Friday, December 6, 2019
It was a long, tiring public hearing for the proposed NECEC / CMP corridor through the Maine woods last night in Lewiston, Maine. Most who testified were opposed to the project, receiving hearty applause from the hundreds in attendance. The federal officials who had come to hear from the people of Maine certainly got a strong indication of where public sentiment is on this environmental disaster as they began listening at 4:30pm.
As many of us wearily remained until 8pm to see if we would have a chance to testify, up stepped the students of St. John's Catholic School from Brunswick. Parker Jones spoke first and the effect on the audience was electrifying. Such eloquence from one so young!
Parker and his mom (and science teacher) Tiffany Jones gave me permission to record and post this video of his remarks. Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to ask the other two students for permission before they came to the microphone. All of them did well and nothing could have worked better on my motivation to hang in there until the end.
Research, writing, thinking and speaking skills are alive and well in Maine!
Before the hearing we held a press conference for my U.S. Senate campaign. Here's video that Regis Tremblay produced:
It's a good thing that he did, because the mainstream press who attended ignored our contributions completely in their coverage of the event. This was sad because we were fortunate to be joined by three indigenous speakers: John Gonzalez of the Pimicikamak people whose lands in Canada have been devastated by megadams to sell hydropower to the U.S., Dawn Neptune Adams of the Penobscot people whose homeland in Wabanaki territory would be devastated if NECEC is built, and a written statement from past Penobscot chief Barry Dana which he had sent to be read at the press conference.
Why would the mainstream press ignore these important voices? Perhaps indigenous voices are inconvenient when considering a project founded in environmental racism.
I'll write a fuller report on the content of the public hearing when I have more time. It was extremely educational and deserves to be widely shared.
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
White privilege means living in a bubble that prevents us from knowing how our actions and our lifestyle harm people who don't look like us. Class privilege means living in a bubble that prevents us from knowing how our wealth was built on trampling the prosperity of others we either can't see or don't care about.
|Rita & Tommy Monias and Amy Norman on their speaking tour. Photo source: Resist Megadams Facebook page|
When the North American Megadam Resistance Alliance third annual Megadams = Megadamage Speaking Tour came to UMaine at Farmington November 25, I went because I wanted to learn more about the origins of the proposed CMP project New England "Clean" Energy Corridor (NECEC). Origins in the sense of, where does this electricity start out, and what is the cost to the environment of generating electric power in this fashion?
I learned that and much more, certainly more than I had anticipated.
The environmental devastation described by indigenous speakers from Labrador to Quebec to Manitoba was incredible, almost beyond belief.
|Grandes Chutes today, after Hydro-Quebec’s Romaine River project that includes four megadams. |
Source: Megadams Resistance website
“This is cultural genocide.”
Because I live in Maine where hydro power dams dot the Kennebec River, I thought I understood the effects of flooding, erosion, and management (sometimes catastrophically bad) of the water flow. But any dam I've experienced is puny in comparison to the megadams that cover northern Canada.
Imagine a dam that flooded a reservoir the size of Ireland.
Now imagine 80 of them.
|Photo credit: Tommy Monias|
|"2019. Flooding boreal forests for Muskrat Falls on the Churchill River" |
Photo credit: North American Megadam Resistance Alliance - NAMRA
Imagine a flooded area with water bubbling with methane from the thousands of acres of trees drowned. How would it smell? Imagine it filled with methyl mercury released by the submerged forests. How would a food chain filled with concentrated mercury sustain life?
Imagine trying to practice traditional food harvesting of wildlife in a landscape that is literally no longer recognizable to the elders who received tens of thousands of years of accumulated wisdom about sustainable living in that place.
|Photo credit: Tommy Monias|
Imagine a frozen river that fluctuates up and down, creating air pockets between ice layers, and ridges of ice as tall as a person, invisible beneath the snow. Now imagine driving a snowmobile across it, hoping you guess correctly where the dangerous spots are.
Imagine driving a fishing boat through a river full of submerged islands and dead heads i.e. submerged trees trunks, hoping you don't hit one and die.
|Photo credit: Tommy Monias|
Noretta Miswaggon of Pimicikamak territory doesn't have to imagine any of the above, because it is reality for her family. They are at the receiving end of bad water management policies intended to generate huge profits, funded through bonds issued by Goldman Sachs and other profiteers. The "crown corporations" of Canada function like the odious private-public projects that neoliberals in the U.S. are so fond of: the cost and risks are borne by the public, while the profits flow to private investors.
Rita and Tommy Monias, also of Pimicikamak territory, are elders who experienced traditional life along the waterways before the megadams ruined them. They spoke of their people paying for the electric power generated in every way possible, including exorbitant rates that subsidize cheap rates for U.S. customers.
When Rita's granddaughter gets sores from swimming in murky, polluted water that has replaced a once pristine river she will never swim in or fish from, what compensation can there be?
Amy Norman (speaking above) is a Labrador Land Protector who has been arrested many times for resisting megadams. She spoke of the food insecurity created by ruining traditional sustenance fishing and hunting grounds in remote areas where purchasing food is not within the reach of ordinary working people. She explained how methyl mercury moves from up the food chain to concentrate in the body fat of fish and then seals -- and the Inuit who survive by hunting them. She observes of megadam generated hydropower,
"It's not clean, and it's not green."
Roberta Benefiel, Grand Riverkeeper of Labrador, explained that it's not cheap either. She's calculated that the cost out of a turbine at the Muskrat Falls project is 62 cents per kilowat hour while the selling price to U.S. customers is 5 cents. She wants us to know the truth about the allegations that hydro power is cheap or clean.
"We came down here because the purchasers of the power have the power to stop it."
Now that we, the purchasers, know the truth of why CMP wants to cut through the Maine woods to deliver Hydro-Quebec megadam power to customers in Massachusetts, we can help stop this environmental racism.
Here are resources to take action:
- Support opposition in Maine to the proposed CMP project NECEC
- Contact Maine legislators and Gov. Janet Mills to let them know you do not want the project built
- Attend the public hearing December 5 in Lewiston at 4pm at the Ramada Inn to testify to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy about why you oppose construction of NECEC. (Submit written testimony by January 2020 if you are unable to attend.)
- Sign a petition to put NECEC before the voters in a referendum
Monday, November 11, 2019
|"Glorify peace, not war: Armistice Day vs. Veterans Day" by Rory Fanning via PopularResistance.org|
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 said prior to the outbreak of what would be known as World War I, "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 Skowhegan 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. He served in the Maine House and Senate while running the Skowhegan Ice Company. 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."
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 Hopkins 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: https://youtu.be/wmMTLnU_hsY ).
Most of the veterans I know don't want to be thanked for their service. Like Will Hopkins, they don't want to be used to glorify war on behalf of U.S. corporations who profit. They wish we would give peace a chance.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Mark and I traveled to Portland to attend Peace Action Maine's annual awards ceremony and to hear a talk about research we've been following with interest. As a past recipient of PAM's award (most recently for writing this blog), I was pleased to see Prof. Crawford recognized for her work as well as local climate organizers Anna Siegel and Cassie Cain.
|Anna Siegel of Climate Strike, Cassie Cain of 350 Maine and PAM board member Stephen Oliver|
The talk was well worth the trip,
Professor Neta Crawford is co-director of the Costsofwar.org project which began in 2010 at Brown University. The project now includes Boston University where she is a member of the faculty. An update of her landmark paper "Pentagon fuel use, climate change, and the costs of war" will be published on the site next month.
Quantifying the human, financial, and environmental costs of the seemingly endless "global war on terror" led Crawford to focus for the past year on counting the contribution of Pentagon base operations plus overseas contingency operations (the federal government's preferred euphemism for wars) to climate change.
No one had computed the Pentagon’s climate footprint comprehensively before, so she wanted to do it.
Crawford noted that the global war on terror operates in 80-90 countries. She figures that 70% of fuel use is for base military operations, and 30% for overseas contingency operations i.e. wars.
Jet airplanes are heavy GHG emitters, especially military aircraft because they carry special equipment and fly at higher altitudes. Their consumption of fuel is so inefficient that it is measured, not in miles per gallon, but in gallons per mile.
The question most interesting to me that was posed by Prof. Crawford: Why don’t we know these numbers?
Some of her answers: Department of "Defense" personnel are explicitly told not to tell Congress their numbers. The Kyoto Protocol set the standard for how emissions are tallied, explicitly exempting the military, and there is still no legal treaty mechanism to compel states to give their military emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not aggregate the data on this, and EPA web site has no breakout by military. Congressional research service doesn’t provide them either, nor does the Congressional Budget Office.
The highly useful carbon computing website Drawdown also excludes military emissions because those numbers are unavailable. Media outlets likewise cannot report on what they do not know. (Investigative reporters out there: maybe give Prof. Crawford a call?)
Based on what she has been able to count, there was a GHG dividend parallel to the so-called peace dividend at the end of the Cold War period. Similarly, withdrawal from Iraq drove non-standard i.e. war-related emissions down beginning in 2011. And, facilities energy use has seen a steep decline as military bases close to the current level of around 800.
She did not count these significant contributors:
As early as 1990 the Navy began monitoring sea level rise. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is especially vulnerable and the Pentagon is well aware of this. Yet, protecting the Persian Gulf remains a primary Pentagon goal even as dependence on Middle East oil has declined.
The U.S. military prepares for the consequences of climate change, with little focus on the role of their own consumption and emissions as drivers of climate change. According to Crawford:
“Preparing for conflict produces climate change...Everything you do to reduce fuel use increases security”
Conclusion: we should be pushing our representatives and senators to focus on climate emergency as the real threat to our national security, and to act accordingly.
Sunday, October 27, 2019
The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 were found guilty on all counts last week, and could be sentenced to decades in jail. For now they are free and home with family and friends.
They are the conscience of our nation.
Reposting their supporters' account of the final day of their arguments:
Defendants were able to say much more than had been expected after the wide “in limine” restrictions established late last week before trial. They spoke about their strong faith motivations and their knowledge of the horrendous effects of nuclear weapons, and read portions of documents they had carried onto the Kings Bay submarine base in their action on April 4, 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination. Thursday will likely see the trial end with closing statements, the charge to the jury, and jury deliberations.
In a recurring pattern, the judge would allow items the seven carried onto the sub base into evidence over frequent government objection. Martha Hennessy was even allowed to read from the indictment that nuclear weapons are always illegal. The judge did always remind the jury the items admitted were only for the fact that they were left on the base, not that they were true.
The prosecution called their final witness in the morning, base Facilities Management Specialist Juan Melgarejo, to verify the expenses of cleaning and repairs after the disarmament action, which he reported totaled $31,833.
Then two defendants, Hennessy and Patrick O'Neill, who had not previously given opening statements did so, and the defense began their case with Attorney Stephanie Amiotte examining Hennessy. After overruling an objection from the prosecution, the indictment of nuclearism the seven carried and which Hennessy had posted at the Strategic Weapons Facility Engineering office (known as SWFLANT) finally was allowed into evidence by Judge Lisa Godbey Wood.
Go Pro video footage was also admitted of Hennessy reading Bible verses from the prayer book “Give Us This Day” which she, Clare Grady, O'Neill and Mark Colville had read as they waited to be apprehended by base security personnel. Hennessy ended her testimony with, “It's imminent (nuclear war) and it haunts me.”
Next, Attorney Fred Kopp, in examining Carmen Trotta, asked why he and his colleagues went to Kings Bay. Trotta said that the base has one quarter of the US deployed nuclear weapons, and that it cannot be legal to destroy nearly all life on Earth. He noted the “outrage of God at putting his creation in jeopardy.” Trotta was one of three who went to the so-called “Limited Area,” where deadly force is authorized and where the activists believe nuclear weapons are stored in bunkers. Kopp elicited from Trotta the extreme caution the three took to be “careful for everyone's sake” as they entered the zone and when they were approached by Marine guards.
Grady, in examination by Attorney Joe Cosgrove, said that the consequences of global nuclear war are so atrocious they necessitate the creation of the word “omnicide.”
“Trident is the crime,” she said, explaining her use of crime scene tape, not caution tape, as the government kept calling it, at the SWFLANT office. Grady also noted that her colleagues used hammers to “deconstruct” or “transform” weapons to plowshares, instead of doing damage as the government claims. In cross examination, chief prosecutor Karl Knoche rapid-fired a series of accusations at Grady, claiming that she and her co-defendants believed themselves to be a law unto themselves. Grady calmly answered that the egregious use of weapons is bullying, not the painted peace messages and blood that Grady and Hennessy poured on the engineering office sidewalk.
Attorney Matt Daloisio examined Colville, who quoted his father saying, “Integrity is what you do when no one is looking, taking responsibility to what you know to be true.” Colville also explained his use of the word “idolatry” that he had written on one of the missile replicas, noting that the Bible urges us to remove, even smash, idols. Colville related that it was a long time before any authorities actually confronted him and Grady, Hennessy, and O’Neill in what the activists call the missile shrine area, even though several vehicles approached, slowed and then drove on. So after about an hour they felt they had done enough. They sat down and prayed, then carefully showed their hands when the vehicles finally approached them. In response to the repeated cross examination accusation of arrogantly choosing to run red lights, Colville said that he ran every red light when his wife Luz was in labor. “It was an emergency!”
Representing himself, O'Neill was examined by advisory attorney Keith Higgins. As a “cradle Catholic” grandchild of four immigrants from Ireland, his faith was always his guide and led him to co-found the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker in Garner, NC with his wife, Mary Rider. He noted that Catholic workers take nonviolent action and break the law like Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and Dr. King, to bring social change. In reviewing the items he took onto the base, O’Neill brought international law into the courtroom. He mentioned copies of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In government's exhibit 36-1B-6 GoPro video footage O’Neill recorded himself quoting Pope Francis saying the use and possession of nuclear weapons is to be firmly condemned
The seven's statement is one of love and hope, O'Neill said.
Attorney Bill Quigley questions Elizabeth McAlister during day three of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 trial. Illustration by Chrissy Nesbitt
Elizabeth McAlister was questioned by her attorney Bill Quigley. After briefly describing her life growing up and her life as a nun, McAlister explained how she got involved in the peace movement. As a college professor during the Vietnam War, she said, 30 of her students’ boyfriends came home in body bags.
"One could not be a teacher of these young women without sharing their grief. I felt that we were being called to more."
She related the story of marrying well-known activist Philip Berrigan, who later co-founded the Plowshares movement. They established the activist community Jonah House in Baltimore. McAlister described how her continued sense of her vocation led her to this action. Prayer, she said, was integral to the action. There is a "reshaping" of conscience that happens within each of us, which mirrors the transformation we seek of weapons into tools for cultivating life. McAlister also explained her reason for using the symbol of blood.
"War involves radical bloodshed. (Using blood as a symbol) is a way of remembering that war is bloodshed, and we long to see the end of war and the end of shedding the blood of another human being.”
Scott Bassett, the communications officer for the Kings Bay base was called as a witness by the defense. Upon prompting, he testified that he had at earlier pre-trial motions hearings given a statement to the Washington Post. His statement said that there was no threat to any assets or personnel at the base from the protestors. He said the statement meant there had been no damage to military assets such as submarines or weapons systems, not a missile display.
Apart from a few objections and brief comments to indicate his agreement with the testimony of his co-defendants, Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., remained silent throughout the proceedings.
After exiting the courthouse, the defendants told a gathering of supporters and media they were pleased that they were able to say so much more in court about their beliefs and motivation than they had expected because of the judge’s rulings prohibiting mention of their religious motivations, international law, or necessity.
“We are seeing what the courts protect,” said Grady.
Supporting this profound sacrifice by these seven requires generosity. Your support of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 will help cover the ongoing costs surrounding this trial and social change effort. You can give at our GoFundMe site and checks can be sent to Plowshares, PO Box 3087, Washington, DC 20010. Further details check the website: kingsbayplowshares7.org.
EMAIL: Media: email@example.com
Link to Democracy Now! coverage giving background of their case if the embedded video does not work for you.
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Reposting this update on the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 from Kathy Kelly, who co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org).
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
by Kathy Kelly
October 20, 2019
by Kathy Kelly
October 20, 2019
My friend Marianne Goldscheider, who is 87, suffered a broken hip in July, 2018 and then, in June 2019, it happened again. When she broke her hip the first time, she was running, with her son, on a football field. After the second break, when she fell in her kitchen, she recalls her only desire as she was placed on a stretcher. “I just wanted ‘the right pill,’” she says. She wished she could end her life. Marianne says her Catholic friends, who live nearby in the New York Catholic Worker community, persuaded her not to give up. They’ve long admired her tenacity, and over the years many have learned from her history as a survivor of the Nazi regime who was forced to flee Germany. Recalling her entry to the United States, Marianne jokes she may have been one of the only displaced persons who arrived in the United States carrying her skis. Yet she also carried deep anxieties, the “angst,” she says, of her generation. She still wonders about German people in the military and the aristocracy who knew Hitler was mad and, yet, didn’t try to stop him. “When and how,” she wonders, “do human beings get beyond all reasoning?”
Marianne is deeply disturbed by the madness of maintaining nuclear weapons arsenals and believes such weapons threaten planetary survival.
She worries that, similar to the 1930s, citizens of countries possessing nuclear weapons sleepwalk toward utter disaster.
On April 4, 2018, several of Marianne’s close friends from the New York Catholic Worker community became part of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 by entering the U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine base in King’s Bay, GA and performing a traditional Plowshares action. Guided by lines from Scripture urging people to “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks,” they prayed, reflected and then symbolically disarmed the Trident nuclear submarine site. The Kings Bay is home port to six nuclear armed Trident ballistic missile submarines with the combined explosive power of over 1825 Hiroshima bombs. One of the banners they hung read “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide.”
Referring to this sign, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, said the banner “is exactly right.” In an October 18 endorsement, he called their actions “necessary to avert a much greater evil.”
In late September, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, alarmed over the increasing danger nuclear weapons pose, urged the Government of Canada to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted at the UN in 2017. The Canadian bishops issued their statement on September 26, the United Nations International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. In it, they note the Vatican has already signed and ratified the Treaty. “The ashes of World War I and the centenary of its armistice,” wrote Pope Francis, “should teach us that future acts of aggression are not deterred by the law of fear, but rather by the power of calm reason that encourages dialogue and mutual understanding as a means of resolving differences.”
The seven defendants, in everyday life, practice nonviolence while serving people who are often the least cared for in our society. Like Marianne, I have known each defendant for close to four decades. They have risked their lives, safety and health in numerous actions of civil disobedience. When imprisoned, they write and speak of the cruel abuse of human beings and the racist, primitive nature of the United States prison-industrial complex. They’ve also chosen to visit or live in war zones, providing witness on behalf of people trapped under bombardment. They live simply, share resources and strive to help build a better world.
Nevertheless, beginning Monday, they will face serious criminal charges and potentially harsh sentences for their action at Kings Bay.
Marianne anxiously awaits their trial. “
Why,” she asks, “isn’t there more coverage?”
Why,” she asks, “isn’t there more coverage?”
One of the defendants, Rev. Steve Kelly, SJ, a Jesuit priest, referred to himself in a recent letter as “a tenuous voice in the wilderness.” He further explained that he is among the wilderness of the incarcerated, “two and a quarter million folks comprising the human warehouses in the empire.” Steve has been imprisoned in the Glynn County jail since April 4, 2018.
His letter continues:
And your presence today clearly demonstrates that while you can jail the resisters you cannot destroy the resistance. In this advent of our trial, we have a blue-ribbon legal team to whom I’m sure you’ll show your own gratitude.
This trial and the preliminary process represents the second phase of our witness. It is the Kings Bay Plowshares’ attempt to continue with what began in nonviolence – and hopefully without arrogance – to convert the judiciary according to Prophet Isaiah 2:4. As these judges historically legitimize the nuclear idols, we anticipate the government’s presentation of and the judge’s likely approval of motions preventing the jury from hearing our defense. The mechanism is an in limine – you’ll hear more about that if you don’t know already, but essentially it is, in the words of the late Phil Berrigan, a gag order.
Late in the afternoon of October 18, Judge Woods issued her long-awaited orders regarding testimony allowed in court. She will not allow testimony about the illegality of nuclear weapons, the necessity of civil disobedience, or individual motivations and personal faith. Fortunately, the many dozens of people filling the Brunswick, GA courtroom on October 22 will help communicate the essential evidence that won’t be shared within the court. In alternative settings, such as over meals, during a Festival of Hope, and as part of a Citizens Tribunal, they’ll discuss and eventually share reasons that motivated our friends to perform the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 action.
A recent op-ed in the New York Times suggests the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 message is entering public discourse. The defendants have clarified that the U.S. nuclear weapon arsenal robs resources desperately needed for food, shelter, health care and education. The New York Times notes if we could reach a total nuclear weapons ban, we could save roughly $43 billion each year on weapons, delivery systems and upgrades. “That’s roughly the same amount we’ve allocated in federal hurricane aid for Puerto Rico.”
Marianne laments the madness which considers nuclear weapons a modern idol deserving of great sacrifice. She is rightfully wary of social and cultural developments that consider such madness normal.
She and I commiserate about recovering from hip fractures, (I’ve been on the mend for the past month), but we both know that Steve Kelly’s invitation deserves our greatest attention.
Tiny postcards are the only means of correspondence allowed to or from the Glynn County jail. On one of these, Steve wrote a message to a large gathering in New York celebrating the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 action. “I am encouraged by your presence,” he wrote, “to ask that this small effort of ours not be the last word in nuclear abolition.”
Photo caption: The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists at oceanfront in Georgia
Photo credit: Kings Bay Plowshares
Photo credit: Kings Bay Plowshares