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 29, 2010

PLANNING UNDERWAY FOR BIG EVENTS IN NEW YORK THIS SPRING

I am staying at the home of long-time anti-nuclear activist Alice Slater in NYC. Last night we went to a meeting to plan for the April 30 - May 2 international grassroots conference and protest that will happen just before the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference gets underway.

About 150 folks showed up last night and it was good to see many old friends there. The events are being called "For Peace and Human Needs - Nuclear Disarmament Now!" See the website here

I have been involved in the planning process on the international committee which has been meeting for about a year via conference calls. Dave Webb (CND Vice-Chair in England and our Global Network Chairperson) and I have volunteered to coordinate one of the workshop tracks for the April 30-May 1 international conference that will be held at Riverside Church in NYC. We will also be doing a workshop on space issues.

Then on May 2 a march and rally will be held in the city. Many groups are now involved and thousands of activists will be coming from all over the world. It should be exciting.

One of the really good things that is happening is that the whole program is going to be about connecting the dots between militarism, human needs, and climate change. Nuclear weapons of course will be a key component of the event, due to the NPT Review Conference, but we are putting the nukes in the larger context of U.S. militarism. One point made at the meeting last night is that we have to talk more about how national (homeland) security needs to be redefined. How can we be secure when jobs, education, and social spending are being cut and we are not effectively dealing with climate change? How can we be secure when our civil liberties are in danger?

Housing will be a premium next May. If you are planning to come to NYC and need to get a cheap hotel room you might want to deal with that soon. You can find info on "cheap" rooms here

Thursday, January 28, 2010

OBAMA SAYS "SEND ME INFO"

The magician at work again - send me info if you have a good idea on how to deal with health care he said last night. But for the last 6 months he has done everything possible to ignore and discourage the single-payer community.......I call it bloviation.

UPDATE: The very next day Dr. Flowers gets arrested in Baltimore for once again trying to give the magician information on single-payer, since he does not seem to know anything about it!

ASSORTED BITS

* I am in New York city doing some advance work on our May 9 Global Network annual membership meeting that will be held here during the NPT Review Conference events at the United Nations. Just found a good catering service for the lunch that day. Hard to guess-timate how many will be there so far in advance. Am writing this from the huge public library on the 3rd floor where they have wifi connection. There is a wet snow outside.

* My trip to Jeju Island for next week has been cancelled since the Navy base construction "ceremony" appears to have been postponed for another month or so. No one is completely sure the reasons for the postponement of the ceremony but all the recent international solidarity very well could have had some impact on that decision. The South Korean government might think in a month or so most folks will have forgotten about the conflict. It gives the Gangjeong village a bit more time to continue expanding their base of support. I am hopeful that the wonderful video they made will soon be available to us in English. I would imagine it would help the cause alot to get that video out to supporters around the world.

* I watched Obama's speech last night and felt like the magician played it just as would be expected. He talked about creating jobs and then went on to talk about more tax breaks for corporations and of course refused to even go near the military budget. He introduced his freeze on everything except the military so I can't see how he is going to be able to create jobs while freezing spending and cutting taxes on the corporations. More of the same slight-of-hand.

* Another reason I came to NYC is to go to a basketball game on Friday night with my son. We will go see my lowly Wizards play just over the river in New Jersey. Then on Saturday morning I will fly to Boston where I will speak at an exciting New England Anti-War Conference. See more info about it here

* The Feb 13 Draw-a-thon, poetry reading, pot luck supper that will be held at 5:00 pm in Bath, Maine at the UCC church is getting more exciting every day. More artists are signing up to be involved as the word gets out. You are not going to want to miss this event. The event is being organized to support our statewide Bring Our War $$ Home campaign.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

THE CRUEL FOOTPRINT OF THE MILITARY BOOT


This time it is Guam, but it is just another sad example of what happens when the U.S. military doubles its presence in the Asian-Pacific region and decides to build more bases.

In this video University of Guam Professor Michael Lujan Bevacqua details the environmental and societal devastation ahead for Guam if the U.S. proceeds to expand its military bases there (they already cover 1/3 of the island).

What happens to the people who are displaced? What happens to the land that is destroyed? What happens to the plant and animal life that is destroyed?

In America it is easy for activists to find ways to avoid dealing with the military boot print that is impacting people living near the 1,000 U.S. bases around the world. Sure we need to take personal responsibility by reducing our consumerist life style back here at home. That is an important step. But that does not alleviate the suffering that is happening today.

We also must find ways to stand in solidarity with people around the planet who are literally pleading with us to help them deal with the U.S. military machine that is being paid for with our tax dollars.

We must get real. Why can't we do more to call for an end to U.S. militarism?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HOPIUM DRUG WEARING THIN

Obama's announcement that he will propose a three-year spending freeze on all federal programs except for "military, veterans affairs, homeland security, and certain international programs" [read CIA] is just more of the slight of hand we are growing accustomed to seeing from the magician.

The good cop - bad cop corporate dominated Congressional scene in Washington DC wants us to believe they now care about the "middle class". We know they gave up on poor people long ago. But these little mid-course adjustments are just intended to calm the voters down. There is no real change going to be coming our way. The only change we are going to see are the few pennies that fall on the ground while the corporate banksters are looting the national treasury.

The fact that Obama, the Democrats, and the Republicans all agree that the Pentagon budget must have a firewall built around it to protect it from any cuts is all the evidence any of us need about where this country is really heading. Obama is now preparing his 2011 budget and the weapons industry publication Defense News ran a headline on January 20 called "Defense Contractors are Confident About Fiscal 2011 Budget."

The word has already gone out from Obama and the Democrats who control Congress. The military industrial complex does not need to worry during this economic collapse. You will be taken care of. It is everyone else in America that needs to be worried.

The U.S. now spends more than the rest of the world combined on the military but still Obama is going to increase military spending in 2011, just like he did in 2010.

We will see more cuts in social spending but the military will be protected, just the way the Democrats and Republicans have taken good care of the banks and are now going to take good care of the insurance companies. And as their reward, following this bad Supreme Court decision on campaign finance reform, the corporations will kick some money back to the compliant political hacks in both parties who play the game the right way. It's called "the free market."

Right now the corporate agenda is putting us all into a box. They are reducing our options to make effective political change possible. It is without a doubt a return to feudalism - the 21st century variety where we get a car and a color TV.

The oligarchy is having fun right now watching us scramble around as we try to figure out what we will do in response to their policies. More people everyday are saying they are done with the Democrats, which is good, but Mr. Big has a trump card. They will throw out a Sarah Palin and watch the frightened liberals run back to Obama prior to the 2012 national elections. And the oligarchy will sit and laugh over that one and slap each other on the back and take a swig of their expensive champagne and take a deep draw on their fat Cuban cigars.

In the meantime the oligarchy will fund the likes of Glenn Beck on Fox News who has become adept at following his instructions to seed hatred among the people. His latest gambit is that "progressives" are the new version of the 1950's "commies under every rock" trying to subvert the nation. Beck is stoking the fires of hatred and making sure that the growing legions of working class poor people keep their eyes off the real enemy - the rich corporate fat cats who pay Glenn Beck's salary.

Obama is much like Glenn Beck in that he sold his soul to the corporations. He is doing their bidding and willingly selling his political base down the river for a chance to grace the halls of the White House. The power structure knew he was ambitious and they had thoroughly vetted him long ago and had nurtured his meteoric rise in American politics. He too is doing what he has been told to do.

The similarities between Obama and Glenn Beck are that neither of them seems to have a conscience.

Our only hope is that people reject both of these cards in the deck. We have to reject the good cop and the bad cop. We should boycott both parties. The Democrats are showing us daily (in Washington, in our state legislatures, and in our town governments) that they will not fight for the people. Why should we stand and fight for them any longer?

I see that the hopium drug is wearing thin out there in TV land. The people are finally waking up from their long sleep. We must make sure that once they fully awake that they see some real political organizing going on in their communities that is ultimately relevant to their lives. That is our job. Increase the political options. Increase the level of political dialogue. Articulate a vision for the future that offers real hope to the people.

Monday, January 25, 2010

LETTER TO SOUTH KOREAN EMBASSY

Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

January 26, 2010

Ambassador Yang Song-Chol
South Korean Embassy
2450 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington DC 20008

Dear Ambassador Yang:

We write in order to send you the enclosed list of 800 names [see blog entry below for the final list] from 31 countries representing peace, justice, environmental, religious, and education organizations. These signers of the “Appeal to Stop Navy Base Construction on Jeju Island” strongly urge your government to cancel all plans to build the proposed Navy base in the village of Gangjeong because of the obvious environmental damage it will do to the village, the water supply, the shore line, marine life, and to the UNESCO recognized coral just off the shore.

In addition it is our strong belief that the deployment of Naval Aegis destroyers (outfitted with so-called missile defense systems) and other warships on Jeju Island will be a destabilizing factor in the Asian-Pacific region as the U.S. and its allies (particularly Japan, Australia, and South Korea) are now moving to militarily surround China’s coastal region. This provocative action will only make the Asian-Pacific increasingly unstable as China today imports 80% of its oil on ships through the waters alongside Jeju Island. Your plan for the Navy base will help create the conditions that will lead to a new arms race in an already dangerous part of the world.

We also know with full confidence that the U.S. Navy will utilize any Naval base on Jeju Island as a port for its own Aegis destroyers and other warfighting ships which will in the end make Jeju, known as the “peace island”, a prime military target.

The signers of this appeal, all key activists and concerned citizens in their communities, are now pledged to follow this case closely on Jeju Island and to alert others about the dangerous plan to build the Navy base in Gangjeong.

By signing the appeal all the signers send their solidarity to the villagers of Gangjeong who are now struggling to protect their fishing and farming way of life from the devastation that would result from the construction of the Navy base.

We demand that the South Korean government immediately cease all plans for the Navy base. We call on your government to leave the people of Gangjeong to continue their peaceful way of life without further interruption or harassment from the police or the military.

We look forward to your prompt reply to our appeal, which we will forward, to our contacts around the world.

In peace,

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator


Copy to: President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

SOME TRUTH AND ENERGY FOR ONCE


Some interesting words from MSNBC TV's Ed Schultz who recently spoke at Minnesota progressive talk radio Blue State Bash at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

During his remarks, Schultz revealed that he recently had a testy confrontation with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (Gibbs appeared on Schultz’s show this past Thursday). “Mr. Gibbs and I had quite a conversation off the air the other night,” he revealed:

SCHULTZ: I told him he was full of shit.... is what I told him.… And then he gave me the Dick Cheney f-bomb. … I told Robert Gibbs, I said “And I’m sorry you’re swearing at me, but I’m just trying to help you out. I’m telling you you’re losing your base. Do you understand you’re losing your base?”

Shultz sounds like a real populist and while I think he has more faith in the Democrats than I do, this is an interesting video. I appreciate his passion.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

CRUISE TO HAITI?

PACIFIC ISLANDS MUST UNITE AGAINST MILITARY BASES

Totems near the spot where Navy base would be built on Jeju Island

* The Maine chapter of Veterans for Peace held its annual retreat this weekend about an hour north of where I live. It was basically a planning meeting for the August 2010 national convention of the organization. Veterans for Peace was founded 25 years ago in Maine so this convention next summer will be an important one. I have cleared my calendar so I can be a working volunteer prior to and during this event. There is alot to do in order to make it a successful convention. One of my jobs will be to help sell commemorative program advertisements. Get you check books ready.

* It appears that I will be heading to Jeju Island during the first week of February. Activists on the island have invited me to come and have offered to pay for my trip. I would be bringing with me the list of names of those from 31 nations (800 organizations and individuals) who have signed the international solidarity appeal. You can see the latest updated version of the list just below. Each day we are getting more emails from folks around the planet who are learning about the Navy base plan and who are looking for ways to support the people of Gangjeong village. Just today we heard from an American artist who is now on Jeju Island and wants to contribute her environmental art to the effort. We also heard today from a political science professor at American University who specializes in researching foreign military bases. So the word is getting around.

* Also in recent days there has been a flurry of emails between activists about the important connection between these base struggles on Jeju Island, Okinawa, Guam, and Hawaii. Each of these islands is being heavily militarized as part of the U.S. strategy to double its military presence in the Asian-Pacific. All of these places face similar issues of environmental degradation due to militarization. There needs to be a greater linking of these island struggles into a coordinated sharing of strategy and resistance. Maybe a good start would be a speaking tour of one person from each of these islands that would visit the U.S. , Europe, and beyond. I would bet that anti-NATO movements in Europe would be very interested in learning more about these island base campaigns as the ever expanding NATO offensive military alliance is now moving into the Asian-Pacific region.

* The Washington Post reports today:

In a small town election that may have a big impact on U.S. ties with Japan, voters in Nago on Okinawa island chose a new mayor Sunday who opposes the relocation of a noisy U.S. military air base to his town.

The United States and Japan agreed four years ago to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, now located in a dense urban area in the center of Okinawa, to Nago, a town of 60,000 in the thinly populated northern part of the tropical island. It was to have been built on landfill along a pristine coast on the edge of the town.

But to the exasperation of the Obama administration, that deal was put on hold last fall after the election of a new government led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who says Japan has been too passive in its dealings with the United States. Hatoyama has suggested that the base should be moved off Okinawa or out of Japan altogether -- and has also said that the outcome of the mayoral vote in Nago would be a factor in his government's final decision, which he has promised to make by May.

The Insular Empire Video Trailer