Friday, October 29, 2010

"No Statute of Limitations on War Crimes"

It is one of many terrible ironies of our time that war criminals like Condi Rice and George W. Bush are launching their memoirs and their lie-braries just as the Iraq War Diaries are being released on wikileaks, providing actionable evidence against them.

In one of the pukiest news stories I've read recently, we learn that Condi was fawned over by middle school students and their parents at a fundraiser for a service learning program in Winchester, Mass. Showing a profound misunderstanding of the dynamics and theoretical underpinnings of the American civil rights movement, she appears to have boasted (or perhaps was misquoted by a reporter) that her father did not believe in "passive resistance." The image of Pa Rice on the porch with a shotgun is offered as a kind of parallel to Pa initimidating the cracker department store Santa Claus. Angry men always need and deserve guns in this kind of bullshit narrative.

In another astonishing display of ignorance she compliments the school thus: “I’m so glad to see the band room here, because in so many schools music has been cut out of the curriculum,” she said.

And why might that be, former cabinet level member of the executive branch of government? Not enough angry dads with guns storming the school board meetings? (Note to Condi: check out these Bring Our War $$ Home websites for an explanation of where the money for school programs went instead.)

Preaching the gospel of 9/11, she testified to her faith in violence as well as Jesus with some Orwellian doublespeak. I hope no one at the school makes students diagram these sentences:
“The world was more dangerous on Sept. 10, when we didn’t know what was coming at us,” she said. “We’re not blind any longer, and that’s a very good thing.” Rice said the country’s wars on terror have reduced Al Qaeda to a shadow of its former self..."They’re less likely to pull off something really big like 9/11, but it doesn’t mean they can’t pull off something, and that means to me that we are safer but not yet safe.”

Also, "She vehemently attacked the recent WikiLeaks “Iraq War Logs” because she said there will be foreign agents who helped the United States who will likely be executed because their names appear in the files."

Or maybe Condi's also thinking about former government officials who might be prosecuted because their names appear in the halls of power during a time when the U.S. goverment had full knowledge of crimes like torture, slaughter of civilians, rape, and other forms of mayhem.

Financed by the tax dollars that could have saved the music programs at middle schools all over the country.

It was reported that Winchester resident Alan Field and others were on hand to protest Condi's appearance at the school. “I don’t believe there is any question that Ms. Rice was among a core group of people…that made the decision to invade Iraq and also to authorize the use of torture,” he wrote...“The feeling is that she is an unindicted war criminal."

Another protester held a sign that read, "No Statute of Limitations on War Crimes." Amen to that, brother.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Iraq vet tells the truth: why Kittery can't fix a bridge

I am learning to be a videographer for peace. When you have such vibrant subjects as Will Hopkins, director of Peace Action NH, and Jade Forrester, founding member of UM Farmington peace activism group P.A.inT., plus the other wonderful people seen here, it is hard to go wrong. Still it is a very SLOW process with many frustrations along the way. Spurred on by my husband reporting that a friend of ours said iMovie is "easy" I was able to finish this short project. Thank the goddess for the technical help I get from well-wishers.

You would think I would be able to do something as simple as zoom in on the Bring Our War $$ Home banner that was directly across the street from where I was standing. Oh well. Here's a still photo instead (thanks to Nicole Moreau of P.A.inT.):
Wells Staley-Mays and Bruce Gagnon in Kittery protesting a $4 million new recruiting HQ being constructed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Protests to continue monthly. Next date: Sat. 11/27 3:30-5pm  fmi see Peace Action NH website

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our National Priorities, the trend

Jo Comerford,  Executive
Director of the National Priorities Project
explains the federal budget in Bangor 10-9-10.

I found an old sign out on the back porch yesterday. It had a pie chart of the FY09 federal budget with 51% for military. Our current pie charts show 54% of the federal budget pie spent on military. If Obama's FY11 budget request is met, the new pies we'll soon be making will show 57% or even 58% depending on whether we round up the true number. This is a disturbing trend.

I found the old sign while looking for a piece of foam core to mount bright pink poster board on for a sign that could stand up to a stiff breeze. I was joining Peace Action NH, Peace Action ME, Veterans for Peace, and students from UMaine Farmington whose new group is called Peace Activists in Training, or PAinT. About twenty of us stood near the Maine-New Hampshire border to protest a $3 million Regional Recruiting Battalion Headquarters under construction at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Will Hopkins, a veteran of Iraq who is now director of Peace Action NH, organized the protest which we agreed to continue monthly -- next date is Sat., 11/27 from 3:30-5pm.

Targeting rural youth in economically depressed areas like northern New England is a recruiting strategy for our military. Recruiters are embedded in many schools and often use school time and resources to get out their messages out. Student organizer Jade Forrester said promises of money for college are the most compelling sales tactic recruiters use. She makes a point of sharing data showing that students actually receive relatively little money from the military for college, despite the claims made in recruitment ads and by recruiters prowling around junior high and high school students.

Far more federal money flows to U.S. college students in the form of Pell Grants and Stafford Loans. And you don't have to kill anybody to get it.
 But here's some encouraging news from a different National Priorities Project report, this one on how the Army is cooking the books to appear to be meeting its recruiting goals:
"At the beginning of Fiscal Year 2009 the Army announced that it would require 78,000 new active-duty recruits to meet their needs. In March 2009, the recruitment goal was reduced to 71,000 and then in April it was reduced again to 65,000. This final FY09 recruitment goal was substantially lower than in recent years when the goal was 80,000 recruits. The Army reported exceeding this lowered goal with 70,045 recruits for FY09."
If only I could have found my other old sign, the one that said MILITARY RECRUITERS LIE TO YOU.

photo credits: Nicole Moreau,, UMF

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Passing for the Truth

It's election season again and everybody's got a reason why we need to (choose one):
A) Get out the vote
B) Vote for the lesser of two evils
C) Put clothespins on our noses and vote for the party creating a pile of reeking corpses for profit
d) None of the above

Seven hundred (that's 700) bombs were dropped on Afghanistan and Pakistan last month, September, 2010. Airstrikes are up 172% vs. the same month last year. The cost of attacking these countries for the month was around $8 billion in borrowed funds that U.S. taxpayers now owe.

Then there's the continued blind support for Israel's genocide against Palestinian people. Great blog post here at Mondoweiss on Phil's recent trip to see with his own eyes; contains the line: "Israel is headed for the iceberg." The current Congress and White House appear to be steering it in that direction by pouring billions into military aid while turning a blind eye when the IDF boards a ship in international waters and slaughters civilians, including a U.S. citizen. (Remember back when you thought that being a U.S. citizen afforded you some protection while abroad? Fuggitaboudit if you're not on the side of the war profiteers.) Dogs reportedly will be used against future attempts at bringing humanitarian aid to the ghetto of Gaza. Probably building on the learning conducted by using dogs to abuse Iraqi prisoners of war.

We're supposed to be stampeded into voting for the corporate lackeys because their opponents are SO SCARY!!!!

Personally I do not find anything more scary than pretending to be progressive while bombing the hell out of children -- for profit and world domination.

The scariest thing I've seen recently? This video of the simpering crowd at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco fawning over war criminal Condi Rice. (Quote: "I sleep just fine in our democracy." So debased has that word become.) You might wonder why the truth tellers aren't in blazing PINK. Well, how would they get in to an event like this if they were?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Convergence of CODEPINK women

Gaza boys pulling barbed wire

Codepink women braved blustery weather on a spectacular fall day to converge last weekend, share their stories, and witness the amazing work women are doing all over the world.

Ridgely Fuller was our hostess and she shared photos from Gaza and the West Bank. Here we see Palestinian boys using large rubber straps to pull back the barbed wire that Israel's government uses to keep them from their agricultural lands. (Apparently these IDF soldiers did not have scissors or anything to cut the rubber bands with in this photo.) On her trip in August she worked with children suffering from PTSD using an innovative therapy that combines physical movement with brain patterning. Ridgely has been traveling around New England giving talks about facts on the ground in Palestine, and had just shared the podium with Noam Chomsky last week. We all appreciated hearing from her.

Here are more photos from our day:

Mariam Raqib gave a compelling presentation and news of the growth of her Afghanistan Samsortya tree project (link here).  Successful drilling of a well means that five drought resistant, fast-growing species of trees are being nurtured, including the “magic” tree Moringa oleifera, whose leaves can be food for both animals and people, supporting lactation. Samsortya is a community project thriving on cooperation between agricultural workers in Surkhrud, Afghanistan,  and organizers and fundraisers in the New England region. It will soon receive another donation of seeds from the New Forests Project World Seed Program.

This convergence was only possible because of the organizing energy of Cat Erdman, and the time and energy shared by all the wonderful women who came.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Women's work

"The U.S. Air Force has dropped 700 bombs on the people of Afghanistan in September alone. They have dropped more 2,000 bombs on the country since July. The Pentagon has also carried out a record 21,000 unmanned drone sorties in Pakistan and Afghanistan so far in 2010." from a letter by Brian Becker, ANSWER, 10/15/10
Today CODEPINK Maine has organized a mini-retreat, a convergence event for women to get together on an island in Maine to grieve, to report out, and to share our commitment to work for peace and justice.

We'll be hearing from Mariam Raqib about her excellent tree reforestation project in Afghanistan, Samsortya. She'll also be sharing the grave concerns of her family and the villagers who care for the trees, about what lies ahead for Afghanistan.

Ridgely Fuller and Carolyn Coe will bring us news from Gaza, the western end of the war torn Middle East region being plundered by bullies. Gaza is commonly referred to as the largest open air prison in the world, where the collective punishment of 1.5 million people continues, funded by both Israeli and U.S. taxpayers. Activists in our region are fundraising for clean water for kindergartens there, mental health services for Gazans, and relief efforts like U.S. Boat to Gaza. The Israeli "Defense" Force continues to stop humanitarian workers in international waters and confiscate their supplies: medicine, building materials, toys and the like. Reports are they will use dogs on the next boat that tries to get through the blockade.

In such troubled times it helps to listen hard for the voices of sanity. When indigenous people got together in Cochabamba, Bolivia to discuss the distress of our Mother Earth, laboring to bring forth life as death rains down from the skies, they produced a statement. Six months ago delegates to the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth and signed a People's Agreement that begins like this: "Today, our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger." It goes on to list some of the issues, and has a statement of rights for the life producing system that is our planetary home:
  • The right to live and to exist;
  • The right to be respected;
  • The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue it’s vital cycles and processes free of human alteration;
  • The right to maintain their identity and integrity as differentiated beings, self-regulated and interrelated;
  • The right to water as the source of life;
  • The right to clean air;
  • The right to comprehensive health;
  • The right to be free of contamination and pollution, free of toxic and radioactive waste;
  • The right to be free of alterations or modifications of it’s genetic structure in a manner that threatens it’s integrity or vital and healthy functioning;
  • The right to prompt and full restoration for violations to the rights acknowledged in this Declaration caused by human activities.

Today we women in Maine are exercising our right to gather for support and renewal. We are now the grandmothers of our troubled world. We come together in the kind of circle that indigenous people have always held when faced with crisis. We will hold Mother Earth and her children in our hearts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Boy(s) Who Cried Emergency

Once upon a time there was a boy whose job was to cry emergency. People believed that the security of a very large flock depended on his doing the job loudly and at the right times.

There was a problem, though. The boy had a hard time pronouncing long words like emergency. If there had been, for instance, a nuclear emergency during the time he had the job, the results might have been comical rather than alarming. So his bosses came up with a code word -- actually, a number -- that was short, easy to pronounce, and easy to remember. They also came up with color codes that could be used to describe the precise shade of emergency on any given day.

Eventually the boy outgrew his job and a new boy was found to sound the alarm. The new boy had no trouble pronouncing long words and was actually quite good at it. He still used the code number and colors from time to time, too, just for variety.

This was all very well, but the real wolves were not one bit scared away by the constant bleating of alarming words. As the flock listened contentedly to the song of emergency, the wolves were circling around, picking off weaker prey and devouring them. At first no one noticed much, because who cared about the weak ones? But over time the pack of wolves grew fatter, stronger and bolder on a steady diet.

Meanwhile bridges were crumbling, schools were closing, jobs were evaporating, and people had no health care. Their ears filled with the cry "emergency," they struggled to find non-existent public transportation to take them to the unemployment office. Their children graduated from college with six figure loans to pay back, but no jobs on the horizon. The grown children wanted to move back home but alas, the homes had been foreclosed on by the banks -- banks which had grown fat while everyone was listening to the emergency song.

Where had all the money gone? $1 trillion had been spent to make everyone safer in the long, long emergency. So in the end, the song of the boys came true. It really was an emergency, and no one needed to be reminded about it anymore. All they had to do was look around.
Hannah Kreitzer & the wolf, from last year's Draw-a-thon. Join in the fun this year at Draw-a-thon II at Space Gallery in Portland on Vet's Day (11/11). Kenny Cole's show on drones "The Hellfire Story" will be on display, and artists will respond with their ideas of what bringing our war dollars home could look like. More info here:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Which cultures oppress women?

An ideological support of the current (endless) "war on terror" is the image of Islam as inherently oppressive to women. Never mind that orthodox sects of Christianity and Judaism also prescribe excessively modest clothing, covering the hair with kerchiefs or wigs, and/or subjecting adult women to the authority of their husbands or fathers. Or that Islamic cultures have produced some of the best educated groups of women in human history.

Two French women created this amusing protest of France's new law banning face covering, which they consider unconstitutional. Cops there will soon be required to fine those who violate the law -- unless the law is overturned in court.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ann Wright on federal budget FY10

Video of Ann Wright discussing budget priorities at a Bring Our War $$ Home training in Wash DC on Oct 3 organized by Janet Weil of CODEPINK. Ann talked about hearing testimony last Thursday on Capitol Hill by Nobel Economics prizewinner Joseph Stieglitz and economist Linda Bilmes.

Here are some resources to move forward with this timely campaign: 
BOW$H website  Simply gathering some folks in a house or community space, showing the short videos and/or the schools closing slideshow from the website, then engaging in conversation about the specifics of unmet needs at home, is a great way to start your BOW$H campaign locally.

BOW$H photos from One Nation  Oct 2 gathering hundreds of signatures on CODEPINK'S petition to Congress demanding that our representatives vote to bring our war dollars home.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Went 2 the mall

I joined tens of thousands of union workers, students, and people of color marching on Washington DC yesterday. As part of the (marginalized) peace contingent, nearly invisible in the mainstream press coverage and not invited to the podium, we were loud and proud anyway. Interestingly, someone who listened to every speech reported that all but two speakers on the need for jobs and economic recovery mentioned -- yup, the wars. Maybe they were afraid of looking like idiots by ignoring the big fat war spending elephant in the recession room.

It was an exciting day for Mark and I as we witnessed and participated in the launch of Codepink's version of the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign. It has been so successful in Maine that many groups have taken it up as the right message at the right time, but the energy that my sisters and brothers in pink brought to it was especially amazing.

Check out the new T-shirts which everyone seemed to want. Most sizes were gone quickly (sorry, Bruce) but the vibrant stickers created for the launch were everywhere. One of the "Fund schools, not bombs" stickers was worn by a man who happened to be on the same Metro car as us going home. Big smiles all around.

Also wildly popular were the "pie charts" Mark created from the data on the National Priorities website. They really pop in the photos, and were easy to carry because of his excellent design. A man who stopped by the pink tabling area seemed really annoyed by the data and wanted to debate me on why portraying discretionary federal budget priorities for fiscal year 2010 was "misleading" and "a lie." I told him he was welcome to crunch the numbers differently and make his own pie. His girlfriend dragged him away at that point.

Most people loved the pies and we donated one to a Pittsburgh chapter of Codepink, one to the DC office, and one to my mentor and friend Janet to take home to California for the BOW$H work there.

The most inspiring part of the day was seeing people streaming into the mall from every direction for as far as the eye could see. They were there to call on our government to create jobs and rebuild our communities. So many teachers from all over the country had joined in! It made me a little sad about the apathy of the vast majority of my colleagues in Maine. Plenty of teachers had stories about layoffs, huge class sizes, and school closings in their states.

There were two I met in line for the bathroom, one from NYC and one from NJ whose daughter was a teacher. They had already snapped up their BOW$H t-shirts before the march began. We had fun talking during the long wait.

The most fun part of the day was an early visual action on the steps of the National Archives (where we got kicked off by grouchy guards even though it's a public building and was closed for the day), spelling out Bring Our War $$ Home with pink parasols.

Many high school students from the DC area joined us thanks to organizer Zaccai. It was a little like herding cats but Rae was up to the task, and we later regrouped on the mound in front of the Washington monument to spell it out again. Tighe had done a terrific job on props as usual, and it was a great way to collectively get the message out.

Later we marched with our Maine banner and for a time were near Bruce marching with the one he'd brought. Other Mainers at the march: Ridgley, Pat T., Cat, Lora & Trudy. More soon on a national "move the money" organizing meeting and a well-attended BOW$H training by Codepink Sunday.