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

Thursday, April 27, 2006

BUSH SEEKS FUNDS FOR ASAT TEST


For many years the U.S. military has been seeking permission to test and deploy anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons in space. For many years they were blocked by the Congress from taking that next dangerous and destabilizing step. Now the Bush administration is moving to break down all walls that have prevented the Pentagon from successfully moving weapons into the heavens.

Bush's fiscal year 2007 proposed budget contains a request for $5.7 million to test fire a ground-based laser into space to try to hit a satellite. If this is allowed the barrier to weapons in space will have been broken.

The Space Command was given the job years ago to make it possible for the U.S. to "control and dominate" space. In military document after document since 1987, Space Command officials have stated that in order to carry out the mission of space dominance they would need weapons in space to perform the mission. Now it looks as though Bush intends to give them the green light.

In a Congress that is dominated by the military industrial complex it is likely that the $5.7 million for this ASAT test will be approved unless there is a massive global expression of outrage. Unfortunately the media will likely do little to help spread the word about this development. We will have to depend on the public.

If you click on the link in the headline above you will be taken to a website run by WAND that has a Congressional letter writing system for this issue. Please go to it and write a letter to Congress. Tell them no money for ASAT testing or deployment.

We don't need a new arms race in space. Use our tax dollars for education, health care, environmental clean-up, public mass transit and the like.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

WE NEED MASS TRANSIT


Price of gas now over $3 per gallon in the U.S. We've not seen anything yet. It's $6 a gallon in Europe. At least in Europe and Japan and other parts of the world they have a real public mass transit system. We need mass transit right now! We've got to start demanding it.

Begin to imagine if we converted the military production process all across the U.S. to build a high-tech rail system connecting every corner of America. Imagine the jobs created in the U.S. building rail cars, refurbishing rail lines, building rail stations....why can't we in the peace movement, environmental movement and labor movements make this a common theme of our work?

In yesterday's Portland, Maine newspaper there were two letters to the editor talking about the need for public mass transit system. People are ready for it, they know we need it. We just need to make the demand public and begin to offer the vision of conversion of the military industrial complex so that our tax dollars can be used for production of rail systems, solar power and wind energy.

But notice the corporate masters on TV. What is their solution to higher gas prices? Ethanol.....gasoline made from corn. They don't want to end the car dependent culture....we've got to respond to that with strong and persistent calls for mass transit.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

IT'S OUR WAR NOW


Our Iraq/Iran war town hall meeting last Friday night was wonderful. We had over 400 people turn out and many of them lined up at the two microphones in the aisles to share their feelings about the war. None of our Maine congressional delegation or the governor showed up. No shock there. Surprisingly the Portland newspaper covered the event with a decent story that ran on the front page. None of the TV stations covered the event though. Most likely a fire or car crash kept them from filming people from all over the state speaking out about the # 1 issue on the voters mind - the costly and immoral war we are now in.

Person after person expressed outrage that the politicians were not there. Progressive candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and House seats were there and were given wildly affirmative responses from the audience.

We ended up with 45 peace groups, church committees and town political committees (Democratic party and Green) sponsoring the event. Many people worked very hard passing out flyers (one local activist handed out 1,000 of them around Portland) and helping to spread the word. Maine Veterans for Peace spent $500 and purchased radio adverts during the first half of April that promoted the event. It was a perfect example of what happens when many different groups work together. Hard work, determination, and a good spirit works every time.

The next step for us is that we will have a meeting on May 6 to evaluate the town hall meeting and then do some brainstorming what our next step will be. I don't think we want to create a "new" organization, I just think we want to explore how we can keep supporting each other and work toward building, slowly but surely, a larger regional anti-war movement in mid-coast and southern Maine that stays connected to the larger movement in the state. As we do that each of our groups will benefit from the process and we will help mobilize a public that cares deeply about this issue but has lost all faith in the political process. We learned Friday night though that events like our town hall meeting serve to inspire people and give them the hope and the energy to keep fighting for what is right.

The war must end. We must bring the troops home now. We must cut the war funding in order to stop the war. It is our war now. Our $$$ is being used to fund it. We have to stop it.