BP Tar Sands Refinery Expansion – PEOPLE’S HEARING Testimony

Below is my testimony at the PEOPLE’S HEARING to respond to the Ohio EPA’s sham public hearing on BP-Husky’ Draft Air Pollution Permit as part of their Oregon Ohio refinery re-tooling to process oil tar sands, the dirtiest oil on the planet.  This People’s Hearing was sponsored by the Toledo Coalition for Safe Energy.  I was speaking on behalf of Occupy Toledo and planetary citizens everywhere:

Welcome to Oregon, Ohio — now with 50% less stench!

My name is Dan Rutt.  I am a long-time resident of Toledo, a citizen of Ohio and these United States of America.  However, I have an over-arching allegiance; that allegiance is to our planet, which sustains our life and the life of all living beings from all nations and ecosystems.  I am a planetary citizen.  I am calling on all planetary citizens to rise above lesser allegiances and protect our planet from British Petroleum and other transnational corporations who stand against the interests of humanity and life on our planet.

I am standing outside the formal EPA hearing, so we the people can have our own hearing, a people’s hearing, that is not limited to narrow, technical matters, while BP and others are literally mining our planet in order to burn it.  BP wants to re-tool their refining to process tar sands, the dirtiest oil on the planet, the bottom of the barrel.  This is exactly the wrong direction we should be headed.  Spending billions on an infrastructure to process the most polluting, least economically viable and least sustainable fossil fuel will only lock us onto the wrong path for years — years that we and our planet cannot afford.  We need to switch to safe and renewable energy NOW — not next year, not next decade, not next generation, but TODAY, June 5th, 2013!

How about investing billions of dollars to switch to clean, safe, renewable, and sustainable energy?  Where is your plan for that BP?

Unfortunately, the Ohio EPA is powerless to stop BP from destroying Mother Earth.  The EPA may be able to regulate the lethal injection of Mother Earth while BP euthanizes her.  But I am here to say, that that is not good enough!  Merely deciding how we are going to destroy the planet is insanity of the highest order.  We need to end our addiction to fossil fuels or we will become fossils ourselves.  BP is a pusher, profiting from this deadly addiction, and should be treated as such. 

Real people suffer environmental destruction while corporate persons like BP are insulated from their crimes.   Three years ago, BP caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.  This was not an “accident.”  It was a criminal act.  Now, they want us to entrust Mother Earth to them, again.  As the U.S. Department of Justice put it, “The explosion of the rig was a disaster that resulted from BP’s culture of privileging profit over prudence.”  BP has pled guilty of felony manslaughter, environmental crimes, and obstruction of Congress.  While no BP executives have gone to jail, planetary citizens resist their criminal behavior and fuelish business practices and these planetary citizens go to jail.

Inside, there will be a parade of people on the payroll of British Petroleum, some literally on the payroll, some just hoping to get some of the economic scraps from refining our planet into money.  This is on the heels of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, which in 2010 cited Oregon’s BP-Husky refinery for 62 safety violations and fined the company nearly $3 million for “exposing workers to a variety of hazards.”  Then, this year, on March 10th, the BP-Husky refinery malfunctioned and released extremely dangerous hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide pollution into the air.

Should we trust BP?  Is BP a good corporate citizen?  In the years leading up to the BP gulf oil spill, on about an annual basis, BP pled guilty to criminal acts, each time saying that they were going to change their ways.  Mother Earth is a battered women, BP is a batterer, and it’s time to end the cycle of criminal abuse.  Buying her flowers and offering her gushing words have not stopped BP’s gushing oil in the past.  We don’t want your sweet talk.  We want you to stop raping the earth!

The only real question here today is whether or not we can avoid the Native American prophecy that “When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”

BP will you fundamentally change your fossilized business practices and switch to clean, safe, renewable, and sustainable energy? 

I have in my hands 38 pages of documents from Ohio EPA regarding the draft Air Pollution Permit-to-Install for BP-Husky Refining, Limited Liability Corporation, with an accent on the “Limited Liability”!  I have a Bachelor’s Degree in biology, a Master’s Degree in Public Health; I’ve even had a graduate level course in environmental genetic toxicology.  I’ve spent years working in and with government bureaucracies.  How can one adequately address the issues raised in a few minutes?  What I conclude from this draft permit and tonight’s so-called public hearing is that they are a smokescreen.  Buried in this smokescreen of technocratic minutiae is our planet being buried; or perhaps more accurately: unburied and burned — literally, the cremation of our planet.  This Ohio EPA sham hearing today is lethal to democracy, thwarting the larger will of the people, as it stands by, impotent to protect our environment, the very environment it is sworn to protect.  Meanwhile, BP and others are destroying our planet.

Anybody who lives or passes through Oregon, Ohio, knows that BP doesn’t pass the stink test.  You don’t need a doctoral degree to know that our fossil fuels addiction threatens our planet and the life it sustains.  We can’t depend on British Petroleum or other fossilized corporations to protect our planet.  We can’t depend on politicians or bureaucrats to protect our planet.  If the planet is to be saved, then it depends on you and me, we the people.  Thank you for coming out to this people’s hearing.  Thank you for listening.

I will now conclude by reading a poem, entitled, O Children of Mother Earth, Arise!

Listen, O children of Mother Earth!
Hear, those who have ears
Hear the streams of clean water, our tributaries of life
Hear the streams of cars and trucks dirtying the air we breathe
See, O children of Mother Earth!
See, those who have eyes
See the beauty of fields and forests, mountains and meadows
See the scars of strip mines and cesspools of toxins
Smell, O children of Mother Earth!
Smell, those who have noses
Smell the fragrance of wildflowers and gardens
Smell the stench of oil and coal combustion, and chemical cocktails concocted
Reach out and touch, O children of Mother Earth!
Reach out and touch, those who have hands
Reach out and touch the soil and sun which fuels nature’s bounty
Reach out and touch the concrete and landfills, the Alpha and Omega of so-called “progress”
Taste, O children of Mother Earth!
Taste, those who have mouths
Taste the fruits of her plenty, enough for all
Taste the bitterness of her children’s petty scarcity, robbing brother and sister
Feel, O children of Mother Earth!
Feel, those who have hearts
Feel the call of nature
Feel the greed of those who would of nature relieve themselves
Speak, O children of Mother Earth!
Speak, those who have tongues
Speak of the splendor of a Mother’s care
Speak of the horror of an orphaned race
Arise, every living creature, O children of Mother Earth!
Return to her lap, and breast, and arms
Turn away from her desecration
Take your rightful place, to neither rule from above nor rule from below
Work side by side
Play together
Live neighborly
For we share the same fate
Whether we share or not
O children of Mother Earth

NOTE: There were an estimate 18 to 18,000 people at the People’s Hearing.  THANKS to all who showed up!

Here is the testimony of Kristina Moazed, Chair, Western Lake Erie Sierra Club:

The proposal that BP has revealed to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and to us, the public, has been improperly piecemealed and made to appear as if it will be just fine for this refinery to accept tar sands.
We must begin at the very source of these oil bearing sands. Canada’s government, and the province of Alberta are massively destroying Alberta’s pristine, northern ancient forests, poisoning the water sources of their native wildlife, and natives and other Albertans for one generation’s profit and greed. The desecration of this form of extraction is seriously forever.

   >  This permitting decision is being made in ignorance of recognized scientific principles that do predict increasingly worse consequences of global warming.

   >  The decision to go forward with tar sands as a source of petroleum rejects the scientifically-grounded conclusion that to even begin to slow down the global warming and that our over-use of fossil fuels has put into motion, we must keep as much of the remaining carbon fuels as possible in the ground: they must never be extracted and burned!

   >  There is no consideration in this decision process of public health effects on human populations in our Toledo-Oregon-Lake Erie shore region as a consequence of the higher volumes of known carcinogenic and other pollutants which will be emitted!

    >  There is no consideration given to otheralternate mitigation activities, such as the building and promotion of mass transit, which would consume less petroleum, create far more permanent jobs, and cause much less pollution than perpetuating North America’s one-car, one-driver folly.

    >  There is no certainty that high volumes of petroleum coke will actually be generated by the proposed altered refinement process.   And if it is, that coke will not be sheltered from the elements and will accumulate less than a mile from Lake Erie and one of its estuaries.
Have any emergency plans been put in place in case of explosion or fire while processing these dirty bitumen fuels so close to our source of drinking water?
Have possible impacts to tourism and the maritime and fishing industries been considered?
I’m sure if we contact the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, the birding crowd will have plenty of objections to the increased pollution in and desecration of the surrounding habitat!

Just one example of tar sands refining immediately to our north, in Detroit will give us an example of what happens. Emissions of sulfur dioxide did decrease, but emissions of hydrogen sulfide increased as they do everywhere bitumen is refined. Hydrogen sulfide is known for its rotten egg odor and is potentially fatal in sufficient concentrations. Residents near this Marathon Refinery in Detroit participated in Air Sampling which was overseen by Global Community Monitor, an environmental group based in California. In 2010 they found high levels of benzene, a carcinogen, and hydrogen sulfide near the refinery. IN one case, more than 20 chemicals, including benzene were detected in a resident’s basement. An EPA investigation traced the contamination to Marathon’s dumping of wastewater into the city sewer system! “We were shocked to learn they did not have their own discharge pipe into a body of water like, I believe, every other refinery in the United States ,” said Denny Larson, Global Community Monitor’s executive director. How convenient that the BP Refinery is right on the shore of Lake Erie! I think we will need to watch their discharges very carefully!

   >  These production changes are being undertaken by a global corporation which has seriously poisoned the Gulf of Mexico through crass, careless and dangerous negligence and deliberately ignoring safety regulations causing the oil spill in 2010, and its still incomplete remediation.
Now that we know BP has gamed the regulators and the public into bring tar sands cracking here to Oregon, Ohio, exactly what basis is there for any trust that consideration of public health and avoidance of environmental destruction hold any priority for BP?

We must promote green, renewable and sustainable energy! We must conserve and become more efficient our usage!

THANKS Kristina!

POEM: O Children of Mother Earth, Arise!

This poem has emanated from my musings about the oil tar sands in Canada.  The extraction of these oil tar sands, in some of the most pristine parts of North America, is the largest single scarring of Mother Earth ever undertaken by human-unkind.  It seems that our oil addiction has us scraping the last drops of oil from the planet, squandering nature’s wealth — our children’s children’s inheritance — and polluting Mother Earth which sustains our very life.  Greed is the most dangerous enemy of sharing a planet together.  I hope that people from locales all over the earth rise up and protect Mother Earth from the many assaults on her.  As for my Toledo friends, you can check out and join Occupy Toledo’s resistance to oil tar sands being processed here at the BP refinery.  Think globally, act locally — that’s local, not loco!

O Children of Mother Earth, Arise!

Listen, O children of Mother Earth!
Hear, those who have ears
Hear the streams of clean water, our tributaries of life
Hear the streams of cars and trucks dirtying the air we breathe
See, O children of Mother Earth!
See, those who have eyes
See the beauty of fields and forests, mountains and meadows
See the scars of strip mines and cesspools of toxins
Smell, O children of Mother Earth!
Smell, those who have noses
Smell the fragrance of wildflowers and gardens
Smell the stench of oil and coal combustion, and chemical cocktails concocted
Reach out and touch, O children of Mother Earth!
Reach out and touch, those who have hands
Reach out and touch the soil and sun which fuels nature’s bounty
Reach out and touch the concrete and landfills, the Alpha and Omega of so-called “progress”
Taste, O children of Mother Earth!
Taste, those who have mouths
Taste the fruits of her plenty, enough for all
Taste the bitterness of her children’s petty scarcity, robbing brother and sister
Feel, O children of Mother Earth!
Feel, those who have hearts
Feel the call of nature
Feel the greed of those who would of nature relieve themselves
Speak, O children of Mother Earth!
Speak, those who have tongues
Speak of the splendor of a Mother’s care
Speak of the horror of an orphaned race
Arise, every living creature, O children of Mother Earth!
Return to her lap, and breast, and arms
Turn away from her desecration
Take your rightful place, to neither rule from above nor rule from below
Work side by side
Play together
Live neighborly
For we share the same fate
Whether we share or not
O children of Mother Earth

Another Bastard for Birth Control

Today, a couple hundred people gathered outside the Lucas County Courthouse in Toledo, Ohio, to demonstrate about religious freedom and healthcare in America.  Most of the crowd was organized by the effort to repeal President Barack Obama’s so-called Obama care, and specifically, the requirements surrounding religious institution employers providing birth control related services as part of any health insurance that they offer to their employees.  This was one of many protests around the country organized by two Catholic pro-life groups.  Nonetheless, there were dozens of people with alternative messages.  Perhaps the most provocative, was a couple of bastards from Occupy Toledo, pictured below:

Another Bastard for Birth ControlIn my opinion, freedom is largely meaningless, unless it is in the context of how that freedom is used and what effect this has on other people.  In the end, if these demonstrators get their way, there will only be more bastards in this country.  In Ohio, close to half of pregnancies occur out-of-wedlock, and over a third of pregnancies, whether in wedlock or out-of-wedlock, are unintended.  The United States already has the highest rate of unintended pregnancies in the so-called free world.  I believe that family planning, the ability to plan the size of one’s family, is a basic human right that should be honored, particularly by religious folks.

Several people approached me stating quite emphatically that they were not against birth control.  Ironically, all of these were members of the Roman Catholic Church.  Typically, the distinction they were trying to make was that this rally was not about birth control but about forcing certain people, particularly religious people, paying for something they do not want.  I am intrigued by pro-lifers getting all their panties in a bunch over this issue while our governments have used federal and state tax dollars to execute people, including those who are mentally retarded, and to wage wars pretty much nonstop in our lifetimes.  No one seemed to have seriously considered resisting paying federal or state income taxes as a matter of conscience related to these issues.   To me it always seems that is more meaningful to ask pro-lifers whose life they are most concerned about, not whether they want to protect life and liberty in some abstract way.  I will work and pray for the day when there are no unwanted children, no executions or torture, and no war.  Let’s make it so!

Oh yeah, special thanks to Toledo Jobs with Justice for making a show in support of health care for all!

Corporate Wall Falls

Yesterday, as the closing ceremony of Occupy Toledo’s May Day Fest, between two and 2,000 people gathered to tear down “The Wall,”  symbolizing corporate mis-rule and oppression.Wall This wall was cut to shreds to symbolize freeing ourselves from corporate rule.The inanimate corporate logos, appropriately symbolizing the incorporeal non-persons that are American corporations, didn’t stand a chance against the real live human persons wielding the cutting edge of direct democracy.The shell game of avoiding accountability comes to an end as the shell of a corporation, “Shell,” (pictured below) is shell-shocked in one shell of a show.In the end, all of the corporate papers are invoked, provoked and revoked.Looks like this round goes to the human persons!  Corporate non-persons beware!

DTE Shareholder Protest

Between 200 and 200,000 protesters gathered outside the DTE Energy headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.   This DTE Energy protest  was visited upon by two to 2,000 Occupy Toledo protesters.  One unidentified protester, with a striking resemblance to Homer Simpson, wearing a notorious rainbow colored peace hand designed by Top Pun, showed his anti-nuke colors.anti-nuke Homer SimpsonAnother Occupy Toledo protester was less well disguised.  Michael Leonardi, pictured below, to the left, of course, can be seen waving his Occupy Toledo colors and anti-nuclear banner.  Mr. Leonardi received some criticism from other protesters for leading the way, since the more numerous yet bland protesters may have missed their photo op.  Mr. Leonardi bore this burden of leadership well and led despite his numerous followers.Detroit Edison Shareholder ProtestAs Mr. Leonardi and the other alleged participant, a.k.a. Top Pun, came to this protest they made the obvious mistake of parking in the casino parking garage.  The collusion of the purveyors of our casino economy had rolled out the concrete carpet that was a largely empty casino parking garage.  This free parking was apparently not to be had by mere commoners or the general public.  When we were spotted walking out of the parking garage with our fluorescent yellow Occupy Toledo signs and in our radiation suits, the very astute security recognized that maybe we weren’t there to gamble away our hard earned dollars.  This special DTE Energy shareholder security made it clear that we were not welcome and told us that if we didn’t move the car that they would tow it.  They were even kind enough to follow us out (pictured below) to make sure that no empty parking spots were harmed in the making of this fiasco.  Hear, hear, the last thing any anti-nuclear protesters want to do is have anybody take any unwarranted risks, like, say, storing 550 tons of nuclear waste in a five-story building that can’t be offloaded as built without knocking the building over.

Main Street versus Wall Street

This evening, between 30 and 30,000 people gathered at Levis Square in downtown Toledo for Occupy Toledo‘s May Day Fest event, Main Street vs. Wall Street – MAIN STREET SPEAKS OUT!Greg Coleridge, pictured below, spoke about corporate personhood and money as free speech, and the Move to Amend movement.Greg ColeridgeDr. Johnathan Ross, “Toledo’s Doctor,” pictured below,spoke about universal healthcare and the need to achieve health with a capital H.Dr. Johnathon RossWith the threat of rain, Occupy Toledo movement party to Third Space, and heard from several more speakers, including Michael Leonardi, Joe DeMare (pictured below), and Greg Lyons.Joe DeMareWe ordered pizzas and listened to some great speakers.  A good time was had by all.

Julia Bates Retirement Party, Mock Award

Today a few dozen people descended upon the Lucas County Courthouse in downtown Toledo, Ohio, to wish Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates a happy retirement and demand justice for Danny Brown

Occupy Toledo had a cake, party hats, noisemakers, and a card to sign.  Several persons went into the courthouse to deliver the card to Julia Bates and chant, “Exonerate Now, Clear Danny Brown’s Name!”  They were escorted out of the courthouse under threat of arrest, continuing to chant.  They were joined by those outside, and soon Julia Bates, under armed escort made her way to cocktails and lunch at a nearby drinking establishment.  The crowd followed her there and protested outside chanting.  Some of the favorite chants were: “Cocktails for Julia, Justice for Danny” and “Serve Justice, Not Cocktails.”  Ms. Bates was protected by a half-dozen or so sheriffs inside the restaurant and another half-dozen or so sheriffs and Toledo police outside. She reportedly was able to stomach lunch and a couple of cocktails with approximately the same ease as she has stomached injustice for Danny Brown for many years.

Below is the script of the retirement party mock award that occurred outside the courthouse:

Retirement Party

Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates

Justice for Danny Brown

Occupy Toledo

May 1, 2012

 

 

MOCK AWARD

HABEAS B. CORPSE: Hi, my name is Habeas B. Corpse.  I am the president and founder of the National Association for the Advancement of County Persecutors.  The National Association for the Advancement of County Persecutors is proud to present the 2012 Habeas Corpus Award to Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates.

The Habeas Corpus Award recognizes outlandish success in furthering the principle of speedy justice of the criminal variety.  Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates has managed to parlay a wrongful conviction of Danny Brown for murder and rape in 1982 into an open-ended, indefinite murder case. Although Danny Brown served 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates was unfazed by such an obstacle to her success. By perpetually holding another suspicious criminal investigation over Danny Brown’s head, Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates has successfully avoided letting an innocent man clear his name. Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates has devoted the last decade to producing no evidence worthy of bringing any charges against Danny Brown.  Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates has demonstrated fantastical creativity in avoiding any exoneration or apology to Danny Brown for his 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.  Perhaps, most significantly, if Danny Brown is ever allowed to clear his name, under Ohio law, he would be eligible for compensation for his wrongful conviction resulting in 19 years in prison. This compensation could total over $900,000.  Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates has successfully postponed this indefinitely.  She has saved Lucas County taxpayers money by devoting virtually no resources to her shallow criminal investigation and by avoiding spending any resources to allow Danny Brown to have his day in court. Please note that Danny Brown is also currently suspected of being innocent of over 666 murders in Lucas County since 1982. With her unending patience in persecuting an innocent Toledo citizen, Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates has brought new meaning to the term “criminal” justice.

As part of the Habeas Corpus Award, the National Association for the Advancement of County Persecutors provides an honorarium of $30,000.

With equal speed and due diligence the National Association for the Advancement of County Persecutors realized that this 2012 Habeas Corpus Award to Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates is actually the product of 30 years of wrongful conviction, wrongful imprisonment, and open-ended, unmerited criminal investigations. Yes, we just figured this out. Thus, the National Association for the Advancement of County Persecutors has determined that Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates is entitled to the Habeas Corpus Award, not only for 2012, but for 31 years:

2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, ………………….1982

[foldout 28.4 foot certificate accordion-style for each year and have persons line up holding them].

We are awarding the Habeas Corpus Award retroactively for 31 years.  Only now do we truly realize what “speedy” justice is. Since the Habeas Corpus Award comes with an honorarium of $30,000 each year, this makes Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates’ honorarium a total of $930,000. The National Association for the Advancement of County Persecutors promises to pay this honorarium with the same speed and due diligence that Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates has so amply demonstrated.

[delivery person rushes in, holding up “RUSH DELIVERY” envelope as delivering it]

[Habeas B. Corpse opens envelope, holds up BREAKING NEWS BULLETIN for crowd to see]

HABEAS B. CORPSE: Wait, what is this? It looks like a breaking news bulletin. Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates, at this very moment, is filing for moral bankruptcy.  Well, we will just have to trust her good judgment on this one. I’m sure she has an airtight case.

[enter citizen]

Hold on, we are not done here! I am here on behalf of Lucas County citizen’s and in the good name of Danny Brown, to conduct a citizen’s arrest. I demand the arrest of Lucas County Persecutor Julia Bates. She is wanted for murder, the murder of justice for Danny Brown. Warning, Julia Bates, also goes under the aliases of “Julia Will Fool Ya” and “Bates and Switch”. She is armed with a public office and is considered a threat to justice. Her last known whereabouts are reported to be lurking about the county courthouse. We ask that any good, justice-loving citizen of Lucas County arrest her immediately upon determining the whereabouts of this fugitive. I have here “Wanted Posters” to help you identify her, apprehend her, and bring her to justice. And please hurry, rumor has it that the best practices in such matters is to wrap up such matters within 30 years, give or take a decade or so.

[handout wanted posters]

May Day Street Theater – Corporate Zombies vs. Village People

This is the script for the street theater production that was performed tonight to kick off Occupy Toledo‘s May Day Fest week’s worth of events:

May Day Eve Celebration

Occupy Toledo

April 30, 2012

“The Corporate Zombies vs. The Village People”

Gather around, friends, and hear a story as old as humankind; or rather, hear a story as old as human unkind.  The story is of the many versus the few.  The players names may change, but the plot is the same.  The few have grabbed power for themselves, while the many suffer.  Sometimes it is the peasants versus the Lords of the land.  Other times it is simply the 99% versus the 1%.

In today’s scene, in this land called the United States of America, once again, the land is divided, and power is not shared equally.  The few, the 1%, have shielded themselves from accountability, by hiding behind non-living corporate entities, a phantom called “corporate personhood.”  The few, the 1%, have become corporate zombies themselves, disconnected from humanity, unable to act justly and with compassion.  In this pathetic state, the corporate zombies have managed to distract, divide, and simply overrun the will of the people.  The corporate zombies have even managed to infect many of the people into believing that rampant injustice, economic slavery, and environmental destruction is the best that we can do.  The corporate zombies have convinced many that corporate rule is too big to fail.  The corporate zombies have convinced many that we the people are too small to make a difference.

The corporate zombies mock economic fairness.

The corporate zombies mock democracy.

The corporate zombies mock equal justice.

The corporate zombies mock environmental stewardship.

The corporate zombies mock human rights of all kinds.

The corporate zombies mock accountability, responsibility for their own actions.

But, alas, there is always a plot twist.  Every time that the few, the 1%, grab power for themselves and bring suffering to the many, people arise to expose the absurdities of rampant injustice, to throw off the chains of economic slavery, and reclaim the earth as the home of all, not a place to be raped for the wealth of a few.  In today’s scene, a group of villagers arise (that would be us).  This group of villagers can see past the propaganda of the few, and boldly declare, “The Emperor has no clothes!”

The corporate zombies may mock economic fairness; they may mock democracy; they may mock equal justice; they may mock environmental stewardship; they may mock human rights of all kinds; they may mock accountability.  BUT, the people of this village, Toledo, Ohio; the people of this village, the United States of America; the people of this village, planet Earth, will arise and declare, at first softly, but then, louder and louder:

 

We will, we will mock you.  Mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you!

 

Let the games begin!

But first, a message from our un-corporate sponsors:

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from Corporatitis, an inflammation of corporate power in your life?  Do you, or someone you know, suffer from low wages, poor working conditions, and crappy benefits?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from lack of health insurance, access to needed health care, and an over-exposure to for-profit health care?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from trillion dollar corporate bailouts, costing trillions of dollars, destroying the economy and mortgaging your future?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from greedy money changers, taking kick-backs on every economic transaction you make, and then reducing your life to a credit score?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from greed-induced environmental destruction, having to live with poisoned air, water, land, homes and bodies?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from dependency on energy and utility companies who are the most profitable companies in human history, yet cry poverty when asked to invest in alternative and renewable energy sources?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from greed-induced wars destroying countless lives around the globe?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from an industrial agricultural food system that produces less and less nutritious foods, while destroying local farmers and our environment?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from a political system where so-called democracy is bought and sold to the highest bidder, and you are left with false choices, where true change is not an option.  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from a small cabal of media conglomerates who spoon-feed you crap, hoping to convince you, or at least scare you, that you can’t afford justice, economic fairness, or a livable planet, so you had better just get yours while you can?  If so, you may have Corporatitis.

Corporatitis, an inflammation of corporate power, affects tens of millions of people, and it can be debilitating.  However, most people suffer from Corporatitis Minor.  While Corporatitis Minor is a serious condition, and should never be left untreated, Corporatitis Minor is much more treatable than the dreaded Corporatitis Major.   Corporatitis in its worst form, Corporatitis Major, can consume one’s very soul, leaving only a shell of a human being, unable to accept accountability for one’s actions, or to demonstrate compassion to others.  These ghoulish creatures become known by many titles, sometimes “CEO”, “Public Relations Manager”, or “Security Trader.”

These ghoulish creatures are doomed to walk the earth in a non-living state, like zombies, walking the earth, mindlessly and heartlessly feeding on the flesh of the living, in their vain attempts to satisfy their endless need for more and more profits.  Entombed within the phantom of “corporate personhood”, their only hope is to be stripped of the mythical powers that imprison them, which are typically represented by “Logos.”  We the people will strip these corporate “logos,” these “marks of the beast,” from these corporate zombies.  By stripping these corporate logos, we will help free those suffering from Corporatitis Minor, and offer some hope, some possibility, that those suffering from Corporatitis Major can return to the land of the living, and reclaim their place in humanity.

To all those suffering from Corporatitis, there is something we can do about it.  First, we start with a week of daily occupy movements, to purge ourselves of these corporate parasites and phantom persons.  Occupy Toledo’s May Day Fest is just such a remedy.  Though, be warned: treatment for Corporatitis may result in an increase in economic fairness, blossoming democracy, a return to equal justice, a reclamation of environmental health, burgeoning human rights, and a natural inclination to take responsibility for one’s own actions.

Do not be afraid, surround these corporate zombies with the power of the people.  Without their corporate bank accounts; without their league of lawyers and lobbyists; without their private security and control over the security state, they are really quite helpless — even pathetic.

Feel free to run circles around them if you like!

And what do we say in response to the Corporate Zombies mocking justice and democracy for real persons:

We will, we will mock you.  Mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

So, let us begin by stripping these corporate zombies of their corporate logos.

Let us line up and take turns, one by one, take a logo, strip it from the corporate zombie, and place the logo in the dustbin of history.

First up, we have The Banking and Finance Industry, aka, “The Money Changers”

The Money Changers mock economic fairness.

The Money Changers insist on reaping huge profits on financial transactions while producing little of real value.

The Money Changers have created a casino economy where they are the house that doesn’t lose, taking their cut whether their gambles with other people’s money wins or loses.

The Money Changers drain off hundreds of billions of tax dollars as a reward for crashing our economy and creating the largest recession since the Great Depression.

The Money Changers then have the nerve to try to reduce the meaning of human life down to a credit score.

And what do we say in response to the Money Changers mocking economic fairness:

We will, we will mock you, mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We the people will take back our economy.

Next up, we have the Military-Industrial Complex, aka “The War Profiteers”

The War Profiteers represent one of the most profitable businesses on Earth.

The War Profiteers literally make a killing, and people are dying for their business.

In our most recent wars, tens of thousands of Americans have been killed and maimed; and over one million Iraqis and Afghanis have been killed.

This corporate zombie feeds off the flesh of the dead.

The War Profiteers mock the value of human life.

And what do we say in response to The War Profiteers mocking the value of human life:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We will inspire human life, not kill it.

 

Next up, we have the Energy Industry Profiteers, a.k.a., The Billionaire Polluters

The Billionaire Polluters are addicted to petroleum, coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy sources which cannot be sustained, and are destroying the planet.

The Billionaire Polluters resist alternative and renewable energy sources, willing to sell their Mother Earth for a buck.

And what do we say in response to The Billionaire Polluters who mock Mother Earth:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

You may have the energy, but we have the power!

 

Next up, we have the Media and Communications Moguls, aka “The Propaganda Profiteers”

The Propaganda Profiteers dominate the news industry, silencing diverse voices, and silencing dissent.

The Propaganda Profiteers sellout democracy by pandering to unlimited corporate campaign contributions.

The Propaganda Profiteers dominate our entertainment industry, distracting us with inane entertainment, and cramming advertisements down our throats any time and any place they can, gladly taking the hugely profitable role of shill for consumerism.

The Propaganda Profiteers sell a cheap imitation of the truth while justice is denied.

And what do we say in response to The Propaganda Profiteers mocking truth and justice:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We the people are the medium for change.

Next up, we have the Industrial Food Profiteers

The Industrial Food Profiteers are much more interested in producing food products that can be genetically modified, recombined, packaged, and marketed for maximum profit than they are interested in nourishing humankind.

The Industrial Food Profiteers destroy the livelihoods of small, local, and family-owned farms.

The Industrial Food Profiteers erode topsoil like crack from a crack pipe, and pollute our environment and food with toxins.

And what do we say in response to the Industrial Food Profiteers for making a mockery of one of the most basic human needs — the need for nutritious food:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We will nourish a food system that nourishes people.

Next up, we have The Health Care Profiteers

The Health Care Profiteers purport to run a health-care system.  However, we know that this so-called health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.

Each year The Health Care Profiteers kill over 20,000 Americans each year because of the lack of health insurance.

This Corporate Zombie literally feeds on the sick and injured, the most vulnerable in society.

The Health Care Profiteers mock health care as a human right, denying sick and injured people help that they need, all in the name of profit.

And what do we say in response to The Health Care Profiteers mocking health care as a human right:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We the people demand universal health care now.

 

Last but not least, we have a potpourri of purveyors of personhood of corporations over human personhood — enough corporate misrule to piss off real persons of most any variety.  This is a cabal of Sweat Shop Operators, Environment Destroyers, Labor Rights abusers.

These corporate mis-rulers mock labor rights.

These corporate mis-rulers mock making a decent, honest living.

These corporate mis-rulers mock environmental responsibility.

These corporate mis-rulers mock human values, in order to make a buck.

And what do we say in response to these Corporate Mis-Rulers mocking laborers and mocking the planet in which we all must all live:

We will, we will mock you.

We will, we will mock you.

 

Strip a logo, read the corporate name, place it in the dustbin of history, and declare:

We the people will end corporate mis-rule.

 

Now that we have stripped these corporate zombies of their “logos” and placed them in the dustbin of history, we offer these logos up as symbols of the oppression of the people.

[Take DUSTBIN OF HISTORY and place in front of wall (with flame symbols)]

During May Day Fest Week, we will add to this wall symbols representing oppression and barriers to justice and democracy.

[Phoenix egg piñata arises from behind wall.]

We the people, though beaten down, will rise from the ashes, like a phoenix.

We the people will rise above the forces of oppression and the barriers to justice and democracy.

We the people, will end corporate mis-rule!

Let us break open the Phoenix egg piñata to launch Occupy Toledo’s May Day Fest, as we join millions of people around the world in celebrating where true value comes from in our economy, that is, from the honest labors of real people, not from corporate shenanigans, accounting tricks, money changing, or raping Mother Earth.  Let the people rule!  Let May Day Fest begin!

[The Village People take turns hitting piñata until it breaks open, spilling goodies for all]

SONG: Occupy The Streets

Here is the world-wide web release of the soon-to-be-hit single, OCCUPY THE STREETS, by Darryl Stipes and Josh Boyd, a Black Hawk Studio Production.  Darryl is producing Occupy Toledo’s upcoming MAY DAY FEST Free Concert.  Hit the streets, again, and again!  THANKS Darryl!!

Feeling Clean and Safe in Downtown Toledo

Last Friday, while making a sweep of sign posting for Occupy Toledo, I had an encounter with the Clean and Safe Patrol.  Apparently, the Clean and Safe Patrol is an arm of the Downtown Toledo Improvement District, Inc., a 38 block area in downtown Toledo.  An uniformed man riding a bike grabbed the sign I was posting in the middle of posting it.  He declared that this was defacing government property and that they would take the signs down as fast as we could put them up.  I don’t know if that was meant to be some kind of challenge or something, but I just went about my business, as they apparently went about theirs.  In this regard, we’ll just have to let the signs speak for themselves.  Oh, by the way, the signs were bright yellow with simple messages such as “no war”, “stop sexism”, “stop racism”, “abolish corporate personhood”, “stop greed”, “Justice for Danny Brown“, “end homophobia”, and “end corporate welfare.” God forbid that we pollute proprietary business ventures with simple messages of social justice.

Being a former resident of Dearborn, Michigan, I can’t help but be reminded that the motto Keep Dearborn Clean had to do with way more than trash and graffiti.  Keeping Dearborn Clean was really a not-so-subtle code word for keeping blacks and Arabs out of Dearborn.  My experience with the Clean and Safe Patrol seems to have more of a slimy and fascist feel to it than the clean and safe feeling to which they seem to be aspiring.  But hey, if we can’t have justice, we should at least have a clean and safe facade in which to conduct our businesses.

I suspect that Occupy Toledo will be a job creator for the Clean and Safe Patrol.  Maybe we can get a grant or something from the Lucas County Port Authority for such economic development.  I suspect not.  Nevertheless, operation “signs of the times” will continue unabated, and partially abated, thanks to the city of Toledo and the Downtown Toledo Improvement District’s Clean and Safe Patrol.

Mock Funeral – Occupy Toledo

Yesterday, April 1st, April Fool’s Day, was the one and only performance of Occupy Toledo‘s Mock Funeral — in life (and death) there are no rehearsals, this is it!  If you missed it, I truly hope that you were doing something else as fun and inspiring!  Thanks to all the players, readers, eulogizers, ushers, HOMElessLAND SECURITY, providers of food, and all who helped make Occupy Toledo’s RE-BIRTHDAY possible.  We rose like a phoenix from the ashes!!  Occupy Toledo will re-start the physical re-occupation of Toledo on May1, May Day, the day of a worldwide general strike!  Join us May 1 in Levi’s Square, downtown Toledo, St. Clair at Madison.  In the meantime you can come help plan the occupation of Toledo at our General Assembly meeting every Wednesday at 6:30 pm at Third Space.

Below is a picture of our own Rev. Ed Heilman serving as mock preacher (note the dollar sign on his bishop’s hat and the dollar sign cross on the altar)

Mock Funeral Preacher (Rev. Ed Heilman)Here is Occupy Toledo’s Obituary from the Mock Funeral:

“Occupy Toledo was born October 10, 2011, to it’s parents, the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. Born of hope, Occupy Toledo burst onto the scene in its own charmingly childish way. However, from the birth of Occupy Toledo, few people could understand what it wanted. Onlookers mumbled again and again: “What do they want?” “I don’t get it.” Occupy Toledo flailed around for about 6 months until it realized that it was too small to succeed. After scrutinizing corporate behavior, Occupy Toledo in due course discovered that the nobility of American corporations was unparalleled. The dearly departed realized that in these great United States of America, injustices are so few and far between, that it could no longer even occupy itself. Unavoidably, Occupy Toledo came to its senses, recognized its irrelevancy, and accepted that resistance to corporate rule is futile. Fortunately, in the end, Occupy Toledo had gained at least the good sense to crawl into a coroner’s office and die. Occupy Toledo died on April 1, 2012, due to apathy. Protesters were the Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2011. Gracefully, protesters like Occupy Toledo are stepping aside to make room for the inevitable Time Magazine Person of the Year for 2012: the Corporate Person, born of Citizens United, the true will of human persons across America. Occupy Toledo is survived by countless cousins around the country, many of whom have not achieved enlightenment, so they have not yet abandoned their vain struggles against corporate America, which is obviously too big too fail. The bad news is that Occupy Toledo is dead. The good news is that its condition is stable.”

Below is a picture of our own local activist doctor, Johnathon Ross, M.D., reading Occupy Toledo’s Death Certificate and pronouncing its death.

Mock Funeral Doctor (Johnathon Ross, M.D.)Here is Occupy Toledo’s Death Certificate from yesterday’s Mock Funeral:

“I hereby certify that Occupy Toledo, born October 10, 2011, has died on this day, April 1, 2012. The immediate cause of death was apathy. The underlying causes of death included: 1) an atrophied brain due to an overexposure to TV news and infotainment, talk radio, and so-called “reality” TV; 2) learned helplessness, due to an enlarged gullibility, making it susceptible to corporate propaganda and so-called political pundits; 3) a weakened constitution due to lack of exercising freedoms and widespread metastases of planetary consumption; and lastly, 4) pure exhaustion from running on the treadmills of trying to earn enough to maintain a decent household and fend off crushing debt.”

Of course, after the 1% overstepped their hand with their crass compulsions (by bidding on the Phoenix egg for their breakfast), the Phoenix’s prophecy was fulfilled:

“Hear this prophecy: The crass compulsion of the few to buy anything and everything is complete. The few dare to literally buy and consume the HOPE of the many. Because of this abomination of the few, the Phoenix’s prophecy is complete. The many, the 99%, Occupy Toledo, will be re-born one month from today in this same place. HAPPY RE-BIRTHDAY OCCUPY TOLEDO. Join us on May 1, May Day, a world-wide general strike, for the re-occupation of Toledo. Thus speaks the Phoenix, ‘You, the many, the 99%, shall arise again and be free. Join together with the peoples of this land and from around the world, and the few, the 1%, will be vanquished.’ “

Below pictured is yours truly, Dan Rutt, alias “Top Pun” (it’s just, my pun name), with the HAPPY RE-BIRTHDAY card placed over the tombstone announcing the re-occupation of Toledo.

Mock Funeral RE-BIRTHDAY CARD! (Dan Rutt as Funeral Director)

Here is some Toledo Blade coverage for the Mock Funeral.

If you’d like to read the Occupy Toledo Mock Funeral script, you can re-live the event, or get a greater taste of the drama of the day.  Here is a printer-friendly PDF version of the Mock Funeral of Occupy Toledo.

POEM: Flowers Cut

I set before you these flowers
For your reflection and edification
These flowers were cut from my yard
A yard not unlike the two yards that will cover us all some day
Some may say that cutting short the lives of these flowers is wrong
But what do I say to this?
That the greater danger is cutting our own lives short
For it is much easier to harm ourselves than to harm another
Unlike most flowers and most of nature
This flower lives in the city
Most flowers and most of nature
Are as beautiful as they are unseen by human eyes
But these flowers, these city flowers
Go largely unseen, even as so largely present
People pass by, out of their minds
Racing to that whose beauty cannot compare
Neither flowers nor nature require our attention
But, ahhhh, the beauty is all sufficient
So, if I have cut short the life of these city flowers
By some few days such is life
Pardon my offense
And help me repay such expense
With such beauty they briefly impart
Not unlike this poem
Which from the mind will soon depart
Let such beauty replenish the beauty of your heart
And prepare you for every worthy start

The beginnings of this poem struck while I was taking a walk late yesterday afternoon.  I was to go to an Occupy Toledo General Assembly meeting early that evening, and I decided to take some cut flowers from my yard.  I love it when the muse strikes!  It is a glorious curse of the poet to pay homage to the moment when inspiration strikes.  Having a life where I’m able to do this brings me incalculable joy.  Some may say that I have too much time on my hands, but I certainly don’t have a watch on my wrist, or a cell phone in my pocket.  Anyway, to the calculating chronologist, we all have the same 24 hours each day.  Poets know better, I say in all humility, or rather awe.  While many of us live a similar amount of time, in terms of times our heart is beating and there are waves in our brain, there are simple and great differences in how well we live that time.  I am partial to the blessing given by the late Will Rogers in saying, “May you live all the days of your life.”

Corporate Tax Dodger FirstEnergy, Toledo Protest

The corporate tax dodger FirstEnergy paid no income taxes on its over $1.2 billion of profits in 2010.  FirstEnergy provides electricity to Toledo and the surrounding area.  At noon today, about two dozen protesters gathered outside the corporate headquarters of FirstEnergy in downtown Toledo.  The protesters gathered to demand that FirstEnergy pay its fair share of taxes, which would definitely be more than zero!  The protest was organized by Fight for a Fair Economy which organize similar protests around Ohio to protest Ohio energy companies making billions of dollars in profits and paying no income taxes.  The Fight for a Fair Economy (Ohio) is a collaboration of efforts between the SEIU union, labor allies, community partners and grassroots supporters to fight back against attacks on working people and their families all across Ohio.  Other local groups which participated were Occupy Toledo and Jobs with Justice Toledo.  Pictured below is Top Pun holding up a bright yellow sign that says “FirstEnergy is a tax dodger, pay your fair share.”  The sign to the far left says, “Why is it easier to believe that 150 million Americans are lazy rather than 400 Americans are greedy.”  The sign indicating Interfaith Worker Justice is a reference to one of the partner coalitions of Jobs with Justice Toledo.

First Energy Corporate Tax Dodgers Toledo Protest

Please visit Ohio Citizens Action to see a list of 37 Ohio corporations who paid no income taxes.  These 37 Ohio corporations made over $50 billion in profits and actually made another $7.8 billion in tax credits, for an effective tax rate of -15.6%.  Each of these companies are profitable without taxpayer support.  Each of these companies benefits from taxpayer supported infrastructure and services.  We should end this corporate welfare and demand that these companies make a fair contribution to their communities and no longer be a drain on our tax dollars, especially during a very difficult time for our economy and when essential government services are being strained or cut.

American Spring Coming: Occupy G8 and NATO in Chicago

With the G8 and NATO summits coming to Chicago in the middle of May, the occupy movement is poised to jump start the American Spring.  The Occupy Wall Street movement has already called for a general strike on May Day, May 1.  This is a call for No Work, No School, No Housework, No Shopping, No Banking,  TAKE THE STREETS!  My own local occupy, Occupy Toledo, is planning to retake a public place with a long-term occupation on May Day.  With continued dissatisfaction with economic conditions, better weather on the horizon, and the convergence of large-scale occupations, this May could very well be the American spring.
“Against the backdrop of a global uprising that is simmering in dozens of countries and thousands of cities and towns, the G8 and NATO will hold a rare simultaneous summit in Chicago this May. The world’s military and political elites, heads of state, 7,500 officials from 80 nations, and more than 2,500 journalists will be there.
And so will we.

…The political establishment in Chicago has been particularly brash in its treatment of the movement. Occupy Chicago is one of the few to never succeed in maintaining an encampment, as two attempts were met with over 300 arrests in the city’s famed Grant Park last fall. While clearly intended to deflate the movement’s momentum ahead of the coming summits in May, this political repression only served to place the plight of Occupy in the limelight.Not content with cracking down on the Occupy camps, the mayor then escalated his assault by introducing a whole new set of rules for protests. Just prior to the holiday recess in December, he proposed changes to the two city ordinances dealing with demonstrations and parades, including increased fines for offenses to draconian new filing requirements for parade organizers.

…The American Spring will not materialize out of resentment from just a few isolated incidents of political repression. Like its Arab-world counterpart, it will be the product of a population that has reached its breaking point after years of systemic abuse. The fact is that the assault on basic civil liberties in this country has been so widespread that focusing on a handful of examples risks trivializing the issue. From the Patriot Act and FISA to NDAA to the president’s newfound right to assassinate, the federal government has acted with marked impunity from Bush to Obama. Meanwhile, the state and local level governments maintain the bulk of the world’s largest system of incarceration, still rooted in age-old prejudices and sociological biases. In many ways, Occupy is reflective of an awakening generation: the babies of the baby-boomers who no longer buy the petty propaganda spoon-fed in school about this nation being a “beacon of peace.”

…Another important factor informing a possible American Spring is the promulgation of hysteria by the political, economic and media elite. As with the enactment of repressive policies, hysteria is designed to drive fear into the masses in order to dissuade them from protest. It is also an indication of a ruling elite that has become increasingly desperate and a political class that is rapidly losing its moral authority. As people begin to recognize this, they may be less inclined to trust the vilification of protesters as “destructive and dangerous anarchists,” and may be more likely to identify with them.

…Another compelling sign of a coming American Spring is the inspiring level of political organization present in Chicago. On the one hand, there is the “Coalition Against the NATO G8 War and Poverty Agenda” (CANG8), which has been planning the massive demonstration on May 19th since the summits were announced. They also organized much of the resistance to the city’s new anti-protester ordinance, including a picket at City Hall on the day of the vote. In that latter effort, they were joined by dozens of supporters of Occupy Chicago in what culminated a strong joint effort among protest groups throughout the city. Organizer Andy Thayer told me: “The battle over the ordinance really brought together these various movements. I think the city was really taken aback by the response.” He further said that he was expecting to see the same few regular faces at the work-time picket at City Hall, only to find that Occupy had substantially energized their efforts.

…While the power elite make their destructive plans inside, the American people will be constructing a better world on the outside.
I hope that you will join me and the thousands and thousands of people from across the United States and from around the planet that will be giving the peoples’ message about making our world a better place for all of us to live.

Toledo Protests Balancing State Budget on Backs of Working People and Families

This afternoon, about three dozen people from Northwest Ohio gathered in the chambers of the Lucas County commissioners at Government Center in downtown Toledo to protest Gov. Kasich’s State of the State address which balances the state’s budget on the backs of working people and their families.  This demonstration and press conference was organized and sponsored by Jobs with Justice Toledo and the local Service Employees International UnionOccupy Toledo also joined forces to call for a budget that meets human need not corporate greed.  Included in the gathering were labor activists and union members, elected officials, educators, health care workers, persons living in poverty, persons of faith, and God knows who else!  The event was intended to counter and respond to Gov. Kasich’s bully pulpit.  The governor claims to have created jobs in Lucas County, when, in fact, any recent job creation occurred despite his leadership not because of it.  Rumor also has it that the sun has risen in Lucas County every day since the governor was elected.  The governor seems intent on managing the state’s budget by breaking the budget of local government, counties and municipalities.  Over $70 million of Lucas County tax revenue that previously was returned to the county, is now being retained by the state.  This year alone, Toledo public schools has had to deal budget cuts totaling $400 per pupil, and already strained system.  Meanwhile, at the state, under the governor’s leadership, we are privatizing and selling off the people’s assets while simultaneously acting surprised that government somehow doesn’t turn a profit.  Well, Gov., the government is supposed to serve as a vehicle for benefiting the common good, not as a tool for generating private profit.  When profits come before the people, sooner or later, prophets will come before the people! Let us make it so.

No War in Iran – Toledo and Defiance Protests

Top Pun at Toledo "No War in Iran" Protest

Top Pun at Toledo "No War in Iran" Protest

This last weekend I participated in two protests as part of the national Day of Mass Action to Stop War on Iran – February 4, 2012.  On Saturday afternoon, about 15 to 20 people gathered outside the Defiance County Courthouse in Defiance, Ohio.  This anti-war protest was sponsored by the Defiance County Citizens for Change and Occupy Defiance.  It was certainly difficult for me to resist participating in an act of defiance of war in a city literally named Defiance! On Sunday afternoon, about 30-some protesters gathered at the corner of Secor Road and Central Avenue.  This no war in Iran protest was a special edition of the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition’s weekly protests against war has been going on since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003.  A call to action and endorsement by Occupy Toledo helped bolster the usual numbers of the unusual suspects.

Both days were beautiful February days thanks to global climate change.  In an unrelated observations, there were large numbers of internal combustion vehicles passing by at both locations.  There was an overwhelming friendliness to our antiwar message, maintaining a very positive ratio of at least 10 to 1 of honks for peace versus middle fingers and angry screams out of the window.  Of course, there were plenty of blank stares and averted gazes amongst the silent majority.  Hopefully, those people who were not even looking outside the car window, busily texting, were telling their friends and enemies to come down and join the protest.  I would note that this is a big change from the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003 when the NWOPC weekly protests began.  At that time, with the run-up to the Iraq war and the shock and awe beginning of the so-called war, the American people seemed patriotically supportive or oblivious to our wars and their implications.  At these weekly protests, at the beginning of the Iraq war, there were a large number of motorists hurling angry epitaphs at us for protesting the war.

You Can No More Win a War Than You Can Win an EarthquakeA few days before the Iraq war started, a couple dozen or so of us were arrested protesting in front of the Toledo U.S. Army recruitment center.  Eight or nine of us went on trial a few weeks later, and during jury selection I was amazed to witness that the majority of jurors could not even state an opinion regarding the war.  Obviously, most Toledoans, probably fairly representative of Americans, were either not paying attention and/or didn’t really care.  I hope that today, after a decade of drumming up and fighting what is openly billed as an endless war against terrorism, that the American people are beginning to realize that the so-called new war against terrorism is really just the same old war that has been fought since the beginning of humankind, or human unkind as the case may be!  One of my favorite quotes shown in the peace sign design to the right, demonstrates the futility of war: “You can no more win a war than win an earthquake!” May we truly take this to heart and not fight merely to end a particular war but to end war itself.

Birth Control as a Human Right – Toledo Protest

On Friday, February 6, about a dozen protesters gathered outside St. Anne’s Hospital on Secor Road in Toledo, Ohio.  This protest was organized by the Toledo Chapter of the National Organization for Women (see Toledo NOW facebook page), it also supported by Occupy Toledo.  The purpose of this protest was to advocate for birth control is a human right.  This was triggered by the recent decision by the Obama administration to require that organizations owned by religious groups must provide birth control as part of their health insurance plans.  This rule does not require that religious groups themselves must provide birth control as part of group health insurance plans to their employees, only to those employees that work in organizations owned by religious groups, such as a Catholic hospital.Birth Control is a Human Right - Toledo Protest

Anita Rios, President of Toledo chapter of N.O.W., demonstrating for birth control as a human right (photo courtesy of The Toledo Blade).

I went to this protest.  When I pulled into the massive empty parking lot of St. Anne’s Hospital, I was greeted by two of their security guards.  They immediately asked, “Are you from Occupy Toledo?” Indicating that I was there for the protest, they told me that I could not park there.  Now, that’s what I call radical hospitality!  I recognize the right of private property, but I can’t help but find it ironic, that respecting the right of a woman to be the steward of her own body and her own life is trumped by a claim of religious freedom.  Personally, I consider conscience and religious freedom, the stewardship of one’s soul, the most sacred thing in which we are entrusted.  Also, I recognize that conscience and the functions of the state will inevitably come into conflict at certain points. The only question I would ask, that when religion and the state comes into conflict, can one tell the difference between a religion and the state.  I find nationalism as a religion is completely repugnant and patently idolatrous.  I will stand against such idolatry every opportunity I am afforded.  In the same vein, when I find that religion functions largely as just another interest in society, it profoundly diminishes its sacred role in society. So, how does one tell the difference between a religion and the state?  I would submit that a willingness to sacrifice one’s own interests for a larger good, and ever larger good, is a way of sacred living that points to the ever “more” that God is. Of course, with nationalism, that ever larger good comes to an abrupt end at our geopolitical borders and a rather crass commitment to our national interest ( as opposed to a global interest, or an interest in protecting creation).  With religion, the demarcation of giving up on an ever larger good is usually at the boundary of that religion’s institution.  This is where conventional wisdom takes over.  In the case of Christianity, the gospel becomes foolishness.  The profound and mystical sacred texts that speak about dying in order to be born anew are too large to be held within the boundaries of an institution.  In more practical terms, this is seen as sacrifice, self-sacrifice, giving up something of lesser value for something of greater value.  I am eagerly waiting to see the Roman Catholic Church’s response to this conflict between church and state.  If, in fact, the reality for the Roman Catholic Church is that its doctrine is sacred, then I would expect that they would be willing to pay a large price in order to see that its doctrine becomes manifest in the world.  Let me be clear.  When I say being willing to pay a large price, I mean that they themselves are willing to pay a large price, not forcing others to pay a large price.  The latter is simply the ways of the world, conventional wisdom, bad news.  If the Roman Catholic Church is willing to take on huge fines to witness to the importance and value of this doctrine that they hold to be true, then they will earn a commensurate measure of respect from me.

Birth Control as Human Right Protesters in Toledo, Ohio

Toledo Protesters Demonstrating for Birth Control as a Human Right

Defending and promoting one’s values is costly, typically in direct proportion to the value of those values.  I was delighted to join a dozen or so protesters who were willing to put a little skin in the game, invest a little time, enter the fray, risk ridicule and misunderstanding, etc. to demonstrate how much they value birth control as a human right. May many more join the fight for this and other human rights!

Day of Mass Action to Stop War on Iran – February 4, 2012

Day of Mass Action to Stop War on Iran – February 4, 2012

NO War
NO sanctions
NO intervention
NO assassinations

February 4, 2012 Day of Mass Action to Stop War on IranThis Saturday, February 4, 2012, there will be hundreds of local actions aimed at preventing a war on Iran.  For those of us living in Toledo or Northwest Ohio, there will be a demonstration in Defiance, Ohio from noon to 6 PM.  Hey, I know that I am a total punster, but is it not totally appropriate to have an anti-war demonstration in DEFIANCE, Ohio!  I know that folks from Occupy Toledo are planning to go. You can go here to find out more about the national movement and day of mass action on Iran.

Here’s some background information from antiwar.com on stopping a U.S. war on Iran:

“In many ways, the U.S. war on Iran has already begun.

The U.S. government is shaping public opinion to accept military intervention in Iran in the name of “national security.” Fabricated stories that claim evidence of Iran pursuing nuclear weapons is being blasted through mainstream media and repeated by almost every mainstream politician.

The U.S. has authorized harsh economic sanctions that could literally destroy and devastate the lives of millions of Iranian civilians. In addition to the sanctions, there have been targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and a U.S. surveillance drone was discovered in violation of Iranian sovereignty and airspace.

Iraq is devastated from decades of U.S. military intervention and sanctions that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, rounded up and tortured innocent people. The Iraq war led to 4.5 million people being driven from their homes.

Afghanistan, the poorest country in the world is being destroyed by the richest. U.S. drones dropping bombs on civilians, striking fear and terror in the hearts of innocent people daily. Thousands of people remain in indefinite detention perhaps for the rest of their lives in Guantanamo and Bagram.

Let the whole world see that we will not let the U.S. rain death, destruction and devastation onto yet another country and further inflame a dire situation in the Middle East. One thing we know is that when people stand up together to resist the crimes of their government like the courageous protesters of the Arab Spring and Occupy, something beautiful can emerge.”

Please join a local action in your area, and let’s stop the war against Iran before it starts!

Move To Amend Protest in Toledo, Ohio

Move To Amend Protest in Toledo, Ohio

This afternoon, protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Toledo Ohio as one of hundreds of protests Across the United States to bring awareness to the travesty of corporate personhood.  The nationwide protests were sponsored by MoveToAmend.org.  Move to Amend seeks a constitutional amendment which bans corporate personhood and reserves First Amendment rights for human beings.   Most of the Toledo protesters were from Occupy Toledo, which cosponsored the protest.  While the temperatures were in the teens, the protesters received warm responses from passersby in automobiles and trucks.  There was an explanation of the purposes of Move to Amend as well as Mic checks and singing.  Pictured below is me, the one and only Top Pun, holding my hand made signs — made by a human, not a corporation.Top Pun with "Abolish Corporate Personhood" sign in front of federal courhouse in Toledo, Ohio, at Move To Amend protest sponsored by Occupy Toledo

Top Pun in front of federal courhouse in Toledo, Ohio, at Move To Amend protest sponsored by Occupy Toledo

Below you can see a group of the protesters who braved the cold on a January Friday afternoon with a winter storm warning in effect.Move to Amend Protesters

Move to Amend Protesters

Please join us at Move to Amend Toledo or Occupy Toledo, or your own local or regional chapters of these groups, to bring an end to corporate personhood and reestablish humans as the appropriate and preeminent power in this nation.  Thanks!