Thursday, October 14, 2021

Gaming The Algorithms To Break Through With A #PentagonClimateCrime Dance

I don't pretend to understand platforms like Tik Tok, but I sure enjoy seeing what creative young people do with them. 

A recent crazy dance video raises the alarm about the very same threats to life on the planet that I'm always on about: U.S. military occupation of land, air, and sea plus climate and other environmental devastation that go with it. 

See what a boring sentence that was? Instead, who wouldn't rather watch a zany interpretive dance?

There were many comments on this Twitter thread, most of them dissing the dance and/or the dancer. I loved both, but at my age I have only a dim understanding of youth culture. So, I consulted an expert.

My three year old granddaughter, who loves dance and hates that bombs get dropped on people's heads, responded: "It's really long."

Thus speaks the youngest generation, who we hope will inherit a liveable planet. 

I'll be reporting on plans for a People's Summit panel on the climate harms of militarized space programs during COP26 in Glasgow at this Peace Action Maine webinar on October 30. Register here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Manufacturing Consent For CMP Corridor Not Going Well

The damage to Maine's woods wrought by the Central Maine Power (CMP) corridor project is all around me these days. It's hard to get a photo of it that really captures the ugliness when you're on the ground (first photo above taken by my husband Mark Roman on Pleasant Ridge Road in Bingham last week, second photo taken by me in the same location). 

Mark took this one on Route 201A in North Anson a few days later. It is directly adjacent to the athletic fields that are part of Carrabec High School where I used to work. 

Should a massive high power line be located right next to a school?

Iberdrola, the corporation based in Spain that owns CMP, plus Hydro-Quebec and investment bankers Goldman Sachs stand to make millions on the project to sell electricity from Canada to Massachusetts via Maine. Sometimes called "the Massachusetts extension cord," the project is almost universally despised by actual Mainers. On November 2 we'll have a chance to vote yes on 1 to reject the project.

Attempts to manufacture consent for the project have fallen flat.

Recently ads claiming the dangers of retroactive laws (without even naming the unpopular project) were dealt with handily by political columnist Al Diamon in "Firing the Retro Rockets" on October 4.

It’s true the anti-corridor referendum contains retroactivity clauses. Contrary to what the TV spot says, that information isn’t hidden in the fine print. It’s right there in the ballot question, which states it would stop the CMP project and “require the Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land.”

...What the retroactivity clauses aren’t is any different than bills the Legislature already approves. Because our lawmakers currently possess the power to pass retroactive laws.

This is neither a good idea nor a bad one. It’s something that’s necessary occasionally to correct a problem that nobody foresaw.

The only thing Al got wrong was arguing that the project is not "green" based only on the clear cutting of trees.

Actually far more climate damage is done by the flooding of wooded areas as big as Ireland, which generates massive amounts of methane that is released into Earth's atmosphere. The mega dams that are fed by these reservoirs churn out profits, but at what cost?

Alongside climate harm is the additional enormous damage to indigenous people in the flooded areas, the poisoning of their food sources, and destruction of their way of life. It is not an overstatement to characterize these actions by wealthy profiteers as cultural genocide.

This press release from impacted communities in Canada is likely to make your hair stand on end.

For more information on how to withhold your consent for this damaging project, visit

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Manufacturing Consent For Endless War On Climate: Report From Warship Christening

The late Carl Levin looks like a nice guy, doesn't he? When corporate press are fawning over his daughters helping to "christen" a warship named after him, they are helping to manufacture consent for endless war. As chair of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Levin shepherded billions of dollars in spending on war and weapons. The blood of millions of civilians including children is on his hands, but you'd never know it from this bland corporate messaging at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine.

The banner displays a special crest dedicated to his accomplishments, including imagery that evokes the Great Lakes, which Levin fought to protect as senator from Michigan.

Ironically, the USS Levin will simply continue to contribute to the negative impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes.

All photos by Martha Spiess

The system of lakes have seen increasingly lower water levels and reduced ice cover due to elevated temperatures, and this has had a negative impact on Michigan’s economy. 

What's to celebrate?

When we gathered in Bath on October 2, I spoke about how consent for endless war and endless weapons programs gets manufactured.

Here is a video of our program with an index to the speakers, thanks to Martha Spiess of Peace Action Maine:

Their warship remembered the late Carl Levin, but our protest remembered the late Peter Woodruff. A BIW worker who organized for conversion at the shipyard, Peter was a steady presence outside the gates after his retirement due to neurological injuries from inhaling metal particles for many years. He is sorely missed -- a gentle, kind man and tireless organizer with the wisdom to oppose warmongering as a jobs program.

INDEX for video

02:   Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
16:   Rosalie Paul, Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick

22:  Dud Hendrick, Maine Veterans for Peace

30:  Mare Honan, ordained UCC minister

34:  Bill Bliss, ordained UCC minister
38:  Mary Beth Sullivan, social work supervisor
45:  Lisa Savage, Maine Natural Guard

56:  Nancy Galland, Conversion Campaign
59:  Closing

What to do?

Sign up to learn more about the climate impacts of militarism and militarized space programs later this month. 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Value Change For Survival: Dud Hendrick

Dud Hendrick of Veterans for Peace spoke at the "christening" of the warship USS Levin October 2 at General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works. Inside the gates were both Maine's senators, plus Rep. Chellie Pingree, and Gov. Janet Mills, full of praise for building yet another warship to hasten climate crisis.


Here is what Dud told us:



Value Change for Survival


This past June, I had the privilege of a life-time, having the opportunity to sit with and interview the renowned Onondaga faith-keeper, Oren Lyons.  The now 91 year-old chief spoke of values. 




 As you may know, the Onondaga people are one of the six tribes of the Iroquois nation (Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and the Tuscarora).  Values—we learned a great deal that is relevant to our presence here today.  Chief Lyons informed us that in the Iroquois Nation decision-making philosophy/governance is based on the well-being of the seventh generation into the future.  


Unquestionably, there would be no more warships built here if such wisdom were governing the planning process of our dominant culture.  It can arguably be posed that the values of the dominant culture have brought us unfettered militarism, depletion of resources, climate crisis, and, in general, a fouling of our planet, Mother Earth, as the Onondaga call it.


Chief Lyons also spoke of his work with the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival convened back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.   Over 1000 prominent world leaders representing over 83 countries, to include the Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu, Mother Teresa, Mikhail Gorbachev, and VP Al Gore convened annually for several years, pledging to work against the, “perils of armaments, for balancing resources, and for a fundamentally changed and better world.”  


Chief Lyons was given a standing ovation on the closing when he read a letter Chief Seattle had written to President Franklin Pierce in 1855 saying, “the white man’s hunger for land would eat the earth bare and leave only desert.  Continue to soil your bed and one night you will suffocate in your own waste.”  At the conclusion of their deliberations, the collective wisdom was summarized by their closing statement to the leaders of the world: Value Change for Survival. 


Consider the inanity of our military spending.  The U.S. annual military budget is approaching $800 billion!  More than the next 10 nations’ spending combined.  China spends less than a third, Russia, just over $60 billion, Iran--$15 billion and, get this, the bogie man, North Korea, at $4 billion, lower than the New York City police department!!!  General Dynamic’s CEO, Phebe Novakovic, receives a compensation package is in the $19 million range!


We know the politicians are in the pockets of General Dynamics and we know what is expected of them in return.  Just as General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and their brethren determine what major media allow us to read and hear and we are ill-informed for it.  And then there are those 800 U.S. military bases on foreign lands---most, if not all, contributing to the fouling of the planet in ways so familiar to the neighbors of the over 600 superfund sites associated with domestic bases, as acknowledged by the Department of Defense.


The military is the single entity that contributes most to the climate crisis and the assault on Mother Earth, our home.


This picture altogether is outrageous. It’s all so appalling as to defy belief. 


Bath Iron Works and its ilk will either change willingly or change will ultimately be forced upon it.  Those of us who live to see that day when wisdom and sanity and concern for the 7th generation rules will celebrate. 


Value Change for Survival!  


May the will of the people ultimately force the value change or Mother Earth will.



Our elected officials pretend they don't know that by investing in warships they are sponsoring a crappy jobs program, in terms of how many jobs are generated. Research shows that investing in other industries and economic sectors would actually generate many more jobs. 

All these politicians know about this research. 


But General Dynamics donates to their election campaigns so they keep doubling down on hurtling toward our doom as a species.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Fear Is Driving Both Sides In Vax Controversy

Screenshot shared on Twitter by Dr. Kimberly Manning 

An angry white man chastised me on Facebook for using asterisks in the word m*therf**ker claiming that Vietnamese Buddhist and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh advises us to "call things by their proper names." He had commented on my recent blog post with a meme showing an unidentified Black man saying, "When are you dumb m*therf**kers gonna realize both parties work for the same fuckin people?"

While I agree wholeheartedly with the analysis, I have two goals in mind: the first is, don't sink to name-calling (the first step in any genocide or civil war, because it dehumanizes "others"). The second is, don't get kicked off Facebook. 

Just yesterday a slew of prominent anti-vax accounts were kicked off YouTube (which is Google-owned, not Facebook-owned) and political commentators routinely have their social media accounts shut down for sharing inconvenient truths or using "violent language."

So, I may be skating on thin ice with this post examining some of the thinking on both sides of the COVID vaccine controversy. 

But, since I write when I've been reading news and opinion pieces until my head is about to explode, here goes.

Dr. Kimberly Manning is Black and, using hashtags like #blackwhysmatter, is offering a "No Judgment Zone" where people can talk about their vaccine hesistancy.

Fear is driving a lot of this hesitancy, especially as the CDC is a government agency that has given some really bad advice during this pandemic e.g. telling us last summer it was ok to take off masks in indoor public spaces if we were vaccinated. I suspect their motive for doing so was commerce not public health but, even if they were sincerely misguided, the advice was disastrous and led directly to this, the third and worst spike of COVID infections in the U.S.

And the good old U.S. government has not only lied to us many, many times, but has sponsored multiple genocidal practices like literally starving indigenous children in residential schools to see how few calories they could tolerate before succumbing. 

Also infecting Black men with a debilitating, fatal disease in the infamous Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. The study ran, incredibly, from 1932 to fucking 1972! The subjects of this gruesome experiment were not told the facts, just that they were getting "free health care" from the federal government.

And let's not forget that the U.S. has been investing in biological weapons research for decades.

Here's a young NBA player explaining his own vaccine hesitancy:

By now you probably think I'm anti-vax, but I assuredly am not. 

I'm fully vaccinated, everyone in my family that's the right age is fully vaccinated, and just this week I facilitated my husband getting a booster shot. One of my children got COVID last month but is fully vaccinated and had a mild case with no serious repercussions thus far.

Which is really fucking lucky, because now I'm going to address the other side of the ethical question. You know, public health, and the fact that we're all in this mess together.

When an individual speaks about why he, as an individual, isn't going to take the vaccine, I respect his opinion but I think he's wrong. Epidemics aren't about you, they're about the germ pool you're part of AND, increasingly important, about the hospitals you're sharing with others in your community.

I'm going to share one of the thousands of stories out there from grieving families who watched a loved one die, not of COVID, but of being unable to access health care in areas where hospital ICUs are full to overflowing.

Then I'm going to share one of the thousands of stories out there from doctors and nurses who care for acutely ill patients and have been doing so in an escalating emergency that has now lasted 20 months.

Here's one from Alabama dated September 13, "Family: Man turned away from dozens of COVID-filled hospitals." 

As hundreds of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filled Alabama intensive care units, hospital staff in north Alabama contacted 43 hospitals in three states to find a specialty cardiac ICU bed for Ray Martin DeMonia, his family wrote in his obituary.

The Cullman man was finally transferred to Meridian, Mississippi, about 170 miles (274 kilometers) away. That is where the 73-year-old antiques dealer died Sept. 1 because of the cardiac event he suffered. Now, his family is making a plea.

“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID related emergencies,” his obituary read.

reported by Associated Press

And, here's one from Iowa reported September 6 where an emergency room doctor with decades of experience shares his exhaustion and career perspective:

[Dr.] VanGundy said that he'd recently seen non-COVID-19 patients with meningitis, stroke, heart attack, and blood clots in the lung, but couldn't transfer them to ICUs because "they're all full" with people who had COVID-19. He warned that if patients get sick then they'll have to wait as long as "days" for a bed to open up...

"In over 20 years of doing this I have never been this busy or this stressed or seen this many sick people," he said.

There is lots more anecdotal evidence of health care provider burnout and grieving families begging people to get vaccinated.

Many health workers will have the problem solved for them because many governments are mandating vaccines for them. It's not a new idea, but it is adding a new vaccine to the list of vaccines already required in their field. And some health care workers have already quit rather than comply. They're certainly not in the majority, but they do exist.

Do mandates work? Again, not a new question as vaccines and vax hesitancy have been around for a long time. 

Short answer: no. Coercion is not the most effective way to address people fearful of a new type of vaccine.

What does work? Dr. Kimberly Manning's approach: education, persuasion, listening, and not judging.

If I get kicked off my blogging platforms for saying that, so be it.

Maybe I'll just go archive my post from a few months ago: "Divided We Fall May Be COVID's Underlying Purpose."