Monday, April 29, 2013

Mass Arrests At Hancock #Drone Base

Photo source: Syracuse Post-Standard coverage of the protests and arrests
Ann Wright sent around this press release from a weekend of drone resistance noting that $34,000 was needed to bail out those arrested during civil disobedience. People were blocking the gates at a military base in Syracuse, New York where drones are piloted, I modified the press release to highlight the local angle and sent it out to press contacts in Maine.

When everyone does a part in the resistance, sharing info and helping to get the story out to the wider public, we are a team. I couldn't go to Syracuse, so I'm participating this way.
Photo source: Syracuse Post-Standard coverage of the protests and arrests

For more information: 
Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council,315-472-5478315-383-5738
Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-279-8303

Activists Press Hancock Air Base to Obey International Law
275 People at Protest; 31 Arrested

Bruce Gagnon of Bath, Maine was among thirty-one members of the “Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars” to be arrested April 28, 2013 at Hancock Air Force Base in Syracuse, NY. Gagnon was protesting the illegal use of drones in Afghanistan,  Pakistan and other countries.

Gagnon is a co-coordinator of the campaign to Bring War $$ Home in Maine and a coordinator for the Global Network against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

Over 275 people marched in a solemn funeral procession to demand that Hancock Air National Guard Base cease drone strikes. People carrying banners and coffins identified countries where U.S. drone attacks have killed over a thousand innocent civilians. As they were arrested, some read the names of people who have died in the drone attacks.

People who participated in the demonstration, including some who were arrested, came from all over the country to raise an outcry against the proliferation of drone strikes abroad, including countries with whom the US is not at war. Drone use violates the US Constitution, Article 6, and International Law, which the U.S. has signed on to. Demonstrators also object to the militarization of the police and the growing domestic use of drones. The protesters raised the issue that drone use globally makes Americans unsafe because of the blow back effect.

Demonstrators attempted to deliver a war crimes indictment to the base. It reads:
We, the people, charge the US President, Barak Obama, and the full military chain of command, to Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, every drone crew, and service members at Hancock Air Base, with crimes against humanity, with violations of part of the Supreme Law of the Land, extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation national sovereignty, and killing of innocent civilians.
The thirty-one arrestees were arraigned in De Witt Town Court before Judges Benack, Gideon, and Jokl, who imposed bails ranging from $500 - $3500, totaling $34,000. Some of the defendants were released with appearance tickets   Others are refusing to post bail and will be held in jail until the next court date of May 7th & 8th. Donations may be sent to the Syracuse Peace Council, with checks made out to Syracuse Peace Council,note : Upstate Drone Action Bail Fund.  2013 E. Genessee St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

Those Arrested:
Beth Adams, Levertt, MA
John Amidon, Albany, NY
Cynthia Banas, Vernon, NY
Ellen Barfield, Baltimore, MD
Russell Brown, Buffalo, NY
Kate De Mott Grady, Ithaca, NY
Beatrice Dewing, New York City, NY
Max Farhi, Ithaca, NY
Sandra Fessler, Rochester, NY
Daniel Finley, Ithaca, NY
Bruce Gagnon, Bath, ME
Jack Gilroy, Binghamton, NY
Charlie Heyn, Damascus, PA
John Honeck, Hamlin, NY
Rae Kramer, Syracuse, NY
Joanne Lingle, Indianapolis, IN
Mary Loehr, Ithaca, NY
Bonnie Mahoney, Buffalo, NY
Harry Murray, Rochester, NY
Valerie Niederhoffer, Buffalo, NY
Julienne Oldfield, Syracuse, NY
Jules Orkin, Bergenfield, NJ
Elizabeth Pappalardo, Crystal Lake, DE
Joan Pleune, Brooklyn, NY
Beverly Rice
Grace Ritter, Ithaca, NY
Matthew Ryden
Andrew Schoerke, Shaftsbury, VT
Mary Snyder, Johnson City, NY
Eve Tetaz, Washington, DC
Patricia Wieland, Northampton, MA
Photo source: Syracuse Post-Standard coverage of the protests and arrests

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Get The Word Out: #Drones Kill, Generate Terrorists

Source: Carter F. McCall | Bangor Daily News
Lisa Savage gives a presentation on "wielding the mighty pen to make the world a better place." She used her protest of the United States military's use of drone warfare as an example. Hope Festival attendees were asked to write down one thing they will do to make the world a more peaceful, sustainable place and encourage to give presentations on what they wrote.
Maine's newest senator Angus King was reached by Yemeni writer Farea Al-Muslimi's testimony in the historic public hearings on drones this week. King reportedly said in an interview with Kathleen Hunter of Bloomberg:
By using armed drones to kill suspected terrorists overseas, the U.S. runs the risk of generating more terrorists, King said. 
“That’s the dilemma,” he said. “I saw a story last night of a guy from Yemen who basically said the drones radicalized his village, and they were always pro-American. That’s a tough call because the drone program has been very effective in essentially decimating al-Qaida.”
It's not a tough call because the contradiction he identifies -- that drones both "generate" and "decimate" terrorists -- exists mostly for people who believe Pentagon briefings tell the truth about al-Qaida and other aspects of the endless "war on terror." And Angus did not even dignify Farea with a name. But at least he listened to the testimony and spoke out about it to a journalist.

The 19th annual HOPE festival was yesterday. This event is organized by the vibrant community presence, the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine. It's a chance to get together with people you know and new people, especially college students. A woman I used to teach with turned up as the mother of Eric, one of the leading lights of the University of Maine at Orono on campus Peace Action group, and the friend of another young organizer, Shannon Brenner, with whom I shared the podium.

While tabling we got a lot of signatures on the Free Bradley Manning petition also, and that was even before my speech about how we all need to be information workers now, and my shout out to Bradley and the information he shared with us all. Farea Al-Muslimi is in the same category as I place myself, Bradley Manning, and many readers of this blog: information worker.

Earlier in the day, a young woman who came to the CODEPINK table asked if we knew of any resources like books on "how to talk to military wives." She was an ex-military wife herself and she said it was hard to find the words to share an anti-war perspective from within that "brainwashed" world. 

Her current male friend, a National Guard member, agreed. "I don't believe in war but I needed the paycheck and I didn't think the Guard would be fighting other countries, " he explained.

Does anyone know of books, websites, articles that I might share with this woman? If so, please respond in a comment and I will pass it along.

I'm not going to go into an analysis of how this "brainwashing" works because I find it too dispiriting. Suffice it to say that I cringe when my nieces and great-nieces share sentimental dreck on facebook like photos of young boys in camo saluting combat veterans in an airport with the giant word GRATITUDE underneath. 

The young women doing the posting are not even in military families. They are just drinking the brand USA Koolaid from the always overflowing propaganda fountains.

That is why our job as information workers is critically important in the 21st century. You keep it up and I will, too.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Militarized Children of the Empire

Photo credit: Mike Hastie, veteran. Taken at K-Mart in Portland, Oregon.

Easter, as you may know, is the spring time celebration of the return of life personified by the resurrection of Jesus. This holiday adopted many of the pre-Christian symbols associated with fertility such as eggs, early blossoming flowers, baby chicks and lambs. It is considered a much more important holiday in Christian tradition than is Christmas. 

In the U.S. this holiday used to be celebrated by everyone in the family getting new dress-up clothes. Easter traditions included coloring eggs, hiding them, and eating bunny-shaped chocolate. A basket was used to collect eggs found where the Easter bunny had allegedly hidden them. Over time the basket evolved into more of a Christmas stocking-type tradition, found by children when they woke up in the morning filled with rabbit-shaped chocolates and egg-shaped candy.

Health-minded mothers like me would often substitute gifts for candy. Baseball batting gloves were a favorite of my boys in the spring. Once when I sent them dress shirts and ties as teenagers they were mystified -- the dressing up tradition had fallen by the wayside in the years since my sisters and I wore scratchy new dresses and patent leather mary janes on Easter.

Now comes the 21st century with its militarization of children and its churches built by confused followers of an eminently peaceful teacher, Jesus of Nazareth.

This is the sign in front of a local church, the one my husband calls "The Church of the Concealed Carry." Its priorities are pretty clear.

Everyday when I go to school I see students and several staff members wearing t-shirts with large machine guns printed on them and slogans like "Machine Gun Mafia" and "God bless our troops." Some people have complained about the promotion of violence but the local farmer who operates a machine gun training course on his property has a lot of clout with school officials and they have made an exception to the general rule banning clothing that promotes violence.

This is entirely consistent with bringing in the National Guard to set up an obstacle course on "Wellness" day, and taking students to the armory so soldiers can help them wrap and deliver Christmas presents to low-income families.

My property taxes go to support the infrastructure that gives military recruiters access to youngsters in the guise of education. I complain about this to school administration, I contact my school board reps, and I write letters to the editor. But the militarization of U.S. children and their schools continues to grow.

We'll probably never know what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers set off homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon this year. Since at least one of them was in contact with the FBI -- years before the incident -- the story is likely to remain quite murky. Perhaps they were tools of the FBI, allowed to create a crisis useful to demonstrate "the Homeland as a Battlefield." Were the brothers angry about U.S. wars on Muslims as some allege? Or were they more like the Columbine High School or Sandy Hook Elementary School shooters, less political than simply crazed on a steady diet of hyperviolent digital games, "entertainment" and "news"? 

Violence sells, and children are just another market. Once war has become completely mechanized the empire won't even need cannon fodder anymore.
The now infamous Maisto drone toy, whose reader reviews on Amazon 
should have been read aloud at this week's Senate hearings on drone warfare. 

Codepink activist Tighe Barry was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for speaking out after the Senate hearing had concluded on April 23, 2013. He asked the question that no senator dared to or cared to ask: "What about the children that are being killed by so-called targeted drone strikes?"

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"The Afghanistan Marathon" by Dennis Serdel

Photo source: Huffington Post / "Afghanistan: NATO Air Strike Kills 11 Children" April 8, 2013

The following poem was written by Dennis Serdel, Vietnam 1967-68 (one tour) Light Infantry, Americal Div. 11th Brigade, Purple Heart; United Auto Workers GM Retiree. It is re-published here with his permission. I added the graphics.

Afghanistan Marathon

It is the Afghanistan Marathon
Runners Race beginning in Lashkar
Gah in Helmand Province
& ending In Kabul so the US
Dictator Stooge Karzai could crown
the Winners.
The first bunch to take off
were Afghanistan Civilians, then off
went the Afghanistan Fake Soldiers,
coming up behind them were
the Taliban with all kinds of weapons,
then after that, the American Soldiers
were bringing up the rear.
The air & the road was so Hot
that Human Beings handed out
Water in cups to the Runners.
Half way in the Marathon
the Taliban set up IED's
in the pressure cooker race
& took off some of the American Soldier's
legs, killed three & wounded
more, they had to be choppered
out to the hospital & it really made
the US Top Brass mad
because they had bets on which
Army Unit would win,
So they sent two drones to cripple
the Taliban & it worked as the US
Soldiers passed the Taliban,
Arms, Legs lay everywhere.
The Afghanistan Fake Soldiers
began shooting the American Soldiers
until the US Air Force took some of them
out as the Rest tore off their Uniforms
& Ran & Escaped back to their War Lords,
Who were Not happy, because they
had bets on the Winners too.
Three quarters of the way,
the American Soldiers set up an ambush
& killed & crippled the
rest of the Taliban
but the damn Civilians who started
out First, were getting Closer & Closer
to the Finish Line
So at the last minute, the US Air Force
sent so many drones in 
that they killed all the Civilians,
arms, legs, heads cut off
lay everywhere
& the Winners were the US Mountain
Infantry who found it easy to run
at Sea Level where the air was thick
but the bastard Karzai
said they cheated & would Not
make them the Winners & would Not
give them their Trophies
But he gave them to the few remaining
Taliban Patriots on the long bloody road
& Kept the Winners Money that
the Americans gave him for Himself
instead of the Winners.
The American Brass
were so mad, that they sent a 100 drones
out to kill any Afghanistans who were
at Funerals in the next few days
burying their Dead & then they'll bury more.
This Long Afghanistan Marathon War
has killed so many Afghanistan Children
Mothers, Fathers, GrandFathers / Mothers
for All these years, they can only Estimate
how many Died, it's in many thousands.
But at least we know
how many, American Soldiers
have been killed so far,
it's a Marathon,
an Afghanistan War Marathon
supposed to end next year
or the year after that,
no one seems to know
where the Finish Line is.

Written by Human Being Dennis Serdel for Military Resistance

Monday, April 8, 2013

Feminist War Hawks vs. Feminist Values

We live in times of great paradox, designed to fool most of the people almost all of the time.

Elections swing on women's reproductive rights, and the candidate who broadcasts that he is the most favorable to those rights has a kill list and signs laws on behalf of the biggest anti-life corporation on the planet, Monsanto. His signature acts in office thus far: selling out health care reform so that his campaign contributors may profit, promoting women in combat (actually, they will now receive combat pay since they've already been in combat for quite a while now), sending killer robots around the globe to terrorize civilian populations, and imprisoning truth teller Bradley Manning for over 1,000 days without a trial. This from a constitutional law professor.

A Maine wise woman, the activist and artist Natasha Mayers, recently appeared before the Judiciary Committee of the Maine legislature. She was there to support a bill requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before using drones to conduct surveillance, and she was wearing a top hat covered all over with eyes. She was ordered to take off her hat in order to be allowed to stay in the hearing room. All those eyes looking at the Judiciary Committee members apparently made them uncomfortable.

Maine's newest senator, Angus King, appeared on television during the Brennan confirmation hearings to head the CIA. King appeared as a pundit talking about why flying killer robots are a "humane" weapon. He said on the MSNBC "Morning Joe" program: "In the context of 1,000 years of war, drones are more civilized." I found this disturbingly short-sighted.

The continued domination of the Earth by the most violent among us depends upon being short-sighted. It is important that citizens never learn of the possibility of humans living peacefully together, cooperating rather than killing, loving rather than competing.

Dominating the airwaves that bring citizens their information has been the primary method of controlling the population. It is far more pervasive and, really, more effective than the use of brute force. (Which is resorted to whenever that is deemed necessary.) But force is often not needed as the constant messaging around the supposed superiority of violent methods, and the reminders about who wields them, are the very air citizens breathe in the 21st century.

School kids tell me every year that violence always wins. What else could they think growing up on  millions of images selling them on the false idea that violence is stronger than love? Those of us in my generation can hardly imagine how pervasive this messaging is, surrounding them from their very infancy.

At the Academy Awards this year, the First Lady lady "bizarrely showed up surrounded by military service personnel in dress uniforms" according to blogger Alison Kilkenny.

Michelle Obama said of the nominees for Best Picture: "They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage within ourselves."

Commented Kilkenny, "Of course the nominees included Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, two propaganda films widely criticized for manipulating true events, and in the case of the former, outright lying by suggesting torture led to the capture of Osama bin Laden." Since that time, corporate media have been promoting the story that Osama was brought to justice by the CIA's so-called "Band of Sisters."

When women who work for the CIA on extrajudicial assassination, and women like Condi Rice, Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton are held up as role models for feminists, we need to call them what they are: feminist war hawks. For myself, from now on I am going to make sure and use the phrase "feminist values" to distinguish life-affirming from death-dealing. I no longer want to call myself a feminist if these women are the face of feminism.

I am here to testify that once upon a time, long before Angus King's 1,000 year window of prevailing violence, there were cultures on Earth that revered nature and respected human beings. These cultures did not have mass media, the internet, films or even photography to share their vision of what it means to be human, but we do see some of their artifacts and some of their shared wisdom was passed down to us in the form of oral traditions.

Voices that are silenced in the din of modern civilization are those that respect the Earth, revere life, and believe that mindful love and cooperation are far more powerful than violence. These voices are rising now. Idle No More is a powerful movement that swept the globe affirming this possibility.

If we all come together and stop cooperating with the systems of violence, they will fall in a matter of days. But first, we must believe that it is possible. Cooperating to not cooperate is far more powerful than most of us are able to imagine. I like the work of Jamila Raqib and Gene Sharp at the Albert Einstein Institution for the study of non-violent methods, because their work stimulates my belief. Their studies give us a chance to examine what worked and what didn't, and which strategies seem the most effective. I understand that they named their institute after Einstein because he once stated that if 2% of the population would stop cooperating with the military-industrial system, it would fall. I don't know if he was right about that, but it's an intriguing idea -- and he was right about a lot of other things!
Around 150 people at the Feminist Values GA in Philadelphia July 2, 2012
Coming together and accessing collective wisdom is the genius of feminist values. It's not about women being more right than men. Women can lose sight of feminist values as they claw their way to the top of hierarchical systems, and many men embrace feminist values, including those right here in this room who know from experience the bliss of being in community.

One way to be in community: consider joining us in bringing messages of hope and solidarity to your neighbors. The Bring Our War $$ Home campaign will soon be distributing door hangers of the type pizza restaurants use, with the message "A Budget For Fall -- Why Not?" We'll be fanning out into our communities with the message that our resources belong to the people and must be used for life, not for death-dealing. It's a great opportunity to talk to your neighbor, the person in line at the post office, or the person who cleans your classroom about what we have in common. You may be surprised at the great conversations that the doorhangers are a vehicle for, especially around tax time and as our so-called leaders prepare to cut Social Security, Medicare, and many other safety nets for low income citizens.

You can contact Bruce Gagnon to order doorhangers, which organizations are buying at cost for their members to distribute. They are 5 cents apiece.

Thank you all for coming together today in a Maine Alliance for the Common Good. I am grateful to be here with you.

-- My remarks on a panel discussion at the Alliance Teach-In "Budget For All -- Why Not?" at the UMaine Orono on Sunday, April 7, 2013.