: an international brigade of women peacemakers descending on the location of ceasefire talks planned for next month.

Codepink, MADRE and several other international women's peace groups are sponsoring the historic effort to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.  Calling for at least 50% of any peace or security talk delegations to be women, UNSCR 1325 recognizes the historic fact that when women are part of the solution to violent conflicts ravaging society, those solutions are more robust and likely to succeed.

One has only to look at myriad examples of male-dominated negotiations -- in Afghanistan, in Palestine -- to see the record of failing to build and keep a lasting peace.

There are several ways to support the Syrian peace initiative. One is to join the delegation traveling to  Switzerland for the January 20-21 meetings. All peace-loving people are welcome to these talks. Here is information Codepink sent to local coordinators about participating in the event:

After three years of horrendous fighting, a death toll now exceeding 100,000 and more than seven million Syrians forced to leave their homes, Syrian peace talks will finally take place in Montreux, Switzerland, on January 22, 2014. 
In response, a coalition of women’s groups have launched Women Lead to Peace, a global alliance of women and male allies calling for an immediate ceasefire in Syria, greater humanitarian aid for the refugees and displaced, and the full participation of women at the peace negotiations. The group will be mobilizing a physical presence in Switzerland from January 20-22. 
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, continues to ignore the call by prominent international organizations for women to be fully represented at the peace table. Resolution 1325 states that the United Nations must recognize the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and promote their equal participation in all efforts to maintain and promote of peace and security.
Women—and male supporters—will arrive in Switzerland by January 20, 2014 to plan and learn from each other. On January 21, we will hold a Summit with testimonies from Syrian women and humanitarian aid workers, testimonies from women from countries that made the transition from war to peace (such as Liberia, Ireland, Bosnia, Rwanda) and testimonies from Arab women who have been leaders in non-violent struggles in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. The summit will end by modeling what the next day could and should look like.  On January 22, the day of the official peace talks, participants will be inside and out with creative, beautiful and exciting protests.
We are writing to you today because we would love for you to be involved in this initiative. This invitation is open to all peace-loving people. You can join or endorse as organizations or as individuals. You can support this effort locally and/or join the activities in Switzerland. 
The people of Syria have suffered too much, for too long. Let's show them that we will take a stand to end the violence and alleviate the hardships they are enduring. 
The host partners include, WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees,Karama CEO Hibaaq Osman, CODEPINK Cofounders Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, Nobel Women’s Initiative Director Liz Bernstein, Kavinna Till Kavinna Secretary General Lena Ag, MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind. 
Please endorse this call. Other endorsers include V-Day Founder Eve Ensler, Author Alice Walker,  Actress Geena Davis, NobelPeace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, European Union former Vice President Luisa Morgantini, The Square Director Jehane Noujaim, Global Fund for Women,  Peace People’s Ann Patterson, Chicken and Egg Pictures’ Julie Parker Benello, Institute for Policy Studies’ Phyllis Bennis, Embrey Foundation President Lauren Embrey, Journalist Chris Hedges and Center for Constitutional Rights’ President emeritus Michael Ratner. 
Please choose any of the following options and respond to Perrine at Perrine.codepink@gmail.com or Alli at Alli@codepink.org
Endorsements for Women Lead to Peace: Call for a Ceasefire in Syria, More Humanitarian Aid and Women at the Peace Table
___ Yes, I support Women Lead to Peace. (org or individual or both) 
Name, contact info, organizational affiliation (if any)________________________________________________________________________________________________Yes, I will join you in Switzerland on January 20-22.____I can finance my own way.____I will need financial support.____Sorry I can’t join you in Switzerland.
Thank you for your support! 
The CODEPINK team & Women Lead to Peace partners
For more information, visit Women Lead to Peace

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Alliance For The Common Good To Greet Legislators Jan 9 #MEpolitics


video

Join us for the Second Annual Rally of Unity
Young People Speak Out!
 WHEN: January 9th at 1pm
WHERE: Hall of Flags, inside the State House, Augusta, Maine
 
The Rally of Unity is a collaborative demonstration by the Alliance for Common Good, an ad-hoc coalition of over 20 environmental and social justice groups assembling as a unified front to give voice to ordinary Maine people and to push back against corporate dominance in government, with hopes to organize into the future.  

We recognize that our democracy has been abandoned, so we must work together to tell our elected officials that we want:
 
Maine Money and Resources for People, Not Corporations!
A Maine Economy that Protects the Environment
Money Out of Politics

This year’s theme: Young People Speak Out!  
In 2013 we want to highlight young people who are passionate about creating a healthy future by inviting everyone who identifies as a “young person” to give a short speech about your concerns, your hopes, and the need for unity.  You can participate off the cuff, but try to let us know in advance by contacting Chris:chris@defendingwater.net or 495-3648
 
Current details:
--At 1pm we will meet in the Hall of Flags.  You will have to go through security to get in.  No sign stakes will be allowed, so plan on hand carrying your visuals.
--Inside activities:
            -Speeches by young people about their concerns, their hopes, and the need for unity
            -Photo on the stairs of all groups present
            -Share handouts and information (There will be 2 info tables)
-Citizen lobbying with legislators about specific bills during this emergency session, or your concerns in general
           
Logistics:
--Individuals and groups should represent themselves visually, and be creative to highlight issues.  You are responsible for getting your people there.
--No groups will be featured.  We do not all agree or endorse each other, but we can rally behind the principle of “Maine Money and Resources for People, Not Corporations,” therefore:
-One press release will represent all of us.  To provide quotes, or to be on the list to review the release before it’s sent out, contact Meg by January 1:meg.gilmartin4@gmail.com or 495-3648
-We need spokespeople to talk to press at the event.  We’d prefer these to be young people or Mainers with a personal story, who will speak to the message of unity and say why they’re at the rally.  To be a spokesperson, contact Meg:meg.gilmartin4@gmail.com or 495-3648  Meg’s coordinating all press for the event.
 
Join us:  The bigger the movement, the stronger the impact!  If your group wants to join the Alliance for Common Good on January 9th, please contact Ridgely:ridgelyfuller@gmail.com

The Alliance for the Common Good currently includes:
350 Maine, AbilityMaine, Activist Art, Alliance for Democracy, American Friends Service Committee, Americans Who Tell the Truth, Bring Our War $$ Home, Citizens of the Penobscot Nation, Citizens United, CodePink, Defending Water for Life, Don’t Waste ME, Food for Maine’s Future, Global Network, Industrial Wind activists, Maine EarthFirst!, Maine Greens, Maine Peace Action, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, National War Tax Resisters, Occupy groups statewide, Pax Christi Maine, Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Peninsula Peace and Justice, Pine Tree Youth Organizing, Resources for Organizing and Social Change, Social Workers,  Searsport LPG activists, Stop the East-West Corridor …

 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

@SenatorCollins, Why Keep Civilian #Drone Deaths Secret?


Dear peace lover,
CODEPINK
These Yemeni activists know who is being killed in their country by U.S. drone strikes. Do you?

When the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed a provision requiring the Obama Administration to publicly report on who is being killed by U.S. drone strikes, Senator Susan Collins voted NO.
The U.S. counts civilians it thinks have been killed by drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, but they won’t reveal to taxpayers what that number is. Could it be because our government doesn’t want us to know the number of innocent people going about their daily business who are killed by drones?

Urge Senator Collins to drop her opposition to public reporting on who is being killed by drone strikes by signing our petition.

If you couldn't attend the 2013 CODEPINK Global Drone Summit, check out the C-SPAN coverageof the summit, or read this article by summit speaker Marjorie Cohn. CODEPINK also hosted a Congressional briefing, featuring delegates from Yemen who told first-hand accounts of life under drones. Maine Representative Chellie Pingree attended the historic briefing, as well as staffers from over 40 Congressional offices (thanks to everyone who urged their reps to attend!).

Urge Senator Collins to drop her opposition to public reporting on who is being killed by drone strikes by signing our petition.

Then, take further action!
1. Share this drone fact sheet with friends, colleagues & family.

2. Get a CODEPINK “Drone Free Zone” t-shirt inpink or gray!

3. Keep up to date with the latest drone news on Global Drones Watch.

Thanks for your actions to hold our government accountable on the use of drones.
Onward toward a drone-free world,
Pat Taub, Lisa Savage, and the rest of the CODEPINK team in Maine

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful For Truth

Source: RepublicofLakota.com, "Cooking the History Books: The Thanksgiving Massacre"
Noam Chomsky calls the U.S. a "heavily indoctrinated" society. So little truth leaks through the corporate infotainment stream that a person could go an entire lifetime without hearing more than a squeak of it. The freedom to just walk away from MSNBC and Hollywood blockbusters and MTV, from Time and "News"week, the New Yorker and the Washington Post, is seldom exercised. 

The internet has brought me so many possible truths that I was not a bit surprised to find out that it was being used to build massive dossiers on each and every one of us using it. As a truth stream, it was far too good to be true. I expect it to end any day now.

But for today, the national holiday built on genocide against the Pequot people, I am thankful for the connection that brings me in contact with others around the planet who seek true information.

Just a smattering from my morning reading:

From the Mainichi Shimbun, "Former PM's envoy was determined to disclose secret Japan-U.S. pacts
A former editor who was involved in publishing a book revealing Japan-U.S. diplomatic secrets over the reversion of Okinawa has criticized the government-sponsored state secrets protection bill (emphasis mine), which cleared the House of Representatives on Nov. 26 and is now under debate in the House of Councillors 
...[Mafumi] Azuma spent the whole night reading the manuscripts, which were compelling and accompanied by letters and memorandums detailing exchanges with then National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and other negotiating partners. Azuma told Wakaizumi the next day that he was going to publish the book.
What a perfect piece of legislation to accompany rescinding Article 9, which constitutionally forbids Japan to have a military force capable of aggression.

From Vice media, "A Generation of US and UK War Veterans Are Being Silenced"
I was gagged by a military court in 2009. I had spilled no secrets. Rather I’d claimed Afghanistan occupation was an illegitimate, shambolic disaster. The keenest soldiers I know say the same, but I said it on television rather than in the regimental bar. I spent five months in a military jail over a banality. Others have faced similar or worse treatment.
The writer is veteran Joe Glenton.

From the same source, a shout out to Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, one of the biggest truth tellers of our time

Heather Linebaugh...served in the US Air Force in drone intelligence between 2009 and 2012 and was "honourably" discharged....she fled to Canada, a place she felt safe to speak out from. She was good at her job, earning the nickname “Harbinger of Death” from her comrades. Not every assignment went smoothly, though: “One mission in particular, I remember that we were told to keep quiet about, and to this day, I can still not discuss it.” 
Heather says she challenged an officer of more senior rank on the issue. She asked what would happen if people spoke out about “sloppy strikes”. She was taken to her commander and warned about “talking recklessly” and asking “stupid questions”. 
In her unit there was a watchword used to keep people quite: Manning. “If we spoke out about certain missions to the general public, and definitely media, we would 'end up like Bradley Manning'." The effort to instil fear was being ramped up around the time she was leaving the military. "I saw quite a few posters going up with an image of the typical soldier sitting in a jail cell in handcuffs."
Then there's the recent blockbuster report on corporations (our real government, which does not in any way resemble democracy) infiltrating organizations that work for positive social change in order to spy on the participants. 

From Common Dreams, "Corporate Espionage and the Secret War Against Citizen Activism"

According to the study by the Center for Corporate Policy—a project of the Ralph Nader-affiliated Essential Action, today's 'Pinkerton Thugs' are staffed by former law enforcement, CIA, NSA, FBI and military employees, funded by some of the biggest-name corporations in the world, and backed by highly-secretive investigative firms that operate as spy agencies for the private sector. 
Titled Spooky Business, the 53-page study pieces together nearly 20 years of information exposing this hidden wing of the private sector, which its author Gary Ruskin says "is just the tip of the iceberg." While targets run the gamut, from anti-war to workers' rights groups to environmental organizations, they appear to have one thing in common: they are perceived as a threat to the corporate bottom-line.
One last item, this one in the category of super secret treaties your government is negotiating to crash life on this planet via giving corporations control over food and information, among other things. Never heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership? That's no accident. 

From Common Dreams "Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance":
Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. "Control food and you control the people.”
I could go on like this all day, but I have some potatoes to mash.

So that's why I am thankful today for the internet and Wikileaks, for Edward Snowden, for my fellow citizen journalists, and for Chelsea Manning -- celebrating yet another birthday in jail for telling us the truth about U.S. war crimes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Homeless Kids, Working Poor Soar As Military Spending Rolls On

Photo source: United Way of Eastern Maine
A few weeks ago I spoke to the Maine Department of Education about new rules going into effect on teacher evaluation. Part of what I said was this:
Measuring learning is a tricky proposition. Most learning occurs over years, is largely invisible, and can at best be partially measured by means of a standardized test. What tests like the SAT best measure is how affluent and educated ones parents are. 
Addressing the growth of poverty, especially children growing up in poverty, would have far more impact on student learning outcomes in Maine than basing teacher evaluations on a test score will ever do.
Since I gave that testimony, new and even more disturbing statistics have emerged on the extreme poverty of homelessness among children. This week the U.S. Department of Education reported that for school year '11‐12 public schools enrolled 1,168,354 homeless students, a 10% increase from the previous school year, and a 24% increase from '09-10. 

Of the homeless children, roughly half failed to meet proficiency standards in reading and math as measured by an annual standardized test.

In my state, where freezing rain is falling on the day before Thanksgiving, we saw 58% growth in student homelessness for  '11-12 as compared with '10-11. Food pantries are tapped out, SNAP benefits have been cut, and the governor vetoed accepting federal funds to expand Medicare for the working poor.

Iraq Veterans Against the War offered this perspective in an email blast about poverty in our day: 
Multi-billion dollar corporations are continually increasing the gap between rich and poor. Their CEOs salaries continue to grow while worker's wages remain stagnant. Poverty is one of the biggest contributors to military recruitment - nearly half of all military recruits come from lower-middle-class to poor households. The conditions created by corporations like Walmart make it nearly impossible for people to find employment options that are more appealing than the military.
So what will the U.S. Congress do when they return from their Thanksgiving holidays? Vote billions more for the corporations who profit from military contracts. The Fiscal Year 2014 National "Defense"Authorization Act (NDAA) has yet to pass as FY14 bears down on the Lockheeds and Booz Allen Hamiltons sucking up around 57% of federal tax revenues.

Defense News reported:
The legislation, when Energy Department funding is factored in, would authorize about $522 billion in base 2014 defense funding. That’s about the same level authorized by a House-passed version of the bill. 
The Senate’s bill calls for $80 billion for overseas contingencies operations; the House-passed level is $85 billion. A conference committee would have to find a compromise war-funding amount.
Meanwhile Pentagon watchdog Bruce Gagnon has been sharing news of the U.S. "pivot" to the Pacific ramping up. Yesterday USA Today reported on buildups of U.S. military bases in Australia, Okinawa, and Guam. The Air Force flew B-52 bombers over air space China claims it needs to control for self-defense. Japanese citizens report their government is under increasing pressure to abandon Article 9 of their constitution, which prohibits anything more than a self-defense force for the former imperial aggressor nation. South Korean citizens report their government has stepped up repression of dissent and jailed many resisting the construction of a deep water port for warships that is destroying fisheries on Jeju Island.

Negotiations have stalled over the right to keep thousands of troops and hundreds of bases in Afghanistan through 2024. Can you name the nations that share a border with Afghanistan?
The people are hurting, but the CEOs and stockholders who profit from war and exploitation of natural resources have never been richer. Poster child Bath Iron Works, subsidiary of General Dynamics -- a defense contractor that has had several highly profitable years in a row -- received a $6.5 million tax rebate from the town of Bath, Maine. There they will continue to cut jobs while building war ships to menace China. 

Secretary of "Defense" Hagel even made a personal visit to BIW this month, giving elected officials like senators Susan Collins and Angus King a chance to grovel for future Navy contracts. The couldn't do it in person, though, "due to Senate consideration of the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization bill" according to Collins' website. It is clear Maine's senators know which side of their bread is buttered.

It is long past time for people to rise up and demand to bring war dollars home to house, feed and educate our children. Before it's too late.

Source: Ha! Tea 'n' Danger blog

Saturday, November 16, 2013

#Drones2013 Conference In DC Will Hear Yemeni Survivors Testify

CODEPINK protest outside the home of Jeh Johnson this week. Johnson is a lawyer who made his reputation as a drone apologist and is now the Obama administration nominee to head the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Can't make it to the drones conference in Washington DC this weekend?
                                                                                                                          

The women-led peace group CODEPINK, the progressive think-tank Institute for Policy Studies, The Nation Magazine, and the National Lawyers Guild's Georgetown Chapter are hosting “Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance” at Georgetown Law Center's Hart Auditorium. The conference brings together drone survivors and families of victims from Pakistan and Yemen, human rights advocates, lawyers, authors, social media experts, technology experts, artists and musicians, and grassroots activists for an International Drone Summit.

Saturday, Nov. 17
9am-6:30pm Hart Auditorium, Georgetown University Law Center, 600 New Jersey Ave NW

9 am-10am : CODEPINK welcome (Medea Benjamin and Noor Mir) and address by Dr. Cornel West

10-11am: Legal Challenges to Drone Strikes (law professor Mary Ellen O’Connell, legal expert Marjorie Cohn (moderator), Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pardiss Kebriaei)

11:05-12:45 pm: Drone Proliferation Across the Globe (German filmmaker Elsa Rassbach, Israeli researcher Dalit Baum, scientist Noel Sharkey, Wade McMullen from R.F. Kennedy Center, UK-NATO expert Chris Cole (also moderator)

12:45 - 1:45: Lunch, concurrent film screening of Wounds of Waziristan, by Pakistani filmmaker Madiha Tahir (starting at 1:10 pm)
1:45 pm-3:30pm View from Yemen (Baraa Shaiban of REPRIEVE, attorney Mohamed Ahmady of Al Karama, Ahmed Arman from Yemeni NGO HOOD, Faisal bin Ali Jaber a relative of drone victims in Yemen, Entesar al Qadhi a prominent female Yemeni politician, moderated by CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin)

3:45 pm - 4:45 pm : The Domestic State of Drones (Amie Stepanovich of Electronic Privacy Information Center, professor Joe Nevins, author David Swanson, artist Essam, moderated by RT anchor Abby Martin)

5:00 - 6:00 pm: Two views of the Drone War: (former military intel analyst Daniel Hale, Afghan educator Fahima Vorgetts, Colonel Mo Davis, Samira Sayed-Rahman of Afghans for Peace, moderated by Colonel Ann Wright)

6:00-6:30 pm: Closing remarks

Sunday, November 17th  
9am-4pm, Georgetown Law Center
Strategy session to look at how to better coordinate the work and to lay the foundation for a Global Drones Network. For representatives of organizations and individuals who want to be actively involved in the work of a Global Drones Network. If you are interested in attending Sunday’s session, please email Noor Mir at noor@codepink.org. We welcome all individuals and organizations to join us in this new initiative.
CODEPINK protesting at confirmation hearings this week, objecting to drone supporter Jeh Johnson who was nominated by Pres. Obama to head the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Monday, November 11, 2013

On Armistice Day I Do Not Thank Veterans For Their "Service"


It is Armistice Day again, 11/11, the ceasefire that ended the imperial war that ushered in the death and destruction of the 20th century. The seeds of violence, industrialized killing, and wars for peace (or to end all wars, or to save the innocents of Belgium, or of your country here____) were sown.
Wikipedia: The Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline was a crude oil pipeline from the oil fields in Kirkuk, located in north Iraq, throughJordan to Haifa (now on the territory of Israel).
The activist Bernarda Shahn once told me that her mother returned home from a war resistance meeting in New York City prior to the outbreak of what would come to be known as World War I. As she hung up her coat her daughter heard her say, with furious tears springing from her eyes, "This whole thing is about nothing more than Mosul Oil."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
My own grandfather went to the war fresh out of high school. He was a popular, good-looking boy who looked forward to getting right back to Maine to help his family run their ice business. He was injured on the last day before the Armistice, catching shrapnel in his leg and then being gassed as he lay wounded on the field.

It took his family over a year to locate him in a hospital in New York; eventually he returned home, went to college, and married a registered nurse. His leg was saved by fusing the knee so that all his life he was unable to bend it. His lungs and heart were permanently affected too, and he died of heart failure when his only child, my father, was 19.

"Don't believe them when they say the next war is a good war," my father reported his father told him. "There is no such thing."
Source: "The Korean Atrocity: Forgotten US War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity"
Global Research May 18, 2013 by Yves Engler
My own father believed the gung-ho propaganda hyping the "Good War" of his youth -- World War II, which grew directly from the bloody roots of WWI. He believed the recruiters, who told him Korea was a good war, too -- the front line in stopping the march of China and Communism. Because his father begged him to go to college and not enlist, he didn't make it to Seoul until after his father had died and combat had been ended by a ceasefire that perpetuates the war to this day.

My father went to Korea as an occupier and was profoundly affected by the poverty and suffering observable in the wake of a war that had killed more than 4.5 million people.

My dad taught me that wars are a way for the rich to get richer, and the poor to get poorer.

Every year I take the flag off his grave, and that of his father, and that of my brother -- a man who never went to war at all. The cemetery workers who take orders from the VFW don't know who was actually a veteran. I guess they figure that any man between the ages of 18 and death was some kind of a soldier.

Kind of like how the Obama administration considers any adult male living in certain regions of the planet to be a militant whom it is ok to kill with the weaponized drones that will render many veterans obsolete in the 21st century.

Now I teach about how the Holocaust sprang from the evil sown during WWI, and how the Nakba and ongoing brutal occupation of Palestine sprang from the Holocaust, and how rich corporations rake in the profits all along, extracting oil from Mosul or minerals from the Dead Sea. Feasting on the stolen resources of the dead children.

Israeli corporation SodaStream will tout its products in Superbowl commercials aimed at the somnolent conscience of the U.S. consumer. IBM and Ford have never been called to account for how they profited from business dealings with the Nazi regime, and what of it?

Let's just re-name Armistice Day, give everyone a bunch of flags to wave, and sweep all that nasty mess under the carpet. Who's in the playoffs? Boston Strong!
Source: Comic book on the struggle to save Jeju Island from naval base construction. Translation: The shark's teeth spell out "imperialism" while the land mass is labeled "Jeju Island."
Let's look away as the Samsung Corporation and the U.S. Navy entomb a soft coral reef in concrete to make a deep water port for warships on the coast of South Korea to threaten China.
On another border of China, let's lie about how much better life has gotten for women and girls in Afghanistan as NATO troops keep corrupt warlords in power who keep the country safe for contractors.

Natural resources exist to be bought and sold in our capitalist system. And the military exists to keep the boot on the neck of the indigenous resistance.

In the words of a veteran who woke up to reality, Major General Smedley Butler, speaking in 1933:
The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. 
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
Source: Wikipedia "Personifying the United States, Uncle Sam chases a bee. Two years after this cartoon's publication, at the end of the Philippine-American War, Aguinaldo would surrender to the United States."