Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, September 16, 2005

ROBBING PETER TO PAY PAUL?


Military operations through the streets of New Orleans look like a war zone. George W. Bush is now saying he feels the pain of the poor and dislocated in the city. He says he will rebuild. But I can't help but wonder - how in the world is Bush going to pay to rebuild New Orleans? Last I heard the U.S. federal budget was in massive debt. We are spending nearly $6 billion a month on the war in Iraq. Halliburton and Bechtel are getting rich off the Iraq war. Now Bush says he wants Halliburton to rebuild New Orleans. Where will the money come from? Does this mean, as my mother always used to say, we are going to rob Peter to pay Paul? Will we cut Medicare and Medicaid, cut education funding, finish off the welfare programs, cut food stamps, and the like? At the same time Bush is talking about totally killing the estate tax on the rich and making the previous tax cuts, that largely benefited the rich, permanent. How can Bush do that and rebuild New Orleans at the same time? Something has to give. Someone has to give. Is Bush going to raise taxes on the rich or bring the troops home from Iraq? Is all this talk about rebuilding New Orleans just more political posturing?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

CAN'T EAT THE FISH


Environmentalists in Maine today are releasing a new report that tells the public not to eat several types of fish because of increasing levels of mercury contamination. In their report they say, "Because of mercury contamination, the State of Maine, advises women of childbearing age and young children to avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, and limit consumption of canned tuna to one 6 oz. can of “white” tuna or two 6 oz. cans of “light” tuna per week. FDA and EPA have similar warnings. The FDA has found that 30-50% of women of child bearing age are not aware of mercury exposure risks."

"Mercury attacks the developing brain of children. It is a dangerous neurotoxin that has been linked to learning disabilities and developmental delays in children, as well as damage to the heart, nervous system and kidneys in adults. Mercury enters the environment from pollution from coal-fired power plants, chlorine production facilities, waste disposal and other sources."

The swordfish and tuna steaks from Maine supermarkets contained the most mercury contamination of similar fish tested in 22 states.

The mercury is coming from oil spewing power generation plants in the mid-west that is carried by winds east to Maine. Add to that the pollution from cars and we find a toxic soup swirling over the nation.

The answer is to move quickly to new sustainable technologies development. Solar, wind power and mass public transit are keys to developing a sustainable future. When we can't eat the fish we should take notice. Time to wake up people...time to come alive....what legacy are we leaving our children?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

POSING ON BEHALF OF CORPORATE ELITES


It's interesting to hear that George W. has admitted some kind of responsibility for the chaos in New Orleans. One must wonder if the man will ever take responsibility for his declaration of war in Iraq under false pretenses. Some people say Bush is not really in charge. Some say he is just a figurehead president that is handed a script and performs like an actor. They claim that, as Ralph Nadar often said, that those in power today are multi-national corporations posing as politicians and political parties. I agree with this assesment. Nothing happens in America anymore that is not by and for the corporate elites. What is good for the American people does not matter anymore. It's all about corporate power. Bush is posing as a president when in fact he is a corporate entity.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

BUSY IN COLUMBIA


I began the day in St. Louis doing a wonderful radio talk show interview with a dynamic black woman who is known as a real voice of the community. We tied the hurricane relief fiasco and the growing cost of Star Wars together, showing how wasteful military spending was bleeding our hopes for social progress in the U.S. Yesterday I taped a one-hour radio spot on the NPR station in St Louis. This morning I got a nice e-mail from a man who heard the show while driving to Hannibal, Missouri. It's nice to see such fast results from a radio show. I am now in Columbia, Missouri and was the speaker at a nuclear engineering seminar today at the University of Missouri and followed that with another one-hour radio interview on a community radio station. In the morning I do two classes at the university (political science and peace studies) and then speak at a community event in the evening. The peace community here in Columbia appears to be quite large and active and folks held a pot luck supper in my honor this evening. At the end of the dinner they sang some songs and then my host, peace studies professor Bill Wickersham, made a pitch for folks to buy my book and I sold quite a few of them. All in all a wonderful day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI IN ST LOUIS


I arrived in St Louis Sunday after an early flight out from Portland. After organizing the demonstration Sat. in Brunswick, which was a smashing success with over 300 folks in attendance, I had to get to bed early Sat. night to rest up for this trip. I am doing a week-long speaking tour that began in St Louis on the Mississippi River with a 9/11 Cruise for Peace. We took a riverboat trip two hours long up and down the river. I kept thinking about the folks at the southern tip of the river in New Orleans and how they are suffering these days. I was one of a couple folks who spoke to the large group on the triple-decker riverboat. Then this evening people moved back into the city for a nice dinner together and after that I spoke to them in more detail. I told folks about our protest Sat. in Brunswick and how we had challenged the notion that the Hell's Angels flight team was "family entertainment." I told them about Dexter Kamilewicz who spoke at the rally about his son who has been in Iraq for just two months and has already narrowly missed being killed. Dexter told us, his son Ben, is describing the conditions of the Iraq people as being similar to conditions in New Orleans. Little water, sewage in the streets, little electricity, and growing hatred for the American occupation of their land. Ben tells his parents to keep protesting and bring the troops home. After St. Louis I head on to Columbia and Kansas City, Missouri and then on to Wichita and Salina in Kansas. Will try to send some updates as I move along. Best wishes to all.