Thursday, September 29, 2011

It Just Keeps Getting Better

AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Dan Nguyen @ New York City
Airline pilots march on Wall St. If you think airline pilots are not among the exploited 99%, you haven't been paying attention. Their working conditions are truly shocking. Ditto for flight attendants.

Caption from this photo shared on flickr: 
Hundreds of pilots from United/Continental showed up in full dress and made a show in support for their union during an ongoing labor dispute. They stood in an area on Broad Street, near Wall Street and the Stock Exchange
Directory for the Occupy movement coming to your city soon. See you in Portland, Maine on October 1 ! Sign me up for the Arts + Culture Committee, they always have the most fun meetings.
AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Dan Nguyen @ New York City " #occupywallst, Day 11 (9/28/2011) This was the biggest Occupy Wall Street crowd I had seen so far but I don't often walk by the plaza after work."
Copyright All rights reserved by codepinkhq on flickr

CODEPINK Peace Cranes join the messaging at #OccupyWallStCopyright All rights reserved by codepinkhq on flickr

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waking Up to the 99%

9_27_11 First General Assembly of the #OccupyBoston Movement at the Boston Common Bandstand-4

9_27_11 First General Assembly of the #OccupyBoston Movement at the Boston Common Bandstand-4 / Photo by Jason Pramas for Open Media Boston. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2011 Jason Pramas.

Here is what I woke up to today:
1) The photo above, which speaks for itself as captioned. The nurses are with the 99%!
2) The news from CODEPINK that we had received this awesome letter below. The Canadian postal workers are with the 99%!
 3) This beautiful blog post about bringing our war $$ home from "the Peace Couple", which was linked to a post on another blog reporting the elegant, poetic response of Occupy Wall St.'s General Assembly to the corporate media snarking that they lack "one demand." So the Duke & Duchess of Peace are with the 99%.

I am so happy about all this solidarity that I have tears in my eyes before the sun is even over the horizon this morning. And I went to bed happy that the 99% begin to assemble on Saturday at 11am in Portland. They have a facebook event up and their twitter handle is #OccupyMaine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Into the Streets, But Why?

Occupy Maine has a Facebook page for organizing.
Why will I be in the street in Portland, Maine on October 1st at noon? In solidarity with Occupy Wall St., to stand with my sisters and brothers of the other 99%, who get pepper sprayed by police just for being present.

In solidarity with those who organize to protest upper crust war criminals making their book tours and speaking appearances. Here's a fresh report from organizer Marilyn Levin in Boston, about last night's violent arrest of a nonviolent protester:
Sean Joseph, one of the organizers of the Donald Rumsfeld protest tonight at Old South Mtg House, was tackled, thrown to the ground, and arrested, apparently for holding a bullhorn that was not being used.  ... Shaun was released after 10 pm on $500 bail and greeted by a crowd of over 20 people, including several attorneys from NLG.  He had committed no crime, did nothing to provoke the police, and cooperated fully when he was arrested, yet he was charged with assault and battery on an officer and resisting arrest, totally bogus charges refuted by many eyewitnesses.  We’ll spread the word when he goes to court.
Because working together to apply pressure to power actually works. Go Tacoma teachers!

I'll be there because the U.S. is (secretly) building more drones bases around the Horn of Africa-Arabian Peninsula regions. Which the US has no right to do. Because I'm with Medea and the other Codepink people in saying, "These drones are killing people!"

Because on Sunday I was fortunate to be part of a group of Codepink and other women listening to Iraqi pharmacist Dr. Rashad Zaydan talk about her work in Fallujah, bombarded by depleted uranium weapons that made the 1% richer, now causing a 45x increase in the rate of childhood cancer. And a tremendous outbreak of babies born severely deformed and dying shortly thereafter. And causing me to be sick at heart that even one cent of my taxes pays for this brand of genocide.

Join me! Wherever you are. Our demand? Bring Our War $$ Home!!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Latest News From Occupy Wall St.

It is interesting having to work diligently to get news of the occupation of Wall St. in NYC, the media hub of the western world. Minimal coverage from the news outlets that routinely report on the front page if a handful of tea party demonstrators assemble. Some news outlets were there, according to this tweet from Codepink's Truth Set Free campaign coordinator Melanie: "Thank you abc 7 and wcbstv for still being with us at - only thing keeping at bay" This despite despite aggressive arrests, kettling and macing of nonviolent protesters by the NYPD yesterday.

So I'm glued to the live feed at Global Revolution, even though the audio is cutting out more than it is cutting in at this point. But it was steady last night and between that and Twitter links I was able to find videos and photographs and written accounts like this one in the Indypendent.

The crawl along the bottom of the live feed screen on my computer had this nugget this morning: "5am medical supplies and Flintstone vitamins arrive from Maine." Kudos to whichever mom or dad sent those! If you want to ship non-perishable food items (vegan and non gluten so all can eat them is the preference) here's the address to use: THE UPS STORE, 118A FULTON ST #205, NEW YORK, NY 10038. If you prefer to send funds, the request is for money orders, not checks.

That info, plus a draft from the Working Group on the Principles of Consolidation produced by successive General Assemblies, was available to me on the blog NYC General Assembly. There they will share the demands that emerge from their direct democratic process each day.

They also shared the very welcome news of support from the organizers of the upcoming Oct 6 occupation of Washington DC's Freedom Plaza, in the form of "Occupy Wall Street is elated to announce that, through the efforts of our brothers and sisters in the upcoming October 6th occupation of DC (, we have today acquired fiscal sponsorship through the Alliance for Global Justice, a registered 501C3 non-profit ("

More good news from that source:
The Benefit Concert committee would like to announce that Saturday, October 8th is the target date for an all day Occupy Wall Street music festival/healing and peace fair. The goal is to broaden outreach and awareness of the movement through arts and entertainment, and provide a convergence space for artists, activists, peacemakers, healers and the spiritual community. 
Here's a rush transcript from a recorded interview I listened to this morning, that I believe is from Sat. night, and appears to be a young man that was among those arrested: repeat about the arrests...84 people were kettled in...they didn't read us our rights, and they sat us in vans for 3 hours while they tried to figure out what to do with us because they didn't know...we were processed...we have a summons to go to, each of us divided up by who our arresting officers were...which by the way were not our arresting the city to pose as our arresting officers...obviously this is going to be thrown out of court....the police are not protecting us... they're trying to force us into violence by using these intimidation tactics...but it won't work...this is what we stand for: Occupy Wall St...thank you very much.
Q: How are the mosquitoes?
A: Rough.
...there were four women who were sprayed in the face with mace for no reason...some people were brutalized...there was one fellow who came in with a gash on his face...
Another young man interviewed promised that the occupiers' demands would be refined in the coming days, to move beyond "end all wars" which he admitted was rather vague but then added, "Of course we want to end all wars. Who doesn't?" and then went on to answer his own question. Only war profiteer corporations want wars -- and corporations aren't really people (no matter what the Supreme Court rules).

And from my sister in Pink Nancy K. on Twitter I picked up links to European news media covering the protests more thoroughly than the home team:  the Guardian, and Le Monde, which ran this photograph of the police action on Saturday:

More from the recorded live feed on Sat. night, a young woman speaking: "It looks like we, the people, have finally assembled here, peaceably assembled, to assert our own values." Tell it, sister.

(After I removed the embed, and then the link, of NYPD macing nonviolent female protesters, I was able to post this.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Obama Pledges Israel

CODEPINK's Rae Abileah and sisters protesting Rep. Barney Frank's slavish loyalty to the Israel lobby.
Back in the heady days of thinking that the people of the U.S. had voted for real change from the neocon nightmare of back-to-back Cheney administrations, a friend circulated a letter to the newly elected president calling for an end to war funding, and redirection of resources to universal health care and other worthy projects. A lot of us signed it. Other friends from the Chicago area were headed home for the holidays and had offered to deliver the letter via family connections to none other than David Axelrod, Obama's campaign manager. When they returned to the sobering cold of a new year in New England, my letter writing friend commented that people in Chicago must have been ecstatic over Obama's election. A few were, was the report back, but many were visibly skeptical, wondering aloud what kind of Chicago-style back room political deal had been made that vaulted Barack to stardom.

Fast forward to September 21, 2011. It's re-election season and the UN is in session in New York. The big dogs are speechifying, and it's Obama's turn to address the matter of justice for Palestine, coming to a head with application for recognition of statehood. World stock markets are tanking, and articulate 20-somethings are pouring into NYC to hold wealth accountable before the bell that opens trading on Wall St. each day.

It's a bully pulpit for Obama to pander to the campaign contributors with the deep, deep pockets, and he makes the most of it.
...America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.
Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.
The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine...
No mention of bulldozing Palestinian olive groves and homes, no mention of detaining and torturing minors, night raids by the IDF, Operation Cast Lead, the storming of the Mavi Marmara during the Gaza Freedom Flotilla -- with a U.S. citizen plus eight others gunned down by Israel's navy commandos, no mention of settlements, or robotic checkpoints where women give birth waiting hours to cross to hospitals, penned up in chutes like cattle. The Zionists who put Obama in office -- and who wined and dined 81 members of Congress in Israel during the August recess -- got what they paid for.
 It's impossible to say what a bright, articulate lawyer who grew up working class understands of the capture of his soul, and of the entire apparatus of U.S. government. Rahm Emmanuel is no longer his chief of staff, having moved on to be the chief executive of the city of Chicago in advance of NATO and the G-8 economic giants convening there next May. The Supreme Court is no longer above the money either: allowing the execution of a Black man, Troy Davis, on a flimsy conviction, thereby further underscoring their landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision establishing that corporations are the "people" that count in the empire.

I'm not a bit surprised, though. While he was still Senator Obama, and once he had clinched the nomination, he voted to extend immunity to the telecommunications corporations that had helped spy on me and thee during the trashing of the Constitution that ensued after 9/11. And voted for that year's war supplemental funding/borrowing, too.

It no longer matters to me that liberals will continue to defend Obama, the most war mongering president in my lifetime, on the basis that he spouts platitudes about peace. They think supporting our first Black president is a get-out-of-racism-jail-free card. They are wrong, but it won't matter much longer.  It also no longer matters that the false dichotomy party will run its two candidates in November 2012, spewing out hate messaging via advertising that will burn through millions in cash while 20% of children live in poverty a few streets over from the UN. (Actually the rate of child poverty in NYC is higher than the national average, most likely upwards of 40%).

Because you can't fool a child growing up in poverty, any more than you can fool a person in their 20's with thousands of dollars of debt for an education that did not produce a job with health insurance and a living wage. Just punitive measures if you fall behind in the payments.

You can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time, but only until their credit runs out. Then fool me twice -- well, you can't fool me again.

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at

Thursday, September 22, 2011

See what Bradley Manning started?

As mostly oldsters considered the stranglehold of military spending on the nation and wondered what to do about it at the MIC at 50 conference in Charlottesville last weekend, mostly youngsters began the occupation of Wall St. that mimics the Arab spring. Will it grow to Cairo proportions? I hope so. It contains many of the same elements including good grassroots organization, police harassment, and splendid chanting (e.g. Banks got bailed out, We got sold out!).

Sixty thousand marched against nuclear power and weapons in Tokyo, causing the alarm of Japan's prime minister to manifest by minimizing the demonstration as a "parade." Mie and Steve Ahearn completed their 200 mile march from Rockland, Maine to Boston where they presented a petition to the Japanese consul, calling for the government to protect children and pregnant women being exposed to ongoing radiation from Fukushima.

We march where we find ourselves.

Organizing continues apace for Washington DC Oct 6 and beyond. From Starwhawk, one of the co-founders of CODEPINK, comes this invitation to join the Pagan Cluster:
Where: Freedom Plaza, Washington DC
Focal day: October 6
We'll gather and work our magic October 3–8.  Come for an hour, come for a day, come for as long as you can.
Contact us at:

The Wheel is turning.  The veil is growing thin. Around the world the people are rising, calling for freedom, claiming their power.  Can you hear Mama Gaia calling - calling us to serve Life?

I'll be supporting from the back benches until I can get down there myself. (Actually, Wall St. is a lot closer.)

As for why thousands and millions of people are giving up on reform, and getting together to start a people's movement for nonviolent change, here's just a smattering of related news from the last few days: the US is setting up drone bases all over northern Africa and the Arab peninsula; NATO night raids have increased dramatically -- and are likely making the situation in Afghanistan worse by fanning the flames of violent insurgency; Obama claims we need to cut Medicare and Social Security to fund the inevitableness of wars; and Troy Davis was put to death yesterday in a travesty of justice that once more demonstrates that the war at home is a war on the poor, the non-white, and -- incidentally -- is highly profitable.

See what Bradley Manning started?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Military-Industrial Complex at 50, Charlottesville

Lisa Savage  9/17/11
Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview last week: "The Department of Defense is not what's causing the debt and the deficit. It's the entitlement programs. If we make that mistake, we're doomed to suffer another attack of some kind, and our intelligence will be less strong and less effective."

And when I met with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, an ostensibly very progressive Democrat early in her freshman term of office, I told her that her constituents wanted her to cut military spending and bring the war dollars home. But she said it wasn't that easy. Once she got to Washington “they” asked her, “What do you want to do, put 3,000 people out of work your first term in office?” This made reference to the largest employer in the state, Bath Iron Works, which has contracts to build the Aegis destroyers that the Navy hopes will be docked on little Jeju Island off the coast of China that Ann Wright spoke of last night.

And of course I told the Congresswoman that studies showed more jobs would be generated by investment in nearly any sector of the economy than “defense” contracting. And she said that is why it's so important to pass an energy bill, which would have to happen before we could start on conversion of BIW. And as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has voted “ought to pass” on every Defense Authorization bill since our conversation.

So this is what we're up against.

But the tide is turning as the economic standing of the average family in the U.S. Continues its steady downward slide. This week also saw the announcement of census data showing 1 in 6 people in the empire of the militaryindustrial-congressional-media complex live in poverty. 1 in 5 children do. And this metric sets the bar very low when defining what poverty: a family of four living on less than $22k per year. The actual levels of people barely scraping to get by are even higher.

A mobile VA clinic closing in our neck of the woods afforded a good opportunity for my husband, Mark Roman, to talk to people about the misplaced priorities of our federal budget. The VA announced they would close the remote rural clinic, causing hundreds of elderly vets to travel another 5 hours or so to receive routine health care in Augusta, in order to save between $100 and $200,000. In other words, four minutes of the war in Afghanistan would fund the clinic for a year.

Good news, we won that round: the VA reversed its decision after a heated public meeting widely covered by even the mainstream press.

And there have been other wins: the US Conference of Mayors, as Clare Hanrahan mentioned yesterday at the podium, passed the first anti-war resolution since 1971 last summer, largely through the efforts of CODEPINK and allies.

Various surveys bolster our claim that the people – not the war profiteers, but the people, the ones who are supposed to be represented in Washington DC -- don't agree with the current priorities of the Congress. The People's Budget was one such effort. In Maine we conducted a Penny Poll among 1500+ people in all sixteen counties. We set up outside supermarkets and post offices and asked people passing by to put ten pennies in various containers representing how they would spend the federal discretionary budget i.e. income taxes. These surveys produced similar results: the people desired primarily spending on education, health care, and veterans benefits (which includes a lot of education and health care, too), with military spending at or near last place.

And each new federal budget proposal out of the White House and spending bill out of Congress moves the U.S. further from these priorities. We are now at 57% of the discretionary federal budget going toward the military, and that does not count the Veterans' Administration.

Thank goodness for our friends who crunch the numbers and offer us the tools to make a compelling case accurately. Many groups have good resources on this including the WILPF and the AFSC which makes a handy bar chart brochure that folds out and that we used at the Penny Poll after people had spent their ten cents. The National Priorities Project has a website with Trade Offs for many areas of the federal budget, including Pentagon spending, and their linked page with the ever up ticking counters of the cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan now offers new tools developed in time for the tenth anniversary of the endless war on terror. 
Another good resource for data is the The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier at the Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute University of Massachusetts, Amherst first published in 2007 and revised in 2009. It uses an economic model to project the number of jobs generated by investment in various sectors of the economy. The model showed that $1 billion invested in any other sector produced more jobs than the same investment in defense. Simply giving tax cuts that people would then spend on good and services produced 26% more jobs, while building in the mass transit sector – specifically, construction of light rail components – produced 131% more jobs. And these are real, full time jobs with benefits.

I used those figures to develop the War $$ Home Conversion Charlottesville activity we're going to do today. A template for the game will be available online for you to modify it and use it in your community as a way to get people to really take a look at our misplaced national priorities so that they, too, can join in the demand to bring our war dollars home.

Link to Bring Our War $$ Home GAME proposal where you can give feedback

National Priorities Project on federal budget categories
wars in Iraq amp; Afghanistan

Robert Naiman “Why the Jobs Argument Against Military Cuts is Bogus” (published at

Bombs & Budgets Curriculum Teaching Guide (by War Resisters' League et al.):

Phyllis Bennis, IPS “End Wars Fact Sheet” for Rebuild the Dream 
Ann Wright, Ray McGovern & me in Charlottesville.
MIC at 50, Charlottesville - ACTIVISM PANEL REMARKS
Lisa Savage   9/18/11
Following on Ray McGovern's call to action for October 6 in Washington DC, the website for info is

Thank you conference organizers, and to everyone for taking time to be here today.

When I reflect on activism and the military-industrial complex (MIC) I think of a video made by a friend, Pete Sirois, of Bruce Gagnon in front of Bath Iron Works speaking about conversion. Bath Iron Works is where they build the Aegis destroyers that are to be docked on South Korea's Jeju Island that Ann Wright spoke about last night. Bruce's speech mentions the Pollin & Garrett-Peltier study about relative number of jobs generated by investment in various sectors of the economy, which sounded interesting. So I contacted Bruce and got a link to the study, done at UMass Amherst in 2007. This led to my husband Mark and I starting to organize with Bruce and Mary Beth Sullivan in Bath. Which led eventually to joining others in a statewide, and now a national campaign, to Bring Our War $$ Home.

Pete at the time was an amateur videographer, with a local access tv cable show. He grasped early what potential this communication channel offers at a very low cost. His willingness to challenge himself and take risks to do the work has really helped get the word out, and been a catalyst for all kinds of activism.

My Maine grandmother told me things that have stuck with me, and two of them are: “Fools' names and fools' faces are often seen in public places,” and “Pretty is as pretty does.” I had to overcome that first admonition in order to do the activism that I do. And I have come to a deeper understand of the second one.

Bruce has told how as a young “true believer” serving in the Air Force and stationed in California, he and the others would see protesters at the gate of the air base. This led the people inside the base to have long debates over whether the signs were right or wrong. These conversations changed Bruce's understanding and brought him over to the side of demanding military cuts to fund domestic needs.
So don't ever think, just because you don't get to see their effects, that your messages don't matter. They matter a lot. People today lack good information and you are helping to address that problem with well thought out messaging.

Using the power of branding is also effective and this is one thing that I love about Codepink. Also choosing a short phrase that conveys the essence of the message in a way that most people are likely to understand. Bring Our War $$ Home is all short, simple words that even a young kid can understand. I wish I could take credit for penning the phrase, and its author remains anonymous.

Then repeating the phrase in many ways as you can think of while also thinking carefully about the explanation that backs up the slogan. Knowing it's possible your understanding of the phrase will evolve. When this “headline” has clear meaning to your audience, it becomes the work horse of the campaign.

The most important aspect of communication is listening. We have to listen to the audience if we are to know whether our message was received. And we communicate effectively when we understand the needs of the listener. Then, as we devise ways to address some of those needs, and build relationships, we can keep using listening to get feedback in order to try new things.

We've used many communication strategies in our current campaign: radio ads by a well-known comic personality are running now on right wing talk radio stations; we've had signature ads and community event listings in newspapers; and with the Union of Maine Visual Artists we've conducted Draw-a-thons and Draw-ins at various places, including our state capital building, where artists interact with the general public. These resulted in a group of strong poster designs for war $$ home available on our website, designs that are now on t-shirts. We have shirts here at the conference, and gave two of them as participation prizes yesterday during the federal budget activity at the conference. And so the message goes forward.

Currently I'm seeking support for the development of a digital game that offers the chance to convert war spending in a community to other needs, because I think that could be a powerful communication device. Imagining conversion as utopia could be addicting if visually appealing and properly designed. Young people with all that college debt and no real jobs are the audience I want to reach.

I don't play such games but I do tweet, facebook, and skype in the course of my activism. Most of you here have stretched and learned new technology tools. I have been helped immensely in learning these by younger members of Codepink who are very patient with us oldsters. Blogging is something I've added lately and I've had some good mentors who encouraged me as I was getting started. I often learn and get ideas from other blogs. Getting real information is almost a full time job in this day and age. Thankful for the Internet while we still have it.

What else are we up against? I think Americans – that is, people in the U.S., because America is a continent, not a country – are scared. Maybe more scared than we give them credit for a lot of the time. I'll tell two stories to illustrate

The last time Social Security was on the chopping block, back when George W. wanted to “privatize” it, a woman who worked at my school as an ed tech told me in the hall that she appreciated my letter to the editor about how families who have a parent die depend on S.S. The woman told me that her mother had used her father's S.S. to help feed them family after he died, and had a hard enough time even with that income. I told my co-worker that people needed to hear her story, and to please consider a letter of her own. She reacted with alarm and said, “Oh I don't think Dr. ____ would appreciate that” referring to our superintendent. He had never said anything negative to me about my letters, and I told her so. “Oh but that's you,” she said as if perhaps her status as an ed tech without a continuing contract was much different than mine as a teacher.

Just this summer I was at a conference and I needed a ride to Rockland at the end, in order to meet my husband to stand with local organizers opposing an Islamophobic group that was going to be protesting a speech by the Al Jazeera Bureau Chief in Washington. When I briefly stated my reason for needing a ride, the other teachers and librarians in the room froze like deer in headlights. No one said a single word in response. I think I had violated the unspoken dictum of life in our nation, that as long as we don't rock the boat that nothing bad will happen around us. Bad things are happening elsewhere, but not right where we are. And hoping to keep it that way.

So people are frightened, and they are bewildered by misinformation, and we offer them our message. The Bring Our War $$ Home coalition in Maine has benefited from a good faith approach of supporting one another tobring an accurate explanation for budget cuts and funding shortfalls in our communities, cooperating across what is a large if not very populous state. The Care-a-Van began on Sep 10 at Unity College with WERU Community Radio's Grassroots Media Conference as we silkscreened the t-shirts we have here today. It continues to many venues including five other college campuses in our state, with a teach-in at Bowdoin, and a stop in support of on campus peace group P.A.inT for a concert at the University of Maine, Farmington.

Because I am also deeply involved with Codepink as a Local Coordinator two of the co-founders, Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, picked up on the campaign and asked if they could adopt it nationally. Adopt away, we said, with the result that the campaign is now being waged in California, New York, and Texas among other places, and that the US Conference of Mayors passed a resolution to bring the war dollars home this summer.

If people stopped cooperating with and supporting the MIC, it would grind to a halt tomorrow. People just don't know it yet. Some do -- right now there are youth occupying Wall St. in a show of nonviolent methods that remind me of the great untapped power of human stubbornness. I was lucky enough to meet Gene Sharp and Jamila Raqib of the Albert Einstein Institution a couple of years ago and Sharp said in response to my question that the antiwar movement lacked an overall strategy. I can see several heads nodding in the audience.

Now is the time in the program where we will have some time for planning and I'm going to read you a list of questions developed by the organizers of the confernce, questions that can inform this part of our work today: Where is the MIC vulnerable? What are the hidden strengths of the progressive movement? How will moral energy be generated and harnessed? How do you prepare the ground for change? What strategies for change are inefficient or unproductive? What strategies will capture the imagination of others and empower them? Are progressives willing to pay the price?

Now we are going into self-selected groups. Thank you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ann Wright: "America always has to have an enemy."

I am here at "The Military Industrial Complex at 50" national conference in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. Our Maine contingent includes Mark Roman and Pat Taub, who traveled with me today on a US Air flight where our flight attendant announced that we should all show our gratitude to those serving in the military by giving them a round of applause. Most of those so directed clapped, but we were somewhat aghast at this coerced display of militaristic patriotism. It reminded Pat of the NYT front page photo of President Obama decorating a young marine, Dakota Meyer.
 The distraught look on the young soldier's face traumatized all of us.  (I thought Obama looked pretty hollowed out, too, for a man making an opportunistic campaign appearance.)

I was warmly greeted at the door of The Haven in downtown C'ville by CODEPINK's Local Coordinator, who also helped organize the conference. Mary Beth Sullivan and Bruce Gagnon had arrived from Maine before us; both are speaking later in the weekend, as am I. We arrived in time to share a terrific Afghan meal, and then MB's friend Clare Hanrahan from Florida introduced the program by naming C'ville Mayor Dave Norris as the first mayor to jump on board the US Conference of Mayors War Dollars Home Resolution prior to its passage in Baltimore last June. This drew enthusiastic applause from about 100 people assembled for the first night of the conference. The resolution, she noted, had been sponsored by Codepink, and Clare read the text out loud as a sort of manifesto for the conference. The C'ville city council will soon consider passing their own version of the resolution also.

Mayor Norris said: "I am often told, 'You are just a dare you talk about war and peace?' He noted that C'ville's citizens that are being sent to fight, and that their tax $$ that are being spent on wars, adding, "We not only have the right, we have the obligation.”

As we listened to a thrashingly good speech by David Swanson on the vast extent of the MIC just in the state of Virginia, Ann Wright slipped in. I had just seen her smiling visage on today's Codepink Alert calling on all to assemble with her in Freedom Plaza in Washington DC on Oct 6. Organizers say they will carry out direct actions on a daily basis.
Ann explained that she enlisted out of Arkansas in order to travel and see the world, and because she was promised she would never see combat unless she volunteered. She stayed in for 29 years before resigning over her objection to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and she admitted that she is drawing a pension but said she's plowing it all right back into working for peace (applause from, among others, many members of Veterans for Peace in the audience).

Among her other talking points tonight:

  • The military is the greatest polluter in the world, for example, the depleted uranium that we're still using.
  • We always need to feed the beast according to the 3 B's of America: gotta be bigger, gotta be better, gotta be badder.
  • An article this week in Truthout about Christian teachings in the U.S. Air Force on the ethics of nuclear weapons training for new officers – some questioned why separation of church & state not being respected – the Air Force now has said they have to review all their ethical teaching of nuclear weapons. Also noting that a veteran in period costume as Mr. Jefferson had just said: be careful of how religion is used.
  • We can't figure out how to get the govt to say peace is profitable...war is the biggest profit maker in the world. We see it now as America is on its knees financially. These wars are really undercutting any chance of having education, health care, other social needs met. 
  • We've gotta stop it, and we're gonna do it. 
In response to a question about China's economic threat to the U.S., Ann observed "America always has to have an enemy." She went on to talk about the South Korean island of Jeju where a naval base is being built amid fierce resistance by the local population. Ann visited the island recently to stand with the villagers -- one more example that brought the discussion around full circle to the environmental threat of global militarism to, as Ann put it, "the future generations."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Who's Representing You In Washington?

CODEPINK  in action today 9/13/11!
Medea Benjamin and others hold signs of our times as General Petraeus testifies to Congress in a joint intelligence hearing.
As a major assault on the U.S. embassy, the Afghan national security ministry, and NATO headquarters among other places had Kabul in chaos, here is what your government was doing: listening to the Pentagon.
Alli & Jim crashing the Super Committee meeting today.
That is, when they weren't listening to the boy billionaires club, the so-called Super Committee that was formed to raid the big enchilada of pension funds, Social Security. And order up austerity for you. Bring our war $$ home!

War Criminal enabler, lawyer John Yoo was seeing PINK today too!
The Heritage Foundation appearance by the man who wrote the torture memos during the Bush administration attracted Gael and other activists with messages: SHAME ON YOO.

All three of these men represent what is dangerously wrong with our country and the globe it tries to dominate. Endless war on "terror" as if such a thing were even possible. Pretend crisis in order to raid a fat pension fund to keep buying massive amounts of weapons. Pseudo-intellectuals who pervert their education to construct rationalizations for the darkest kind of human behavior. For-profit.

Grateful to my PINK sisters & brothers for being there.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Walk for Fukushima & Nuclear Truth

contact Mie at 207-691-3508

Walk for Fukushima

Mie Athearn, a Japanese woman living in Maine and a native of Fukushima Prefecture, is undertaking a "Walk for Fukushima" to deliver a message to the Japanese government appealing for stronger actions to protect children from radiation hazards in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
Ms. Athearn, acutely aware of the heightened stresses being experienced by her close family members over the ongoing releases of radioactive contamination from the crippled reactors, and distressed by the Japanese government response seemingly dictated by expediency and downplaying, has decided to walk from Rockland to the Japanese Consulate in Boston to seek an audience with officials there urging a stronger public health response to the crisis.
She was also inspired by the Peace Walkers who came through Rockland last year, led by Japanese Buddhist monks and nuns. Just back from their latest pilgrimage from Boston to Albany, with stops at nuclear power plants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, the Grafton Peace Pagoda is now lending its support to the Walk for Fukushima.
With her husband Steven, Jun Yasuda of the Peace Pagoda, and various others, Mie set out from Rockland on Sunday, September 4 and expects to arrive in Boston on September 19, covering a distance of nearly 200 miles. The walk will partly coincide with a series of anti-nuclear actions within Japan planned for the week of September 11, and culminating with a "goodbye nukes" rally in Tokyo on September 19. Those dates are, respectively, six months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and five months since a Ministry of the national government, MEXT, directed Fukushima Prefecture to adopt a much laxer standard for radiation exposure, making higher-than-controlled-workplace doses for children officially acceptable.
They also plan to make a stop at the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant in New Hampshire.
People wanting to lend a hand by offering overnight accomodations, daytime rest stops, organizing events along the way, or joining some portion of the walk themselves may contact Mie at 207-691-3508 or  A schedule of stopping points for the walk is given below.
Schedule, "Walk for Fukushima"
9/4 Rockland – Warren
9/5 Warren – Nobleboro
9/6 Nobleboro – Edgecomb (Reception/meeting at Shadis Law Office, Newcastle, 7 pm)
9/7 Edgecomb -- Bath (Excursion to view spent fuel canisters at former Maine Yankee site, Wiscasset)
9/8 Bath – Brunswick
9/9 Brunswick – Yarmouth
9/10 Yarmouth – Portland
9/11 4-5 miles in Portland ("Freedom trail" walk leaving from Meg Perry Center, Congress St at 2 pm, then participation in evening 9/11 program at Back Cove)
9/12 Portland – Saco (Reception by mayor of Biddeford, 3 pm; Potluck reception at First Parish UCC, Saco, 6 pm)
9/13 Saco – Wells
9/14 Wells – York
9/15 York – Portsmouth (After arrival in Portsmouth, transport to NRC public comment session, Hamption, 1:30 to 4:30 pm)
9/16 Portsmouth – Seabrook (Afternoon vigil at Seabrook Station; Evening reception Newburyport)
9/17 Seabrook – Rowley
9/18 Rowley – Saugus
9/19 Saugus -- Boston (Meet Leventhal Park 12 pm then walk to Japan Consul General)

Here are ources of information that Steve Ahearn wanted to share with us:

Professor Kodama's historic angry speech to the parliamentary subcommittee on July 27:  (A seemingly good written translation of his talk, with graphics)

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen's regular Fukushima updates are an excellent way to follow developments:

Radioactive fallout, Japan:
"NHK Special: Mapping the radioactive fallout" (Excellent NHK documentary with English narration - 1.5 hrs)

Radioactive fallout, North America, August 2011: (Oklahoma City, first rain after drought 8/6/11) (Toronto, Canada 8/14/11) (St Louis 8/20/11) (positive identification of 8/20 fallout - long discussion)

Petitions, Japan: Sayonara nukes petition.

A few informative articles:
"34 spots top Chernobyl evacuation standard" (Yomiuri Shinbun)

"Wanted: The right to relocate: Growing radiation exposure and the July 19 citizen government talks in Fukushima":

"Japanese NGOs urge UN to investigate violation of children's human rights in Fukushima"

Lights Around Portland on 9/11

Second stop of the Care-a-Van to Bring Our War $$ Home: Portland, Maine where organizer Grace Braley held an event on the evening of 9/11 ranging people around the bay with points of light. As we arrived, so did the Fukushima peace walkers on their way to Boston. So first we greeted people from the country that the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on. Then Mansour and Jane arrived; Mansour is from Libya, where NATO and the U.S. dropped bombs made with depleted uranium.

All of us spread out along the edge of the bay waiting for 7:45pm when we would turn on our love lights for fifteen minutes. Here Mark stands with Michael Cutting, one of those who was around the kitchen table in Sally Breen's house when the BOW$H slogan originated.

We saw Markos Miller, our favorite candidate for mayor of Portland, plus a lot of other peaceniks as we hiked the mile to our designated spot near Interstate-295. Along the way my sister in PINK Pat Taub explained why she was joining in on behalf of her young grandchildren.

A highway worker ignored Mark climbing on the sign post next to southbound I-295, but at least one passing motorist honked in greeting.

As twilight gave way to night we could see points of light along the shore stretching in both directions. A bicyclist passed us holding his light aloft. Back at the parking area we saw our friend El-Fadel Arbab, who was a lost boy of Sudan that found his calling traveling around speaking to young people about raising their voices against genocide. He will be at UMaine Presque Isle this week speaking to about 1,000 young people in total.

We're all in this together, people. Either we bring the light, or the forces of darkness will close over all of us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bring Our War $$ Home 30 Day Care-a-Van Kicks Off

The Bring Our War $$ Home 30 day Care-a-Van kicked off a statewide tour with a t-shirt silkscreening workshop at WERU Community Radio's Maine Grassroots Media Conference at Unity College.

Organized by WERU's amazing Meaghan LaSala, the conference drew media heavies, organizers, and art makers from all around the state. Here Meaghan joins in CODEPINK's national Create Not Hate response to a decade of war and fear mongering.

Carolyn Coe, reporter from Gaza for WERU
Images made at Draw-a-thons previously held with the Union of Maine Visual Artists, as well as the CP "house" campaign logo, were available for the public to have printed onto a shirt of their choice. Artist/organizer Steve Burke headed up the production of about 50 shirts which will now help carry the BOW$H message out into the world.
CODEPINK Maine man Mark Roman assisting Steve as he prints the popular design "What's For Dinner?" by Mayers and Shetterly.
Panelists Rob Shetterly (Americans Who Tell the Truth), Tamar Etingen (West Athens 4th of July), me (Lisa Savage, CODEPINK Maine Local Coordinator) and Steve displayed and talked about political art and its power to inspire and communicate.
Tamar Etingen, creator of the"10 Years of War on Borrowed $$" enraged gorilla poster. Photo by Kaden.
Rob's portraits of art activist Natasha Mayers, playwright Eve Ensler, whistleblower Bradley Manning, and other truth tellers brought still more voices into the conversation.

Mark and I shared some of our personal collection of political art, including this amazing 9/11 piece by our artist friend James Fangbone.
Click on photo to enlarge.
Above: "The Quagmire" by Etingen; Left: Reclaimed Ship by Wally Warren; Right above "McChrystal Nacht" by Fangbone; Right below: "Blood for Oil" by Philip Savage.
Kaden got right into the spirit of the day, taking about a zillion photos and videos, and creating this beautiful design using T-shirt markers that says: No! War it is Bad.

The 30 Day Care-a-Van will conclude on October 9 with an event in Augusta featuring the Penobscot tribal drummers and Tribal Chief Kirk Francis. More information here on this month long series of events to Bring Our War $$ Home. More photos of the Care-a-van kickoff.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Save Fukushima's Children, Born and Unborn

Photo links to Bruce Gagnon's blog about joining the walk. Link to petition on Facebook.
Mie Kuboda Athearn, who is from Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, gave a talk in Bath, Maine on the evening of September 7. Mie and her husband Steve are walking 200 miles from their home in Rockland to Boston where they'll deliver a petition calling on the government of Japan to save the born and unborn children of Fukushima. It has been nearly six months since the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was struck by the twin forces of earthquake and tsunami, producing the third disaster of a meltdown that appears to continue today.

Mie's tale was one of government indifference and cover-up, of radioactive hot spots at the bottom of school playground slides where rain runoff accumulates, and of teachers who resign rather than follow official orders to withhold the truth from students and their families.
According to Mie, who returned to Fukishima in April to spend three months with her family, people living in the area are frightened but they don't know what to do. The government has said they should “self-evacuate” but has offered no material support to do so. The prospect of leaving behind farms, mortgages, employment, and health care for an uncertain future has paralyzed many into inaction. People in other parts of the country are fearful of receiving the nuclear refugees in case they, too, become contaminated, mirroring the discrimination experienced by survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. She described the feeling of people there as depressed.

Mie's 17 year old nephew continued to play outdoors with his soccer club even as contaminated rain fell, because no official word warned against it. His mother, Mie's sister, was unable to convince her son of the danger of being out in the rain. Another family decided to send their children away to school in the U.S. – but the Japanese government would not give them permission to leave.

Mie believes that under Japan's Constitution the government is obliged to provide transportation, housing, and income replacement for those who are exposed to the risk. Article 25 says: “the State shall use its endeavors for the promotion and extension of social welfare and security, and of public health.” The petition she is carrying to the Prime Minister demanding that the government prioritize the testing and evacuation of pregnant women, infants, and children from the affected area.

Ironically, there is ample evidence of radioactive contamination reaching far beyond Fukushima Prefecture. Like to Washington state, Oklahoma City, qand Toronto.

If you're like me, you may be wondering why you don't know more about this global disaster as it unfolds. It may be because you view news media, like government, as existing for the benefit of the people, rather than profitable entities like TEPCO, owner of Dai-ichi power plant, or General Electric, which built most of the nuclear reactors in Japan. GE got a $3.3 billion refund on their federal taxes (i.e. paid nothing in taxes), and spent $41.8 million on lobbying and campaign contributions.  Jeff Immelt, its CEO, received compensation for the year to $15.2 million.
Information control was the most interesting part of the story. Mie said, “When I was in Japan they tried to be neutral in the news...They just showed on the tv 'The measurement at the city hall today is ___.' So we just watched that number. And also, 'Today we got our news from this area, we found iodine in this food.' Very netural news. They didn't express a strong opinion toward the government or TEPCO. But I was taking my parents' local newspaper in Fukusima, too. People there know it's a very serious problem so the writers were standing on our side; they tried to speak truth, tried to let other people know how the Fukushima people were hurting.”

Jun-san, a Japanese Buddhist nun who is walking the 200 miles to the consulate in Boston with Mie and Steve, added: “After the explosion many conservative magazines and almost all news outlets said no more nuclear power. My friend is a professor in a university in Tokyo, and she said (the news) now starts changing to a different direction again. The Asahi Shinbun (a big daily newspaper) said, 'Sorry we have been supporting nuclear power plants, not showing the truth...but that is not right.' So, begging to the readers they said, 'We have been reporting in a mistaken way, not truth.' They say sorry. They start writing that we need all 55 nuclear power plants closed.”

(Japan) closed 34 power plants, and there's a campaign to control energy use. My mother during a very hot summer said she kept her air conditioning turned off.”

But maybe three weeks ago I talked to a woman professor. (Now the papers are saying) 'We can't close nuclear power plants so quickly, maybe by 2050.' So now they are changing, shifting again. So it's very important that other countries like America show (they are) closing and building no more nuclear power plants.”

Mie: “Japan's media is very funny (she makes a hand gesture of flip flopping). I was surprised by so many conservative magazines writing about nuclear power plants in a truthful way. I was excited that Japan was changing.”

Mary Beth Sullivan, who has been working to end the nuclear threat to life for decades, observed: “But now everyone knows the truth, and you can't put that truth back in the box.”

Jun-san: “My mother and sister know it's very dangerous, but they don't know what to do. That's why most everyone now is in depresssion. And the government knows depression time is a good time for switching (their story).”