Saturday, July 30, 2011

In the News

I promised to share coverage of the Al Jazeera bureau chief speaking event in Rockland, and am pleasantly surprised to find these articles from Bangor Daily News and Village Soup in agreement with my crowd guesstimate from yesterday's blog post: about 50 people, about 3 to 1 free speech supporters to Islam haters.
Village Soup article featured many photos, including one of my very favorite guy, with this caption: Mark Roman of Solon said he came to Rockland to make it clear that he supported free speech. He said Al Jazeera English was a "good source for news I can't get from corporate media." (Photo by: Shlomit Auciello)
Organizer Steve Burke of Mid-Coast Peace & Justice also sent a note with further info that Act! for America is a Koch brothers supported project. That does not surprise me, since their material smelled of money, and Maine has been targeted by right wing out of state money since at least the last election. Also the more I think about the vague reply I got from a reporter who was there with a professional cameraman, that they were a production company out of DC working for (wave of hand in general direction of the front of the theater) -- the more I think they were probably filming for Act! for America. For one thing, I never saw them interview anyone from the group most represented, but did interview several Islamophobes at length.

Yesterday Mark and my mom and I traveled to Bangor, invited by super organizer Ilze Peterson of the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine to join an emergency demo against spending cuts to social programs during the debt "crisis" drama. We brought the banner and the Bring Our War $$ Home message and got some coverage from WABI Channel 5 tv news as well as a photo with caption in the Bangor Daily News.
GROUP PROTESTS PROPOSED CUTS TO SOCIAL SERVICES Lisa Savage of Solon, an activist with CODEPINK, speaks with the crowd during a protest in front of the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Bangor on Friday, July 29, 2011. Organized by the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine, the protest called for cutting military spending as an alternative to proposed cuts to social services in order to reduce the deficit.  Kate Collins | BDN
I wish you could see Mark's sign more clearly in this photo. It reads: SEN. COLLINS VOTES $2 MILLION PER WEEK FOR AFGHAN WAR. This is a timely message during a budget crisis and the week when Obama's former Intelligence chief Dennis Blair gave an interview saying drone attacks, and maybe the whole war on terror, should stop as they are ineffective and fantastically expensive. As reported by Noah Shachtman in Wired:
The reconsideration of our relationship with these countries is only the start of the overhaul Blair has in mind, however. He noted that the U.S. intelligence and homeland security communities are spending about $80 billion a year, outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet al-Qaida and its affiliates only have about 4,000 members worldwide. That’s $20 million per terrorist per year, Blair pointed out. “You think — woah, $20 million. Is that proportionate?” he asked. “So I think we need to relook at the strategy to get the money in the right places.”
You think? Meanwhile the Brits are doing some re-thinking of themselves, with the Guardian reporting Costs of British military operations in Afghanistan estimated at £18bn. That's about $29 billion, versus our

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