Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cult Of Violence Prevails In The Waning Days Of U.S. Empire

A child places flowers at a memorial for victims of a mass shooting in Texas this month. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
There are so many mass shootings and other attacks these days it is nearly impossible to keep up with them. Northern California? Yikes, my family lives there. Lower Manhattan? Yikes, my family works there. Las Vegas? We've all been there. And so forth.

What does the accelerating pace of these attacks even mean? Some say they signify a nation built on genocide and institutionalized violence in the form of slavery. What hope is there for a people with such bad collective karma?

Australia is a similar nation, one founded on European colonists practicing land theft and virulently racist subjugation of traditional groups. Many argue that Oz does not suffer from the same epidemic of mass murder because of a successful gun control initiative that bought back weapons and melted them down beginning in 1996.


Others say they signify our nation occupying and bombing hundreds of other nations around the globe, at vast expense, while its own citizens literally starve, freeze or go without adequate medical care unto death.

Social observers differ over which is the cause and which is the effect: the national religion of organized sports delivers millions of viewers for lavish, psychologically crafty advertising to lure the broke generations into enlisting in the military. Veterans are well-represented among mass shooters, nearly all of whom are white, all of whom are male, and many of whom are known domestic abusers.

Of course, not all veterans continue to worship in the cult of violence. (Link to Support Veterans RESIST Hate video on facebook, embedded below.)

What do the various targets of domestic mass murder have in common? Churches, concerts, schools and bike paths seem to offer a simply a large group of people to attack in one easy location.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. As the U.S. dangles the prospect of nuclear annihilation over the tiny nation of North Korea -- a  nation whose elders still remember the bloodbath of the Cold War era -- it cannot escape its own death wish. 

Who will die today, unremarked by corporate media, a "blug splat" killed by drone operators attacking Somalia from Nevada? 

Who will die tomorrow? Who can stop our descent into madness?

If you are in Maine, join us at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard where nuclear-capable warships are built to menace the world. Each Saturday during Advent (December 2, 9, 16 and 23) peaceworkers will be present at the noon shift change, calling on weapons workers to rethink their choices and join the movement for conversion.

There is no actual reason why BIW needs to build weapons systems in order to provide employment for the surrounding area. U.S. factories could still produce things that support life and that people actually need; war profiteers need not apply.

Also consider joining the support team of the Aegis 9. We were arrested at the BIW shipyard last year and charged with criminal trespass as we stood outside the gates with messages calling for a nonviolent path forward. Our jury selection date was postponed this month and moved to January 4 at 8:30am in West Bath District Court.

Converting U.S. industrial capacity to building sustainable energy solutions is a path forward. Continuing to build and export weapons of mass destruction will only accelerate our death spiral.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

#VeteransDayWeekend2017 A Poem For His Children's Teachers On Armistice Day, From A Veteran

"Glorify peace, not war: Armistice Day vs. Veterans Day" by Rory Fanning via

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.

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."

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.

Every year now, I share this video of veteran father Will Griffin addressing his children's teachers about what he would like them teaching (here's a direct link for those of you reading this blog post as an email: ).

Monday, November 6, 2017

Skowhegan On The Map Again For Racist Chamber Of Commerce Campaign To Hunt The Indian

Since the insistence on clinging to the racist "Indian" mascot of Skowhegan Area High School has in the past brought national press attention, I expect the blundering of Skowhegan's Chamber of Commerce will do so as well.

As a fun holiday promotion the Chamber, composed of local businesses who proudly display signs supporting the racist team mascot, decided to create the first annual "hunt the Indian."

You can't make this shit up. Here, in their own words, (from a screenshot of a post later taken down after the Chamber began hearing from lots of offended people):

Now the Chamber has apologized for their (white privilege-induced) blind spot and promised to rename the scavenger hunt.

They have not, and I suspect will not, addressed the problem of the original large wooden statue that they are basing their identity on. That "Indian" (pictured above) was created decades ago by Bernard Langlais, a sculptor whose works can be found throughout the town. Native people are not keen on this artifact of cultural appropriation. As Penboscot chief Barry Dana observed to me, "It doesn't look like any Indian I ever knew."

Native people struggle every Halloween with Pocahottie costumes and every sports season with "war paint", "war whoops" and Tomahawk chops. Just this fall Wells High School in southern Maine saw a display of these offensive practices on behalf of a team named "the warriors" and against a team headed up by a Native quarterback. The quarterback's mother Amelia Tuplin made a huge fuss about it, as well she might.

I have repeatedly heard Native adults say how difficult it is to explain to their children why their culture is being publicly mocked.

The historical underpinnings of this gruesomely insensitive aftermath of attempted genocide of the Native people in North America are about as bad as it gets.

Rick York was a Skowhegan Area High School coach when he sent this photo of a "scalp towel" accompanied by a joke to school board member Jennifer Poirier, who also appeared to find it pretty amusing.

Commonly portrayed in popular culture and cartoons as scalpers, Native people were in fact the scalpees in the early centuries of European invasion and occupation of their homelands. 

From the record of a 1749 war council by English military forces led by aristocrat George Cornwallis:

"For, those cause we by and with the advice and consent of His Majesty's Council, do hereby authorize and command all Officers Civil and Military, and all His Majesty's Subjects or others to annoy, distress, take or destroy the Savage commonly called Micmac, wherever they are found, and all as such as aiding and assisting them, give further by and with the consent and advice of His Majesty's Council, do promise a reward of ten Guineas for every Indian Micmac taken or killed, to be paid upon producing such Savage taken or his scalp (as in the custom of America) if killed to the Officer Commanding."

Micmacs (a word also rendered in the Roman alphabet as Mi'kmaq) are part of the Wabanaki confederacy which is comprised of Native groups still living in North America.

Other reasons why a cutesy "Indian hunt" is anything but cute:

  • Native children were being removed from their homes and placed into abusive foster care en masse in Maine as recently as the 1970's. The Wabanaki Truth & Reconciliation Commission compiled a report of this tragedy which you can read here.
  • Native people have been resisting capitalism's destruction of the balance in our natural environment for profit for hundreds of years now. We should listen to them, else we will continue down the path of climate chaos and extreme weather.

Aftermath of the nor'easter of October, 2017 in Portland Maine, a storm which knocked out electric power for days and affected more than one million customers in New England. It also resulted in raw sewage flowing into rivers, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I hope the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce will do the right thing, but I'm not holding my breath. The idea that profit trumps all other considerations is the hallmark of the stunted thinking that led to where we find ourselves today.

Now where is that Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) group I keep waiting for in Skowhegan? If there's not one by the time I retire, I pledge to start one myself.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Too Scared To Protest, Or Too Foolish To Be Scared? #Aegis9

I learned with sadness that a former colleague had passed away. In my very first classroom -- an overcrowed trailer in Belgrade, Maine -- my Title I ed tech support for struggling readers was an experienced educator with a warm heart.

As a career change teacher I had a lot of adjusting to do to wrap my head around the often loony world of educating the whole public.

It began the day this ed tech took me aside and complained that a parent volunteer had her 5th grade daughter seated on her lap during reading group and was whispering the answers in the girl's ear.

Many years later I was the literacy coordinator at the district's middle school and my ed tech friend had transferred there as well. She stopped me in the hall to compliment a letter to the editor I had written supporting the importance of protecting Social Security under the W. Bush administration.

She described her own family's reliance on SS after her father passed away while the children were still growing up. I encouraged her to write a letter to the editor because people need to know that. She looked shocked and said that our superintendent "would not appreciate that." I countered that he had never said anything about my letters to the editor, to which her reply was "but that's you."

Apparently my lot in life is to do the things that other people yearn to do, but are too scared to try.

I was raised by parents who encouraged this sort of thinking if not action, and my mother was famous for slapping my father's boss after he pinched her butt at a party. My father laughed as he bragged about it to us children the next day.

 Organizer Toby Blome being arrested for blocking access to Creech Air Base in Nevada October, 2017.
Actually I know many people who have a far more impressive track record than I do of civil disobedience, or civil resistance if you prefer that term. My whole rap sheet consists of one arrest at the White House protesting Obama's continuation of imperial wars (failure to disperse from the fence, fined and released by bored Capitol police honoring my privilege as a white middle class woman). And now being a member of the Aegis 9.

The Aegis 9 were arrrested in an April Fool's Day snowstorm at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard.

A director of the school board I work for now tried to block my internal transfer after news of my arrest became public.

The board's lawyers billed some expensive hours explaining to them why they did not want to do that as my right to freedom of expression on my own time was protected by the Constitution.

This turn of events caused the publicity surrounding my case to spread through my union, the Maine Education Association; my school district; and the law firm that represents almost all the school districts in Maine. Not bad for a few hours of my time on April 1.

Many of the Aegis 9 continued to bring their messages to Bath Iron Works during Maine's annual peace walk in October.
But as experienced civil disobedience/resistance defense lawyer Phil Worden reportedly said, the process is the punishment. And we haven't gone to trial yet.

I'm already feeling guilty for leaving my students and current teaching partner in the lurch on November 9 as my presence is required in court for jury selection. 

Those interested in reading more background on our actions and the legal proceedings thus far can use the links on this list. 

Which Side Are You On In The Struggle Against Corporate Government? #Aegis 9

#Aegis9 Video + Corporate And Local News Coverage Of Arrests At Bath Iron Works

Denied Entrance To Warship Christening[sic], #Aegis9 Arrested For Criminal Trespass

Is "Good German" Status Quo The Order Of Our Day? #Aegis9'

It pains me to compare my departed colleague to the "good Germans" who permitted the rise of Nazi government and the Holocaust on their watch.

But I think the comparison is apt. Most Germans weren't Nazis, but they were scared, and their timidity mostly ensured their silent complicity in WWII. The above-linked essay by my co-defendent Jason Rawn does a good job of laying out this argument.

This former Nazi Party member refused to salute Hitler -- at a shipyard in Hamburg in 1936.

If you're in Maine and want to step out of your comfort zone to support the Aegis 9, you can do so in West Bath District Court on November 9 at 8:30am. Our actual trial date will likely be set at that time, and is expected to be either in November or December.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Too Good To Be True: Information Wanted To Be Free But...

Our relative the Kennebec River spilling out of its banks the morning after the nor'easter of October 30, 2017.

I had noted that it was eerie living in a pocket of apparent calm, uneasily enjoying a remarkably warm autumn in New England while Houston flooded and the Florida Keys were leveled and California burned and Puerto Rico went without electricity or potable water for weeks on end.

To those who choose not to see, the occupation of the entire planet by the U.S. military is largely invisible; its role in global climate catastrophe, even more so.

Let's make cider and gather leaves to till into our gardens, said the people around my neighborhood. Should we harvest the carrots and leeks yet? Then came the rogue nor'easter of Halloween eve.

My husband stands on the road I drove on my morning commute about an hour before several pine trees fell on it, taking  power lines down with them. I drove under a downed power line before encountering this barrier a half mile later. I abandoned my car after Mark rescued me by driving as far as he could from the opposite direction, and then hiking through the woods to where I was stranded.

Suddenly almost half the households in Maine were without electricity. For many, this meant without heat as well. Temperatures began to dip toward frost overnight and people were sleeping at my local school while they waited for power to be restored. Some people are still waiting, and others have been told restoration is not possible without rebuilding the infrastructure.

No showers or blogging for this household. We cooked by candlelight and scuttled around storing frozen food in various alternative spots, watching as the contents of our refrigerator slowly died. We took sponge baths with water heated over a woodstove. We charged our phones in the car or at work. First world problems.

The Hallmark card sentiment that every sunrise is a blessing could not truly be felt until I had been in darkness 12+ hours several days in a row.

Ditto the wonder of light spilling from last night's full moon.

So it is in this context that I encountered news that social media platforms are groing dim,  visibly being brought under kleptocracy's control.

I was saddened, but not surprised.

The internet with its troves of curated information always seemed to me too good to be true

Like the sexual revolution of the 60's, when for a few years pre-AIDs affluent baby boomers had access to reliable birth control, drugs that cured venereal disease, and liberation from the Puritan inhibitions claiming our sexuality and its expression were deadly sins. Something that good and free just doesn't seem to last.

Facebook began censoring two thinkers I've come to rely on -- Australian Caitlin Johnstone and fellow Mainer Bruce Gagnon -- even as Congress heard testimony that social media companies must do the dirty deeds, or be themselves punished.

From Andre Damon's reporting published on the World Socialist News website (a non-corporate news and opinion site which, incidentally, no longer appears as a source turned up by a Google search even though I've gone to it many times over the years):
Over the course of four hours, senators argued that “foreign infiltration” is the root of social opposition within the United States, in order to justify the censorship of oppositional viewpoints.
Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii demanded...that the companies adopt a “mission statement” expressing their commitment “to prevent the fomenting of discord.”

The kleptocrats are worried and well they should be. Talk of gutting mortgage deductions --  the primary middle class tax shelter -- is a harbinger of austerity for the many. History shows that discord inevitably follows homelessness, hunger, or watching a loved one die from lack of affordable health care. Poor people and, disproportionately, people of color have known this all along. Those of us who've been coasting on our white and class privilege are about to have a rude awakening.

As the lights flicker on and off in the gathering gloom, I hear an out of season tree frog chirping in a warm November before dawn. Neighbors have noticed no birds at their feeders this fall. I suspect the frog's song may the requiem for our unsustainable lives on this planet.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Too Sensitive Or Potentially Sensitive: Racist Threats OK With Twitter, Facebook But Discussing Racism Is Not

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson has a voice that white supremacists despise, but her role as a public official makes it difficult to silence her. So, they insult her instead.
A favorite local blogger, Shay Stewart-Bouley, who publishes Black Girl in Maine Media, posted about being blocked on Twitter for discussing the racism she and her family live with 365 days a year.

Stewart-Bouley wrote in "Real talk is sensitive, or How the truth is silenced" that her tweets have been blocked as "potentially sensitive" (whatever the hell potentially means in this context-- thought crimes anyone?). If you read her at all you know that she is in the habit of using well-considered words and refraining from invective.

Not implying that she should do so, but that is her choice of style in public communications.

So Twitter is really bending over backwards to silence an eloquent black woman while elevating the voice of vile, inflammatory, openly racist and violent tweeters.

Can you think of any vile tweeters that may spring to mind? 

A similar block on social media happened last week when I tried to comment on Penobscot Not Your Mascot organizer Maulian Dana's post on Facebook and fb flagged it as "too sensitive." WTF?

Here's what I wrote: I have heard versions of this powerful truth so many times in connection with the racist mascot used by Skowhegan Area High School: "I had to explain to my 8 year old why they were making fun of us..."

Here's Maulian's post that sparked my comment:
I am sharing in its entirety the eloquent and impactful letter that Amelia Tuplin shared with the Wells School Department after seeing her race mocked and degraded through Indian mascot usage. Her words are powerful and I am thankful for her speaking out. This is far from over and hopefully we can continue this dialogue that has gone on for many years now and finally free our state of these acts and make it a better place for people of all races and backgrounds. Woliwoni, Amelia.
My name is Amelia Tuplin.
On behalf of my entire family, I'm writing to express my outrage over the display of racism, ignorance and mockery that took place at the Wells high School football game on Friday, October 13th, 2017. Your team, students and spectators mocked our families heritage including my son, Quarterback Lucas Francis, by painting their faces, banging on fake drums that included 5 gallon buckets, singing mock chants, performing mock dances, and continuously making hand over mouth sounds. It was the most ultimate display of racism on the largest scale I’ve ever seen. A quick search on social media will bring up hundreds of photos to prove my case.
Before I get into detail, I'd like to first share some background information about myself and my family to help you understand my anger and disgust.
I'm a Mother, a wife,a school bus driver, a sports mom, football booster, volunteer & Native Artisan. I'm also a full blooded Mi’kmaq (MicMac) women from Lisbon Maine. We’ve lived in Lisbon for 13 years. I’m proud to be a part of a community that has accepted my family's culture and a school system that respects and embraces my children for who they and their heritage.
I'm originally from the Abegweit First Nation Reservation. My husband Jeffrey Tuplin Sr. has roots on the Lennox Island First Nation Reservation. My children are also full blood Mi'kmaq. We have family roots in the Elsipogtog First Nation Reservation, Piktu’K (Pictou) Landing First Nation Reservation and the Blood Reserve.
Our family is proud to be Mi'kmaq & Blackfoot, it's part of our daily lives, it's who we are, it runs thick in blood. Our immediate families have a long line of prominent Chiefs, Tribal Council Members, Medicine Men & Women, Traditional Elders, Jingle Dress Dancers, Drum Keepers, Pipe Carriers, Sundancers, Sweat Lodge Keepers, basket makers, quillwork artists, Aboriginal Authors, Aboriginal Lawyers, Aboriginal Nurses, Retired Native Military Members, Native B.ED Educators and Principles. We are proud of our heritage and it shines through in our work and ethics. I represent my entire family when I say we are offended and outraged.
We take pride in persevering our language, our sacred teachings, traditional medicines, sacred face painting ceremony, ceremonial regalia, sacred drums & honors songs. These things have been passed down for many generations and are sacred and precious to preserving our culture.
Unfortunately on Friday night, October 13th, 2017, my family witnessed first hand a racially insensitive display of racism and mockery of our culture on a large scale at the Wells High School Football Game.
Prior to the game, I was well aware of your Warriors Mascot and logo, which I did not find offensive, at the time. When tastefully used, with an appropriate display of homage used, Tribal Mascots would make one feel proud, proud to be Native, proud to be a Warrior.
This is not the case for Wells High School. You made a mockery of my culture.
Your chants, fake drums, war paint, dance and hand over mouth sounds were embarrassing to watch and hurtful.

This behavior is culturally insensitive, distasteful, and downright racist. To say the least I was ashamed and disappointed in your school for allowing and encouraging this type of racial mockery by your staff, students, fans, players & coaches.
Do you realize that you as a school, as educators, by encouraging this, are sending your students out into the world with a false idea of how Native Americans behave. Not once in my entire life have I seen any person in my family, from my community, at a Powwow or a ceremony behave the way you betray Natives. It was was belittling and racist.
Here are just some of the things I witnessed first hand.
Spectators including students holding fake drums and five gallon buckets, pounding and drumming on them singing offensive chants.
Face paint, distastefully done.
Hand over mouth sounds.
Players doing a mock native dance and chant.
This was not an isolated incident or a small group of people, this was on a large scale that continued throughout the entire game.
After the game I witnessed a celebratory Native mock dance and mock chant by the Wells football team.
I escorted my son from the field to the School only to be taunted by people making hand over mouth sounds.
I have been informed that this type of behavior is normal by the Wells Warriors high school team and fans and is considered part of their theme and mascot.
My family suffers from the direct effects of abuse and oppression from the Indian residential school era. With that being said, I'm shocked to be on the receiving end of racial mockery at this magnitude especially from a school in modern 2017.
My goal is to bring this to light, to as many people as possible. Your mascot is offensive, simply because of the way you represent it. I'm asking your mockery to stop immediately. Educate yourself on our culture, be classy and show some respect. Paint a true picture of our culture. Fill your students minds and hearts with the truth, stop encouraging false depictions of how natives behave and celebrate, it comes off as hateful and racist. You're promoting a false image of Natives. This is what your graduates are taking with them into an already world full of hate.
I refuse to subject my children to this type of behavior again, it needs to stop. Wells you created a hostile, hate filled racist environment for my family. What should have been a full filled night of football, a celebration of our young athletes, instead turned into a night of shame and embarrassment. I spent my night reassuring others I was ok, but not ok with what was happening. I had to explain to my 8 year old why they were making fun of us and his older brother on the football field.
Ultimately this behavior needs to stop immediately, and your Mascot should go up for immediate review and removal. I recommend Wells School Dept. have proper Native American cultural awareness training. I have brought this to the attention of the Commissioner of the Dept of Education, Maine Principal Association, Lisbon Town Council, Lisbon & Wells Superintendents of Schools, Lisbon & Wells Athletic Directors, Several Tribal Chiefs, State Senator Mason & the Media. I can only hope this brings to light an investigation and you are held accountable.
I'm requesting a public apology.
Amelia Tuplin
Lisbon Maine
Talk about potentially sensitive!

One of the links shared by Stewart-Bouley, "Activists of color lose battles against Facebook's moderator army" recounts an experiment by psychologist Mary Canty Merrill. Similar to experiments sending out résumés with "white sounding" names vs. "black sounding names," Merrill asked white friends to repost verbatim the words she had written that resulted in not only blocking but having her account suspended. Can you guess what happened?

Here are Merrill's truths that must issue only from white facebook accounts, apparently, but not from the account of a person who is most knowledgable and affected by them:
“Dear White People: The terminology we use to define a problem determines how we attempt to solve it.
“You are so accustomed to defining racism as people of color being the problem that you want to fix us, patronize us, save us and heal us. You rarely perceive yourselves as the problem (which is where its root lies). Thus, your interventions are most often ill-informed, misdirected and yield no meaningful or sustainable results.”
Talk about inflammatory! One can only imagine what would have happened if Merrill had used ugly racist epithets, threatened her white readers with violence, disparaged their ancestors, or accused them of being money-grubbing "empty barrels."

Ijeoma Olulo reported last year that she was blocked by Facebook for posting screenshots of the harrassing, violent, threatening messages sent to her -- messages that Facebook refused to block at their source.

Facebook's management was sent a letter last week from two congressmen detailing concerns about publishing advertising from white supremacists that qualifies as hate speech, and asking for answers. 

Like Frederica Wilson, Keith Ellison and John Conyers will be harder to silence than activists like Black Lives Matter organizer Didi Delgado. ProPublica reported in "Facebook's secret censorship rules protect white men from hate" that

Delgado had her account suspended when Facebook removed her post: “All white people are racist. Start from this reference point, or you’ve already failed."

Talk about a sensitive truth! White people, let's get to work and use our white privilege to shout it from the digital rooftops.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Ignore Your Empire's Wars At Your Peril

"Troops killed in ambush on joint US-Niger patrol" Al-Jazeera 
My friend Janet re-tweeted photos of the four U.S. military men killed in Niger last week, which led me to search for more news about this disturbing event.

Now that Google has re-configured its search algorithms to even more strongly preference corporate "news" sources, I have to dig deeper for nuggets of information about the misadventures of the empire I'm funding (e.g. my yearly bonus for achieving National Board Professional Teacher certification is $3,000, but I'll receive only about $2,000 after taxes of which more than half will go to the Pentagon).

I could stop using Google and instead use DuckDuckGo or another search engine that does not track my activity. But, it returns similar corporate media sources and will never tailor itself to my preferences as it doesn't remember what I've clicked on in the past.

Such is the labor required to find news in the declining days of the so-called Information Age.

I thought I had found something useful on, the website of the Centre for Research on Globalization. But it turned out to be a reprint of an article from focusing on the demagogue with bad hair and his non-reaction to the deaths in Niger.

Every time I look for news online these days it seems to want to fall into one of two categories: bland regurgitation of press releases from the government, or an obsessive focus on the role of the demagogue with bad hair.

Progressive journalists in the U.S. seem to have become mentally ill under the steady influence of their obsession with the man and his misdeeds. I find myself drifting further from finding such news purveyors relevant or even useful with each passing day.

Eventually I navigated to the World Socialist Website article "Killings of four elite soldiers in Niger highlight vast scale of American military operations in Africa" by Eddie Haywood.

Besides offering current context, it provided useful background on how regime change in Libya effected by a U.S. Democratic Party administration sparked military conflict in the bordering nation of Mali which has in turn led to militarized violence in Niger, which shares a border with both.

Along the way of my search I stumbled on news that the former Deputy PM of Qatar is warning that mercenaries employed by Erik Prince (i.e.Blackwater, now known as Academi) are poised to invade Qatar from the United Arab Emirates. Middle East Monitor reported that these military preparations pre-date the recent sanctions and threats against the home base of media company Al Jazeera.

Also, I encountered a report on U.S. troops rotating home from northern Australia where Obama sent them to engage in war rehearsals with their counterparts in Oz. 


According to a report in Reuters:
During the six-month deployment, the U.S. troops participated in 12 joint exercises with the Australian Defence Force, giving them an opportunity to interact with a range of countries including China, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The exercises are part of the "pivot to Asia" which U.S. troops in Niger could also be seen as participating in; both are about countering China's considerable influence in Africa and, of course, southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

All of this led me to reflect on the best essay I read this week, an examination by military historian Andrew Bacevich of "How We Learned Not To Care About America's Wars."

Bacevich presents what he sees as the salient factors in descending order of importance:

1) U.S. casualty rates are low
2) the actual costs of U.S. wars are never calculated
3) lip service about supporting the troops has supplanted actual engagement
4) the dangers of terrorism are "hyped and hyped and hyped some more"
5) talking head nonsense crowds out substantive discussion and debate
6) people in the U.S. educated classes keep themselves very, very busy
7) belief that the next Commander-in-Chief will save the day
8) the diverse "progressive" military is seen as immune to criticism

His final paragraph renders this scathing indictment (from a West Point graduate who lost a son to the war on Iraq):
A collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.  
But don't expect your neighbors down the street or the editors of the New York Times to lose any sleep over that fact.  Even to notice it would require them -- and us -- to care.
Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it, or so the old saying goes. I find our deliberately induced ignorance of current events is integral to our historic amnesia.

Here's an historical nugget of archival footage of a pro-America pro-Nazi rally held in 1939 in Madison Square Garden, NYC that you may wish you could unsee.

A Night at the Garden from Field of Vision on Vimeo.

Cue the chorus of "my grandfather fought fascists in WWII" clogging up the comment sections of articles on the rise of white supremacists again going proud and public in 2017. Never mind that it was mostly the Soviets who defeated Nazi Germany. Who remembers that?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

When A Picture And Caption Are Worth One Thousand Words

I am a word person but the explosion of visuals that digital media makes possible and social media makes visible has been one of the joys of my middle and now elder life.

The image above is one I created after sister peace activist Palma Ryan pointed out the opportunity for messaging created by Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit images growing old enough to enter the public domain.

Maine Veterans for Peace leader Richard Clement is creating buttons based on the design, and I expect to be receiving some in the mail soon. (Let me know if you'd like one by leaving a comment on this blog post.)

Art work by Russell Wray
As the annual Maine Peace Walk gets underway this week, I'm inspired by artist Russell Wray's eloquent banners and sculpture to express where we are and where he'd like us to be.

Banner posted by Mary Ann Grady Flores of protest at Hancock Air Base where she was arrested and sentenced to 6 months in jail for photographing protesters. Her appeal is being heard in Albany, NY this week.

How best to move people to realize we're bankrupting ourselves and killing forms of life all over the planet so a few very wealthy people can become even more wealthy?

Banner by Artists Rapid Response Team (ARRT!) of the Union of Maine Visual Artists

Anthony Freda is one of my favorite artists for the movement. His work ranges over many topics, but nobody does antiwar imaging better.

Here's one he created at my request that I use for the Natural Guard campaign:

Image: Anthony Freda
And a more recent image he created in response to the death wish expressed by the nominal leader of the USA:

As the leaves die brilliantly around me these days, I fear we may be in danger of witnessing the end of our ability to imagine and create images. I hope not.