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, January 16, 2010

BRING OUR WAR $$ HOME



Here is video from our news conference kick-off in Augusta, Maine last Thursday launching our Bring Our War $$ Home campaign.

Thanks to Jeffrey Phillips for video taping and Martha Spiess for editing.

Word about this campaign is now circulating nationally and we are getting some nice comments from other activists. It is clear that most people want to see more of this kind of coordinated action campaigning rather than the hit-and-miss isolated actions we often do in our movements.

Friday, January 15, 2010

SOLIDARITY IS IMPORTANT


This is the area where the Navy base would be built to homeport Aegis destroyers on Jeju Island

The mayor of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in South Korea was seen on the mainland in Seoul for a protest last Tuesday. The sign (above) being held by Kang Dong-Kyun reads, "The naval base is not getting along well with the Island of Peace."

Reports about the petition I am now circulating worldwide have been appearing in Jeju media and several strong solidarity messages have been sent to Korea from other places around the world that have, or are now, fighting against similar odds.

The folks in Vieques, Puerto Rico have sent solidarity words to Jeju recalling their long effort to stop a US Navy bombing range on their beautiful island. Often the US planes would bomb the coral reefs just off shore of Vieques.

The activists in Vicenza, Italy, who are now organizing against a massive expansion of a US military base in their city, have also sent word to Jeju. When people are under the boot of militarism they understand how it feels for others experiencing that same smothering footprint.

The names are still rolling in for my petition. I'm going to give it one more week before submitting my final tally to the South Korean and US governments. If you have yet to add your name and/or organization to the list please do so by sending me an email at: globalnet@mindspring.com Be sure to give me city/state and country too.

I am writing this from the train station in Boston on my way south to Washington DC to speak at the Saturday CIA HQ drone protest being organized by Cindy Sheehan. A march from there to the nearby home of former V-P Dick Cheney will follow the protest.

NEVER SEE THIS ON U.S. TV





Ex-Guantanamo prisoners meet former US GI prison guard.......

Thursday, January 14, 2010

CAN'T HAVE GUNS AND BUTTER ANYMORE - TIME TO SPEAK OUT

Former state senator Michael Brennan from Portland was instrumental
in helping to organize the news conference
School teacher and CodePink activist Lisa Savage from Solon outlined the purpose of the campaign and called on everyone to acknowledge the "elephant" in the middle of the room Rev. Gary Vencill, United Methodist Church minister from Prospect, spoke about the moral implications of on-going wars and cutbacks in human needs programs

Social worker Mary Beth Sullivan from Bath connected homeless issues to massive military spending and made an emotional appeal for an end to the madness


We had about 70 people join us at the Maine state capital in Augusta for our Bring our War $$ Home campaign kick-off news conference this morning. Some key media turned out so our message will make its way across the state.

Just as I began typing this post my radio was tuned to Maine Public Radio and I heard a news spot about our protest. They quoted Lisa Savage saying that Mainers have paid $2.5 billion toward the wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan since 2001.

Each of our speakers did a fine job of talking about the serious cuts facing education, health care, social programs and infrastructure across the state. Sadly up to this point those opposing the $438 million in education and social spending cuts in Maine's budget have called for tax increases to make up the difference. But the Democrat Governor John Baldacci has vowed to veto any tax increases and the state legislature has virtually discounted any "revenue enhancements". Thus no one across Maine has been talking about the real "elephant" in the middle of the room which is Pentagon spending and endless war. Today we broke that silence in our state.

Following our news conference a large group of us went to a legislative hearing room for a combined meeting of the state House and Senate Appropriations and Education Committees which are overseeing a massive slashing of programs. After a series of agency directors stood up and spelled out the cutbacks in their programs the floor was opened for public comments. At that point five of us from across Maine got up one after the other and talked about the creation of our Bring Our War $$ Home campaign before the overflowing committee hearing room.

In my brief statement I said that constituencies are now in competition with one another to save their particular program and this was no way to run a state or a country. I asked them if they could find a way to spend the $2.5 billion that Mainers have contributed to our wasteful wars. I ended with an appeal to all Maine politicians - local, state, and federal - to stand up and really represent their local constituencies by speaking out against war spending.

We can't have guns and butter anymore..... the public must demand that all elected officials find the courage to give voice to our growing opposition to endless war.

(Photos by Peter Woodruff and Roger Leisner)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

NATURAL GUARD NEEDED

* The terrible earthquake in Haiti is just one more reminder that we need a Natural Guard established to be a quick response unit to help people all over the world after these kinds of disasters happen. Instead of spending ga-zillions of dollars on our military we should be insisting that we use these funds to prepare to deal with the coming harsh reality of climate change. Climate experts are predicting that an angry, and increasingly ailing Mother Earth, will be thrashing about in pain which means more such natural disasters for the people of this planet. Instead of pouring money down the military rat hole we need the Natural Guard.

A good place to go if you wish to send a donation for humanitarian aid to Haiti is here

* The Associated Press is reporting, "The Obama administration plans to ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of a record request for $708 billion for the Defense Department next year." With our current 40 state fiscal crisis, and the need for a Natural Guard more than endless war, we find the magician in the White House going the wrong direction once again.

* In the good news department we just learned that the new space film Pax Americana: The Weaponization of Space has won the award for the Best Documentary at the Whistler Film Festival in British Columbia, Canada. I have seen a sneak preview of the film and it is a stunner. I am proud to say that it features Global Network members Karl Grossman, Loring Wirbel and myself. Not sure when it will be released in the US but people are going to want to show this film in their local community. It is going to be a huge help internationally for our side on this issue. It will also be aired on public TV throughout Europe.

NEWS FLASH: Pat Robertson, the right-wing Christian fundamentalist, had this to say today about the Haiti earthquake on his TV program called 700 Club:

And you know Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, uh you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True Story, and so the Devil said OK it’s a deal. And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they’ve been cursed by one thing after the other desperately poor. That island is Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On one side is Haiti on the other side is the Dominican republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc.. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. Uh, they need to have, and we need to pray for them a great turning to God and out of this tragedy. I’m optimistic something good may come but right now we’re helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable.

He is one sad, crazy, MF........

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WHAT TO DO WITH SUPERFLUOUS POPULATIONS?

Click on cartoon for a better view

Superfluous: exceeding what is sufficient or necessary; surplus; extra; spare

Monday, January 11, 2010

FIGHT INTENSIFIES ON JEJU ISLAND


The proposed Navy base on Jeju Island in South Korea

Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun from the Gangjeong village sits overnight in the cold outside government building in protest of Navy base plan

I try not to visit a place and then forget about the people and the struggle they are engaged in. Since my visit to Jeju Island, and the Gangjeong village last October, I have been closely following developments about the South Korean government's plan to build a Navy base where pristine coral reefs, fishing, and tangerine groves are now integral to the people's way of life.

The base construction is soon set to begin in Gangjeong. The villagers are currently setting up a tent camp along the rocky shore line where the Navy intends to pour concrete to cover the rocks and tiny marine life to make their wharfs where the Aegis destroyers will be homeported. The ships, from the South Korean and US fleets, are outfitted with "missile defense" systems and will surely be used to continue surrounding China's coastal region. Jeju Island, now called the peace island, will thus become a prime military target.

The coral reefs have been named by UNESCO as key environmental treasures that should be saved. Building a naval base on top of these wonders of nature will not ensure they will be protected. The traditional way of life in this small fishing and fruit growing community will be severly impacted.

Last night the mayor of Gangjeong, Kang Dong-Kyun, spent the whole night sitting in the cold outside the Jeju government building in protest of the decision to go forward with the construction of the base. When I visited his town Mayor Kang carefully showed our delegation around the site for the proposed base and took us out to dinner at a local restaurant. He spent this time with us because he hoped that it would translate into more people knowing about the Navy base fight and hoped that support would build across South Korea and beyond to help stop these deadly plans.

As I now hear about their protest heating up, as they prepare to face the bulldozers of destruction, my heart goes out to them. I wish I could join them in sitting in protest against this base. This Navy base will have a direct negative impact on our work to restrain US military expansion in the region and will ultimately provoke more conflict with China .

With that in mind I now intend to compile a list of organizations and concerned individuals from around the world who wish to voice their protest with the US and South Korean governments against this Navy base. If you would like to be listed on this letter please send me your name, group name, and your city/state or country. Write me at globalnet@mindspring.com

It is the least we can do.

REAL FOOD SECURITY


Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) recently visited the Permaculture Research Institute in Australia to check out the work of Geoff Lawton at Zaytuna Farm.

BANNED FOR SPEAKING THE TRUTH



Banned for bringing humanitarian relief supplies into Gaza and telling the truth about the Israel-US war on the Palestinian people

Sunday, January 10, 2010

OPENING THE DOOR - WIDE

I had a letter to the editor published in the Sunday edition of the Portland newspaper. It got the top headline in the letters section, a picture with it, and a box featuring a key quote from the letter. Can't ask for more than that.....especially when we are preparing for our news conference in Augusta next Thursday. Helps to focus the public and the media just a bit on the concern.

Yesterday MB and I traveled to the Boston area for lunch with friends and then a surprise 70th birthday party for one of her many aunts in their huge Irish-Catholic family.

While at our lunch visit with friends the man of the house said he wanted to start with some politics. We laughed and said "No...we didn't come here to talk politics...don't blame us if this heats up into an argument." It's a tradition of sorts that when we visit these dear friends that we always get into a bit of a tussle....he being more of a traditional liberal and us being a bit more "radical". He voted for Obama in the last election.

But much to our surprise he began by saying that he was fed up with the two-party system, that big business controls our government, and that no real change could happen in the country until our culture of greed and corporate domination ended. After picking ourselves up off the floor we congratulated him for his courageous statement. I suggested that it was clear analysis like his, coming from a small businessman and traditional Democrat, that could lead to serious break-through in American politics. If mainstream citizens began to give voice to these kinds of feelings (we know that privately many people share his thoughts) then all kinds of political possibilities can be imagined. It's basic physics I told him.

I urged him to write a letter to his local paper and share this feelings with the public. Many people are living in isolated despair thinking that their feelings are not common in our society and thus must be kept under wraps. His articulation can help break open the doors that are now locked in so many hearts.

Each of us must do our bit to stick our necks out just a bit more than we are presently doing. In the hallway of our house we have a poster that has a quote from historian Howard Zinn. It reads:

People are practical. They want change but feel powerless, alone, do not want to be the blade of grass that sticks up above the others and is cut down. They wait for a sign from someone else who will make the first move, or the second. And at certain times in history, there are intrepid people who take the risk that if they make that first move others will follow quickly enough to prevent their being cut down. And if we understand this, we might make that first move.

We owe it to the future generations to speak up now while we still can. It is the least we can do.