Monday, October 31, 2011

Beaten But Not Defeated: Occupying Everywhere

Amanda Savage sits with the Occupy Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park in New York. Savage, a military recruit, said she's staying in the park until her boot camp training starts. (Kathy Willens/AP)

Breaking news: NPR has decided to send two reporters on the road to "spend the month reporting from places we don't often visit, telling the stories of people we don't often hear from (sic)."  In case you're skeptical that NPR has re-discovered what the "P" in their name stands for, refer to their explanation that they are covering this story during November in order to find out from people,  "What are they thinking about when they are looking to next year's election?"

I'll bet you any money that NPR does NOT report that this is what people are thinking (though it's all over Facebook, so obviously not that hard to find):

I'm thinking that the presidential election of 2012 is becoming more irrelevant with each passing day. Why?
Source: Occupy Wall St.'s wall on Facebook
Here's the image on my mind after watching Occupy Denver last night facing police goons and keeping their morale up by telling dumb jokes, and then having the livestream go suddenly silent; and then reading this morning that Scott Olsen has lost the power of speech following his head injury by the Oakland police, who according to eyewitnesses were aiming at the Veterans for Peace flag he and other vets were holding. (You can support Scott Olsen here with a donation.)

The 99% to NPR: you can't fool people who have no home, no health care, no way to pay back their student loans, no jobs, and friends being shot in the head for standing in a park. Hats off today to the hero Bradley Manning and the organization Wikileaks, who have been credited with not only starting  the Arab Spring, and the cascade of Occupies that has followed, but even with ending Phase I of the illegal war for Iraq's oil. Their weapons? Just information.

Here's one last image in support of my belief that truth will win out over propaganda in the end. This is a photo at the biggest, tackiest war memorial I have ever seen (it's in Virginia Beach):

This is the kind of garbage that people in the U.S. have been fed for decades.

But the spin machine is breaking down as people realize that Aircraft Carrier is to Diplomacy as Getting Your Skull Cracked for Holding a Veterans for Peace Flag is to Being Protected and Served by Police.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Climate Change

Patience, at Occupy Detroit, makes a beautiful statement.

Ok I finally got to visit Occupy Wall St. and it was a freak early wintery mix of a storm -- before Halloween for cripes sake. Three inches of slush accumulated on the streets in Jersey, while in Manhattan it melted more quickly into soupy puddles. At Liberty Plaza only a few hardy souls were leaning into a wet wind, some under light cover but most hunkered down inside tents with flys made out of tarps. We didn't stick it out very long as we were drenched and it was coming down hard. I have a lot of respect for the occupiers. There were a lot of police vehicles, watching.

The few people out in the occupy space looked really cheerful though, despite the fact that the fire dept took their generators and fuel, including used cooking oil, for "safety." The real reason is that the chief purpose of generators is the charging of digital devices used in media work, to get the message out. Squelching real news while pretending to be doing something completely different is a hallmark of corporate rule, is it not?

There were boxes of organic bananas being offered while we were there, a lot of recordings happening, and more food in the kitchen, which I read they were going to simplify for a few days while they regrouped and made some plans for feeding so many every day.

Occupy Walll St. made the evening news in New Jersey as occupiers were compared with 320,000 other people who lost electricity, in the latter case due to heavy wet snow bringing down tree limbs and power lines.

But weather doesn't change the reason people are occupying everywhere. Check out Mimi Pierre Johnson delivering a message about her home mortgage to Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Occupy Denver had scuffles at the capital building resulting in police using rubber bullets on the unarmed crowd; they were being swarmed by riot police later at their occupation site, and using the people's mike to joyfully recite their constitutional rights -- when the livestream video feed went dead.

Occupier Janet Weil of CODEPINK had this to say:
Please tell folks that 1000 people, myself included, came to Occupy SF the night of  Oct 26/27 to avert a police attack -- and the attack WAS averted! It helped a lot that 5 city supervisors and several union reps were there, but overall the numbers of people were crucial. While every such victory is fragile, we CAN protect our Occu-pies, but it takes a human presence on site -- as well as calls to officials, media work, etc.

Statement posted by Desiree Fairooz of VA on Facebook (not sure if she is the author or not, but I like it):
We will not stop until the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites, stops. We will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. We will not stop until students no longer have to go into massive debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. We will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. We are the 99%.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Corporate In-faux-mation vs Real News

Photo credit: Egyptian blogger Mohammed Maree,  journalist with
NEWS FLASH: This is what someone who refuses to be cowed by fear looks like. This man is part of a crowd marching from Tahrir Square to the U.S. Embassy in solidarity with Scott Olsen, and following the death in custody of another 24 year old victim of "security" forces; the gruesome details of Essam Ali Atta's torture and the grief of his family members are enough to deter anybody.

Once you have cast off fear, the authorities send their thugs to try and put it back into your heart. But it doesn't always work.
Source: Occupy San Diego Facebook post following arrests: "Stand off over the police wanting to wash the blood away."

I've been traveling to receive training for my job, and thus spending lots more time than normal in the belly of the corporate beast. Corporate hotels still love to leave a copy of USA Today to greet and orient you toward an approved version of what's going on as you step from your room each morning. Above the fold headlines on the day after Oakland's militarized police force cracked the skull of a young veteran of the Marine Corps and Iraq?  Municipalities are growing weary of the messy occupations (never mind the 99% growing weary of kleptocracy) and, “At last, honors for the first Black Marines.” 

The information control industries are counting on the fact that even if you avail yourself of the free internet connection, you're unlikely to stumble on authentic news unless
a. You read the Guardian, which is published in Great Britain; OR
b. You find your own news using RSS feeds, Twitter hash tags, Facebook shares, and emails from friends of the friends of your friends; OR
c. You get lucky.

The dissonance caused by the yawning gap between the approved version vs. what's really going on is too much for most of my fellow citizens. That chasm can be downright bewildering. For example, the livestream from San Diego Friday at 3:30am Pacific time showed riot police advancing on unarmed occupiers. The voiceover of the young camera operator was frantic with adrenaline and the injustice of it all, alternately pleading with police not to attack him, with his mom to call everyone she knows, and with the rest of us to witness (“1000 people are watching this right now!”) as police pulled down tents, smiling broadly as they fingered their enormous weapons.

Meanwhile, the Google feed of top headlines showed not a blip about San Diego, having only just caught up with the news about Scott Olsen that had galvanized the globe during the previous 24 hours. (Every once in a while the list of ten headlines from this particular spun news source is so deliciously ironic that I save it for posterity.) 
GOOGLE HEADLINES from 10/27/10
Obama's Messaging Diluted Off the Campaign Trail
Fox News - all 2105 related »
Verdicts reached in Anna Nicole Smith drug trial
CNN - all 707 related »
Firms Knew of Cement Flaws Before Spill, Panel Says
New York Times - all 606 related »
Moderate Governance by the Next Congress? Fat Chance
CBS News - all 5373 related »
Ky. Senate scuffle replayed in Democratic ad
Washington Post - all 409 related »
Voters decide if California marijuana legalization 'worth risk'
NECN - all 1395 related »
Microsoft Q1 results boosted by Windows, Xbox, Office
Computerworld - all 1489 related »
Another treasurer leaves O'Donnell campaign
Atlanta Journal Constitution - all 474 related »
Baby killed for interrupting mom's Facebook time - all 370 related »
Today, as I ate lunch at the Norfolk airport, the television above my head was frantically reporting on: the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor.

So I lurch around on the internet a lot, following threads down dark tunnels, hopping briefly onto social networking sites whose workings I only dimly understand. Guided only by my purpose – to gather information – and their purpose – to make that possible – I listen in on conversations I probably won't ever have, with people I probably wouldn't meet. For example, here was some interesting chatter on Reddit as Olsen lay still in his medically induced coma in Oakland's Highland Hospital:

[–]Ebolaking  As a fellow (Active Duty) vet as well, though never a Marine. I can't stand this hypocritical stance that the elected officials are taking this horrible event. Though I was never a Marine, he is a brother in arms. As a family, we must stand together. I do recall that when I took my oath of enlistment that no where did it say that I will protect corporate greed. I know for one, if shit gets out of hand, I stand with the people and not the corporate lackeys.

[–]mingus-nous This is what Mayor Jean Quan had to say about this "peaceful resolution"...
We want to thank the police, fire, public works and other employees who worked over the last week to peacefully close the encampment. We also thank the majority of the protestors who peacefully complied with city officials.
I commend Chief Jordan for a generally peaceful resolution to a situation that deteriorated and concerned our community. His leadership was critical in the successful execution of this operation. City Administrator Deanna Santana developed the plan and secured mutual aid from other departments and the State of California. She will direct departmental teams, including safety, public works, communications, to restore conditions at the Plaza so that it is available for public use.
Forget the petition, this woman needs to be physically removed from office.

[–]calebh70118  "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." - Gandhi
The British are providing the best coverage of Occupy, for some reason, so we've got the ignore part down. Fox News is providing the laugh track. And now Oakland PD has started the fight.
So let's fucking win.

And then I come across a news item like Egyptians marching from Tahrir Sqaure to the US Embassy, or the Bangor Public Library offering the occupiers space on their lawn after the city threatened to evict them at 10pm on Day 1. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bangor Leads In Our Historic Struggle for Free Speech, Assembly

Dear Bangor Public Library,
The news of your action on behalf of free speech and the right of assembly in Bangor tomorrow has been shared far and wide in my network of women-led activists, coast to coast, and beyond our shores.

I was born in Bangor and, though I have ranged far, I now live in Solon, Maine and often visit Bangor. Thank you for warming my PINK heart today with your courage, your wisdom, and your historic action on behalf of Occupy Bangor.

Occupy Augusta is alleged to be the only site that has permission for an open fire. Perhaps Occupy Bangor will be the only site protected by a public library. Hooray for Maine!

Lisa Savage #CODEPINKMaine Local Coordinator
☮Bring Our War $$ Home☮ | Went 2 the Bridge blog

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Violence: Women Burn Veils in Yemen

From the Guardian: Yemeni women burn veils in Sana'a. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA
The women spread a black cloth across a main street in Sana'a and threw their full-body veils, known as makrama, on to a pile, sprayed it with oil and set it ablaze. As the flames rose, they chanted: "Who protects Yemeni women from the crimes of the thugs?"

Women have taken a key role in the uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's authoritarian rule. This month the Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman was awarded the Nobel peace prize along with two Liberian women, for their struggle for women's rights.
This traditional Bedouin way to call for help proves once again that nonviolent methods are anything but passive. Seeing these women in Yemen signaling to be saved from the violence engulfing their society made me feel that I ought to be doing something similar. But who can save us, except ourselves?

A two-time Iraq war vet was knocked out and had his skull cracked by a tear gas canister -- that was in Oakland, CA, near where I grew up and where my family lives, not the West Bank of occupied Palestine. I saw one report suggesting that up to 16 different jurisdictions had sent their law enforcement officers to Oakland last night ("For practice," says my husband), and that Scott Olsen, 24, may have been shot by a Palo Alto policeman.

For those of you not familiar with the SF bay area, here's a map showing how close these two cities are together. Not very.

View Larger Map

Mark again: "I wonder if they are clearing out the ones in warm places first, because they won't have winter to drive people out." Hmm, interesting theory: Denver, San Francisco, Atlanta and Oakland are on the hit parade. NYC has had its flare ups, including massive arrests, but as yet none of the occupation site has been torn down. Why did NYC's Liberty Plaza owner back down on needing to "clean" the space? Was it really the numbers swelling early that morning, with the unions marching down en masse in support? Or a wait until they're already freezing strategy that made city officials turn on a dime.

What made Oakland, CA think it could get away with treating the occupation like a violent mob? It appears that the reports of people throwing paint and maybe other projectiles at the police are true. I also heard that a rape was followed by a vigilante-style beating within the last few days. I'm not excusing the decades of police brutality practiced in Oakland, don't get me wrong. But I am analyzing the unfolding drama of the occupations, and what they mean, and how they work.

Isn't perfectly clear that the self-discipline and nonviolence of Tahrir Square made it possible for people bring their whole families, and for the numbers swell into the millions -- and that police can do little to control such crowds?

Make nonviolent action, not war.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Troops to Exit Iraq, Pricey Contractors to Replace Them

photo from "Violations Of Iraqi Children Rights Under The American Occupation" by Souad Al Azzawi

Why Bring Our War $$ Home has seemed to me a more compelling demand than bring the troops home: it's not that I don't want the troops home with their families, healing, finding employment (good luck with that), and getting on with life. A lot of kids will look forward this winter to getting their parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters home for the holidays. A lot of National Guard soldiers who joined up with no intention of invading and occupying a foreign country will finally get to come home. Yay!

But what is the withdrawal of military personnel and their replacement by State Dept. private security contractors actually going to cost, we, the taxpayers -- will bringing the troops home bring the war $$ home, too?

From "The Iraq War Ain’t Over, No Matter What Obama Says" by Spencer Ackerman in Wired:

So far, there are three big security firms with lucrative contracts to protect U.S. diplomats. Triple Canopy, a longtime State guard company, has a contract worth up to $1.53 billion to keep diplos safe as they travel throughout Iraq. Global Strategies Group will guard the consulate at Basra for up to $401 million. SOC Incorporated will protect the mega-embassy in Baghdad for up to $974 million. State has yet to award contracts to guard consulates in multiethnic flashpoint cities Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as the outpost in placid Irbil.
And if we were to fix all that we broke in Iraq, the price tag would be enormous!

Infrastructure that was once in place to provide clean water, sewage disposal, electricity would need to be rebuilt. The National Museum in Baghdad would need to get back the unique artiifacts of earliest civilization in Mesopotamia that were looted under our watch.
How could we even go about making reparations for all the people and lives we destroyed?

Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis "Only ‘Success’ in Iraq is that US Troops are Leaving" at
The US invasion of Iraq itself resulted in the violent deaths of no less than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, according to the most conservative estimate. A 2006 study by the British medical journal Lancet found that up to that point there had been more than 650,000 “excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war,” factoring in the lack of medical supplies and the civil war the invasion set off. Polling firm Opinion Research Business estimated in 2008 “that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens” died as a result of the conflict.

More than 4.7 million Iraqis were forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, with 2 million forced to leave the country entirely. Many Iraqi women, three million of whom are now widows according to their government, were forced into lives of prostitution, with one refugee telling the New York Times that if “they go back to Iraq they’ll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available.”

More than 4,400 US soldiers also needlessly died in a war based on lies, from bogus tales of Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda to claims about non-existent weapons of mass destruction that were easily debunkable at the time – had anyone in a position of power been interested in doing so.
How about we bring the war $$ home and use some of them to fund prosecuting the war criminals?

I am oddly comforted today by my belief that the people surging in to Occupy Wall St, Chicago, the Los Angeles Unified School District, Augusta, Maine and elsewhere will not for a moment be fooled into believing that the Iraq troop withdrawal solves any of the problems that concern them.

Corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater grew wealthy on contract work in Iraq. They rewarded their fat cats, and taxpayers footed the bill. Problem not solved.

See you at the occupation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Imperial Hubris, "Free Trade" Roll On

Thumbing their nose at economic injustice protests surging into streets around the world (great coverage of NYC's Oct 15 standoff in Times Square on Democracy Now!), Congress and the President passed three more "free trade" agreements to further gut U.S. manufacturing, and drive more food farmers in South Korea, Colombia and Panama off their lands.

Corporate-owned Democrats like Obama and Kerry campaign on promises to oppose the neoliberal economic policies that exploit the masses on behalf of the 1%, but once they are in office they do what their masters bid them to do.

Banks can destroy the social fabric of countries like Greece, and the social future of entire generations with debt, and who gets bailed out?
 Meanwhile the war machine and its obscene profits rolls on. $200,000+ a minute just for the war against Afghanistan. Now Obama announces we're sending troops into Uganda for humanitarian reasons (NOT for the oil) while the U.S. continues to build drone bases in Africa and on the Arab peninsula, and to support developing kamikaze drones that fit in a backpack. Here's a graphic depiction of what the enforcement arm of global neoliberalism looks like and costs.

Tax Dollars At War from Softbox on Vimeo.

The Pentagon and the White House are pretending to squabble (again -- remember when Gen. McChrystal resigned?) to help U.S. citizens continue to believe that there is any significant difference between the federal government and the global war machine. This time it's over whether or not U.S. troops can stay in Iraq long after the "end" announced by the President elected to end it, despite failure to secure legal immunity for said troops in negotiations with Iraq's client government. With Iraq and Afghanistan permanent bases in place, the time has come to attack Iran.

Cue the trumped up charges that will stampede the corporate-owned politicians and media outlets into beating the war drums.

How soon will the U.S. empire collapse under the weight and stupidity of its own hubris? Soon, say the 99%.

Monday, October 17, 2011

#OccupyAugusta: Why Are You Here? Oct 15, 2011

Augusta, Maine Day 1 of #OccupyAugusta October 15, 2011

Learning to make videos in order to "be our own media" has been frustrating at times, but I am beginning to get the hang of doing it. I love the interviewing part -- that feeds my citizen journalist soul. It fascinates me how people everywhere stay on message so clearly (politicians have to be heavily coached to to do this).

#OccupyAugusta (Maine) Day 1 fell on October 15, 2011, the day of global action by people against corporate greed. Here's the local newspaper coverage of the event:

Variety of issues spur Saturday protesters | Kennebec Journal

Here's a great video by Bex Hickman from Day 1, showing a lot of the action down in Capital Park, which is an historic public space just opposite the State House capitol building. Campers numbered 16 on Night 1 and were told by capitol police that they could stay overnight and have a fire if it was contained in something. The first General Assembly wasn't really a true G.A. as they were just getting organized as to working groups, etc. but Chris Buchanan taught everyone the hand signals and about 35 people participated. I love this photo of  my sister in Pink Cat Erdman circling up,  and the State House lit up behind her.
College students were out in force. There were students from UMF, UMA, UMO, and Thomas College. UMF's Taylor Noyes took this photo of me with my grandson:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Governments Represent Corporations Now

Image: William Hessian
It is before dawn on a day of global history making, October 15, 2011. People will pour into public spaces to demand an end to government that serves corporate interests and financial elites, some while pretending to represent the common people.
An excellent piece in Common Dreams yesterday (reprinted from Foreign Policy in Focus) brings the problem into focus. Lockheed Martin's dirty dealings in Mongtomery County, Maryland to keep a war dollars home resolution from even being considered is reported by authors Jean Athey and John Feffer:
...a simple, straightforward resolution. It urged Congress “to make major reductions in the Pentagon budget, in a manner that does not harm the safety or lives of our troops, with the savings invested in state and local needs so that Montgomery County and other counties in Maryland can repair their deteriorating infrastructure, reverse budget cuts to education, health care, and other needs, and otherwise improve the welfare of their residents.”
On October 4, the Council president introduced this resolution with three cosponsors. One additional Council member announced that he would also support the resolution. With this majority, the resolution was guaranteed to pass when it came up for a vote on October 11.
But it didn’t pass. Cue the ominous movie soundtrack.

The Machine Fights Back

Lockheed Martin is one of the premier military contractors in the world. It also employs about 5,000 people in Montgomery County. Alerted to the resolution, Lockheed Martin switched into high gear. One of its top lobbyists began calling council members.  The Washington Post reported that some Council members were also called by a “state delegate, and the offices of County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D).”     
Maryland officials were most upset at the prospect that Lockheed would up and leave Maryland – for Virginia. Last year, Northrop Grumman opted for Virginia over Maryland as the site of its new global headquarters.  The prospect that Lockheed Martin might pull up stakes prompted Maryland County Executive Isiah Leggett to refer to the resolution as “a dagger pointed directly at the heart of Montgomery County.”
With that degree of opposition, at least one and perhaps two of the original supporters decided to rescind their support for the resolution. In order to avoid a defeat, the Council president pulled the resolution, and the Council never voted on it.
A commenter called since 1492 claimed, "We don't need no stinkin resolutions. We need civil disobedience that will lead to the dismantling of the Pentagon and the mindset that runs it."

Well, 1492, I think we need both. Here's part of the comment I made explaining why I think so:

As for whether resolutions are worth working on, in my experience these non-binding acts by local governance units open a space for discussion of the issues by many citizens who are practically brain dead from an entire lifetime of getting their "news" and information from the mainstream media. These are discussions with the potential to educate the 99% in a significant way. Then, when the dirty dealing of corporate players like Lockheed Martin kicks in, the revelation of who is really represented by county government (or town, or congress) has a similar value in revealing truth.

There is no one path to regaining representative government. I'm pretty sure Jean Athey has been in the streets many times. Lots of us work on resolutions when we can, march when we can, occupy when we can. Today, Oct 15, 2011, the whole world is going out to public spaces to say: We are the 99%. Our government does not represent us. Corporations, beware.
Occupy Wall St. photo from Andrew Courtney>Liberty Park, NYC, Bloomberg backs off 10.14.11

See you in the streets. I'll be there in Augusta -- you'll be there where you are. I'll be wearing my Bradley Manning t-shirt today. Bradley told the truth and he has now been locked up without trial for more than 500 days -- not for killing anyone, not for torturing anyone, not for bombing civilians, or sending troops into Uganda -- but for telling the truth. And just look what he started!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Fund My Education, Not Your Wars !"

Here is CODEPINK staffer Alli McCracken getting arrested in the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee where Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared, formerly of the CIA.

Alli was absurdly charged with assaulting Panetta, even though she was no closer than 10 feet away from him, and the alleged assault weapon was a piece of paper.

I guess the truth written down is pretty powerful. Her sign said "Fund My Education Not Your Wars."

The photo is an instant classic. Too bad you can't see Panetta's face, but the sea of dark cop uniforms sets off the pink tunic with the Bring Our War $ Home graphic nicely.

In my opinion, it is of the caliber of the iconic image of Des and Condi:

You can feel the tide rising. I made a random business call today and the woman who had my info told me that her daughter was at Occupy Wall St every chance she could get. Then she was excited to learn that Occupy Augusta begins this Sat. Oct 15 at Capitol Park.

We should also spread the word that NYC is at risk and needs support. Here's the call put out by their General Assembly.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#OccupyHere, There & Everywhere!

Hell yes! DC today: #Occupy the Senate's Hart building
Chicago Robin Hoods in Kayaks visit Mortgage Bankers conference !

#OccupyMaine in Portland Day 8 "This has been a really long general assembly..."

And from farther afield, a bracing opinion piece on the Arab Spring as Third Intifada (with an extra wide stance) by Hamid Dabashi in Al Jazeera, with a dice up of Obama, Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad's speeches to the UN not to be missed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

30 Day Care-a-Van to Bring Our War $$ Home Finale

Finale event of the Bring Our War $$ Home  30 day Care-a-Van around Maine, held Oct 9, 2011 at UMaine Augusta and in honor of Indigenous People's Day. The #Occupy movement was on everyone's mind and often spoken of as HOPEFUL!
Program: Overview of 30 Day Care-a-van Events -- Bruce Gagnon; Honoring Wise Earth Stewardship vs. For-Profit Use of Natural Resources -- Lisa Savage; Report Back from October2011 in Wash DC, and Indigenous People's Land Use Support by VFP -- Dud Hendrick; Maine in Environmental Crisis and Our Advocacy -- Hillary Lister; Poetry Readings -- Lee Sharkey, Henry Braun; Songs -- Judd Esty-Kendall, Dan Ellis; audience participation and announcements.

Lisa Savage, CODEPINK Maine Local Coordinator remarks on 10-9-11:

Thank you to everyone for being here today. Thank you for bringing food and ideas for all of us to share. I am grateful for the opportunity to share a meal and to speak with you.

Thank you to the Earth, the water and the sky for upholding us and sustaining us.

Thank you to the ancestors, who taught us how to live respectfully on our planet.

This is an auspicious time for people to come together and affirm the vision of a world they would want the grandchildren and great grandchildren to inherit.

The original human beings had a wisdom that modern people often forget to remember.

They forget when they spend even one cent on killing other humans. They forget when they allow for-profit corporations to hijack the food supply for human beings. They forget when they allow health care to be privatized and turned into a for-profit service. They forget when they allow post secondary education to become a means of enslaving entire generations to a lifetime of debt. They forget when they allow for-profit corporations to pollute the ponds, lakes, rivers, seas and oceans. They forget when they allow killer robots to enrich the few while burning up children, women and men who are just going about their lives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Gaza, and Iraq. They forget when they allow war profiteers to drain the national treasury.

The original human beings were guided by the wisdom of grandmothers. In many tribes, women collectively pooled their wisdom and chose the elder women to guide the process of choosing leaders. These grandmothers had the power to appoint a chief, and the power to remove a chief.

In the Wampanog language the word for woman means: she who has the final say.

Where did modern humans step off the path of life and onto a path of pursuing death for profits?

Arguably, at least on this continent, this misstep occurred in 1492 when a corporatized effort to seek wealth in foreign lands bumped into the island of Hispaniola and thought India had been reached.

In the event, it did not matter much that it was the wrong continent. When pillage and theft are the motivators, any wealth will do.

Tomorrow the modern warfare state has a holiday to commemorate the ghastly events that followed on European “discovery” of the American continents.

We come together today by choice to re-purpose this holiday, and to honor the original inhabitants of North America and their deep wisdom about stewardship of the earth's natural resources. Today we celebrate Indigenous People's Day on our final event of the 30 Day Care-a-Van to Bring Our War $$ Home and put them to work.

Today we stand in solidarity with the people, mostly young adults, who have poured into public spaces to demand an end to rule by for-profit corporate government. #OccupyMaine is going strong – some of us visited them yesterday in Monument Sqaure, Portland. #OccupyAugusta is gaining strength – on Oct 15 people will gather in Capitol Park near the State House with the same demand. #OccupyWallSt and #Occupy Washington DC have received international press coverage, and that coverage has spread our demand – the demand to Bring Our War $$ Home – literally around the world. A giant pink banner with the BOW$H slogan was the backdrop for Russia TV's coverage, and a contingent holding a BOW$H banner marched proudly past Al Jazeera's reporter in Washington DC on Oct 6.

Thank you activists for spreading this message of hope so far beyond the borders of our beloved state of Maine!

This is an auspicious time for people to come together and affirm the vision of a world they would want the grandchildren and great grandchildren to inherit.

Let me reflect on another development of the Maine campaign to bring our war dollars home: connecting with college students around the state. The Care-a-Van kicked off with a grassroots media event organized by WERU Community Radio and held at Unity College. Many students walked away from that event wearing a t-shirt with one of five fantastic bow$h images created at various campaign Draw-a-thons over the last two years. The Care-a-van visited Umaine Farmington for leafleting on student debt as compared with military spending. It visited Bowdoin College for a teach in on Afghanistan. There a young man said, I am a freshman here at Bowdoin. My parents lost our home because my sister has leukemia and the medical bills were huge. I stood in front of the bank that repossessed our home in Mass. And a policeman told me I couldn't stand there without paying $50 for a permit from the town. The young man said to those in attendance at Bowdoin, we freshmen sit around and talk all the time, about how something is terribly wrong in this country. We don't know what to do.

I told him, talking to other people about what's wrong is the first step. And you are doing that right now. I was terribly sad for his family, but I felt overjoyed that the Care-a-Van had created an opportunity, a space, for him to bring his story into the public conversation.

The Care-a-Van went to Umaine Orono last week. A peace action group on campus met up with Care-a-Van organizers and helped leaflet before a talk by Prof. Doug Allen. Yesterday two of those student organizers turned up in Monument Square to connect with the General Assembly of #OccupyMaine. It was exciting when Jessi Clement turned to me yesterday and said, So I have a statement I brought that I wanted to make. Let's use the people's microphone I said. I had already seen her practice using the mike. She was still a little shy. I said, I will stand right beside you. Then Bethany Louisos of the Free Change collective in Portland stood right beside Jessi on the other side. And Jessi called out

Mike Check.
(audience response)

We are not lacking

in the dynamic forces

needed to create

the future.

We live immersed

in a sea of energy

beyond all comprehension

But this energy

in an ultimate sense

is not ours by domination

but by invocation

we must believe

that we are care for-profit

and guided by

these same powers

that brought us into being”

Thomas Berry

Jess then taught us a mudra, a hand gesture from the Hindu tradition, a particular mudra that gives strength to though and matter, and is used to put more force behind plans for the future. I would be happy to share it with anyone who is interested today after our program concludes.

This is an auspicious time for people to come together and affirm the vision of a world they would want the grandchildren and great grandchildren to inherit.

The Care-a-Van to bow$h was modeled on a caravan conducted by my Pink sisters and allies in Northern California. They began at an occupation of a sacred site, a shell mound on the northern edge of the San Francisco bay. Native people and their allies have been holding that space to prevent developers from covering it with for-profit real estate parcels. That caravan ended at their state capital in Sacramento by joining an occupation conducted by Calif teachers.

Today we conclude our Care-a-Van here at yet another college in Maine, at a center dedicated to upholding human rights for everyone, with an event honoring the wisdom of indigenous people's stewardship of the environment. All over the globe native people are resisting the theft of their land and their coasts – on Jeju Island, in the rain forests of India, on Okinawa, at Da Molina, Italy, in the great western desert of the United States of America, sacred to many tribes, a space which the Pentagon proposes to turn into a militarized airspace.

To the Pentagon and its many corporate leeches we will continue to present our demand in every way we can imagine:

Bring our war $$ home!


Next planning meeting for the Maine Bring Our War $$ Home campaign: Sat Oct 29, Augusta.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

#Occupy and the Forces of Co-option

A friend of a friend on Facebook posted this comment on info about why the 99% are moved to #OccupyWall St:
It's about time we stood up! I signed up for some kind of "virtual march" and was supposed to get details yesterday and never did. =( I'm so on board with this!!
I believe she's referring to the large organization that has tried to jump on the #Occupy bandwagon even though they have been enabling and excusing Obama's war mongering and environmental destruction ever since they steered grassroots activists to help him get elected.

This tumblr collection of testimony from the 99% is the most amazing and moving website. Here's one of many illuminating posts from somebody who cannot be fooled again:

"Land of the owned and home of the afraid." Tell it, sister.

Encouraging news: activists in other countries don't think signing up for a "virtual march" is the way to change anything. Here's an authentic recipient of the Nobel peace prize, Yemen organizer Tawakul Karman, on why 'peaceful revolution' is the only solution to our global problems.

Here are people in Afghanistan having a real march to demand NATO / U.S. troops withdraw immediately. (Thanks, Janet Weil, for the link.)

Afghans protest US presence by presstv

And here's the real reason the U.S. has no intention of withdrawing: our government endorses any activity that produces profits for the corporations who finance election campaigns, no matter how bad that activity is for the people of the Earth. Like the Tar Sands Keystone Pipeline: the U.S. State Dept. had the environmental impact report done by consultants to the company that wants to build the pipeline!

But make no mistake:

Okay, I'm off to help #OccupyMaine starting with a potluck lunch in Monument Square, Portland at noon. Then on Sunday Oct 9 in Augusta we'll conclude our 30 day Care-a-Van to Bring Our War $$ Home with an indigenous people's day celebration at UMA starting at noon. Songs, poetry, kickass environmental activist and speaker Hillary Lister, and finger foods to share.

Join us! Because we are all the 99%.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ten Years Too Long!

Above is what was going on in Maine as the war on terror surpassed a decade. And here are reports of this week's protests against U.S. militarism in Afghanistan. And here is more eloquent testimony every single day from the 99%. All over  people are saying, we're fed up.
Here's what was going on in the streets of DC today, where Codepink and other groups shut down General Atomics for a time.

While this was going down inside the White House, a constant stream of Creepy visitors...

Today's Schedule
9:45 AM: The President receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
10:25 AM: The President and the Vice President meets with Senate Democratic Leadership
11:30 AM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
11:30 AM: The President meets with Secretary of the Treasury Geithner
12:00 PM: The President meets with senior advisors
3:05 PM: The President welcomes the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Super Bowl victory
3:45 PM: The President holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia

Now the first day I met Medea and joined CODEPINK protesting Geithner's appearance before Elizabeth Warren's TARP hearing in April '09 seems like a harbinger of #OccupyWallSt .

Breaking Out All Over

From the WaPo's photo gallery and article on Freedom Plaza, Day 1.
What part of "now" doesn't the White House get for 10 years already?

Guess what the top headline in Most Read in World News for the Belfast (Ireland) Telegraph was today? Yup.

Occupy Wall Street protests gather pace in US

Funny thing is, the quotes from young people in the mainstream press coverage on DC that I read sound just like the quotes from people in Monument Square, Portland, Maine last Saturday. And they sound just like the people I joined in a candlelight vigil tonight on a bridge in Waterville, all of whom were grandparent age.

The 99% don't need to stay on their talking points. It just naturally occurs, because they're all speaking from the heart while watching the American dream die.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Absence of Fear

Thanks to Chuck Vonderae on Facebook for this image.
The most hopeful thing about the surging wave of global protests is the repudiation of fear. Granted this is much, much easier if you're white, young, and live in the U.S.A. (at least for now) than it is if you are, for instance, a medical worker in Bahrain. But Egyptians rising up against a brutal security state dictatorship caused millions watching to throw off their own chains of fear: fear of not being cool, fear of Pentagon drone-based face recognition software, fear of admitting that you're financially broken for the forseeable future.

Still, intimidation will continue, and fear will lurk in the shadows where it thrives. Check out the crowd sourced testimony at We Are the 99% showing the most common fear in this country is lack of health care. Once you've faced that and still gotten back up to continue the struggle, you become much harder to intimidate.

Social media like Twitter and Facebook fuel the success of the world rising up because they are public, and require one to overcome fear in order to participate. (CODEPINK is all about using public displays, including humor, to rise above fear.) I overheard a young organizer in Portland last Saturday being challenged as to why he wore a Guy Fawkes mask. He said he was protecting his identity for fear of being targeted. He acknowledged that his disguise referred to the movie V for Vendetta, but said that for him the mask was not a symbol of violence, but instead referred to thousands of people pouring into Parliament at the end of the film.

An hour later the mask was off and he was speaking at #OccupyMaine's first General Assembly in Portland. His dad was there, too, supporting him. A day later and he was organizing #OccupyAugusta (Maine), which begins Oct 15. Going public allowed him to report an attempt at intimidation by the Capitol police, and allowed me to connect him with a leading civil rights lawyer in our state.

What will you rise up against? A decade of war on terror, decades of war on the working poor, or centuries of war on the indigenous stewards of the earth?

If you're not occupying Wash DC or another place near you, join us in Augusta on Sun Oct 9 to observe Indigenous People's Day and celebrate the finale of our 30 Day Care-a-Van to Bring Our War $$ Home in Maine. It's at UMaine Augusta's Holocaust and Human Rights Center from noon to 3pm. Bring finger food to share, and bring your stories. Here's one from the Care-a-Van that I'll leave you with:

A young man in the audience at the Afghanistan teach-in at Bowdoin College last week said: My parents lost their house because my sister has leukemia, and her medical care has been so expensive. Both my parents have law degrees. I stood outside the bank that repossessed our home with a protest sign and was told by police I couldn't be there without a permit from the town (in Massachusetts) that costs $50.

I told him: If 500 people had been standing there with you, I'll bet you wouldn't have needed a permit.

He said: We sit around at school and talk about it all the time, kids from all over. We know something is broken, but we don't know what to do about it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out"

"How do we end the deficit? End the wars and tax the rich!"

Great happy and creative crowd in Monument Square today, in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. I'll post a bunch of interviews tomorrow. If you can, get on down there and join them!

Monument Square, Portland on Day 1 of Occupy Maine

First General Assembly 10-1-11

General Assembly in session

Hot Soup delivered by Local Sprouts -- yum

via awdixon on Reddit: "Educate them. Bring a sign with an important fact that illustrates the bullshit that is going on."


We - are - the  99%.