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, January 08, 2010

WE ARE THE TERRORISTS

I've been holding off on writing about this story since it is hardly being reported in the Western media. But then today I found it on the respected UK Times under the headline: Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children

I'll quote extensively from it:


American-led troops were accused yesterday [Dec 30] of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead.

Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.

President Karzai sent a team of investigators to Narang district, in eastern Kunar province, after reports of a massacre first surfaced on Monday.


“The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead,” a statement on President Karzai’s website said.

Assadullah Wafa, who led the investigation, said that US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, suggesting that they were part of a special forces unit.

“At around 1 am, three nights ago, some American troops with helicopters left Kabul and landed around 2km away from the village,” he told The Times. “The troops walked from the helicopters to the houses and, according to my investigation, they gathered all the students from two rooms, into one room, and opened fire.” Mr Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province, met President Karzai to discuss his findings yesterday. “I spoke to the local headmaster,” he said. “It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.”

In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”

So the story sounds legit and it makes me sick. I hear the voices of American citizens in my mind asking, "Why do they hate us? What do these people have against us? They must be religious fanatics so we'd better kill them over there so we don't have to do it here."

But the reality is, as those paying the slightest bit of attention well know, our own government and NATO forces are the true terrorists today in Afghanistan. And for this we are creating legions of new enemies who want revenge for the killing of their innocent children.

How can any person of conscience remain silent with all this going on?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

LEADERS TO ADDRESS STATE FISCAL CRISIS

NEWS CONFERENCE TO CALL FOR CUTS IN WAR SPENDING
AS VEHICLE TO FUND STATE PROGRAMS


For Immediate Release

Contact: Bruce Gagnon 443-9502 or Lisa Savage 399-7623


Leaders from peace, church, health care, education, and social service communities will hold a news conference in Augusta, Maine on Thursday, January 14 at 11:00 am to call for cuts in war spending as a way to help Maine state government deal with its current fiscal crisis. The news conference will be held in the Hall of Flags inside the state capital in Augusta.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost Maine taxpayers $2.5 billion according to the National Priorities Project.

“If not for the money that has been wasted on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan we would not be in the fiscal crisis that we face today in Maine,” said Lisa Savage, public school teacher and a leader in the new statewide coalition called Bring Our War $$ Home.

“We will bring people together from around the state who are willing to address the elephant in the middle of the room. Our spending on endless war is killing the national economy as more than 40 states are now in fiscal crisis. We are not going to be able to cut our way out of this mess, tax our way out, nor will we be able to ‘grow’ our way out of this. Unless we cut military spending immediately there will be no serious recovery and no real stabilization of our state budget,” Savage stated.

A recent study, “The Employment Effects of Downsizing the U.S. Military” by UMASS-Amherst Economics Department, found that military spending actually creates fewer jobs than any other kind of investment.

The UMASS study reveals that for every $1 billion of spending on military production 8,555 jobs are created. But when that same amount of money is spent on home weatherization 12,804 jobs are created or when spent on education 17,687 jobs result.

“The little reported truth is that military spending is bad for the economy and creates fewer jobs and less tax revenue for state and local government than does other kinds of investment,” said Savage.

Bring Our War $$ Home is calling on all elected officials in Maine to immediately begin addressing this issue of mounting military spending while education, social spending, and infrastructure funding are cut.

Among those planning to speak at the January 14 news conference in Augusta are:

Michael Brennan – former State Senator from Portland
Dr. Robert Hayes - D.O. from Winslow
Rachel Talbott Ross – NAACP from Portland
Lisa Savage – Peace activist and public school teacher from Solon
Rep. Peter Stuckey – State Representative from Portland
Mary Beth Sullivan – Social worker from Bath
Rev. Gary Vencill – United Methodist Church minister from Prospect

Bring Our War $$ Home is a new coalition in Maine that intends to actively take this message to the citizens across the state. The coalition is made up of the following organizations: Americans Who Tell the Truth; Camp Alex For Peace; Code Pink Maine; Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space; The Kennebunks Peace Department; Maine Green Independent Party; Maine Veterans for Peace; Midcoast Peace & Justice; Pax Christi Maine; Peace Action Maine; Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine; PeaceWorks; Peninsula Peace & Justice - Blue Hill; Union of Maine Visual Artists; and Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice

- END -

DRONES AT HOME



The drones made in Hood River, Oregon are now being used by police in Houston, Texas to spy on the public.....constitutional rights being shredded daily in the good old US of A.

Expect more local cops to get this latest new toy. As they say at the end of this piece, the police will figure out the constitutional questions later on - well after the drones are established in the "crime fighting" inventory.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

LEGACY OF WAR - DEPLETED URANIUM'S TOLL ON THE PEOPLE



Would you call this genocide?

REPORT ON MAINE WAR $$ CAMPAIGN

As we move toward the Thursday, January 14 news conference to launch our Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home I thought I’d share a few exciting tidbits about things people are already doing to build the effort. If you can do so, please plan to join us at the Hall of Flags in the capital in Augusta at 11:00 am for the media event. Bring a sign that centers around the issue of Bring our War $$ Home (Fund education, health care, social spending, infrastructure not War, etc.).

Sally Breen (Windham) has asked Peace Action Maine to furnish her a membership list for six towns in her area and she is going to call all those people seeking local contacts in each town for this campaign. She is also going to furnish them all a sample letter to the editor and also urge them to check out our new web site. Sally has also written an op-ed for her local paper.

Gary Higginbottom (Portland) is drafting a town meeting warrant for those who wish to take this issue of war spending cuts to their town for a discussion and vote.

Lisa Savage (Solon) got a message from her union (Maine Education Association) asking her to come to a meeting to fight against education cuts. We all know that the state legislature is not going to raise taxes but instead education will have to compete with social service organizations for the diminishing amount of crumbs. At this point virtually no one has been willing to publicly contemplate calling for cuts in military spending. Lisa wrote the leadership of the MEA urging them to come to the January 14 news conference and asked them to begin connecting the dots!

Similarly Peter Woodruff (Arrowsic) has for the last couple weeks been educating the leadership of his wife’s teachers union local about calling for cuts in military spending as they are now working without a contract due to major reductions in the RSU 1 school budget. He has also supplied the union leadership with war spending trade-off information from the National Priorities Project.

Peter and I also have a weekly radio show on WBOR (Bowdoin College station) and we have been heavily promoting the message of the campaign.

Natasha Mayers (Whitefield) is organizing a Draw-a-thon to be held on February 13 that will bring together more than 20 artists and several noted Maine poets to create images and words depicting how our war money could be spent in the state. This daylong event will be held at the UCC church in Bath (150 Congress Ave) and will end with a community potluck supper, poetry readings and music. You are all invited to attend - 5:00 pm. (Snow date is Feb 27).

Jamilla El-Shafei (Kennebunk) is in the middle of putting together an Afghanistan speaking tour for activist Ralph Lopez for late January in several Maine cities. Details to follow.

In Bath we have just completed our fourth straight week of vigiling in our town with the message of Bring Our Wars $$ Home. As our numbers are slowly growing on the street corner so have the numbers of honks from passing cars.

I have had a letter to the editor printed on this theme in the Brunswick Times Record and have submitted one to the Portland Press Herald. We hope you too will write a letter to your local daily (and/or weekly) about this issue.

The other day I was reading an interview with Rep. Chellie Pingree where she said that every time she returns to Maine people are upset about endless war spending. So it is clear that many of the people are with us on this issue. This campaign has been created though to make sure that Pingree and Mike Michaud vote against ALL future war-funding bills AND, most importantly, become leaders in the House to stop all war funding.

We have our work cut out for us as we begin this intense three-month campaign that runs from January 14 to April 15 (Tax Day). We hope you will find some way to help grow this effort in your local community. Even if you do nothing more than urge people on your email list to look at our new web site, you will have been a big help. http://www.bringourwardollarshome.org/ (We must warmly thank Veterans for Peace member Dan Ellis from Brunswick for volunteering to create the web site. He has done a great job on it.)

A key to ending these wars is to connect the dots and make them even more relevant for people in our state who otherwise might not be seeing Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Yemen as top priorities. We must make sure that those who are fighting to save education and social spending begin to point out that the money is there -- in the Pentagon budget.

Working together we can have an impact. Thanks for your support. (Please keep us posted on what actions you take in your community.)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

CHANGE IS COMING


Click on cartoon for better view

NO MORE BULLETS


For those non-sportsniks out there a bit of an explanation here. My "favorite" basketball team is the Washington Wizards. They are having a lousy season but now their star player, Gilbert Arenas, is in big trouble for bringing three guns into the locker room. On a team flight back to DC from Phoenix Arenas and another player got into an argument over a gambling debt and the next day Arenas pulled out the guns in the locker room and "something happened" ....

The case is now under investigation and Arenas likely faces huge fines and suspension. The team is in upheaval. And now David Letterman has picked up on it.

Years ago the team was called the Bullets but the owner changed the name because he wanted to reject the gun violence in Washington and the world. He recently passed away and must be turning over in his grave.

Monday, January 04, 2010

TAKE AN ACTION TO SAVE YOURSELF FROM THE BIG BOYS


JP Morgan/Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America may be "too big to fail" -- but they are not too big to feel the impact of hundreds of thousands of people taking action to change a broken financial and political system. Let them gamble with their own money, not yours. Let's turn big banks into smaller banks. We'll all be better off -- and safer -- as a result.

STOP THE MONKEY BUSINESS

Peace protest NO STAR WARS!
Thursday, January 21

5 pm to 7 pm
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California


Protest the launch of an expensive “Star Wars” ground-based interceptor missile test from Vandenberg set for Jan. 22, 2010.

A dummy US Intercontinental Ballistic missile (posing as a nuclear shot from "Iran") will be launched toward California from the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands on the same date.
The Vandenberg missile is going to try to "take out" the so-called (by the Pentagon)"Iranian" missile . The fact is that Iran does not have a long-range nuclear missile capability. But why be worried about the facts. Just launch a US missile and say it is from Iran! Who will notice the difference?!

The “Star Wars” NMD program is a direct obstacle to disarmament talks with Russia and is making a nuclear weapons free future less likely.

What happened to Obama "desire" to get rid of nukes?

The protest will be held at the front gate of Vandenberg AFB which is located six miles north of Lompoc on Highway One, across the road from Vandenberg Middle school Santa Barbara County CA.

Sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. Endorsed by War Resister’s League, CodePink, Nevada Desert Experience, Tri-Valley Cares and many others.

For details see www.vandenbergwitness.org or email macgregoreddy@gmail.com or call
831-206-5043.

THINGS I WISH FOR IN 2010

* I would be happy to see the peace movement make greater connections between economic collapse at home and endless war. If we want the public to relate to us we need to be connecting the dots.

* I wish people who still are frozen by the razzle-dazzle of the magician would snap out of their sleep-walking stupor and see that Senior Obama is a fraud. You are not being "disloyal" by recognizing this, you would be in fact facing reality.

* Along with that, I wish "liberals" would also wake up and smell the coffee - take hold of your senses and recognize that our government is controlled by a corporate oligarchy. The two party (good cop-bad cop) game is theater.

* I wish so many "progressives" were not so timid......

* I wish activists would be willing to strategically plan more often rather than just react to the war machine.

* I wish the Democrats would acknowledge that they are largely go-along-to-get-along corporate stooges.

* I wish Republicans would just once try to win an election without lying.

* I hope that more people around the world begin to recognize that globalization is a code word for unrestrained corporate capitalism.

* I hope that more people around the world begin to recognize that the Pentagon is the military arm of corporate globalization. Particularly those who live in the USA.

* I wish the Palestinian people would get a fair shake for once from the corporate dominated media.

* I hope that the US does not use its new bases in Columbia to start a war with Venezuela, though I fear it will.

* I wish the people of the planet would collectively demand that all military spending be immediately stopped and instead be used for dealing with climate change, health care, clean water systems, education, and more....................

* I hope that NATO (the US proxy war tool) collapses.

* I wish automobile companies would make trains and bicycles rather than cars.

* I hope Obama's health insurance plan fails to pass and that Congress has to start all over again - we still want single payer and will not give up!

* I hope that all those from the Pentagon, NASA, FBI, and staffs of elected officials who read this blog are learning something from it.

* I wish that my favorite basketball team, the Washington Wizards, would trade everyone on the team and start over again.

* Spring training for baseball is only about six weeks away so I can begin to hope that my Baltimore Orioles will be a .500 team this year.

* I wish peace and good health for all my friends, and yes, even those who I am not particularly fond of.....I don't want to live in hate. After all, we are all connected at some level. Do unto others as you would wish them to do onto you......

* I wish I could think of more things but have probably lost all my readers by now anyway......

Sunday, January 03, 2010

900,000 STATE WORKERS NATIONWIDE WILL LOSE JOBS



James Heintz has written on a wide range of economic policy issues, including job creation, global labor standards, egalitarian macroeconomic strategies, and investment behavior. He is co-author, with Nancy Folbre, of The Ultimate Field Guide to the U.S. Economy. From 1996 to 1998, he worked as an economist at the National Labour and Economic Development Institute in Johannesburg , a policy think tank affiliated with the South African labor movement. His current work focuses on global labor standards, employment income, and poverty; employment policies for low- and middle-income countries; and the links between macroeconomic policies and distributive outcomes.

It's time to Bring our War $$ Home......

THE LIFE IN THIS MOMENT

We've got a bit of snow here in Maine. More than one foot has fallen in the last three days. Mary Beth and I have shoveled over and over again just trying to keep the steps and some paths cleared so the dogs can go outside - which they don't really want to do anyway.

It's good exercise shoveling snow - aerobic and weight lifting. One great pleasure for me is seeing how nature takes over and the humans have to give in to it. Everything slows down. This morning while we were out clearing the driveway there were loads of people outside walking down the street and shoveling their own walkways. A sense of community returns that I have witnessed after hurricanes and tornadoes while living in Florida. People like to go out and survey the results of mother nature's angry breath.

Last night on Facebook I read Loring Wirbel's post from Colorado. He said that they had just had thunder, lightening, and a snowstorm. A bit unusual, yes. Can we agree that climate change is real? We screw around with nature enough and things start to go wobbly all over the place?

Fortunately our shoveling strategy of regular, and seemingly futile, clearing during the storm seemed to pay off this morning when we went out to survey the damage. Our long narrow paths that we had cleared for the dogs, and the way to the woodpile, were slightly evident to the eye. When we began re-clearing those spots we found the snow there to be much lighter and easier to move.

My biggest challenge was to go up on the second floor wooden landing to use the roof rake. We learned the hard way last year that if this is not done then serious and dangerous ice jams form on the edge of the roof and can lead to leaks. (We have one leak already in the dining room and have yet to figure out the source of it.) After the pile of snow is raked off the roof then I had to clear it from the porch landing, steps, and from the ground below. At one point I could barely lift my arms over my head.

Some of our Florida friends (hey Julie...hey Wendy) might wonder why we go through all this - but is anyone safe these days from the coming ravages of climate change?

Last night I looked out the bedroom window at the street light as the wind swirled the snow beneath it in what was nothing more than a glorious work of art. Then I noticed the holiday card perfect picture of an old house down the street covered with snow and the tall pine trees just beyond it decked in their white beauty. One lonesome light was on at the house and seemed to offer a pleading reminder that there was some sign of life amongst the raging furry of the wind and snow.

In that moment of wonder and solitude a thought came to me saying not to be afraid of it all. It is just the life that surrounds us today.

It's warming up a bit now and drops of water are falling from the roof and snow on the ground is becoming wet and slushy. The weather reports say more snow is likely tonight.