Andrea Brower, Kaua’i Climate Forum On Military & Climate: ‘This Is A Radically Underdiscussed Topic’

The Kaua’i Climate Forum invited me to present at their monthly zoom meeting on how the U.S. military contributes to climate chaos. Their January 12 forum included three outstanding climate and militarism activists based in Hawaii: Ann Wright of Veterans for Peace, Koohan Paik-Mander of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, and Kip Goodwin of Sierra Club. Here’s the full recording:

Another Cost of War: The Military’s Impact On The Climate Crisis forum


Like many zoom recordings, the first few minutes are spent waiting for attendees to enter the room, so I suggest you skip the first 4 minutes to get to Andrea’s introduction of the sponsoring organizations, the topic, and the speakers. My 20 minute presentation with slides starts at the 10:45 point.

If you are short on time you can see just my recorded presentation here (the time difference between Maine and Hawaii made me beg off on presenting live way past my bedtime).

However, you will miss a lot if you don’t hear the shorter presentations that follow mine. I’ve transcribed some excerpts from their remarks.

Andrea Brower, moderator, Gonzaga University adjunct faculty, Sociology & Environmental Studies:

This is a radically underdiscussed topic…we really can’t talk about the climate crisis without discussing the U.S. military…Hawaii is where the U.S. military is arguably the biggest polluter, and Red Hill is just one example of many.

Ann Wright, retired Colonel U.S. Army & U.S. State Dept, organizer with Veterans for Peace:

“Most of the time we think of military pollution interms of what we’ve seen in wars…Iraq oil fields that were blown up…Iraq & Afghanistan burning pits…now dealing with the health problems that were caused…just as in the Vietnam war the health problems that were caused by Agent Orange…a legacy that the Vietnamese are still dealing with

Right here at Red Hill…we have 93,000 people most of them on military base housing…who are dealing with not having potable water…we are dealing with parts of the climate chaos, with how the repositories of fuel that the military says they have to have for national security… What is national security? Do you have n.s. when you’re killing your own people with the materials that you’re using for what you say in n.s.? our HI congressional delegation has picked upt hose terms. Congressman Kahele “the fuel insecurity is really n.s. & we’ve got to resolve this issue of having jet fuel 100 ft abo ve the main aquifer of Oahu.”

Right here we’re dealing with the tangible effects of military pollution

Marine Corps Osprey go out on training missions and they now are buzzing Molokai …protests because these planes come in so low, shaking the windows…if you look at how much fuel they’re using…the training and preparations are killing our enviro, killing our climate. something that well all here in the haw islands HI’s congressional delegation which typically loves everything military gets huge amounts of their campaign funds from military-related industries. Well finally we have one time when our entire delegation has said no to the military & we need to keep after them to say no to the military which has been used to getting just as a matter of fact.”

Laurel Brier, retired social worker & lead organizer for the Kaua’i Climate Forum: 

“[military emissions are] the whale in the room…there’s no greening war

Bill McKibben’s not talking about it, Greta’s not talking about it” 

Koohan Paik-Mander, journalist & board member, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space:

“Spread the truth! The media is complicit, the Democrats are complicit…all we have is ourselves.”

Kip Goodwin, peace and justice activist with Sierra Club & Democratic Party Environmental Caucus:

“Homeland Defense Radar Hawaii (HDRH) to be built [in one of two locations in Hawaii]…would have one purpose: to detect the launch of a intercontinental ballistic missile from North Korea …this radar has lost support among DOD strategy planners …because hypersonic missiles can evade the radar…the HDRH has been zeroed out of the last two defense auth bills in favor of a network of satellite detection systems… 

What’s keeping the HDRH alive is procurements won by our congressional delegation…one thing Republicans and Democrats in Washington can agree on is voting more funding to the Pentagon than it even asks for…the military would invest $1 billion of our taxpayer structures in a tsunami-zone..sea level is expected to rise at that location 3 feet by the end of the century. The military’s answer to that is to put the radar complex on a platform 27 acres…that would require 80,000 truckloads of concrete and in-fill…disrupting daily life and commerce for a year or more..

The background for all this is the headlong rush into a nuclear arms race.

Opinion polls show that the treaty… that makes ownership of a nuclear weapon illegal under international law signed by 86 countries has overwhelming support worldwide. But nuclear weapons state the U.S., influenced by the weapons industry, lacks the political will to pursue treaties to place limits on nuclear warheads and missiles. There can be no greater harm than a nuclear exchange.”

My favorite comment during the discussion period came near the end.

Young antiwar activist SL:

“Whenever I hear people talking about climate change, especially young people, we’re not very good at

making the connection to militarism around the globe, and connecting domestic capitalist failures to imperialist aggression abroad.

I’m curious because many of you have been working the space where climate change and antiwar efforts overlap, what do you think we can do as young activists to bring those two conversations together more and work together in organizing?

Ann Wright: 

“Have meetings and talk about the two subjects together. Have some good graphics that show the two subjects together…Host the dialog!” 

My comment: that could look like sharing this blog post, these presentations, and/or the research they were based on.

Or maybe you’d like to apply for this job newly created by the Conflict & Environment Observatory.

Vacancy: Campaigner (military and #ClimateChange)
Location: #HebdenBridge, UK, hybrid/remote.
Salary: £30,000. Hours: Full time – 37.5 hours. Contract: Until Dec 2023. Closing date: 18 Feb 2022. You must be eligible to work in the UK.

More info: https://ceobs.org/vacancies

Annals Of False Dichotomy: Maine’s 3rd Party Ballot Access Rules Deemed Unconstitutional

Last Friday I received a message from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) whose actions on behalf of peace, nuclear disarmament, and social justice I have often supported.

This one shocked me, though, because they were teaming up with one of the worst sh*t lib organizations I can think of, Daily Kos. Furthermore, they were urging me to contact the Senate to “protect our freedom to vote” which is code for “vote for Democrats” or, in its more inane version, “vote blue no matter who.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised because AFSC folks I know declined to support me as an antiwar candidate in 2020 and one of our campaign managers said, yeah, AFSC takes big money from the DNC and has for years. 

I’m not a sucker for false dichotomy so I don’t accept the unspoken premise that, because I dislike Republican policies and tactics, I must therefore support Democrats. Both parties work for the same corporate sponsors and the bill for voting “rights” makes this clear if you read the fine print.

The Green Party US has a useful information page on why the “Freedom” to Vote Act is a bad bill as written and must be revised to earn our support. Signing the Green petition is an action on behalf of voting freedom that I was happy to take, and I invite you to join me.

Back here in little old Maine we’ve had our two-corporate-party ballot access system declared unconstitutional by violating the 1st and 14th amendments after the Libertarian Party took the state to court over it. Again, not a surprise to me as the former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap admitted to Michael Shepherd of the Bangor Daily News that it was “much harder for a statewide third-party candidate” to gain ballot access in Maine.

Sam Pfeifle of our U.S. senate campaign wrote this great op-ed asking why the current Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows (a Democrat) has not taken steps to address this for all the parties disadvantaged by the rules now in place. 

There are some pretty extensive remedies that she has been ordered by the court to extend to the Libertarians. 

From Sam’s article:

  • The Secretary of State has to reinstate the Libertarian Party and treat them as a ballot-qualified party for the 2022 election cycle. (My note: An election cycle that is already underway).
  • The Secretary of State has to let Libertarian candidates qualify for the ballot using both Libertarian and unenrolled voters’ signatures (instead of just one’s own party’s signatures, as is the current law).
  • The Secretary of State has to send a letter, containing a self-addressed stamped envelop, to all of the Libertarians the office unenrolled, offering them the chance to re-enroll with the Libertarians over the course of 45 days.

If you followed my campaign at all you’re probably aware that we spent months trying for ballot access as a Green candidate until we saw it could not be done. Then we got all the signatures we needed in one day (Super Tuesday) at the polls because we could collect from all registered voters once I unenrolled from the Greens. Seems fair, right? Wrong.

False dichotomy is going to be the death of us, probably literally. 

People who rightfully distrust Anthony Fauci and the CDC for serving capital before human health then erroneously conclude that they shouldn’t get vaccinated. And they often get really sick and even die and now our hospitals are on the verge of total collapse which impacts health care for everyone in ways that have nothing to do with the rapidly mutating virus.

False dichotomy will be strongly in play here in Maine when neoliberal Democrat Governor Janet Mills is up for re-election. She deserves to lose, because she has vetoed a raft of good legislation supported by the actual people — most recently a bill allowing agricultural workers to organize unions. Democrats in Maine think they can thumb their nose at labor interests because of the boogeyman of our former GOP governor who will be back from term limits to run against Mills. There is no ranked choice voting in state level elections (more’s the pity) so we will be told that voting for Green candidate Michael Barden might split the vote for Mills to hold on to her seat. I will be vilified if I admit that I will vote for him anyway. Oh well.

The hysteria over January 6 isn’t super useful in Maine so here comes a state level Equal Rights Amendment. I guarantee you we’ll be told by the pink pussy hat Democrats that we HAVE to re-elect Janet Mills because Paul LePage would not support the bill.

The Dem v. Repub false dichotomy is increasingly threadbare as the Biden administration mismanages the pandemic at least as badly as the GOP bogeyman before him, passes the largest military spending bill ever, continues the bipartisan plan to (secretly) privatize Medicare, and continues to keep migrant children in cages at the border amid record breaking deportations. There are a lot of great memes about this but I’ll just end with one:

EDITED 1/12/22: To correct my misunderstanding that a governor’s veto would play a role in a constitutional amendment. Hat tip to former Maine legislator Ralph Chapman for the correction.

New Video By Military Emissions Researchers Reveals Truth About What’s Driving #ClimateCrisis


Excited to share this newly published short video introducing many people to facts that have been hidden for far too long: 


the world’s militaries, especially the U.S. military, are major contributors to climate crisis.


Climate change and the military: tracking their carbon emissions features researchers from the U.S. and UK discussing what they have found and also how difficult it was to find this information. (My note: by design.)


Why not share this video with your elected officials, friends, and family?

DON’T LOOK UP: Violent Patriarchy Goes Down

I’m not focused on feminism most of the time but it was impossible for me to view the holiday season blockbuster DON’T LOOK UP without a keen awareness of what it had to say about gendered politics. My last blog post considered the intersectional wisdom of Black feminist thinker bell hooks. This one will consider the folly of proceeding without that wisdom.

Meryl Streep’s performance channeling the goofy worst of the female former governor of Alaska and some current members of Congress was a perfect way to show rather than tell: electing women solves nothing. Or, put another way, a woman who claws her way to the top of violent patriarchy will not embody the feminist values of concern for the common good, the imperative to cooperate, or reverence for life on our planet. Played for laughs with a perfect surprise at the tail end of the credits.

More central to the film’s narrative, though, is the juxtaposition of an idealistic scientific heroine played by Jennifer Lawrence with a weak-willed scientist antihero played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Lawrence rocketed to stardom as the protagonist of THE HUNGER GAMES, and the association with dystopian competitiveness is likely not lost on the audience.

At first her male mentor/boss creates space for her amazing discovery and gives credit where credit is due. But then he treats his wife like crap and falls into the morass of structural sexism enshrined in modern government and mass media. Lawrence is sidelined like legions of female discoverers before her; its been over 100 years since Einstein used his wife’s mathematical calculations without attribution, and little has changed. Then, Lawrence’s instant memehood is emblematic of the way social media tears women to shreds as misogyny cowers and snipes from behind screens.

The way in which the solutions to a natural disaster are conceived of as military first and capitalistic second further illustrate the problem with patriarchal thinking. The filmmakers clearly had a great time creating the characters who drive the rockets to doom, lampooning both generals with muscle for brains and brainy tech entrepeneurs with their minds on their money and their money on their minds.

Ariana Grande as the voice of wisdom was a nice twist since she’s first presented as a vapid foil to Lawrence’s nerdy Cassandra. Once the two are working together, Lawrence’s communication powers increase considerably.

Cate Blanchett takes a star turn as a dumb blonde journalist successfully riding the shallow wave that passes for culture on broadcast television. A recurring theme of the film is journalists as corporate stenographers for the status quo being mercilessly lampooned. 

The data mongers who know everything about us predict the deaths of two characters, but only one of these predictions proves true. An extended family dinner of the sort convened by nurturers since the dawn of humankind may not be able to save the world, but it does save a soul or two. A final prayer to the big daddy in the sky reminds us that things might have ended differently had the spiritual wisdom of matriarchies not been replaced by the degraded values of violent patriarchies. 

Hierarchies have served us poorly as elites who have clambered over bodies to reach the top of the heap hog both resources and the power to conceive and implement solutions.

In the end, we are reminded that whatever Nature has in store for us can only be faced together. The I’ve-got-mine-and-you’re-out-of-luck mentality is the antithesis of feminist values, and likely spells our collective doom.

Love, Kindness, And Solidarity Are The Most Radical Acts Of All

The longest night of the year calls us to practice radical love. 


I’m writing before dawn as I stoke up the fire to warm the house while a carpet of tiny ice crystals sparkles outside reflecting the full moon in the sky.


Rituals of light involving candles, bonfires, and holiday decorations prop up our sagging morale as we in the Global North struggle through the second winter of a pandemic more deadly than ever. 

source: Getty Images

The passing of Black elder bell hooks was an occasion to remind ourselves of her wisdom and fierce advocacy for love as the ultimate radical act. Her guidance:

love is a combination of six ingredients: care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust,

and so if you don’t know what you’re doing, just pull out that little card and ask yourself ‘in what way does my action that I’m taking reflect these traits, these characteristics, these values’

Tempers are raging in the world white supremacist patriarchy created. That world is filled with threats of violence, actual violence, and a hail of bullets at regular intervals. Videos shared on Tiktok went viral calling for last Friday to be national school shooting day. Previous campaigns motivated students to destroy school bathrooms and punch teachers.


Teachers are quitting in droves, and those still hanging on are posting anguished reflections on the rising tide of anger directed at them by parents who have come undone and children whose social opportunities boiled down to zoom and video games for a year. 


High school teacher Julie Holderbaum wrote:

Oh my God, another one? How many school shootings does that make this year?

Are all teachers as overwhelmed and exhausted as I am?

Does anyone care what teachers are going through in this country?

When is someone going to do something about it?

Health care workers also are operating in a state of extreme duress that can only be sustained for so long. Much of it is fueled by their frustration and despair as angry, ignorant people refuse to observe safety protocols to protect others: the little children too young for the vaccines, and the immunocompromised people too ill to receive them.


Brute force in the form of vaccine mandates has failed as those who study public health success stories knew it would. 

Irresponsible advice last spring — from the CDC no less — to take off our masks and resume commerce and in-person school led us deeper into the crisis. 


This month the White House press secretary sneered at a reporter who asked why the federal government does not provide at home tests for everybody like other countries do (i.e. countries with universal public health care programs). Simple, non-invasive PPE like N95 masks for all is still lacking.


Providing them would be an act of love, but the people have long since stopped expecting rule by corporations or oxymoronic for-profit health care to be guided by love. Will they share vaccine knowledge with the world or hoard it to increase their own wealth? You know the answer.


Scholar of failing empires Chris Hedges says that cruelty it not an accidental byproduct of the current system, it is the point


Our courts fail to punish sexual exploitation of children, protecting the powerful men and women in Epstein’s little black book.


Instead, a court in the government that capitalism and its foundation, racism, built, punish a Puerto Rican immigrant truck driver whose company vehicle brakes failed resulting in a crash fatal for others. 

Image source: “Viral TikTok Shows Truckers Boycott On Behalf Of Rogel Augilera-Mederos

Aguilera-Mederos manifested love when he said how he wished that he could have traded his own life for that of the victims. 


The judge sentenced him to 110 years. Silver lining in that particular cloud: truck drivers are refusing to enter the state of Colorado in response and over 3 million people have signed this petition asking that his sentence be commuted to time served.


Workers are unionizing like mad, hooray! Solidarity is an act of love — while condemning someone risk death for the bottom line is routine corporate behavior even in a weather emergency.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/LateStageCapitalism/comments/rjfpgu/amazon_tornado_text_exchange_your_life_is_just/


As the war machine churns out deadly poisons, accelerates climate change, and takes no responsibility for burning children to death in Afghanistan; as the social safety net tears beyond repair and your wealthy government responds by going on holiday; and its automated messages fill inboxes with ominious reminders of the resumption of student loan payments in January; as we struggle through the longest night of the year,


rememember:

love, kindness, and solidarity are the most radical acts of all.

Late Stage Capitalism Is A Death Cult — Change My Mind


Aerial view of candle factory in Kentucky before and after this week’s tornado.
Source: MAXAR Technologies via Reuters

I was sleepy the other night when I thought my husband said that there had been a 200 mile wide tornado killing people in Kentucky. Turns out it was a mile wide tornado (bad enough) touching down over a 200 mile area in several states (quite bad) in December (clear sign of a climate in crisis).

What he didn’t know at the time is that Amazon warehouse workers routinely deprived of their cell phones were buried under rubble when the roof collapsed.

Source: The Washington Time “OSHA opens probe into deadly Amazon warehouse collapse in Illinois”

Also that workers in Kentucky’s Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory who heard warning sirens and tried to leave were threatened with firing if they departed. Some stayed and died, some left anyway, and some stayed and survived to tell the tale.

The economic system producing both galloping climate change and burgeoning military budgets that drive climate change is a death cult.

Usually the claim “capitalism is a death cult” applies these days to the absence of public health policy that protects, you know, public health. 

One cannot serve both commerce and health as the CDC has bent over backward to demonstrate.

In the second winter of a deadly pandemic the U.S. has racked up this dismal track record:

  • no universal health care
  • no free testing kits such as the rest of the world receives (and derision from the White House press secretary for even suggesting this would be a good idea)
  • vaccine mandates rather than empirically proven access + education + incentive methods
  • feeble vaccine distribution to low income nations we share the planet’s germ pool with
  • miniscule economic relief for actual people (vs. corporations)
  • huge growth in the numbers of unhoused people nationwide
  • schools open despite higher infection levels and maxed out hospital ICUs nationwide
  • widespread health care provider burnout
  • obscene growth in wealth inequality


Extreme wealth inequality has been a significant force for toppling the social order throughout history. So have pandemics and other disasters.

Meanwhile, the engines of commerce churn on creating profits to buy off governments. Subsidies to fossil fuel corporations were $5.9 trillion in 2020, a whopping $11 million a minute.


That would buy a lot of testing kits. If only the U.S. prioritized life over profits.

Assange Can Be Extradited Rules UK Court While Press Freedom Dies A Lingering Death

Julian Assange can be extradited to the United States because that government has given assurances he will be treated humanely. 

So says the court in the UK which has seen Assange, his health broken and mental health in jeopardy, and turned away.

His crime? Revealing the truth about governments. For instance, what the U.S. government was doing in Iraq with our tax dollars in the now infamous “Collateral Murder” video i.e. gunning down Reuters journalists and shooting up a good Samaritan’s van carrying children in Baghdad.

The U.S. government tortured Chelsea Manning at length for allegedly leaking evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq.

The UK government tortured Julian Assange by holding him captive in the London embassy of Ecuador for seven years as his health deteriorated.

On what legal grounds? In so-called “free democracies” the publication of truth is a protected right of journalists. Indeed, a free press is considered the cornerstone of democracy.

Trumped up charges of rape (i.e. nonconsensual condomless intercourse) in Sweden was the ostensible reason Assange was targeted for lawfare, but the Assange’s accuser has now retracted his accusation. And the machinations behind getting her to make it in the first place have been revealed as bunk.

How Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower, escaped the long arm of U.S. imperial power to suppress the truth makes for a thrilling documentary. Snowden remains a guest in Russia, and is now raising a family rather than returning to the U.S. to languish in prison himself.

Assange has a family, too, but his children are not permitted to know their father’s care.

People who dare tell the truth about the most powerful government in history pay a harsh price. 

Their families pay a harsh price.

Meanwhile TwitterYouTube, and Facebook accelerate censorship of dissident views. Sometimes on behalf of convicted pedophiles and their close friends in high place.

We all pay a harsh price as truth and real journalism subside into darkness.

Are Military And Space Programs Victims Of Climate Crisis Or Perpetrators?

Pentagon Planet by Anthony Freda

I’m back from a blogging break during National Novel Writing Month aka nanowrimo in November. I met the challenge of writing a 50,000 word first draft in 30 days; the jury is still out on whether or not it was time well-spent. If you’re interested in being a reader who will provide feedback on Comfy Underpants (working title) depicting the effects on children of grinding poverty in late stage capitalism, leave a comment.

During November I collaborated on a few COP 26 related projects, including a virtual presentation for the People’s Summit on behalf of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. I teamed up with Koohan Paik-Mander (GN board member in Hawaii) and Veterans for Peace members in the US (president Adrienne Kinne) and UK (David Collins) plus sponsoring organization the Institute for Policy Studies (Ashik Siddique) to present on US Militarism, Space Tech & Climate Crisis: the role of militarism in climate justice.

My presentation in the 90 minute webinar focused on Information Control and Perception Management Around Climate Impact of Space Programs.

To prepare I learned more about the parallels between US military programs and space programs, and their interconnection. For the TL,DW crowd (too long, didn’t watch) I’ll summarize my key points:

  • The role of military in driving climate crisis has been hidden successfully up to now, but COP 26 was a turning point for climate activists if not for national governments.
  • The role of space programs in harming climate is similarly hidden.
  • Space programs are portrayed as non-military in nature despite the fact that NASA develops technology which is then used by the military.
  • Focus on space programs’ climate harms is confined in the press to private space programs.
  • Both the military and space programs are portrayed as victims of climate crisis in the corporate press and in their own communications to the public.

Koohan’s presentation on the militarization of the ocean around Hawaii including space and with disastrous effects on marine life was powerful and new information for many.

In the runup to COP 26, Peace Action Maine invited David Swanson of World Beyond War and Janet Weil of VFP’s Climate Crisis & Militarism Project to speak on How the Pentagon Fuels Climate Crisis

I did the intro giving the context of the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow and what it might mean for our work, and PAM board member Devon Grayson-Wallace facilitated. Link to video here.


COP 26 was a dismal failure in terms of halting runaway climate crisis.


 The non-binding agreements reached would, even if observed in full (highly unlikely), not keep carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions at safe levels. 


Greta Thunberg mocked the empty promises of elected officials (I can’t bring myself to call them leaders): “Net zero, blah blah blah. Climate neutral, blah blah blah.”

Images source: World Peace Ever TV

Youth and indigenous climate activists staged numerous actions to draw attention to the urgency of the crisis while world leaders went through the motions of taking meaningful action. Wealthy countries will continue to pollute with others bearing the brunt of the dire effects. What else is new?


Here’s a simple direct action you can take right now. Pledge to connect the dots between our real security needs around climate and the enormous military emissions elephant in the room.


Source: research by Prof. Neta Crawford for the Costs of War project

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.

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 yestorejectcmpcorridor.com.

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. 

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 full-time with benefits jobs. 

All these politicians know about research by Pollin & Garret-Peltier at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) of UMass Amherst. 

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

Fear Is Driving Both Sides In Vax Controversy

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. 

Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10153858717610184&set=a.105088390183

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.

reported by Business Insider

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.”

Dems And Repubs Create Sneaky Backdoor to Privatize Medicare

Photo source: Canva.com

Instead of looking to improve and expand Medicare as the majority in the U.S. favor, the Biden administration is using a back door created by the Trump administration to invite Wall St. to privatize it. Since this would be an unpopular move, a bureaucratic structure known as Direct Contracting Entities (DCE) has crept in behind the scenes.

In case you think the U.S. health care system already has too many middlemen raking in profits from people’s illnesses, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  

Doctors are enticed to sign up for a DCE on the promise that their revenues will go up. 

Then patients are opted into the DCE without their consent or even knowledge. They can opt out again and change doctors, but only if they know about it.

Physicians for a National Health Program has put together this explainer about the threat posed by DCEs — which already exist in 43 states, including Maine. (It’s a pdf so I can’t embed it but I’ll include a screenshot.)

Why would both Democratic and Republican administrations create a way for private investors to prey on the elderly or people with disabilities who currently receive Medicare?

Because when Wall St. says Jump, both Democrats and Republicans ask, How high? 

The big bucks that flow into campaign coffers on “both sides of the aisle” are what buys representation in this alleged democracy, while the people get fleeced with the government’s cooperation.

Source: https://doi.org/10.26099/01DV-H208

We already spend the most on health — enough and then some to fund universal health care — and rather than good health we have lousy outcomes. The fact that we alone of rich countries have no public health system is a direct result of ultra wealthy health “insurance” corporations sponsoring our government.  

Commerce and health just don’t mix.

A more in-depth discussion of DCEs is here on YouTube.

Join me in signing the PNHP petition to stop DCEs here.

Weaponized Drones Are Real Threat To Security Say Protesters At Creech AFB Nevada


Afghans inspect damage of Ahmadi family house after U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi) Source: Military.com

Amid the chaotic and embarassing retreat from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan came a drone strike on the Ahmadi family whose aid worker dad was transporting water in his car with little children aboard. “The Pentagon admitted Friday an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians, including seven children, but not any terrorist planners as officials first claimed,” according to Military.com.

Now it is even more urgent to demand the use of flying killer robots be banned. A large group of dedicated activists return each year to the Nevada desert where U.S. drone operators sit in trailers and decide to kill entire families without enough information to evaluate whether or not those targeted actually pose a threat to security. 

Weaponized drones are the real threat to security.

Here’s the organizers’ press release with detailed information on the week long protest.

2019: People protest against drone warfare at the entrance to Creech Air Force Base. Six people were detained and charged with misdemeanors during the week-long event, which is held several times a year. (John Locher/AP) Source: AirForceTimes.com

PROTESTORS FROM 12 STATES CONVERGE AT CREECH AFB FOR WEEK OF PROTEST TO DEMAND AN END TO REMOTE DRONE KILLING, AND BAN ON KILLER DRONES 

Kabul Killing of Afghan family, including 3 adults and 7 children, by U.S. Drone Last Month will be Memorialized


LAS VEGAS/CREECH AFB, NV – Anti-war/anti-drone demonstrators from the East and West coasts announced they are converging here Sept. 26-Oct. 2 to hold daily protests – which will include efforts to interrupt “business as usual”  – at the U.S. Drone Base at Creech Air Force Base, an hour north of Las Vegas, Nevada. 

U.S. anti-drone activists across the country will be holding solidarity protests at drone bases and in communities across the country during the same week, to amplify their common call for a ban on killer drones.  Contact Nick Mottern for more info:  (914) 806-6179.

In the aftermath of the horrific “mistake” from a U.S. drone attack on a civilian family in Kabul last month, that left three adults and seven young children dead, protesters are demanding that the U.S. cease its secret remote assassination program that they say is illegal and immoral. 

Vigils every morning and afternoon during commute hours will take place with varied themes each day. See schedule below. Nonviolent interruptions of flow of traffic into the base are planned during the week to oppose the inherent abuse, illegality and injustice of the U.S. targeted remote assassination program.  Rejecting the very nature of U.S. extrajudicial killings that has led to the death of thousands of civilians, protesters demand an immediate ban on all killer drones. 

Many military veterans, now members of Veterans for Peace, will be joining, including post-911 veterans. The event is co-sponsored by CODEPINKVeterans for Peace and Ban Killer Drones.

At Creech, U.S. Air Force personnel, coordinating with C.I.A. officials, are, regularly and secretly, killing people remotely using unmanned armed drone planes, primarily the MQ-9 Reaper drones.  

Thousands of civilians have been killed and injured, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere, since 2001, by U.S. drone strikes, according to independent investigative journalism.    

Over the last 20 years, the use of  armed drones have led to deadly atrocities that have included strikes on wedding partiesfuneralsschoolsmosques, homes, farm laborers  and in January, 2020, included direct hits on high level foreign military and government officials from Iran and Iraq.  

These drone massacres have, at times, resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians with a single drone attack. To date not a single U.S. official has ever been held accountable for these ongoing atrocities – Yet, drone whistleblower, Daniel Hale, who leaked documents revealing the high rate of civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes, is currently serving 45 months in prison.

“U.S. officials and military leaders exhibit total disregard for the value of human lives in the countries targeted under the so-called War on Terror,” said Toby Blomé, one of the organizers of the week long protest. “Over and over again, innocent lives are being purposefully sacrificed in drone strikes, in order for the U.S. to continue its ‘counter-terrorism campaign,’” said Blomé.

“The Ahmadi family drone massacre that occurred in Kabul last month is not an example of accidental mis-judgement. It is an example of an ongoing reckless pattern of abuse whereby the U.S. assumes the right to kill a person on suspicion alone, just in case that person may be a threat, while also sacrificing everyone else who happens to be in the area,” Blomé added.

Organizers say that the only reason the truth about this recent drone tragedy was exposed is because it took place in Kabul, where investigative journalists were available to scrutinize the event. For 2 weeks after the incident U.S. military had insisted that they killed an ISIS affiliate. The evidence proved otherwise. Most drone strikes are underreported and not investigated because they occur in remote rural areas, far from international media.  

Participants of the week-long protest are calling for a complete ban on killer drones, an immediate end to the targeted killing program, and full accountability for the innocents killed, including reparations to the surviving victims of U.S. drone strikes, past and present.

“Given the murder of 10 innocent people in Kabul, including seven children, we know that the U.S. drone program is a disaster,” said organizer Eleanor Levine. “It makes enemies and it has to end now.”

Demonstrators are also calling for the immediate release of Daniel Hale  the drone whistleblower who exposed the criminality of the drone program. The documents leaked by Hale revealed that in many cases, up to 90% of those killed by U.S. drones were not the intended target. Demanding a pivotal shift toward justice, Shut Down Creech participants declare:  “Arrest the war criminals, not the truth-tellers.”

Mon, Sept 27, 6:30-8:30 a.m.
DRONE FUNERAL PROCESSION:  Dressed in black with white “death masks,” activists will process down the highway, in a solemn death march, carrying small coffins with the names of the countries that have been the primary targets of ongoing U.S. drone attacks that have led to high civilian casualties.  (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and Libya)


Mon, Sept 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. “DRONE ATTACKS ARE…”  
Participants will hold large bold signs with varied descriptive words to demonstrate the failure of the U.S. Drone Program:   ILLEGAL, RACIST, IMMORAL, BARBARIC, CRUEL, FUTILE, WRONG, DISGRACEFUL, etc.


Tues, Sept.28 , 6:30 – 8:30 a.m.THE DRONE MASSACRE MEMORIAL:  A long series of banners will be stretched along the highway, each one highlighting details of past U.S. drone massacres, including strikes that have hit wedding parties, funerals, schools, farm laborers and mosques.  Statistics on civilian deaths are included on each banner. This time, the horrific tragedy of the Ahmadi family killed in a Kabul neighborhood will be added to the historical record.

Tues, Sept 28, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. THE WAR IS A LIE;  To demonstrate the concept that the “first casualty in war is the truth,” a series of signs will convey examples: Presidents Lie, Congress Lies, Generals Lie, CIA lies, etc.  The messages will conclude with banners calling on more critical thinking:  Question Authority; Resist the Lies They Tell…Resist the Wars They Sell;  Truth-teller and Drone Whistleblower, Daniel Hale, will be featured:  “FREE DANIEL HALE.”


Wed, Sept 29, 6:30 – 8:30 a.m.GO BACK, WRONG WAY!  
A nonviolent, peaceful action will be planned to “interrupt business as usual” and to resist the illegal and immoral activity that takes place at Creech Killer Drone Base.  Details will be available later in the week.  NO MORE DEATHS! Other nonviolent acts of resistance may be planned at other times during the week.


Wed, Sept 29, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.  ALTERNATIVES TO WAR;  
A series of signs will offer alternatives to the military working at Creech AFB:  Doctors NOT Drones, Bread NOT Bombs, Housing NOT Hellfire Missiles, Peace Jobs NOT War Jobs, etc.


Thurs. Sept 30, 6:30 – 8:30 a.m.  “CREECHERS FOR THE PLANET”;  
In a playful approach to connect the very serious global problems of climate crisis and environmental devastation with militarism, participants will dress in their favorite “Creecher Costumes” (Creature Costumes) and/or hold large animal puppets, while holding educational signs “connecting the dots”:  U.S. Military #1 Polluter, War is Toxic, End War for Climate Justice, U.S. Military = #1 User of FOSSIL FUEL, War in NOT Green:  PROTECT EARTH, etc.


Thurs. Sept 30, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.  TBD:  Creech AFB may or may not have a vigil.  Stay tuned for updates.  A Las Vegas Anti-drone Street Theater Action planned at the Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall (4:00 – 6:00pm) in Las Vegas.  Details to come later. 


Fri. Oct. 1, 6:30 – 8:30 a.m.  FLY A KITE, NOT A DRONE;  In a colorful display of beautiful kites in the sky, participants will hold their final demonstration of the week, focusing on the positive benefits of alternatives to war, where all sides win.  The central large banner:  DIPLOMACY NOT DRONES!  The vigil will also honor the Afghan People, who have been forced to live under the terror of U.S. drones for 20 years, with immeasurable human losses.  The U.S. has “officially withdrawn” it’s troops and closed it’s bases in Afghanistan, the most droned country on earth; however, the drone strikes are expected to continue under Biden’s unspecified “Over the Horizon” policy.  Another large banner will declare:   STOP DRONING AFGHANISTAN:  20 YEARS ENOUGH!

Contact:  
Toby Blomé, 510.501.5412;  toby4peace@sonic.net
Eleanor Levine, 510-290-7071;  eastbaycodepink@gmail.com

For more details:   www.ShutDownCreech

AUKUS Excludes, Angers France And It’s Odd Because Acronym Cries Out For An F

Photo of Bush speech program folder source: @JebSprague (graphic overlay by me)

I’ve been watching with delight the news that rehabilitated (by the corporate media) war criminal President George W. Bush cannot speak in public without being confronted by veterans and their family members.

W’s hecklers reported scattered boos but also complimentary responses from the audience and even police. 

When Michelle Obama tells reporters that she and W are on friendly terms because “our values are the same,” this must be inconvenient for the blaring narrative that there are huge, HUGE differences between the Democratic and Republican parties. But in the cult of personality surrounding the chief executive office of the U.S., a good smile for the cameras counts as a “value” I guess.

Fawning over the architect of the War on Terror is likely a needed counterweight to the public’s vast dillusionment with the war on Afghanistan coming to an end (sort of)

source: https://socialistchina.org/2021/09/22/aukus-a-dangerous-military-escalation-of-the-new-cold-war/

And the absurdly named AUKUS rises from its ashes.

The “security pact” to menace China in its own backyard has angered France due to the cancellation of a lucrative contract to build submarines for Australia. The Aussies will now purchase U.S.-made nuclear-powered submarines capable of launching nuclear weapons.

The nonsensical aspect of Australian “defence” menacing its chief trading partner is beautifully captured in this clip from the satirical show Utopia.

This is the kind of international relations we in the U.S. get when our Secretary of “Defense” just resigned and cashed out from the board of Raytheon. (And many of the Pentagon brass arrived through the revolving door from other big weapons manufacturers like General Dynamics, Boeing, and Northrup Grumann.)

When President Obama announced a “pivot to Asia” he was hampered by having to operate under the auspices of that belligerent alliance, NATO. China is just so inconveniently far from the North Atlantic. (As was Afghanistan. But, 9/11.)

In the intervening years, the U.S. has bullied Japan into dropping its post WW2 commitment to self-defense only and has continuously built up military bases in OkinawaSouth Korea, and Australia.

War as a marketing scheme continues to make its purveyors filthy rich.

War as a lived experience continues to produce corpses, orphans, widows, PTSD, starvation, and massive contributions to climate chaos — our biggest actual security threat.

Maybe this is why the People’s Republic of China does not start wars?

Haters Gonna Hate Haitians

© Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images United States Border Patrol agents on horseback try to stop Haitian migrants from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021.

Many people leave social media platforms like Facebook because they become sickened by displays of hatred toward marginalized groups.

The astounding ignorance of history that underlies comments about refugees massing at the Mexican border in Texas underlies current hate speech in response to videos of Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping Black migrants. I’m not going to repeat any of their nastiness but I am going to respond to a Maine news outlet’s post of the whipping story that generated a long string of comments from haters.

The super wealthy who own media outlets have taught white people to hate immigrants and fear that their presence contributes to the steady decline of wealth for working class people and the truly poor. 

Conservative haters are fond of the word patriotism and they express love for national borders with cruel practices in place to keep non-white people out of the U.S.

How much do they or you or I really know about Haiti and the people emigrating from there in the 21st century? What, if anything, does the U.S. owe them?

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of significant events in Haiti’s history:

  • Haiti is 1/3 of the Caribbean island colonized by Europeans after genocidal maniac Columbus made landfall there in 1492.
  • Haiti was once France’s richest colony, using the labor of Africans who had been kidnapped from their homes and enslaved on plantations.
  • Haiti successfully overthrew its colonial masters with a revolution 1791-1804. They established the first Black republic and were the second to successfully break away from the colonizers who exploited them (guess who the first was?).
  • Crippling debt in the form of reparations to France was agreed to in order to gain diplomatic recognition as a legitimate country. 90 million gold francs would be equivalent to around $21 billion today. Haitians endured poverty while these payments to the already wealthy France were made for decades.
  • The U.S. Marine Corps invaded and occupied Haiti 1915-1934. They imposed trade relations favorable to the U.S. that continued to impoverish Haitians.
  • Starting in the 1980’s, the CIA funded and otherwise supported the Haitian military and the Haitian National Intelligence Service.
  • Beginning in 1990 popular candidate Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president. A military coup forced him out and he went into exile until 1994 when he returned and served out his term.
  • The U.S. military again occupied Haiti 1994-1997.
  • Aristide was re-elected in a landslide in 2000. A military coup removed him in 2004 and he went into exile again.
  • In 2010 Haitians suffered a devastating earthquake followed by a flood of alleged aid workers and peace keeper that brutally exploited upheaval and chaos following the quake. 200,000 died and many of the survivors emigrated to South America. Those people and their children who were born abroad are a large proportion of the migrants now gathered in Texas.
  • In July, 2021 President Jovenel Moïse, who was closely aligned with the U.S. and the Haitian military and overstaying his term of office, was assassinated.
  • Last month (August, 2021) Haitians suffered another big earthquake killing around 2,000 and injuring around 12,000 people.
  • Climate chaos in the form of devastating hurricanes strikes Haiti regularly.
  • Mass deportations even of people not born in Haiti are the Biden administration’s response to the suffering at the border.
  • Haiti remains the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.

If you read this far hoping that U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, would come off better than his immigrant-hating predecessor — the reality is far more disappointing.


My photo — Federal building, Bangor, Maine, July 3, 2019

Because guess what? There are still children being kept in cages for crossing the border, too. And it’s still a national disgrace.

Dems And Repubs Team Up To Profit From CMP Corridor Project

I fished my copy of this junk mail out of the trash.

I wanted to share the latest in deceptive advertising funded by big money interests promoting a loathsome clear cut through the northern Maine woods. 

Photo credit: Joel Dorr

Miles of tree removal eliminates their beauty and carbon sequestration in a time of climate chaos in order to enable a transmission line from Canada to Massachusetts. That project will benefit Canadian energy behemoth Hydro-Quebec, Spanish energy behemoth Iberdrola (owner of Central “Maine” Power, or CMP), and Goldman Sachs (the project’s investment bankers).

The project is strongly opposed by most actual people who live in Maine.

A bill to block foreign corporate entities from pouring money into Maine to influence the outcome of referendum items was vetoed by Democratic Governor Janet Mills. She also vetoed the bill to establish a consumer-owned utility in Maine that would replace the rapacious CMP. 

Do I need to tell you that Mills supports the CMP corridor project?

Do I need to tell you that her predecessor, a Republican, also supported the CMP project?

I heard Bangor Daily News political editor Michael Shepherd laughing with conservative radio host Mike Violette (starts at 3:55 mark in the clip) about the strange bedfellows teaming up to produce the deceptive message: Willy Ritch, former spokesperson for progressive Democrat Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Adrienne Bennett, former spokesperson for arch conservative Republican Governor Paul LePage.

Willy Ritch was last seen in action heading up the 16 Counties Coalition, a Democratic Party front group that aimed to unseat incumbent Senator Susan Collins. He presided over a “with or without her” town hall event in Portland in August, 2019 that my husband and I attended. 

My husband, Mark Roman, submitted a question on military spending at the August 20, 2019 meeting managed by Willy Ritch, so I know there was at least one in the pile.

Ritch allowed not a single question “from the audience” about the military whose budget is well over half the federal discretionary budget each year, and only one question on climate despite these perilous times. 

So, he is an experienced manager of messaging and public perception, whose last job boiled down to “Republicans bad, Democrats good.” 

I suppose Ritch and Bennett are chummy in the way of paid professional communicators who will work for whoever is paying well at the moment.

Their newest astroturf group, Mainers For Fair Laws, wants voters to believe that, if something illegal was done in the past — like issuing permits for use of public lands without the necessary consent of 2/3 of the legislature — rescinding it now would be dangerous.

But we should and often do overturn bad laws to set things straight. For instance, Black people were once counted as 3/5 of a person in the census. (Some people argued against fixing that, too.)

The battle against the CMP corridor continues on many fronts: a lawsuit aimed at the corporate-controlled DEP, and November’s upcoming referendum question among them.

Want to stand with Native people whose lands are destroyed by mega dams to produce dirty energy in Canada?

Do We Really Have A Free Press In the U.S.? You Be The Judge

My graphic incorporating the now disappeared photo of napalm on the runway in Brunswick, 2012.

One of the reasons I started writing this blog in 2010 was to keep my head from exploding over current events.

The other reason is a persistent interest in battling information control. I am inspired by blogs and websites who peek around the corporate media monolith and report what they see and hear. 

Today I share a specific, detailed example of information control on behalf of the U.S. military by corporate news entities in my home state of Maine.

Recently the Blue Angels brought their noise and air polluting daredevil show to Brunswick and I organized a protest that included speeches. It’s not the first time I’ve protested air shows which are recruiting events and terribly harmful to our already struggling climate.

In my remarks, I mentioned that in 2012 the same air show had burned napalm on the runway as a grand finale. Vietnam vets that were inside at the time recognized it and I heard them talk about it; also, the local newspaper The Forecaster ran a photograph of the napalm burning with a plane overhead as part of their August 26, 2012 coverage of the show.

In my blog post about it, I inserted the photo using a url that directly linked to the photo. I used to put photos in blog posts this way because it was faster than downloading and then uploading photos, and also because it was more respectful to the source as it pinged back to them if a reader clicked on it.

Sadly, this is what my blog post looks like today:

Ok, so the old link is broken. Happens all the time. Just go to the archive of The Forecaster and get it again, right?

Wrong.

The Forecaster, now owned by the Portland Press Herald, mysteriously has no archived articles about that air show — a two-day event that typically produces at least two articles. In fact, it mysteriously has zero articles on any topic for the two day duration of the show: August 25 & 26, 2012. 

Bear with me, it gets even stranger.

In my searching I did uncover an article reporting on the planned protests for the 2012 air show from a press release sent out by the organizers of the protest. This is from the Times Record, another local paper now owned by the Portland Press Herald

It, too, has a missing photograph though the caption remains humorously intact:

Who is this dude? No idea. 

Did a clerical error result in his face appearing where the banner pic was intended to go? We’ll probably never know but in case you’re curious, here’s the banner:


Bruce Gagnon and Mark Roman at air show protest Sep. 4, 2021 Photo credit: Gigi Larc

Fast forward to this week when the Times Record refused to print a letter to the editor by Brunswick organizer Rosie Paul about the 20th anniversary of a weekly vigil for peace. Especially significant on the 20th anniversary of the events of 9/11, wouldn’t you say? 

Here’s the text of her letter:

Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks marks this Twentieth Anniversary

In the week following 9/11/01, members of the Brunswick community met together looking for what might be an effective response to the tragic events of that date.

We put out a call for a Vigil for Peace for that next Friday at 5, a Vigil urging non-retaliation so we could move ahead wisely from the crossroad all of us faced.

On that Friday, and for several subsequent Fridays, the edge of the Town Green was lined with as many as 90 community members who felt keenly the need to reflect on what had happened, to think about why it may have happened, and to see how we could help to shape a response that would lead to more understanding and certainly not to more violence.

When the United States chose to retaliate against Iraq and Afghanistan, the numbers at the vigil dropped, both in frustration and in disappointment. A core of some 10-15 members has met at the edge of the Green nearly every Friday since.

Gradually we gave our group a name – PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick – and set about organizing monthly discussions, film showings, presentations of various kinds, and an annual Peace Fair to celebrate and build on the connections among Maine’s many non-profit groups working for Justice and Peace.

The weekly vigil has continued – fondly known as “Honk for Peace” – and we find our numbers growing again, infused with energy from other areas where violence needs to give way to compassion and cooperation: The Black Lives Matter Movement , The Poor People’s Campaign, and the looming Climate Crisis – all of them connected and all of them crying out for us to wake up, to find the sustainable future we know is possible.

You are warmly invited to join us on the Green (opposite Walgreens) next Friday and for as many Fridays as you can. www.peaceworksbrunswickme.org

Rosalie Paul, Brunswick 

Rosie’s queries about why the letter was rejected have met with stonewalling by executive editor John Swinconeck. 

No surprise to me since Swinconeck is the one who terminated Peaceworks’ monthly column which Rosie used to coordinate and where I was sometimes published. His reason given at the time was that there was not enough local content in our columns. That won’t fly for her recent letter so he simply said, we have no plans to publish this letter at any time.

All this came up because someone who heard me speak on September 4 about napalm being burned for entertainment in 2012 was questioned by an acquaintance who was incredulous that it could be true. So she reached out to me for evidence, and I began my futile search.

Do we really have a free press in the U.S.? You be the judge.

Luke Sekera-Flanders: Reconsider What It Means To Be A Patriot

Luke Sekera-Flanders, photo by Ellen Davidson

Growing up in a rural town and through attending public school, I was often exposed to military propaganda.

From kindergarten through 5th grade, each class would have to put on a patriotic performance for the school, whether singing songs like “Proud To Be An American,” making skits depicting war, or listing reasons why America was the greatest country in the world – mainly its military. At my high school, and at all sorts of community events, myself and other young teenagers were presented an enticing image of what military service could offer us: financial benefits, community, and purpose.

But as I learned through my own research, there is far greater reason to be opposed to militarism and the military-industrial complex. For one, investing in war as deeply as the U.S. has robs us of so many opportunities to pursue a healthier, safer future. Changes in our climate and environmental destruction pose an ever increasing threat to human health and safety, and the U.S. military is a leading contributor to this emerging crisis that is rarely addressed. According to a 2019 study, the military emits more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than 140 countries. 

my photo

The Blue Angels and shows like it serve as a recruiting tool and a flex of America’s air power, which has been consistently used to devastate civilians across the world as recently as last weekend, when a drone strike on a supposed ISIS target in Afghanistan killed 10 civilians, including 8 children. And because of the marriage between government and corporations, U.S. foreign policy, including decisions to go to war, are dictated by economic interests – and corporations who profit from war are happy to risk military and civilian lives for profit.

Imagine if we invested so much as a fraction of our swelling “defense” budget toward proactively mitigating the coming effects of climate change, such as water insecurity. As of 2014, there were 39,000 different sites in the U.S., including multiple waterways, that were severely contaminated because of environmental disregard by the military. The military supposedly exists for our security – and yet the threat of a coming water crisis has been practically ignored. Climate scientists warn that as climate change worsens, droughts will become more frequent and more severe, even in regions that had seen abundance of water. Water is the cornerstone of all life on earth, so as water scarcity worsens, it will take the forefront of geopolitical issues as the century progresses. A couple years ago, the World Economic Forum confirmed this, placing the probability of future wars being fought over water sources at 95%.


photo by Nickie Sekera

We need to invest in public water infrastructure now, so that corporations don’t have their hand on the tap nor the excuse to drag us into an overseas war over water.

While corporate media and the mainstream of environmentalism insist that the solution to climate change can be achieved with consumer choices and electing milquetoast reformers, the real culprits go without any accountability.

Imperialism is costly in all respects.

It detracts from what could be invested in healthcare, education, environmental protection and social services. It subjugates, traumatizes, exploits, and robs self determination from people across the world, for little more than political utility and economic gain for corporations.

photo by Peter Woodruff

Its drain on resources and massive pollution condemns future generations to a future of resource scarcity.

We need to end the military-industrial complex, and reconsider what it means to be a patriot. 

— Luke Sekera Flanders, Community Water Justice

All banners by the Artists’ Rapid Response Team of the Maine Union of Visual Artists.

9/11 Is But One Piece Of The Puzzle

A visual comparison of deaths at the World Trade Center and deaths from the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus and its variants.

Unlike today’s students being preyed upon by military recruiters counting on manufactured patriotism — patriotism on steroids since the unfortunate events of 9/11 — I was there. No, not in NYC, or Washington DC, or even in Maine where one of the alleged masterminds of the alleged takedown of the twin towers in lower Manhattan boarded his first plane.

I was in California, on my way to work, with a preteen child in the car — one whose sense of security was demolished on Sep. 11, 2001.

A few years later I was back in Maine trying to count the flags that had sprung up everywhere (too many to count in a car traveling 45 mph).

Some things are best understood in retrospect.

That nearly 3,000 “Americans” (27 were actually foreign nationals) died in the World Trade Center was a fact repeated as often as the videos of both towers collapsing. Oh, and WTC Building 7 which collapsed 8 hours later. This magnitude of death was the pretext for going to war on Afghanistan which allegedly harbored the Saudi masterminds of the terrorist attack. Except it was Pakistan doing the harboring. But they have nuclear weapons, don’t they?

The main things that 9/11 provided were an enormous spectacle to justify the endlessly profitable wars of imperial expansion for the U.S., sometimes doing business as NATO.  (If you wonder what NATO is doing in Australia since that’s about as far from North Atlantic as you can get, maybe read blogger Caitlin Johnstone.)

The other signficant thing that 9/11 provided cover for was the 300 page so-called Patriot Act which gutted constitutional rights of citizens and terrorists alike. Swiftly gutted them, and created the Department of Homeland Security and created ICE — both of which we had gotten along without prior to 9/11.

A lot of torture happened after 9/11. No, not the torture of being an Afghan or Pakistani child trying to sleep while surveillance robots droned overhead 24/7 waiting to unleash their Hellfire missiles on your home. Torture in secret prisons and in the gulag known as Guantánamo which is on Cuba’s territory without their consent.

Torture that resulted in persecution of torture whistleblowers

Torture of Chelsea Manning for refusing to reveal how she shared evidence of U.S. war crimes. 

Torture of Julian Assange for sharing evidence of U.S. and allied forces’ war crimes and dirty financial dealings. 

Almost torture of Edward Snowden for revealing the spying that digital technology and security state overreach have made ubiquitous. He lives in exile in Moscow now, with his young family, still trying to warn us about how to protect ourselves from the “security” state.

9/11 was used to justify war on Iraq via lies that Saddam Hussein had something to do with it. 

Source: Brown University, Watson Institute, Costs of War Project

9/11 was used to drive fossil fuel consumption and thus climate crisis.

9/11 was used to justify war on people in Syria. And Yemen. And Somalia. 

9/11 was used to consolidate U.S. government support of Israel’s human rights violations and war crimes against Palestinians.

Source: The Daily Times “Eagleton fifth-graders study 9/11” Sep. 10, 2016 

9/11 was used to produce a lot of canned curriculum that teachers are told they must use to inform kids that are not upset about 9/11. 

Becuase they were not even born when it happened.

And really, how much should they care about 9/11? Their young lives have been upended by a public health disaster of far greater proportions, still rampaging out of control. This time the heroes they’re encouraged to worship aren’t in firefighter or military uniforms, they’re in scrubs and PPE.

What will this much larger disaster be used for?

The Greatest Health Threat We Face Today: War

Meredith Bruskin holding sign “WAR = CLIMATE CHAOS” (photo credit: Gigi Larc)

Approaching the 20th anniversary of the climate disaster cleverly titled the “War on Terror” — clever, because you’re never going to win a war against an abstract noun — I’m sharing some words of wisdom from a dear friend. 

Nurse practicioner Meredith Bruskin spoke on the theme “Climate is Health” at our protest of the Blue Angels air show climate crime last weekend in Brunswick. 

You can see video of her remarks if you prefer to receive information that way.

Mary Beth Sullivan & me with ARRT! banner and our Maine Natural Guard shirts
(photo credit: Gigi Larc)

Thank you Luke for speaking about the next generations, something that Indigenous People always consider. I would like to start by recognizing we are on Indigenous land. In addition to the Abenaki, the place we now call MaINE IS HOME TO THE SOVEREIGN PEOPLE OF THE WABANAKI CONFEDERACY, THE PENOBSCOT, PASSAMAQUODDY,, MALISEET AND MI’KMAQ PEOPLES. We live on their unceded homelands as they continue their struggle with the State of Maine to recognize their inherent sovereignty.

Their struggle is central to the health of all Maine’s people– because it is a fight for the rights of Mother Earth and for community, against State and corporate control and disregard of our natural resources. And I want to express gratitude for their dedicated stewardship of this land and waters, for past, present and future generations.

When Lisa asked me to talk about climate and health, it seemed simple — climate is health. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat — all essential for our physical health. And when toxins and carcinogens spill into the earth and waters in the interest of corporate profits, cancers increase. We all know that plastic is choking our fish and oceans, burying islands in the South Pacific and spilling into the rivers here in Maine, that lead is poisoning our eagles and our children and tainting our tapwater, and carbon dioxide is strangling the breath of the entire planet–and stoking the cycles of droughts and floods and extreme weather patterns that are traumatizing people around the globe.

Gigi Larc with ARRT! sandwich board (photo credit: Mary Beth Sullivan)

And the pursuit of endless war to increase the profits of our arms dealers and their investors, militarize this country internally, and prop up a fossil fuel economy an d a political system built on white supremacy that has brought us to this raging time, all have a terrible cost in mental health and spirit. Our worsening addiction crisis is no surprise. PTSD from Climate crisis and war are rampant; and we are still losing 18 veterans every day, to suicide.

Jason Rawn with a message for Blue Angels air show audience
(photo credit: Mary Beth Sullivan)

The greatest health threats we face today are war and the existential threat of nuclear war

either by accident or climate catastrophe or what I would call, insanity — and the risk of a climate disaster causing a nuclear meltdown is terribly real — I imagine folks in Louisiana understand that really well right now.

Every climate catastrophe causes illness, stress that affects our immune systems, trauma, displacement and increased pollution of our land and waters that in turn causes an increase in illness and lowers life expectancy. And we know the connection to the unequal burden of both climate change and militarism on people of color, indigenous peoples, and the poor.

This pandemic gives us a clear view of the effect on health of the deep inequality in our society. We CAN afford healthcare for all our citizens. It would actually save us money to have a Medicare for All system, and it would save thousands of lives yearly as well. Surely, the money spent on displays promoting the military like the Blue Angels could be a hefty down payment for maternal healthcare, and to support Women’s Right to Choose! — let alone that just half of the Pentagon’s budget could wipe out hunger nationwide.

Recently about 50 people, activists like us, walked in Asheville, North Carolina to protest Raytheon — the second largest arms manufacturer world wide — relocating part of its manufacturing to North Carolina for cheaper labor, in a “military” supporter state.

Speaking out about military spending and the effect this will have on the climate crisis, one of the protestors, Steve Norris said: ” This is local resistance to a national disease.”

Exactly. We each do whatever we can to choose health over the disease of power by wealth and the war and disaster economy that supports it. Despite the fire raging, we continue. That is what we do. Just like the healthcare workers who are currently risking their lives and exhausting their spirits in their work caring for people in this pandemic, likely a virus very connected to the climate crisis. Just as the indigenous and environmental activists at Line 3 and at pipeline sites around the world who risk arrest and beatings–and in some cases, their lives, continue–so do we.

We will not let them glorify destruction in our name without speaking out.

And every time we speak the truth, we shore up our immune systems and together, share that strength. Despite . Thanks for being here.

I would like to read a poem I dedicate to all of you, called “Despite”…

Cold crisp day, close to breaking

wafer thin , lifted gently

from its lair between tissues

of time : what was, what will be.

And it will. Filled with sky as

translucent as breath

and just as new, these mountains

shared with all their valleys

and companions, oh the friends

that walk with us along the way!

Rich as rain after a long dry time,

as a fire, on a cold winter night.

For this, beloved, I sing my song.

This is the light

that the heart carries.

Despite. Despite.

— Meredith Bruskin, Swanville

Despite a large turnout and great speeches like Meredith’s, there was very little media coverage of our protest of the Blue Angels air show. This despite advance press releases and follow up calls.

You can read Sam Pfeifle’s analysis of this news blackout here, published by Maine Beacon

Notable exception: C. Thacher Carter in the Times Record who phoned me after the event. His article covering the air show also appeared in the Portland Press Herald, Lewiston Sun Journal, Kennebec Journal, and Waterville Morning Sentinel (all papers with the same owner).

Want More Jobs In Maine? Stop Building Warships

We are often told here in Maine that Bath Iron Works, our shipyard owned by war industry behemoth General Dynamics, can only build warships because “jobs.”

The implication that only Pentagon contracts can provide jobs at union wages with benefits is false. But war contracting is insanely profitable, so the politicians owned by the war industry make sure to also repeat this false talking point.

Maine’s congressional delegation knows that building a roster of useful things at BIW would actually produce more good, union jobs than building warships does. 

Far more, in fact.

They know because for years their constituents have been sharing economists’ research demonstrating this fact. And they know because, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, BIW actually did this.

Below is my op-ed on actual conversion to building for healthcare, published in the Bangor Daily News June 7, 2020 :

Bath Iron Works leads the way in conversion to peaceful production

Last month, a milestone was reached. No, not the 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, though it is related to that sobering statistic. Rather, it’s that heritage shipyard Bath Iron Works has taken its first step in a conversion to building valuable tools for humanity instead of weapons of war.

Specifically, in response to a pandemic that has infected more than 6 million people, BIW is manufacturing machines needed to produce nasal swabs used for testing. These nasal swabs are a specialized diagnostic tool, and shortages due to limited manufacturing have led to headlines like, “ Many nursing homes still haven’t tested any residents or staff for the coronavirus.”

Even better, several of BIW’s subcontractors are also contributing to the effort to make these essential items for protecting the public’s health.

As part of a coalition that for years has called on BIW’s owner, General Dynamics, to convert the shipyard to producing solutions to the climate crisis rather than weapon systems that contribute to it, I am greatly encouraged by this news. What’s more, we now have a blueprint for how BIW can continue to provide great union jobs, while no longer creating war ships that are increasingly irrelevant and costly.First, there must be a clear and pressing problem and sophisticated manufacturing tasks that address it. Certainly, COVID-19 fits the bill; the machines are for customer Puritan Medical Group in Guildford, one of only two facilities in the world that had been making the sophisticated swabs (the other is in Italy) necessary for accurate testing. So, too, does the climate crisis. Maine knows all too well how quickly our valuable fishing waters are warming and the increasing frequency of violent storms that knock out power and endanger lives. Only with increasingly smart renewable energy technology and considerable changes in behavior can we hope to avert increasing disaster.

Second, there must be political will to address the problem. In this case, Puritan chief financial officer reports that Sen. Angus King and other government officials called on Puritan to increase capacity to address the testing deficit. For the climate crisis, as many as 60 percent of registered voters are in support of a Green New Deal — BIW and our elected officials both must take heed of the people’s will.

Third, BIW needs monetary incentives. In this case, the speed and efficiency with which management used federal funding available under the CARES Act is astonishing and impressive. And yet the $75.5 million funded through the Defense Production Act is a pittance in comparison with the multiple billions needed to create Navy destroyers. Think of what that kind of cash infusion could do for the renewable energy industry.

Finally, there is the need for collaboration. While we have often heard how difficult conversion would be, given all of the subcontractors and partners involved, it appears BIW has managed to collaborate with more than 10 other Maine businesses in a matter of weeks. This is both incredibly impressive and exhilarating, as it suggests so much potential for addressing the climate crisis in collective fashion.

When Bath Iron Works remained open to continue building war ships during a global pandemic, it was clear our priorities were badly misplaced. Claiming that building yet another war ship is an “essential” business, when we already have more destroyers than all the other navies in the world combined, is the kind of poor thinking that has characterized the executive branch of the federal government during this crisis.

But maybe we have finally turned a corner. It’s now clear the conversion of BIW to peaceful production is entirely possible, as this rapid shift to address a critical medical shortage shows. And it need not come at the expense of good union jobs. On the contrary, economists’ research has demonstrated time and again that building weapon systems is a poor jobs program in terms of the number of jobs generated. Their estimates show converting BIW to produce clean energy systems instead of war ships would generate roughly 50 percent more jobs — with the same investment — than the 6,000 employed before the pandemic.

A demilitarized Green New Deal is the obvious course forward for a country full of workers desperate for good jobs. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Lisa Savage is an Independent Green candidate for U.S. Senate.

Polluting Isn’t Patriotic And Real Angels Don’t Drop Bombs

The Navy’s Blue Angels are major polluters who generate around 800,000 tons of CO2 when they put on an airshow. 


Photo credit (including whole group pic): Ellen Davidson

Sixty people from ages 94 to 1 turned out to protest yesterday in Brunswick, Maine, lining the streets as hundred of cars bumper to bumper crept by.


Photo credit: Ellen Davidson

Luke Sekera-Flanders of Community Water Justice was our MC and spoke forcefully on the mandatory patriotism he has experienced growing up and attending public schools in Maine.

Photo credit: Ellen Davidson

The recent high school graduate also shared the costs to climate of the U.S.’s vast military empire.

Photo credit: Gigi Larc

Bruce Gagnon of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space spoke about the menacing presence of US military aircraft in countries around the world, and shared that Brunswick resident Jean Parker’s sliding glass door shattered on Friday as the Blue Angels did their practice runs prior to the air show.

I spoke on behalf of the Maine Natural Guard urging people to take the pledge to help their neighbors connect the dots between climate crisis and Pentagon greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo credit: Ellen Davidson

Information on this has been controlled because military emissions are usually omitted from national reporting by the US. Urged people to sign on to demands that COP26 in Glasgow this fall include military emissions in the agreement that nations negotiate there.

Photo credit: Gigi Larc

Meredith Bruskin of Swanville spoke from a public health nurse perspective on the effects of climate crisis on our physical, mental, and spiritual health. And of militarism’s damage to our spiritual well-being.

Photo credit: Ellen Davidson

VFP national Executive Director Garret Reppenhagen who has recently moved to Lincolnville, Maine spoke about enlisting to go to Iraq for economic reasons after his veteran father passed away. He decried the glorification of war via air shows that lure unsuspecting youth into signing away years of their life and possibly experiencing trauma they never recover from.

Photo credit: Ellen Davidson

Tarak Kauff from New York spoke about the Pentagon’s environmental harms and the militarized culture we live in.

Photo credit: Ellen Davidson

The IDEAL Maine Social Aid & Sanctuary Band showed up and energized the crowd with several rousing numbers including a singalong of classic antiwar anthem “Down by the Riverside.”

Photo credit: Ellen Davidson

Flyers on climate & militarism were handed through many car windows by Veteran for Peace members including Doug Rawlings, co-founder of VFP which originated in Maine.

Banners created by the Artists’ Rapid Response Team (ARRT!) of the Union of Maine Visual Artists were highly visible to passing motorists.

Photo credit: Gigi Larc

My husband Mark Roman was spotted in his Maine Natural Guard t-shirt in downtown Brunswick later in the day by a woman who noted that there was a big protest at the air show today. She shared that her mother had made a sign for the occasion: Polluting Isn’t Patriotic.

Our protest was also included in the local newspaper Times Record’s reporting on the air show by C. Thacher Carter:

The Blue Angel performances also drew a crowd of roughly 60 protestors, who spoke out against the environmental impact of the Blue Angel performance. Protestors stood near the main gate at the corner of Bath Road and Admiral Fitch Avenue late Saturday morning.

Lisa Savage, founding member of Maine Natural Guard and 2020 U.S. Senate Independent Green candidate, was one of the protestors present. The Maine Natural Guard is an organization that examines the Pentagon’s use of fossil fuels and its impact on climate change.

“This protest was to point out that the carbon footprint of an airshow like this, the Blue Angels, is huge and putting a lot, a lot of carbon in the air,” Savage said. “To be burning jet fuel for entertainment is probably not a great approach to mitigating the effects of the climate change on the ability of this planet to sustain our life.”

Savage said that the group also has the point of view that the airshows are recruiting events to encourage enlistment and that there are 140 nations that consume less fuel than the Pentagon does in a year.

Videographer Martha Spiess was on hand for Peace Action Maine and I will share her documentation of this great event soon.

Uncivil War Over COVID Response Gaining Momentum & Distracting Us From The Real Villains

A tremendous amount of debate is apparent around the convergence of two themes I’ve posted about recently on this blog: “Divided We Fall May Be COVID’s Underlying Purpose” and “Revolution Needed, So Our Corporate Overlords Are Fanning The Flames For Civil War.

Just yesterday I saw this post from a friend on Facebook:

He was making reference to the many people posting sentiments like “Let the unvaccinated die at home rather than taking up an ICU bed when they catch COVID.” Besides the creepy tone of wishing death on others, my first thought was that it would include all children under 12. Wow.


The same source shared an excellent article on medical ethics by Dr. Jay Baruch: “It’s easy to judge the unvaccinated. As a doctor, I see a better alternative.


Dr. Baruch points out that when people ask him how he can provide care to a COVID patient who is unvaccinated, it’s analogous to asking how he could treat a drunk driver for injuries, or a burn victim who lit a cigarette while on oxygen for emphysema.


Touché.


But nearly every COVID response has been politicized to the nth degree in order to drive us ever further from common ground. 


Whether to mask, whether to vax, whether to distance, or open schools, or mandate public health measures in public places like schools — all are subject to hysterical name calling aimed at opponents and coming from both sides of any of these issues.

I’ll stop with the examples now. Compiling them all would require several websites.


My friend Pat Taub who has a background in group facilitation wrote a letter to the editor that was published this week by Maine’s biggest daily paper: “Creating listening circles to heal our divisions.” An excerpt:

I wish the media would stop reporting on the deepening clashes between the vaccinated and the anti-vaccinated as if it were a fait accompli, rather than suggesting ways to heal this division.

The vaccinated look down on the unvaccinated as irresponsible because they fail to consider that being unvaccinated means, if they get COVID, that they also can infect others and spread the virus. The unvaccinated feel that government-mandated vaccinations are an infringement on their personal freedom. Others opposed don’t trust the vaccines or believe in their efficacy.

These divisions, which are becoming increasingly violent, are distracting us from coming together to build strong communities. We are lacking in mutual understanding.

To bridge this gap, I suggest local listening projects, where individuals representing opposing views meet in a supportive environment led by a moderator experienced in communication skills. Schools, churches, synagogues and libraries are logical settings. The listening groups would be composed of pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination volunteers.

Seven of the eight comments on her letter expressed contempt for the idea of listening to the other side. Only one affirmed her diagnosis while suggesting an alternative cure:

Meanwhile, teachers and college instructors heading back to the classroom right now are sounding a note of desperation about keeping themselves and their families safe in the face of the highly infectious Delta variant. 

An example from Dalton State College in Georgia:


I just retired from teaching and I’m about to turn down two invitations to volunteer because the part of Maine I live in isn’t all that different from Georgia. With an older husband who already has respiratory issues, it’s not a gamble I feel like I can take to be indoors among unvaxxed or unmasked adults.

I’m disappointed in people’s choices, but I’m going to keep listening. 

I’m not going to wish them dead. 

We’re Still Bombing Afghans = The War Is Not Over

Imagine for a moment that you’re a person who loves a little child who was killed by aerial bombing, burnt to a crisp, by the U.S. military. It could be 1945, 1950, 1969, 1995, or pretty much any year in the 21st century.

Malika Ahmadi, two, died in a U.S. drone strike on Kabul today, her family says. Has the war of 20 years cost us the ability to care?” Source: David Swanson, Pressenza

Now imagine that it just happened yesterday. And that the U.S. corporate press is proclaiming that the war they’ve been waging for decades on your country is “over.”

That the U.S. corporate press lies for a living — right out in the open — makes no difference to you in your grief.

It mostly makes a difference to the taxpayers and voters of the country thousands of miles away where citizen are sold horseshit like, “We’ve got to fight terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”

The lies that sell wars and buy elected officials use bogus concepts and slogans like “The war on terror” to incite fear and make compliance much easier than opposition.

A few people will go on social media platforms that are heavily censored in favor of corporate rule to express the truth laced with dark humor.

The U.S. has bombed little children to death under alternating Democratic and Republican administrations my entire life. 

It began bombing Afghan children following the unfortunate events of 9/11 in 2001 after a speech by then President George W. Bush proclaimed that “their harbors” would no longer be safe. (Note: Afghanistan is a land-locked country with no harbors.)

The current Democratic administration has announced that it will continue using flying killer robots to bomb Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. (It’s also drone bombing Somalia, and plenty of other places, at will.) 

“Enough is enough,” Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement. “For more than ten years, our government’s drone strikes have killed thousands of innocent people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere in the Muslim world—destroying family homes, wedding parties, and even funeral processions. The civilian casualties in Kabul are simply the latest victims of this misused technology.”

Source: https://scheerpost.com/2021/08/30/demand-for-moratorium-on-drone-warfare-follows-latest-u-s-killing-of-afghan-civilians

Besides the warped views about war sold constantly over corporate airwaves, why is there a steady supply of men and women willing to remotely bomb children in Afghanistan?

Because after young people turned against the military draft for the war on Vietnam, U.S. corporate interests have made damn sure that the poverty draft continues blowing a steady gale force.

With no money for college and no money for dental care and no money for rent, food, and car expenses many young people in the U.S. feel they have no choice but to enlist. The poorer the state — like my home, Maine — the harder the poverty draft blows.

But some folks prospered during the 20 year war that’s still not over.

(Feel like finding out how much war profiteers donated to the campaign coffers of your elected officials that refuse to actually end the war on terror? You can look it up here on OpenSecrets.org).

Water For Life, Not For Profit Theme Unauthorized At Maine’s Bicentennial Parade

Lead organizer Luke Sekera-Flanders and educator Jake Kulaw carry a water defense banner in Lewiston Aug 21, 2021 created for Community Water Justice by the Artists Rapid Response Team (ARRT!). Photo credit: Nickie Sekera


A breathtakingly hot bicentennial celebration parade saw 100+ vehicles belching CO2 into the atmosphere as it wound its way from Auburn to twin city Lewiston yesterday in Maine.


Bringing up the rear was Community Water Justice walking entry “Bicentennial B-roll: The Villagers vs. The Pillagers!” (There were good banners in need of carrying, so I decided to leave my pitchfork in the car.)


It was a parade dominated by the corporate entities who treat Maine as a resource extraction colony: among them Poland Springs, the odious Central Maine Power, and Casella waste “management” i.e. trucking in construction debris from away and incinerating it as Maine-sourced waste.


We were an unauthorized entry to the parade and police twice ordered us out of the street, which we ignored. (Yes, white people can get away with that.)


Many people clapped and cheered our message, and twice at different points on the parade route someone shouted, “They saved the best for last!” As police tried to shoo us away the audience shouted, “Let them march!”
Besides our banners we wore or carried Stolen Spring logos, Maine Natural Guard, and “God bless the corporations for giving us candidates.”

photo credit: Nickie Sekera

Getting press coverage was the usual struggle (one sentence in the Lewiston Sun Journal, crickets elsewhere) but Luke was well-prepared with a press release. An excerpt:


The parade…is sponsored by many of Maine’s worst environmental offenders, including Poland Spring (who is the headline sponsor), Casella, and Central Maine Power. Nestle recently sold Poland Spring to a pair of private equity firms now operating as BlueTriton Brands, playing Wall Street games with our water sources. These companies’ sponsorship of the bicentennial celebrations showcases the State of Maine’s relationship with these polluting corporations, and presents a great opportunity to show solidarity in our collective struggle for a healthier future. While many residents are aware of individual issues such as the CMP Corridor, industrial fish farms, Casella, Metallic Mining or Poland Spring bottled water, they are not aware of the larger context – that Maine’s environment is the target of exploitative international private interests.

Beyond being detrimental to Maine’s long-term economic, environmental and social stability, 

these corporations’ presence in Maine is contradictory to any reasonable path to mitigating the effects of harmful changes in our climate. 

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report, revealing that the key window for action to prevent the worst effects of climate change is within the next decade. Its findings confirm what Indigenous and environmental activists have been saying for decades – unless we dramatically reduce carbon emissions and pollution, we will face the consequences. 


The purpose of this action is to engage the public with the reality and urgency of Maine’s position as an object of corporate hyperfocus, and elevate the struggles for Indigenous sovereignty, water security, and environmental health into the public eye.


Indigenous sovereignty might save us if we listen in time. How much indigenous wisdom was evident at this celebration of Maine’s statehood? None that I saw besides our messaging. I know that Penobscot elders were holding a water ceremony that day, and also that former chief Barry Dana regards the bicentennial as a celebration of the long colonial genocide on Native people of the region.

When I was a small child in Maine it seldom got hot enough for swimming, according to my California girl mother. Yesterday in Lewiston-Auburn it was a 89 degrees and very humid. 


But why worry about all the carbon-belching parade vehicles and the lead sponsorship by Poland Spring, formerly owned by the multinational water extractor Nestle. 


The banner Luke carried had been modified to reflect that private equity water investors doing business as Blue Triton now own Poland Springs water extraction sites in Maine. What could go wrong? 

Health Care Workers Who Won’t Get COVID Vax To Be Out Of A Job In Maine

My status updates on spybook seldom get much attention, but lately almost anything about COVID choices gets a lot of comments and clicks (and a gratuitous offer of COVID information I can trust? I’ll pass.) 

Yesterday I had a mildly shocking experience receiving health care and I posted this:

The context here in Maine is that our governor has given health care workers notice that, unless they are vaccinated, they will have to stop working in health care. 

If you think this should be a foregone conclusion, you haven’t been paying attention.

There have already been two protests in Maine cities with hundreds of health care workers marching for their right to get up close and personal to administer health care without being vaccinated.

I have persistently shared my theory that the underlying purpose of COVID was to divide the 99% against one another so that the 1% can continue their reign of austerity for us and obscene wealth for them. That, too, has gotten a lot of clicks and shares so it will probably be taken down as misinformation soon (read it here while you can).

Many of the comments I cannot agree with, but I let the debates rage on because

I’m genuinely curious to know how other people understand this health crisis and the optimum ways to respond.

Both right wingers and liberals tend to be really nasty with the name-calling, insults, and generalized lack of respect for other people. I think that’s sad and I never “like” that kind of language. Every genocide and civil war begins with dehumanizing language aimed at “others.”

I am reminded of a theory I encountered recently: holding demonstrably false ideas in public is a way of signaling loyalty to your group, thus conferring an evolutionary advantage. If true, this explains a lot. Especially how 45 became more popular with his fan base for tweeting lies that everyone knew were lies. If you want to check out this theory, you can read about it here.

A ubiquitous comment from both sides wonders how the others could be so stupid.

This is an ableist comment unless what they really mean is ignorant. No, stupid and ignorant aren’t synonyms. One means unable to use reasoning well and the other means lacking information. People with developmental delays in cognition are not uneducated but they are differently abled. As for what happened with public education in the U.S., don’t get me started.

An anecdote from pre-COVID days:

I once learned how to use an app for making online quizzes. Another learner and I took a sample quiz where one of the math questions depended on knowing the order of operations i.e. PEMDAS. The other learner doubted the answer and it bugged them enough that they brought it up to me later. I explained why I thought it was the right answer using PEMDAS and then added, “______ was a math major and is our IT director so I’m pretty sure if he and I disagree about the answer to a math problem, he’s gonna be correct.” I could tell that this did not resolve the other learner’s skepticism. They trusted my answer — I was a literacy coach — more than his! Possibly because they had a closer relationship with me than with the IT director? Who really knows.

Distrust of experts — even in an education setting — has been with us for a while.

And it can be deadly. 

Maine legislator Rep. Chris Johansen continues to go into crowds unmasked and to fight vaccines and masking requirements for large gatherings despite the fact that both he and his wife contracted COVID. His wife died.

Then there’s the fact that the No Child Behind Act, passed with bipartisan support during George W. Bush’s adminstration, took an ax to both science and social studies education. It did this by preferencing reading and math for the test-and-punish regime that enriched for-profit testing corporations. Science clawed its way back via STEM and other intitiatives from the outside world, but much damage had  been done. And social studies has never really recovered. 

That explains a lot, too, doesn’t it? It’s clear how even many elected officials really don’t know the structures of government or understand their role in that structure. Once big money controlled all three branches of government at the federal level, and many if not all state legislatures, the old civics lesson on “how a bill becomes a law” became a lie anyway.

It would probably be elitist of me to point out that it isn’t doctors or registered nurses (RN) refusing to get vaccinated for the most part. 

Here in Maine it’s the much less educated health care providers who are the refuseniks e.g. certified nursing assistants (CNAs), lab technicians, hospital kitchen workers, group home attendants, and the like.

My sister works at the leading research hospital in northern California as an RN and has for years. I value her information and advice because so far it has been ahead of the curve i.e. the intel that she passes on from the epidemiologists at her hospital anticipates what eventually the CDC gets around to recommending. I’m guessing this is because UCSF researchers care about health rather than about commerce, while the CDC must serve two masters.

Meanwhile, every school district in Maine — and there are a lot of them — has been thrown to the wolves to hold the line for science amid shouts, threats, and jeers of uneducated and/or ignorant parents.

Then there’s the big picture context.

Source: https://twitter.com/OpinionatedLab/status/1426296638654619648

Lies are the currency of the day. Big lies, ones that can kill you.

Well, after all this gloom and doom I feel moved to end on a lighter note. No idea who created this gem:

Source: https://www.facebook.com/snarkavenue/photos/a.397515703684731/3517531905016413/

Revolution Needed, So Our Corporate Overlords Are Fanning The Flames For Second Civil War

 One of President Obama’s many rewards for enriching banksters at the taxpayers’ expense was this summer “cottage” on Martha’s Vineyard.


Why do we need a revolution, you say? 

In rough order of priority:

o Global climate crisis driven by capitalism is spiraling out of control and the window to walk us back from catastrophe is rapidly closing.

o Global pandemic has killed millions and appears headed to kill millions more with a system of medical apartheid and for-profit medicine in the U.S. and other non-socialist countries.

Eviction crisis on top of already galloping homelessness not only creates trauma for millions but is a big factor in the spread of COVID.

Military spending and weapons systems surging — including building nuclear weapons, illegal under international law because they could easily end human life if used.

Incarceration for profit in the U.S. and to impoverish and disenfranchise Black, indigenous, and people of color is growing worse and was already at crisis levels. Racist policing continues at crisis levels but is now more visible due to cell phone videos.

o Student debt continues to depress the prospects of entire generations.

o Minimum wage is now about 1/3 of what an actual living wage should be in 2021, especially because of rapid, ongoing inflation of the cost of housing.

o Child care and public education continue to be underfunded in the face of immense unmet needs.

How are our corporate overlords fanning the flames for a second Civil War?

Charlottesville, Virginia “Unite the Right” rally August, 2017 

In roughly chronological order:

o Propaganda rather than useful information sharing is the norm across the spectrum of corporate-owned “news” outlets, from Fox News to CNN. The steady erosion of reliability in sourcing information is the work of corporate media and corporate social media that censors on behalf of the ruling class.

o White supremacy is in a desperate fight to remain in control, and numerous militias and other types of organizations have responded to perceived and real threats including the removal of Confederate statues and flags. Also, attacks on Black Lives Matter protesters, including killing them by running them down with cars (a practice that a few states have legalized) and targeting them for assassination.

o Law enforcement complicit in white supremacist movement, and armed to the teeth with cast off military equipment shared by the Pentagon.

o Widespread misinformation about public health protocols including vaccines, masking, and distancing and robust media coverage of refuseniks.

o Absence of national leadership on ending the pandemic leaving states, towns, and school boards to fend for themselves in the face of angry mobs. We are entering the third school year in a row pitting neighbors against neighbors and parents against school administration.

What can we in the U.S. do to bring on revolution rather than a second civil war?

In no particular order:

o Don’t fall for divisive tactics. For example, consider the possiblity that “divided we fall” “may be COVID’s underlying purpose.

o Look and listen beneath the surface of false dichotomies.

o Don’t demonize each other just because we disagree. People with ideas that seem wrong and dangerous may have PTSD from traumas. They may be experiencing hunger, bankruptcy, or lack of medical care. They may only have access to really poor information or outright disinformation. Don’t write human beings off even if you loathe their ideas. 

o Free your mind and the rest will follow. Do your own thinking, take in new information, and be willing to rethink your beliefs. Put another way, don’t mistake narratives for truth. Even this one.

Empire In Search Of Graveyard Signals Faux Concern For Afghan Women

Reposting this because nothing substantive has changed as the U.S. sneaks troops out under cover of night, but vows to keep on bombing women and children in Afghanistan.

Source: “The War In Afghanistan Is Bad Politics And Bad Foreign Policy” Defense One  October 7, 2018

One of the few good things the Trump administration did in office was enter into the Doha pact to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. They did so by negotiating with the odious Taliban, insurgents riding on religious extremism in their quest to rid their country of foreign invaders. 

Now the Biden administration is signalling that the May 1 withdrawal date is a non-starter. No surprises there: challenging China is unlikely to include abandoning military outposts right on their border. 

Biden et al. are also signalling their deep concern for the well-being of Afghan women. Because decades of military occupation have made Afghanistan literally the worst place on the planet to be female. Wait…

Source: “Once Upon a Time In Afghanistan” by Mohammad Qayoumi in Foreign Policy 


For those with a historical perspective, memories of Afghan women attending universities and working as professionals under a Soviet-sponsored regime endure. The proxy war between the U.S.-sponsored mujahadeen and the Soviet-Afghan government in the 1990’s began to erode quality of life for women and girls who were bombed, forced to flee as refugees, and trafficked for sex. Repression of women’s rights under the pretext of Islamic law was the icing on that particular cake.

The CIA has actually been bragging on Twitter lately about supporting the mujahadeen “freedom fighters” against the USSR.

As we know by know, the CIA has spent decades arming militias around the planet in order to topple governments that are resistant to capitalist exploitation by the U.S. and its allies. They used to do this covertly, but in the declining days of empire, chest thumping displays of prowess are in order I guess.

Predictably, the corporate press have chimed in to manufacture consent for continuing the U.S.’s longest war.

Because, really, things have been going so well in Afghanistan under military occupation. Maybe the U.S. should just stay because deciding to withdraw could be “complicated” right?

From an Associated Press article dated April 8:

Afghanistan, a country in turmoil, has been trying to inoculate millions of children against polio but the recent killing of three female vaccinators has put the country’s campaign in doubt. However, brave women of the country remain determined to continue efforts in the face of danger and violence.

Unknown gunmen shot vaccination workers at two separate locations in the eastern city of Jalalabad on March 30 killing two volunteers and one supervisor in the polio immunization program, all of them women, as they carried out door-to-door vaccinations.

That’s right. Afghanistan is struggling after 20 years of military occupation, preceded by 10 years of civil war, preceded by 10 years of proxy war, to vaccinate for a disease eradicated in my childhood (and I am old). That’s how poor they are, and that’s how low quality of life has sunk on our watch. Life expectancy for Afghans born in the 21st century is less than 65, retirement age for those of us in the heart of the evil empire. 

Biden won’t get out of Afghanistan for the same reason Trump, Obama, and Bush didn’t: there’s plenty of good money to be made supplying the army with the tools of the trade, to quote Country Joe and the Fish. His gargantuan $715 billion “defense” budget request exceeds that of Trump by an inflation index and will no doubt pass with little debate and bipartisan fealty from the corporate flunkies in Congress.

A nation enduring a pandemic without universal health care, in which 25% of brown and Black children experience hunger each week, with millions literally unhoused, is in a very insecure position. Imperial expansion will not remedy what ails us, but most dying empires continue trying to expand right up to the moment when they hit the wall. Often, in Afghanistan.

Pentagon Cares About Climate Change, For All The Wrong Reasons

There is so much to unpack in this boneheaded article from online rag Defense One that it’s hard to know where to begin: “Climate Change Is Already Disrupting the Military. It Will Get Worse, Officials Say.

The good news: the Pentagon has noticed that climate change is a thing

The bad news: the Pentagon is taking minimal responsibility for contributing to it, instead mostly just planning for how to mitigate changes that will be forced upon them. 

The good news: they’re planning for changes like providing more help to fight forest fires.

The bad news: they’re planning for providing more storm troopers to beat up, tear gas, pepper spray, and LRAD protesters when militarized police forces in U.S. cities want more boots on the ground. 

Pentagon brass quoted in the article also see this as bad news, but for a different reason: soldiers “aren’t doing the sort of warfighter training that they need to do.”

Police wearing riot gear try to disperse a crowd Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. You know, a crowd protesting that unarmed teenafer Michael Brown had been gunned down by police and left to die in the street. Source: Business Insider, AP Photo / Jeff Roberson

Really? It seems like urban warfare against people defending their right to life in their own neighborhoods will be one of the few things left for human warfighters to do in the 21st century. It won’t take that many of them to press the buttons activating killer robots in the air, on land, or sea.

One of the hallmarks of what is passed off as journalism under late stage capitalism is claiming to ask hard questions while actually producing a puff piece.

(A sampling of the featured articles in this issue can be seen above.) Producing “analysis” that is devoid of context is a specialty, as is presenting as fait accompli various ghastly decisions and programs that are highly profitable to the already wealthy (e.g. missile “defense”).

In its publisher’s own words: “Defense One is a portfolio brand of GovExec, whose market-leading services help contractors support government leaders and their missions.”

For “missions” here read “quest to land a lucrative position following time spent posing as a government leader.”

So, absent a rigorous examination of how the Pentagon and its contractors are actually driving climate crisis, we’re invited to view the problem from the “defense” perspective.

For example:

In June, the International Military Council on Climate and Security released its second report on the impacts of climate change on issues such as governance and civil unrest across the globe. They surveyed experts from a variety of institutions…asking them how they expect various risk areas like biodiversity, water availability, and instability within nations to evolve over the next decade. The experts held a dim view.  

“Respondents expect a majority of risks will pose high to catastrophic levels of risk to security. [emphasis mine] Ten and 20 years from now, respondents expect very high levels of risk along nearly every type of climate security phenomena,” the report said.  

The experts concluded that the global governance system isn’t prepared for many of the risks. So, in part because of that lack of preparedness, more and more of the international response to climate-change-related issues will fall to men and women in uniform. [emphasis mine]

You can almost hear contractors like Microsoft and their top brass clients salivating over this prospect, can’t you? 

But not to worry. Technology will save the day! (Budgets go ka-ching.)

Unless it doesn’t.

The article ends on what I considered to be a hopeful note:

“…you’re making a decision based on the probability of occurrence, and that’s what you’re putting in. But what if you get it wrong? And what if you get it wrong with something that’s mission-critical?”

Mission-critical like crashing human life on this planet because you ignored the 100% probability that failing to count military emissions leads directly there? 

link to petition site

To: Participants in COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, Glasgow, Scotland, November 1-12, 2021

As a result of final-hour demands made by the U.S. government during negotiation of the 1997 Kyoto treaty, military greenhouse gas emissions were exempted from climate negotiations. That tradition has continued.

The 2015 Paris Agreement left cutting military greenhouse gas emissions to the discretion of individual nations.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, obliges signatories to publish annual greenhouse gas emissions, but military emissions reporting is voluntary and often not included.

NATO has acknowledged the problem but not created any specific requirements to address it.

There is no reasonable basis for this gaping loophole. War and war preparations are major greenhouse gas emitters. All greenhouse gas emissions need to be included in mandatory greenhouse gas emission reduction standards. There must be no more exception for military pollution.

We ask COP26 to set strict greenhouse gas emissions limits that make no exception for militarism, include transparent reporting requirements and independent verification, and do not rely on schemes to “offset” emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from a country’s overseas military bases must be fully reported and charged to that country, not the country where the base is located.

The Fire This Time


Nagasaki in August, 1945 Source: HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES

This month, a hot one in the Global North, is when we remember the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with two types of nuclear weapons. This month the old lies will be trotted out: the U.S. ended the war and saved countless (American soldiers’) lives by dropping these bombs. 

This month the old lies will be refuted — eloquently and with copious references by David Swanson in Hiroshima is a Lie among other places.

Anyone paying attention to WWII actual history rather than the History Channel (some say, Hitler Channel) version knows that Japan was about to surrender. And the U.S. government knew it. The unnecessary firepower was primarily intended as a show of strength to warn the U.S.S.R. that, with Nazi Germany defeated — primarily by the U.S.S.R. — the U.S. was the new bully on the block.

But firebombing cities full of civilians was nothing new in 1945. The U.S. had already burned up many cities in Japan and Germany. 

And burning civilians to death has continued as the signature act of aggression by U.S. forces.

Napalm was developed, a jellied form of petroleum, to burn Vietnamese jungles and people.

Drones were developed to deliver Hellfire missiles remotely without risk (other than debilitating moral injuries to last a lifetime) to the bombers.

White phosphorus was developed to burn on contact and keep burning deep into the flesh. It’s used extensively by Israel and the U.S. on civilian populations.

And now come global raging fires, a result of runaway military use of fossil fuels which is accelerating rather than abating in the face of climate emergency.

Source:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/07/apocalyptic-scenes-hit-greece-as-athens-besieged-by-fire?
Joseph Galanakis/Rex/Shutterstock

Greece is on fire, with ground temperatures beyond belief.

Oregon has gone almost two months without rain and is burning.

Just two examples out of many.

When will we stop burning up people, animals, fish, birds, and forests for profit?

When will we realize that to live by the sword of fire is to die by the sword of fire?

Respect to the environmental activists begging us to find a better way to live, throwing their spanners into the works of late stage capitalism.

Respect to the nuclear resistance activists begging us to realize that any further deployment of nuclear weaponry spells doom for humans as a species.

In the face of facts on the ground, why does the U.S. keep building nuclear weapon systems? For profit, of course. The revolving door between the Pentagon and military contractors guarantees that these deadly contracts keep rolling in. 


Source: https://jpegy.com/artsy/you-cannot-eat-money-33756

Indigenous wisdom is ignored at a time in history when listening and heeding could save us. 

Will we listen in time to save us from the fire this time?

Divided We Fall May Be COVID’s Underlying Purpose

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the SARS-CoV2 pandemic and vaccination drama has played out in the U.S., and why that might be. 

It’s pretty clear by now that the coronavirus with cutting edge gain of function capabilities was made in a lab in Wuhan, China and that this particular project was a collaboration between that country’s government and my own. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of our federal government’s response to the pandemic, was deeply involved.

Whether or not the virus leaked accidentally or was deliberately released will probably remain as murky as the truth about the unfortunate events of 9/11. 

No real inquiry will ever be conducted, and the misinformation swirling in “news” outlets, blogs, and social media platforms will continue to muddy the waters.

Certain bioweapons experts like Dr. Francis Boyle maintain that the accidental leak theory is likely. His reasoning: all bioweapons he’s studied have accidentally leaked, including Lyme Disease and West Nile virus.

But the history of U.S. development and deployment of bioweapons since the nation’s founding is both sordid and largely undisputed. So, there’s precedent for an intentional introduction of the virus. Also for the assertion that the vaccines themselves could be bioweapons.

I used to sort through 9/11 theories with an eye to the uses that were made of that event: perpetual occupation and theft of resources in the Middle East; severe restrictions on civil liberties formerly guaranteed by the Constitution; the creation of the odious Department of Homeland Security and its evil subsidiary ICE. So quickly were these changes instituted that it is barely plausible that the events of 9/11 were unexpected.

Now I’m sorting through COVID theories with a similar lens. Aside from the death of 4 million, accelerated wealth inequality, and the privatization of profits from vaccines developed largely at the public’s expense, what has been the most noticeable effect of the pandemic to date?

The division of formerly coherent communities, groups, coworkers, and families has been a very significant effect of COVID.

This would put the virus in a category with plenty of other features of 21st century life: 

  • robust, well-funded disinformation campaigns disseminated widely and constantly
  • promotion of the belief in false dichotomies (e.g. Democratic Party vs. Republican Party) 
  • deliberate fueling of conflicts between generations, genders, sexual orientations, education levels, and geographical groups.

To what purpose?

A recent observation by Australian blogger Caitlin Johnstone caught my eye.

Caitlin Johnstone on substack

As people lose faith in electoral politics to change anything, so the corporate media gin up the show of differences between the two flavors of oligarchy. But young people aren’t buying it. Most of them are too damn poor to believe that it makes a significant difference in their circumstances which color is sitting in the White House or Congress. The American Dream for these generations is to be able to move to a country with universal health care. On this basis, they envy Russia and China rather than fearing them.

Keen interest in socialism, communism, Marxist-Leninist theory, radical socialist feminism, and non-hiearchical cooperatives is evident from Gen Z through millenials. Capitalism is a dirty word. This undoubtedly worries those “winning” at capitalism (though how profits generated by destroying the planet as a viable biome for human beings can be seen as a “win” defies logic).

Some of the formerly coherent groups I’m aware of that are rendered asunder by the COVID vaccination controversy: nuclear families, extended families, organizations working for social change, dance troupes, schools and universities. Cousins gathered this summer based on who had, and had not, gotten the shot, and teens whose parents would not consent to their vaccination were excluded. Mask wearers inside stores were jeered at and hassled by mask refusers. Hospital workers went back to wearing N95 masks and goggles all day every day, seething with resentment at people who won’t pitch in for public health after an exhausting 16 months of pandemic life. 

It’s almost like the virus was designed to feed into the individualism on steroids that characterizes U.S. culture. 

And was deployed only after the immense disinformation mechanisms of mass media and social media were in place to cast serious doubt on the veracity of any and every fact.

Divided, we are most vulnerable to the depradations of our corporate overlords. 

EDITED July 29, 2021

A few things I wish I’d seen — or remembered — before writing about this yesterday. I’m likely to write about this topic again but I don’t have time right now, so I’ll include these as a postscrip here.

‘The Temptation Not To Question It’ — Daniel Hale, Drone Warfare Whistleblower

Afghanistan War veteran Daniel Hale pled guilty to revealing the truth about U.S. drone warfare on civilians. Although there’s no indication he shared what he knew with opposing forces, he wrote an anonymous chapter in the book The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program (Scahill et al., 2016) and provided documents to the lead author.

Hale later pled guilty to charges under the Espionage Act and will be sentenced today. 

Hale’s handwritten letter from prison explains his motivations for the choices that ruined his life and the lives of many others; it is full of eloquent wisdom. 

Some excerpts:

…I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden terrifying flurry of Hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain.

Since that time and to this day, I continue to recall several such scenes of graphic violence carried out from the cold comfort of a computer chair. 

Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification for my actions.

how could it be that any thinking person continued to believe that it was necessary for the protection of the United States of America to be in Afghanistan and killing people, not one of whom present was responsible for the September 11th attacks on our nation.

in spite of my better instincts, I continued to follow orders and obey my command for fear of repercussion. 

Yemen,  2014 from “Are US military drone strikes legal?” SBS Australia, 2014

Yet, all the while, becoming increasingly aware that the war had very little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors

contract mercenaries outnumbered uniform wearing soldiers 2-to-1 and earned as much as 10 times their salary. 

I was starting to wonder if I was contributing again to the problem of money and war by accepting to return as a defense contractor. Worse was my growing apprehension that everyone around me was also taking part in a collective delusion and denial that was used to justify our exorbitant salaries for comparatively easy labor. 

The thing I feared most at the time was the temptation not to question it.


Source: The Indypendent, 2021

I believe that any person either called upon or coerced to participate in war against their fellow man is promised to be exposed to some form of trauma. In that way, no soldier blessed to have returned home from war does so uninjured.

on that day, years after the fact, my new friends [gasped] and sneered, just as my old ones had, at the sight of faceless men in the final moments of their lives. I sat by watching too, said nothing, and felt my heart breaking into pieces.

Left to decide whether to act, I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. 

The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.

So I contacted an investigative reporter with whom I had had an established prior relationship and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.

Respectfully,

Daniel Hale

Masses Demand Medicare For All, The Most Broken Campaign Promise Of Democrats

Today the 600,000+ people in the U.S. who died from COVID won’t be marching for Medicare for All. 

Neither will many Democrats in Congress who campaigned on the most popular form of universal health care, a basic human right that people in the U.S. lack. 

My own congressperson Jared Golden co-sponsored M4A legislation last time around. Then he ran for re-election and took campaign contributions from big tech firms looking to expand into the for-profit health care sector. Guess who doesn’t support M4A anymore? His rationale: he’s heard from constituents that they want to keep their employer-sponsored healthcare. Really? Then why do Mainers call it the Unaffordable Care Act? 

Once you’ve been sick with your ACA mandated insurance you understand that Obama’s deal with the insurance industry to guarantee their profits had nothing to do with providing you with a reasonable standard of care.

The so-called squad of progressive Democrats came under fire this year from lefty organizers who wanted them to withhold their vote to re-elect Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi until she agreed to put M4A to a vote. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, formerly the darling of people who yearn to believe the Democratic Party serves people rather than corporations, has fallen from grace over the “Force the Vote” issue. Progressive types see her coddling Pelosi, whose wealth has grown by hundreds of millions in office, and whose husband just raked in $5 million in profits buying tech stocks Congress was about to regulate. 


giphy.gif

14.6 million people lost their health insurance during the pandemic. Pelosi’s response: continue enjoying the gold standard health care she has as a member of Congress while showing off her two refrigerators full of gelato. Together she and her husband have grown obscenely wealthy as she represented the interests of corporations rather than the people, and no one in the squad cares to oppose her. (Note: that’s why electing women doesn’t solve anything.)

Republicans are just as bad, but they’re more honest about it.

It’s clear that health care is a top priority for many voters. Inadequate insurance plus major illness is a leading cause of household bankruptcy and home foreclosures. Many of my friends are affluent enough in retirement to live in Mexico part of the year and receive their health care at affordable prices. Many of my friends are low income enough to be on MaineCare, a medicaid expansion program that applies to any children and some adults in my state. Many of my friends can only afford catastrophic health insurance because the premiums for comprehensive coverage are too high for the middle class to handle. 

That’s why Democrats continue to run on promising to support M4A. 

A slew of so-called progressive Democrats claimed they supported it while campaiging, and then backpedaled as soon as they were in office.

Thus the marches today in big cities across the nation. Also the widespread campaigns to bring single payer health care at the state level.

I’m involved with both Maine’s campaign to pressure Jared Golden to support M4A as well as the campaign to mandate that the legislature enact universal health care by a ballot initiative in 2022. And I support today’s rally in Portland which will hear from Jess Falero, an advocate for the unhoused who will eloquently share just how much it sucks to be without housing AND health care.

But here’s the reality as I see it: two things need to happen before the U.S. can achieve univeral coverage via M4A.

First, the Pentagon would have to be defunded to afford it. 

The reason we have warfare but not healthcare is that both are enormously expensive and members of Congress would rather keep their bread buttered than help their neighbors who are struggling. (Just yesterday the Senate voted to increase Biden’s $715 billion Pentagon budget by another $25 billion to keep the weapons industry lobbyists happy.)


source: https://www.mic.com/articles/167192/general-strike-feb-17-what-will-happen-if-activists-stage-a-nationwide-strike-against-trump

Second, the workers of this nation will need to stage a general strike. 

As we saw from the pandemic, their labor is essential to turning the profits demanded by capitalists. Only withholding that labor would exert enough pressure on our elected officials to bend to the will of the people. 

Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

Here’s hoping that today’s marches display the desperation people feel around health care in this country, and bring together organizers who can make it happen, without being coopted by the Democratic Party.

Apology To The Black Woman On The Path At Willard Beach

Photo: Soul Cap

Greetings to the Black woman I met on the path at Willard Beach in South Portland on Friday, July 16. Our brief encounter has stayed with me because I regret my choices and hope that by reflecting on them I can do better. 

This is a story about how intentions don’t matter nearly as much as impact matters.

It was late on a warm, muggy day when I arrived at the beach. My husband went ahead with two little grandkids eager to get on the playground after a long car ride. After reorganizing the car a bit I hurried to catch up with them and found my way to the path by the outdoor showers. It was wet and puddly and there were wild roses crowding it on both sides. Meant to be a two-way path, but only if both parties skirted the puddles in the center and scraped the edge of the roses.

I was about halfway up the path when I saw you at the other end. You had almost shoulder length curly dark hair and a blue print dress. I’m not sure how old I thought you were but definitely an adult and definitely younger than me.

I kept to my edge of the path and continued as you began walking toward me. When we were about six feet apart, skirting our respective edges around the puddles, I said, “Excuse me” in what I thought was a polite tone. I thought about stopping to let you pass but I didn’t. As you passed me you said distinctly but quietly, “She’s everywhere I go.” There was no one else nearby that you might have been talking to or about, though I suppose it’s possible you were on the phone talking into a bluetooth device I couldn’t see. My impression was that you were speaking both to me and about me.

Doing the work to examine my own racism within a system of enforced white supremacy that has benefited me for 64 years, I found these feelings: surprise that you spoke; hurt that my “excuse me” wasn’t viewed as the polite expression I intended; annoyed that I was being lumped in with all the white women hogging all the paths; compassion for the weariness in your tone; confusion about what, if anything, I had gotten wrong; fear at the iceberg that your brief sentence is the tip of; exasperation that a Black person in the whitest state in the nation expressed annoyance at being surrounded by whiteness.

Reflecting on my brief utterance, it occurred to me that the words “excuse me” can be weaponized with sarcasm and undoubtedly are by passive-aggressive white women.

Reflecting on how my body took up space that could have been yielded, I realize that my upbringing in a society dominated by white privilege was worse than useless. As the older person and the one who was already on the path, I assumed my right to keep using it.

As a white person, I have never expected a person of color to step off the sidewalk to let me pass. But I look like a whole lot of people that not only expected it but might use violence to enforce it. Even a woman definitely too young to have lived through the Jim Crow segregation practices that traumatized my young parents in Georgia in 1955 probably knows this in her bones.

Even if she was not the descendant of enslaved Africans, but possibly part of the diaspora communities from Somalia, Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo that now live in southern Maine. Because Jim Crow doesn’t care what country you were born in or what language you learned to speak as a toddler. The fact that you don’t look white is the only salient fact for segregationists.

So I want to apologize to you, Black woman on the beach path. 

I wish I had paused on the path and let you pass without comment. I might have said “hello” as you passed by, but I wish I had not said “excuse me.”

Thank you for saying what you did. Without it, I would have quickly forgotten our brief encounter.

I would have gone on clicking heart on the Instagram posts of both ___brick and the group blacksand.surf who are claiming the right to surf and otherwise enjoy the beach while Black in California. 

Source: How the memory of a black resort refused to fade “A bather at Bruce’s Beach. The Shades of LA Collection, LA County Library”

I know the history that a Black resort owned by the Bruce family was thriving until 1924 when it was stolen from them by the City of Manhattan Beach.

I know that when I got up this morning both Huntington Beach and Proud Boys were trending on Twitter, because of a white supremacist rally yesterday in another southern California beach town. Some history on that location, as reported by Mark McDermott in easyreadernews.com:

in early 1926, the most ambitious Black resort of all, the Pacific Beach Club, which was near completion in Huntington Beach and intended to be “the grandest escape of all” for Black Californians, complete with Eygptial Revival architecture, was destroyed by arson. The project had been headed by Ceruti and was clearly intended not only as a resort but as an act of economic activism, a statement that Black people would not only have a place at the beach, but build the “Queen of the Pacific.” It had all gone up in flames. Though no arrests were ever made, the Ku Klux Klan’s very active presence in Southern California at the time caused many to believe that they had started the fire. 


Photo: SoulCap.com

Whose head is the natural form? 

I’m going to remember your words — “She’s everywhere I go” — the next time I have an opportunity to hold space for a person in a Black body. And I’m going to do better at using that opportunity, because I sincerely want to, and to honor the work that you did for me when you spoke up. Because only impact matters.

FIGHTING INDIANS Documentary: A People Unconquered


Dwayne Tomah speaks in the Passamoquoddy language to the school board: “I’m not feeling honored.”
Source: still from video Skowhegan Mascot Public Forum Jan 2019 by Somerset Community TV 11.

Last night we saw the premiere of a documentary about the successful struggle to retire the last “Indian” school mascot in Maine. 

The Maine International Film Festival (MIFF24) presented FIGHTING INDIANS by Skowhegan High School alums Mark Cooley and Derek Ellis as a work-in-progress, but it is pretty nearly finished.

Full disclosure: I watched the film with special interest as I knew it was likely I would appear at some point, and we sat with one of the cinematographers, John Harlow, and his family. His late father Doug Harlow’s byline on a newspaper article was one of many poignant images for me. So was seeing my great-niece Leah Savage speaking at a public forum accompanied by her sister Sydalia. Ditto seeing my former student and neighbor Sikwani Dana as a young girl testifying to how hard it is to grow up Native in central Maine.

Source: still from video Skowhegan Mascot Public Forum Jan 2019 by Somerset Community TV 11.

Her sister Maulian Dana and their dad Barry carry the film’s narrative, appropriately enough since they led the years long retirement drive. Maulian works as the Ambassador of the Penobscot Nation and Barry is a chief who served the tribe years ago in that capacity. John Bear Mitchell, also Penobscot and a professor at the University of Maine campus built on land ceded by the tribe, was a third strong voice in the film. Dwayne Tomah, a Passamoquoddy language and culture keeper who gifted us with a gathering song as a special treat before the screening, was a rare treat; his appearance in full regalia to speak in Passamoquoddy to the school board in 2019 was riveting and an anchor for the film. 

I know all these people, so I’m not an impartial reviewer.

The filmmakers skillfully built their story from a huge trove of material, and they made the bold decision to include the context of struggles to retire professional sports “Indian” mascots and team names. Also the land theft, massacres, child removal, and tokenization Native people have endured since Columbus raped his way into the “New” World. It’s a big topic and maybe the film is a little too long, but not much. For the final edit I’d advise cutting some of the sports journalists’ remarks and some of the background material on the Washington DC football team’s efforts to buy influence with Native people nationwide.

Strong use of social media posts by the Skowhegan “Indian Pride” group and its supporters told the tale that interviews could not — because few would agree to be interviewed for the project. Still, we heard from them plenty in videos of school board meetings and public forums. An excellent example was a young woman who claims Native ancestry and who played a drum so ignorantly that it elicited face palms of embarassment for her from the actual Natives in the audience.

Because you can’t just paint your face or put feathers in your hair or play a drum and become “Indian” — and that is the main point of the film. 

In Maine, Wabanaki people — an umbrella term for the five remaining tribes — explain that seeing things sacred to their ceremonies being ignorantly misused is painful. Their identity can’t be faked; it has to be learned from infancy, through practice, and we see a bit of this in the film.

FIGHTING INDIANS includes my testimony to the school board at a public forum in February, 2019. I had permission from Maulian to read some of the nasty, misogynist, racist slurs and threats against her from comments on social media. She wanted the school board to hear the reality giving lie to the ubiquitous claim that the school mascot “honored” Native people. One of the comments I shared: “We conquered them and can use them however we like.”

But the Wabanaki have survived attempted genocide, and are a people unconquered. 


Source: still from video Barry Dana – Wigwam at the Univ. of Maine, Orono

Twelve thousand years of continuous existence in what’s now called Maine makes them a people determined to survive in order to honor their ancestors who endured slaughter and child abuse at the hands of the state.

Kudos to Ellis and Cooley. This is an important film, a landmark in Maine history. I had not anticipated how much the audience would laugh during this film about difficult truths, but it seemed appropriate because humor is a strong element in Wabanaki culture. Maybe even a survival strategy?

Appropriately for a theatre full of activists, we were sent home with an action item: call Gov. Janet Mills and urge her to sign legislation honoring the sovereignty of Maine’s Native governments. Contact info for the Governor: 207-287-3531 or email using her contact form

FIGHTING INDIANS can be seen again tonight (July 11, 2021) at the Skowhegan Drive-in as MIFF24 continues. Tickets are available here

A Nation Built On Child Abuse Is Nothing To Celebrate

Native and First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people throughout North America tell us they are in mourning. 


A Penobcot elder I respect has asked us (white people) not to celebrate our nation’s birthday on July 4 today, but instead wear orange* and to remember and grieve the unmarked graves of children starved or otherwise tortured to death in “Indian” residential schools. 

Many residential “schools” were run by the Catholic Church in what is now Canada, or other churches — even Quakers. 

Michael YellowBird

October 4, 2018  · Carlisle, PA  · The jail/stockade at Carlisle Indian boarding school, where Native American child were locked up for various minor infractions, like “stealing” food from the kitchen because they were so hungry from starvation diets; or running away because they wanted to go home…prisoners in the US war to “Kill the Indian and save the Man.”

The U.S. was also full of such torture organizations and will soon have its share of discoveries as modern technology is applied to find the mass burials of evidence. 

The campaign to “kill the Indian to save the child” was fundamental to the attempted genocide of Native and First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people in order to steal their land, water, and food. 

The widespread and continued sexual enslavement and related murder of Native girls and women is also a vicious expression of the colonization project on this continent. This continues around oil pipeline construction projects to this day, and at times we wear read and call attention to the brutal risks of being female and Native. Here in Maine I remember particularly Passamoquoddy elder Peter Francis, beaten to death by white hunters from Massachusetts as he defended Native teen girls from being raped by the intruders.

How many of the dead children were conceived during rape of girls in the residential schools? Priests who raped and otherwise abused children were protected by patriarchy, a system of top down authority that silences all but the most powerful.

Because I live in what’s now called Maine and taught high school for many years I have studied and taught about the work of the Maine-Wabanaki Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission which convened to study a local and fairly recent aspect of cultural genocide. The painful stories of children removed from their own homes and put into often abusive foster “care” were given space for expression by the TRC, and the excuses and self-criticism of the social workers who carried out child removals were included. The report issued by the TRC shocked me. This was happening right nearby while I attend Bowdoin College in the 1970’s studying history in Maine; why was I never taught about it?

Because the patriarchal system exists to enable abuse by patriarchs, then and now.

As white people we can witness the truth which it has cost so much pain to uncover.

We can reflect on how we, personally, have benefited from genocide against Native people. We can start to decolonize our thinking by examining beliefs taught to us in order to cloud our vision and our judgement. We can listen to Native people when they demand tribal sovereignty and a return of their lands and waters.

What better hope for our moral growth than to examine these ugly, hidden truths and to teach about them?

What better hope for the survival of human beings on planet Earth than to listen and follow the wisdom of indigenous people about how to live sustainably with reverence and respect for all our relations?

*Why wear orange? Here’s why:

Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s story in her own words…

Picture

Instead of celebrating Canada’s Land Day this year, First Nations people held this ceremony of mourning:


https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?height=476&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMischiefManaged10%2Fvideos%2F3860588620711757%2F&show_text=true&width=267&t=0

Stop Excluding Military Pollution From Climate Agreements

Join me in signing this petition to follow science rather than “patritiotic” nonsense claiming that the Pentagon’s emissions “don’t count.” World Beyond War and Roots Action are the petition sponsors, and the Maine Natural Guard has signed on as a co-sponsoring organization.


Here’s a link to research and reporting that documents the military’s harms to climate: Maine Natural Guard Resources.

Planet Burning, Lawsuits Churning, Pentagon Still Turning Toward Climate Destruction

It’s another record breaking hot season for the Northern Hemisphere. Despite the fact that the summer solstice just occurred we’re seeing Arctic ground temperatures in the 110+ degrees Farenheit range (38+ Celcius), a 1,200 year drought shaping up in the western United States, and spring wildfires in Siberia, Arizona, and New Mexico. Some of these are believed to be “zombie fires” that wintered over under the snow cover in the Arctic, unextinguished.

The lawsuit by young people suing the federal government for inaction on climate, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” is on appeal with a hearing set for today at 1pm EDT to review oral arguments in Juliana v. United States.

Meanwhile, the state of Massachusetts has seen progress in its lawsuit against petroleum giant Exxon Mobil for knowing the risks of climate crisis yet concealing them from consumers and the general public.

“Greenwashing” similar to that currently engaged in by Hydro-Quebec on behalf of what some in Maine are calling the “Massachusetts extension cord” project currently destroying acres of carbon-sequestering trees to build a giant transmission line. Governor Janet Mills just vetoed a bill to ban foreign entities like HQ and the owner of the line, Iberdrola, from spending on lobbying and advertising campaigns to influence the outcome of citizen referendums; one on the ballot in November threatens the project.

I’m sure investment bankers at Goldman Sachs have made it crystal clear to Mills which side her bread is buttered on.

Source: Brown University, Watson Institute, Costs of War Project

Meanwhile, the biggest polluter on the planet continues largely unchallenged.

In September, Maine will be visited by the super polluting and entirely unnecessary Blue Angels airshow. All these carbon emissions kill only indirectly i.e. these planes don’t drop bombs on anyone, and they drop napalm onto the runway in Brunswick only to “entertain.” 

Of course all airshows, like the military displays at sporting events that your tax dollars subsidize, are recruiting tools. Along with crushing student debt for postsecondary education, they steer the young people not born to affluence into donning uniform in order to qualify for “free” college.

Why don’t the big environmental groups challenge the Pentagon on its non-stop hastening of climate crisis?

Some say its because most of them take money from the corporate owned and operated Democratic Party. Some say its because they dare not appear “unpatriotic” even if that’s what it will take to keep Earth liveable for our grandchildren. Some want to stay in their silo of challenging climate crisis without venturing into the much more fraught arena of challenging our militarized, fascistic government that exists mainly to protect the profits of already wealthy corporations.https://www.youtube.com/embed/M_unc1AFbkwIf embedded video of Veterans for Peace plenary session on the U.S. Military & Climate does not play for you, access it here: https://youtu.be/M_unc1AFbkw

Some say that an annual budget of $778 billion buys a lot of silence from potential opponents.

I notice that in the new guidelines the Biden administration is developing anyone who opposes the life-threatening system of capitalism will now be designated a terrorist.

Sign me up!

Stop Dropping Bombs On People’s Heads

It is the end of innocence for my 3 year old students. Their parents told them about Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian people prior to attending an action in the port of Oakland yesterday which has successfully blocked the Israeli ship ZIM from unloading.

If you think its difficult explaining to your uncle during holiday get togethers about the realities of Israel’s land grab and constant ethnic cleansing campaign, only imagine a preschool audience. This is the age when children ask “Why?” in response to any facts on the ground. (“It’s bedtime.” “Why?” “Because we need our rest.” “Why?” etc.)

We made new friends in a crowd with several other children of various ages. This fellow teacher shared his sunscreen with us.

As we gathered at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park with about 300 others yesterday afternoon, the questions were still coming thick and fast. They’re only starting to read so most of the signs were unintelligible, but the chant of “Free, free Palestine” matched up with the sign they had helped make earlier in the day. 

Some of the many questions we answered:”Why is there a helicopter in the sky?” “It’s a news team covering the protest.” “What does cover mean?” and also “Why is the truck driver honking his horn and why are people clapping?”

With the big picture orientation she’s prone to, my granddaughter mostly didn’t query us about the difference between Gaza and the West Bank or why Israel would want to steal their land and water. Her oft repeated question was this:

Why do they drop bombs on people’s heads?

After asking this approximately one hundred times and receiving answers ranging from “to steal the land” to “because they are scared and angry, and making bad choices” she transitioned into her own personal chant:

Stop dropping bombs on people’s heads.

This was tapped out with drumsticks, played on the recorder, recited to her baby brother, and murmured as she drifted off to sleep.

As her father and her friend and she and I walked back toward our car from the picket at one of the main gates, I carried the sign we’d made together. A sign that both 3 year olds had taken a turn proudly carrying that day.

“Grandma, don’t throw away our sign, we might need to use it again.”

She’s probably right about that, too.

Lesser Of Two Evils Still Extremely Evil In Supporting The State Of Israel

Source: Al Jazeera “A Palestinian woman is manhandled by an Israeli policeman in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem [Mahmoud Illean/AP]”

I’m feeling super glad that we in the U.S. elected the lesser of two evils so that Israel would no longer have a blank check for ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Not.

If anything, the Biden Administration may be more beholden to the Zionist lobby than its predecessor who only had an ambitious son-in-law planning to ride the issue to an even higher post than he got using nepotism. 

After all, our current prez and VP were previously senators who asked “How high?” when AIPAC told them to jump. 

Caitlin Johnstone, an Aussie blogger who monitors media messaging closely, feels that the corporate media narrative of made up facts i.e. Israel wrongly portrayed as victim while it terrorizes Palestinian populations is coming unraveled. She attributes the shift to the prevalence of phone cameras and platforms for sharing raw, unfiltered video of horrors like this:

And this:

Zionists do not represent all Jews, despite their claims to the contrary. 

Jews and people of conscience everywhere are now speaking out against Israel’s violence harming hundreds worshipping at a mosque, bombing Gaza killing little children in their beds (again), and displacement of Palestinians who are residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem.

There are good people in Israel speaking out against the violence, too. There are brave young people in Israel refusing their cumpulsory military service and going to jail for it. They get about as much traction as do those of us loudly condemning military “aid” to Israel (really credit for buying weapon systems at U.S. taxpayers’ expense) or the violent occupations by our own military.

But Israel is losing the public relations battle, right now in real time. 

And this could be a game changer for their violent colonial project of ethnic cleansing in Palestine.

Empire In Search Of Graveyard Signals Faux Concern For Afghan Women

Source: “The War In Afghanistan Is Bad Politics And Bad Foreign Policy” Defense One  October 7, 2018

One of the few good things the Trump administration did in office was enter into the Doha pact to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. They did so by negotiating with the odious Taliban, insurgents riding on religious extremism in their quest to rid their country of foreign invaders. 

Now the Biden administration is signalling that the May 1 withdrawal date is a non-starter. No surprises there: challenging China is unlikely to include abandoning military outposts right on their border. 

Biden et al. are also signalling their deep concern for the well-being of Afghan women. Because decades of military occupation have made Afghanistan literally the worst place on the planet to be female. Wait…


Source: “Once Upon a Time In Afghanistan” by Mohammad Qayoumi in Foreign Policy 


For those with a historical perspective, memories of Afghan women attending universities and working as professionals under a Soviet-sponsored regime endure. The proxy war between the U.S.-sponsored mujahadeen and the Soviet-Afghan government in the 1990’s began to erode quality of life for women and girls who were bombed, forced to flee as refugees, and trafficked for sex. Repression of women’s rights under the pretext of Islamic law was the icing on that particular cake.

The CIA has actually been bragging on Twitter lately about supporting the mujahadeen “freedom fighters” against the USSR.

As we know by know, the CIA has spent decades arming militias around the planet in order to topple governments that are resistant to capitalist exploitation by the U.S. and its allies. They used to do this covertly, but in the declining days of empire, chest thumping displays of prowess are in order I guess.

Predictably, the corporate press have chimed in to manufacture consent for continuing the U.S.’s longest war.

Because, really, things have been going so well in Afghanistan under military occupation. Maybe the U.S. should just stay because deciding to withdraw could be “complicated” right?

From an Associated Press article dated April 8:

Afghanistan, a country in turmoil, has been trying to inoculate millions of children against polio but the recent killing of three female vaccinators has put the country’s campaign in doubt. However, brave women of the country remain determined to continue efforts in the face of danger and violence.

Unknown gunmen shot vaccination workers at two separate locations in the eastern city of Jalalabad on March 30 killing two volunteers and one supervisor in the polio immunization program, all of them women, as they carried out door-to-door vaccinations.

That’s right. Afghanistan is struggling after 20 years of military occupation, preceded by 10 years of civil war, preceded by 10 years of proxy war, to vaccinate for a disease eradicated in my childhood (and I am old). That’s how poor they are, and that’s how low quality of life has sunk on our watch. Life expectancy for Afghans born in the 21st century is less than 65, retirement age for those of us in the heart of the evil empire. 

Biden won’t get out of Afghanistan for the same reason Trump, Obama, and Bush didn’t: there’s plenty of good money to be made supplying the army with the tools of the trade, to quote Country Joe and the Fish. His gargantuan $715 billion “defense” budget request exceeds that of Trump by an inflation index and will no doubt pass with little debate and bipartisan fealty from the corporate flunkies in Congress.

A nation enduring a pandemic without universal health care, in which 25% of brown and Black children experience hunger each week, with millions literally unhoused, is in a very insecure position. Imperial expansion will not remedy what ails us, but most dying empires continue trying to expand right up to the moment when they hit the wall. Often, in Afghanistan.

The Cult Of Celebrity Is Not Our Friend


Which version of Philip will you remember?

I’ve long been fascinated by the role that celebrity worship (yes, I think that’s an accurate term) plays in the narrative management that keeps a greedy 1% in power hogging our common resources.

The death of Prince Philip at age 99 is a good occasion to reflect on this psychological weapon of the rich against the working classes. 

An aristocratic parasite whose brother-in-laws were literal Nazis, nasty and mean by reputation, Philip will ironically be mostly remembered on this side of the pond as portrayed by an actor in the Netflix series “The Crown.” You know: younger, handsomer, and a boon companion of the plucky queen. Loving father (hard to type that with a straight face), etc. 

This sort of thing — the inexplicable fascination ordinary humans have for individual members of the elites that are crushing the life out of them — has been going on since at least Shakespeare’s time. Recall if you will the opening scene of Julius Caesar where two patricians admonish the rabble for being out in the streets in their best i.e. not work clothes. Eager to see the triumphant Caesar parade by, Shakespeare’s plebians are indifferent to advice that Caesar recently killed rival general Pompey.


So a Renaissance playwright projected his own generation’s fascination with the cult of personality onto Roman citizens on the verge of imperial decay.

Propaganda has become much more sophisticated in our day. While ancient Assyrian warrior princes commissioned their own accolades (cuneiform message for the literate extols the fertilizing powers of King Ashurnasirpal)

the royal family in Windsor Castle has the BBC and Netflix to do this for them.

The imperial presidency in the U.S., upstart branch of the brutal colonial projects launched from England’s shores centuries ago, has its own faux populist stories told by experts. 

Thus we see a lot of attention paid to the pets brought to the White House by various CEOs of USA, Inc.

The propaganda effort starts early. Note the link in my last paragraph to National Geographic for Kids. 

If you doubt it, check out corporate publications like Time for Kids.

I had a taste of the cult of celebrity when I ran against Susan Collins for her seat in the U.S. Senate last year. Based on my experiences, I’d say a lot of projection is involved. People are eager to support a personification of their values in part because (they think) it relieves them of the responsibility for fixing the mess of late stage capitalism that we find ourselves in. Months later, I am still receiving effusive notes of thanks for my attempt to crack the corporate duopoly’s stranglehold on Congress.

You’re welcome, but the real point is: 

what are you going to do about climate crisis, galloping poverty and homelessness, and Cold War belligerence marching us toward WWIII?

Calling Out Civilian Deaths By Drone Under Yet Another Democratic Party Warmonger

Screenshot from video of protest blocking the road at Creech AFB on April 5. Group chanting, “Arrest Col. Jones, the war criminal, not Daniel Hale, the whistleblower!”  Posted by Toby Blomé at https://shutdowncreech.blogspot.com

Today I am reposting a press release from the dedicated drone resistance that converges annually at Creech Air Base in Nevada. 

These people of conscience work tirelessly to shine a light into the dark crime of U.S. relentless bombing of civilians with each successive administration in Washington DC, whether Democrat or Republican. 

Many of them will risk arrest to bring attention to these atrocities.

April 2, 2021
Contact: Toby Blomé, 510.501.5412 Maggie Huntington.602.459.5257
For more details: https://shutdowncreech.blogspot.com

ANTI-DRONE PROTESTORS FROM AROUND U.S. CONVERGE THIS WEEK TO CONDEMN KILLING BY CREECH AFB DRONES

LAS VEGAS/CREECH AFB, NV – Anti-war/anti-drone demonstrators from the East and West coasts announced they are converging here April 4-10 to hold daily protests – which may lead to arrests – at the U.S. Drone Base at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

Many military veterans, now members of Veterans for Peace, will be joining. The event is co-sponsored by CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace.

At Creech, U.S. Air Force personnel, coordinating with C.I.A. officials, are, regularly and secretly, killing people remotely using unmanned armed drone planes, primarily the MQ-9 Reaper drones. 

Thousands of civilians have been killed and injured, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere, since 2001, according to the activists.

In the aftermath of the recent and tragic U.S. massacres by lone gunmen in Georgia and Boulder, activists will hold daily two hour vigils between 6:30-8:30 a.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m., during commute hours to underline the connection between mass violence at home and the “normalized” mass violence of the U.S. covert drone program and U.S. military.

Over the last 20 years, U.S. armed drones have been used to commit horrible atrocities that have included strikes on wedding parties, funerals, schools, mosques, homes, farm laborers, and in January, 2020, included direct hits on high level foreign military and government officials from Iran and Iraq.

“A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa November 13, 2014”
KHALED ABDULLAH/REUTERS

These drone massacres have, at times, resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians with a single drone attack. Not a single U.S. official has ever been held accountable for these ongoing atrocities, 

yet, an important drone whistleblower, Daniel Hale, who leaked truths about these atrocities faces potentially harsh sentencing later this July.

The daily vigils will include different themes each time, but two notable ones include:

Mon, April 5, 3:30-4:30 p.m. “WE STAND WITH Drone Whistleblower DANIEL HALE.” On Wednesday, March 31, Daniel Hale pled guilty to being the informant who anonymously leaked classified military documents to an online media publisher, The Intercept, that revealed secret military statistics documenting civilian casualties under the covert U.S. targeted drone assassination program. (See The Drone Papers, 2015).

As a U.S. citizen and USAF analyst, Daniel acted out of conscience to reveal the truth about these serious war crimes that he felt the public had a right to know. Protesters will stand in support of Daniel’s courageous act and demand that the real criminals be prosecuted, including the commanders of killer drone bases like Creech AFB, not the whistleblowers, who reveal the atrocities. Some of the messages will include: “Free Daniel Hale, Exposing war crimes is not a crime” “Prosecute the War Criminals not the Truth-tellers”

Tues, April 6, 6:30 – 8:30 a.m. THE DRONE MASSACRE MEMORIAL: Activists, will display a long series of banners, stretched along the highway, each highlighting details of past U.S. drone massacres, including statistics on civilian deaths.

“It is our hope,” said Toby Blomé, one of the organizers, “that the military personnel that drive into the base everyday will reflect deeply about their role in this criminal activity that causes innumerable deaths and untold suffering around the globe, and that just maybe some of them will make the difficult but ethical choice to not participate.

“Militarized drones are expanding at an unbelievable rate, replacing conventional warfare, without any meaningful public debate. It is therefore the obligation of the military personnel to embrace their own individual responsibilities.”

-END-


A pre-pandemic crowd of protestors at Creech in April, 2016.

Guard Against The Greed And Ignorance Driving Climate Crisis

Research in the UK turns up the unsurprising fact that a tiny group of humans cause the lion’s share of air pollution via air travel. I’m old enough to remember when the fawning press called these elites “the jet set” due to their excessive use of machines that allow for swift travel. 

The wealthy use travel to show off their privilege. For example, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz flying to Cancun during a statewide power outage last winter in Texas. 

Or, in an anecdote I was told by an Afghan friend, a bride in Kabul flying to Dubai for her wedding makeup.

Of the two examples, one was the direct result of unprecedented freezing weather crashing a U.S. state’s (unregulated) power grid. 

Thus, climate change begets climate change.

Then there’s greedy capitalist Elon Musk’s SpaceX flops that belch carbon and other greenhouse gases to exalt his ego if not to consolidate his wealth.

My friend and neighbor Barry Dana, past chief of the Penobscot Nation, has been ringing the alarm bell about air travel for years. His response to my sharing the news that a handful of people cause most of the climate damage due to aviation was, “I see flying to be one thing we have in our daily choices that we have the power NOT to do.” He is critical of Native environmental activists who fly in indigenous experts from around the globe to confer about our climate problem.

My response is to listen to Barry, an educator for traditional wisdom about how to live sustainably on this planet, and to make my choices accordingly.

But the elephant in the climate change room is actually military aviation.

Neoliberal rag The Guardian naturally did not offer this context in their article about elite air travel.

Source: Brown University, Watson Institute, Costs of War Project

Luckily for us, academics have been studying military contributions to climate crisis for a while now. I’ve been collecting their reports here for a few years and was excited to learn that peace activist emeritus Kathy Kelly referred to my collection in an interview recently. Podcaster Kollibri terre Sonnenblume characterized this as:

“most US Americans are ignorant of the consequences of US militarism.” 

No kidding.

Like The Guardian, the corporate press here in the U.S. works overtime to ignore the real drivers of climate change. To help craft this false narrative, military emissions were exempt from being quantified in the Kyoto climate protocols, and were made optional in the Paris climate accords. Because our planet’s atmosphere isn’t affected by pollution if it has the right flag on it?

Now, with a former Raytheon board member heading the Pentagon, this problem is unlikely to be addressed. The U.S. military is well aware that climate change is a thing and they have lots of contingency plans for dealing with the coastal flooding of many of their 800 bases around the planet.

I founded the Maine Natural Guard to help people connect the dots between climate crisis and U.S. taxpayer funded military aviation. So few people seem to care that we bomb civilians constantly no matter which of the two corporate parties is in power at the moment, but many do care about the existential threat of climate emergency. 

I’m glad to see Veterans for Peace has a web page for their Working Group on Climate Crisis and Militarism with their #1 focus: “The unequal burden of both climate change and militarism on people of color and the poor.” 

This point is important to bear in mind as we witness the ramp up to war with China, Russia, or (are the generals insane?) both. When I read Ann Wright’s comprehensive review “In Alarmist Turn, NATO Is Increasingly Positioning Itself In Opposition To China, I saw our carbon bootprint spreading like the stain it is.

Want to be part of the solution?

Add your name to join the Natural Guard effort from wherever you are!

I pledge to speak out about the effects of militarism on our environment, because the commons we all share that sustain life are valuable to me.

In discussions about security and safety, I will remind others of the need to count in the cost in pollution and fuel consumption of waging wars all around the planet.

In discussions about acting soon to protect our loved ones from the effects of climate chaos, I will remind others of the need to examine the role of the Pentagon and its many contractors in contributing to planetary warming.

Who Dares To Resist Raytheon?

Back in 2019, former USM professor Ken Jones and I were arrested together protesting the christening[sic] of yet another General Dynamics war ship in Bath, Maine. Ken was one of those who chose to be jailed rather than pay a bail bondsman, and I was with his partner Melody Shank when Ken walked out of the private for-profit jail in Wiscasset where he and the others were held for a weekend.

Since returning home to North Carolina, Ken and Melody have been active in the resistance to a new war machine factory in their area. Here’s reporting gleaned from their accounts as well as the group’s Reject Raytheon website.

From Ken’s blog post in February 2021:

The site for the Pratt & Whitney (P&W, a division of Raytheon Technologies) plant being planned for Asheville is now being cleared of trees so that construction on the 1.2 million sq. ft. plant can begin soon. 

It looks like mountaintop removal, a not unfamiliar occurrence here in the Appalachian Mountains.  It breaks my heart to see it.

P&W builds engines for commercial and military jets, most notoriously for the state-of-the-art F-35 Lightning Fighter Jet. Raytheon is the 2nd largest arms manufacturer in the world, a major war profiteer.

…We did a die-in at Vance Monument in the center of Asheville.


We did a rally as part of the international day of action to celebrate the Entry into Force of the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – Raytheon has over a billion dollars of contracts in the nuclear weapons industry.

My own research turns up that Raytheon spent $4 million lobbying our elected officials in 2019, and made big contributions to both Republican and Democratic campaigns in 2020.

Source: Opensecrets.com Raytheon summary

The continued operation of government at the national, state, and local level by corporate-sponsored officials is degrading the environment, degrading the health and well-being of children who grow up in poverty, rapidly increasing the number of people experiencing homelessness, and depriving millons of health care in the middle of a pandemic. 


Our current Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin served on the board of Raytheon Technologies after retiring from the military. The children in other countries being killed by U.S. airstrikes could not care less whether the current administration has a D or an R after its name, or how racially diverse it is.

Brave and dedicated activists like Ken, Melody, and their friends are not afraid to call out the elephant in our midst: gargantuan Pentagon budgets that enrich contractors like Raytheon at the taxpayers’ expense. 


As the corporate press continues to push the notion that U.S. foreign policy under Biden is significantly different than that of his predecessor, independent journalists will keep pushing back on that lie.

Why not join us to share real information rather than manufactured news?

CMP Has A Climate Problem: James Fortin

Guest post today — this excellent essay on the CMP corridor project (which is already felling trees according to reports by residents of central Maine).

Its and Ours: Central Maine Power Has a Climate Problem

by James Fortin
The recent substantial failures of the for-profit power utilities in California and now Texas have several things in common.  Their uniquely negligent acts have caused numerous deaths, damage and destruction to homes, and further deterioration of the natural environment.  Whether by raging wildfires or frozen natural gas lines, the denying CEOs and their profiteering management act as though climate change is just a cost of doing business. One more example of the same sort is worth noting.

The small state of Maine (population 1.34 million) recently completed a massive, year-long deliberative process ending with the adoption of a 4-year blueprint to tackle climate change. Entitled, “Maine Won’t Wait, a Plan for Climate Action,” the effort involved hundreds of scientists, local and state officials, businesses, environmental activists and staffs of universities and colleges working thousands of cumulative hours.

A benchmark effort of the Maine governor, Janet Mills, the plan calls for a quick turn away from using gasoline to power transportation and from heating oil to warm homes (60 percent of Maine homes heat with oil).  In its place, the report portends, electricity generated from wind and solar, coupled with the use of advancing storage technology, will permit Maine to achieve some of the most aggressive anti-climate change goals in the U.S. – a 45 percent decrease of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, 80 percent by 2050, and a transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.  Whether these standards can be achieved, or are even adequate, remains to be seen as many might say, the devil is in the details.

Not surprising anyone, the climate plan relies upon the actions of companies and investors in the economic private sector, with numerous financial incentives from the state, to bring about the changes forecasted.  That being the case, a key player in the plan will be Central Maine Power (CMP), the largest electricity transmission and distribution utility in the state, and a subsidiary of Avangrid, which is owned by the Spanish conglomerate Iberdrola.  The warning flags may now be raised.

CMP has a history.  Its mis-actions over the years – power shutoffs during brutal Maine winters, mysterious overbilling of thousands of customers, and a miserable record in power restoration during outages – garnered the 122-year-old company a distinction in 2020.  It was rated the absolute worst performer among electric utilities across the U.S. in a survey conducted by J.D. Power.  Fines along the way to such dubious stardom included a whopping $9.9 million dollar penalty last year from the Maine Public Utilities Commission – its largest-ever fine – for poor management of the electric grid.  Shades of California and Texas!

Besides distributing electric power, CMP also generates plenty of arrogance and outrage.  Earlier this month CMP informed a number of both approved and proposed solar projects in Maine that their cost to distribute their clean energy via the established electric power grid, which CMP controls, would be increased.

More than 100 solar power projects which previously had received cost estimates to hook up to the grid were stunned.  Claiming it needs the funds to update substations through which solar-generated electricity would tie into the system, one “upgrade” spiked from $600,000 to $1.3 million.  In another, the proposed rip-off  skyrocketed from $250,000 to $9 million!  A project engineer working on these 2 solar developments pointed to similar engineering performed in neighboring Vermont for $75,000.  One developer noted, “Needless  to say, such costs will prohibit these projects from being built.”  Another developer agreed, his project’s extortion toll going from $618,000 to $8.4 million.

The CMP actions immediately evoked overwhelming outrage around the state including that from the governor, herself.  Mills directed the Maine Public Utilities Commission to open an immediate investigation into CMP’s actions.  She further instructed the Commission to commence a broader review of the utility to determine its capability to accommodate the growth of renewable energy generation in the state – her top priority.

Within a day, as if by epiphany, the executive chairman of CMP, David Flanagan, responded to the outrage stating his company now realized that the higher costs “would be an impossible barrier” to solar power for some.  Also, his company had found new “solutions” to the proposed upgrades that now would cost only $175,00 to $375,000, instead of millions.  The cause of the entire matter was laid, of course, upon the faulty thinking of mid-level CMP management who supposedly were overworked and had not checked with others before announcing the figures.  Commenting on the current crisis, State Representative Seth Berry,  an outspoken critic of CMP, more precisely summarized the behavior of CMP as being “Caught trying to shake down solar developers.”

Berry has long warned of the obstacles that would be placed by CMP in the way of solar electric power generation in the state.  He put forth the possibility that CMP cynically lowered its costs, thereby quieting public outrage, by scaling back the scope of the jobs to only that needed immediately. He surmised that nothing would keep the utility from seeking a rate increase later to pay for the work.

With the support of environmental activists and organizations, Berry, who is House Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, has a bill pending before the legislature that would create a consumer-owned, non-profit public electric transmission utility, eliminating CMP’s role.

An electric power customer in sync with Berry offered what many ratepayers in Maine think. “CMP has got to go. They are now essentially breaking contracts with solar project developers. We need this solar energy to do our part to address climate change… CMP is obviously poorly managed, and not capable of preparing Maine’s electricity grid for our clean energy future. Maine needs and deserves an electricity system designed and operated for the good of Mainers, not on behalf of stockholders.”

Based on current performance it should come as no surprise that Central Maine Power has a sordid history that includes precedent to this current outrage.  Using its decades-long monopoly status, hordes of cash, and a bevy of lobbyists, CMP secured the backing of the Maine Legislature in 1937 to essentially seize the Town of Flagstaff and surrounding valley farmlands.  Through legislative actions the valley was ceded to CMP for water storage, a dam was built, the valley flooded in 1951, and the resulting electric power distributed via the CMP electricity grid.  In protest, some residents refused to sell their homes to CMP and hung out on their rooftops as the flood waters inundated their houses.  Yet, CMP publicly would claim credit for the “progress” it had brought to the people of Maine.  Any mention of gloating, however, was absent from the news releases.

In the same spirit of bulldozing anything or anyone who gets its way, Central Maine Power today again is engaged a knock-down fight to secure $billions in profits via another environmental assault.  This time however, it must take on an organized anti-climate change movement as well as defeat an alliance of Indigenous peoples.

In 2020 nearly 70,000 registered Maine voters signed a petition to overturn by referendum a proposal disguised as “clean” energy by an electric power consortium of CMP, Hydro-Quebec, and others.  Involved are transmission lines that would connect hydroelectric mega-dams in Quebec, through Maine, to electric utilities in Massachusetts.  The petitioners attempted to reverse governmental approvals for a transmission corridor that includes a 52-mile long clear cut the width of the New Jersey turnpike through an area of woodlands and lakes prized by hikers, sportspeople, and ecological groups. The project then ties into an existing corridor which will be further developed for a total of 145 miles. 

The anti-CMP Corridor coalition had limited financial resources available to convince Mainers to oppose the project. On the other hand, the power consortium spent over $19 million in slick ads to fight any rollback of their $1 billion project calling itself the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC).  And if the money did not sway the public’s thinking, the consortium invested in private investigators tailing and intimidating those collecting signatures on the petitions.

Losing to Mainers in public opinion polls, CMP headed to the courts where the referendum was disallowed by the Maine Supreme Court based on its constitutionality, not environmental merits.  Not giving up, however, anti-CMP corridor activists worked with other forces to initiate lawsuits and appeals in both the courts and with the regulatory agencies involved with approvals.  At the same time they reworked their petition to comply with the language of the law, collected over 80,000 signatures, again, then submitted to the State for another referendum scheduled to be held in November 2021. This time the resolution to stop the project will be on the ballot.

Aside from the outrageous clear cutting of northern Maine woods to provide what amounts to a superhighway for transmission lines, CMP has obscured the very nature of the hydroelectric power generated by its partner, Hydro-Quebec. While big-dam hydroelectric power is renewable, it is not clean.  And perhaps even more significantly the project relies on centuries-old exploitation of traditional Indigenous lands and habitats. It is anything but just.

[Note:  Hydroelectric power is produced when reservoir water built up behind a dam is released via gravity to spin turbines, which generate electricity. There are no fossil fuels involved in the process, hence the semblance of producing green energy.] 

Before Hydro-Quebec could generate electricity from the 63 dams and 27 reservoirs that comprise its massive hydroelectric system, it had to destroy extensive forests to create areas for the gigantic reservoirs of water needed to spin the turbines.  With just one of its plants, Bersimis-1, a vast wooded area was obliterated and then flooded to create its 290-square mile reservoir. In itself this forever destroyed a significant forested carbon-sequestering area while producing an enormous jolt of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Defying the image of clean electricity being produced from moving water, the captive reservoirs where water is stored also produce carbon dioxide and methane.  Both CO2 and methane are released when vegetation decomposes in water.  Methane is a greenhouse gas that has 80 times the warming power of CO2 during the 20 years after it is first released, decreasing in potency with follow-on decades.

Compounding the negative impact of reservoir water, mercury is released from the flooded soils as well.  This poisonous element has been found at dangerously concentrated levels in fish where it is then passed up through the human food chain.  In Quebec, particularly, the First Nations have noted increased levels of mercury poisoning within their communities drastically altering their traditional uses of food and negatively impacting their spiritually oriented, indigenous ways of life.

The tribes that make up the Quebec First Nations are opposed to the NECEC citing the history of hydroelectric projects which destroyed their ancestral lands.  Deputy Grand Chief Mary Ann Nui of the Innu Nation summed up her Nation’s opposition in that “people lost their land, their livelihoods, their travel routes, and their personal belongings when the area where the project is located was flooded.  Our ancestral burial sites are under water, our way of life was disrupted forever.” She went on to point out that the Innu “weren’t informed or consulted about that project then, and now Hydro-Quebec, without talking to us, intends to export electricity that is partly produced on our lands to the United States.  It is (a) further insult to the Innu, and we refuse to be ignored, it is out of the question as an Indigenous people who have already suffered great harm from Hydro-Quebec that we would allow this to happen.”

In a joint statement Chief Monik Kistabish of the Anishnabeg of Pikogan, Chief Adrienne Jérôme of the Lac Simon, and Chief Régis Pénosway of Kitcisakik , together faulted Hydro-Québec for repeatedly refusing to discuss compensation for the damages caused by its installations. “Hydro-Québec wants to export electricity to the United States … but shows no willingness to compensate our communities for the flooding and destruction of our traditional territories. This electricity comes from our lands, and we’re not going to be pushed around any longer.”

The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador deem Hydro-Quebec’s ongoing transgression to be violations of Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Central Maine Power and its parent company, Avangrid, hope to ignore the issue and are rushing to get their transmission corridor up and running.   

As the Democratic political leadership of the state of Maine has outlined what part it is willing to  play to curb global warming, it is doing so by giving its consent and support to private capital to get the job done.  That is the way it works under capitalism.  Not the governor, nor the legislature, wish to be seen as promoting direct government involvement in creating the infrastructure to take on climate change for fear of being labeled “socialist.”  So they will defer even to the likes of CMP.  They will do nothing more than what is acceptable to the corporate financial mega-contributor genre.

Up to this point in time, if that means partnering with Central Maine Power, a company that is horrible at what it is supposed to do, as evidenced by the fines and censures levied against it, or through its arrogant disregard for the loudly expressed wishes of the people of Maine, past and present – so be it.

If that means CMP will make more money, more quickly, by aligning with the interests of industrial scale hydroelectric power, even at the expense of solar and wind sources that the Maine Climate Action Plan says is a priority – yes, that too.

And finally, if CMP willingly joins in an alliance of complicity with Hydro-Quebec – a Canadian state-owned instrument that perpetuates the settler-colonial oppression of the First Nations through exploitation of its resources – no problem there either.

Most obviously, CMP needs to be dispatched from the scene immediately, and that will be a step in the right direction, but it is not sufficient in itself to defeat the accelerating climate catastrophe.  Taking profit out of the equation for an electric utility in Maine is a small piece in the national struggle to save the planet.  Climate scientists already have predicted that the atmospheric warming to date already has baked in many non-reversible, awful consequences for the globe.  Failure to end  the use of fossil fuels, universally and quickly, will spell only deepening natural disasters and unparalleled human misery.  It is on this front that the entrenched interests of the fossil fuel industry and the 1% ownership class must be taken on, and they will fight back ferociously.

A national public emergency must be declared to battle climate change on all fronts, just as was done in the U.S. during World War II when industry was mobilized under federal control to build ships, airplanes, canons, and anything else needed to fight a war.  In the effort a Michigan automobile manufacturer built a B-24 bomber plane every hour during the war.  A Maine shipyard delivered one cargo ship each day. Several companies completed a total of 50,000 Sherman tanks between 1942 and 1945.  The list goes on, as would the production of solar panels, windmills, electric home heating units, electric vehicles of all types and untold other products to defeat a changing climate if the economy were mobilized.

This time, a first step would entail nationalization of the energy industries – fossil fuels, power grids, and generation sources – together with their banks that finance it.  Simultaneously, an emergency Congress of scientists, workers, production planners, unions, environmentalists, citizens, oppressed communities, and others would begin the process of planning and then implementing the way out of fossil fuel dependency, free of profit motive constrictors.  The U.S. can do it under such leadership – it did once; only the drive for unregulated profit stands in the way.  

There are two climate problems in Maine.  The first involves the rampage of climate changes now besetting the state and what steps Mainers are taking to attempt a mitigation of the primarily fossil-fuel, corporate assault on nature.  The second belongs to Central Maine Power alone.  The company has created a climate of haughty taking for itself and its partners in disregard to the needs of its customers or our Earth.  In all of this at least, Central Maine Power has validated in practice its answer to a riddle:What do electric rate payers, environmentalists, and Indigenous peoples have in common?  A Maine utility that has found ways to screw them all in the name of profit.

No Rainbow Flag Is Large Enough To Cover The Shame Of Killing Innocent People


Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin speaking to reporters this month.

Bombs killing children are so much more attractive when dropped by Democrats, don’t you think?

The Biden Administration started bombing Syria yesterday, and here’s what Twitter wanted me to know was going on:

The airstrikes follow weeks of big $$$$$ deals selling weapons to some of the other horrific regimes kept in place by brute force around the world. Gaza’s tormenter and Yemen’s tormenter both restocked their armories,  enriching the corporations that own and operate the U.S. government. 

Those corporations have already become very, very wealthy off the taxpayers buying armaments — while rival nations invest in health care and work to eradicate poverty. 

The U.S. instead invests in weapons systems like the F-35 jet bomber that cost more than $1.5 trillion before being declared a failure. (Maybe a failure for the Air Force, but certainly not for profiteer and big Biden campaign contributor Lockheed Martin.)

The revolving door between government and industry is fascism exemplified. The U.S. will continue dealing out deadly airstrikes that kill civilians in the Middle East while literally letting its own population freeze and starve to death during a public health crisis. And whether you put an R or a D after that list of crimes makes very little difference to the victims. 

Millions Freeze, Starve While The Empire Wastes Our Resources Colonizing Outer Space

Minneapolis, Minnesota: Cars line up at a drive-thru food pantry. Neil Blake/Grand Rapids Press/AP 

Narrative management is where it’s at, and the story about U.S. space travel is about glorifying the empire — while ironically racing toward its collapse by hollowing out its life support systems.

Or maybe glorifying the domination and pollution of space and rapacious billionaires who enable it is the substance of upholding the narrative around our disintegrating empire at this point in history?

Odd that perseverance hasn’t gotten us universal health care, an end to the (designed to be endless) “war on terror,” or vaccines for everyone who wants them.

Nurses unions are begging for the Center for Disease Control to recognize that aerosols convey COVID-19 virus, a scientific fact that I’m pretty sure most 2nd graders in our nation grasped months ago. (You can sign their petition to the CDC here.) Will perseverance get them there? Probably not without a strike. 

Science denial about climate crisis has led to Texas frozen in a freak storm, its water treatment plants darkened, its mansions flooded from burst pipes. 

The fossil fuel industry that caused both the underlying climate chaos and the unregulated power grid dependent on dinosaur remains plus the underfunded social safety net is busy churning out lies. Failing to supply millions of homes with the power to heat or cook was falsely blamed on solar and wind energy systems. 

All the while, Pentagon contracting and its newest division Space Force roll on, gobbling up the vast majority of our taxes and hastening our demise. But hooray for landing on Mars! Because narrative management is where it’s at.

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