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Last night Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein came to speak at the University of Southern Maine (USM) in Portland. Also speaking to the crowd of about 300 was Medea Benjamin (CodePink) and other local Green Party activists. I was invited to introduce Medea and was asked to say a few words about our upcoming peace walk through Maine on Oct 11-26.
Medea is on a speaking tour promoting her new book called Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Medea asks the question, “Why is the US so close to the Saudi regime and why don’t we do anything about it?” After all, our nation was founded on the principle of revolt against monarchy and the brutal monarchy in Saudi Arabia makes ISIS look like head-chopping amateurs.
Medea reminded us that as Obama's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton authorized weapons deals with Saudi Arabia while at the same time took donations from the Arab monarchy for the Clinton Foundation.
Medea also spoke against the latest disclosure that Obama has agreed with Israel on a $38 billion 10-year military aid package for 2019 through 2028.
Jill Stein began her talk by sharing the story about her recent solidarity trip with the people at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Seventeen million people live downstream of the Missouri River and rely on the waters to nourish their lives. She called the bulldozer blade she helped spray paint "destruction equipment" that is being used to shred native lands for a $3.7 billion oil pipeline the mega-corporations are pushing.
Responding to the warrant issued for her arrest after spray painting the bulldozer blade Stein said, "They should have issued a warrant for the CEO's of the corporations [pushing the project]."
Stein stated that there is currently a "convergence of issues" that include human rights, civil rights, climate crisis, endless wars, economic justice, and the militarization of local police. "We are all in the target hairs. Our lives are all really on the line now."
Speaking directly to the many young people in the audience at USM Stein asked, "Why should a generation of young people walk around with that [student] debt on their shoulders after Wall Street crashed the economy and got bailed out? No society has ever survived by devouring its young!"
She called for a sales tax on Wall Street and a 50% cut in the Pentagon's bloated budget to help pay for the social and alternative energy infrastructure programs that the Green Party is proposing.
Stein repeatedly came back to America's imperial war project and said, "We've got to make these friggin endless wars stop. More than 800 bases around the world - this is what a collapsing empire looks like. We need a foreign policy based on international law, human rights and a weapons embargo on the Middle East."
Stein ended her talk with this call: "Let's unite against this climate crisis - end the wars and use our resources to fix this crisis."