Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Celebrate Black Women By Learning (And Teaching) More About Their History

Black Women is trending on Twitter this morning as those are the voters in Alabama who defeated the pedophile Senate candidate supported by the demagogue with bad hair.

Doug Jones will be the newest U.S. senator instead, another white man, but one with a legacy of civil rights significance for prosecuting the white supremacists who murdered four black girls in Alabama by the infamous bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham.

I imagine that made a compelling case for voting for Jones and not just against the pedophile.

Many of my retweets of this news were along these lines:

One way you can join me in doing some of these things is to purchase and share the terrific new history resource from Urban Intellectuals, Volume 2 of their Black History Flashcards, devoted entirely to women.

This history major was humbled but not surprised by how many important black women I did not know of before reading through the deck. Because the history of black women has been suppressed for my entire lifetime!

By Source, Fair use,

Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertsone and Cynthia Wesley never grew up to vote. They did become part of the shameful history of racism in this country though. 

Educating ourselves about black women is part of the work we white people must be doing at this moment in time.

We can also educate ourselves about the dire legacy of systemic racism and economic exploitation of black women and their families. This stretches from Alabama to Maine.

The Boston Globe is running an investigative series "Boston. Racism. Image. Reality." exploring the legacy of racism, which includes data on the average net worth of black people in that wealthy northern city: $8. Yup, that's eight dollars and no cents. 

Blocked from access to quality education and home ownership has taken its toll on generations of black folks. WTF? America, we can do better.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Stop The FCC From Making Access To The Internet Unequal

On Thursday, join activists all over the planet to demand the U.S. keep open acce$$ to the internet.

The internet is a powerful education tool that will be compromised if it is sacrificed to the almighty dollar.

Reports are that email to the FCC has been flooded with fake accounts spamming it. An alternative is to contact FCC chair Ajit Pai to leave a voicemail at 202-418-1000. You can do this 24/7 and reportedly need to leave a name and address in order to have your call filed. 

For more tools and ideas, go here: Break the Internet, Save Net Neutrality.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Protecting The Children Of Palestine When It Cannot Be Done

Schools in Jerusalem are often targets for harassment by Israel's military.  Photo of students in occupied Hebron by Wisam Hashlamoun / APA Images.

The distraction machine known as the demagogue with bad hair has caused a furor by announcing that the embassy of the U.S. will be moved to Jerusalem.

Long coveted as the capital of Israel, Jerusalem is a flashpoint of Zionist ambition.

Leaders in the region have warned that the move would be a disaster. Hanan Ashwari of the Palestine Liberation Organization reportedly commented that the move risks "annihilating the chances of peace and destroying the stability and security of the entire region, proking violence and playing into the hands of extremists."

How might this affect the long suffering children of Palestine?

Here's a video of Israeli soldiers harassing teenagers at their school, made by Jewish Voice for Peace and posted by activist Zelda Edmunds with the comment:

...The daily challenges of being Palestinian in H2 area of Hebron... It's unimaginably horrific that people live like prisoners in their own neighborhoods because of the ongoing occupation, apartheid and colonization taking place. So many kids put their lives at stake everyday just to go to school, go home, or simply walk on their own streets.

Here's a video of Israeli soldiers harassing an 8 year old.

Here's a video of Israeli soldiers harassing a 7 year old.

And here's an account of life for children in Gaza by Khulud Jaber. Her kids (depicted above) may live their whole lives in a-Nuseirat refugee camp as their family home has been occupied by Israel:

Lately, we’ve been getting power for fewer and fewer hours. At first, we were getting electricity for six hours, with 12-hour blackouts, then for four with 12-hour blackouts. Now it’s gotten even worse and the blackouts last for 18 hours every day. Also, the power does not come on at regular hours, so sometimes there’s electricity only when we’re asleep at night, or when we’re out of the house. My husband has lymphatic cancer and has been out of work since 2007...
Without electricity, the children really suffer from the heat, and you can’t turn on a fan.  
How to protect the children of Palestine?

Share information about the reality of their existence under occupation.

From an account of night raids on Palestinian homes, September, 2016
"Israeli soldiers invade Bil'in in attempt to break the people's spirit

Contact your elected representatives to demand they stop funding Israel's military occupation of Palestine. The current administration has pledged to give $38 billion of U.S. taxpayer-funded military "aid" (mostly credits to buy weapons) over the next ten years.

Donate to human rights organizations like B'teslem that document abuses of children by Israel's government.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Protecting The Children When It Cannot Be Done

Yesterday on the bridge a car pulled over and motioned me to approach. I was carrying a sign my husband made that says NO ROOM FOR RACISM while the rest of us held various messages opposing war and promoting peace.

A young white man with two children in the car greeted me with a big, friendly grin (in retrospect I'm pretty sure this was because I, too, am white).

Him: What is your sign about? What racism is it about?
Me: Um, white supremacy.
Him: You've got it all wrong. The racism is all on the other side. I can prove it! I have tons of videos I can show you.
Me: Is that what you're teaching your kids? I am going to cry. I've got to go.

Then, I walked away. Yes, I bailed on the chance to engage in some racial justice dialogue with kids as part of the audience. Why would I do that?

I was already struggling with very low spirits and I really did think I might cry. Or, fail to listen with an open heart and without betraying my disgust.

A student of mine watched his only parent get busted for heroin/fentanyl and put in handcuffs before school last week. The student was traumatized and so was I. Another family member whisked him away before the day ended. It was reported that some of the drugs were found in my student's bureau drawers. I doubt that we will see him again.

This is a common occurrence with children at risk: they disappear suddenly from your classroom community, and you mourn their absence. I am reminded of indigenous groups believing that the loss of a person creates a gap which weakens the group.

I have been mourning all weekend, and today is the day I will find ways to help the other seven year olds process why a member of our community has vanished.

There are children in my family that have alcoholic or otherwise drug addicted parents. 

Some of their parents won't speak to me anymore after I've objected to their being staggering drunk while "caring" for their children, driving them around in a car. My late brother's ex-wife sent me a diatribe claiming I am the most judgmental person on the planet and I live to judge to others.

Not being able to protect children from the ill effects of their parents' diseases of despair is a major theme of my life. I was the oldest child in a family with an alcoholic parent. Alcoholism has plagued both sides of my family for generations. Heroin, cocaine and other substances have crept in there, too. As there's little I can do about that, I speak up against racism and the empire's racist wars.

These days many people are willing to speak out against racism while few are willing to speak out against our many, many wars.

It doesn't matter to me if the majority or some guy in a passing car disagree with my point of view. How many times have I gotten yelled for being wrong when it turned out in the end I was right about what was really going on? More times than I can count. I didn't write this essay on following your own lights by Caitlin Johnstone, but I wish I had: "It Is Your Human Duty To Stand Unapologetically In Your Own Authority."

In the end, the tax heist performed in the dark hours before dawn last week will come home to roost. And so will the chickens of our chicken shit wars.

In five years I may not be able to afford the gas money to drive into town and stand on the bridge each Sunday. I may be physically attacked for daring to stand up to white supremacists. I may be jailed for saying that Muslims pose no threat to our safety, that billionaires don't need more tax breaks or that kleptocracy will be the undoing of civil society.

I just hope I'm not too discouraged by then to not go quietly.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Will Maine's Senator Susan Collins Sell Out Her Constituents To Enrich The Wealthy? She's Saying Yes, She Will

I wish I could say I was shocked to hear that Maine's Senator Susan Collins, often viewed as a moderate Republican swing vote, is going over to the dark side on tax reform.

That is "reform" that would saddle teachers like me with even more federal taxes than the 30% I already pay, and would eliminate most low and middle income tax shelters e.g. the mortgage deduction. Also tax student financial aid as if it were income.

Oh, and personhood for fetuses -- which is not a tax issue. But blocking access to legal, safe abortion is a signature of the nasty corporate party currently at the helm of the sinking ship of state. (You can view their whole stinking 429 page bill here.)

If I were wealthy enough (and creepy enough) to own a private jet, I would get a hefty write-off under the new law.

The bill already passed the House and was rushed along through the Senate's Budget Committee yesterday, before the requisite analysis by the Congressional Budget Office could be completed.

Now, a mere week before the Senate is likely to hold their vote, the analysis is out. Here's how it will affect taxpayers at all income levels:

Susan Collins had been sucking up to her corporate sponsors for years while trying to maintain a facade of moderation as she allegedly represents voters in a chronically poor state.

She's obviously ambitious and she knows which side her bread is buttered on. Here are just a few corporations that she has accepted $$$$ from in the last few years:

Anyone who cares to let Collins hear from them can use these numbers. But hurry, because they are rushing this legislation through Congress like Scrooge himself on the eve of Christmas:

Augusta:         (207) 622-8414
Bangor:         (207) 945-0417
Biddeford:         (207) 283-1101
Caribou:         (207) 493-7873
Lewiston:         (207) 784-6969
Portland:         (207) 780-3575
Washington, DC     (202) 224-2523

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

$197 Million In Tax Breaks Isn't Enough For Greedy General Dynamics -- They Demand More

General Dynamics will claim that the jobs created at its Bath Iron Works shipyard are the reason to extend it even more tax breaks in Maine. However, research shows that building weapons is a poor job creation program. Building anything on Patsy's sign would generate as many as 50% additional jobs.

Will Griffin of The Peace Report has made a great informational video about war profiteer General Dynamics' request for a state tax break from Maine. Their request is about to be rushed through the special session of the Maine legislature in January. Now is the time for  people to raise their voices against the gutting of state coffers for a company whose CEO got a $5 million bonus last year.

Should children in Maine go to bed hungry and cold so that General Dynamics executives can become even more wealthy?

The video shows how to contact the Legislative Council whose members will decide whether or not to take up the General Dynamics tax relief bill.

General Dynamics is also a terrible polluter and despoiler of the environment.

It has a huge carbon footprint, and it regularly assaults the Kennebec River ecosystem with dredging and pollutants. Yet another reason to say NO to corporate welfare for General Dynamics!

Email addresses for Maine's Legislative Council members are as follows:,,,,,,,,,

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Corporate Welfare On The Rise -- Onward, Kleptocracy

The tax reform bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives this month is full of corporate welfare measures like deductions for private jets. As reported on Democracy Now! 
An analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows President Trump’s family and Trump’s Cabinet members would, combined, reap a $3.5 billion windfall from the proposed repeal of the estate tax alone.

The bill aims to fund tax breaks for those already wealthy enough to own a jet by removing the deductions for state and local taxes paid by the middle class, and treating the financial aid that college students receive as taxable income. This is far from a complete list of the horrors contained in the bill. You can contact your senators to object if you have not already done so.

On top of that came news that the Maine legislature is being pressured take up a bill to provide tax relief to weapons manufacturer General Dynamics.

It will have to be introduced as a bill in the session that begins in January, and whether or not it proceeds to a vote depends largely on the Legislative Council at this point.

In our descent into kleptocracy, I will not go quietly.

I was arrested at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works protesting the "christening" of a warship with eight other people on April 1, 2017. The Aegis 9 trail begins January 4, 2018 in West Bath District Court. I'm the one dressed as Sentor Susan Collins, her red power suit covered with the logos of her corporate sponsors.

Below is my letter to the Legislative Council objecting to any such bill and explaining my reasons. Feel free to send one of your own. I've pasted in the email addresses of the council members at the end of this post, or find them here.

Dear Legislative Council members,
Bath Iron Works owner General Dynamics is applying to the State of Maine for a big tax break. It claims it cannot remain competitive in the warship building industry without Maine taxpayers excusing BIW from paying its share of taxes.
But for the last three years, General Dynamics spent $9.4 billion buying its own stocks back.* This enables it to give enormous salaries and bonuses to its top executives. CEO Phebe Novakovic made $21 million last year. But, she claims General Dynamics can't afford to contribute its fair share of state taxes. 
Our roads and bridges in Maine are crumbling while our elders and children are worried about where their next meal is coming from. But we are asked to give even more to General Dynamics executives because of the jobs needed at BIW. 
Jobs are needed in Maine, it's true. Conversion to building something besides warships would generate thousands more jobs.** But giving General Dynamics/BIW a break on state taxes will go right into the pockets of their already wealthy executives and shareholders. General Dynamics does not need another tax break. 
Sincerely,Lisa SavageSolon
References:*Stock buybacks by General Dynamics

**Jobs generated by investment in building weapons vs. building other things

Sent November 21, 2017,,,,,,,,,

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Skywriting Dicks: Pentagon Climate Crimes Are No Joke

U.S. warplanes have been menacing the people of Afghanistan for more than 16 years now.

As a thought experiment, I decided to imagine that I lived under the threat of bombs raining down on my family from U.S. airplanes. Say, in Somalia.

I could live in any one of dozens of countries for this to be my reality. Not Canada, though, which borders Washington State and was treated to this expensive, polluting display of sophomoric scrawl by a U.S. Navy warplane earlier this week:

In my thought experiment I tried to imagine how a grandmother in Somalia or Afghanistan might view this picture of boys just having fun.

In the era of #metoo and the sexual predator in chief, what is my own context for viewing this costly image?

Corporate media works hard to avoid meaningful context, simply reprinting the bland lies of the Pentagon's pr department. Most ran the news with a headline referencing "obscene" images. But what is the real obscenity hiding in plain sight here?

Media outlet SF Gate's coverage of the prank included footage of the Blue Angels stunt team practicing over San Francisco in advance of their upcoming show there.

The Blue Angels are a carbon belching nightmare

(At our expense. As we learned from the Panama and now the Paradise Papers, rich people don't pay taxes. As a public school teacher, my tax rate is around 30%.)

Here in Maine, they literally burn napalm as part of the "entertainment". Those watching do so no doubt in the context of having watched thousands of fires kindled in cinema for their viewing enjoying. (Hollywood has a pretty gruesome carbon footprint, too.)

The thing is, you may be able to evade taxation, but the cost of climate chaos falls upon rich and poor alike.

Climate justice organizers know that low income communities suffer more from the toxicity of late stage capitalism. 

"Pentagon Planet" by Anthony Freda

But we're all here on the same planet, buffeted by hurricanes and scorched by forest fires.

Whether skywriting or scoping out their next civilian bombing targets, the U.S. military is filling the atomosphere with more greenhouse gas than any organization in the world.

But if you search for information about the Pentagon and air pollution, what Google will let you find are articles about planning for the impact of climate change on coastal military bases. Or about the U.S. Navy greening itself, which is a bigger joke than a dick in the sky, for sure.

Our corporate masters can manage information and cheat inquiring minds of the truth, but ultimately they can't fool Mother Nature. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cult Of Violence Prevails In The Waning Days Of U.S. Empire

A child places flowers at a memorial for victims of a mass shooting in Texas this month. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
There are so many mass shootings and other attacks these days it is nearly impossible to keep up with them. Northern California? Yikes, my family lives there. Lower Manhattan? Yikes, my family works there. Las Vegas? We've all been there. And so forth.

What does the accelerating pace of these attacks even mean? Some say they signify a nation built on genocide and institutionalized violence in the form of slavery. What hope is there for a people with such bad collective karma?

Australia is a similar nation, one founded on European colonists practicing land theft and virulently racist subjugation of traditional groups. Many argue that Oz does not suffer from the same epidemic of mass murder because of a successful gun control initiative that bought back weapons and melted them down beginning in 1996.


Others say they signify our nation occupying and bombing hundreds of other nations around the globe, at vast expense, while its own citizens literally starve, freeze or go without adequate medical care unto death.

Social observers differ over which is the cause and which is the effect: the national religion of organized sports delivers millions of viewers for lavish, psychologically crafty advertising to lure the broke generations into enlisting in the military. Veterans are well-represented among mass shooters, nearly all of whom are white, all of whom are male, and many of whom are known domestic abusers.

Of course, not all veterans continue to worship in the cult of violence. (Link to Support Veterans RESIST Hate video on facebook, embedded below.)

What do the various targets of domestic mass murder have in common? Churches, concerts, schools and bike paths seem to offer a simply a large group of people to attack in one easy location.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. As the U.S. dangles the prospect of nuclear annihilation over the tiny nation of North Korea -- a  nation whose elders still remember the bloodbath of the Cold War era -- it cannot escape its own death wish. 

Who will die today, unremarked by corporate media, a "blug splat" killed by drone operators attacking Somalia from Nevada? 

Who will die tomorrow? Who can stop our descent into madness?

If you are in Maine, join us at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard where nuclear-capable warships are built to menace the world. Each Saturday during Advent (December 2, 9, 16 and 23) peaceworkers will be present at the noon shift change, calling on weapons workers to rethink their choices and join the movement for conversion.

There is no actual reason why BIW needs to build weapons systems in order to provide employment for the surrounding area. U.S. factories could still produce things that support life and that people actually need; war profiteers need not apply.

Also consider joining the support team of the Aegis 9. We were arrested at the BIW shipyard last year and charged with criminal trespass as we stood outside the gates with messages calling for a nonviolent path forward. Our jury selection date was postponed this month and moved to January 4 at 8:30am in West Bath District Court.

Converting U.S. industrial capacity to building sustainable energy solutions is a path forward. Continuing to build and export weapons of mass destruction will only accelerate our death spiral.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

#VeteransDayWeekend2017 A Poem For His Children's Teachers On Armistice Day, From A Veteran

"Glorify peace, not war: Armistice Day vs. Veterans Day" by Rory Fanning via

It is Armistice Day again, 11/11, the ceasefire that ended the imperial war that ushered in the death and destruction of the 20th century. The seeds of violence, industrialized killing, and wars for peace (or to end all wars, or to save the innocents of Belgium, or of your country here____) were sown.

The activist Bernarda Shahn once told me that her mother returned home from a war resistance meeting in New York City prior to the outbreak of what would come to be known as World War I. As she hung up her coat her daughter heard her say, with furious tears springing from her eyes, "This whole thing is about nothing more than Mosul Oil."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
My own grandfather went to the war fresh out of high school. He was a popular, good-looking boy who looked forward to getting right back to Maine to help his family run their ice business. He was injured on the last day before the Armistice, catching shrapnel in his leg and then being gassed as he lay wounded on the field.

It took his family over a year to locate him in a hospital in New York; eventually he returned home, went to college, and married a registered nurse. His leg was saved by fusing the knee so that all his life he was unable to bend it. His lungs and heart were permanently affected too, and he died of heart failure when his only child, my father, was 19.

"Don't believe them when they say the next war is a good war," my father reported his father told him. "There is no such thing."

My own father believed the gung-ho propaganda hyping the "Good War" of his youth -- World War II, which grew directly from the bloody roots of WWI. He believed the recruiters, who told him Korea was a good war, too -- the front line in stopping the march of China and Communism. Because his father begged him to go to college and not enlist, he didn't make it to Seoul until after his father had died and combat had been ended by a ceasefire that perpetuates the war to this day.

My father went to Korea as an occupier and was profoundly affected by the poverty and suffering observable in the wake of a war that had killed more than 4.5 million people.

My dad taught me that wars are a way for the rich to get richer, and the poor to get poorer.

Every year I take the flag off his grave, and that of his father, and that of my brother -- a man who never went to war at all. The cemetery workers who take orders from the VFW don't know who was actually a veteran. I guess they figure that any man between the ages of 18 and death was some kind of a soldier.

Every year now, I share this video of veteran father Will Griffin addressing his children's teachers about what he would like them teaching (here's a direct link for those of you reading this blog post as an email: ).

Monday, November 6, 2017

Skowhegan On The Map Again For Racist Chamber Of Commerce Campaign To Hunt The Indian

Since the insistence on clinging to the racist "Indian" mascot of Skowhegan Area High School has in the past brought national press attention, I expect the blundering of Skowhegan's Chamber of Commerce will do so as well.

As a fun holiday promotion the Chamber, composed of local businesses who proudly display signs supporting the racist team mascot, decided to create the first annual "hunt the Indian."

You can't make this shit up. Here, in their own words, (from a screenshot of a post later taken down after the Chamber began hearing from lots of offended people):

Now the Chamber has apologized for their (white privilege-induced) blind spot and promised to rename the scavenger hunt.

They have not, and I suspect will not, addressed the problem of the original large wooden statue that they are basing their identity on. That "Indian" (pictured above) was created decades ago by Bernard Langlais, a sculptor whose works can be found throughout the town. Native people are not keen on this artifact of cultural appropriation. As Penboscot chief Barry Dana observed to me, "It doesn't look like any Indian I ever knew."

Native people struggle every Halloween with Pocahottie costumes and every sports season with "war paint", "war whoops" and Tomahawk chops. Just this fall Wells High School in southern Maine saw a display of these offensive practices on behalf of a team named "the warriors" and against a team headed up by a Native quarterback. The quarterback's mother Amelia Tuplin made a huge fuss about it, as well she might.

I have repeatedly heard Native adults say how difficult it is to explain to their children why their culture is being publicly mocked.

The historical underpinnings of this gruesomely insensitive aftermath of attempted genocide of the Native people in North America are about as bad as it gets.

Rick York was a Skowhegan Area High School coach when he sent this photo of a "scalp towel" accompanied by a joke to school board member Jennifer Poirier, who also appeared to find it pretty amusing.

Commonly portrayed in popular culture and cartoons as scalpers, Native people were in fact the scalpees in the early centuries of European invasion and occupation of their homelands. 

From the record of a 1749 war council by English military forces led by aristocrat George Cornwallis:

"For, those cause we by and with the advice and consent of His Majesty's Council, do hereby authorize and command all Officers Civil and Military, and all His Majesty's Subjects or others to annoy, distress, take or destroy the Savage commonly called Micmac, wherever they are found, and all as such as aiding and assisting them, give further by and with the consent and advice of His Majesty's Council, do promise a reward of ten Guineas for every Indian Micmac taken or killed, to be paid upon producing such Savage taken or his scalp (as in the custom of America) if killed to the Officer Commanding."

Micmacs (a word also rendered in the Roman alphabet as Mi'kmaq) are part of the Wabanaki confederacy which is comprised of Native groups still living in North America.

Other reasons why a cutesy "Indian hunt" is anything but cute:

  • Native children were being removed from their homes and placed into abusive foster care en masse in Maine as recently as the 1970's. The Wabanaki Truth & Reconciliation Commission compiled a report of this tragedy which you can read here.
  • Native people have been resisting capitalism's destruction of the balance in our natural environment for profit for hundreds of years now. We should listen to them, else we will continue down the path of climate chaos and extreme weather.

Aftermath of the nor'easter of October, 2017 in Portland Maine, a storm which knocked out electric power for days and affected more than one million customers in New England. It also resulted in raw sewage flowing into rivers, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I hope the Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce will do the right thing, but I'm not holding my breath. The idea that profit trumps all other considerations is the hallmark of the stunted thinking that led to where we find ourselves today.

Now where is that Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) group I keep waiting for in Skowhegan? If there's not one by the time I retire, I pledge to start one myself.