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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

DRONE PROTEST AT CIA HQ

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HAWAIIAN INDEPENDENCE GREETS OBAMA



Native Hawaiian Independence activists held a protest as Obama's "entourage" passed by on Dec 24. Hawaii is one of the most heavily occupied places in the world by the US military.

It's amazing how much fuel gets used by these kings and their chariots......to protect them from the people.

Friday, December 25, 2009

BEST WAY TO CREATE JOBS?



Robert Pollin is Professor of Economics and founding Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research centers on macroeconomics, conditions for low-wage workers in the U.S. and globally, the analysis of financial markets, and the economics of building a clean-energy economy in the U.S. Most recently, he co-authored the reports “Job Opportunities for the Green Economy” (June 2008) and “Green Recovery” (September 2008), exploring the broader economic benefits of large-scale investments in a clean-energy economy in the U.S. He has worked with the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa on policies to promote to promote decent employment expansion and poverty reduction in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. He has also worked with the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress and as a member of the Capital Formation Subcouncil of the U.S. Competiveness Policy Council.

FOLLOWING IN THE FOOT STEPS OF TRAGEDY

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DRONE DEBATE CONTINUES IN OREGON

You might recall that I was recently in Hood River, Oregon to speak about drones which are being made there by a local company called Insitu (now bought up by Boeing Corp). I just learned that these drones made by Insitu have been sold to the Colombian military and are likely the ones that have been detected flying into Venezuelan airspace (probably as proxy for the US military).

The letters to the Hood River News have been raging on the drone issue since I spoke there. Here is a negative one below that trashes me.

Drones for America

I would like to thank Terri Hansen for her clear, unflinching appraisal of the “surrender monkeys” advocating the evisceration of our military infrastructure (Another Voice, Dec. 5).

It is clear to any compassionate human being that if the drones Insitu is building save just one American soldier’s life then there is no honorable position in opposition.

To me, Bruce Gagnon is simply a modern-day Jane Fonda. He and his followers deserve the same scorn from patriotic Americans as Fonda received when she returned from her infamous trip to Hanoi.

Cliff Mansfield
Odell, Oregon


The letter goes on much longer but I will spare you. If you wish to read the whole thing, and others from that paper, just click here

IT'S NOT A HEALTH CARE VICTORY



Obama made me laugh today when I read that he claimed he had never said he supported a public option.....he just preferred it....

In fact Obama had cut the deal with the big insurance corporations long before this debate ever began. The final product, more welfare for the insurance industry, was always in the cards.

Take pride in yourself if you are able to see through the Obama magician's BS...

STARVATION ALERT IN AFGHANISTAN



A report from activist Ralph Lopez: "According to the UN, 35% of Afghans do not meet the daily caloric intake requirement required to avoid malnutrition. Translation, this many Afghans are pretty much starving slowly. This could help account for the average lifespan, the shortest in the world, of 43. We're talking about a speed-up in the process, which, combined with unimaginable cold at these mountain altitudes, makes people drop like flies. Especially children. It happened in Samangan in 2008, in Tulak in 2005, and many other provinces where the world's fourth-poorest people expire without note by the wider world.

"At a UN press conference this week it was revealed that it is in danger of happening again, this time in the southern and south-east provinces. Twenty percent of food aid has not reached it's target. The financial shortage amounts to about US$ 870 million, what we spend on military operations 2 weeks. This is the time we can show Afghans we are for real, and will never let another single child starve and freeze if we can help it. Congress must pass emergency legislation as fast as it passed the legislation funding bullets and bombs. Otherwise we are damned, and deserve it."

Someone might want to let the magician know about this. I'm sure that after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize he would not want it to be known that he sat back and let children starve while he waged war on them - especially at the time when the Christians celebrate the birth of the prince of peace.

Can you say genocide? Think about it....the magician and his handlers want pipelines to be constructed through Afghanistan.....but the "terrorists" are in the way....wouldn't it be easier for the oil corporations who are running this policy to just thin the population out a bit?

Starvation, white phosphorous bombs, depleted uranium or drone attacks on civilians - it's all the same thing.

The US wants to stabilize Afghanistan? It's easy....build hospitals, schools, feed the people, stop blowing them up. But the truth is that the US does not want peace, nor stability, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They want chaos in order to justify a long-term occupation. They want pipelines and they don't give a damn about the people.

ORGANIZING TIPS FROM JOHN AND YOKO

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

HOLIDAY BLISS


FOOLS ERRAND



This Guardian (UK) news report indicates the Afghan Army is not motivated to kill their fellow citizens on behalf of the US occupiers. Basically they are just using it as a job.

The reaction of the one US soldier, lecturing his Afghani counterpart about the need for a "sense of nationalism", indicates a total lack of cultural understanding.

The US is on a fools errand in Afghanistan and you are paying for it. How much longer do you want your hard earned tax dollars wasted on this mess?

Silence is complicity.......

UPDATE: Amy Goodman writes: I asked Bolivian President Evo Morales for his solution (on global warming). He recommends “all war spending be directed towards climate change, instead of spending it on troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan or the military bases in Latin America.”

Monday, December 21, 2009

MAINE WAR SPENDING CAMPAIGN ROLLS ON


The Maine Campaign to Bring
Our War $$ Home
Dec. 19, 2009


Present:
Sally Breen, Wells Staley-Mays, Tom Whitney, Suzanne Hedrick, Alan Clemence, Mark Roman, Katrina Bisheimer, Mariam Raqib, Peter Woodruff, Dan Ellis, Jacqui Deveneau, Bruce Gagnon, Hersch Sternlieb, Selma Sternlieb, Lisa Savage, Bill Slavick, Gary Higginbottom, Michael Cutting, Natasha Mayers, Karen Wainberg, and Mary Beth Sullivan

War Funding:
Both Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud just voted for the $128 billion Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan war funding which was included in the $636 billion Pentagon 2010 appropriation bill. Since the bill also contained $5.5 billion for BIW, and since the Congresspeople are committed to voting for BIW, they were in no position to vote against the bill. Talking to them about the fact that there would be more employment in civilian production falls on deaf ears. A supplemental appropriation of $30 billion more for the Obama Afghan surge will come up in the spring.

Agreement on Campaign Plan:
There was unanimous support for the three-month campaign plan (January 18-April 15) and for the action weekend on April 10-11. All local peace groups in Maine are strongly encouraged to organize local events during this period on the Afghanistan issue with particular emphasis on the cost of the wars. More information can be obtained about the cost of war spending to Maine towns at http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home Our primary demands will be for Congresspersons Pingree and Michaud to vote against any more war funding and to become real leaders in Maine and in Washington against these endless wars.

Talking About the Costs of War:
1)It was suggested that we should always bring handouts to any meeting where we speak about the costs of war, be it a school board meeting, a town meeting, etc.

2) It was suggested that we find people who have been directly impacted by cutbacks to testify at these meetings. But we were warned that people who've lost their jobs often want to keep a low profile.

3) Some ministers have made the connection in their sermons between the increased numbers of people in the food pantries of their churches and the war. We should encourage more of this.

Kicking Off the Campaign:
Mike Brennan has offered to help us put together a news conference in Augusta at the state capital (Hall of Flags) that would make connections between state budget cuts and war funding. It will be held on Thursday, Jan. 14 (11:00-noon), the week before MLK holiday. MLK's words should be featured. The committee to work on the news conference includes Wells, Sally, Jacqui and Bruce. Bruce will contact Mike Brennan. We should all try to be at the news conference in Augusta. (Bring appropriate signs.) Lisa said she plans to urge her legislators to attend. The NAACP should also be invited to attend. We should all help contact social service groups, education groups, and public transit groups. Suzanne will talk to Commissioner of Labor Laura Fortman. Lisa suggested talking to Sue Gendron, Commissioner of Education. We should talk to our town officials about how the funding cuts are affecting their towns. Sally suggested a dramatic presentation to illustrate the issue.

Draw-a-thon:
Natasha has approached a number of Maine artists and poets about holding a draw-a-thon at the United Church of Christ in Bath on Feb. 13 (Feb 27 snow date). Their task will be to produce art that speaks about how the artist would spend the war money here in Maine. The artists will be open to ideas from us. In the evening (5:00 pm) there will be a poetry event and a potluck supper for the public. Bruce has asked Hana Maris to emcee the event. Zines featuring the art will be produced. Bruce offered Global Network funding if there is not enough money to pay the artists for gas to Bath. Contact Natasha for more details mayersnatasha@gmail.com

Draw-in:
At a later date, a draw-in will be held at the State House. One suggestion: The draw-in should be held when the Legislature is debating cuts in services so as to connect the dots between the war and budget cuts at home. There was discussion about hanging the art in the State House. Natasha isn't sure whether children should be included among the artists. She also talked about having the exhibit tour the state. Natasha requested volunteers to be liaisons between the artists and the media. Lisa from Code Pink Maine will work with Natasha to coordinate this event.

Campaign Sponsors:
The sponsoring groups for this campaign so far are the Maine Green Independent Party, Maine Veterans for Peace, the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Code Pink Maine, Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice, Pax Christi Maine and PeaceWorks. Please let Bruce know if your organization would like to be added to the sponsor list. Money is not required but would be most helpful.

Town Meeting Warrant:
Gary offered to draft the wording for a warrant that can be used at town meetings. The warrant would call on a town to oppose funding the war in Afghanistan so that the town can pay for town projects. Lisa warned that the wording should be at a fifth grade level.

Donations:
The Global Network will be the campaign fiscal sponsor because it has non-profit status, so all sponsoring groups can make their donations to the Global Network. Send them to PO Box 652, Brunswick 04011. Individuals are also urged to donate. Michael Cutting gave $100 at the meeting to get things going.

Website:
Dan has volunteered to create a website for the campaign. JustHost will be the host. It offers free domain for life and it's very inexpensive. We will keep it going anywhere from six months to a year. Bruce will send Dan a check to cover costs. Every sponsoring group should send its website address to Dan danellis@earthstewards.org so he can put it on the campaign website as a link.

Door Hangers & Leaflets:
Gary put together a draft of the text for the door hangers. He asked everyone at the meeting to send him suggestions for changes. We discussed what color the campaign should be. Suggestions: Green is the color of money, but to many it's the color of tree huggers; Pink is not a good idea; Red is high alert—it could be on a stop sign; Yellow is a warning; Red, White, and Blue appeals to Americans. Natasha wants a visual on the hanger. Dan asked for a decision on the color so that the website could reflect it. The door hanger could be in the shape of a dollar bill or a dollar sign. Some suggestions for text: "There's not enough money in Maine;" "It's tax day—do you know where your money is?" "Maine's economy is under dire threat." Alan suggested that when we go door to door we wear a large label that says something like "I'm John Doe with the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War Dollars Home." Bruce will ask Nancy Randolph to design the door hanger once we've decided what we want on it. Bruce also passed around his draft of a general leaflet and asked for comments to be sent to him. If you would like either of these sent to you via email for review just send request to globalnet@mindspring.com

Letters to the Editor:
Bruce urged us to write letters to our local newspapers and also to the free weekly papers about the war funding issue during this campaign. More people are reading the weeklies these days. Two papers that were praised were the Free Press in Rockland and the Portland Daily Sun.

Reforestation Project:
Mariam Raqib spoke to us about a project she's involved with to plant trees on 1,000 acres in eastern Afghanistan where her family comes from. She is accepting donations. For more info contact her at raqibm@yahoo.com

Next Meeting:
We will hold a conference call for our next meeting on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3:00 pm. Lisa will facilitate the call.

CALLING ON GOD

I was not in favor of Obama's health insurance bill that passed the Senate last night. I don't like the idea of being forced to have to buy a insurance policy from the big corporations if I don't want to. I have always supported a single-payer health care program. For me there is nothing better.

I've been to Cuba three times and have seen their health care system. In the perfect metaphor, Cuba's primary teaching hospital in Havana is inside what was once to be the biggest bank in Cuba where the Mafia was going to put its drug and gambling money. In our country today the Mafia is the corporate powers that are bleeding us dry.

With all that said I found a story in the Washington Post this morning that struck me. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) was the last vote to put the Dems over the top with 60 votes in favor of the bill. He has been quite ill and obviously it was not an easy task for him to get to the Senate when they have just had a snow storm dump two feet of snow on Washington.

As it turns out the Post reported: At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon -- nine hours before the 1 a.m. vote that would effectively clinch the legislation's passage -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) went to the Senate floor to propose a prayer. "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight," he said. "That's what they ought to pray."


It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) who has been in and out of hospitals and lay at home ailing. It would not be easy for Byrd to get out of bed in the wee hours with deep snow on the ground and ice on the roads -- but without his vote, Democrats wouldn't have the 60 they needed.

Sen. Byrd made it and pumped his left fist in defiance after his vote.

It's kind of a sad thing though that the Republicans have to pray that Byrd will either die or be too sick to make the vote. It's a perfect example of how the so-called Christians have taken over that party and they use god to try to cover for their very sick attitudes.

I too, for very different reasons than the Republicans, wanted to see the bill defeated. But believing in real democracy I don't need to call on god to help me "defeat" my rivals. The "good Christian Republicans" sound more and more like the Taliban every day.

My grandmother had polio and spent practically her whole life in a wheelchair. I don't find it acceptable that sleazy politicians want their rivals, especially those who are ill, to have misfortune.

I pray that some day we will have a real single-payer health care system and that the American people will soon force the government to get the insurance corporations out of health care. Health care is a human right and should not be a profit making business.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

POR QUE US BASES IN COLUMBIA?

REMEMBERING SITTING BULL

In the Room with Ernie LaPointe from Speaking of Faith on Vimeo.

The Lakota people remember Sitting Bull who was killed on Dec 15, 1890 at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota. Fearing that he was going to lead an exodus from the reservation the US Army tried to arrest him. Sitting Bull resisted and was shot dead at about 5:30 am as he was dragged out of his bed.