Feb 082011

Dear Laurie,

I left a message on your phone.

I want to thank you for speaking out about Lockheed Martin’s involvement  in your schools, which then was quoted in a superb article by Jonathan Leavitt.   The excerpt about the schools is appended.

I found your article (also appended) which links

  • what is happening in Egypt to
  • what is happening in Burlington, VT.

You end with “we increasingly understand we’re fighting the same battle everywhere”.

If you require any reinforcement for your statement (!?)   I refer you to www.sandrafinley.ca.  Under “pages” you will find “Lockheed Martin” on the drop-down list.   The actions by citizens in Burlington is the most recent addition to the file on Lockheed Martin.  Just prior to that is the people in the U.K.

I have been on trial because I refused to fill in my 2006 census form; census work was out-sourced to LM.  The recent judge’s decision (guilty) is under appeal.

And, horror!  Lockheed has moved into my home city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada,  bribing its way through First Nations people, to set up what is most likely training and servicing related to its unmanned aerial vehicles,  subsidized by both the Federal and Provincial Governments (by us).   Familiar story?

Your efforts to get rid of Lockheed Martin in your City serve as a motivator to us.  Just as the Egyptians are an example for us to follow.  We can make the world a better place.  And yes, we are all fighting the same battle.  Again my thanks – your appended article makes it clear.

Best wishes to you and the people in Vermont.  (I lived in Nova Scotia for 15 years and have fond memories of visits to Vermont.)

Sandra Finley

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From    2011-02-23 Greenwashing War: Vermont Mayor Signs Deal With Lockheed Martin  (Climate Change)

” . . .  Excerpt from the article by Jonathan Leavitt.  I phoned and talked with one of the ladies quoted:  Meg Brooke, Chair of Chittenden County Progressives.  Just a voice of support and solidarity and to let them know that others are fighting Lockheed, too.

“  Perhaps even more immediate and inflammatory is the planned interaction between Burlington’s school children and Lockheed Martin engineers.

“Are We For Bomb Makers?”

One of the controversial aspects of the deal would allow Lockheed engineers to work inside Burlington schools with schoolchildren. In the past five years Burlington parents’ and students’ outrage boiled over when war profiteer General Dynamics’ program of giving away pencils, bookmarks and books stamped with their corporate logo came to light. When a nine year-old student at Burlington’s Champlain Elementary was faced with going to an assembly during the school day to listen to General Dynamics employees, her mom Laurie Essig says her daughter Willa asked, “‘Are we for bomb-makers? Do we think it’s right to kill people? Her basic question was, ‘Why are we treating these people like heroes?’” Due to a perception on Willa’s teacher’s part, that nine year-old Willa might offend the weapons manufacturers’ employees, the teacher, “brought all the other students down to get their free books and left my daughter sitting alone in the classroom.” Essig says. Longtime Vermont peace activist, Joseph Gainza said, during an interview, “I would hope that the City of Burlington and the Burlington School District wouldn’t let a corporate member of the military industrial complex take credit for solving the climate change problems it helps everyday to perpetuate.”

Meg Brooke, Chair of Chittenden County Progressives says of Lockheed’s slated involvement with school kids:

I’ve been trained by the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO) and given many hours to council students how to avoid war. I’ve fought to remove military recruiters from our schools. I regularly taught classes in non-violent conflict resolution in Vermont high schools. I am deeply concerned by the way we normalize violence and war and desensitize our young to the horror our military perpetrates, especially on the young, women, and the elderly. Welcoming one of the leaders of this military industrial complex into our schools goes against all I, and many others, believe. I do not want young Vermonters to see the Lockheed logo on TV and have a positive thought about what that business might have done in their school.  . . .  ”

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The Twisted Path From Cairo to Burlington

February 8, 2011, 1:10 pm

By Laurie Essig

I know very little about life in Egypt and yet it is increasingly clear that the world is a small place. Coorporate greed and military aggression have created an environmental crisis that could end life as we know it and so the fate of all people is intertwined. Environmental degradation and the military have built a twisted path from a global city like Cairo, Egypt to the provincial town of Burlington, Vermont. Sometimes the path is traversed through social media like Facebook and Twitter and sometimes we must follow the twists and turns of the world’s largest war profiteers.

In the past 24 hours, the twisted path between Egypt and Vermont became more visible.  On Facebook, a former student sends me a letter written from Cairo. The letter writer sees Mubarak as a complicated figure, neither evil nor good, but one whose police

responded to (demonstrations) with water cannons, beatings, and more tear gas than most of the international press had ever seen used anywhere.

The tear gas, as we now know, had “made in the USA” written all over it and was, like all the weapons used against the Egyptian people, approved for sale to Egypt by the Department of Defense.

In fact, lots and lots of weapons are sold to Egypt with the DoD’s approval. Egypt is the 2nd largest recipient of U.S. military aid (right behind Israel). Tens of billions of dollars are given to Egypt, but then funneled back to U.S. military corporations like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, a sort of corporate welfare. These taxpayer dollars are not just given to some of the most profitable corporations in the world, but because the weapons—tanks, helicopters, even tear-gas canisters—are being used against the peaceful protesters in Cairo, they are helping to keep Mubarak in power and destroy democracy.

As Lockheed Martin’s F-16′s flew low over the millions of peaceful citizens in Cairo, making the threat of more violence against them and against Egyptian democracy clear, a much smaller crowd of about 100 gathered in Burlington to stand up against Lockheed Martin and the threat it poses to American democracy. Here in Burlington, Lockheed Martin is trying to place their F-35′s at the local airport. These huge bombers use something like 2,000 to 4,000 gallons of fuel an hour and are therefore an environmental nightmare. Lockheed Martin’s thinking is apparently something like this:

Gee they have awfully clean air up there in Vermont so if we spew a bunch of pollution in a relatively clean place, it will be better than in other places where the air is already unfit for human consumption.

Of course there is a lot of local opposition to polluting the air and so Lockheed has been scrambling to calm the people down. But how to calm them down without canisters of tear gas and threatening flyovers from fighter jets? Well, as mule trainers everywhere know, if you can’t beat ‘em with a stick, you better try and lure ‘em with a carrot. The carrot is to provide expertise and funding for environmental sustainability projects, an increasingly necessary carrot in these days of budget deficits and decreasing tax revenues.

Too bad for Lockheed that the people of Burlington, like the people of Cairo, understand that the needs of the corporations and the military contractors are not the same as the needs of the people. Too bad for the residents of both places that the politicians don’t care about the people, unless you consider Lockheed Martin and other corporations”people” the way the Supreme Court now does.

Who knows whether democracy will prevail in either place given the odds. But it’s a hopeful sign that with increased communication, we increasingly understand we’re fighting the same battle everywhere.

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