Cecile Pineda, ¡Presente!

From her website: “Cecile Pineda was born in New York City, migrating to California in 1961 where she has lived ever since in the San Francisco-Bay Area. She is the author of The Love Queen of the Amazon, written with the assistance of a National Endowment Fiction Fellowship and named Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times; Frieze, and Face which won the Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California; the Sue Kaufman Prize awarded by the American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters, and the American Book Award nomination for first fiction. Other works including Fishlight: A Dream of Childhood, a non-fiction memoir, Bardo99, and Redoubt, both mononovels, as well as her works of non-fiction, Devil’s Tango, Apology to a Whale, and Three Tides are all available from Independent Publishers Group.”

Author, playwright, director, mother, and blogger Cecile Pineda has passed into history

and I am one of legions who will miss her. Her wit, clarity, and courage to tell us hard truths were valuable, and it was my great honor to be mentored by Cecile in my own blogging career.

In memoriam, I dedicate this blog post to Cecile and as homage I will mimic a couple of the structures she employed in her blog/newsletter: Take Action, and This Week’s Roses Amidst the Thorns. I’m sure that by including these sections in each post, she hoped to offset the despair and cynicism that can overtake those who pay attention to current events.

Cecile’s most recent book 

is not listed in the bio on her website, probably because she was slowing down a bit in recent years (she was about to turn 90).


A memoir, Entry Without Inspection: A Writer’s Life in El Norte (University of Georgia Press, 2020) examined the personal and political influences in the life of a self-identified Chicana author who won numerous awards for her fiction: the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, a gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California, and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. She also, as a married mother, took it as her duty to have dinner on the table every night. She was also a director and performer of distinction who chronicled the declining support for theater that explored the bounds of dramatic possibility rather than striving for commercial success. She was also the child of immigrant parents who forged her own identity in the face of some spectacularly bad parenting. And, typical of her ability to locate the personal within the political, she depicted the catastrophic effects of U.S. immigration politices via her father’s experience plus the story of a whistleblower who revealed the death of an immigrant while in ICE detention.

I enjoyed this book very much as I knew Cecile by the time I was reading it, and because her life at the borders of second wave feminism and 20th century immigration policies was illuminating — at least the way she tells it.

Even more influential on my thinking: 

her two previous books, also non-fiction.

Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World (Wings Press, 2015) is categorized as philosophy and attracted some illustrious blurbs when published. I’ll let one from a prominent environmentalist speak for itself:

Cecile Pineda has the nerve to ask the one simple question that eludes our public posturing….It is the one question that could save us: 

What has happened to our mind that we are killing our world? 

What is it, at the root of our culture that sets us against the rest of creation? 

The genius of this book is that the question [itself] supersedes the answers and takes us on explorations where we make our own discoveries. These widening apprehensions not only pierce us with heartache for what we have lost, but invite us to examine the imprisoning structures of the very language we use. 

Cecile Pineda has the rare and enviable capacity to address the big questions without falling into abstractions or sermonizing. It is the artist in her that I trust, and that utters so potent a call to personal and collective liberation.

Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, this book is for you.

Cecile’s book with the biggest impact for me, personally, was undoubtedly this one. 


Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It’s not that I don’t still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it’s that I followed Cecile’s carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste, much less the radiation produced by accidents, is collective suicide. Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen and another earthquake could replicate it on any of several coasts around the planet. 

I am deeply grateful to Cecile for both educating me and stimulating my ability to hold unwelcome truths in mind without succumbing to despair. 

Selfie with Cecile, Berkeley, spring 2022

Cecile Pineda, ¡Presente!

Take Action

World Beyond War Sign the petition: Don’t get Yanked into war with China!

Roots Action Sign the petition:No to war, hot or cold, with Russia.

Send a Letter to Biden: Sanctions Fuel the Fire In response to the catastrophic fire at Matanzas energy facility in Cuba,an open letter signed by a growing list of prominent figures in the US and internationally, including Cornel West, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Noam Chomsky, and Jeremy Corbyn, calls for lifting sanctions on Cuba.

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Ask your elected officials to take the pledge to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Sum of Us Tell the Japanese government: don’t dump Fukushima nuclear waste water into the ocean!

Our Children’s Trust Demand Biden’s Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland end their opposition to Juliana! The 21 youth plaintiffs, from across the United States and including 11 Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth, in their landmark youth-led constitutional climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States need your support today! For seven years since the case was filed, young people have suffered from increasingly severe climate harms and we need our nation’s courts to do their duty and protect the rights of our children to a safe climate. 

DontExtraditeAssange.com Sign the new petition. The UK must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty: “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”

Lakota People’s Law Project Please send President Biden an email today, and ask him to cement his legacy as an advocate for Native communities by taking action to protect our children and sovereignty, up to and including an Executive Order.

1CM69 STOP! SpaceX Starlink from Spoiling Outer Space for Humanity, sign the petition. SpaceX was given the green light by the FCC in the USA to launch a network of satellites in to Low Earth Orbit, 60 at time of writing, rising to 12,000 over time. These satellites will forever ruin the view of the heavens for the entire planet.

#DeleteFacebook trended and thousands left both Meta platforms (FB and Instagram) after learning that the company had turned over private messages between a 17 year old and her mother leading to felony charges for murder as the two procured and the daughter used abortion pills. You can delete your account on these apps, too.

Roses Amidst The Thorns

🌹The U.S. Army has so far recruited only about half the soldiers it hoped for fiscal 2022.

🌹70% of younger voters have lost faith in both the Republican and the Democratic Parties to represent the needs of the people.

🌹Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Matthew Hoh is on the ballot in North Carolina following a successful lawsuit against Democratic Party shenanigans to keep him off.

🌹Christopher Cooper, the Black man who a white woman falsely claimed to police was attacking her in NYC Central Park, will be hosting a new tv show, “Extraordinary Birder.”

🌹More workplaces have filed to form a union this year than in all of 2021 including workers at Starbucks, Amazon, and Trader Joe’s.

🌹Caitlin Johnstone, Australian blogger extraordinaire, examines “the end of illusions” with humor on a daily basis.

Drought, Heat & Energy Nightmares — But U.S. Climate Bill Favors Fossil Fuel Extraction?

I recently saw a joke that Germans were down to one shower a week and tourism had fallen off. Now I can’t find it again, and I’m not sure anymore that it was a joke.

Did Germany foresee the Rhine River drying up when they gave in to U.S. pressure not to certify the NordStream 2 gas pipeline from Russia? The U.S. told them: no problem we will sell you fracked gas which we’ll deliver via shipping. “German energy nightmare,” indeed.

Of course, it’s not just Germany. England is also in a drought exacerbated by record high temperatures.

Drought in the western part of the continental U.S. is also reaching epic proportions

and fire season is a thing of the past because now it’s pretty much year round.

Drought in eastern Africa is also at life-threatening levels.

Source: Flickr “1.5 million livestock heads have been lost in southern Ethiopia already. The migration of people and livestock from drought-affected areas is straining already scarce resources in host communities. 285,000 people are displaced.” © European Union, 2022 (photographer: Silvya Bolliger)

So, what does the U.S. government do? Pass a “climate” bill with provisions to expand fossil fuel extraction! Congress at this point in history can only pass legislation if it benefits their wealthy donors. (The bill also extended the Unaffordable Care Act for three years. Because that will definitely bring down the global temperature.)

It’s a major reason that Democrats and Republicans are rapidly losing the consent of the governed, and we are running out of time to take action designed to protect life on Earth.

The other anti-climate bill is, of course, massive military spending authorized for FY23. 

To name just one small part of the problem, what’s the climate impact of all those weapons the U.S. is sending to Ukraine for use in a war they can’t win? Reporting from your state-affiliated corporate media doesn’t dare ask that question.

Also increasingly evident is massive expansion of (militarized*) space exploration. From “Increased Spaceflight Will Warm Earth’s Stratosphere 4 Degrees, Study Finds” by Caroline Delbert in Popular Mechanics:

In new research published earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) simulates the effect of greatly increased spaceflight on the stratosphere. The results show that planned spaceflight over the next few decades could raise Earth’s temperature, change global air currents, and dampen the ozone layer. The study appears in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmosphere.

* All U.S. space exploration and development is military in nature, no matter what NASA says.

But not to worry, everything is fine.

Facebook Crossed A Line Sharing DM Of Teen Who Faces Felony Rap Over Use Of Abortion Pill

Buy it on Etsy


The massive social media platform Facebook is in the news this week, and I’m outta there. After being lured to Facebook in its infancy by one of my children who insisted I’d love it (he left the platform years ago) I’ve watched it emerge as the most effective spying tool ever. 

Most people who still use it put public stuff on their timeline and private stuff in direct messages (DM).

So when a 17 year old in Nebraska needed an abortion she and her mother both used their DM to share information about that. Then someone snitched and police demanded the messages of both the formerly pregnant person and her mom. After Facebook turned over evidence that, yes, a teen terminated an unwanted pregnancy using pills, the girl was arrested, charged with murder (a felony), disposing of a dead body, and will be tried as an adult. Mom is facing felony charges, too, for supporting her child’s need for health care unobtainable in Nebraska.

“Facebook previously said it would ban users who posted that they would mail abortion pills to people in states where it is banned or restricted,” according to “The Is The Data Facebook Gave Police To Prosecute A Teen For Abortion” where Vice published the actual court documents).

This tweet went viral:


Today I joined many in deleting my accounts on Spybook and Instagram.

And I actually felt relief but not much regret after doing so

Facebook is owned by a company now known as Meta. It also owns Insta and presumably would also turn over your DM from Insta to the police if asked. Facebook’s defense was that the court order didn’t mention abortion, just a criminal investigation into a stillbirth. Uh huh. (I know pr flaks for Meta aren’t stupid, but apparently they think we are.)

Anything I ever put on those platforms is fair game — something I was always fully aware of and behaved accordingly.  Did you know many low-income people use Facebook Messenger instead of texting which incurs charges on most phone plans?

But here’s the thing: that time I needed an abortion, I had access to a safe, legal, medical procedure as part of my HMO health plan. I didn’t need to go searching for solutions I hoped would not be desperate enough to risk my life, my health, or my liberty. 


And I didn’t have to worry about snitches.

Do you work at a tech company? Do you have information on how they are handling data with regards to abortion rights? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Do you work at Facebook? Do you know of any other cases where Facebook or another tech company has provided information about an abortion to law enforcement? Reach out to jason.koebler@vice.com or securely on Signal: 202-505-1702

Israel Killing Children Again With U.S. Support

U.S. “aid” to Israel runs about $38 billion per year.

Israel is the top recipient of U.S. total “aid” receiving $146 billion as of 2020.

This is mostly in the form of credits to buy U.S. weapon systems where U.S. taxpayers pick up the tab. So, corporate welfare — which is business as usual for Congress and the White House.

So all this death and suffering is very much on U.S. hands.

The White House has the key role of issuing bland statements of tacit support for Israel’s war crimes, pretending to wish for peace. Because, as we all know, shipping lots of weapons to Yemen, Ukraine, etc. has resulted in much more peace for the people living there.

As long as these are the facts on the ground

anyone still calling for a two-state solution in Palestine is just blowing hot air. 

Land theft, water theft, destruction of homes, destruction of agricultural lands, and apartheid laws including segregated roads characterize Israel’s actions in the occupied territories.

The attempt to separate Palestinian refugees herded into the open air prison that is Gaza from the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Jerusalem has not succeeded. The most recent attacks on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem were understood as punishment for their support of people in Gaza — many of whom are their relatives.

President Joe Biden says he is a Zionist, as if adherance to a violently racist belief system were a source of pride. All of Maine’s congressional delegation vote and sound like Zionists, too. The blood of these innocent children is on their hands.

End Pentagon Climate Crimes! Say Veterans Arrested In DC

Before deciding to reduce my own emissions by taking action closer to home, I used to join Veterans for Peace members risking arrest in Washington DC to protest U.S. wars. VFP members’ motivation this week was an issue I’ve been focused on for years, and one that is finally getting some traction in the corporate press: the climate impact of the U.S. military. So I’m a bit sad that I wasn’t there with them.

I appreciate this group’s efforts to get our warmongering government to recognize that we’re in a climate emergency and act accordingly. VFP members also called attention to other dangerous enivronmental impacts of military pollution, from toxic burn pits to leaking jet fuel into the groundwater in Hawai’i.

Here’s the press release from their action in DC.

Military Veterans Arrested Demanding Presidential & Congressional Action on Climate Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Wednesday, August 3rd, seven military veterans and supporters were arrested near the U.S. Capitol Building. Members of Veterans For Peace, an organization of over 120 military veteran chapters worldwide, gathered at the foot of the Capitol demanding more robust action on addressing the climate crisis.

Veterans For Peace demands that the President and Congress:

  • Stop the U.S.-driven wars and all military weapons sales, shipments and support to nation states engaged in open armed conflict.
  • Require the U.S. military release a full report on their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States military does not publicly and regularly report its overall fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions—despite requirements laid out in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. DoD is estimated to emit more CO2 than over 120 separate countries.
  • Declare a Climate Emergency NOW–and use all the resulting Presidential powers including stopping the granting of new resource extraction permits and leases, e.g., drilling on public lands and pipeline construction, and strengthening of standards including air quality and methane emissions.
  • Cut the Pentagon Budget- Military spending should be reduced by at least $200 billion annually, freeing up $2 trillion or more over the next decade for domestic and human needs priorities. With those spending cuts, the Pentagon’s budget would remain more than enough to keep America safe at a level well above our nation’s post-World War II historical average.
  • Prioritize investing in communities in the U.S. impacted by the military and climate change and in the Global South including paying the U.S.’ climate debt.
  • Prioritize diplomacy over the threat of military force, beginning with negotiations for a global Climate Emergency Treaty and the renegotiation of lapsed nuclear arms treaties between U.S. and Russia.

“The military has done next to nothing to reduce their carbon footprint, either ignoring the climate mandate completely or just focusing on creating more advanced weapons systems that can continue to operate under worsening climate conditions. From the burn pits to nuclear waste to water contamination in Hawai’i, the U.S. military is responsible for an unprecedented amount of climate disasters. It is past time for Congress and the President to hold the U.S. military accountable for their catastrophic effects on the planet.” -Garett Reppenhagen, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, U.S. Army, Cavalry/Scout Sniper, OIF Veteran.

“I chose to risk arrest today because as a Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, I saw firsthand the devastation that the military has wrought on countries around the globe, including just 48 hours ago when the U.S. military issued yet another drone strike on Afghanistan. The U.S. spends unprecedented amounts of money on an ever-expanding U.S. military, using veterans like me as pawns in their justifications for more money. We need to be reducing U.S. militarism and redirecting that money towards climate solutions like renewable energy and resources that meet human needs.” -Chris Velazquez, OIF/OEF Veteran, 2004-2010

Interviews available upon request

####

 For Photos of the Event

“As a retired research geologist I fear the climate crisis. As a veteran, I know our military fuels this crisis and they have no accountability for their actions. It is too late for more talk, we need immediate action.” -Jim Rine, U.S. Army, 1970-73

“As a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads, Virginia, which has the largest naval institution in the world, I’ve seen the domestic environmental harm the military causes in my own backyard. From the dumping of jet fuel into wetlands in Virginia Beach to the contamination of our waterways from shipyards, it’s important to recognize all impacts of incessant militarism and say no to the military’s war on the climate.” T.J. Thompson, U.S. Navy, 1998-2004, deployed to South America, Mediterranean Cruise and the invasion of Iraq

“It is totally irresponsible for our government to spend billions of dollars funding wars abroad that accelerate the climate crisis while people are suffering at home without housing or food.” -Jeff Parente, U.S. Marine Corps, 2006-2014, OIF Veteran

“The money needed to avoid the worst results of climate change, as well as many other social issues that lack adequate funding, is the wasteful and bloated military budget. Not only that, the U.S. military is the greatest contributor to mounting ecological catastrophe.” -Joshua Farris, U.S. Army, 2000-2004, OIF veteran

“We’ve passed the point of return for our climate and our world. I am here because I know that we must do everything we can to mitigate the worst of what is to come. We must not sit back in apathy and hopelessness. The time to act is NOW.” -Stephanie Atkinson, U.S. Army Reserve, 1984-1990

“As a veteran I have seen first hand the waste of the U.S. military. I have also watched Congress say that they care about veterans and active duty members of the military as an excuse to enrich lobbyists and military contractors, while defunding any military benefits. Since leaving the military I have become a land conservation advocate and I believe I have a responsibility to speak out against U.S. militarism and the pollution that the military creates.” -Mike Marion, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1988-90, Panama

“One of the ways I atone for my actions when I was in the military in Iraq, before I knew any better, was to work towards a better world.  I want future generations to have a chance to live in a world that is not on fire.”  -Jules Vaquera, U.S. Air Force, OIF Veteran, 2000-2006

Contact: 314-899-4515, press@veteransforpeace.org

##

Check out VFP’s Climate and Militarism Project which is doing great work educating and resisting. 

End Pentagon Climate Crimes! Say Veterans Arrested In DC

Before deciding to reduce my own emissions by taking action closer to home, I used to join Veterans for Peace members risking arrest in Washington DC to protest U.S. wars. VFP members’ motivation this week was an issue I’ve been focused on for years, and one that is finally getting some traction in the corporate press: the climate impact of the U.S. military. So I’m a bit sad that I wasn’t there with them.

I appreciate this group’s efforts to get our warmongering government to recognize that we’re in a climate emergency and act accordingly. VFP members also called attention to other dangerous enivronmental impacts of military pollution, from toxic burn pits to leaking jet fuel into the groundwater in Hawai’i.

Here’s the press release from their action in DC.

Military Veterans Arrested Demanding Presidential & Congressional Action on Climate Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Wednesday, August 3rd, seven military veterans and supporters were arrested near the U.S. Capitol Building. Members of Veterans For Peace, an organization of over 120 military veteran chapters worldwide, gathered at the foot of the Capitol demanding more robust action on addressing the climate crisis.

Veterans For Peace demands that the President and Congress:

  • Stop the U.S.-driven wars and all military weapons sales, shipments and support to nation states engaged in open armed conflict.
  • Require the U.S. military release a full report on their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States military does not publicly and regularly report its overall fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions—despite requirements laid out in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. DoD is estimated to emit more CO2 than over 120 separate countries.
  • Declare a Climate Emergency NOW–and use all the resulting Presidential powers including stopping the granting of new resource extraction permits and leases, e.g., drilling on public lands and pipeline construction, and strengthening of standards including air quality and methane emissions.
  • Cut the Pentagon Budget- Military spending should be reduced by at least $200 billion annually, freeing up $2 trillion or more over the next decade for domestic and human needs priorities. With those spending cuts, the Pentagon’s budget would remain more than enough to keep America safe at a level well above our nation’s post-World War II historical average.
  • Prioritize investing in communities in the U.S. impacted by the military and climate change and in the Global South including paying the U.S.’ climate debt.
  • Prioritize diplomacy over the threat of military force, beginning with negotiations for a global Climate Emergency Treaty and the renegotiation of lapsed nuclear arms treaties between U.S. and Russia.

“The military has done next to nothing to reduce their carbon footprint, either ignoring the climate mandate completely or just focusing on creating more advanced weapons systems that can continue to operate under worsening climate conditions. From the burn pits to nuclear waste to water contamination in Hawai’i, the U.S. military is responsible for an unprecedented amount of climate disasters. It is past time for Congress and the President to hold the U.S. military accountable for their catastrophic effects on the planet.” -Garett Reppenhagen, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, U.S. Army, Cavalry/Scout Sniper, OIF Veteran.

“I chose to risk arrest today because as a Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, I saw firsthand the devastation that the military has wrought on countries around the globe, including just 48 hours ago when the U.S. military issued yet another drone strike on Afghanistan. The U.S. spends unprecedented amounts of money on an ever-expanding U.S. military, using veterans like me as pawns in their justifications for more money. We need to be reducing U.S. militarism and redirecting that money towards climate solutions like renewable energy and resources that meet human needs.” -Chris Velazquez, OIF/OEF Veteran, 2004-2010

Interviews available upon request

####

 For Photos of the Event

“As a retired research geologist I fear the climate crisis. As a veteran, I know our military fuels this crisis and they have no accountability for their actions. It is too late for more talk, we need immediate action.” -Jim Rine, U.S. Army, 1970-73

“As a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads, Virginia, which has the largest naval institution in the world, I’ve seen the domestic environmental harm the military causes in my own backyard. From the dumping of jet fuel into wetlands in Virginia Beach to the contamination of our waterways from shipyards, it’s important to recognize all impacts of incessant militarism and say no to the military’s war on the climate.” T.J. Thompson, U.S. Navy, 1998-2004, deployed to South America, Mediterranean Cruise and the invasion of Iraq

“It is totally irresponsible for our government to spend billions of dollars funding wars abroad that accelerate the climate crisis while people are suffering at home without housing or food.” -Jeff Parente, U.S. Marine Corps, 2006-2014, OIF Veteran

“The money needed to avoid the worst results of climate change, as well as many other social issues that lack adequate funding, is the wasteful and bloated military budget. Not only that, the U.S. military is the greatest contributor to mounting ecological catastrophe.” -Joshua Farris, U.S. Army, 2000-2004, OIF veteran

“We’ve passed the point of return for our climate and our world. I am here because I know that we must do everything we can to mitigate the worst of what is to come. We must not sit back in apathy and hopelessness. The time to act is NOW.” -Stephanie Atkinson, U.S. Army Reserve, 1984-1990

“As a veteran I have seen first hand the waste of the U.S. military. I have also watched Congress say that they care about veterans and active duty members of the military as an excuse to enrich lobbyists and military contractors, while defunding any military benefits. Since leaving the military I have become a land conservation advocate and I believe I have a responsibility to speak out against U.S. militarism and the pollution that the military creates.” -Mike Marion, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1988-90, Panama

“One of the ways I atone for my actions when I was in the military in Iraq, before I knew any better, was to work towards a better world.  I want future generations to have a chance to live in a world that is not on fire.”  -Jules Vaquera, U.S. Air Force, OIF Veteran, 2000-2006

Contact: 314-899-4515, press@veteransforpeace.org

##

Check out VFP’s Climate and Militarism Project which is doing great work educating and resisting. 

Is War A Hollywood Production?

“Not the Onion”

Many have observed that it’s nearly impossible to parody shit like Olena Zelensky being puffed by Vogue magazine. The flagship of Conde Nast’s pro-capitalism propaganda machine promoting NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine is not surprising, but the fact that many people consider war glamorous is pretty shocking. 

Since the U.S. dropped the military draft and now relies on the poverty draft for cannon fodder, the public in this country is mostly indifferent to the suffering inflicted by combat. Or maybe Vogue readers care about Ukrainians suffering because they are blond the mass media tells them to?

The U.S. destroyed social studies education during the bi-partisan debacle of No Child Left Behind, and it shows.

I’ve never lived in a war zone, unless you count inner cities devasted by poverty and police violence, but I grew up reading history and literature which often depicted the terrible effects of wars and genocides. I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one left who read Gone with the Wind in high school and concluded that a) war is hell and b) most people in doomed societies don’t see the writing on the wall until it’s way too late. A list of the all the anti-war books I was influenced by would now be replaced by a list of all the pro-war video games a young person has played. 

You shot the most bad guys! You win!!!!

I had to take a long weekend break from the news because the prospect of the freezer queen of insider trading provoking war with China via an ill-advised trip to Taiwan was, frankly, terrifying.

Also “Not the Onion” — Speaker Pelosi’s let-them-eat-ice cream moment during the 2020 Covid lockdown when she showcased her extravagence as little children starved in the street mere blocks from her mansion in San Francisco.

It would be hard to think of anyone less qualified to navigate sensitive diplomatic waters than Pelosi. It would also be hard to think of anyone more clueless to send on a mission signaling to China that their red line i.e. the U.S. abandoning its long standing “one-China” policy will be respected any more than Russia’s red line at the Ukraine border was respected. So she is sufficiently obtuse to be a useful pawn in this situation.

Even the Pentagon brass has said the trip is a bad idea. But they’re sending war planes to “protect” her anyway.

This is in the context of numerous provocations involving U.S. warships bullying others in the South China Sea.

The Confederacy thought they would sail to an easy victory during the first U.S. civil war. They believed the Christian God was on their side as they fought for the right to continue enslaving fellow human beings.

U.S. empire managers are making money hand over fist on the Ukraine war. Apparently all that money in the bank makes them giddy enough to believe they can beat great powers Russia and China, even with the two giants allied for their common defense.

The hubris of imperial thinking is evident at the end of every empire that exhausted its citizens through endless expansion and, often, ecocide. As the Ottoman Empire struggled to stave off its declining fortunes it unleashed the Armenian genocide, and the competition to grab its rich colonies escalated into WWI.

War is not a Hollywood production. 

War is hell, but a boomer like Pelosi has lived in blissful ignorance overseeing the policy of “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”

In a shrinking, burning planet there really is no over there anymore. There are only distractions, like ice cream and fashion, both of which would go quickly in a planetary conflagration lit by nuclear weapons. For me, personally, holding babies on my lap is not only a calming distraction but also restores my motivation to speak out against the madness.

So maybe there is a parody version of First Lady Zelensky’s photo shoot after all, one where the flesh is dripping from her bones as she stands amid piles of radioactive ash.

Excerpt from English translation of Barefoot Gen by Hiroshima survivor Keiji Nakazawa.


Click here for ways to take action on reducing the risk of nuclear war.

Reporting On Military’s Role In Driving Climate Crisis Too Negative For Corporate Media?

“Horrific heat descends upon Western Europe:  104° in London”
 Source: Yale Climate Connections (Image credit: tropicaltidbits.com)

Source: India Today

Following an extensive clampdown on information sharing — using the pretext of dangerous wronthink on the covid pandemic — no corporate media outlets and few social media posts in 2022 are in danger of connecting these dots: 

Despite years of research and reporting on the U.S. military’s enormous role in driving climate crisis, and despite record high temperatures and wildfires across the Global North, what messages are corporate media putting out?

Fear Russia and send more weapons to Ukraine. 

By astonishing coincidence, the popular Netflix horror series Stranger Things began production in 2016 and just happens to be set in the 1980’s, getting maximum mileage out of Cold War era bad guys.

Fear China, and conduct RIMPAC war games with South Korea and Japan blowing up battleships in the Pacific.  Also, focus on Taiwan as the location for the next U.S./NATO proxy war.

Remind people how beastly hot it is and how many unnecessary deaths result — but do not address the root cause: fighting wars for access to fossil fuels.

Admonish climatologists to not be so negative.

Spin “protecting the homeland and the United States” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) as necessary because Russia and China might get better access to fossil fuel reserves, rare earth minerals, and potable water in Latin America.

Promote WWIIIignoring the abundance of historical examples of what happened to empires that overextended in the mistaken belief that they were invincible.

Fiddle while Rome burns.

Image courtesy of ARRT! (Artists’ Rapid Response Team) arrteam.org

Garbage In, Garbage Out: The Nuclear Option

What we need: universal health care and urgent action on climate crisis.

What we get: a Democratic Party supported gargantuan Pentagon budget bill (and all the climate harm that goes along with it)

plus propaganda implying that nuclear war is survivable.

This message is from NYC Emergency Management, “not The Onion.” It would be virtually impossible to parody something that is already this ridiculous.

Pretending that the nuclear option is a viable option is galloping ahead of our species’ ability to survive. 

Part of this strategy is pretending that the nuclear option is survivable.

The claims in this video would not have been true in Hiroshima or Nagasaki 50 years ago, and they’re even more false today. Today’s nuclear weapons, which our corporate overlords have gone on building while people went without health care, are vastly more powerful than the old school versions. 

Meanwhile, sabre rattling at other nuclear powers is ramping up steadily.

Does it really matter which branch of the corporate duopoly is in power? 

Militarization Of Fragile Pacific Leaves Destruction And Death

“MUTUAL AID FOR RESIDENTS OF KAPILINA, whose drinking water was contaminated by the US military’s jet fuel into the Oahu aquifer!!” Source: Ann Wright

Today I am reposting a great op-ed which ran on July 4 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (emphasis and photos added by me). 

I met the author when we collaborated on a webinar during the COP26 Peoples Summit exposing the role of the U.S. military in driving climate crisis.

Militarization Of Fragile Pacific Leaves Destruction And Death

by Koohan Paik-Mander, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power In Space board member

While recently visiting Honolulu, I attended two events: the congressional town hall meeting about Red Hill, and sign-holding at Pearl Harbor (my sign read, “CLEAN UP RED HILL NOW!”).

I have to admit, the experience of being on Oahu was chilling.

Because, it is here that toxic decisions are made that impact our beautiful Pacific for generations. You see it all around you. Just pause, look behind the edifices, adjust your eyes to the shadows, read between the lines. This is how to glean clues on the classified plans now underway for war with China. They are affecting us all.

They say the Red Hill tanks can’t begin draining until the end of 2023 at the earliest. Congressman Kai Kahele pointed out a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that says that drainage depends upon the military’s ability to provide fuel for war by alternative means.

In other words, the purity of our drinking water is not as important as the Pentagon’s assessment of warfighting capabilities.

Right now, two alternative fuel storage facilities are being built. One of them is on pristine Larrakia land in northern Australia. The other is on Tinian, one of the lovely northern Mariana Islands.

We never hear about opposition overseas to construct these fuel tanks, nor the grievous cultural and environmental impacts, nor the fact that during any conflict, it is the fuel storage facility that is targeted by the enemy first, filling the skies with billows of black smoke for days.

Holding my sign at the Pearl Harbor base gate, I notice a Korean flag in the distance. My first thought was that it must be a Korean restaurant. Then, I saw shimmering water beyond. Apparently, I was on the harbor banks and the flag was actually attached to a docked warship. Its steel radar equipment peeked up from behind buildings.

South Korean government photo of the Marado


It was the Marado, the gigantic amphibious assault ship — as large as an aircraft carrier — but even more treacherous, because when a vessel that gargantuan plows into a reef, crushing everything on its path before lumbering onto shore to release battalions of troops, robots and vehicles, it is simply stomach-turning.

It is here for RIMPAC to enact the next world war, along with militaries from 26 other countries.

 They will sink ships, blast torpedoes, drop bombs, launch missiles, and activate whale-killing sonar. They will wreak havoc on the well-being of our ocean, hobbling its capacity as the single most important mitigating force to climate catastrophe.

I thought of the Marado berthed, just last month, at the new navy base on Jeju Island, Korea. The base is built atop a wetland, once bubbling with pure, freshwater springs — home to 86 species of seaweeds and over 500 species of shellfish, many endangered. Now paved over with concrete.

I thought of the Marado conducting “amphibious exercises by forcible entry” at Kaneohe Bay, on Oahu.

screenshot from video Valiant Shield 16 shared by Pentagon on Facebook in 2016

I thought of it ravaging Chulu Bay on Tinian, where, in 2016, environmentalists forced the cancellation of a Valiant Shield war maneuver because it coincided with the nesting of endangered turtles. When I visited Chulu Bay, it reminded me very much of Anini Beach on Kauai, except that, unlike Anini, it was wild and biodiverse and without multimilliondollar beachfront homes.

No one would allow such a thing on Anini where celebrities live. But because Chulu is invisible — which is also why it has continued until now to be so kaleidoscopically wild — it and so much of the Pacific have become fair game for unbridled military ecocide.

A weaponized Pacific is a dead Pacific.

And a dead Pacific is a dead planet.

Rocket Launch Site Coming Soon To A Pristine Coast Near You?

Link to video: The Hidden Problems of Rocket Launch Sites 

Rocket launch sites are popping up all over the planet. Here’s a website where a group of us have been collecting news of such and also the opposition on environmental grounds. Scroll down to read my recent article for Space Alert! about this growing problem.

Also, despite corporate press reports spotted herehere, and here

I do not believe that the approval process for a rocket launch site in Steuben, Maine is a foregone conclusion. 

(All three articles read like a rehash of the same press release without much actual reporting.) I say the proposed site is still up in the air because I found at least two people who live in Steuben or nearby who are opposed to the plan, and don’t believe any public hearings or votes on the subject have been held.

A comment on the Maine Biz article claimed that the town is a “Pinkham family controlled” town. I’m not sure what that entails, but if you can enlighten me I’d love to hear about it.

Space Alert spring/summer 2022 issue – 900 words

Rocket launch sites popping up all over

by Lisa Savage

When you hear the phrase “public-private partnerships” what do you think of  – maybe corporate branding on public university research centers, or billionaires raking in taxpayer-funded subsidies? Both of these associations would be true of an increasingly evident manifestation of such partnerships: the construction of multiple rocket launch sites around the planet. 

Promoters don’t like to call these rocket launch sites. They prefer the public relations value of calling the sites “spaceports” which sounds much more appealing and, not by coincidence, much less military.

In capitalist countries, new launch site construction is always sold as a good way to create jobs. Because sites are necessarily distant from population centers, they’re proposed in communities where jobs for wages are typically scarce. People in places that have already built launch sites, however, found the promised jobs never materialized. A crew of specialists arrive to handle the occasional launch while the only permanent jobs are a few for security guards and custodians.

Space Alert! has previously reported on sites in Indonesia, Guyana, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It should be noted that it is common for nations to use launch sites located in other nations, so enticements like a decade of free internet service are used to persuade economically depressed countries to host a site. What follows is an overview of what we know about proposed launch sites and local resistance to their toxic fallout.

SaxaVord in Unst, Shetland has seen some evidence of a planned launch site including reports of an environmental impact statement that is unavailable online. Shetlanders have shown themselves to be vigorous advocates for environmental conservation in the past, and it’s likely many would oppose a rocket launch site in the island northernmost in Scotland.

Last winter, the Welsh Government released a National Space Strategy for Wales citing job creation in high-skilled technology professions and monetary rewards for locales identified as Cardiff, Newport, Port Talbot, Broughton, Llanbedr (Gwynedd), Aberporth, and Radnorshire. The profiteers included numerous companies specializing in missile technology and military training: Raytheon, Qinetiq, Quioptiq, and Airbus Defence and Space.

Less than half of the 20 “spaceports” listed by the United States Federal Aviation Administration have seen rocket launches so far. These are scattered around the nation including sites in Florida, Texas, Kodiak (Alaska), and New Mexico but there are many more locations proposed. 

Michigan is one of many states where groups are working to develop rocket launch sites. In August of 2021, the state hosted a North American Space Summit to bring together rocket profiteers and investors. Investors at the summit were told that building commercial rocket launch sites could be a “space gold rush” with the chance of creating next-gen Silicon Valley tech profits. But no such sites in the U.S. have been profitable yet. Pentagon watchers theorize that the reason the U.S. military is using grants to encourage the construction of many sites right now is to gain an advantage in bargaining down the price of launching from them.

Still, many Michigan residents are opposing a plan to put a rocket launch site at the edge of Lake Superior. And voters in the state of Georgia recently rejected a plan for Camden County to purchase land to launch commercial rockets. Opponents who forced the referendum expressed concerns about environmental harms and safety risks.

Where I live in the U.S. we recently organized to oppose the creation of a public-private partnership called the Maine Space Corporation. A bill was rushed through a public hearing without notice and passed by the lower house of the Maine legislature without a roll call vote. Why the urgency? To create a public structure that allowed private corporations and public universities to apply for grants from the federal government in order to develop sites. One of the aerospace companies involved already had extensive contracts with the U.S. military. Another claims to be operating in a purely educational realm with close ties to the state’s university system. Any profits derived from using future launch sites will, of course, be privately held. So far no launch site has been constructed, and commercial fishermen successfully imposed a moratorium in a proposed location at the municipal level. Needless to say, we will monitor future developments closely and spread the word via our website notoxicrockets4me.org.

The lands of indigenous people continue to be invaded and colonized by for-profit and/or military launch sites over community objections. In Texas, the Comecrudo Tribe has filed suit citing the American Indian Religious Freedom Act on the grounds that it is violated by the closure of public beaches during SpaceX rocket testing. Comecrudo ceremonies on sacred days must be conducted at the beach. Joined by environmental groups, their suit says such closures also violate the Texas Constitution and names the county and the Texas General Land Office as being in violation.

Kati Rocket Lab in New Zealand was sold to indigenous people whose land it is on as a purely civilian facility and launch site. Lockheed Martin Corporation now runs Rocket Lab and the peace community in NZ is protesting this betrayal as military technology is now hoisted from the launch site.

As launch sites proliferate, so do launches. The rapid growth of new satellites which join older objects already in orbit plus a lot of non-functioning junk has implications for climate, the ozone layer, wildlife exposure to disruptive sound pollution, and toxic fallout here on Earth.

Only A General Strike Will Secure The Right To Safe, Legal Abortion

Yesterday I endangered the 20 people I was with, standing on the pavement thinking about the government. I yelled at an older man in a car with NY license plates who was mansplaining that Maine still has access to safe medical abortion. I asked him if he had a uterus and then told him “If you don’t have a uterus then shut the f up” (yes, I said f not the f word). Luckily he did not become angry and shoot anyone. He just said, “Nice language, lady” and drove away.

I’ve apologized to the event organizer for losing my temper. 

The incident made me realize how deeply angry I am about the attack on people who can get pregnant, by attackers who can’t. 

I was disappointed by the coverage in the local paper which focused on the need to vote harder for Democrats. Really? Y’all still falling for that bullshit that got us to where we are today?

Honestly, though, I just became a hair more willing to vote for the Democratic incumbent for governor, a woman who has disappointed numerous times with her craven pandering to big business. Her challenger is the old incumbent, a man who arguably was channeling 45 before that demagogue had even made it to the White House. Rude, crude, and would definitely strip Maine of reproductive rights if he were able. (And ranked choice voting does not apply to the election for governor in our state.)

Some of my friends are posting as former wards of the state about their hellish experiences in foster care. They are challenging the narrative that adoption is a magic wand that solves unwanted pregnancy problems. They are reminding us that they were kicked to the curb after aging out of the system at 18; many ended up unhoused, exploited, addicted, or dead.

I’m also reminded of the now decades old statistical analysis pointing out that access to safe, legal abortions caused the U.S. crime rate to plummet. (If you’ve not heard about this theory before, you can listen or read about it here on the Freakonomics site.) There’s no doubt that policing and incarceration are systems built to keep white people at the top of the heap. Unfortunately, those are constants in the U.S. But did legalizing abortion in the 1970’s have a ripple effects on the rate of violent crime 20 years later?

As a teacher for 25 years I had occasion to know many families. The vast majority of people love their kids — even moms and dads who didn’t particularly want children to be born into poverty and who are struggling themselves after a bad childhood. Parents and other caregivers (increasingly grandparents after their own child succumbs to substance use disorder) don’t always make the choices that seem wise to their teachers. Educators are a middle class bunch, mostly raised by parents that had resources and took the job seriously. We are often judgmental about the suffering we see and who’s causing it. 

If you haven’t lived a childhood full of trauma it can be hard to empathize with those who have. The scars are invisible, but they are deep.

I worked with children in dire poverty for many years. Subsequently, I wrote a novel about their struggles and triumphs; the book includes trafficking, sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. My protagonist experiences all of the above but she triumphs in the end because she’s a bad ass who’s able to find her way into nurturing communities. She has a safe, legal abortion while other characters are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. Now I’m revising while trying to find an agent and/or publisher. If you have any suggestions for me, I want to hear them.

You can buy this cool poster here on the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) website.

I could end this post by saying, see you on the streets, but I’m pretty sure only a general strike will turn this ship around. Easy for a retired person like me to say, but if all the women and girls who could manage it stayed home from work next week, within a month Congress would have passed and the president would have signed a law guaranteeing the legality of abortion throughout the U.S.

We must hit our corporate overlords in the pocketbook by withholding labor in order to get their attention.

Of course then Democrats would lose the ability to fundraise off the abortion political football. And I’m pretty sure we’re all clear on which they value more: $$$$ or basic human rights. Under their leadership, what’s the only wealthy country on the planet that doesn’t have universal health care? Of which abortion on demand is just one component.

The fervor of this young person attempting to communicate with the president’s motorcade in Los Angeles this month is what’s needed now. What are they shouting? 

“An abortion ban will not stop abortions! Only safe ones!!!”

I’m Reading A Very Dangerous Book: How Civil Wars Start

Cars were weaponized in Charlottesville in 2017, resulting in the death of people protesting the Unite the Right rally. Several states have since legalized running protesters over with a motor vehicle.

‘m reading a very dangerous book. It jumped off the recommendations shelf of my public library because its title is something I’ve been thinking about lately: How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them (Penguin Random House, 2022)by Barbara F. Walter, professor of International Relations in the University of California system. To say that she’s pushing a neoliberal agenda would be putting it mildly. 

The book purports to share findings from research into civil wars and the conditions that precede them. The concept leans heavily on “democracy” in that the author claims nations rapidly democratizing or moving rapidly away from democratic governing structures are most vulnerable to civil war. Do I need to mention that the domestic demons in her book are 45 supporters that cannot or will not accept his defeat at the polls in 2020? Prior to that the U.S. was a beacon of democracy for the whole world [sarcasm, mine not hers].

The extent to which a government entirely captured by business interests and operated for their benefit while denying basic rights like health care and housing could be called democratic I will leave you to ponder.

What’s so dangerous about this book?

As with most powerful propaganda of our day, the danger lies in the multitude of information conveniently left out of the author’s narrow frame. As one example of what I mean, let’s consider how civil wars of the last few decades are presented completely devoid of reference to CIA meddling or to “color revolutions” orchestrated by neoliberal foundations paving the way for business.

Walter poses the question, “When does sporadic vioence escalate into civil war?” and then ignores the influence of outside forces. She is worse than willfully ignorant because she’s deliberately misleading the public, including students, who may read her book while swimming in the sea of misinformation provided 24/7 by U.S. corporate media.

She tells us helpfully that “The CIA has been studying this question for decades, in an effort to quell insurgencies around the world — in effect, to stop civil wars before they start.” Gosh that would be news to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and the nations that once made up Yugoslavia. Their experience: the U.S. covertly funds insurgencies to effect regime change that favors neoliberal economic interests. Also Ukraine, where U.S. governmental agencies have literally been arming neo-Nazi militias for over a decade to fight their ethnic Russian neighbors in the Donbas.

But the central thesis of Walter’s book is not telling lies about the ways and means of U.S. foreign policy. It is ringing the alarm bell to let us know that the U.S. is poised on the brink of civil war right here at home. 

No shit. 

Anyone who’s been paying attention since, say, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, five years ago is well aware of this growing danger. 

To take our temperature in the current moment, here’s a report back from Couer d’Alene, Idaho where white supremacist groups organized to disrupt a PRIDE event, and antifascists organized to prevent them. There were inklings of this in Maine this year, too, where nothing of consequence happened in the streets but online saw a lot of sabre rattling, bulletproof vest displaying, and boasting about plans to counter PRIDE in Portland with a “white lives matter” rally.

Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier, a Black woman, explained her understanding of this illogical counter messaging:

Basically there are groups here and there are individuals here that want to make their presence known in opposition to anything that is celebrating any marginalized identity..

It could be PRIDE, it could be a Black Lives Matter protest..any event that is in celebration of a group that has been historically under-represented.

“Bikes lie on the ground after a car struck multiple Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City on Dec. 11.”
 Timothy A. Clary/AFP Getty Images Source: Slate.com

One of my favorite jeremiad authors, Chris Hedges, has roots in rural Maine. He often writes about how neoliberal economic policies have abandoned the working class in places like the one where he grew up. One of Hedge’s recent essays, “America’s Gun Fetish” is worth a read in the context of civil war abrewing. Austerity drives radicalization, and as white people lose power and feel backed into a corner economically, they turn ever more toward violence.

My neighbors in rural Maine have been noticing an influx of heavily armed men “from away” i.e. not from Maine who spend an inordinate amount of time shooting weapons after purchasing some acres in the woods. One group has filled the trees in a neighbor’s wood lot with bullets. Another shoots in the general direction of people growing food nearby. To say that these woods are full of doomsday preppers would be putting it mildly, and there seems to have been an influx since the COVID shutdowns of early 2020. Property values in Maine have skyrocketed, and it isn’t not just wealthy urbanites acquiring second and third homes.

Anecdotal evidence, I know. 

Here’s another piece: Sen. Susan Collins and her husband just put their Bangor home on the market following an incident where someone scribed a polite appeal to protect women’s reproductive rights in chalk on her sidewalk. She called the cops (who, to their credit, said no crime was apparent in chalking a public sidewalk) and then the city public works department showed up at taxpayer expense to clean away the offending message.

Is Collins retreating to make her home in a gated community? Time will tell.

We know that member of Congress are scared, Supreme Court justices are scared, and little children in schools have been scared for years now. I’m scared every time a gunman mows down Black grocery shoppers or Jewish worshippers or anyone else targeted for their race, religion, or ethnicity. 

A nation built on attempted genocide of indigenous people and enslavement of kidnapped African people, a nation that continues to kill and imprison Black, Brown, and indigenous people at alarming rates, probably has such bad karma that it could only end in violent discord.

One of the more chilling depictions of the rise of Nazism in Germany. It’s fiction, but based on true events. Not sure why this book is not more widely known.

I know from reading about the rise of Nazism in Germany that one day you’re saying hi to your neighbors and the next day they’re spouting hate speech and you’re left wondering what the hell happened.

Now I have a moral dilemma about How Civil Wars Start: return the book to the library to do its work on young minds, or throw it in the trash where it belongs?

Leave your opinion in the comments.

Pathways To Progress Talk Show With Portland Maine City Councilors #mepolitics

Some of you know that I host a monthly television program in Portland, Maine with two newly elected city councilors. Pathways to Progress runs on cable tv (channel 5) and now streams live on the Portland Media Center site

This month, Councilors Victoria Pelletier and Roberto Rodriguez joined me to talk about racism in the schools and in local politics, and threats that were circulating on the eve of the city’s annual PRIDE celebration (which occurred without violence, thankfully). 

We also talked about a theme near and dear to both their hearts: role modeling for young BIPOC leaders who will follow.

Enjoy! And expect our next show July 29 at 7pm EDT on portlandmedia.org/live.

Direct link if embedded video does not work for you: youtu.be/ONhMEXBnJLM.

Calling For A Radical Break With The Status Quo Of Incrementalism — Cheri Honkala

While Democrats march around in Washington DC pretending they care about quality of life for poor people, it’s important to remember who actually walks the walk as opposed to just talking the talk.

A joint press conference held by the Philadelphia-based Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign with the Black Alliance for Peace, shared these words of wisdom via zoom on June 16, 2022. Note that the PPEHRC operates as the Poor People’s Army, a well-established organization that has struggled and won housing for single mothers and their children. Details about attending their August boot camp to learn how it’s done are at the end of this post.

Poor People’s Army, Philadelphia (Source: PPEHRC Facebook)

PPEHRC and BAP Joint Press Conference June 16, 2022 

Statement from Cheri Honkala 

Today is our day to break silence regardless of the fear of the consequences. We are honored to take this step along with the Black Alliance for Peace & dear Pastor Keith Collins from Church of the Overcomer. We have no choice but to be here today – not because we want to be here, but because we have a responsibility to our ancestors & brothers & sisters struggling for survival at home and abroad. We come here today on the days before the weekend where many children, like my son, will grieve their father on Father’s Day because this system and the reform path took his life and never gave him a chance. It is because of this ongoing war at home, literally not symbolically, that we can no longer afford incrementalism. We must make a radical break with a system that is killing our family members. 

The drug war has taken more lives than have been lost during Vietnam. My son doesn’t weep alone this Father’s Day. He weeps with children in Palestine, Yemen, Africa, Venezuela, and all over the world because we continue to stand silent as our violent government continues to deny the basic necessities of life and fails to prevent human rights violations at home and abroad. There is no reason for gun deaths in our country. There is no reason for hunger or homelessness – this is the land of plenty. If we wanted to, we could address all of these issues but we live in a country that continues to kill the dreams of children all over the world. 

From the poor in Kensington, Philadelphia to the poor all over the world, we stand with you today. We see you. We hear you. These wars of sanctions and allocating billions for war need to stop, and they need to stop now.

How dare we stand by as billions are spent on war when children all over the world, and here in Kensington, go without water, health care, food or a place to lay their heads tonight. 

We understand we are on the precipice of an economic revolution. Robots and computers are replacing human labor faster and faster. The potential exists for a society where everyone has the basic necessities of life and where war and famine are prevented and where problems are collectively solved. We are calling for a radical break with the status quo of incrementalism and doing business as usual. We are moving forward in the tradition of other forward thinking pioneers and ancestors. We are building a Poor People’s Army. Today we reconfirm our commitment to building this Poor People’s Army and ask you for your support in doing that. Join with us and the Black Alliance for Peace. We will be holding a Boot Camp in Philadelphia August 12-14 and we encourage you to join us in this endeavor. We intend to map out our plans to take back the basic necessities of life by taking land, taking housing, taking food and ensuring that everyone gets educated around a People’s Centered Human Rights model. The ruling class has betrayed us thousands of times – what makes us think this will be any different. We want to move away from the US exceptionalism that keeps us from uniting from the rest of the world. Now is the time in our lives for all walks of life – artist, faith people, and musicians to get off the treadmill that is taking us nowhere. Everyone has lost someone to preventable causes. It’s time we put an end to a system that is killing us and create the kind of cooperative society that we can all flourish in.

Statement from Ajamu Baraka

Black Alliance for Peace 

Thank you all for attending this morning. And thank you PPEHRC that has been at the forefront of the domestic struggle human rights in this country, and especially we want to acknowledge the visionary leadership of our dear sister and comrade Cheri Honkela. 

It is indeed an honor to for BAP to be a part of this gathering to lean our voice to call for a shift in priorities away from the cult of death and oppression represented by the policies of this administration from the streets of Philly to the completely avoided, and we say in BAP, the manufactured war in Ukraine. 

We say this morning as groups are gathering this weekend to supposedly to challenge this state’s continued avoidance of the issue of poverty, that poverty and its eradication can not occur without the acknowledgement that it will take fundamental structural change by popular forces that are independently organized and prepared to challenge the entrenched power of capital operating through the duopoly and currently through the Neoliberal Biden administration. 

Dr. King reminded us of the connection between racism, materialism (capitalism) and militarism – he referred to these as the giant triplets. In remind the movement of these fundamental relationships and declaring his opposition to the war in Vietnam he earned the wrath of the entire liberal establishment and had his life taken from him one year to the date of his declaration to break the silence on war. 

This ultimate sacrifice is the model that must be assumed if one if serious about human rights. One can not have one foot in the establishment, echoing its most backward positions on issues like the war in Ukraine, and the other foot with the people declaring solidarity with the people suffering from the rapacious greed and violence of a ruling class operating through the two capitalist parties.

One has to make a choice – you are either with the people all the way – or with the enemies of human rights, democracy, and global social justice. 

Today PPEHRC and BAP declare our firm commitment to the life-affirming values of equality, social justice, cooperation, participatory democracy, self-determination, and non-oppression represented by the PCHR framework. 

However, we recognize that we are not going to realize PCHRs by just criticizing the rulers or begging for them to recognize HRS. We understand that the realization of HRs must come about as the result of struggle. 

That is why BAP is joining hands with PPEHRC in their efforts to build a Poor People’s Army, a non-violent army dedicated to ground working class and poor people in the PCHR framework and collectively through our own agency creating the conditions where we can experience the full range of HRs. 

People-Centered Human Rights (PCHR) are those non-oppressive rights that reflect the highest commitment to universal human dignity and social justice that individuals and collectives define and secure for themselves through social struggle

The people-centered framework proceeds from the assumption that the genesis of the assaults on human dignity that are at the core of human rights violations is located in the relationships of oppression. The PCHR framework does not pretend to be non-political. It is a political project in the service of the oppressed. It names the enemies of freedom: the Western white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy. 

The demands for clean water; safe and accessible food; free quality education; healthcare and healthiness for all; housing; public transportation; wages and a socially productive job that allow for a dignified life; ending of mass incarceration; universal free child care; opposition to war and the control and eventual elimination of the police; self-determination; and respect for democracy in all aspects of life are some of the people-centered human rights that can only be realized through a bottom-up mass movement for building popular power. 

That is the historical task we face, and the historic responsibility that we have assumed for ourselves and call on everyone to recognize this task and come off the fence. 

Neither party represents the needs and interests of the people and that understanding must be front and center in our analysis and our politics. 

That is and will be the message of the Poor People’s Army that will guide us to victory!

Press conference recording (Direct link if embedded video does not work for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm0-sc3CvLg)

Statement from Pastor Keith Collins, Minister with the Inner CityFaith Congress & Lancaster Mennonite Conference

Excerpt:

And someone once said, Why is it that we reject the charity model? Shouldn’t the Church support charity? 

Well. the reason we reject the charity model is very simple.

Charity is vertical charity is from the top down, and in charity the people that are on the top remain on the top and the people that are on the bottom usually remain on the bottom or very close to the bottom.

We believe in a faith-based model, that that celebrates solidarity.

Solidarity is always horizontal. It respects all those around you, and respects each other person as our equal. It is not a condescending agenda, but it’s an agenda that empowers everyone.  

##  


The Biden administration and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress are called the trifecta because presumably a party in control of those branches can get shit done. Although they ran on empty promises like Medicare for All, forgiving student loan debt, and extensive claims that they would serve actual people’s actual needs far better than their Republican rivals, what Democrats have actually delivered is mostly a horrifically expensive proxy war with Russia. The $54 billion or so sent to Ukraine has enriched U.S. weapons manufacturers as working class and low-income people here struggle with soaring housing costs, soaring fuel costs, soaring food costs, and medical bankruptcy. 

A glitzy march on Washington with free sandwiches on the bus does nothing to address the fundamental problems facing poor people in the U.S., and may or may not have served as a get out the vote boost for the midterms. 

How much hungrier will poor people be come November? Will they organize on their own behalf rather than following Democrats down the road to perdition?

If you want to help organize on behalf of housing and other human needs in your area, consider attending the PPEHRC boot camp outside Philadelphia this summer. Learn from the best! And don’t forget who your real friends are.

Cecile Pineda, Mimi German, & Me On Homelessness: Past And Present

Photo from Urban Compassion Project in Oakland, California. You can join me in supporting this organization in their collaborative work to meet the needs of unhoused communities including but not limited to removing the trash that housed people routinely dump at encampments.

Today’s blog post is a collaboration that was the brainchild of my friend Cecile Pineda (author of Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World among many other books). She offers a historical perspective stemming from a trip to India, and she invited her friend Mimi German, co-founder of Jason Barns Landing, a transitional community in Portland, Oregon, to contribute an account of how activists are addressing homelesness in their communities. At Cecile’s invitation, I contributed  statistics about the magnitude of our failure to guarantee housing as a human right in the biggest, wealthiest empire ever.

What India Can Teach Us About Homelessness

by Cecile Pineda
(Fact checking by Srinivas Reddy
 
I arrived in India in 1988 after a 16-hour flight, my body so allergic to aniline dye, it had broken out in hives. I was met at 2 AM by a turbaned taxist who attempted to take me to my “hotel.” 
 
I was not too tired, and my body not too riddled with hives that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. We must have travelled many miles on the approach to Bombay proper. They were all  lined with shanty towns, “towns”  people had cobbled together from corrugated roofing plastic, corrugated cardboard, and wooden planks that had seen much better wear. I asked my taxist about them.
 
Welcome to India
 
My taxist replied that they were bull dosed at regulator intervals, turned to dust essentially, although the people living there had nowhere  left to go. Within less than a day, my well-meaning taxist assured me, they would be rebuilt and life there would go on.
 
By now it was close to 3 AM. My “hotel”  (which turned out to be something of a flop house although the people there would take good care of me, as my friend Pearl, an actress with the Bombay Talkies would assure me) was off Ashoke Kumar in a little side street which for one block only had been whimsically named Jump Rope Walk. After multiple tries not finding it, my taxist proceeded to take me to the middle class hotel district where at that hour, every doorman was sleeping on the threshold and didn’t want to be disturbed. We had tried several threshold-sleeping doormen before I began wondering why I let myself be pushed about by this upstart taxist of 25. “Take me to the Taj,” I said. Replied he, ”you can’t afford the Taj.”  I summoned my most persuasive tone, “take me to the Taj, there’s eight rupees in it for you.”
 
Although by then it was approaching 4 AM, at the Taj I knew there’d be a telephone. I phoned. “Oh, Madam, we have been waiting for you. Just lift the corrugated iron gate,” and the voice described how Jump Rope Walk was to be found. “It’s just off Ashoke Kumar.”  
 
When I lifted that impossibly heavy gate, I found a dhoti- clad boy waiting for me. The foyer was  without light of any kind but he didn’t seem to care.  He disdained carrying my bags so, flashlight held securely in my mouth, we started the ascent of what turned out to be seven floors of factories before reaching the “hotel.” On the first riser, I felt the stair move. Someone was sleeping there. The “rent” was one ana a night. Each sleeping person had paid one ana to sleep on those stairs, all seven flights, every single riser occupied.
 
While I waited for USIA to make ready to hear me read from my newly Viking-published novel, Frieze, I made the short trip to Aurangabad (site of the Buddhist Ajanta caves, and the Hindu Ellora Caves). There was only one train, and it left late at night.  Arrived on the platform, I stepped  over hundreds  if not thousands of sleeping bodies wrapped in burlap all huddled together as I imagine a Middle Passage tight-pack might have been.
 
 
The “Golden” Age of The Maharajas
 
Even before the Age of the Maharajahs, the 9th century Cholas of South India would think nothing of gifting a human being who happened to be a skilled stone carver to the Sanjaya dynast to decorate his harem in what is now known as Java.  Frieze, my second published novel, chronicles the story of one such carver. 

 Regional Aristocractic Palaces Lining Holy River Ganga

By the Age of the Maharajas (17th century to the end of the Raj in 1947) with the help of the British and Dutch East India Company, stealing from the common people become predictably  routine. Maharajas made war against other Maharajahs for territorial gains, kept entire stables just for housing war elephants, erected forts, temples and palaces, harems for wives and concubines, sometimes as many as 1000 (according to rumor they kept them satisfied, each and every one) and established foundations to benefit widows and orphans. 

Jantar Mantar Staircases in Jaipur

In the 18th century Rajput King Sawal Jai Singh even built the Jantar Mantar, an observatory located in the Rajasthan city of Jaipur. Some Maharajas built multiple royal cities. Akbar built Agra Fort and the royal city of Fatepur Sikri

Inner Courtyard of Fatepur Sikri

based on a saint’s guarantee that he would sire a desired male heir. 

Inner Coridor at Fatepur Sikri

The city would run out of water ten years later, but it was Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan, who took his erection complex to a whole new level, but building the Taj beggared Shah Jahan’s treasury so Aurangzeb after declaring his father incompetent, had him imprisoned in Agra Fort. He made sure there would be no more erection complex as long as his father lived. On a clear day Shah Jahan could still admire the Taj from its distant view across the Yamuna River till eight years later when he died.

Taj Mahal

By the 19th century India had sunk into a state of gothic decay. When the Maharajah of Bangalore built his palace, its walls were studded with precious stones and in true Trumpian style, he had it fitted it with solid gold furniture.
 
In cahoots with the British, all the wealth the Maharajas managed to accumulate they did by stealing from the common people. Which is why after 300 years of stealing, you feel stairs that move in the dark, you step over people wrapped in burlap sleeping in tight-pack formation along railway stations platforms, and you see miles and miles of cobbled together shanty towns piling up along the highways in all of India’s big cities, of which Bombay is but one example.
 
What Three Hundred Years of Stealing from the American Taxpayer by a Congress Held Captive by the Pentagon Will Look Like
 
The Pentagon is not interested in building temples or palaces, some in far better taste than Bangalore’s. It isn’t interested in founding institutions to benefit all the widows and orphans it immiserates throughout the world. It’s only interested in more silos from which to  launch intercontinental missiles, more bunker busters, more supersonic bombers, more drones, more trident-armed nuclear submarines, more tanks, more weapons of mass destruction, more nuclear bombs, more pyroclastic ordnance to use in its covert nuclear wars.
 
Which is why people still wait for state-subsidized child care, why people have yet to see the dawn of state-subsidized Medicare-for-All, why the rights of women to make their own decisions about the use of contraception and abortion is still being contested (where else would the Pentagon get the cannon fodder manpower for operating all that military hardware), why people are forced to live in tents all along highways and railway rights of way of the world’s Number One nation, why incarcerated people are forced to work for slave wages for major corporations (Victoria’s Secrets, Aunt Jemima, Tampax Tampons, Crest Toothpaste, and Angel Soft Toilet Paper to name but a few of hundreds) and what in true slave patrol style, mostly Black, Brown, Asian and trans people are routinely sacrificed by Israeli-trained police.
 
Just imagine what 300 more years of stealing by a Congress held captive by the Pentagon might look like. But as it stands immiseration and homelessness in the U. S. of A., despite their swelling numbers, remain in their infancy.
 

Homelessness by the numbers 

by Lisa Savage
(Lisa was chosen by Cecile as her successor blog writer.)
 
The United States is believed to have more than half a million people unhoused. Accurately counting people experiencing homelessness is challenging, and the most recent effort at the national level dates back to January 2020. The SARS-COV-2 pandemic that followed complicated counting, resulted in innovative shelter arrangements using vacant hotel rooms, and may have lowered the actual number unhoused in part due to a moratorium on evictions, increased unemployment compensation, and limited cash subsidies.
 
“Over a period lasting more than a decade, the nation has not made any real progress in reducing the number of Americans at risk of homelessness.”
State of Homelessness: 2021 Edition
 
But it’s likely that the dip in total numbers unhoused was temporary. Evictions and foreclosures resumed and cash subsidies dried up under the Biden administration, and medical debt in the absence of universal health care continues as the leading cause of default on homeowner mortgages. Housing costs, both rent and purchase prices, are now skyrocketing, pricing people out of housing they have relied upon for years. As of March 2020 home prices in the U.S. had risen 21% over the previous year.
 
 
“A clear question is whether or not it should take a public health emergency to galvanise governments and support systems into making an intense effort to end street homelessness.”
Homelessness and the pandemic (March 2022)
 
Now that inflation is galloping while wages fail to keep up, we can expect even more people will be unable to obtain housing they can afford in the coming years.
 
Who can afford housing?
 
The uber wealthy and those who serve them in government seem to have no difficulty supporting several mansions in different locations.

Obama’s $12 million Home on Martha’s Vineyard


 
The increase in net worth of the 1% has skyrocketed during the pandemic.
 
“As the U.S. crosses the grim milestone of 1 million deaths from Covid-19, U.S. billionaires have seen their combined wealth rise over $1.7 trillion, a gain of over 58 percent during the pandemic.”
Inequality.org (May 2022)
 
And specifically the war in Ukraine has proven highly profitable for big weapons manufacturers, with most posting record profits. This should surprise no one paying attention to their having been called to the White House for a classified planning session and the U.S. sending roughly $53 billion of U.S. public funds for “aid” to Ukraine, i.e. mostly weapon systems.
 
Meanwhile President Biden tweets every day that the U.S. economy has never been better (and is ratioed daily on Twitter for these absurd claims).
 
Most of us have anecdotal experience of the burgeoning tents and encampments of people who are unhoused  in cities across the nation. From Oakland, California to Portland, Maine those who work with the unhoused say their numbers are increasing rapidly.
 
Much has been made of Russian oligarchs and, particularly, their yachts. What of U.S. oligarchs? Senator Joe Manchin has a houseboat so lavish it might reasonably be considered a home, and it’s hard to determine how many other mansions Manchin owns.
 
Will the oligarchs of the U.S. go the way of the Maharajas of India? Stay tuned.
 

Housing the Houseless

by Mimi German
(Cecile’s note: I first met Mimi at an anti-nuclear conference at San Lius Obispo, the site of the Diablo Canyon NPP bordering the sea.)
 
As a volunteer advocate for unhoused people and a co-founder of Jason Barns Landing, a transitional community for unhoused people, how I think we can help the “homeless crisis,” my response is two-fold. First, house people. The second is, love more.
 
We know that we can house people if we choose to house people. Inventory is available if you know where to look and you understand how to use money in a way that actually benefits those who are its intended population.
 
A few months ago, Street Roots, our local newspaper run by houseless people, created a multi-step response regarding how to house our unhoused neighbors. It’s brilliant and chock full of common sense. From their statement, “The humanitarian crisis on our streets requires urgent action. Our homelessness crisis is caused by a lack of affordable, accessible housing, and it is intensified by oppressive forces like racial injustice, health inequities and profound wealth inequality.”
 
We can do better by placing people “in already-built motels and existing housing, which can be quickly converted into the supported permanent housing that people need and want.” 
 
Many people still think that building more shelters is the answer. Shelters do absolutely nothing toward getting people into housing and off the streets. They are too often, dangerous places for women, places high in theft, have addiction barriers, have no support services available, are overcrowded, and shelters have rules regarding open and close times that do not work for everyone, including mandatory rules regarding exiting the shelter all day long from the early hours of morning until 8 pm at night.
 
A further response is to “recognize the leadership of autonomous villages governed by people experiencing homelessness.” Outreach to organized villages and camps working on their autonomous structure to ensure toilets, dumpsters and trash hauling, food support, and medical services along with housing advocacy, gets to these camps.  Support the efforts of the unhoused rather than disrupt or ignore them.

What we’ve done in the recent past is build tarpees for folks to live in, designed by Paul Paul Cheyok’ten Wagner — a member of the Saanich First Nations of Vancouver Island and an artist and inventor.  He designed a contemporary teepee that costs thousands of dollars less than a traditional teepee and uses materials found in any hardware store. We discussed the tarpee idea with the camp and they asked to have them built. We agreed that no money would ever be exchanged for the tarpees and that we would make every concerted to house BIPOC houseless peoplefirst

The Houseless Industrial Complex (HIC) needs to be taken out at the knees, buckled to the ground and boot-stomped until its dead. It is because the HIC makes so money off of the unhoused, that we have unhoused folks on the street. It’s cheaper to house people than pay the emergency room visits for each person. But without houseless people, the ‘sweeps’ companies, paid to sweep away the unhoused people from the street and steal their belongings, would be out of hundreds of millions of dollars. In Portland, Rapid Response is the largest contractor with the city. They conduct sweeps. They employ people who have just been released from the Prison Industrial Complex to do the dirty work of sweeping people. The Joint Office of Houseless Services, the pairing of the County and City ‘efforts’ to house people, exists only if houseless people exist. The JOHS makes billions of dollars to make sure houseless people continue to exist rather than to be housed.

Mitigation starts with love and a true understanding of what is needed by unhoused people. How do we get to that understanding? By listening to the people who are in need of housing. We can house everyone over a relatively short period of time. From there, we can bring in the support needed. We need transitional housing that leads directly to permanent housing. The steps are clear. The money is here and has been voted on. At least in Portland, Oregon where I live. We can move forward with the 3000 Challenge or just follow its guidelines. Or we can do nothing and perpetuate the inhumanity of local and State governments across the US. Which is it going to be? I choose housing. I choose love. 

Ellen Taylor: War Crimes, From Nuremberg to Ukraine

Today I’m reposting, with the author’s permission, an excellent piece on war crimes in the context of international law (bold emphasis is mine). I read it first in Counterpunch.

War Crimes, From Nuremberg to Ukraine

by Ellen Taylor

Telford Taylor giving his opening remarks at the judges trial, Nuremberg, 1947.

I was in Nuremberg during the war crimes trials which followed WWII. My father, Brig. Gen. Telford Taylor, was Chief Prosecutor during the  second,  American phase.  The French, Russian and British staffs had gone home to continue trials at home, but the US stayed longer, and scheduled about 400 additional  defendants. They were divided into twelve  categories: judges, doctors, industrialists, etc. There were 142 convictions and ten death sentences.

I remember the high spirits of the occupying  troops and tribunal staff,

The joy of triumph and victory. I danced with them in the ballroom of  the Grand Hotel, where the officials and court lawyers spent their evenings.  I scared myself by looking into seemingly-bottomless bomb craters, played in the war-shattered wreckage of our commandeered  townhouse, and listened to stories told by the servants, who were tearfully glad to be fed and sheltered during the hunger-stricken post-war years.

And, without paying much attention or expressing any precocious interest, I grew up convinced of  the axiomatic importance, however difficult it might be to maintain universal accountability, of  international law for human survival.

Although war crimes continued to flourish, the Nuremberg  tribunal slowly drifted into the dustbin, often disparaged as victor’s justice. My dad, in his book about the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, was pessimistic about the enforceability of its precepts.  The International Criminal Court, established in 2002, seemed to concentrate mostly in Africa, and the ghost of colonialism was in attendance at all the special tribunals. Books were written accusing the US of war crimes in Iraq, which created a mere ripple in the public consciousness.

However, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this year, journalists have taken up the subject of war crimes with enthusiasm. Even my local paper published an editorial demanding that a war crimes tribunal be organized to hang Putin, as the Nuremberg  war criminals were hanged. Karim Khan, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC),  is on site conducting investigations. Vladimir Putin is accused of waging aggressive war.

At the Nuremberg tribunals, four charges were brought against defendants: premeditated conspiracy to commit the crimes against the peace, the crime of initiating aggressive war, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The  judges asserted that waging aggressive war was the gravest crime of all: it was “essentially an evil thing” and “not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

To my knowledge, since  then, no one has been charged with the first two charges: conspiracy to instigate a war, and the initiation of a war of aggression. However, many influential voices are now accusing Russian President Putin of committing these crimes.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 26th 2022. By describing this assault as a “special operation”  instead of an act of war, Russian President Putin avoided legal interface with a document for which he confesses great respect, the United Nations Charter.  This document, like the Nuremberg Charter, has been frequently dismissed by state actors as obsolete, and is nonchalantly violated  by many nations including the US. Although he distinguished the invasion as a special operation, Putin has referred to the document in the context of Russia’s actions:

Chapter 2 article 4 states that “All Members…shall refrain from the threat or use of force” against another nation. Chapter 7 Article 51, however, states  that “nothing… shall impair  the inherent right of… self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member”.

The OSCE (Organization for Security and  Cooperation  in Europe), an intergovernmental  organization with  Observer status in the United Nations, addresses the issue of the limits of security: ”States will not strengthen their security at the expense of other states…every state has an equal right to security, with comparable levels of security for all”.

The OSCE Charter was designed expressly to contribute to the formation of a common and indivisible security space in the OSCE area, free of dividing lines.

Russian efforts to achieve  peace in Europe  and security for the Russian people were exemplary and extensive since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the subsequent dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  President Michael Gorbachev had been euphoric when the Berlin Wall went down in 1991. He himself had  barely escaped WWII : only three out of a hundred  boys, just a little older than he, survived. He nevertheless suffered heavy personal losses, from the war, and under Stalin.

Now, as the wall fell, his anxiety evaporated, and in his elation he dared to speak of “Our Common European Home- from the Atlantic to the Urals”. He had formed friendships with most of Europe’s leaders. He believed that his acceptance of German reunification would lead to an age of peace, and that the heretofore hostile military organization, NATO, would cease its aggression.

He had been assured of this, over and over, by White House Chief of Staff James Baker (NATO will move “not one inch eastward”), German Vice-Chancellor Hans-Dietrich Genscher (“ the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an impairment of Soviet security interests”), Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor (“We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity”), Baker again (“Before saying a few words about the German issue, I wanted to emphasize that our policies are not aimed at separating Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union. We had that policy before. But today we are interested in building a stable Europe, and doing it together with you”), French leader Francois Mitterrand (“The West must…. create security conditions for you, as well as European security as a whole”), Margaret Thatcher (“We must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security would be assured…. CSCE could be an umbrella for all this, as well as being the forum which brought the Soviet Union fully into discussion about the future of Europe.”), G. H.W.Bush ( “So what we tried to do was to take account of your concerns expressed to me and others, and we did it in the following ways: by our joint declaration on non-aggression; in our invitation to you to come to NATO; in our agreement to open NATO to regular diplomatic contact with your government and those of the Eastern European countries; and our offer on assurances on the future”), NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner (“We must not  permit the isolation of the USSR from the European community…the fact that we will not place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm guarantee”), and  President G.H.W.Bush ( “We have no intention, even in our thoughts, of harming the Soviet Union in any way”). He believed that a bright new world was at hand.

The author and Mikhail Gorbachev in 2016, during an expedition with the Center for Citizen Initiatives. Photo courtesy of Ellen Taylor.

Because of the terrors of its history in the last centuries, Russia was unwilling to give up this dream expressed by Gorbachev. Therefore, its expressions of indignation were muted when the United States began almost instantly to meddle in Russian affairs, transmitting information acquired through the NSA to help Boris Yeltsin’s rise to power. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russian assets were sold off, many to foreign conglomerates, and the economy was pillaged.

Russian protest, also, was mild, when, in 1999, the West definitively broke its word, and a procession of  countries, whose borders  extended 800 miles to the east of the 1991 lines, began to make their entrances into NATO. By 2007, fourteen countries had been added to NATO since the Wall had  fallen.

George Kennan was a well-known historian and diplomat,  and ambassador to Russia through the Stalinist period. He greeted this next step, the expansion of NATO to include the previous Warsaw Pact countries, with disbelief and  disgust:

“I think it is a tragic mistake. There is no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. I was particularly bothered the references to Russia as a country  dying to attack Western Europe. What bothers me is how superficial and ill-informed the whole Senate debate was. Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, than any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from  Russia.

But something of the highest importance is at stake here. Perhaps it is not too late  to advance the view that, I believe, is not only mine alone but is shared by  a number of others with extensive and in most instances more recent experience in Russian matters. The view, bluntly stated,  is that expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-Cold-War era.”

Vladimir Putin, who came to power in 2000, exhibited the same  reluctance to give up the Dream, expressed by Gorbachev,  of a “Common European Home”. In 2000, he asked then-US-President Clinton if Russia could join NATO. This was not a novel idea: Krushchev had made the same request in 1954, and Boris Yeltsin in 1991. Both requests were dismissed.

As for Clinton, he bluntly retorted that if Russia were part of NATO there would be no reason for it to exist.

Putin’s life, like Gorbachev’s, had been devastated by  WWII: his brother killed, his family destroyed by the terrible siege of Leningrad.

The spectacle of  military installations bristling with missiles in an ominously strengthening cordon surrounding Russia, and the  tramp of thousands of boots, as NATO conducted military exercises on its borders (estimated at about four simulated battles a month, with Russia in the role of  enemy force) finally woke up Russia’s historical memory of invasion.  At the Munich Conference, in 2007, addressing the 43rd Munich Conference of Security Policy, an alarmed  President  Putin delivered a powerful and now famous speech, addressing the noose he perceived, tightening around Russia.

 He  began by quoting FDR, “security for one is security for all”  and denouncing the unipolar world which had resulted from the Soviet Union’s collapse: a world with only one master, which is destructive of that security “pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.”

Observing that unipolarity does not bring peace and alluding to the wars in the Middle East, he noted that “more people are dying than ever before” due to the “uncontained use of hyper-force in international relations”.

“No one feels safe!” he repeated. “No one can feel like international law is like a stone wall which will protect them!” and, after addressing the ring of NATO bases and missiles surrounding Russia, he asked, pointedly,

“I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended?”

The audience of diplomats and statesmen and women exchanged glances and were silent.

Then he presented a visual picture of a new architecture of global security which called to mind Gorbachev’s “Common European Home”. He detailed the need for  bringing about a fairer system of global economic relations to replace the current one in which donor countries “deliver charity with one hand and collect profits with the other.”

He lamented the stagnation of disarmament efforts and the billions spent on nuclear weapons. He decried the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty, and announced he had brought a proposal to the conference, to end the threatened US militarization of space. He embraced the UN Charter as a cornerstone for the new security architecture and a foundation with which to replace the unipolar system with multipolarity.

Putin did not mince words in his speech.  He was earnest and unambiguous. But, two months later, with a proverbial poke in the Russian Bear’s eye, in Bucharest, at the NATO ministerial summit, NATO welcomed Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO.

Since then, Russia has made every possible effort to express its alarm at the spectacle of  NATO’s armed might on its borders.

It has watched,  as NATO’s military exercises have increased: battalions from the different countries are deployed on Russia’s borders and engage “the enemy” in various scenarios, including nuclear, an estimated forty time a year. One such script envisioned atrocities being committed against Estonia, a NATO country, by conventional invading Russian forces. Enacted responses practiced the use of low-yield nuclear missiles deployed from US submarines.

There are military bases well-supplied with weapons in every NATO country on Russia’s borders, including trillion-dollar missile shields in Romania and Poland. The ABMs can be converted to offensive weapons by merely inserting a disc.

“Europe 2020” was designed to be the largest military exercise in 25 years. It deployed 125,000 troops from NATO  countries. US  troops brought 20,000 pieces of equipment from home, and rushed toward previously established storage positions around Europe to deploy more weapons as swiftly as possible and meet 9000 troops already in Europe on Russia’s border. As a sort of psyops feature, the exercise was to have consummated on the 80th anniversary of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, a deeply traumatic and resonating catastrophe in Russian history. The exercise had to be aborted because of covid.

In the face of this menace, Russia’s General Gerasimov stated he was convinced that NATO was  preparing for war. And indeed there is no way these exercises can be described as nonthreatening. But the US views them  differently. In the words of  former Army Secretary  Ryan McCarthy, “The last  18 years of conflict built muscle memory in counterinsurgency, but with this came atrophy in other areas.  We are now engaging these other muscle groups.”

US diplomats, clearly not expecting to be believed, claimed that missiles positioned on Russia’s borders were intended for Iran. 

Jack Matlock, former ambassador to Russia, practically laughing as he spoke, told Putin that NATO’s  line of fortresses was merely a jobs plan, intended to decrease the US unemployment rates.

General Tod Wolters, Commander of US forces in Europe and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, favors a “flexible first-use policy” regarding nuclear weapons.

As General Mark Milley , chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed, “the character of war is changing frequency”. Our nation is bent on an aggressive upgrade of existing weapons systems, and purchase of  new technology: hypersonic weapons capable of 15,000mph speeds, artificial intelligence surpassing the imagination of science fiction, autonomous systems and platforms, 5G, “low-yield” nuclear weapons, dramatic advances in cyberspace with microelectronics swifter by many orders of magnitude. For outer space we have developed what former President Trump described at their unveiling as “some of the most incredible weapons the world has ever seen”.

The new National Defense Strategy embodies the same spirit as its predecessors going back to the Plan for the New American Century of 1996. It requires full-spectrum dominance. It prepares for a high-end, “near-peer” war. Its goals are “integrated deterrence, campaigning  and actions that build enduring advantages”. “Integrated deterrence”  here means, engaging the contributions of all branches of the military, the above-described forward motion of weapons and bases toward enemies, exercises, and adventures such as the provocative entrance of guided missile-carrying destroyers with aerial escort, sailing (as they did)  into the Barents Sea, to “enforce freedom of navigation”.

“Campaigning” includes infiltration, use of special forces, the media, disinformation  dissemination, cyber sabotage, sanctions, and other  tactics to  achieve the objectives of full spectrum dominance. “Build enduring advantages”  means unwavering attention to and purchase of  the latest weapons technologies.

The word “Competitor” is used in the document  interchangeably with “enemy”.

Over the years, in preparation for  furthering this dominance, in spite of entreaties from the UN, allies, and Russia and China themselves, the US has withdrawn from multiple treaties:  ABM(2002),Iran Nuclear Deal (2018), UN Human Rights Council(2018), INF (2019), the Nuclear Nonproliferation treaty (2020), and the Open Skies Treaty (2020).

Neither Russia or China is eager for the role of US adversary, the “near-peer” enemy which  will help  the US to “reactivate atrophied muscle groups”. They have had to be teased, baited and tortured, like reluctant bulls in a bullfight, into responding. The Ukraine catastrophe is part of the result.

Russians are deeply attached to the Ukraine, which was part of Russia for far longer than the US has existed: indeed, for most of Ukraine, from the 9th century until 1991. This love has been dismissed as mystical nonsense by  editorials in the New York Times and other opinion-forming media. Naomi Klein has described it as “toxic nostalgia.”

Nostalgia occupies an enormous realm in human nature. It is the deep and ever-stirring  nursery for  human creativity. It sometimes motivates self-defense, as in the American indigenous peoples’ resistance to assimilation, or the Russian kulaks’  resistance to Stalin-imposed collectivization. It is toxic when it drives military or cultural aggression.

However, nostalgia notwithstanding, Russia  did not resist Ukraine’s bid for independence in 1991, nor did it interfere with the illegal coup  of 2014, only taking the critically  self-protective  step of reclaiming its   naval base in Sebastopol and liberating  Krushchev’s gift to Ukraine, Russian Crimea.

 To be sure, there is nostalgia, just as the people of my  bioregion dream of the mighty salmon runs and giant trees of their childhood. Ukraine and Russia have what might be called a  chthonic relationship, one relating to the earth, the rivers, the spirit. Students of Russian history, culture and literature, begin their educational journey with immersion in the life and  events of Rus, what is now Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church had its origins in  Ukraine.

The action of Russia’s great epic poem, “The Song of Igor’s Campaign,” occurs in present-day Ukraine. It is, is, in beauty and profundity,  comparable to the Shanameh of Persia, the Kalevala of Scandinavia, the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh, or the French Song of Roland. It  is beloved in Russia and  memorized by Russian schoolchildren. Many of Russia’s and the world’s favorite authors are Ukrainian: Nikolai Gogol,  Mikhail Sholokov,  Mikhail Bulgakov, Isaac Babel, Taras Shevchenko. Aleksander Solzenitsyn’s mother was Ukrainian.

The Cossack culture which persisted for centuries in eastern Ukraine between the Don and the Dnieper, is a romantic, and  music-and-legend-filled part of Russian cultural heritage. Though much older and deeper, it has a role in art and history not unlike US western movies and literature.

Ukrainians are extensively intermarried with Russians, statesmen among them. Leonid Brezhnev was Ukrainian, Nikita Krushchev had a Ukrainian wife and was raised in the Ukraine, where he was Governor for many years. Dmitri Medvedev’s wife is Ukrainian.

Although there were separatist revolts after WWII in Ukraine, mainly instigated by western Ukrainians who had fought with the Nazis, the fact that Krushchev gave Crimea, home of the Russian Navy for almost 250 years, to Ukraine, in 1954, is evidence that he had not the slightest doubt of its intimate relationship with Russia.

Ukraine was the trusted repository for  a large quantity (one-third!) of  the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal, and an important nuclear research facility was located in Kharkov. However, it  did not have command and control powers over these weapons and the preplanned launch codes remained in Russia. Therefore, after 1991 they were returned to Russia in the name of nonproliferation.

 Thus, the destruction of this arsenal was in reality a destruction of Russian weapons. The Ukraine received assurances. It was inconceivable at the time that one day Ukraine would request their replacement with US weapons, to be pointed at Russia.

In the last decade Ukraine has been the flashpoint of NATO aggression. In 2014 the United States engineered “the most blatant coup in history” as George Friedman, CEO  of Stratfor, the “shadow CIA”, described it. The US  subsidized it with 5 billion dollars, and engineered it through, among others, Assistant Secretary  of State Victoria Nuland, whose clearly recorded conversation with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, was hacked and revealed to the world. The coup was led by the Svoboda (Nazi) Party, and also recorded on tape and video as it violently  overthrew democratically-elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich and his government.

Since then, Ukraine has been swiftly developed into a theatre for potential military operations. NATO has conducted exercises. Scripts such as Rapid Trident, involving thousands of Ukrainians and foreigners, have been carried out at Yavoriv, a military base  in Ukraine, in the Black Sea, and elsewhere. The Ukrainian military has become skilled, versatile, flexible and, with the help of NATO countries, especially the US, extremely well- armed. Academi, a private military company  formerly infamous as Blackwater, has been training Ukrainian soldiers since 2015, especially in city warfare. Ukraine has developed a first-class military.

Over the past  two decades Russian diplomats have exhaustively conveyed their objections to the ever-nearing shadow of NATO in Ukraine, but, after Maidan, Russian troops started to appear in greater numbers on Ukraine’s eastern border.

As President Putin observed, “For the US,  Ukraine is a matter of geopolitical dividends. For Russia, it is a matter of life or death”.

Vladimir Zelensky campaigned for President of Ukraine in 2019 on a platform of peace, promising to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine where 14,000  eastern Ukrainians had died in the previous five years resisting the coup-imposed Ukrainian regime. He promised to implement the Minsk accords which entailed withdrawal of troops, meaningful dialogue, amnesty for participants in the fighting, release of prisoners, foreign aid withdrawal, special status for autonomy for Luhansk and Donetsk,  Ukrainian control of the borders, and monitoring by the OSCE, the  European Security and Cooperation organization.

He did not fulfill these campaign promises. Instead, he repeated Ukraine’s intentions to take back the Crimea and suppress the eastern oblasts, in March 2021. Russia’s consternation was expressed in the immediate deployment of tens of thousands of troops to the Ukrainian border.

For the next nine months Russia attempted to negotiate, without success. And, while NATO and US weapons and expertise continued to flow into Ukraine, the Russian standing army  grew bigger and bigger on Ukraine’s eastern frontier. Putin reported, “Russia has been forced to respond at every step. The situation keeps worsening and deteriorating. And we are here today, in a situation when we’re forced to resolve it somehow”.

Accompanying  Russia’s final negotiations proposal, in December 2021, Putin emphasized that he had “a knife at his throat” and “nowhere further to retreat to”.

His proposal again fell on deaf ears.

By now, Russia had amassed an army of over 100,000 troops on its western border with Ukraine. Opposite them Ukraine had itself amassed an army, the advance guard of which had for the previous decade managed to kill an estimated 14,000  eastern Ukrainians resisting the Maidan coup. As a further threat, NATO had sent additional troops and massive armaments to  its member-countries along the Russian border.

Russia repeatedly and steadfastly denied US accusations that it was preparing to invade Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelensky himself appeared not to believe it.

NATO’s intention was to precipitate an attack. From the legal perspective it was imperative not to be  identified as the aggressor. Russia was aware of  this too. The looming presence of the Russian army on the border was intended be a negotiations tactic,  a forceful demonstration of  Russia’s demand for  security. Russian leadership owed this to its people: the responsibility to protect.

Rather than preparation for attack, the apparition of 100,00  Russian troops was more like a hunger strike. In the case of both, failure is death, and therein lies its strength, but also its weakness. The hunger striker depends on his captor’s interest in his survival, and it  only works if he cares.

By February, U.S. President Biden was fairly dancing with his  news that Russia was on the verge of an attack. On Feb. 15th, the OSCE  reported  that there had been  41  shellings of the Donbas by the Ukranian army. This increased to 756 the next day,  then 316, 654, 1,413, 2,026, 2,026, 1,484, on the successive days. Russia, convinced that an attack was  imminent, despairing of negotiations, persuaded by information contained in a hacked email, and aware of the danger of waiting any longer, launched its “special operation”.

The rest is history as they say. Be it remembered that Russia’s original  casus belli was that Ukraine swear not to become Russia’s official enemy by joining NATO. That was all.

For this, President Zelensky sacrificed his country. In unbelievable images, he armed grandmothers and children (there are pictures of old women being  instructed in the use of  automatic weapons!) to embellish the image of a tiny valiant country  facing a monster. Soon the country was awash with weapons, millions were fleeing, and people from other countries were making their way to Ukraine looking for  “profiles in courage”  fighting opportunities.

US congressional backing was practically unanimous. The AUMF had been updated without a murmur. President Biden made  inflammatory comments such as “ This criminal must not remain in power!”  Finland and Sweden asked for NATO membership.

Noam Chomsky, in a May 12th interview by Alternative Radio, condemned Putin’s invasion : “Had Putin been a statesman, would have done something quite different… he would have grasped tentative proposals” made by French President Macron, who since before the invasion had been urging negotiation, and, with them, tried to engage the rest of NATO nations to consider diplomacy  to provide a resolution to  the violence in Ukraine.

Placed in a historical context, Chomsky’s condemnation is disingenuous.  Macron’s idea for negotiations  was quickly suppressed by other NATO members. As above illustrated,  President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov had used every possible avenue and every opportunity to negotiate their urgent issues.

And the US and NATO have been on the warpath for decades and were clearly not going to be deterred this time. Biden had stated that he will allow no breaches of US supremacy: “it is not going to happen on my watch”.

China of course is the main enemy: in the words of Anthony Blinken “the most serious challenge to  the long-term US-led world order.” But Russia is a more proximate target. The Administration is fixated on re-election, and war is a time-honored way to gain popularity. Ukraine has many heart-rending human-interest facets. The facades of ancient ruined buildings, rustic villages with vagrant animals, children with soldiers, are a feast for the media and the armaments industry.

Nancy Pelosi  reassures President Zelensky that the US will support  Ukraine waging war “until victory”. Other Congress members speak of  persistence “until the last drop of Ukrainian blood”. More and more billions have happily been supplied,  by the US population, to destroy Ukraine. Lloyd Austin makes public the information that a US objective in this co-management of the Ukraine conflict is to “weaken Russia”, a concern which has little to do with the Ukraine, and nothing to do with saving lives. The flow of more and increasingly powerful weapons create a hydra spectacle  confronting the Russians: the more heads are severed, the more grow back.

More destruction, more death.

Our very liberal Representative Huffman urges “we can’t let them win!” in his weekly radio  interviews.

As well as being providers of weapons, we are active. US intelligence and weapons guidance were complicit in the murders of 12 Russian generals, and in the sinking of the Moskva, star ship of the Russian Navy.

President Biden  wrote on June 1st that “ If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions  it will send  message to other would-be aggressors…”

Of course, Russia has already paid a very heavy price, an especially cruel part of it being that it has destroyed part of itself, its soul, its history. But Biden’s  pronouncement is certainly a warning against crossing NATO or the US, and it is  similar to statements of purpose and objectives, made by  prosecutors at the Nuremberg tribunals.

The ICC is in Ukraine collecting evidence of war crimes. No evidence is needed to charge President Putin of waging a war of aggression. It is worthy of note, however, that the aggression of which the Nuremberg defendants were convicted occurred in the context of vastly different circumstances. They did not have to confront the mightiest military power the world has ever seen. None of their victims were remotely ready.

Ukraine was very ready. It was a set-up, and Putin lost his balance first.

The ICC is no doubt discovering facts about crimes against humanity and  crimes violating the laws of war. Much depends here on the integrity of the investigators, as  there is evidence that some of the alleged crimes were staged, or mistaken identities (mobile crematoriums, etc.)

The Nuremberg-formulated crime, the crime of conspiracy to commit a war of aggression, however, has to be laid at the feet of NATO and the US.  Only eight of the original 22 Nuremberg defendants were convicted of this charge. The judgment found that there was a premeditated conspiracy to  commit crimes against  peace, whose goals were “the disruption of the European order as it had existed since  the Treaty of Versailles”, later narrowed to “a conspiracy to wage  aggressive war”.

In the present case, the often-repeated claim that Russia’s aggression was unprovoked, is preposterous. The US assertions of its rights to dominance are substantiated by  an ample supply of statements such as

“We seek to network our efforts across domains, theaters, and spectrums of conflict to ensure that the US military, in close cooperation with the rest of the US government and our allies and partners, make the folly and costs of aggression very clear”- Kathleen H. Hicks, Assistant Secretary of Defense.

The  oppressive presence of this  bustling and officious dominance,  deliberately provocative, around the world, and  embodied in the  menacing line of military bases and missiles along Russia’s border, is a conspiracy, a threat, to commit the crime of aggressive war.

A cost citizens pay for this kind of totalitarian  assertiveness is also expressed in the Nuremberg judgment: “It was really the recoil of the Nazi blows at liberty that destroyed the Nazi regime. They struck down freedom of  speech and press and other freedoms which pass as ordinary  civil rights with us, so thoroughly that not  even  its highest officers dared to warn the people or the Fuehrer that they were taking the road to destruction. The Nuremberg trial has put the handwriting on the wall for the oppressor as well as for the oppressed to read.”

Indeed. Many active  and respected  commentators,  experts and  former members of the military have had their access  to media  outlets terminated, contracts broken, positions lost, because they have  not jumped on the bandwagon of war.

We must listen to all voices. Putin has  urgently proposed  a remodeled  security architecture,  rapid diminution of weapons,  and multipolarity  in decision-making, collectively designed under the auspices of the United Nations, to replace the current unipolar dominance of the planet. The consequences of such a transformation would be monumental and, if engineered wisely, extremely therapeutic. His ideas  might well improve our chances of survival as we are forced to face the climate, disease and ecological  catastrophes which may lie ahead.

Ellen Taylor can be reached at ellenetaylor@yahoo.com.

Is Indivisible The Invisible Hand Of The Ukraine War Thought Police?

Much of the narrative control in my area around the Ukraine war has been taken up by liberal Democrats, many affiliated with the so-called grassroots group Indivisible.

When I blogged about being the turd in the punchbowl at an alleged peace demonstration that was actually a pro-NATO, anti-Russia event in California I had not yet figured this out. I was just surprised to find myself at a rally for Ukrainian nationalism where people couldn’t figure out why I was carrying this sign:

A former ally in the mascot retirement battle took great issue with my stating that George Soros was the money behind the color revolutions movement in Europe. She accused me of antisemitism (I had not at the time realized that Soros was Jewish but I do now) and of consuming and sharing antisemitic tropes from the dregs of the right-wing internet (something I never do because I try to practice mental hygiene while still following the news of the day). At the time I removed Soros’ name due to her objections and because it was an aside in a post about the pressure to abandon anti-imperialist analysis of the war in Ukraine.

She was wrong. 

Soros is deeply involved in Ukraine present and past. 

This is clear now that I’ve had more time to read up on this aspect of the current war.

Indivisible is an organization with deep ties to the Open Society Foundations founded by Soros. It sprang up as a sort of Tea Party wannabe during the heyday of the demagogue with bad hair who became our 45th president. Indivisible is currently infiltrating and pushing aside peace organizations in Maine. Narrative control is their trademark and is accomplished sometimes by online shouting matches and sometimes by overwhelming numbers of Ukraine flag wavers at well-established vigils for peace.

I began to notice that the talking points of Indivisible members here in New England were curiously alike.

Not just the perjoratives routinely assigned to the Russian Federation’s president, but the recurring theme that dissenting voices have no right to speak up. And if they dare to speak up anyway, they are routinely accused of being aligned with Putin, or 45, or white supremacists, etc.

Then a friend mentioned that ads for an Indivisible leader in Maine who is running for District Attorney ended with rapid fine print narration that included funding from…Soros. I reached out to Jackie Sartoris’ campaign to ask if I had misheard this and got a prompt response from the campaign manager explaining that those are PAC ads and not within the control or purview of the candidate. Also that Indivisible Brunswick was a “grassroots” group operating independently of the national organization.

So I shared with the campaign manager some of what I’d found:

“Of Indivisible’s 2017 revenue, 35 percent was raised through small dollar donations, and 65 percent was received through major gifts and foundation grants.”

source: https://www.indivisibleannualreport.org/financials/

“Angel Padilla, Indivisible Project’s policy director, previously worked as an analyst with the National Immigration Law Center (an organization funded by grants from Soros’ Open Society Foundations).. “

source: https://indivisible.org/staff.

Today I had already decided to peek behind the curtain that obscures the workings of narrative management around the U.S./NATO proxy war with Russia in Ukraine only to discover that, by coincidence, I was suspended yesterday from posting in the VFP Discussion Group on Facebook. The group is run by moderators that might as well work for the Pentagon and they like to note that it’s a private group not affiiliated with VFP (odd choice for a name in that case). They decide what are acceptable and unacceptable news sources — with guidance from the same government that is silencing and shadow banning dissenters on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google search.

I wonder, does that fact that Veterans for Peace (VFP) national has been in dire financial straits the last couple of years have anything to do with shifts in narrative to defend U.S. government warmongering policies under a Democrat? Or to silence dissenters? It’s impossible to say for sure but these are questions worth asking. The Russia Working Group of VFP recently reported having a heated discussion that included a fellow calling various people “communists.” Research on Ben Schrader turned up his claim of a visiting professorship at Central European University, sometimes called “George Soros University” because it was created with an endowment from Soros and because, as board chair, he would confer diplomas.

Also sad is observing the Democracy Now! media organization become more and more aligned with the Democratic Party, probably due to accepting support from the Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation, and the like. DN! touted the faux humanitarian White Helmets of Syria and has done some serious flag waving for Ukraine. Is it worth mentioning that DN! is strapped for cash, too?

Source: Caitlin Johnstone

A final note on the subject of narrative control: I see that the neo-Nazi Azov battalion that the U.S. taxpayer has been arming has revised its logo. Having the Buffalo mass shooter targeting Black grocery shoppers wear the same design as the background for the Azov logo was…inconvenient. So Azov removed it. 

I’ll bet they wish they could scrub the internet of evidence of past usage, but that would be difficult. Keep sharing!

Live By The AR-15, Die By The AR-15

Unarmed Black victims of police violence (may their families know peace), L-R from the top: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown
Image source: trauma doc Dr. Andre Campbell on Twitter

Live By The AR-15, Die By The AR-15

For AR-15 in that sentence, you could substitute drone, missile, or nuclear bomb.

That the U.S. leads the world in mass shootings, especially at schools, is a fact no one disputes. Regular people see a clear connection between a Pentagon budget that gobbles up more than half of annual expenditures by Congress. Regular people also see the pretense of elected officials who take millions in campaign contributions from weapons manufacturers and pro-weapon lobbying groups like the NRA and then tweet “thoughts and prayers” when the inevitable next mass shooting occurs.

Why then is social media is full of people blaming one of the two corporate parties for the massacre?

With the Ukraine war party in power right now controlling the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives why is our federal government still failing to enact gun control? Fund universal mental health care? Rescue from poverty the 20%+ children without housing or food security?

Who is falling for using the deaths of children to further the false dichotomy our corporate rulers think will deliver civil war (we’re well on our way) rather than the revolution we need?

Though I do support stringent gun control I don’t think that alone will reduce mass shootings. Other countries that are overrun with guns do not see 18 year olds cutting their own faces, shooting their own grandma, and then massacring little kids while local cops let them proceed. 

Did you know that in other countries, people with schizophrenia have auditory hallucinations that may be benign or even loving? In the U.S., people with schizophrenia hear voices urging them to violence.

Of course other nations weren’t built on genocide of indigenous people (not all nations, anyway) and enslavement of kidnapped laborers.

We are a traumatized nation. And trauma begets trauma. 

The vast majority of mass shooters are men, around 98%. Men and boys have no more access to guns and ammunition than women and girls do, so what’s the explanation?

It could be something most analysts overlook: adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.

Back in 2019, researchers studied every mass school shooting from 1966-2018.  The vast majority of mass shooters in our study experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. The nature of their exposure included parental suicide, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and/or severe bullying,” wrote criminal justice professors Jillian Peterson and James Densley for the Los Angeles Times.

The ACEs questionnaire and scale were developed to quantify and name the cause that creates such devastating effects: high levels of stress are toxic for our nervous system as humans. If experienced in childhood, they can lead to actual changes in the structure and function of the brain. And researchers say the effects of stress on male brains is different.

Additionally, if high levels of stress lead to acting out behavior, this can often trigger additional stress as authority figures respond violently to the behavior. Ask any teacher if they’ve seen this in their school.

Forensic ACEs reveal that the vast majority of violent criminals have a high ACEs score. Poverty results in ACEs e.g. children experiencing eviction, hunger, or lack of medical care for themselves and their caregivers. Being targeted for one’s race or ethnic identity also raises the ACEs score.

Nearly 1 in 6 people in the U.S. reported four or more ACEs  as adults in a study by the CDC with Kaiser Permanente which found, “ACEs can have lasting, negative effects on health, well-being, as well as life opportunities such as education and job potential. These experiences can increase the risks of injury, sexually transmitted infections, maternal and child health problems (including teen pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and fetal death), involvement in sex trafficking, and a wide range of chronic diseases and leading causes of death such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and suicide.”

One a national level, our ACEs are through the roof. Using nuclear bombs on Japan after letting the Holocaust proceed, producing a zillion big budget films glorifying this and other violence, police murdering Black, brown, and indigenous people with impunity, illegal invasions that killed millions and which the pepetrators later laugh about in public…

I could go on but it would fill volumes.

Live by the sword, die by the sword is an old idea found in the New Testament (an account of radical truth-telling in the face of the brutal occupation of Palestine by the Roman Empire). One translation reads “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

The U.S. Empire has some very bad karma. And it’s breaking our hearts that children pay the price.

But as long as violent patriarchy is the organizing principle of our culture, nothing will change.

Bank Says Remove Women’s History Panel, Arts Council Says All Or Nothing & Replaces Mural

Detail of Gordon Carlisle mural – Image source: screenshot from video of the installation shared below

The controversy over removing a labor history mural because it was demanded by Skowhegan Savings Bank doesn’t involve me personally, but I care about it for many reasons. 

It’s partly because I’m working on a novel about the sexual exploitation of girls in poverty. The offending panel of a triptych that the bank originally asked be removed depicts young women mill workers on strike in 1907, an historic event in that it was the first successful strike of the IWW, Industrial Workers of the World. The catalyst? Sexual assault by a boss on 17 year old Mamie Bilodeau, followed by retaliation for reporting. A union organizer, Bilodeau was fired but in the end got her job back along with a raise and provisions for a union-elected grievance committee.

With union organizing enjoying a surge right now, I would have loved for the young fast food and convenience store workers in my area to see an example of their great-great-great (-great?) grandmothers standing up for their rights by withholding their labor. (Full disclosure: I was a union organizer for teachers.) 

And, with the right to be free of sexual harrassment in the workplace top of mind right now, a victory in this regard is worth depicting. Sexual assault survivors often suffer in silence for fear of retaliation. I think they deserve to know about Mamie Bilodeau and the power of collective action.

Why would the bank that guards the wealth of old Skowhegan feel threatened by that?

Another reason I care is that I was a history major and taught history in public schools. I also taught the bill of rights with its 1st Amendment protecting speech and a free press. Since none of the corporate news outlets who carry advertising for the bank cared to cover the controversy, I’m doing so here. (RIP, D.H.) Cue the chorus: “The bank owns the building, they can suppress all the speech they want.” It’s true that money buys access to speech under late stage capitalism. But that’s not a good thing and, predictably, has brought us to the point where we only have the best “free” speech money can buy.

Mural as originally installed. Image source: AFL-CIO newsletter article by Andy O’Brien

Another reason I care is my deep and abiding love of art. Gordon Carlisle’s mural was aesthetically excellent. He has a national reputation as an accomplished muralist with good reason. 

Carlisle’s mural was designed for the site, painted to be seen by thousands of passing motorists heading south on Route 201, the major highway in central Maine. The artist and the sponsoring organization, the Wesserunsett Arts Council, were originally asked to remove only the panel with the women on it. That bank managers are philistines who think removing one panel from a triptych is a “solution” doesn’t surprise me in the least. Kudos to WesArts and Carlisle for refusing to do that.

The replacement mural by Iver Lofving on the bank’s highly visible wall also depicts the IWW strike, but only in the sense that a Where’s Waldo? book depicts Waldo: it’s there, but you’re really going to have to look closely to find it. Lovfing has said that he’s disappointed his mural won’t be installed on a side street park with a deck so people can examine it up close. He also wote, “I said that they’re replacing a nationally famous muralist with an unknown artist.”

Public art often gets people upset, especially when it includes political content. 

Image source: Museo Frida Kahlo

Diego Rivera famously refused to remove parts of his frescoed mural in the Rockefeller Center in 1937, and the patrons had the whole mural destroyed. 

A former governor of Maine who term limited out and is now running again made headlines nationally in 2011 when he removed and hid a history mural from the labor department’s offices because he claimed that business owners found it offensive. 

Judy Taylor labor mural – Image source: Redtree
Detail, Judy Taylor mural – Image source: Yankee Magazine

That story has a happier ending in that Taylor’s mural is now displayed in the foyer of the building that houses the state library, archives, and museum. I was happy to see school children on a field trip viewing it there with their teachers.

Image source: Maine Public

Fact is, the wooden Bernard Langlois sculpture referred to in Skowhegan as “the big Indian” has long been controversial, and Penobscot Nation members I know would love to see it removed. The statue figured prominently in the controversy over changing the last Native-themed school mascot for sports teams as it served as a rallying point for those who objected to the change. They received national news coverage for holding an event there on what used to be the holiday honoring the genocidal maniac from Europe who ushered in colonialism on this continent. A partial happy ending: Maine now celebrates Indigenous People’s Day, and the school teams are the Riverhawks — while the statue remains.

Those interested in seeing all the murals commissioned by the Wesserunsett Arts Council can attend the opening ceremony in Skowhegan on June 4. 

Image source: Wesserunsett Arts Council

Azov Neo-Nazi Symbol On Armor Worn By White Mass Murderer Of Black Elders In Buffalo

At least ten Black people were killed and several more were injured by an 18 year old white supremacist who traveled to Buffalo, New York to shoot up a grocery store in a predominately Black zip code. Many of the victims were elders known for supporting the needs of their communities.

The image above on the left is allegedly the home page of Buffalo shooter displaying “black sun” logo which can also be seen as background on a patch worn by uniformed Azov Batallion neo-Nazis in Ukraine today. You can see it here on a Ukranian magazine called “Black Sun” from 2015.

Source: Global Thinker on Twitter

It’s the same symbol used by the mosque shooter who shot up Muslim congregations killing 50+ in Christchurch, New Zealand three years ago, displayed on his manifesto and backpack (see left image below).

Source: Fake Believe on Twitter

Why would it matter what designs or logos mass shooters use when targeting Black or Muslim people? 

The “black sun” logo links directly to a powerful far-right militia being armed as part of the billions from U.S. taxpayers flowing to Ukraine.

Provision in the obscene military spending bills was not made for keeping money out of the hands of far-right militias that the Ukranian government is allied with and uses for military projection. An amendment with that provision was defeated in the U.S. Congress, a body which primarily represents weapons manufacturers at this point in history. 

As we gallop toward the risks of a nuclear WW3 by waging proxy war on Russia via Ukraine. many who get their information from mainstream, lockstep media ask: But how could President Zelensky, who is of Jewish ancestry, be allied with Nazis?

Maybe, like the rest of us, Zelensky just wants to live another day.

War On Palestine Requires War On Truth, Death To Journalists

Women in Jordan mourn Shireen Abu Akleh  photo source: Haaretz

With sadness I awoke to the news that Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head by Israeli forces (IDF) in the West Bank region of occupied Palestine. 

The journalist was wearing body armor with PRESS in bold letters on her flak vest; presumably a sniper aimed for her head?

Here’s the last known photo of Abu Akleh, doing her job:

Photo source: Arwa Ibrahim on Twitter

Israel has been violently evicting families in the West Bank while bombing Gaza and Damascus in recent days. Abu Akleh was covering an IDF raid on the Jenin refugee camp when she was murdered.

Rapper Lowkey took the Associated Press to task in a tweet about their reporting of the incident.

All the terror is not on one side. For the second Ramadan in a row the IDF targetted worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, wounding some and arresting others, while Palestinians repelled IDF soldiers by throwing rocks and petrol bombs. And an unusual event inside Israel this week resulted in three deaths by stabbing in a knife and ax attack near Tel Aviv. The two assailants were believed to be Palestinian young men from Jenin.

Also hard to see as coincidental was an act of terrorism (i.e. instilling fear) on a flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport where passengers were sent photos of various airline crashes while waiting to fly to Turkey. Twitter eerily reported these two news events consecutively in their “What’s Happening” section this morning.

A search of the Committee to Protect Journalists database revealed 17 other journalists killed by the IDF in either occupied Palestine or Israel itself:

War on journalists is not new but has ramped up in recent years especially as the poster boy for press freedom, Julian Assange, languishes in Belmarsh Prison awaiting word of his possible extradition to the U.S. to be charged as a spy. Assange is an Australian citizen whose wikileaks website published evidence of U.S. and Israeli war crimes, and he has been publicly tortured for practicing journalism in the years since.

RIP Shireen Abu Akleh and all who dare to report truth amid the fog of wars.

What Goes Around Comes Around: Whipping Progressive Warmongering 2.0

President Obama, VP Biden, & Hunter Biden in 2014, the year Ukraine’s elected government was toppled by a CIA-sponsored coup and Hunter got a lucrative job in the Ukranian energy sector. Image source: Getty Images via DK.com

There are many roots apparent in weaponizing Ukraine as a cat’s paw to fight Russia.

The most significant but least visible is the goal of weakening China’s ally before proceeding to attack them. One of the more visible roots is that our current president was VP during the Obama years when wars became ok with liberals because they were promoted by a handsome, articulate Black man. 

Image source:  Shutterstock via Institute for Policy Studies

The culture wars we have are meant to replace the revolution we need. 

We are led to believe there is a fundamental difference between wars waged by Democrats vs. wars waged by Republicans. There isn’t, because their corporate sponsors in the weapons industry are the exactly the same and because many in Congress own stock in those corporations. So while Ukranians die, they profit.

My good friend Bruce Gagnon stumbled on an old report back from a “progressive” phone call designed to whip up support for Obama’s surge in Afghanistan. It is of interest primarily because the mechanisms of manufacturing consent are so visible. I’m reposting it here so we have it handy as we reflect on why the U.S. government is galloping toward WW3 and possible nuclear confrontation while suspending women’s reproductive rights, presiding over crushing inflation and runaway climate change, failing to deliver healthcare, and literally looking away as the pandemic death toll reached 1,000,000. Daily assaults on independent voices attempt to silence dissent: Abby MartinLee CampChris HedgesAlice WalkerConsortium NewsMintPress News — a long list, and growing. The Department of Homeland Security, which was created — like the war in Afghanistan — after the unfortunate events of 9/11, now has a Disinformation Governance Board

When you’ve lost the consent of the governed, narrative management is largely futile. Cue the next disaster!

First posted Dec 2, 2009 at space4peace.blogspot.com

DECEPTIVE PROGRESSIVES CALL FOR SUPPORT OF OBAMA’S WAR

This morning I got an email from a friend who tipped me off to a conference call for “progressives” to discuss Obama’s Afghanistan speech last night.

The call announcement included this: “The narrative so far is that the left is against sending more troops and the right is for it,” said Jim Arkedis, Director of the National Security Project at the Progressive Policy Institute. “But that’s not the reality of the situation. There are reasons for progressives to take heart from much of the President’s new strategy, as well as reasons to tread carefully. We want to make sure all those voices are heard.”

This made me quite interested so I dialed in. The call began with everyone in the audience on mute as the following people make opening statements.

* Rachel Kleinfeld, CEO, Truman National Security Project
* Jim Arkedis, Director of the National Security Project, Progressive Policy
Institute
* Gen. Paul Eaton (Ret.), Senior Adviser, National Security Network
* Andy Johnson, Director, Third Way National Security Program
* Lorelei Kelly, Director, New Strategic Security Initiative
* Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress
* Frankie Sturm, Communications Director, Truman National Security Project (Moderator)

Frankly I had never heard of any of these people before and I’ve been working in the “progressive movement” for the past 30 years. A couple of the organizations they work for I had heard a bit about – they are DC-based “think tanks” that usually are heavily funded by corporations to project their message.

Here is a bit of what some of them said in the opening:

Rachel Kleinfeld: “Thrilled by last night’s speech….it’s a realistic goal we have been given…dismayed that progressives don’t see that his will reduce the violence of this war.”

Jim Arkedis: Described himself as a former counter-terrorism analyst at the Pentagon…..”Think of the US like an NFL defense….by adopting this counter-insurgency strategy it essentially takes the other sides offense off the field…..this is about peace and stability.” He slammed Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) who was on the news this morning criticizing the plan as being from the “far left.”

Lorelei Kelly: “Progressives need to abandon the old talking points from Iraq and Vietnam….progressives need to get inside this debate, President Obama is trying to create a new way….these policies need support….The American military is probably the most progressive agency we have today.”

One of them brought up CodePink’s recent visit to Afghanistan and subsequent statements made by Media[sic] Benjamin to say that some peace groups understand that we need to stay there and stabilize the country. Another called Obama’s plan the “full spectrum approach” that progressives must support – we “need the military” to get to a positive conclusion.

Finally they unmuted the listeners and then opened it up for “questions”. I didn’t ask a question but instead read a quote from the Robert Scheer article which came from former Marine captain Matthew Hoh where he said, “In the course of my five months of service in Afghanistan … I have lost understanding and confidence in the strategic purpose of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan. … I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul.”

A woman listener from West Virginia (CodePink) said she had family killed in these wars and they need to stop. A woman from Georgia said we need to end the wars. A man from upstate New York said they were organizing protests and that Obama had betrayed us.

Next they put us on mute again and told us that we could only ask questions and that we’d better be good. When they unmuted I accused them of trying to silence the voices of the people as it was clear that they only wanted us on the call to listen to the talking points put out by the White House.

I know this is true because last spring I did a couple blogs about the Obama administration daily sending out talking points to groups like these that today hosted this “conference call”. You can see one such story about this by Jermey[sic] Scahill here

One of the groups mentioned by Scahill in his article is the Center for American Progress which was represented on the call today as one of the “expert” speakers.

While on the call I quickly did an Internet search on the Truman National Security Project just to see what I could learn about them. Their advisory board stands out like a sore thumb:

Advisory Board
Madeleine K. Albright
Principal, The Albright Group LLC

Leslie H. Gelb
President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations

William Marshall
President, Progressive Policy Institute

William J. Perry (former Clinton Secretary of Defense)
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institute

John D. Podesta (former Clinton operative)
President and CEO, Center for American Progress

Wendy R. Sherman
Principal, The Albright Group LLC

First chance I got I read the list off and commented that it was now abundantly clear to me that this call was intended to deliver Obama team talking points to us and that they were not in the least interested in what we had to say…..these folks organizing this call came from the right-wing of the Democratic Party I said…… earlier I had strongly challenged one of them who stated that the peace movement should stop protesting and support Obama’s plan!

They couldn’t wait to finish the call and I am happy to say that it did not go as well as they had hoped. I thank Mark Roman for tipping me off and I want to warn everyone to be on the lookout for these “pseudo progressives” who will now be coming out of the woodwork to tell the public and the media that only the far-left is against Obama’s war in Afghanistan. Good “progressives” they will say are going to support Obama’s war surge.

In the old days they used to call these folks “Scoop Jackson Democrats” after the senator from Washington state who was a pro-war leader. They have wised up and now call themselves progressives and will steal the rug out from under our feet if we are not watching closely.


Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

You no longer need to look for such pro-war progressives. They are shouting at you from every corner that Ukraine must be defended, and that your dissent is not only unwelcome but downright seditious. Trained to hate the Russian Federation’s president and assign blame for Ukranian suffering solely to him, their diatribes have a signature: use of the same nasty and insulting terms for that person. 

Trained to love Ukraine’s president, whose background as an entertainer has proved almost as convenient as his Jewish heritage, used constantly to deny the truth that it is actual Nazis we are arming. 

Some in Congress would even have us declare war and send troops (rather than just trainers and mercenaries) to fight by their side. How much would your congressperson and senators stand to profit if the U.S. openly declares war on Russia?

How much more dangerous would it be than bullying an impoverished country like Afghanistan?

What use will money be if humans and their works are reduced to ashes and radioactive rubble by nuclear war?

Setting Ourselves On Fire

I’ve lived my entire life with the spectre of thermonuclear fire consuming the world. It hovered over us as we contemplated the future of what we’d started in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, sometimes, joked about it — dark humor, laughing in the face of annihilation. 

When I say my entire life, I’m not exaggerating. My father was in college when I was born and he had a post-nuclear apocalypse poem published in a UMaine literary journal. My parents also had vinyl of the Kingston Trio playing “The Merry Minuet” at iconic NYC nightclub the hungry i. (With apologies for the typical white supremacist perspective that the continent of Africa is  analogous to nation-states.)

…Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don’t like anybody very much!

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.

And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.

They’re rioting in Africa. There’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us will be done by our fellow man.

After listening to that on repeat for several years, is it any wonder I flinched every time a plane flew overhead? Such was my childhood. 

Then there were the racial assassinations of the 60’s. James Baldwin’s prophetic book The Fire Next Time was on our shelves. It’s a metaphor, it’s Biblical, and it also coexisted with the arson that accompanied many riots. Cue Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose famous quote on that deserves its full context:

And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non­-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity. [emphasis mine]

(Do I need to point out how much worse things have gotten for Black people in incarceration nation since MLK said that?)

So I’ve worried about inequality and injustice, and I’ve worried about U.S. wars with their destruction and self-inflicted moral injuries. 

Photo by Malcolm Browne for Associated Press

Back when the corporate press showed more of the news, we watched as a Buddhist monk in Vietnam died by self-immolation. Widely perceived as a protest against the war,  Thích Quang Duc’s act called attention to persecution of Buddhists by the puppet government of South Vietnam in 1963.

Many years and many U.S. puppet governments later, it slowly became apparent that we should all be more aware of global warming and climate change ending us. And that wars and, more broadly, militarism are a big part of that.

A long preamble leading up to this news: 

a Buddhist burned himself to death in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Earth Day 2022 to call attention to extreme climate crisis.

This image from an unknown videographer appears to be a still from a video allegedly of Wynn Bruce’s self-immolation, and an emergency responder trying to put the fire out.

But under the 21st century’s corporate information control regime, hardly anybody heard about it.

Image source: UK Daily Mail “Pictured: Climate activist, 50, who died after lighting himself ablaze in front of the Supreme Court on Earth Day wrote ‘4/22/2022’ and a fire emoji in a Facebook post from 2020”

In fact the first few stories about Bruce’s act in the U.S. corporate press neglected to include…climate change. This is consistent with their focus on profits over life and is a major contributing factor to the increased threat of climate chaos.

The same is true of their chronic neglect of the military elephant in the climate change room. To know the facts about that, you’d need to turn to alternative media, or search out collections like this one.

Nonstop coverage of atrocities allegedly committed on behalf of the villain du jour pushes out useful, actionable information.

Today, as the world gallops toward nuclear confrontation in the proxy war between the U.S./NATO and Russia, U.S. taxpayers recently sent $1 billion in weapons to Ukraine’s puppet government while the corporate press applauded and ice shelves collapsed.

Leading intellectuals wonder not if but how we will set ourselves on fire unto death. Will it be long painful years of heat, floods, drought, and sea level rise? Or a relatively brief nuclear war being inexplicably promoted by the talking heads employed to manufacture consent? Stay tuned.

Who Profits From Narrative Management & Eliminating Dissent?

Original collage by James Fangboner (left image), modified by me (see “Hating On ____ Is What Gives Life Meaning“)

When the Pentagon summons the heads of eight weapons manufacturing corporations to a classified meeting about “aid” to Ukraine, you can be sure that a whole lot more Ukranians will be dying in their civil war on steroids.

This type of aid is in reality U.S. taxpayer-funded corporate welfare for the likes of Lockheed and Raytheon, whose former board member is our current Secretary of “Defense.” The aid has been flowing so thick and fast since Russia intervened in the CIA-sponsored war on its doorstep that it’s hard to add it all up quickly enough. One tally this week put the total at $1.7 billion!

Also, why limit these already wealthy corporate entities to feeding from just the U.S. trough? Zero Hedge reports: “Besides replenishing stockpiles sent to Ukraine, the companies stand to gain from European countries increasing military spending in the wake of Russia’s invasion.”

I believe this cash bonanza explains the barrage of propaganda that liberals have fallen for hook, line, and sinker.

You would think that those who value free speech would be alarmed by the burgeoning online censorship that many independent journalists have noted. 

Consider the case of Michael J. Brenner, “Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS/Johns Hopkins, as well as former Director of the International Relations & Global Studies Program at the University of Texas” according to an interview in scheerpost:

From the vantage point of decades of experience and studies, the intellectual regularly shared his thoughts on topics of interest through a mailing list sent to thousands of readers—that is until the response to his Ukraine analysis made him question why he bothered in the first place. 

In an email with the subject line “Quittin’ Time,” Brenner recently declared that, aside from having already said his piece on Ukraine, one of the main reasons he sees for giving up on expressing his opinions on the subject is that “it is manifestly obvious that 

our society is not capable of conducting an honest, logical, reasonably informed discourse on matters of consequence. Instead, we experience fantasy, fabrication, fatuousness and fulmination.” He goes on to decry President Joe Biden’s alarming comments in Poland when he all but revealed that the U.S. is—and perhaps has always been—interested in a Russian regime change [emphasis mine]. 

Or how about Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector who sifts through the foggy “facts” of war to discern some truth, who had his Twitter account suspended twice in one week. Based on what he knows about the grisly details of bodies left to rot in the street, he doubted that Russian soldiers could have committed the crimes before their exit from Bucha and speculated that Ukranian militias were the only ones in the area at the time of the massacre.

Cue liberals insisting that Twitter is not the government and therefore can censor anything it likes without violating the 1st amendment. Do they not know that Twitter, Facebook/Meta, Google/YouTube, and other platforms work hand in glove with the federal government to manage the narrative or, when that fails, to eliminate dissenting views

Are they fooled by mainstream media like the Washington Post, now owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, ironically sporting the tagline “Democracy Dies in Darkness”? 

Or do they know and not care because they’re more interested in the former president and other right-wingers being denied platforms for their views than they are interested in actual free speech?

From media watcher Caitlin Johnstone:

what exactly is the argument for censoring wrongthink about the Ukraine war? Even if we pretend that everything they’re saying is 100% false and completely immoral, so what? What harm is being done? Does a Ukrainian drop dead every time someone says they don’t believe Russia committed war crimes in Bucha or Mariupol? Does Putin get magic murder powers if enough social media users say they support his war? Do liberal faces melt off their skulls if they accidentally see an RT headline?

Political action and the players behind it — at every level — becomes more murky by the day. Forgive this boomer for saying, back in the day we thought a free press was foundational to reign in the excesses of the wealthy and powerful, by shining a light into their dark doings. 

But late stage capitalism demands fealty to profits above all else. Even, or maybe especially, when the leader of the “free world” is busy shooting himself and his cronies in the foot.

Who Needs Consent Of The Governed When There Are Profits To Be Made? Maine’s Rocket Launch Bill

Rocket launch site built at public expense in Kodiak, Alaska.

A local law with far reaching consequences snuck across the finish line this week in my state. The bill created a Maine Space Corporation, defined as a public-private partnership to facilitate establishing rocket launch sites in Vacationland. It was passed under the gavel i.e. without a roll call vote in the House, and will undoubtedly receive the governor’s signature as Janet Mills, a neoliberal Democrat, is a consistent cheerleader for corporate looting of public resources.

Why Maine? Most types of orbit require launch sites nearer the equator, but polar orbits need launching nearer the poles. A local space watcher theorizes that the Pentagon is promoting the construction of many “private” launch sites at the expense of others, hoping to drive down the cost of paying to use them for military launches by creating competition. 

Certainly, rocket launch sites are proliferating all over the planet.

A group of us collaborated to ferret out the details of a bill that was rushed through the public hearing process of the IDEA legislative committee. That event was successfully managed to hear from those who plan to profit from the bill but a dismal failure at hearing from actual Maine taxpayers (“no one testified against the bill!” gloated supporters). Considering not a single article or television news story on the bill appeared until after the public hearing, those of us who would have testified about objections didn’t know about it. We did of course then submit written testimony detailing our objections (which testimony you can read here).

During work sessions in committee, the bill received no fiscal note i.e. identification of expected costs to the public. One committee member reported the group was told that they would have to pass the bill to learn the eventual costs, another that the price tag would likely be $90 million.

 Two competing amendments further muddied the water as the bill passed out of committee with a divided report, two members voting no on any version and some voting “ought to pass” contingent upon one or the other of the amendments.

The amendment that was eventually adopted contains this gem of wholesale looting of public resources for private profits, couched of course in the impentrable language of bureaucratic fascism:

removes the prohibition of public officials, members of the board of directors or employees of the corporation from acquiring or holding a direct or indirect financial or personal interest in a corporation activity, a corporation property or a contract or proposed contract in connection with a corporation activity.”

My husband called to leave a message with our senator on the morning we had heard that the bill would be taken up after passing with no roll call vote in the House. According to the Senate office in Augusta, it had already passed the previous night.

In an email our senator, Brad Farrin, (one of 7 who voted no) commented:

I agree with your assessment of LD 1923 as many bills during this “emergency “ session are being rushed through without proper hearings and debate.

In addition to our website NoToxicRockets4ME, here is the one-pager we prepared for citizen lobbying efforts in advance of its passage:

“Explosion rocks SpaceX test launch site in Florida during test“”

You might think that the state’s big environmental organizations would have opposed this bill, but you would need to ask yourself first if they take money from the Democratic Party. You might also ask yourself why these organizations nationally have been so ineffectual in halting the extraction activities that are hastening us to climate chaos whether D’s or R’s are in control of the White House and Congress. (Hint: if it involves pushing back on the military, fugedaboudit.)

The only group successful at opposing the plan for rocket launches from the Maine coast was the lobster fishing community of tiny Jonesport. They rallied around and got a moratorium in place as one of the originators of the bill made plans to launch from an island smack dab in the middle of their fishing grounds. The rocket profiteer eventually dropped plans saying the public were misinformed but so stubborn that he’ll look for a site in Florida instead.

Is the consent of the governed needed to put a good appearance on things? 

NIMBY efforts would lead us to say so, but the way LD 1923 was bum rushed through the legislative process suggests otherwise. This year Maine’s governor has vetoed a slew of bills strongly supported by the people who voted for her, but she’ll no doubt sign this one at the behest of her corporate sponsors.

She’s counting on the fact that most in Maine will vote for her anyway, because the Republican is so awful.

Democrats may continue misconstruing that as “having the people’s support,” but my reading of history tends to suggest otherwise.

A staggering inflation rate for food and fuel, and no universal healthcare despite a ongoing pandemic, is what national Democratic leadership is offering up. 

Maybe the ruling class needs to keep building weapons while children go to bed hungry because they actually do know what happened to regimes that lost the consent of those they governed?

Tears For Suffering In Ukraine

Source: “Anna Netrebko, Russian Soprano with Putin Ties, Is Out at the Met Opera” Town & Country   Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

I’ve been criticized recently due to the perception that I am insufficiently moved by the suffering of people in Ukraine. By this my critics actually mean “the suffering of people in Ukraine since February when Russia invaded.” They do not mean the suffering of people in Ukraine during the 8 year long civil war that has seen 14,000 deaths (a combined total that includes thousands of civilians plus soldiers on both sides). 

Those consuming corporate media in the U.S. tend to know very little about what led up to (insert several perjorative terms here) Putin launching military operations and are unable to determine whether those are actually war crimes or would be considered legitimate pre-emptive actions by the United Nations.  In the face of impending attacks that the Ukranian government and its militias were  preparing to launch against Russian ethnic populations in the Donbass region, and the published plans for regime change in Russia using exactly those tactics, the UN might not come down on the side of U.S. liberals.

These people look with approval at events like the Metropolitan Opera in New York cancelling a Russian diva and replacing her with a Ukranian soprano. I, on the other hand, laugh out loud at the absurdity. A singer pressured to essentially sign a disloyalty oath will not be allowed to perform.

Yes, by all means let’s cancel the performing artists of every nationality if their nation wages war against others. (That huge whooshing sound was the careers of innumerable U.S. singers and other artists being flushed down the toilet.)

When opposing wars waged by my own nation using my tax dollars, I’ve often considered whether or how much to share gruesome pictures of people suffering.

On the one hand seeing the corpses of little children burned up in their beds by U.S. drone strikes might galvanize my fellow Americans into knowing, caring, and taking action.

On the other hand, there is my aversion to so-called “war porn” or the vicarious pleasure to be had by viewing the suffering of others. Susan Sontag’s book Regarding The Pain Of Others made a great impression on me. If you’re a long time reader of my blog, you could probably pinpoint right around when I read that book by the declining frequency of my sharing photos or videos of people suffering in wars or as refugees.

The fog of war makes it very difficult to determine which reports of atrocities and war crimes are false flags, or doctored evidence, and which are authentic.

This is true for all sides in all conflicts, but the 21st century seems to have accelerated the process of manufacturing consent by media manipulations. Game changers like digital video that is so easily created and shared are having their effect and it’s difficult to know whether they’re bringing more truth or more fiction.

For example, this reporting seems authentic to me although of course I can’t know for sure: “Exclusive: Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova Spare No Words on Zelensky Gov’t.” It was shared by a source I trust, the United National Antiwar Coalition. Conversely, am I inclined to trust war reporting that is a) cookie cutter and b) shared by corporate news outlets that have repeatedly lied us into wars with fabricated claims of war crimes and other atrocities? Not so much.

I am opposed to all wars, and I focus on holding my own nation accountable. 

The U.S. and its posse NATO are largely responsible for the current phase of the war in Ukraine (and the vast majority of wars raging on the planet right now). 

Map showing refugee movement from Ukraine. Credit: United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees’ Operational Data Portal

No doubt there is suffering in Ukraine and among Ukrainian refugees. 

My solution: disband NATO, cut the Pentagon budget by 90%, and close the 800 military bases the U.S. operates in other countries.

Not only would this reduce suffering in Ukraine, it would reduce the threat of climate collapse as the Pentagon is the biggest institutional emitter of greenhouse gasses on the planet. By a mile. 

And, it would significantly reduce the threat of nuclear war. Sabre rattling of nukes on both sides is alarming and makes me wonder if these folks read the same articles as I do, the ones that remind us that contemporary nuclear weapons are far more destructive than those dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Little Birch Tree — Will It Fall To Russiaphobic Axe?

A controversy is raging among instructors in a national preschool music education program: should the Russian folk song that is traditionally part of April’s curriculum be taught this year? For your reference, “Little Birch Tree” is performed here by the Seattle Girls Choir in times slightly less rife with hatred for Russia.

The inability of people in the U.S. to reason about the connections — if any — between traditional cultural artifacts and current geopolitical realities frightens me. Ban Russian chess players who express support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they cry! Guessing they missed The Queen’s Gambit film about chess and Russian influence in that sphere? But that’s beside the point. The point is, which U.S. chess champions were banned for supporting U.S. imperial wars on Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. ?

Don’t teach the authors Dostoevsky or Solzhenitsyn, they demand! Even though both were anti-authoritarian thinkers whose books long since entered the canon of world literature. And are dead. Not to mention that you will not find a book with the depth and breadth of The Idiot to replace it in your syllabus.

Even license plates are suspect these days. Here’s an apologia for a vanity plate I saw on the street this morning:

Meanwhile, back in Maine, the home of the late peacemaker Samantha Smith, spring gardeners are facing up to the reality that nearly all varieties of tomatoes that grow well in our state are, um, Russian. Or descended from Russians. (Full disclosure: we have a lot of birch trees as well.)

I’m laughing at all this so I don’t cry because, really, it is frightening how aggressively ignorant your average corporate news consumer is showing herself to be these days. Check out some of them spouting off in reply to my tweet after President Biden’s gaffe calling for regime change to remove Russia’s leader. (My reference is to a U.S. oligarch defending the right to topple Bolivia’s elected government after he was blocked from mining lithium there.)

They sure told me, didn’t they?

The only one that even bothered to mount an argument either believes the Russian invasion was “without provocation” or chooses to say so despite copious evidence to the contrary. (Maybe because he doesn’t want to be banned from Twitter for failing to spout the party line?).

As one music teacher commented about the attempt to ban the birch tree song for being Russian, “This is how people end up in concentration camps.”

Burying The Lede: Ice Shelf Collapses In East Antarctica

With corporate media paying nonstop attention to the proxy war in Ukraine and the flood of refugees (at least, those refugees who look like well-fed Europeans) and moderate attention to galloping inflation, and economic sanctions against Russia with consequent fuel and food shortages yet to come, who noticed this catastrophic news?

This morning I had to scroll through a couple of screens of my big daily newspaper to find an article on the subject after I’d seen the headline on Twitter yesterday. I went looking for it because it was a headline that stayed with me, a reminder that the most pressing security threat to humans — no matter what wars are raging — is climate crisis.

Both poles experienced temperatures 70 degrees Farenheit (21 degrees Celsius) higher than normal last week, and scientists speculate that their previous belief in the relative stability of the eastern ice sheet may have been in error. 

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet holds so much frozen water that, if it goes, the melting will cause planetary oceans to rise 160 feet (48.768 meters).

That seems like a hell of a lede to me, but what do I know?

One thing I do know is that militarism, and in particular U.S. militarism, is a major driver of global warming and climate crisis.

I’ve been collecting research and reporting on this for years. It’s a little know fact that is routinely ignored in the corporate press, even when they are cheerleading for war.

Space exploration including rocket launches are also in the news, consistently reported in tones of breathless excitement, but it also contributes to climate change as well as other environmental harms (think PFAS and toxic rain) and damage to the ozone layer.

We ignore these realities at our peril. Because one thing I know for certain:

our planet’s atmosphere is not patriotic and there are no good or bad emissions.

Scientific information is routinely subject to political control, but that does not change facts on the ground. 

Ground that is not yet underwater, at least for now.

Source: https://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/images/World_Maps/sea-level-rise.pdf

U.S. Peace Council Statement On Russia’s Military Intervention in Ukraine

Memorial to victims burned to death in an Odessa trade union hall by neo-Nazis May 2, 2014, one of the more gruesome events of the civil war in Ukraine. Source: Morning Star online

If I could I would sign on to this excellent U.S. Peace Council statement on Russia’s Military Intervention in Ukraine. In lieu of signing, I’m reposting.

U.S. Peace Council Statement

On Russia’s Military Intervention
in Ukraine

What we all hoped would not happen has happened. The Russian Federation sent troops into Ukraine on February 24 in response to decades of relentless US-led NATO provocation. The present situation puts many serious, fundamental questions before the global peace movement.

A fierce propaganda campaign, long simmering with Russiagate and the onset of a new Cold War, demonizing the Russian president and state has intensified. Wholesale condemnation of Russia has assumed global proportions, instigated by the US and allies, and supported by their sycophantic media. Alternative views and voices of opposition to the official anti-Russian narrative have been suppressed or shut down.

Not surprisingly, many people subjected to this toxic bombardment of massive imperialist propaganda have placed all the blame on Russian aggression. Various reasons are given to justify their, in our view dangerous, position. Let us look at some of these justifications and assess the degree of their moral, legal, and political validity.

Applying the UN Charter

The first and most morally justifiable reason given is the argument that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is in violation of the Charter of the United Nations. Based on this fundamental principle, shouldn’t the U.S. Peace Council, a staunch supporter and advocate of the Charter, also condemn Russia as a violator?

Let us look at the UN Charter to see whether we can firmly decide that Russia is in violation:

Article 2

3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Article 51

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations….

Looking at Article 2, especially paragraph 4, it can be argued that Russia is in violation. But based on Article 51, the Russian Federation has invoked its right to self-defense and has duly informed the Security Council. Russia presents important arguments in favor of its use of force under Article 51.

The Ukraine government has acted as the US and NATO’s proxy in hostilely encircling the Russian Federation. Ukraine military and paramilitaries have attacked Donetsk and Lugansk since 2014, resulting in the deaths of some 14,000 of their own people*, many of whom were Russian speakers and some dual citizens. Most recently, Russia discovered an imminent Ukrainian government plan for a large-scale invasion of the Donetsk and Lugansk that border Russia. Russia now recognizes these two republics as independent states, after they asked Russia to aid in their defense.  

Russia clearly asked for security guarantees from the US and NATO, which refused to adequately respond to Russia’s concerns. Ukraine was planning to host US/NATO nuclear weapons on its territory that could reach Moscow in a matter of five minutes. This took place in the alarming context of the US decision in 2019 to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia.

If this is not an act of war against Russia, what is it? Aren’t those who are complicit in an act of murder equally guilty of murder? This is not to say that Russia was right in its decision. Rather we are insisting that the UN Charter should be applied to Ukraine on the basis of facts, as a specific case with a given historical background.

Second, the United Nations itself has been unsuccessful in upholding its own Charter in the face of blatant violations by the NATO states. Here, our intention is not to justify the Russian action, but to provide a realistic context for the need to uphold the UN Charter.

Since the end of the Soviet Union, when the US became the sole superpower, Washington has blatantly ignored the UN Charter in its drive to impose global “full spectrum” dominance. We should understand NATO as more than just an “alliance” of nominally sovereign states, but as an imperial military integrated under US command.

Let us look at two of the relevant articles of the UN Charter that have been trampled upon by the imperialist powers since the end of the century:

Article 6.

A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

Article 25.

The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.

US, NATO, and their allies have increasingly violated these and other articles of the UN Charter over the past two decades. Here are just a few examples:

— In 1998 for 78 days, NATO attacked, dropped 28,000 bombs, and shattered Yugoslavia into pieces without the consent of the United Nations.

— In 2001, as a response to the 9/11 attack, US declared an indefinite “war on terror,” affecting at least 60 countries, including seven targeted for illegal regime change.

— In 2003, US and the members of its “coalition of the willing” illegally attacked and invaded Iraq in defiance of the UN Security Council.

— In 2011 US, UK, and France unilaterally and without the consent of the UN Security Council attacked Libya and killed its leader, Moammar Qaddafi.

— Starting in 2011, US, NATO, and regional allies started a proxy war in Syria by arming and funding terrorist groups, a war which is still taking innocent lives.

— In 2014, the US staged a coup with the help of neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine and established a pro-NATO government, which led to the massacre of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine.

— Throughout this period, the US and its European allies have imposed illegal unilateral economic sanctions on more than 40 countries of the world, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

— And, of course, one should mention the illegal occupation and annexation of Syrian and Palestinian territories by Israel with full support of the United States.

The crisis facing us in Ukraine today is a result of the UN’s inability to uphold its charter against such illegal actions by the sole superpower and its NATO allies, which has enabled US/NATO to push Russia and other targeted nations of the world into such an impossible situation.

Yes, we should defend the UN Charter, but not selectively as imperialism hypocritically wants us to. We should not allow ourselves to be duped by imperialism’s “blame the victim” narrative when the victim is forced to defend itself.

Inter-Imperialist War

Many, especially on the left, have taken the position that Russia is a capitalist/imperialist state, that this is an inter-imperialist war, and that we have to condemn both sides equally. But whether or not Russia is an imperialist state is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

First, such a position implies that only countries with certain socio-economic systems need to be defended against imperialist aggression and others should be left to fend for themselves. Given the fact that the majority of countries targeted by imperialism are capitalist themselves, such a position leads to weakening the anti-imperialist struggle.

The second and more important problem with this kind of argument is that it removes the whole issue of aggression from the picture. It no longer matters who is the aggressor and who is the victim. It obviates the fact that the US seeks to be the world’s hegemon with global “full-spectrum” dominance. In short, US imperialism generated a war without using US soldiers.

Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that Russia is indeed an imperialist state and that what is going on is nothing but an inter-imperialist war. Even so, isn’t this inter-imperialist war going to impact the future of humanity? Don’t we all have a stake in its outcome?

False Equivalency of US/NATO and Russian Roles

As a peace organization, we cannot principally agree with the escalation of the Ukraine conflict to the level of military confrontation. However, we oppose the one-sided position of condemning Russia alone.

Some others have taken a more “balanced” position of condemning both sides, by simultaneously calling a halt in NATO expansion and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine. But this position, too, ignores the causal relationships inherent the Ukraine situation. It places the cause and effect on the same level, while ignoring the fact that the NATO expansion is the material cause of the Russian military response. For these reasons, the position of equivalent blame superficially looks balanced but, in reality, isn’t.

Second, the natures of the two demands are different. The first is a general, strategic, long-term demand; the second is an immediate and concrete one. By formulating the demands in this way, such a position inevitably ends up putting the main pressure on Russia alone.

Third, the first demand about NATO expansion is not specific to the case of Ukraine while the second one is. It ignores the fact that US/NATO has flooded Ukraine with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of military equipment along with dispatching military and covert operations personnel to “advise.” A correct demand would be recognition of Ukraine as a neutral state, removal of all foreign weapons and military personnel (including mercenaries) from Ukraine, and full implementation of Minsk II agreement.

NATO’s success in its effort to expand to the Ukraine-Russia border would create a hellish world and lead to the possibility of a nuclear war. Let us not forget that the story would not end there, and Belarus could be the next target. So, it is imperative for the peace movement to do everything we can to guarantee Ukraine’s neutrality and US/NATO’s recognition of it.

U.S. Peace Council Assessment

The US with its NATO allies have not only provoked this tragedy but have sought to prolong it in their refusal to engage in negotiations for a ceasefire. While no one wins in a war, the US has had the most to gain: further unifying NATO under US domination, reducing Russian economic competition in the European energy market, justifying increasing the US war budget, and facilitating sales of war materiel to NATO vassals. A Europe further divided between the EU/UK and Russia benefits none but the imperial US.

On the basis of this assessment of the present situation in Ukraine, the U.S. Peace Council raises the following immediate demands, in order of priority and urgency:

1. Immediate ceasefire and dispatch of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including the self-proclaimed independent republics.

2. Recognition of the neutrality of Ukraine.

3. Withdrawal of foreign militaries, weapons, and equipment – including mercenaries – from Ukraine.

4. Resumption of negotiations for a permanent settlement of internal conflicts in Ukraine with the participation of all parties concerned.

U.S. Peace Council
March 24, 2022

***

U.S. Peace Council • P.O. Box 3105, New Haven, CT 06515 • (203) 387-0370 • USPC@USPeaceCouncil.org
• https://uspeacecouncil.org • https://www.facebook.com/USPeaceCouncil/ • @USPeaceCouncil

*A friend who is a stickler for accuracy did some research into the often cited 14,000 deaths figure and shared the following breakdown:

3,393 civilians (312 foreigners)

4,641 Armed Forces of Ukraine, National Guard of Ukraine, and volunteer forces

5,772 United Armed Forces of Novorossiya

400-500 Russian Armed Forces

Open Letter To Rep. Chellie Pingree On Ukraine

My photo of members of Maine’s peace lobby meeting with Rep. Chellie Pingree in Portland during her first term of office.

I don’t live in her district in Maine but I get Rep. Chellie Pingree’s newsletter anyway and today it was truly appalling. She ran as an peace candidate with a background in organic family farming. How far she has drifted from serving the people to serving the wealthy during her 13 years in office! 

Here’s my response to her recent messaging in the form of an open letter that might reach her.

Dear Rep. Pingree,

I read your email message today with interest. By spreading the demonstrably false claim — “As Russia continues its unprovoked attack on the people of Ukraine” — you appear to be either dangerously naive or a knowing promoter of lies about NATO and U.S. involvement in the region.

Where is your moral compass? Did you have one back in the day but years in Washington DC serving the Democratic Party and its corporate ownership eroded it?

If you actually believe Russia’s intervention in Ukraine’s civil war was unprovoked, and that roughly 14,000 casualties in the Donbas were mythical or perhaps not important, please find some better sources of information. 

Source: Covert Action Magazine

For starters, you might want to read this expose, U.S. Lied About Funding “Dangerous Pathogen” Research in Secret Ukrainian Biolabs, Newly Leaked Documents Reveal, by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva published March 22.

Or maybe you already know about this from your congressional briefings? 

Russia is the enemy du jour and mostly a pathway to rendering China without a major ally as the world moves away from U.S. domination of its trade and finance. 

Was blocking the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany worth risking a nuclear world war? I suspect your children or grandchildren might have a different opinion. There is no amount of wealth that would compensate them for a WW3 with nukes.

How about supporting diplomacy instead fanning the flames of conflict? 

Or is conflict what your military-industrial campaign donors require? 

Source: OpenSecrets.com Donors to Rep. Pingree’s campaign coffers by industry

As the U.S. produces little other than weapons nowadays, endless war is a marketing scheme.

Lisa Savage 

Solon

Hating On __________ Is What Gives Life Meaning

I suspect that our own oligarchs put 45 in office to pave the way for this war. 

Hating on 45 is what gave life meaning for many. 

Meanwhile, the false narrative that Putin put him in office took hold and dominated the airwaves for years. Once 45 was gone there was a giant hole in the liberal psyche and guess what conveniently came along to fill it?

Narrative managers were counting on ignorance of the 2014 Maidan coup and the civil war that ensued. Counting on the ignorance of those whom Chomsky has called the most propagandized people in history is usually a safe bet.

And in case it’s not safe enough, even more ignorance is served up in the daily deluge of sophisticated advertising,

information management,

 and censorship.

I discussed this and more yesterday with Regis Tremblay on his YouTube channel that now has 8,300 subscribers. Catch it now before it, too, falls to the censor’s axe.

Link in case embedded video does not work for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqJQwcdVHcI

Turd In The Punchbowl

My husband, Mark, who has opposed any and all wars since evading the draft during the Vietnam War.

For the past five and half years, liberals in the U.S. have salivated on command in response to the messaging “Trump bad” ==> “Trump supported by Putin” ===> “Putin bad” even unto the absurdity of “Putin = Hitler.” The president of the Russian Federation’s speech about trying to achieve the “denazification” of yes, actual Nazis in Ukraine, fell on deaf ears. Because false dichotomy is about as deep as liberals’ analysis is able or willing to go these days. 

The void previously filled by daily outrage at 45 has been ably filled by fresh hate for an associated villain.

When I showed up yesterday at an antiwar vigil in Oakland, California with this sign, about 100 participants saw it but many didn’t get it. Some got it and scowled; I was the turd in the punchbowl. The messaging of this crowd was all over the place, but I was the only one with an obvious anti-imperialist message.

This man in a U.S. Air Force jacket saw it and was inspired to add NATO YES to his sign which had previously said only #closethesky. (He added #noflyzone also, possibly for clarity.)

Two older ladies approached me individually to say, “I don’t understand your sign.” 

They were polite and that helped me resist the temptation to be snarky about what’s not to understand. For all I know they really don’t know what NATO stands for. 

Source: Media watchdog FAIR’s article, “Calling Russia’s Attack ‘Unprovoked’ Lets U.S. Off The Hook

One of them had clearly been to the ribbon store and was bedecked head to toe in Ukrainian yellow and blue (kudos to whoever conceived of the color revolutions strategy). USAians have been in training for color-themed “revolutions” all their lives as their televisions told them to wear the colors of one sports team in opposition to another sports team. They have derived their identities from which teams they cheer on and which hats they wear while cheering.


The banner you can’t quite read here says WELLSTONE Democracy Renewal Club. I believe it makes reference to Paul Wellstone, U.S. Senator from Minnesota who died in a mysterious plane crash while campaigning for re-election as a progressive Democrat.

The lady who was yellow and blue all over asked me why I had brought a “no NATO” message to the event. I explained that I was not supporting Russia’s attacks but that I hold NATO’s instigating responsible for the suffering of the Ukranian people. She didn’t appear to agree but she did nod thoughtfully and thanked me for explaining.

The other lady was not color-themed but looked like a garden variety old hippie. A lot of retirees live in this neighborhood and I’d say the average age of the crowd hovered around 60. Why the organizers had decided to hold the vigil right next to the all day Sunday drum circle held each week by Black drummers and dancers is a mystery to me.

The older woman listened to me explain my sign and asked a few questions. She appeared to actually be interested and at the end she commented, “You sound like you really know what you’re talking about.” I detected no sarcasm.

How is it that such a mature and affluent crowd doesn’t know what I’m talking about? Even if they disagree with my analysis, how can it be that they’ve never even heard of it?

Because if all your news for the last 50 years came from NPR and the New York Times, you end up quite ignorant. 

Educational level notwithstanding, you have swallowed false dichotomy hook, line, and sinker.

I’m not sure if either woman noticed the reverse of my sign. I see “no NATO” and the symbol for peace derived from symbols for nuclear disarmament as two sides of the same coin, not opposites.

This was one of the more nuanced messages at the vigil (side 1 and side 2):

Before my husband and I had even walked the few blocks back home this tweet I sent from the vigil

had drawn the fire of about twenty Twitter warriors for the status quo. I didn’t know any of them and we had not been in contact before yesterday. Most of them insulted me and/or my analysis, usually with name calling. It took a few minutes to block them but was probably time well spent. There are enough liberal Democrats harrassing me online who I actually know, mostly from the Native mascot retirement campaign in Maine.

A few of the comments were ambiguous so I left those. (“Oy” was one and #derusification was another.) 

I welcome disagreement and actual argumentation, but I have no reason to tolerate abusive, denigrating language. Nor do I need to provide a platform for people putting words in my mouth. I challenge them to find a single example of my supporting Putin or the Russian attacks on people in Ukraine. 

Information control is powerful and pervavasive. As of this weekend I can no longer access RT on my chromebook (still can on my phone) which consequently restricts access to lefty commentators like Lee Camp and Chris Hedges. Here’s the error message below:

Once the views of folks like those two  humanitarians are “forbidden,” we’re all in deep shit.

Fog Of War Thickening Rapidly

That truth is the first casualty of war is a bromide I used to think applied to, you know, wars. The forever wars of the project to control energy and its transport have been with us so long at this point that one might assume the fog is everpresent. Who knew it could get so much thicker?

Yesterday myriad people here in the U.S. insisted that I toe the line on viewing Russia’s attack on Ukraine devoid of context other than the prevailing notion that it is due to one madman, who they literally call “the new Hitler.”

They sent me links to CNN of all sources to counter my belief that the current government of Ukraine has neo-Nazi allies who have killed thousands (casualty total including soldiers stands at around 14,000) in the Donbas since the 2014 U.S.-sponsored coup. CNN! The anchor screaming “another of Putin’s LIES!” probably seems quite normal to those enveloped in the fog of nationalistic propaganda but instead it reminded me of how long I’ve been abstaining from the media offered up by our corporate overlords. (Or should I call them oligarchs?) 

The corporate media in the U.S. made a pretense of considering all sides decades ago when I was still consulting it for information. There is no such pretense now.

For years my left-leaning friends have recommended RT (formerly known as Russia Today) as a source for news and analysis you won’t get from CNN and its ilk. 

Host to commentators like Lee Camp and Jesse Ventura, RT is now banned in Europe and the U.S. 

Camp delivers social commentary with humor, much like George Carlin did in my younger days. At his suggestion, I’ve now subscribed to his content via a link on his website where I offered up my email address. 

How much longer will my inbox be a personally curated information feed? I suspect not long.

Australian blogger Caitlin Johnstone has pointed out that “Defending freedom and democracy sure requires an awful lot of censorship.” In a trend that began with suppressing debate on the pandemic, labels are slapped on information that does not conform to the official version of reality.

If the U.S. and NATO are so right and Russia is so wrong at this moment in history, why are the U.S. and other NATO countries blacking out the Russian point of view? What are they scared of?

In another sign of troubling times for truth, the information wars began playing out in classrooms almost immediately. 

Back in the day, presenting alternative views was considered both fair and educational. If young people were not given opportunities to practice evaluating information and weighing the merits of competing ideas, how would they learn critical thinking?

As just one example, yesterday the world was inflamed by the lie that Russia had bombed the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in Ukraine. According to ynet, an Israeli website, that is simply not true. How can we know for sure? We can’t, but open access to information supports sifting through falsehoods and truths to continuously adjust our understanding.

Censorship both overt and covert is favored by our corporate overlords because it protects their profit schemes from criticism.

Yes, Russia is wrong to bomb Ukraine. Yes, people are suffering there and suffering as refugees  (especially if they appear to be African).

None of that changes the fact that censorship is dangerous because it disables the flow of ideas that might, if we’re lucky, save the world from nuclear Armageddon.

Where To Find Reporting And Analysis To Offset Propaganda On Ukraine

Twitter quickly removed two tweets of mine last week calling attention to some useful sources of truthful analysis of the potentially nuclear confrontation between U.S./NATO proxy Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Probably someone reported my tweets, but we’ll never know because social media censorship is mostly opaque. 

Of course I kept trying. Here’s the tweet:

Reposting some of the more sane, though alarming, observations on the war in Ukraine this week:

From Peter Vanhoutte: A friend of mine published a few days a go a map of Eastern Europe with all NATO-bases on it on facebook. This was immediately removed by a so-called fact checker. This is a frightening development. We are not allowed to know anymore the military builld-up on the Western side, only the Russian military is public. As a former journalist, I wonder why we are not allowed to see the two sides of the current problem and critically analyze them.  Even for a mediated solution, a balanced approach to and understanding of both sides is necessary. And in the end, the creation of a neutral zone between east and west will certainly help to lower the tensions. 

From John Pilger: Western Democracies Have Mutated into Propagandists for War and Conflict

Vladimir Putin refers to the “genocide” in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. Following the coup in Ukraine in 2014—orchestrated by Barack Obama’s “point person” in Kyiv, Victoria Nuland—the coup regime, infested with neo-Nazis, launched a campaign of terror against Russian-speaking Donbas, which accounts for a third of Ukraine’s population.

Overseen by CIA director John Brennan in Kyiv, “special security units” coordinated savage attacks on the people of Donbas, who opposed the coup. Video and eyewitness reports show bussed fascist thugs burning the trade union headquarters in the city of Odessa, killing 41 people trapped inside. The police are standing by. Obama congratulated the “duly elected” coup regime for its “remarkable restraint.”

From Bruce Gagnon: 

Who funded the RAND Corp study on regime change in Russia?

The infamous RAND Corporation has created a study calling for the break-up of Russia. The plan is now being implemented by the US-UK-NATO. See the study here.

The pie chart above (click on it for a better view) details where RAND gets its funding. Should be no surprise to see that the vast majority of the money comes from the Department of Defense, US Army, Air Force, Homeland Security and other government agencies.

It is my opinion, based on these and other obvious facts, that the current international effort to militarily encircle Russia and take them down – is being envisioned and organized by the US war machine.

In addition is the unrelenting corporate media brainwashing of the American and European people to support this regime change effort now underway. 

Since 2007 Russia has been pleading with US-UK-NATO to agree to a negotiated security program for all of Europe that would end NATO expansion and would return to serious negotiations to ban weapons in space, cyber war, and return to nuclear weapons reduction talks. The US has refused all of these offers for stability.

Moscow understands what the western corporate-run governments intend – regime change and the breaking up of Russia into smaller nations that would then give resource extraction companies access to the vast resources along the Arctic Sea zone.

The US use of Ukraine as a tool to destabilize Russia is spelled out in the Rand study where they say:

Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability….Undermining Russia’s image abroad would focus on diminishing Russian standing and influence, thus undercutting regime claims of restoring Russia to its former glory. Further sanctions, the removal of Russia from non-UN international forums, and boycotting such events as the World Cup could be implemented by Western states and would damage Russian prestige.


NATO endless war council

So the evidence is abundant if one is serious about cutting through the media demonization and the western military encirclement of Russia. But the willingness to seek the truth and to stand against the wave of American ‘exceptionalist’ propaganda is more than most are prepared to face.

Sadly far to many in the US (even in the progressive movement) know little to nothing about the full story.  And even more sadly, many don’t appear to be that interested in finding the truth. 

Let’s hope that changes before it is too late.

Bruce

If you’ve made it this far, consider this:

Maybe four years of the Russiagate nonsense was intended to set up U.S. public support for the coup regime aligned with neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

Maybe the public health crisis we’re in now is intended to set up public support for a future war on China, once their ally Russia has been regime-changed?

What The Corporate Press Fails To Tell Us About Ukraine

Protesters in Kiev at the U.S. embassy (Source: Bruce Gagnon)

Reposting my friend Bruce Gagnon’s excellent update which contains some images and information that you will not see in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and the rest of the corporate press. These media outlets lied us into war in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. Hot on the heels of four years of fabricating the Russiagate story, would they lie us into war with Russia? You bet they would.

Source: Bruce Gagnon

February 5 protests across the U.S. a success

Photo credit: Bob Klotz

Here is a brief update on the latest information:

o Increasingly more and more people and peace groups in the U.S. are speaking out to try to stop Washington from pushing Ukraine-Russia (and maybe all of us) into WW III. On February 5 protests like the one just above (in Mid-coast Maine) were held in more than 75 communities across the nation.

o The photo above reveals (never reported in the corporate media) that 150,000 Ukrainian troops (trained, armed and directed by US-UK-NATO) are at the ‘line of contact’ near the Russian-ethnic region (inside Ukraine) called the Donbass (red on the map). Ukraine is repeatedly shelling the Donbass region trying to draw Russia into a full-blown war.

o The photos below are Ukrainian protests in front of the US Embassy in the capital city of Kiev. They reveal that there are many inside Ukraine that do not see the US-UK-NATO military operations since the 2014 U.S. orchestrated coup d’état as a positive.

o Ukraine’s President Zelensky has just blocked and banned the 6th anti-Zelensky TV channel in the last 12 months. So much for democracy from the Nazi-backed regime in Kiev.

o Inside Russia there are growing fears that the US-UK-NATO will implement a tried-and-true ‘false flag’ event that could then be blamed on Moscow. Don’t forget that the US has used false flags in the past (like the Gulf of Tonkin to ramp up Vietnam war).

o Russia continues to say that it has no intention of invading Ukraine. But if Donbass or Crimea are hit by the Ukrainian army then there would likely be a response.

o In recent days the U.S. forced the Slovakian government to allow the Pentagon to set up a base inside that country despite major protests. So clearly the U.S. is using this current Ukraine situation to expand its military operations inside Eastern Europe – the exact opposite of what Russia has demanded. It’s a spit in Russia’s face.

o An international call has gone out for peace activists to use the slogan ‘Disband NATO’ as much as possible. Washington (and allies) promised then President Gorbachev, at the time of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, that the alliance would not expand ‘one inch’ toward Russia. Clinton broke the promise with his ‘NATO Enhancement’ and today NATO in on the Russian borders. How is Moscow to react?

Protests outside the U.S. embassy in Kiev

Source: Bruce Gagnon

The banners in Kiev speak for themselves.

Ukranian activists demand the U.S. return home

You’d never know that there we anti-American protests at the U.S. embassy in Kiev by listening to western corporate-run media. All we get is the opposite. We daily hear that Ukraine is united and ready to defend themselves against the Russian bear.

At the same time we hear that NATO is united – rarely a word about Croatia, Hungary, France, Germany and other NATO members urging peace and rejecting getting involved in any war.

What About Putin?

Recently I noted that an interesting aspect of opposing war with Russia in Europe as compared with opposing U.S.-supported wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, or Yemen is hearing from numerous liberal Democrats that are extremely in favor of this war and irate that I am not.

Yesterday I came under attack by two liberal Democrat-types (both of whom happen to be older female academics) because I am insufficiently moved by warmongering propaganda offered up on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and other corporate media.

This is a common theme of my days.

In the false binary where if Republicans are bad then Democrats must be good because there are always only two choices, if I’m against NATO I must therefore be in favor of Putin. As the avatar of Catherine the Great’s imperial ambitions in one case (what the what?) when I was castigated for sharing a Facebook memory of a talk about Crimea three years ago organized by friends of mine.

I shared this memory with the comment: “Bruce has been paying attention to NATO encroachment on Ukraine for a while now.”

Here’s the pushback:

For weeks I’ve been hounded with gotcha questions from a certain Twitter account. “What are your views on WWII?” was one of her more absurd questions. Was I supposed to answer in tweets? 

I suggested that this person could read this blog and search for terms like “WWII” to read my essays on the subject. But I don’t think she is actually interested in doing that.

Yesterday’s gotcha question:


Since I’ve been on the receiving end of these gotcha questions for weeks, I’m clear that the subtext is that I appear to be favoring the kind of appeasement that scholars of WWII think led to Hitler’s Germany expanding its territory without much opposition.

I’m not going to concede that Putin is the reincarnation of Hitler no matter how many gotcha questions I am asked.

When I was a young history major the essential question in this field was, How did the German people let the Nazis take over their country?

As I’ve noted in this blog many times, since the unfortunate events of 9/11 it is horrifyingly clear how that happened — because we’re living through it. Information control is an essential part of the military takeover of a society, well along in the case of the U.S. in 2022.

The U.S. imperial project has hundreds (some say 800, depending on how you define “military base”) of military installations in other countries. It has invaded and occupied numerous countries, and coup’d or regime changed a long list of others. Its leading space entrepreneur, a man who is deeply embedded in U.S. programs to militarize space, has tweeted “We’ll coup anyone we want” in reference to toppling democratically elected governments to gain access to their mineral reserves.

“NATO expansion in Europe”  Source: Counterfire.org

Or just take a look at NATO and how it has been used to expand U.S. imperial ambitions steadily since its inception.

There are some salient facts about the current crisis that those jumping on the bandwagon to demonize Putin either don’t know about or tend to forget.

#1 is expressed well here by Nina Beety, an anti-nuclear activist and academic who is able to see past the corporate media narrative of “Putin Bad” that we are all supposed to adhere to:

The 2015 Minsk-2 agreement required dialogue between Donetsk, Lugansk, and Kiev, which Kiev has refused to do, and all foreign actors were to withdraw personnel and equipment from Ukraine, which the U.S., UK, and Poland have refused to do [emphasis mine]. 

Instead, 150,000 Ukrainian soldiers, U.S., UK, and Polish personnel and increasing amounts of weaponry are massing near the communities of eastern Ukraine, reportedly preparing to attack, in violation of Minsk. 

#2 can be found by perusing George Washington University’s National Security Archives website. Their 2017 article on this topic begins:

 U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (http://nsarchive.gwu.edu). 

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels. 

The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.”…

The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.” 

#3 is a fact that few know about but which I haven’t been able to get out of my head since I heard it shared on an antiwar organizing call last week: after the 2014 coup, the U.S. intended to put a naval base in Crimea. This led to a vote on whether or not the people favored annexation by Russia and, in a landslide, they did.


A local resident rescues a dog from a fire in a house destroyed in the Ukrainian armed forces’ air attack on the village of Luganskaya on July 2, 2014 (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov) © RIA Novosti  source: Russia Today video

#4 is an example of so-called “facts on the ground” which are easily documented but which the corporate press in the U.S. steadfastly refuse to report: Ukraine has been shelling civilians in the Donbass region — i.e. on their border with Russia — for years and has killed around 14,000 and injured many others.

But, yeah, Putin bad. All you need to know. Get back to work or playing wordle. 

You’ll need to look up when WWIII begins with another land war in Europe. At that point, probably the only salient fact left will be that the Russian Federation has pledged no first use of nukes, while the U.S. has adamantly refused to promise the same security measures to preserve life on the planet.

There’s an old Russian saying that in really sophisticated propaganda, even its opposite is not true. 

So if “Putin bad” is not true, maybe “Putin good” is not true either. 

That said, I would appreciate it if my critics would stop imposing their false binary on me.

#BlackHistoryMonth The Case For Reparations

Staff Sergeant Herbert Ellison explains the G.I. Bill of Rights to the African American members of the quartermaster trucking company. Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

One of my proudest moments as a mom is when one of my kids as an undergrad got his essay making the case for reparations included in a philosophy textbook. Of course I read it at the time and admired it, and of course I can no longer find it in my copious archives. 

Also of course we know that Black author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2019 essay “The Case for Reparations” has become part of the canon at this point. 

An excerpt:

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. 

Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

Now, in 2022, the U.S. is still far from whole and in fact becoming more fragmented every day. There’s an essay in that, but what I’d like to focus on today is one of the most surprising things I learned when I still worked as a history teacher.

First group of Black members of the Women’s Army Corps assigned to serve overseas in 1945, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. (U.S. Department of Defense/National Archives)

Black veterans of WWII did not receive their GI bill benefits.

Only a white person could be as incredulous as I was when I found this out rather late in life.

My own father went to college on the G.I. bill. My maternal grandfather refused to use his G.I. bill benefits as he was so digusted by the Army that drafted him and sent him into Nagasaki after destroying the city and its inhabitants with a nuclear bomb.

The original bill in 1944 was written to offer equal opportunities for all veterans to access funds for education and loan guarantees to buy homes. 

Unfortunately, the states and local governments were then empowered to disburse the funds. So Black GI’s were turned down when applying for tuition or home loan guarantees that white veterans were getting. 

Local control often sounds good on paper but mostly, I believe, results in lack of equity and a continuation of structural racism. Black Girl in Maine blogger Shay Stewart-Bouley recently called on white “allies” to stop with the empty performances of antiracism and run for office.

She’s not wrong. (Full disclosure: I just made another reparations payment, albeit small, but something I do regularly. You can, too.)

In the super right wing area where I live, me getting elected is doubtful and I can no longer drive after dark anyway. These are true facts but it is also true that I would rather crawl over broken glass than sit through discussions of snow plow purchases and bus maintenance past my bedtime. Foreign policy is my thing, as progressive school curriculum was for 25 years. So, yes, I have guilt about this.

Back to the case for reparations.

What are the generational impacts of being shut out of home ownership and/or college tuition?

 Just some of the long-term effects:

  • Paying rent to build someone else’s equity rather than your own.
  • Being unable to leverage the resource of equity in real estate to educate your kids, or refinance to improve your home, or buy a car, or whatever else people do via refinancing their mortgage.
  • Lack of access to jobs that require college degree(s) and have real financial benefits over the long term e.g. full coverage health care, employer contributions to retirement savings, company car, etc.
  • Lack of access to generational wealth, the resource other people use to finance the costs of college and grad school, or make a down payment on a first home, or the capital to start a business.

Median net worth for white families in the 2019 study above: $188,000.

Median net worth for Black families in the 2019 study above: $24,000.

Enforced poverty is a structural problem, and poverty has a cascade of associated problems including poor health, shortened life expectancy, high maternal mortality, and a reduced ability to bounce back from an emergency, accident, or illness.

I didn’t create these conditions but I have certainly benefited from them in the working class/middle class family I come from. It would be impossible to live in the U.S. as a white person and not benefit from the legacy of slavery and white supremacy.

https://youtu.be/kcCnQ3iRkys

I hope if you’re white like me you’ll find recipients and make your reparation payments today.

Another group whose work I admire and contribute to is the Black Alliance for Peace

But follow your heart. Go ahead and share your wealth with a Black author, artist, athlete, student, organizer, or another Black person you know or know about.

Important point: make your reparations payments with no strings attached. 

The recipients don’t owe us anything. On the contrary, we owe them.

Mainers Brave Bitter Cold To Join Thousands Across The U.S. Demanding: No War With Russia!

photo credit: Martha Spiess

Yesterday thousands rallied across the U.S. to protest the threat of war with Russia, expansion of NATO, and arming Ukraine at taxpayer expense. 

photo credit: Bob Klotz

Around 30 people stood in Topsham at the big intersection where thousands of people passed by during the hour long protest. Sponsoring organizations Maine Natural Guard, Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick, Peace Action Maine, Maine Veterans for Peace and WILPF-Maine sent representatives. It was also exciting to see members of many other organizations in our state join us including Maine Poor People’s Campaign and 350 Maine. 

WMTW Channel 8 and WABI Channel 5 news both ran segments on our protest that included my statement: “I have grandchildren. They don’t want nuclear war. My children don’t want nuclear war. And all the people you see standing out here don’t want nuclear war.

What happened to diplomacy? Let’s sit down and talk. Let’s talk about our mutual security needs and work something out.”

Many of the messages shared yesterday reflected a concern that nuclear war could be a consequence of U.S.-NATO military attacks on Russia. 

Cynthia Howard in Topsham photo credit: Martha Spiess

Although the corporate press have repeated that unnamed sources believe Russia plans to invade Ukraine, no evidence for this claim has been produced.  Ukraine and NATO nations have moved approximately 150,000 troops and nuclear-capable weapons to several borders with Russia, and in response Russia has increased to around 100,000 the troops stationed on its own border with Ukraine. 

Russia has repeatedly said it has no intention of invading Ukraine.

The president of Ukraine has asked the U.S. and NATO to tone down their bellicose rhetoric as it is alarming the people of that nation.

Note that Russia has a long-standing no first use policy on nuclear weapons. The U.S. does not, nor has it signed the United Nations treaty on the ban of nuclear weapons after more than a year in effect.

photo credit: Russell Wray

Elsewhere in Maine yesterday a group including Veterans for Peace members gathered on a bridge in Ellsworth. Russell Wray reported: “We stood for an hour and got quite a bit of positive response, honks, thumbs up, and even clapping.” It was bitterly cold throughout, and Rob Shetterly reported that he thought about jumping into the Union River to warm up. We also heard that a group stood in Bucksport.

An online rally at noon brought together representatives of national and international peace groups including the Black Alliance for Peace, United National Antiwar Coalition, the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, World Beyond War, WILPF-U.S and many more. Recording on YouTube & Facebook

Bruce Gagnon and I were on from Maine, and Bruce spoke to his experiences visiting Russia and the Crimea and Donbass regions of Ukraine following the 2014 coup that installed a Nazi-aligned government there. Bruce’s same day blog post about U.S. mercenary corporation Blackwater joining the Nazi Azov battalion in Donbass may be read here.

Photo source: Organizing Notes

Militias displaying Nazi insignia are common in Ukraine and operate there with the tacit agreement of the government.

I spoke about how U.S. imperialism is in trouble abroad as Russia and China released a joint statement on security, economic development, and public health policy just prior to the opening of the Winter Olympic games in Beijing. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is in trouble at home with extremely low approval ratings. No national plan for public health in a pandemic as U.S. deaths approach 900,000 without universal healthcare and galloping inflation further impoverishing those struggling to feed and house themselves are contributing to loss of faith in the current government’s ability to respond to people’s needs. 

Promoting a land war in Europe seems to be a desperate strategy to improve the Biden administration’s approval ratings as nonstop war coverage by corporate press outlets tends to improve a war president’s standing in opinion polls.

Meanwhile, in calls with investors, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin expressed pleasure that the worsening situation in Ukraine is helping their profits.

See reporting by Sarah Lazare here.

Feb 5 demonstrators in New York City, photo courtesy Codepink

‘War With Russia Would Be Insane’

Check out this interview of someone who has traveled to Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia and knows people there. Bruce Gagnon is the coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and is interviewed here by Brian Leonard in Portland, Maine.

“War with Russia would be insane.”

All photos are mine from the NO WAR IN UKRAINE demonstration Friday, January 28 on several street corners in Portland, Maine.

Ukraine: Biden Administration’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Diversionary War? Asks Black Alliance For Peace

Full disclosure: I support the Black Alliance for Peace with a (very modest) monthly donation which I recently doubled. I admire their work and you can support them, too, by going here.

For immediate Release

Media Contact
press@blackallianceforpeace.org
(202) 643-1136

Ukraine: Biden Administration’s “Wag the Dog” Diversionary War?
 

January 27, 2022 — The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) along with the ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, Maryland Peace Action, Popular Resistance, and many other organizations will gather in Washington today at noon in front of the white House as part of an emergency mobilization of anti-war activists to express opposition to the unnecessary and extremely dangerous possibility of war in Ukraine.

With a 39% job approval rating, more deaths from covid than during the Trump administration, and a failure to deliver on most of promises made during the 2020 presidential campaign, the intentional escalation of tensions by the United States with  Russia appears as a clumsy attempt by the Biden administration and the democratic party to divert attention from the historic failures of the administration’s domestic policies.

There could be no other rational explanation for why the Biden administration would encourage the Ukrainian coup government to reject the Minsk II agreement that provided a diplomatic framework for peacefully resolving the internal struggle between the Ukrainian government and regions that declared themselves independent of that government, unless, according to BAP National Organizer, Ajamu Baraka:

“The manufactured crisis with Russia over Ukraine, demonstrates once again the incredible recklessness and outrageous opportunism that the U.S./NATO/EU Axis of domination is prepared to achieve its geo-strategic objective of full-spectrum economic and political global domination.”

Whatever the explanation, it is clear that for African peoples, the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination continues to represent the greatest threat to peace, human rights, and social justice on the planet today. That is why it is so absurd to see the Black Misleadership class lining up to demonstrate their support for war with Russia while Black people still face the structural violence of capitalism and the terror of state violence from the domestic army occupying our communities that are referred to as the police.

BAP says that it is irrational for any African to embrace the agenda of empire by giving credence or legitimacy to the crude mobilization of public opinion for conflict on behalf of NATO, a structure created to perpetuate white power and the colonial/capitalist project.

We are clear: we say once again, not one drop of the blood from Black workers, the colonized and nationally oppressed in defense of the U.S. capitalist oligarchy. 

No Compromise, No Retreat!

###

Top 10 Reasons The U.S. Should NOT Go To War In Ukraine

10. The U.S. does a piss poor job of caring for military veterans once they are injured, either physically, psychologically, or morally. 


 9. Ukraine is ruled by literal Nazis installed in a 2014 coup promoted by Joe Biden. They oppress Jewish people in Ukraine and bomb areas with majority Russian-speaking population.

  8. The only winners of U.S. wars are corporations who build weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. hasn’t “won” a war since 1947. 


7. Wars are expensive for taxpayers and the U.S. still does not have universal health care despite a pandemic that has killed 800,000+ people.


 6. The same corporate press outlets that promoted lies leading to war on Iraq, Libya, and Syria are promoting the lie that Russia is about to invade Ukraine. 


 5. Russia has nuclear weapons which it has never used offensively but presumably would be willing to use defensively. A nuclear exchange is game over for humanity because modern weapons make the bombs the U.S. used on Japan look puny by comparison. 


 4. Millions of people, including children and veterans, are unhoused and camping on the streets of the U.S. during the coldest month of winter. 


 3. Millions of children in the U.S. live in chronic poverty that includes hunger and this permanently affects their health and future happiness. 


 2. Thousands of young people have already had their health and future prospects ruined by enlisting in U.S. wars for empire, and we don’t need to create more victims.


 1. Wars and the preparation for them drive climate chaos which is the biggest security threat facing humans collectively.

Neighborhood Bully Plans Mass Shooting

Source: texassizebullies.blog

Once upon a time there was a neighborhood bully who loved to pick on smaller kids. He would knock them down, steal their lunch money, rub their faces in the snow, and then run away laughing. His gang would laugh loudly with him as they feared that he might turn on them if they did not support his cruelties. As he got older he began using his stolen wealth to buy weapons like knives and guns. 

His weapons of first choice could be used from a distance to inflict pain without the chance of getting hurt himself: slingshots, cherry bombs, and pepper spray.

Sometimes the wind kicked up at the wrong moment and the pepper spray blew back in his face. The intended victim would then be blamed for the pepper spray “attack” and subjected to further punishment. And the bully began buying pepper gel instead. He was best friends with the businesses that sold knives, guns, and pepper gel. And they loved the bully because they made so much money off of him. 

To keep him buying they would call him up with stories about how this person or that was becoming too strong and should be stopped before they became able to challenge the bully and win. This was effective because it was the thing that the bully secretly feared most of all. He would buy and buy and buy believing that he was strengthening his position at the top of the heap.

Source: express.co.uk

On report card day the bully received all D’s and F’s because instead of doing his homework he was always at the weapons store. He became enraged, because his second biggest fear was that people thought he was stupid. He was convinced that the kids who sat in the back on the school bus, the older kids, were laughing at him behind his back. He had seen sticky notes on his locker that said U R DUMB and YOU SMELL LIKE A FART and YOUR MOMMA HAS COVID. He wasn’t sure who was writing the notes but he had two main suspects: one who used to be part of his posse but had since moved on, and one who was the head of the STEM club building a solar powered streetcar system for the town they lived in.

The bully liked to brag to his friends about threatening both of the sticky note suspects. He was always talking about what he was gonna do to them but he never actually did much because they were both strong, tall kids who might be able to defend themselves.

https://www.statista.com/chart/8286/us-will-trail-other-rich-nations-in-life-expectancy-by-2030/

At the end of the semester both those kids had passed all their classes while the bully had failed all of his except P.E. This meant that he would not be promoted to the next grade and would have to stay back. Most of his friends went on to the next grade and weren’t around much anymore. The ones who stayed with him were the meanest kids, the ones who had closets full of guns at home. They liked to talk about shooting up places and they would show up at gatherings like basketball games with loaded guns in their backpacks.

The bully started a rumor that his former friend was planning a mass shooting at the next basketball game. He claimed to have overheard the plans being made in the locker room where he was hiding in a stall cutting math class. Some of his friends believed him and they began preparing by stockpiling weapons in various places close to the basketball court. 

They built each other’s confidence by reminiscing about the time that they had kicked a smaller kid’s ass,  a smaller kid with no weapons but with plenty of lunch money to steal.

But the attack never came.

So the bully got what he thought was a brilliant idea. One of his friends should shoot out the windows of the school in the middle of the night after spray painting his former friend’s name on the front by the flagpole. Photos of the damage would go viral and everyone would blame the former friend. “Let’s get this party started!” said the bully, his eyes gleeful with anticipation.

To be continued…

Derailed: Trains, Stores, Schools & Inadequate Covid Tests Evidence Of U.S. Empire’s Rapid Decline


A member of the media picks up a shredded box at a section of the Union Pacific train tracks in downtown Los Angeles, Jan. 14, 2022 CBSLA reported Thursday. AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

On the same day that I could not get pictures of littered tracks and derailed trains in downtown Los Angeles out of my head, the federal government finally announced free covid test kits for each household can be ordered from a U.S. Postal Service website

How many of the tests, which we’re told won’t ship until the end of January, will end up on the tracks?  Journalists reported seeing covid tests discarded amid the debris presumably deemed “not worth stealing.” Corporate journalism focused, predictably, on property crimes rather than the underlying conditions of mass deaths in the U.S. amid a public health crisis managed on behalf of commercial interests under late stage capitalism.

Both the trains and the tests are evidence of accelerating imperial decline. Despite loyal Democrats tweeting that we must “thank @POTUS” for finally doing something other countries have been doing better for months, nay, years into this pandemic, the test distribution scheme is already an epic fail.

  • Four tests per household is inadequate. Does the Biden administration realize that front line so-called “essential” workers often have households with more than four people living in them? Or, more to the point, does the Biden administration care?
  • Unhoused people don’t have an address to use, typically.
  • People without internet access are shit out of luck.
  • Entering an apartment address is tricky because the form rejects attempts with this explanation:

Here’s a whole thread on Twitter explaining how to get around that problem.

My favorite emblematic message so far is corporate mouthpiece Portland Press Herald tweeting from its editors’ white and professional class privileged point of view:

“Super easy” — until the package ends up on the tracks, I suppose.

What’s up with the trains anyway? Rampant omicron infections in a nation lacking universal healthcare, paid sick leave, and adequate child care have signficantly reduced the available labor force. 

Container ships off of the coast of the Port of Long Beach | Getty

Shipping and trucking are similarly backed up and have been for months.

Union Pacific train derailment in downtown Los Angeles


Trains are slowed down or backed up and as such are soft targets for theft (hey, maybe some of these packages contain food!). It’s unclear whether the 17 car derailment of a Union Pacific train was caused by massive litter on the tracks fouling the switch as some have speculated.

For reference, here’s what trains in China look like:

Source: International Business Times “High speed trains in China”

Also Japan (I rode many trains there in the early 1980’s and they were fantastic even back then):

Source: allaboutJapantrains.com

Also Germany (I’ll stop now):

Source: Train of Thought blog “Frequent service makes Germany’s train travel incredibly convenient, and competitive with other modes of transportation. Here, trains prepare to leave Cologne.” 
Photo by David Lassesn


All over the U.S. people are sharing photos of empty grocery store shelves 

Source: “Heads Up Moms, Grocery Stores Have Empty Shelves Again” 

amid widespread and prolonged shortage of items as various as cat food and dental floss.

Teachers at United for Success Academy Middle School walk out in support of Oakland, California students. (WSWS Media, January 18, 2021)

Staffing shortages are affecting schools nationwide. Some have responded by herding students into large holding areas during in-person school during the worst surge of the pandemic. Students in Oakland, NYC, Boston and elsewhere have walked out demanding remote learning be reinstated, and the Chicago Teachers Union refused to return in person after the holidays.

The decline of empires is often rapid once they get rolling, often ugly, and nearly always dangerous.

Think of the Ottoman Empire whose dissolution sparked WWI, or the Japanese imperialism that ended with starvation and suicide bombers in kamikaze planes built with no landing gear to save on costs.

Boasting and claims of superiority typically go hand in hand with imperial decline. So we are told the economy is doing great while low income people are being devastasted by inflation and loss of income with minimal support from the government. Meanwhile, U.S.-led NATO announces its overarching policy plan for militarizing outer space to protect…banking.

Voting will not fix this. Both corporate parties have failed to respond effectively to widespread infection and its consequences.

Workers withholding their labor is already widespread and likely the only power the people still have to get us on track to a minimal quality of life for all.

The silver lining in this cloud: maybe I will live to see that general strike I’ve been dreaming of after all.

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.