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....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, October 31, 2009

GORE VIDAL: FOREVER AT WAR




An interesting historical perspective on the US "national security" state. Gore Vidal tells the story and provides his usual blistering analysis. This same cold war brainwashing is used today to justify endless war....

"We have been forever at war," Vidal concludes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

WHAT IS BEHIND THE SALUTE?


* I've been asking a few friends what they thought about Obama's appearance in the wee hours of the morning yesterday at Dover AFB to view the bodies of dead soldiers as they returned home. Granted Bush never did this, but is there an ulterior motive at work here? Is this part of a larger public relations gambit now underway to build support for Obama's "new and improved" Afghanistan policy that is soon to be announced? My friends all said the same thing - it's hype. You know whenever politicians talk about "sacrifices" made by the dead soldiers I can't help but think of weird cults. Has America become a killing culture?

* Jordan and Syria are now overrun with more than four million refugees from Iraq and this is virtually never reported in the US media. The Iraqi citizens are not returning to their war torn country any time soon and the pressure on Jordan and Syria is beyond imagination. Even the once middle class Iraqi refugees are now out of money and life is getting much worse for them.

* The Yongsan neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea is a tragic story of torn down homes and lives ripped apart by the police and right-wing government. I've visited the neighborhood three times and been inspired by the fighting spirit of the families of the five men who were killed by the police for resisting corporate redevelopment. Samsung Corporation and other financial interests are tearing down homes and shops and driving people out with hired goons and the national police so they can build expensive new office and apartment blocks. Yesterday I watched a documentary about the Yongsan situation and highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about what fascism looks like and how the average people of South Korea are fighting back. You can see it here

* Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is calling the current health care deform plan a corporate giveaway and will probably be voting against it. It is likely that most Democrats will hold their nose and vote in favor of it. The Blue Dog Democrats, the so-called fiscal conservatives, have added about $85 billion to the cost of the bill with their gifts to the insurance industry. The "public option" is going to turn out to be just another private insurance policy - more welfare for the corporations.

* Good news? Maybe next time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SAY NO TO LOTTE

Campsite on overlook of Gyeyang mountain


Welcome to Lotte World. Lotte Group, a major South Korean corporation, has their hands in many things. Cookies, real estate, golf courses, electronics, hotels, baseball teams in Korea and Japan, heavy chemicals, financial services and more. In all the Lotte Corporation has 60 distinct business units.

You might recall my blog post ,while I was in Incheon during my recent trip, about meeting a local minister who sat in a tree house in the woods for 155 days in protest of the Lotte Corporation's plan to tear up the Gyeyang Mountain, the highest mountain around Incheon with many rare plants and animals. Lotte wants to build a world class golf course for the rich.

For several years the pertinent government agencies would not give Lotte Group permission to bulldoze the mountain. Then 2MB (also called the bulldozer) got elected president, recall that I said he is married into the Lotte family, and everything changed.

Today 55 organizations in Incheon are organizing to stop this destruction of one of the few remaining wilderness areas around the sprawling city. They have undertaken a rolling fast to help build opposition. People do a hunger strike for 24 hours and go into the mountain and sleep in a tent.

Before I left Incheon my host Sung-Hee Choi signed up to strike on October 29 and I agreed to join her in solidarity. Since they are one-day ahead of us in South Korea, her action is already done. I've just begun mine and will not eat until 9:00 am on Friday morning. Not a huge sacrifice but the folks there issued a news release yesterday proclaiming they now had international support and participation. I am glad to help a bit.

Everywhere in South Korea that I turned I saw signs of the Lotte Corporation. All big corporations seem to be imperialists these days. They want to take over the whole world, including the trees and the plants. The least I can do is to help say no.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS AD?




The ABC-TV network refused to run this paid political advertisement because of the content. I thought I should share it here since I agree with every word of it.

ORGANIZING THE POOR




Steve Williams is Co-Director and co-founder of POWER. Steve cut his teeth as an organizer with the Philadelphia Union of the Homeless and the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, organizing welfare recipients and homeless people during a period of intense local attacks on lo-income people. He spearheads POWER's movement building and leadership development work. In 2006, Steve co-authored Towards Land, Work & Power- a primer on political economy for organizers and grassroots activists. He is active in several local and national efforts to build a powerful movement from the bottom up, including Grassroots Global Justice, the U.S. Social Forum and the May 1st Alliance.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NOT YET BACK TO NORMAL

Totem poles depicting men and women in Gangjung village on Jeju Island

My sleep pattern is still not back to normal. I am waking up very early, much too early for me. My appetite though is back and I've already had a good pasta meal. I suffered from not enough pasta during my three weeks in South Korea. I have to spend a day making a big batch of sauce which should finally put me back into shape.

There has been lots of mail to sort through, emails to answer, new email addresses to enter into the computer, and yesterday I had a repairman come to see about my crashed laptop. He said he thinks it got zapped because it is about as serious as it gets. He thinks I will need to buy a new laptop and he hopes he can save the data on it....... Who would want to zap my computer?

I'm just nibbling at my To Do list, don't have the energy to read much right now, my brain is only half reporting for work.

Going to see Michael Moore's new movie on capitalism on Wednesday night, we are making it an Addams-Melman House group activity. I promised to buy everyone in the house dinner afterward as a pay-off for them having to do all the house chores while I was gone for three weeks. They all easily accepted my guilt-tripped offer.

I've been talking alot about the food I ate in South Korea since I've been home and Friday night, as another pay off, I will attempt to make a Bath-version of "bibimbap" - the traditional rice and vegetable dish that I ate enough times while in Korea that I should be able to pull it off.

I've heard from many people, including several Korean-Americans, who saw my blog post about Jeju Island. It is really exciting for me to know that there is interest out there in the Jeju video that hopefully will be available in a couple of weeks.

Basketball season for my team, the Washington Wizards, begins tonight. Hopefully it will turn out better than my Orioles baseball season did.

The level of progressive protest in the US seems to be heating back up. After a late summer of right-wing tea-baggers, and their town hall stormings, it appears that the progressives are coming off the sidelines and getting back into the swing of things. Obama seems to be tacking back and forth as the wind changes which is no surprise. The Democrats in Congress are doing their usual talk big but do-little antics. So not much seems to have changed back here while I was gone.

My next trip will be to Oregon on November 12-14 to talk about drones. Before then I need to chop some more wood but I will have to get out of my pajamas to do that - easier said than done.

JUST IN:
Recently Dr. Helen Caldicott had me on her national Pacifica radio show for an hour. You can listen to the interview here

Monday, October 26, 2009

SPACE WARFARE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT



The Air Force Research Lab is located at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Is this kind of research and development for endless high-tech space warfare how you want your tax dollars spent?

ELLSBERG ON AFGHANISTAN & OBAMA



Daniel Ellsberg: As President Obama decides what to do in Afghanistan he must learn the lessons of Vietnam.

Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers was a major contributing factor that turned me into a peace activist. He will always be one of my heroes.