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