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, April 10, 2010

GODS OF MONEY

HANGING LAUNDRY

* Six of us went door-to-door in our city of Bath this morning and dropped 625 of the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign door-hangers. Some of us will go back out on Sunday to do some more.

It was quite amazing because we all returned to the Addams-Melman House within five minutes of each other. We each went to different parts of our town that has a population of 10,000. All of us were complaining of the same tired legs as we were up and down steps and hilly streets.

* The new documentary film called Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space is beginning to be seen around the globe. The other day I got an email from an old friend in France who saw the film on French public TV and was surprised to see me in it. Canadian Broadcast Corporation is now preparing to show the documentary and it is also scheduled to be featured in the Doxa Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver on May 11. See details here

Still no word when the film will be released in the U.S. I assume a distribution deal has not yet been worked out for the U.S.

* Baseball season has just started and my team (Baltimore Orioles), perennial door-mats in the American league Eastern Division, are off to a less than stunning start. Could be another long summer. The basketball season has about four games left and my team (Washington Wizards) are in last place in their division although last night they beat the powerhouse Boston Celtics in what I hope is a sign of better things to come.......in the next year or so.

* Info about the next $33 billion Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan war supplemental is starting to come out. A vote in the Congress on this should be coming sometime in the next month. See more here Now is the time to rattle your chains.

* Obama's nuclear deal with Russia calls for about a 30% cut in nuclear weapons, about the same amount that Ronald Reagan suggested in the early 1980's when negotiations broke down largely over the Star Wars issue. In today's world Russia fears U.S. expansion of "missile defense" deployments in their backyard and the ever growing expansion of NATO along their borders. Russia has stipulated that if the "missile defense" deployments continue they reserve the right to pull out of this new treaty.

Friday, April 09, 2010

THE CHILDREN SPEAK

GLOBAL NETWORK MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Sunday, May 9
Church Center, 777 U.N. Plaza, 2nd Floor
New York City

AGENDA

8:30 am – 11:30 am Global Network Annual Membership Meeting

- Introductions
- Financial report
- Coordinator report
- Planning for Keep Space for Peace Week - October 2-9, 2010
- Review of plans for India space organizing conference - October 9-12, 2010
- Board elections

12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch provided ($12 each)

1:15 – 1:30 pm Welcome by GN Chair Dave Webb (CND-UK)

1:30 – 3:45 Plenary Panel: Space Organizing Reports from Key International Activists

3:45 – 4:00 Closing words

*** This GN annual meeting is being held in New York City in conjunction with other international events centered around the U.N.'s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

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Registration form (Please clip and return to the address just below)
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__ I can provide home hospitality in NYC for people coming from a distance. Contact me.

__ I will be at the annual meeting for lunch. Enclosed is my $12


Name: ____________________________

Organization: _____________________

Address: _________________________

City/State: ________________________

Postal Code: _________________

Country:_____________________________

Phone: ______________________

Email: _________________________________

(One easy way to pay the lunch fee is by using the internet. Go to our web site at http://www.space4peace.org/ and look for the Donate Now! button and contribute via your credit card. In the comment section say it is for annual meeting lunch. This is a secure process.)

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com
http://www.space4peace.org/

Thursday, April 08, 2010

LITERATURE TO BE TAKEN DOOR-TO-DOOR ACROSS MAINE THIS WEEKEND

The Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home will distribute thousands of pieces of literature door-to-door this weekend (April 10-11) in 16 communities across the state calling on Congresspersons Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud to lead the effort in Congress to stop war funding.

The pizza-style door hanger literature spells out how taxpayers in Maine have already paid more than $2.5 billion since 2001 for wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Maine is now one of 45 states in fiscal crisis and the campaign makes the case that taxpayers and all elected officials must begin making the links between endless war and declining social progress in America.

“Since the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January, the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home has been working across the state to increase debate and consciousness about the detrimental effects of war spending. There will be no economic recovery in the U.S. as long as we continue to waste massive amounts of money on these quagmires. Our goal is to get citizens and local elected officials to begin to speak out about war spending as they face budget chaos in their communities,” said Bruce Gagnon from the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space – one of 18 organizations in Maine that are part of the campaign.

On April 5 the Portland City Council voted 7-1 in favor of a Bring Our Wars $$ Home resolution. The Deer Isle town meeting recently passed a similar resolution and 22 members of the Maine State Legislature have signed a letter to Representatives Pingree and Michaud urging them to work harder to end war spending.

The statewide literature distribution will be done in the following communities: Skowhegan, Arrowsic, Hollis Center, Farmington, Portland, Freeport, Georgetown, Windham, Bath, South Portland, Brunswick, Belfast, Brooksville, Bangor, Deer Isle, and Ogunquit.

See the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign web site here

WAR $$ HOME EFFORT IN BATH

This photo from the January 14 campaign kick-off news conference at the state capital

Last night thirteen residents from the city of Bath attended the weekly city council meeting in order to present the Bring Our War $$ Home resolution to our elected officials.

Led by Karen Wainberg, four local residents made short testimonies to the council regarding the importance of ending war spending. Karen told the council, "As our country faces ever-mounting deficits, government at every level is finding it harder and harder to meet the basic needs of people and the environment. We come to you, the city council, because we believe that war funding is a local issue."

She concluded her remarks with the following, "Real homeland security has nothing to do with our military interventions into Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our security depends on good jobs, health care, child care, a sound infrastructure, and good education for our children and our grandchildren that teaches them to think for themselves. Homeland security is about addressing climate change by building public transit, alternative energy systems, and weatherizing every home in the U.S. Then we wouldn't need to fight for control of oil in the Middle East and Central Asia."

After Karen spoke a local minister talked about how he and other Bath parents have been working hard to raise money to pay a $30,000 debt they incurred when their children won a local education contest and went to Iowa for the national competition. The parents have paid the school board back half the amount and he said the remaining $15,000 is what is spend on war every eight seconds.

The other two speakers talked about the severe effects climate change will have on our local community and the results of cutbacks in social spending on local populations. They both made the case that war spending cuts are immediately needed to order to deal with these real crisis situations here at home.

The city council refused to take any action on the proposed resolution or to schedule a public hearing on it as Karen had requested in her opening remarks. When she got home last night she got a phone call from one of the city councillors who told her he was saddened by the chilly reception by the council and that he felt a public hearing should be held. We plan to continue to press for such a public hearing.

This morning I got an email from Herb Hoffman who lives in Ogunquit (southern Maine) saying that two letters to the editor were in his local paper today about his successful effort to put the war $$ home resolution on their Town Hall Meeting agenda for this June.

We also heard yesterday that efforts are underway in other Maine communities to address the resolution. We also learned that two more members of the Maine State Legislature have signed onto a letter to Congress demanding that they become leaders to Bring Our War $$ Home. There are now 22 members of the State Legislature that have signed onto the letter.

Last night's Bath City Council meeting will be aired on local public access TV so many residents in the community will have the opportunity to see the presentations. This weekend activists all over the state will be dropping 8,000 pizza-style door hangers in their communities that call on our elected officials to Bring Our War $$ Home.

Maine activists have been working hard, and in unison, all over the state to create more consciousness about the need to link war spending and our state's fiscal crisis. Our hope is that activists in other states will organize similar efforts.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

MORE CIVILIANS KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN


When will the Democrats pull the plug on this war? When will the Democrats stop wasting our war $$$?

Will the base of the Democrats stay home in the next election figuring that they have been betrayed by Obama and those war mongers who control the Congress?

How can anyone claim that the Democrats have been much different from the Republicans on endless wars? Or on off-shore oil drilling.....or corporate health care bills.....or continuing endless detentions in Guantanamo or assassinations overseas......or expanding U.S. military bases in Italy, Guam, South Korea, Okinawa........or increasing military spending to record levels......

CORPORATE MINING CEO ALSO TEABAGGER FUNDER


Meet Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy Company. Blankenship is also on the Board of Directors of the US Chamber of Commerce. In this speech above, he denies climate change and says that “the greeniacs are taking over the world.”

Massey Energy Company, Blankenship’s highly successful strip-mining and mountaintop removal operation is the parent company of Performance Coal Co, where a tragic explosion occurred on April 5th. As of this writing, 25 miners have died and 4 more are still missing.

Here’s something else about Don Blankenship and Massey Energy Company: Blankenship spent over $1 million dollars along with other US Chamber buddies like Verizon to sponsor last year’s Labor Day Tea Party, also known as the “Friends of America Rally.”

On Monday, 25 miners were killed and left four others trapped underground at the Upper Big Branch Mine. It is the worst mining disaster in the United States since 1984 and, if the four trapped miners are not rescued, would become the worst since 1970. The Washington Post reports, “[t]he cause of Monday’s explosion has not been determined, but a buildup of methane or coal dust was considered the likeliest culprit.”

The Upper Big Branch mine received 39 violations in 2009 citing a failure to plan for ventilation to extract methane and other chemicals. Fifteen of these were considered “significant and substantial.” In July of 2009, the mine received its largest monetary fine of the year ($66,142) for allowing the accumulation of combustible materials in working spaces. Upper Big Branch received 34 similar violations citing accumulation of combustible materials, 20 of which were determined to be “significant and substantial.”

Massey Energy has contested nearly all major citations issued against the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2009 and has paid less than 20% of the fines levied against them. Of the top 100 fines levied against the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2009, Massey Energy has contested or are delinquent in paying 85% of them. Upper Big Branch was also cited for 202 violations that were considered “significant and substantial.” Seventy-six percent of those have either been contested or Massey Energy is delinquent in paying them.

- Reprinted in part from article called CEO of Mine Where 25 Workers Were Killed Is a Teabagger

ON HEARING BECK

On the way back to Maine today we listened to a couple of hours of Glenn Beck on the radio spewing his lies and deception. Beck was complaining about several groups (Jewish, Christian, and unions) who are calling for boycotts of his show and its sponsors. As usual he was name-calling anyone who disagrees with him - Marxists and Communists and the like.

He denied ever having said that people should go to their church web site and if they saw the words "social justice" they should run away fast from that church. MB and I had a good laugh over that one because we had both heard him on TV make that very statement on several occasions. It is obvious that when people stand up to Mr. Beck he squirms like a worm.

Last night we met peace walkers who had just arrived in North Andover, Massachusetts. We joined them for a pot luck supper and then afterward I spoke to the folks who had gathered. It was really a great chance for me to link with activists in that community. The weapons corporation Raytheon has a production facility nearby where the Patriot (PAC-3) "missile defense" system is built. I told them about the peace movement efforts in Japan and South Korea to protest against the PAC-3 deployments there that are being aimed at China.

Obama has recently approved a deal where Raytheon will sell Taiwan these same PAC-3 missile defense systems. It's a Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse as the U.S. continues to arm Taiwan and to essentially use that country as our own military base right off the Chinese mainland. If Obama was truly serious about reducing nuclear stockpiles he would not be selling Taiwan weapon systems that are integral to the U.S. first-strike attack program. China has only one possible response to the U.S.-Taiwan deployments of PAC-3 in their backyard - build more nuclear weapons as the real job of PAC-3 is to take out China's nuclear retaliatory capability after a U.S. first-strike attack.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

PORTLAND CITY COUNCIL PASSES WAR $$ HOME RESOLUTION

Last evening the Portland (Maine) City Council voted 7-1 to pass the Bring Our War $$ Home resolution. Portland is the biggest city in Maine.


CITY OF PORTLAND

IN THE CITY COUNCIL

RESOLUTION ASKING THE U.S. CONGRESS TO END THE EXPENDITURE OF OUR CITIZENS’ TAX DOLLARS FOR EXCESSIVE AND UNAFFORDABLE WAR FUNDING


WHEREAS, the financial resources available for use by governments at the local, county, state and federal levels in the United States are and must be limited; and

WHEREAS, the people of Portland, Maine are collectively paying or becoming indebted for approximately 15 million dollars per year of their limited financial resources for warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan; and

WHEREAS, such expenditure is inordinate to the identified public benefits to Maine and the nation; and

WHEREAS, this warfare too often creates great and unnecessary harm to U.S. military personnel and their families, and to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan; and

WHEREAS, essential public services such as education, infrastructure repair, family and small-business financing, and community policing in Portland and throughout the State of Maine have been substantially reduced while an excessive portion of available financial resources is diverted from the constructive economy to largely unnecessary warfare.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

THAT the City of Portland, Maine respectfully requests that the U.S. Representative from the First Maine Congressional District and both of Maine's U.S. Senators oppose all legislation brought before the 111th U.S. Congress that provides further funding of the U.S. warfare and U.S. military occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan; and that the City of Portland, Maine also urges these members of Congress to take strong and forceful action to influence the U.S. Congress to terminate funding of these military operations.

LICENSE TO KILL


Our collective American heart is cold as we allow this murder and then repeatedly call the soldiers who do these things "brave heroes" which only gives them further license to keep killing.

It's been happening by the U.S. military since the Native American carnage. And it continues today in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When will it end? Only when the American people come alive and speak out in utter outrage against this murder of innocent human beings.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

MLK'S OWN WORDS ON WAR

MLK was killed, I believe, because he had crossed the line to speak out against U.S. imperial wars. He was also rumored to be considering at the time running for president with Dr. Benjamin Spock (a key leader of the peace movement) as his vice-presidential running mate.

A King-Spock team would have united the black and white activist movements that were so strong during the late 60's. It was then that the decision was made to take King out.

I highly recommend the book called Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr by William Pepper. I read it some years ago and it was a life-changer for me.

See it here

I am convinced that in America the oligarchy lets you speak out (it helps maintain the illusion of democracy) until you become a real threat to their power. In the case of MLK, the decision was made that he was going to seriously challenge the power of those who run the show.