Saturday, October 26, 2013

Help @NEAtoday Find The Drain On Funds For Education

Source: Bangor Daily News, Troy R. Bennett
"Maine parents struggling as cost of raising children rises while incomes stagnate"
As an educator I get regular communications from my union, the National Education Association, through their affiliate in Maine. The NEA's messaging often vilifies Republicans while turning a blind eye to the complicity of their favored party, the Democrats, in funding war after war and weapon after weapon -- while childhood poverty soars and college graduates stagger under a burdensome load of education-related debt.

NEA/MEA communications never acknowledge the central fact that for the past two budget cycles the Pentagon's share of the tax revenue Congress may allocate (the so-called discretionary budget, which does not include dedicated revenue streams of payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare) has been 57%. That does include the NSA budget for spying on you, me and the heads of state of our alleged allies.

It does not include nuclear weapons research which is funded under the Dept. of Energy, or the Veterans' Administration; the actual share of the budget allocated to the military runs around 60%.
Source: PPH Maimuna Hassan, 17, now a Portland High senior, said she was pleased with her individual SAT scores, particularly since the test was difficult. “There were words on the vocabulary section I had never heard,” she said.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
The Portland Press Herald, which is owned by the husband of Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, recently published an article on a study with the entirely unsupported claim that funding for public education in Maine had increased threefold over the last 40 years. I wrote to the journalist about this and he just gave me a link to the study, where the claim is also unsupported. (I give both authors an F on their papers, unless they choose to redo their work.) The article's focus: lack of academic progress as measured by SAT scores in an increasingly impoverished Maine.

This week the MEA sent me a link to an online letter writing tool where I could urge Maine's congressional delegation to increase funding for public education. Luckily, it was an editable text so I modified the letter to say what I really wanted to point out to Democrat Mike Michaud (my representative) and to my two senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King.
Source: Organizing Notes blog by Bruce Gagnon.
Depicted is the Zumwalt "stealth" destroyer  the first of which was launched yesterday in Bath, Maine. Designed to "sneak up" on China's coast, it cost between $4-7 billion -- no one knows for sure, because it is a "top secret" weapon.
In a nutshell, bring our war dollars home and use them to fund public education.

Dear Rep. Michaud, Sen. Collins & Sen. King: 
As a constituent and an educator, I urge you to end sequester level cuts to education in the final FY14 funding bill.

Defund the bloated Pentagon and its elaborate weapon systems and contractors, and redirect those funds to education. 
We should be investing in education, not cutting it year after year. A disproportionate share of the sequester cuts have impacted higher-poverty communities and students most in need, and additional harmful impacts are being felt in classrooms nationwide. 
Maine students are counting on you to reverse course from the austerity approach that slashed education across-the-board by 5 percent in fiscal 2013-the equivalent of cutting nearly all education programs and Head Start by roughly $3 billion. Federal education funding is at pre-2004 levels although our nation's schools now serve 6 million more students. 
Congress must reject a continuation of education cuts and demand additional revenue, including closing corporate tax loopholes and defunding the Pentagon and its contractors. 
NSA programs that keep every person in the US under surveillance are extremely costly and are destroying our constitutional rights. The money funneled through the Pentagon budget to the NSA is a particularly bad example of congressional spending priorities, and needs to stop immediately. 
Thank you for your attention to these matters. 
Lisa Savage

Here's where you can send a letter using the same tool. Make sure to edit it to fit your message, and check the box to send a copy to the NEA.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sharing Information On #Drones

One reason to do a peace walk is the uplifting experience of being in community with diverse workers for peace and freedom from surveillance. Another major reason: to get the word out about the threat of drones to human safety and privacy. Several walkers said that people they encountered in Maine asked them, "What is a drone?". (I suggest "flying, spying killer robots" as a good working definition.)

Peace activists who traveled from Japan to Maine to participate in the walk reacted with disbelief when I told them news of the walk had been published by SF Gate, the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle.

After the Associated Press picked up the story on the walk in Skowhegan, versions of the AP story appeared all over the place:

SF Gate
Boston Globe
Franklin Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME)
Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME)

A Maine city whose mayor is peace activist Karen Heck announced the walk on its website, and Mayor Heck made a proclamation officially welcoming the walkers with a proclamation at their city council meeting on the night before the walk arrived.

Other local coverage by media outlets in Maine:

  1. 10-day walk brings awareness of surveillance drones in Maine

    Bangor Daily News-Oct 13, 2013
    Bruce Gagnon of Bath holds a sign during the start of a peaceful walk in downtown Bangor on Sunday morning. The Maine Drone Peace Walk ...
  2. Marchers in Maine protest use of drones

    Press Herald-Oct 13, 2013
    The Maine Drone Peace Walk began in Limestone, in Aroostook County, on Thursday. Marchers walk about 13 miles a day, and the march is ...

  3. Peace Walk through Maine calls for no spy drones

    WCSH-TV-Oct 12, 2013
    OLD TOWN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A peace walk calling on government to prevent weaponized drone testing in Maine made it's way from ...
  4. 280-mile walk planned to protest drones

    The Portland Phoenix-Oct 11, 2013Share
    The walk, which is being organized by Maine Veterans for Peace and ... President Barack Obama told the American people that drone use in ...

    Here's one that got posted to facebook by a tv station in Maine:
    And our friends at the great news site Popular Resistance re-posted Bruce Gagnon's blog post about some of our coverage.

     At the concluding rally in the Maine Statehouse rotunda on Friday, October 18 I made the following remarks. (Road construction in multiple locations for a "natural" i.e. fracked gas pipeline delayed us so much that we missed all of the prior speeches. I look forward to seing the video so that I can hear Kathy Kelly, Tarak Kauf, and Shenna Bellows who is running for Susan Collins' senate seat.)
  1. My birthday present from CODEPINK arrived in time to wear at the podium.
    Get your DRONE FREE ZONE  t-shirt here.
    Sixteen year old Malala Yousefzai took a meeting with President Obama last week. Malala is famous as a champion of education for girls in Pakistan, and was attacked by Taliban extremists for her work – which only made her more famous.

    In her meeting with the man who keeps a “kill list” that he goes over every Tuesday with his advisors, Malala said:

    “Drone strikes are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts.”

    Shortly after their meeting, President Obama delivered a big win for war profiteers by rolling back restrictions on weapons exports. He made it easier for the corporations that fund his campaigns to sell their deadly merchandise, including parts for drones, to trouble spots all over the globe.

    The proliferation of machines of death in the hands of men whose souls have gone to sleep is the signature of the U.S. in the 21st century. Our entire economy is built upon this, and about 2/3 of our federal taxes are spent on this, driving us toward more austerity for the people and threatening us with moral and fiscal bankruptcy.

    President Obama has promised 30,000 drones will soon fill the skies over North America.

    Maine legislators still listen to their constituents. In the session just concluded, the Maine legislature passed a bill regulating the use of drones by law enforcement officials. Both houses agreed that warrants should be obtained before surveilling with drones. The bill contained an unfortunate exemption for the testing of militarized drones. Attorney General Janet Mills lobbied for the exception, calling drones an “economic driver” for Maine. This compromise to get the bill passed turned out to be unnecessary – Governor LePage vetoed the bill, and there were not enough votes to override his veto.

    Vacationland is where I was born, and where I make my home. Famous as a tourist destination spot, Maine has spectacular coastal islands and harbors, acres of forests, and the most beautiful lakes, rivers and mountains imaginable. It has a burgeoning local food movement and a long tradition as a haven for artists and authors. Drones overhead will destroy Vacationland as we know it. Their noisy, hovering threat to privacy and safety will profit a few already wealthy arms merchants, and the rest of us will lose something of immense value: true security.

    The role of NSA surveillance in targeted drone bombings was revealed by Edward Snowden; the two functions of drones go hand in hand – spying and killing by robots that cost the millions of dollars that have gone missing from our budgets for public education and public transportation represent a failure of our culture, our intelligence, and a failure to have true government of, by and for the people.

    Activists in Maine will again work to find sponsors for a bill regulating drones and banning militarized drones in Maine airspace. We will not give up. Our future, and the future of our children and grandchildren, depends upon it.

    Thank you to the Maine Drone Peace Walkers for helping to bring so much attention to this pressing problem.

    The walk ends today, but the work continues.

    CODEPINK has collaborated to organize a No Drone Summit in Washington DC for November 16-17. Experts from around the globe and plenty of concerned citizens will share what they know and on Monday, November 18 some will engage in civil disobedience to resist the proliferation of drones. See me for details if you to know know more about these events.

    Thank you for coming together today. I am honored to be among you.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mayor Welcomes Maine #Drone Peace Walkers

Along the way, the walk was joined by the Bread & Puppet Circus Band. Photo credit: Starr Cutler-Gilmartin
The Mayor of Waterville made a proclamation welcoming the Maine #Drone Peace Walk to her city at a council meeting on Tuesday, October 15, 2013:
WHEREAS, celebration of international goodwill and the building of bridges between people has a long and rich history in the City of Waterville, and

WHEREAS, the Maine Drone Peace Walk, led by nuns and monks of the Nipponzan Ryohoji Peace Pagoda of Grafton, New York, will reach Waterville on Wednesday, October 16, 2013, and
WHEREAS, the Maine Drone Peace Walk brings visitors to Waterville from around our state, the U.S. and Japan, and

WHEREAS, the walk has been widely recognized for raising awareness of drone surveillance issues in Maine, and proposed testing of weaponized drones in Maine airspace, and

WHEREAS, all who reside in the City of Waterville are invited to join in welcoming the visitors tomorrow at a 6:00 pm potluck dinner in the United Methodist Church at 61 Pleasant Street, and 
WHEREAS, it is appropriate that the City of Waterville recognize the value of this event for promoting international goodwill, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and responsible stewardship of the skies, 
NOW THEREFORE I, Karen Heck, Mayor of the City of Waterville, do hereby declare Wednesday, October 16, 2013 as Maine Drone Peace Walk day, and in recognition thereof do urge all of our City's residents and visitors to join me in welcoming the walkers to our city.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#Drones: Human Rights Violation Of A New Kind

Flying spying killer robots, also known as drones, have added a new dimension to human rights violations.

Human beings have no recourse when a drone bombs their family home, or tracks their movement from thousands of feet overhead. Drones cannot be contacted to plead for justice. The sound of a drone can disturb the sleep of an entire town night after night without the machine that produces the sound growing tired.

Drones have no conscience, and the person behind the joystick is far from reprisal. He refers to human beings killed by him as "bugsplat" because that is what they look like on his video monitor.

Drones for the U.S. have been used extensively by the CIA, an organization famous for its human rights violations including rendition, torture, and terrorizing civilian populations.

CIA drones conduct inhumane attacks by drones that kill first responders to scenes of death and mayhem, the so called "double tap" policy of the Obama administration. The filthy hand of the CIA also partly explains the morally corrupt policy of killing mourners at the funerals of people killed by drones, even children.

Hundreds of children, and thousands of adults, are documented drone bombing victims.

Drones have been used by the state of Israel to terrorize civilians in Gaza for years. Many of the technologies that make drones possible were developed by Israeli corporations, a chilling fit since Israel's occupation of Palestine is one long chronicle of gross human rights violations.

Technological advances that might have helped human beings to live better lives -- safer, more secure, and more connected to other human beings -- have failed to do so.

Drones are touted by President Obama and the state of Maine's Tea Party Governor Paul LePage alike. The Attorney General of Maine, Janet Mills, called drones "an economic driver" for the state.

My home state of Maine is mostly rural with splendid forests, rivers and lakes and an abundance of wildlife. It has long been "Vacationland" for people from around the U.S.

Flying killer robots in the airspace over Vacationland will surely destroy the economic driver of tourism.

Flying killer robots funded by the U.S. taxpayer will surely spell the end of our Constitution as we knew it. Extrajudicial assassination is diametrically opposed to any concept of human rights. A President with a weekly meeting to go over his "kill list" of possible drone targets has lost his moral compass.

If the steady erosion of human rights by flying killer robots concerns you, register now for the No Drones Summit in Washington DC November 16 - 17.

The Maine Drone Peace Walk continues today and through Friday, October 18, ending at the Maine State House Hall of Flags with a rally at 3pm. This is a chance to join others who are concerned about the human rights implications of killing and spying by drones.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maine #Drone Peace Walk To Reach UMF, Belgrade, Waterville & Augusta Hall of Flags

From Bruce Gagnon's post about media coverage of the walk, reposted by the great progressive news blog Popular Resistance.
The Maine #Drone Peace Walk has enjoyed unseasonably warm October days and spectacular fall foliage as they cover around 12 miles each day with around 25 people. They carry banners and signs to convey the message that peace is preferable to war, especially war and spying waged by the flying killer robots known as "drones."

Tonight the walk will reach the University of Maine, Farmington which is a campus near and dear to my heart as many friends have studied there. I hope many who are there now will join the potluck supper tonight (Tuesday, October 15) at 6pm at the Old South Congregational Church at 235 Main St. to meet the walkers.

Each day and evening the group entertain one another with songs like this one, a traditional Japanese folk song about dragonflies.

Japan is the most nature-revering culture I have ever had the pleasure of encountering, and it is ironic that the globe's worst nuclear disasters, which strike at the very heart of life itself, have occurred there.

I apologize for the role the U.S. government has played in bombing their cities with atomic weapons, and then forcing nuclear power on the rebuilt nation. A typhoon is bearing down on the already damaged and badly leaking Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. This is bad news for the Japanese people -- 40,000 of whom rallied in Tokyo this weekend against the restart of any of the country's nuclear power plants -- bad news for the Pacific Ocean, and for life all over the planet.

If you have not had the pleasure of meeting up with Japanese peace workers, you can catch the walk tonight (Tues Oct 15) in Farmington at the Old South Congregational Church (235 Maine St.), potluck supper at 6pm. There will be many other people who have joined the walk from around the world, the country and our state there, too.

Details here on the walk route and afternoon/evening events tomorrow in Waterville, Thursday in Belgrade and Friday afternoon in the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Why Buddhists Are Walking Through Maine To Call For #NoDrones

Photo credit: Starr Cutler-Gilmartin. Walkers about to begin on Day 1 in Limestone.
The most common question asked by journalists covering the Maine Drone Peace Walk this week: Why are you doing this? Why have people come all the way from Japan, Malaysia, Washington State, New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts to join Mainers on a peaceful walk from Limestone to Bath?

Peace walkers arriving gratefully in Bangor on Day 3, Sat Oct 12, 2013. Vets for Peace members had this banner ready to greet us. I'm not sure if whose should be who's, or they mean to say whose kill list next? Either way, citizens are well-advised to be concerned about flying spying killer robots overhead. Photo credit: Paula Dougherty
Our answer: so the public knows what is happening globally with drones -- and what is about to happen with drones in Maine if the state and federal governments get their wish.

TV station WLBZ in Bangor gave the best comprehensive coverage of the event and the underlying issues yesterday on Day 3 of the walk.

WABI also sent a reporter; I'm hoping their evening news did a better job of coverage than this video archived on their website. The unattributed quote was from Veterans for Peace past president Dud Hendrick.

Today my local newspaper, the Waterville Morning Sentinel, has said they'll send a photographer to catch the walk nearing Skowhegan. Led by Buddhist nuns and monks in saffron colored robes banging drums and chanting, and accompanied by Japanese peace activists in colorful wigs and clothed in carp banners, it is a sight to see.
Many fine signs by the Artists' Activists Rapid Response Team are on display. Hard to see in this screen grab, but the horse on the sign I am holding is saying "Nay!"

People who stop to gaze are offered a flyer explaining how drones are used currently, and how a militarized drone testing site for Aroostook County is being promoted by both corporate parties, the Democrats and the Republicans.

Buddhists of the Nipponzan Ryohoji order in New York are experienced peace walk leaders as this is the work they have taken on in this life. One who spoke to us in Brewer last night at the conclusion of Day 3 is from Japan and said that his first trip to the U.S. was a peace walk from Toronto to New York City retracing the route of freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad. He then sang us an African American gospel hymn in a lovely baritone. Cultural potpourri!

Some of the activists from Japan are working on a project to save Article 9 of Japan's constitution, which was written post Hiroshima and Nagasaki banning the rebuilding of a military. Now that Obama has announced a "pivot to the Pacific" Japan's right wing government is falling in to line and working to gut Article 9.

Remember the U.S. Constitution with its emphasis on civil liberties and the rule of law?

What would an independent Supreme Court have to say about secret NSA courts, dragnet spying on entire nations, and a "kill list" updated weekly by the person heading up the executive branch of a government designed to safeguard liberty by means of checks and balances? Just because the authors had never heard of drones doesn't mean they would not have recognized that they pose a grave challenge to democracy.

Also, that free press that was going to safeguard the people's rights over the abuses of government is in tatters.

To join the Maine Drone Peace Walk through October 19, check out the route and schedule here.

The Maine Drone Peace Walk is being sponsored by the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and Maine Veterans for Peace during Keep Space for Peace Week and is just one of many such events that will be held around the world.

President Obama has announced that as many as 30,000 drones will be flying around the US doing surveillance of the American people in the coming years. Thirty-seven states have applied to host one of six military drone test centers across the nation.

Communal lunch along the Penobscot River on Day 3 of the Maine #Drone Peace Walk

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Drones Over Vacationland? #mepolitics

Bruce Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
(207) 443-9502

Peace Leaders in Maine for Drone Awareness Walk 
Limestone to BathOctober 10-19

Peace activists from Maine and beyond will walk through large portions of our state from October 10-19 in order to bring the issue of drone surveillance at home and drone killing overseas to the public’s attention.  The walk will begin in Limestone in Aroostook County and end in Bath. 

Renowned peace activists Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Nonviolence), Tarak Kauff (Veterans for Peace) and others will also join the peace walk.Monks, nuns, and lay people from the Japanese Buddhist order called Nipponzan Myohoji will lead the walk.  This order was founded by a Buddhist supporter of Mahatma Gandhi and spends most of its time walking for peace around the world.  

The Maine Drone Peace Walk is being sponsored by the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and Maine Veterans for Peace. The walk will be held during Keep Space for Peace Week and is just one of many such events that will be held around the world.

President Obama has announced that as many as 30,000 drones will be flying around the US doing surveillance of the American people in the coming years. Thirty-seven states have applied to host one of six military drone test centers across the nation.

There is much talk about bringing drones to Maine and making the Presque Isle airport a weaponized drone test center, thus the reason for starting the walk in Aroostook County.

Last spring the Maine legislature passed a bill that would require police to obtain a warrant before snooping on citizens across the state.  Gov. LePage vetoed the bill.

Maine Drone Peace Walk organizer Bruce Gagnon said, “Over these nine days we will hand out flyers and talk to people about the desire of some officials in Maine to bring weaponized drone testing to Aroostook County.  With these same weaponized drones the US is now killing legions of innocent civilians throughout Central Asia and Africa.  In addition some officials in Augusta last spring worked hard to kill a bill that would have required police in Maine to obtain warrants before they could use drones to spy on us. We’ve got to get the public engaged in this issue if we hope to preserve our constitutional right to privacy and walking across significant parts of the state will help us do just that.” 

According to Lisa Savage, co-coordinator of the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and Local Coordinator for CODEPINK State of Maine, “This walk is important to raise awareness of how the government spends our tax dollars on very expensive drones to keep us all under surveillance. Drones are being used to kill thousands of innocent civilians, including hundreds of children, around the world. People here in the U.S. say they want their tax dollars spent on health care, education, jobs and veterans benefits -- not drones.”

Doug Rawlings from Maine Veterans For Peace said, “As I walk down these Maine roads that I have driven for the past 35 years, I will be going past bridges and schools that have been built since World War II military expenditures were converted over into infrastructure funds. My father's generation put away the munitions and started building the country that has given us the life we now lead.  Over forty years ago I served in an artillery unit in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Our howitzers dropped rounds on countless Vietnamese peasants, and I didn't blink an eye. Now I realize the anguish we wrought then, and visit now on Afghan and Pakistani children with our Predator drones.  I cannot, in good conscience, accept or support such a use of my tax dollars.”

The drone walk begins in Limestone on October 10 and will pass through Caribou, Presque Isle, Old Town, Bangor, Skowhegan, Mercer, Farmington, Waterville,Belgrade, Augusta and Bath. (Some driving will be necessary between some of these communities.  The walk will average about 13 miles per day.  In the evenings walkers will be fed at local churches and will stay in local homes.)

On October 18 the walkers will hold a protest against drones inside the Hall of Flags at the state capital in Augusta at 3:00 pm.

The walk will conclude in Bath on Saturday, Oct 19 with a protest at BIW during the “christening” of the Navy’s first “stealth” destroyer that would play a key role in Obama’s destabilizing “pivot” of 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific to surround China.  The protest will begin at 10 am.

Drone Walk Schedule
  • Oct 10 (Thursday) Begin in Limestone (former Loring AFB) and walk to Caribou.
  • Oct 11  (Friday) Walk to Presque Isle
  • Oct 12  (Saturday) Drive to Old Town and walk into Bangor
  • Oct 13  (Sunday) Walk to Skowhegan (need to drive some part of the day). Pot luck dinner 5-7:30pm at the Skowhegan Community Center. fmi 207-399-7623.
  • Oct 14  (Monday) Walk to Mercer
  • Oct 15  (Tuesday) Walk to Farmington
  • Oct 16  (Wednesday) Walk to Waterville (need to shuttle some part of the day). Pot luck dinner 5-7pm at the Pleasant St. Methodist Church. fmi 207-399-7624.
  • Oct 17 (Thursday) Walk to Belgrade
  • Oct 18  (Friday) Walk to Augusta. Closing ceremony at state capital Hall of Flags at 3:00 pm; Potluck at Mediation & Facilitation Resource Center, 11 King St at 6:00 pm.
  • Oct 19 (Saturday) Shuttle to Bath and join protest against BIW "christening" of first stealth destroyer from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm; All are invited for lunch at Addams-Melman House in Bath after the protest.
You are invited to join us for one mile, one day, or longer on this peace walk.  It is our goal to bring the drone issue (surveillance and weaponized drones for killing) to people throughout the state.  We also invite everyone to join us at either or both or the two concluding events in Augusta (Oct 18)  and Bath (Oct 19).

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Plant Trees, Not Bombs, In #Afghanistan

Click here to find out how many US troops are left in Afghanistan. 
An airstrike kills a few more hungry Afghans, out bird hunting with rifles. Yawn, responds the American public.

Elsewhere an orchard is planted and nurtured in the belief that Afghan children will survive to eat its fruit. If you share this optimism, you can plant some trees, too.

There are twice as many troops in Afghanistan now than there were when the Obama administration came into office. Yet every time I'm in a liberal enclave like Brunswick, Maine or Cambridge, Mass. I see lots of cars with messages for peace and Obama campaign bumperstickers side by side. (You could read Chris Hedges here on how very dangerous this willful ignorance on the part of liberals could turn out to be.)

Much will be made of the fact that at the 13 year mark, Afghanistan is the longest running war ever for the U.S., with no end in sight. Those with a sense of history may remember that the U.S. funded proxies in the Soviet-Afghan war, helping to create the very Taliban forces that are far from vanquished in 2013. Perhaps because the U.S. military regularly pays them to keep the supply routes open to truck in the fuel needed to occupy Afghanistan and to continue to battle -- the Taliban.

Are women and girls better off for having NATO forces swarming around battling warlords for more than a decade? This is the grandiose claim of liberals who still claim Afghanistan is a "good" war. Most informed sources say: no. In news this week:
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission office in the southeastern zone on Monday said incidents of violence against women had increased in Paktia, Paktika and Khost...Shamim blamed the increasing violence against women on insecurity, social norms and delay in investigation of their cases by the judiciary.
"Imperialism and fundamentalism have joined hands," observed ousted legislator Malalai Joya in an interview for Democracy Now!  She has survived seven assassination attempts thus far, and continues to travel and speak out about conditions of life under the NATO-sponsored regime of Hamid Karzai. 
"...consequences of the 12 years of occupation of U.S. and NATO, unfortunately, was more bloodshed, crimes, women rights, human rights violations, looting of our resource and changing of our country into mafia state, as during these 12 bloody years tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by occupation forces and terrorist groups. And they have changed Afghanistan to the center of the drugs. That’s more than 90 percent of opium produced from Afghanistan, as I believe opium is even more dangerous than al-Qaeda and war as it destroy and spoils the life of Afghans. Around two million Afghan addicted, most of them are women and children. And also, there’s a report Afghanistan is the second most corrupt country in the world. And according to UNIFEM, Afghanistan is the worst place to be a woman."
An Afghan woman holds up a poster during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, April 14, 2012. A group of Afghan women protested against domestic violence. The poster reads: “Where is justice?” Photo by Musadeq Sadeq. Afghan Women's Writing Project.
You can read the testimony of less famous Afghan women and girls at the Afghan Women's Writing Project, to get the true flavor of their experience under military occupation that empowers the most brutal among them. 

The US government has been shut down for seven days as of right now, but the war for control of  Afghanistan has not skipped a beat.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

#CapitalShooting In The Empire Of Moral Decay

Source: NYT
Yesterday the imperial guards gunned down a deranged woman with an 18 month old child in the car, killing the mother, who suffered from delusions and depression. She had been hospitalized, and believed that Barack Obama was sending her "messages." A pretty 30-something unemployed dental hygienist who was unarmed but driving her car like -- well, like a madwoman. She was African American, a single mom, and her own mother said she had suffered from postpartum depression following the unplanned pregnancy. The kind of person that our society consistently fails to protect.

Miriam Carey had been hospitalized at times for her mental condition. She didn't stand a chance against the trigger happy cops who, receiving no gunfire and spotting no weapon, chose to shoot her dead rather than shoot out the tires on her car. Her crime? Running away from police and ramming a Jersey barrier near the Capitol building, shuttered due to congressional intransigence over implementing corporate welfare health care. White House response to the police action: no comment. 

According to The Guardian:
Police were hailed as "heroic" after thwarting the car chase. Congress afforded the officers a standing ovation as members lined up to praise their dedication and bravery. But it was unclear why police had shot the woman dead.
As I searched for news about Miriam, I stumbled upon the fact that another citizen of the empire had gone down in flames at the imperial capital, setting fire to himself on the national mall, motive unknown.
Source: AP "In this photo provided by eyewitness Katy Scheflen, people run to a man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013." via Al Jazeera
The more vulnerable among us act out their suffering under the regime of austerity that affords the police state and the military domination of the globe the ability to appear to prosper.

The president signed the Pay Our Military Act two hours before the midnight government shutdown that ensued on the first day of October, the month of brilliant, beautiful leaves dying. The Pentagon rushed through multi-million dollar orders to the merchants of death who wine and dine the supposed representatives of the people in order to keep the filthy lucre flowing.

The president also quietly signed a bill to keep sending military "aid" to regimes that oppress, torture and murder their own citizens and immigrants, even if said regimes employ child soldiers in direct contravention of moral codes and international law. Which, by the way, the US military does when it enlists 17 year olds.

A budget is a moral document.

When one child in five grows up in poverty, the imperial government's response is to suspend the WIC program which feeds infants, children under five, and their postpartum mothers.

The lumpen proletariat, deranged by decades of hate talk radio and cleverly crafted disinformation, absurdly support Tea Party candidates who are sharpening their knives to carve up Social Security and Medicare as the price of re-opening federal government functions like food safety inspections.

A friend who lives near Acadia National Park in Maine commented on the eerie silence in place of the usual throngs of leaf peepers this time of year. I read of canceled destination weddings, canceled trips of a lifetime to raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Such activities, while good for the dying capitalist growth-at-any-price economy, seem frivolous in the face of tens of thousands of Head Start children sent home and deprived of preschool with hot meals as a result of the government shutdown.

The last time I visited the Grand Canyon I heard tourists speaking so many different languages I could close my eyes and imagine I was on the streets of New York City, perhaps outside the United Nations headquarters. Where this week imperial servant Netanyahu spoke to a nearly empty hall of Israel's isolation, vulnerability, and continued belligerence in the time of US decline.

An educator I met yesterday told me that her daughter had been teaching elementary school in Israel for the last several years before succumbing to exhaustion and finding another, better paying job as a nanny for a baby. Her daughter had taught thirty 4th graders six days a week, working from around 7am to around 10pm in order to be a good teacher, for a salary that barely paid her bills.

Weapons of mass destruction and the price of eternal occupation vs. education and food. These are the simple moral choices humanity is faced with at present. Here in the heart of the empire we spend around 60% of each year's revenues on the military.

Until the collective wisdom of mothers and grandmothers is able to prevail over the death culture that the patriarchs have spawned, we appear likely to continue spiraling down toward a fiery end for us all.