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, June 13, 2008

THINGS HEATING UP IN EUROPE AROUND U.S. RADAR BASE

We heard from Jan Tamas (one of the original hunger strikers) this morning as he was returning to Prague from meetings at the European Union in Brussels. In his email Jan reported, "During the past three days we’ve met with a number of Members European Parliament (MEPs) including the vice-chairman of the EU Parliament Luisa Morgantini. Things are under way for a meeting of MEPs on July 9 in Strassbourg where I will also participate. It looks like there will be tens of MEPs participating! On this occasion we will deliver them the printed version of our online petition against the radar, which currently has more than 119,000 signatures. We would like this number to reach 200,000 signatures by that time, so please help us spread the word and let people sign the petition at http://www.nonviolence.cz/."

"But don’t let this success fool you, our opponents are going ahead with their plan. They have just announced last night that Condoleezza Rice will come to Prague to sign the treaty between the Czech and U.S. governments on July 10. So we should do all we can before that day!"

In another recent development from the Czech Republic, Greenpeace activists who have been occupying the site of the planned U.S. Star Wars radar base were detained on June 9 when military police cleared the area of their encampment. Five demonstrators, who had been sitting in tree platforms since April 28, were taken to the police station in Příbram. This action by the police indicates that the U.S. and Czech government wanted them gone from the base site before Condoleezza Rice returns to Prague on July 10.

Here in Maine, Mary Beth Sullivan is now on her 7th day of her solidarity hunger strike and we are continuing to promote the June 22 worldwide day of fasting to stop Star Wars. At this moment we have 44 people in Maine who have pledged to fast on June 22 and more are signing on every day. Just yesterday Mary Beth sent an Op-Ed to our local newspaper that will carry the names of our local fasters explaining our reasons for joining the fast on June 22. (Let me know ASAP if you would like to be on the June 22 fast list.)

I can't express strongly enough the need for maximum participation on June 22 and beyond as the U.S. presses hard to deploy so-called "missile defense" systems worldwide before the opposition builds to prevent this new arms race from becoming institutionalized. The aerospace industry for years has been encouraging the U.S. government to block negotiations at the United Nations on a new international treaty called PAROS - Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space. The Pentagon has long boasted that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth. All across the world we get reports that U.S. "allies" are being dragged into weapons in space technology programs and the result is that health care, education, and other human needs programs are being cut to enable these governments to afford joining the U.S. space weapons program.

As each of you join the June 22 fast please remember that this is a day of political activity. Be sure to take some kind of action on or before that day to let people in your community know why you are fasting. We've heard from folks in New York City that will hold an event at a public park; activists in Albuquerque will hold a day-long protest at an Air Force Base in their city; people in Maine will be holding actions in at least two different cities; and the list goes on. Even if you just write a letter to the editor or send an email to friends and family asking them to sign the on-line petition at http://www.nonviolence.cz/ at least do that.

Working together our voices become a global call for sanity and peace. Thanks for helping us make that happen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June 22 Star Wars Fast List Growing

List to date

Beth Adams (Greenfield, Massachusetts)
Bob Anderson (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Dennis Apel (Guadalupe, California)
Ivan Braun (New York, New York)
Sally Breen (Windham, Maine)
Kelli Brew (Gainesville, Florida)
Anna Maria Caldara (Bangor, Pennsylvania)
Maxine Caron (Byron Bay, Australia)
David W. Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Kathe Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Sung-Hee Choi (New York, New York)
Michael Connelly (Rochester, New York)
William Coop (Brunswick, Maine)
Jeremy Corbyn, MP (London, England)
Frank Cordaro (Des Moines, Iowa)
Robert Daniels II (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)
Lynn DeFilippo (Nome, Alaska)
Christine DeTroy (Brunswick, Maine)
Aurel Duta (Bucharest, Romania)
MacGregor Eddy (Salinas, California)
Dan Ellis (Brunswick, Maine)
Lynn Ellis (Brunswick, Maine)
Becky Farley (Damariscotta, Maine)
Jackie Fearnley (Goathland, England)
Sr. Barb Freemyer, RSM (Pueblo, Colorado)
Stacey Fritz (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Bruce Gagnon (Bath, Maine)
Lee Gagnon (Walpole, Massachusetts)
Anne Gibbons (New York, New York)
Sr. Carol Gilbert (Baltimore, Maryland)
Starr Gilmartin (Trenton, Maine)
Arlyne Goodwin (Naples, Florida)
Holly Gwinn Graham (Olympia, Washington)
Matt Gregory (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Regina Hagen (Darmstadt, Germany)
Kevin Hall (Dunedin, Florida)
Maggie Hall (Dunedin, Florida)
Luke Hansen (Chicago, Illinois)
Amy Harlib (New York, New York)
Tom Hastings (Portland, Oregon)
Jenny Heinz (New York, New York)
Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle, Maine)
Tensie Hernandez (Guadalupe, California)
Nancy Hill (Stonington, Maine) June 19-24
Mair Honan (Portland, Maine)
Jackie Hudson, OP (Bremerton, Washington)
Kate Hudson (London, England)
Connie Jenkins (Orono, Maine)
Molly Johnson (San Miguel, California)
Carla Josephson (Rio Rancho, New Mexico)
Sr. Mary Jude Jun, OSU (St Louis, Missouri)
Bruce Kent (London, England)
Ron King (Penobscot, Maine)
Tom Kircher (Biddeford, Maine)
Steve Landon (Waldhof, ON, Canada)
Steve Larrick (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Isolt Lea (Gainesville, Florida)
Louise Legun (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
Debbie Leighton (West Bath, Maine)
Mary Dennis Lentsch (Oak Ridge, Tennessee)
Bob Lezer (Freeport, Maine)
Mary Leonard, Mercy Associate (Pueblo, Colorado)
Tamara Lorincz (Halifax, NS, Canada)
Carla L. Rael-Luhman (Portales, New Mexico)
Ed McCartan (Brunswick, Maine)
Geralyn McDowell (Troy, New York)
Laurie McGowan (Mochelle, NS, Canada)
Gloria McMillan (Tucson, Arizona)
Karl Meyer (Nashville, Tennessee)
John Miller (Blue Hill, Maine)
Michael Murphy (Omaha, Nebraska)
Sr. Elaine Lopez Pacheco, RSM (Pueblo, Colorado)
Jeanne Pahls (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Rosalie Tyler Paul (Georgetown, Maine)
Jewel Payne (Davis, California)
Ricardo Peres (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Sr. Ardeth Platte (Baltimore, Maryland)
Bonnie Preston (Blue Hill, Maine)
Kim Redigan (Dearborn Heights, Michigan)
John Rensenbrink (Topsham, Maine)
Megan Rice (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Tim Rinne (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Judy Robbins (Sedgwick, Maine)
Peter Robbins (Sedgwick, Maine)
Chris Rooney (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Deb Sawyer (Portland, Maine)
Robert Shetterly (Brooksville, Maine)
Father River Sims (San Francisco, California)
Gareth Smith (Byron Bay, Australia)
Cathy Stanton (Melbourne, Florida)
Janie Stein (Salina, Kansas)
Mary Beth Sullivan (Bath, Maine)
John Tiedeman (Omaha, Nebraska)
Don Timmerman (Park Falls, Wisconsin)
Fran Truitt (Blue Hill, Maine)
Meredith Tupper (Springfield, Virginia)
Carol Urner (Portland, Oregon)
Eric Verlo (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
William Watts (San Francisco, California)
Dave Webb (Leeds, England)
Margaret Weitzmann (Potsdam, New York)
Elaine Wells (Omaha, Nebraska)
Pat Wheeler (Deer Isle, Maine)
Molly Willcox (Westport, Maine)
Lynda Williams (Santa Rosa, California)
Mariah Williams (Liberty, Maine)
Loring Wirbel (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Michael Wisniewski (Los Angeles, California)
Jerry Zawada, OFM (Las Vegas, Nevada)
John Zokovitch (Gainesville, Florida)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ELECTIONS, PRISONS, AND COLONIALISM

It's election day here in Maine. A primary for an open Congressional seat is the big race as well as some local town elections. We will be sitting at the polls collecting signatures to repeal our state's decision to participate in Homeland Security's program called "Real ID". Real ID is part of the growing surveillance society to share every bit of electronic information about you with the military, police, and with the corporate business world. If we can collect 55,000 signatures in Maine during the next month or so we will force a statewide referendum on pulling Maine out of the national Real ID program.

There is little doubt that we are becoming a police state. We now have 2.3 million people in prison in the U.S. We lead the industrialized world in incarceration - 5-8 times more people in jail than other highly developed countries.

Black males in America are the largest percentage (35.4%) of the inmates now held in custody while 17.9% of Hispanic males are in jail.

The expense of maintaining this level of prison population is costing U.S. taxpayers more than $60 billion a year.

But why these high numbers?

Some years ago I arranged for Dr. Manning Marable (Professor of Public Affairs, Political Science, History and African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York City) to speak at a conference I organized in Florida. He talked about how black and Hispanic populations in the U.S. would become the majority in the U.S. in coming years. He stated that one strategy to maintain white minority control over the nation would be to increase the numbers of black and Hispanic's in jail thus helping to socially fragment their communities. Communities that become fragmented have a hard time participating in electoral politics. In some states today people who have been convicted of felonies (drug possession, etc) lose their right to vote for the rest of their lives. It's the old colonial strategy of divide and conquer.

Just this morning I learned that Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) has challenged the signatures of Herb Hoffman who has collected the required number of petitions to place himself on the ballot in November for the U.S. Senate race. Rep. Allen is also running for the same Senate seat now held by the Republican Susan Collins and it is expected to be a tight race.

Rep. Allen (who has had me arrested twice for sitting in his office opposing his previous votes to fund the Iraq occupation) thinks he owns the electoral arena. He thinks that the Democrats "own" the votes of people like me and thus he sees it quite "normal" for him to throw obstacles in the path of Independent candidates like Herb Hoffman.

Rep. Allen was a Rhodes scholar and went to graduate school in Oxford, England at the program that South African racist Cecil Rhodes founded as a vehicle to train the minds of outstanding young students from around the world in the ethic of British imperialism.

Rhodes was an ardent believer in colonialism and was the founder of the state of Rhodesia, which was named after him.

Rhodes famously declared: "To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far."

What Tom Allen (who we like to call Tom Collins) does not understand is that he has just sealed his fate with this dishonorable decision to attempt to block Herb Hoffman. Allen will get few votes from the anti-war community come November after this stunt.

Monday, June 09, 2008

VISIT FROM KOREAN FRIEND - JUNE 22 BUILDING

We had a visitor this weekend in Maine. Sung-Hee Choi, the South Korean activist who now lives in New York City, took the all night bus and arrived here early yesterday morning. Sung-Hee, who teaches art in New York, joined the solidarity hunger strike the same day I did and also fasted for 14 days.

We met Sung-Hee in 2004 when she came to Portland, Maine for our annual Global Network space organizing conference. She has attended each of our annual meetings since then and this year was responsible for arranging for the delegation from South Korea to come to Omaha for our StratCom event.

Each time Sung-Hee attends one of our events she video tapes the key speakers and puts the talks up on the Internet so anyone can view them. Again this year she did the same and you can see her work by clicking on this link: Annual conference dinner speeches.

Sadly for us Sung-Hee's work VISA runs out soon and she must return to South Korea on July 1. She will be a great loss to us here in the U.S. but she will remain active through the group Solidarity for Peace & Reunification of Korea (SPARK). Last year Sung-Hee arranged for SPARK to become a Global Network affiliate and it has been proposed that our 2009 annual space organizing conference be held in South Korea. SPARK is now discussing this proposal and we should have an answer in the next couple of months.

Mary Beth took my place on the hunger strike on June 7 and is doing well so far.

On a related matter there has been a great response to our invitation for people to join the Czech Republic call for a global day of fasting on June 22 in solidarity with their effort to say NO to the U.S. deployment of a Star Wars radar in their nation. Here is the latest list of people who have contacted me saying they will fast on June 22. Many people are now spreading the list far and wide and we are grateful for their support in promoting this important effort.

June 22 Fast List


Beth Adams (Greenfield, Massachusetts)
Bob Anderson (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Dennis Apel (Guadalupe, California)
Sally Breen (Windham, Maine)
Kelli Brew (Gainesville, Florida)
Anna Maria Caldara (Bangor, Pennsylvania)
Maxine Caron (Byron Bay, Australia)
David W. Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Kathe Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Sung-Hee Choi (New York, New York)
Michael Connelly (Rochester, New York)
William Coop (Brunswick, Maine)
Frank Cordaro (Des Moines, Iowa)
Lynn DeFilippo (Nome, Alaska)
Aurel Duta (Bucharest, Romania)
MacGregor Eddy (Salinas, California)
Dan Ellis (Brunswick, Maine)
Lynn Ellis (Brunswick, Maine)
Becky Farley (Damariscotta, Maine)
Sr. Barb Freemyer, RSM (Pueblo, Colorado)
Bruce Gagnon (Bath, Maine)
Sr. Carol Gilbert (Baltimore, Maryland)
Starr Gilmartin (Trenton, Maine)
Arlyne Goodwin (Naples, Florida)
Holly Gwinn Graham (Olympia, Washington)
Matt Gregory (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Regina Hagen (Darmstadt, Germany)
Kevin Hall (Dunedin, Florida)
Maggie Hall (Dunedin, Florida)
Luke Hansen (Chicago, Illinois)
Amy Harlib (New York, New York)
Tom Hastings (Portland, Oregon)
Jenny Heinz (New York, New York)
Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle, Maine)
Tensie Hernandez (Guadalupe, California)
Nancy Hill (Stonington, Maine) June 19-24
Mair Honan (Portland, Maine)
Jackie Hudson, OP (Bremerton, Washington)
Connie Jenkins (Orono, Maine)
Carla Josephson (Rio Rancho, New Mexico)
Ron King (Penobscot, Maine)
Tom Kircher (Biddeford, Maine)
Steve Landon (Waldhof, ON, Canada)
Steve Larrick (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Isolt Lea (Gainesville, Florida)
Louise Legun (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
Mary Dennis Lentsch (Oak Ridge, Tennessee)
Bob Lezer (Freeport, Maine)
Mary Leonard, Mercy Associate (Pueblo, Colorado)
Tamara Lorincz (Halifax, NS, Canada)
Carla L. Rael-Luhman (Portales, New Mexico)
Laurie McGowan (Mochelle, NS, Canada)
Karl Meyer (Nashville, Tennessee)
Michael Murphy (Omaha, Nebraska)
Sr. Elaine Lopez Pacheco, RSM (Pueblo, Colorado)
Jeanne Pahls (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Rosalie Tyler Paul (Georgetown, Maine)
Sr. Ardeth Platte (Baltimore, Maryland)
Bonnie Preston (Blue Hill, Maine)
Kim Redigan (Dearborn Heights, Michigan)
John Rensenbrink (Topsham, Maine)
Judy Robbins (Sedgwick, Maine)
Chris Rooney (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Robert Shetterly (Brooksville, Maine)
Gareth Smith (Byron Bay, Australia)
Cathy Stanton (Melbourne, Florida)
Janie Stein (Salina, Kansas)
Mary Beth Sullivan (Bath, Maine)
John Tiedeman (Omaha, Nebraska)
Don Timmerman (Park Falls, Wisconsin)
Fran Truitt (Blue Hill, Maine)
Meredith Tupper (Springfield, Virginia)
Carol Urner (Portland, Oregon)
William Watts (San Francisco, California)
Dave Webb (Leeds, England)
Margaret Weitzmann (Potsdam, New York)
Elaine Wells (Omaha, Nebraska)
Molly Willcox (Westport, Maine)
Lynda Williams (Santa Rosa, California)
Mariah Williams (Liberty, Maine)
Loring Wirbel (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Michael Wisniewski (Los Angeles, California)
Jerry Zawada, OFM (Las Vegas, Nevada)
John Zokovitch (Gainesville, Florida)