Saturday, July 20, 2019

Close The Camps! National Disgrace! We Do Not Consent! Heard By ICE Agents At South Portland Sit-Down As 14 Protesters Issued Citations

Michael Cutting with a warning for us all (photos mine unless otherwise noted)

Yesterday at the ICE facility in South Portland, Maine, I joined about 50 people horrified by the torture of children in concentration camps, children who are caged and denied basic hygiene after being separated from their parents and other family members.

It was so hot that my phone quit working after the first 40 minutes so I did not get all the photos I had hoped to get. The Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald both covered the action and showed the 14 people who sat down and refused to move until the camps are closed. They were issued citations after a long time sitting on hot pavement. My sheroes and heroes, all.

Ably led by Catholic Worker Jessica Stewart from her wheelchair, the action repeated one a year ago for the audience of Homeland Security employees. Message for this target group: "just following orders" will not excuse you morally. It will not even protect you under international law when the torture of children is finally adjudicated.

Heed our warning now: exert your moral agency, and step away from doing evil.

I was so hot that I got a migraine, and on the drive home reflected that I had failed to ask the officers if any of them were members of the notorious "I'm 10-15" closed group for Border Patrol agents now archived (with a name change) on Facebook.

Border Patrol agent Jason D. Owens with Senator Susan Collins, who has shown a great fondness for fascism since the demagogue with bad hair was elected in 2016.

The head Border Patrol agent in Houlton, Maine,  Jason D. Owens, was a member of the group before it caught the attention of ProPublica and vanished.

The group's posts regularly featured sadistic memes and jokes aimed at "tonks" which is apparently what these cops call migrants based on the sound it makes when their heads are struck with a flashlight.

In case you're wondering why we protest.

In case you're wondering why I didn't sit down, too, it's because I'm still out on bail for my arrest blocking the road at a war ship launch by Bath Iron Works on June 22.

Another member of the Inouye 22, Ashley Bahlkow, was in SoPo yesterday with her husband and their 2 year old. We were both avoiding arrest for the same reason. When I remarked on the numerous reporters present, she observed that news outlets in Maine are a lot more reticent about covering protests of General Dynamic$, which owns Bath Iron Works.

Another friend I saw that did risk arrest was organizer Mary Dunn. It was a first time for her and I was super proud of her endurance and commitment. She has been holding weekly "close the camps" vigils on Fridays in Waterville, Maine and has just recently connected with Jessica Stewart. These women are formidable and I can't imagine having better advocates for justice for children.

Elizabeth Leonard was also on hand playing guitar and leading songs to keep morale up. Based on Mary's post about the experience, it sounds like it worked.

Photo credit: Brianna Soukup, Portland Press Herald

I had worried that the group that sat down could not hear us chanting and singing because they were directly behind the exhaust pipe of a Homeland Security truck that sat idling for two hours (all of them appeared to be content to waste fuel and spew CO2 while their trucks were parked).

While the sit-down was underway, we were informed that ICE had arrested six people in Rangely, Maine. A very small town high in the Western Mountains, and the type of tourist destination that is scrambling to staff its hospitality business as the federal government continues to prosecute those willing to travel far from home to work at those jobs. Cruelty is not very rational when it comes to economics.

How many people refuse to vacation in the U.S. as they boycott the cruelty? We'll never know for sure, but I know some individuals personally who are boycotting. And I can't say that I blame them.

Maine was once Vacationland but today will break a record for hottest ever recorded in Portland. The evil empire seems determined to go full throttle off the moral and environmental cliff.

I'll keep protesting until I literally cannot continue. See you in the streets.

With my friend Jacqui Deveneau yesterday. (Photo credit: Robin Farrin)

Protest wherever you go! To order a t-shirt with my sign design on it you can click here. Proceeds go to RAICES, a legal advocacy organization working directly to support migrants and asylum seekers. Thanks to my childhood friend Rebecca Northcutt for setting that up and spreading the image around Santa Cruz, California. We are allies from coast to coast demanding: CLOSE THE CAMPS!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Of Great White Whales And Sacred Cows: Who Dares Criticize Bill McKibben?

A certainty of my waning years is that any likely social movement is almost immediately co-opted by $$$$$$$, sometimes masquerading as the Democratic Party. I say masquerading because, even though the DNC was too racist for my parents to want to belong, it subsequently rebranded itself as progressive, socially aware, and concerned with the plight of poor people. This is a convenient mask to wear while wining and dining with General Dynamics.

The Squad in Congress who object to military funding pointing out, as Rep. Rashida Tlaib did, "These are huge checks being written to Boeing and Lockheed," are inconvenient to the ruling class. D's and R's have criticized them, while history suggests they will be wooed by many a suitor to abandon their principles. Only time will tell.

So goes life under late capitalism, with its designed-to-be-endless wars hastening climate catastrophe barreling down on us.

Climate activists have their share of Democratic Party-style apologists. Bill McKibben's recent piece in the New York Review of Books shows him doing backflips to minimize the Pentagon's role in hastening climate change, and frame the U.S. military as, not a cause, but a solution.

My good friend and climate activist Janet Weil had this to say about that:

The thing that really stood-out for me in McKibben's article was the "of course" about 800 U.S. military bases all over the world.
Of course they are! Just like seawater in the seas, or any other "natural" phenomenon. 
But we can hope for a world where U.S. military bases, of whatever number, all over the world and into space and maybe Mars someday, are fueled by renewable energy! Which is magic and comes from renewable fairies, not resources dug out of the ground and fought for/defended by...the military!

Journalist Cory Morningstar addressed some of McKibben's other points in a Facebook post on July 4:

If you don't do Facebook the See More link will not work, so here are screenshots of the rest of Morningstar's commentary:

What would real action on Pentagon climate crimes look like? Extinction Rebellion marched on Washington DC recently. They are on the list for big donations from a "philanthropist" being advised by McKibben and others of his ilk. Probably because of sentiments like this one from an extinction rebel in DC interviewed by Popular Resistance:

“I’m here because I have seen that what traditional environmental NGOs do to address climate change isn’t working,” [Dominic Serino] said.

Which brings me to the best article I've read in a long time on climate, governance, human behavior and, yes, literature: "Ye cannot swerve me: Moby-Dick and climate change" by Manuel Garcia, Jr. in Counterpunch.

Some choice morsels from Mr. Garcia's analysis:

...fossil fuels are the opiates in the addiction to war that would be the death of humanity by Planet Earth’s rejection of it.
Do we work dutifully to the death, or till cast adrift as expendable, and do we willingly follow the leader to perdition if he is hellbound and determined for it; or do we rebel, overturn the structure of command, and lead ourselves even if such freedom entails a hard life? Is humanity as a whole worth our individual pains in this effort? Or, is the idea of restructuring human civilization — and soon — to jettison capitalism, authoritarianism, and their enabling fossil-fueled militarism and marbling corruption, just a chimera that would use up our individual life forces to no avail;
We're the crew of the doomed ship. Young people are demanding we swerve, the whale is climate catastrophe, and I think we can guess who Captain Ahab is.

Ha, you thought it was going to be the demagogue with bad hair, didn't you? Sadly, it's McKibben.

If you find other authors who dared to criticize Bill McKibben's article, drop me a line will you?

Meanwhile, you owe it to yourself to read Garcia's whole piece, for the hope and optimism contained within its bitter truth.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Outpouring Of Grief And Rage Across A Nation Caging Children #LightsForLiberty

Waterville, Maine  July 12, 2019

My husband and I attended two events yesterday in Maine protesting the child concentration camps and family separations employed by the federal government to terrorize asylum seekers and other immigrants.

Waterville, Maine July 12, 2019

50 people turned out in Skowhegan to stand for two hours on the bridge, ending with a candlelight vigil.

Skowhegan, Maine  July 12, 2019

It was part of the nationwide Lights for Liberty campaign to bring the demand to the streets and, where possible, to the concentration camps themselves.

50 is a lot of people at a protest in central Maine, but there was no press at the well-publicized event.

Many of my own children's retired teachers were there, as well as current teachers and several children. Organizer and educator Aliza Jones was there with her daughter who was eating ice cream -- what children should be doing on a summer night, rather than crying for their parents while laying on concrete in a cage near the border.

Skowhegan, Maine July 12, 2019
Lots of signs called on the federal government to do better. Some expressed a belief that the USA is better than this.

Waterville, Maine  July 12, 2019

I wish I could agree that our country is better than this. Built on the genocide of Native people and the labor of slaves, we do not have an admirable history. My white people always seem to be forgetting that many of us could be holding Bobby Hayes' sign above: Grandchild of Immigrants. 

But many people do not know the true history of this nation: the U.S. government turned away boatloads of Jewish refugees who died in concentration camps, knew about the Holocaust but allowed it to proceed anyway, and, after tardily "liberating" the camps, ran show trials at Nuremberg while quietly bringing Nazi rocket scientists to the USA.

Skowhegan, Maine   July 12, 2019

But we, the people of the U.S., can do MUCH better than caging toddlers and torturing them by withholding food, showers, and hugs.

Bourassa family together in Skowhegan  July 12, 2019

As the Japanese-Americans interned during WWII hysteria have said, At least we were with our parents. 

Even for adults, even if they are alleged to have broken a law (note that seeking asylum is not a crime), indefinite detention goes against the rule of law the U.S. claims to have been founded on.

It could be you or a toddler you love next.
Skowhegan, Maine  July 12, 2019

Get busy now demanding that your elected officials shut down the camps and reunite the families: 202-225-3121.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Public Opinion Turning As Pentagon Planet Keeps On Burning

Source: Brown University's Watson Institute Costs of War Project

It was 114 degrees in France last month during the hottest June ever recorded on Earth.

The executive branch of the U.S. government's response? Worship the war machine. Roll out the tanks, and promise that 'Murica will plant a flag on Mars. (In case you were confused about NASA being a branch of the military.)

My opinion: they may be winning the battle for increased Pentagon funding, but they are losing the war of public opinion.

© Chappatte

I keep a running list of articles and studies pointing out the connection between the climate emergency and military greenhouse gas emissions. Lately I am able to update it every few days, a good sign that people are waking up to the grim truth: if you're talking about climate without talking about the military, you're just whistling in the dark. (You can hear Rep. Chellie Pingree whistling in April before paying homage in June to major polluter General Dynamics as they celebrated completion of yet another carbon belching war ship at Bath Iron Works.)

The latest entries on my list come from quite different sources:

Published by The Roar  July 5, 2019
by Eleanor Goldfield, Act Out!

Published by The Conversation  June 24, 2019

by Benjamin Neimark, Lancaster University, Oliver Belcher, Durham University & Patrick Bigger, Lancaster University

Young people are especially aware of the threat of climate disruption, because the news is also full of dire predictions like this one from Nafeez Ahmed in Vice: "New report suggests high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end in 2050."

Callous disregard of scientific facts is why information management is crucial to the regime, and should be to those of us in opposition to burning the world down in a display of patriotic ignorance.

Meredith Bruskin, Connie Jenkins, Russell Wray, Dud Hendrick, Rob Shetterly & Richard Kane  Photo credit: Amy Browne

Here in Maine we have allies in the information effort, like community radio station WERU. Producer Amy Browne recently interviewed five of the Inouye 22 and you can hear them explain why they blocked the road at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard on June 27 archived here.

The corporate press covered our civil resistance actions lightly if at all. Two sisters who were arrested together took them to task in a letter to the editor that did manage to slip through:

Absence from BIW ‘christening,’ activist events reflects poorly on Press Herald
A robust local resistance, a former presidential candidate's visit, a display of hypocrisy by Gov. Mills and 'Maine's latest contribution' to climate change are all newsworthy. 
Last Saturday, demonstrators gathered near the entrances to Bath Iron Works and a nearby intersection to peacefully protest the “christening” of destroyer USS Daniel Inouye (read: implement of terror, violence and planetary destruction). 
Twenty-two veterans, artists, parents, teachers and others were arrested, and zero Portland Press Herald reporters covered this. If they had, they would have learned that, as a follow-up action to protest the cash bail system (which unfairly punishes poor people), nine protesters refused to pay release fees of $60 and were held at Two Bridges Regional Jail for the weekend. Kudos to those willing to spend the nicest weekend of the season behind bars! And each with a touching story as to why. 
The Press Herald would have known about this action and the central message of the demonstrators if a reporter had attended a news conference last Friday. At this event, youth climate activists, representatives from Maine’s First Nations and other notable speakers, including Dr. Jill Stein, spoke about converting BIW’s product line to a lucrative green and also peaceful one. At present, General Dynamics (BIW’s parent company), while receiving tens of millions in corporate welfare (aka our tax dollars), contributes to the U.S. military’s unprecedented carbon footprint by churning out obsolete implements of war like this one.

Also of note, Gov. Mills spoke in support at the “christening,” despite having signed the Green New Deal in Maine into law earlier that week (hypocrisy).
We’re at a loss for what qualifies as news these days. The Press Herald only reprinted a typo-riddled (but appreciated) Times Record article, which made no mention of the bail refusal action or Mills. Why isn’t the work of robust local activist communities, a former presidential candidate’s visit, the flip-floppy and disappointing actions of the state’s highest-ranking political officials and Maine’s latest contribution to the global climate crisis newsworthy? 
Ashley and Sophia Bahlkow 
North Yarmouth

The Earth's atmosphere does not care whether there is a D or an R after the name of chief executives celebrating carbon belching weapons of war.

But, the U.S. public cares a lot. A cascade of articles responding to the race to Mars invoked in the president's 4th of July remarks (which went hilariously off the tracks when his teleprompter shut down in heavy rain) have been sharing this simple truth:

To slow global warming, "Stop Building a Spaceship to Mars, and Just Plant Some Damn Trees" writes Jackie Flynn Mogensen in Mother Jones reporting on a climate study just published in the journal Science.

This begs the question, how would planting trees help politicians get big campaign donations from corporations? I'll bet you won't see the corporate press connecting those dots any time soon.

We have our work cut out for us.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

#GovKnew About #ClimateChange But It Supported The Fossil Fuel Economy Instead (Stupid)

I am thrilled to share this brilliant piece from Our Children’s Trust, the group suing the federal government on behalf of youngsters (see Juliana v. US for more on that effort).

My friend Janet Weil saw this performed in Portland, Oregon and procured a copy of the script for me to share with you. The play is being prepared for use in schools -- yay!


by David Solnit & Our Children's Trust

YOUTH : When did you know burning fossil fuels would cause climate change?

GRANDPARENT : Well, when I was 10 year old like you, way back in 1958, we were warned about climate change in movies and on TV shows, including the TV science show, “The Unchained Goddess” by the director of “It’s a Wonderful Life” ( Source ). The U.S. Navy was one of the lead government agencies studying climate change.

YOUTH : Did the Fossil Fuel Industry know too?

GRANDPARENT : Yes, Exxon Knew. Big Oil Knew. Big Coal Knew. Their own scientists warned them. And they spent millions to lie and cover up the scientists’ warnings. They created and funded climate denial and skepticism disinformation campaigns to undermine science and prevent any efforts to stop the climate crisis to protect their profits.

YOUTH : What about the Presidents? Did they know?

GRANDPARENT : The last 11 Presidents all knew. And You can ask them yourself!

(Presidents lined up, one behind the other, backwards on stage right. Or They are hidden behind leg curtain formed by vertical banners. A “#GovKnew” banner will be on stage left. After each president recites lines they line up shoulder to shoulder behind the #GovKnew banner. It is held in front of puppeteers, and below the jackets of presidents, With each president we will walk through this call and response question, followed by succinct answers.)

( A prop person holds speech bubble above head of each president as he takes center stage. Then lowers it as the president exits to line up behind banner.)

YOUTH : President Kennedy, may I ask you a question? ( Enter President) When did you know about the looming climate crisis?

KENNEDY: “My fellow citizens, in 1961, I was warned by Senator Clinton Anderson that there could be 25 percent more atmospheric carbon by the year 2000.”

YOUTH : What did you do President Kennedy?

KENNEDY : “I expanded both private and public fossil fuel projects.”

YOUTH : ( All eleven times this question is asked it is directed to the audience) “Did our
government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

CHILD : President Johnson may I ask you a question? (Enter Pres Johnson, Speech bubble in place) When did you know about the looming climate crisis?

JOHNSON : “In 1965, my Administration published an official report showing the steady rise of CO2 from burning Fossil Fuels and the dangerous impacts to come.”

YOUTH : And what Did The Johnson Administration Do?

JOHNSON : “Despite the dire warnings, we put our report on a shelf and didn’t take any actions that would address this crisis and build a great society.”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Nixon may I ask you a question? ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in placeWhen did you Know about the looming climate crisis?

NIXON : “My fellow Americans, in 1969, I received a memo that predicted a 10 foot sea level rise due to climate change. It read: ‘Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington.’ I knew then that we needed to build an electric vehicle fleet.”

YOUTH : So what did The Nixon Administration Do?

NIXON : “My Administration leased huge swaths of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil drilling and development. ”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Ford. ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in place) When did you Know about the looming climate crisis?

FORD : “In 1975, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences put out the following warning: ‘our vulnerability to climate change is seen to be all the more serious . . .and we simply cannot afford to be unprepared for either a natural or man-made climatic catastrophe.’"

YOUTH : So What Did The Ford Administration Do?

FORD : At my 1975 State of the Union address, I proudly announced a program that proposed 250 major new coal mines, 150 major coal-fired power plants and 30 major new [oil] refineries within 10 years!”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Carter. ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in place) When did you Know
about the looming climate crisis?

CARTER : “By 1978, I had received multiple warnings that fossil fuel expansion would cause catastrophic climate change and global socio-political disruption by the year 2025. The scientists advised switching to renewable energy!”

YOUTH : So What Did The Carter Administration Do?

CARTER : “Instead of planning for renewable energy expansion, I proposed drastic increases in fossil fuel production since we had it in abundance!”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Reagan. ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in place) When did you Know
about the looming climate crisis?

REAGAN : “In 1985, my scientists recommended specific energy policy changes like permanently ending the use of coal by the year 2000 after informing me that climate change may “overwhelm earth's life-support system. ’”

YOUTH : So What Did The Reagan Administration Do?

REAGAN : “During my presidency, my Administration developed fracking technology for the fossil fuel industry, moved funds away from renewable research and development, and reduced automobile fuel economy standards!

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Bush may I ask you a question? ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in placeWhen did you Know about the looming climate crisis?

H.W. : “In 1989, We knew so much about the dangers of the climate crisis, that I announced that I would issue an executive order for government action on climate change!”

YOUTH : So What Did The Bush Senior. Administration Do?

H.W. : “I never issued that Executive Order, and instead, my Administration refused to join 63 countries in a pledge to curb emissions!”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Clinton. ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in place) When did you Know
about the looming climate crisis?

CLINTON : “Acknowledging the compounding evidence of our climate crisis, I supported the 1998 Kyoto Protocol, an international climate agreement to cut emissions.”

YOUTH : So what Did The Clinton Administration Do?

CLINTON : “My Administration was lobbied by the American Petroleum Institute, and expanded coal leasing, despite knowledge that global warming would reverse our nation’s prosperity. 

It’s the economy, stupid!”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Bush. ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in place) When did you Know
about the looming climate crisis?

GEORGE W : “During my presidency, I publicly announced my concern about  global warming!”

YOUTH : So what Did The Bush Administration Do?

GEORGE W ( Bush characterization: pronounce “s” as “ch” ): “You may have misunderestimated me, because we censored climate scientists and blocked EPA climate reports about the gravity of the climate crisis and we promoted ‘clean coal’ propaganda!”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Obama. ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in place) When did you Know
about the looming climate crisis?

Obama characterization: pauses )

OBAMA :  “People of America, I am your Green President. My administration spoke openly of the daunting climate projections and I vowed to address our climate Crisis.”

YOUTH : So what Did The Obama Administration Do?

OBAMA : “I proudly expanded oil infrastructure and commissioned the highest number of coal plants in 25 years! That was me, people!”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): “Government Knew!”

YOUTH : President Trump. ( Enter President; Speech Bubble in place) When did you Know
about the looming climate crisis?

TRUMP : “Last year, we put out the National Climate Assessment. Very, very bad. The report says we are facing a YUUUUUGE existential threat.”

YOUTH : What Is The Trump Administration Doing?

TRUMP : “I’ve increased coal exports and expanded oil and gas extraction everywhere I can on federal public lands and committed to making the US fossil fuel energy dominant in the world. We’ll burn it at home and promote fossil fuels throughout the world. We’re going to bring back coal!”

YOUTH : “Did our government know?”

CROWD/GRANDPARENT ( BIG cue sign held up ): 

“Government Knew!”

YOUTH : So They did know all about the dangers of the climate crisis! And they didn’t just do nothing about it! Instead, they took sides with the fossil fuel industry for decades to cause this climate crisis and to violate my rights. Now what do we do?

( Silk flags begin to jog towards the stage area from both sides with choreographed waving, passing by the presidents and circling the crowd. )

GRANDPARENT : You’re doing it; you’re taking the government to court. And you are part of the people power and street heat necessary to help the courts force our government to address the climate crisis, just as we needed the civil rights street heat and people power to push the courts to stand up to racism. We need climate strikes and the recognition of these 21 plaintiffs’ constitutional right to safe climate system!








Photos added by me. Photo credits:

Heat map of global surface temperature anomalies 2014 - 2018. Red indicates higher than normal temperatures, blue indicates lower than normal temperatures. By Kathryn Mersmann/NASA - Scientific Visualization Studio/AP

JFK By Cecil Stoughton, White House - This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 194255., Public Domain,

LBJ By Arnold Newman, White House Press Office (WHPO) -, Public Domain,

Nixon By Jack E. Kightlinger (White House Photo Office) - This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 194674., Public Domain,

Ford By David Hume Kennerly - This file was derived from: Gerald Ford - NARA - 530680.jpg:, Public Domain,

Carter screenshot from C-SPAN coverage of national address on the "energy crisis" February 2, 1977

Reagan Public Domain,

H.W. Bush From Wikipedia, captioned "President Bush visits American troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day, 1990" By Unknown -, Public Domain,

Clinton From Wikipedia, captioned "The Clintons in a White House Christmas Portrait, 1993" This picture was formerly found on the site of The White House. A mirror is found here:, Public Domain,

W. Bush & Obama By White House photo by Eric Draper - (Original, broken link:, Public Domain,

Trump From a tweet by Saudi Embassy on Twitter, May 21, 2017  Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia