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, April 23, 2010

TAKE THE WAR $$ SURVEY


Thank you very much for taking this survey which is being done by peace groups in Maine. We will not use your name and only use it to evaluate public opinion. Please print it out and mail to us at address on the bottom.


1) As 45 states today face fiscal crisis, are you worried about our economy and your family's future?
Yes___ No___


2) Do you support the bailouts of the Wall Street banks and insurance companies?
Yes___ No___


3) A study found (UMASS-Amherst Economics Dept) that military spending creates fewer jobs than if we were to use tax dollars for home weatherization, education, health care, or building wind turbines or public transit. Would you support this idea of conversion to non-military production?
Yes___ No___


4) The U.S. now spends about $800 billion a year on the military, more than the rest of the world combined. Are you in favor of cutting the military budget to help deal with our national fiscal crisis?
Yes___ No___


5) Congress will be voting on another $33 billion for the wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan in the next few weeks. Do you support this funding?
Yes___ No___


6)If you are opposed to more war spending what do you think should be done to stop it? What will you personally do?



7) I am a:
Democrat____
Republican___
Green___
Unenrolled___


8) I am: Male___ Female___


9) I am:
18-30 years____
30-50 years____
Over 50____


10) In which town/state do you live?____________


Return completed surveys by May 17 to:

Global Network
PO Box 652
Brunswick, Maine 04011

APARTHEID IN ARIZONA DRAWS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE


Hispanics in Arizona are reacting to a new law that would allow the police to stop every person of color in the state.....a new movement is sprouting from the dry desert.

The chant "We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us" is a recollection of the reality that the U.S. illegally grabbed much of Mexican lands by military means many years ago. The chickens are coming home to roost as the empire now faces push back from the descendants of those Mexicans who had their lands stolen from them.

MILITARY SPACE PLANES - FIRST-STRIKE SYSTEMS

The new military space plane, called the X-37B, was launched yesterday from Cape Canaveral strapped to an Atlas V rocket. The X-37 will spend up to 270 days in space before landing at Vandenberg AFB in California. The space plane will mostly fly on "autopilot" since there is no human inside the craft.

Meanwhile yesterday at Vandenberg AFB, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) also test launched another space plane - the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle, known as the Falcon.

Analysts contend the Falcon is part of the Pentagon's effort to develop the capability to strike anywhere in the world with a conventional warhead in less than an hour - known as Prompt Global Strike.

Referring to the development of global strike weapons, the idea “really hadn’t gone anywhere in the Bush administration,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has served both presidents, said recently on ABC News. But he added that it was “embraced by the new administration.”

The purpose of the X-37B program is less clear, largely because it remains classified.

The Washington Times reports, "The actual expense [of the X-37] is hidden in the Pentagon's 'black,' or classified, budget - is likely to cost more than $1 billion. The launch vehicle alone - a two-stage, liquid-propelled Atlas V rocket - costs as much as $200 million. Ten years of development on the plane - as the project was shuffled from NASA to DARPA and finally to its current institutional home in the Air Force - is likely to have cost hundreds of millions of dollars more."

The development of these new space planes is one reason that the Obama administration and the Pentagon are eager to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles in Russia and China in the years to come. As key elements in the growing U.S. first-strike program, they become even more effective if the U.S. can get its potential rivals to reduce their nuclear retaliatory capability giving the Pentagon an ever greater chance of pulling off a successful decapitating attack.

Thus as the U.S. moves forward with these kinds of global strike systems it will be likely that Russia and China will be forced to respond by refusing to dramatically reduce their nuclear weapons and by developing new technologies to counter the U.S. program.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

SARAH PALIN WANTS $33 BILLION MORE FOR WAR

All you peaceniks and fiscal conservatives out there - it's time to urge your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to call their representatives in Congress with this message:

Oppose the $33 billion war supplemental bill coming up for a vote very soon

Congressional switchboard 1-877-762-8762

Whether it is a moral, fiscal, or legal argument that butters your bread - we need you to reach inside and find something to spur yourself to rattle your chains about more war spending.

How can the American people turn their heads away from endless war and pretend it does not exist?

How can liberals keep chasing after Sarah Palin and ignore the draining of the federal treasury for war under Obama and a Congress controlled by "your" Democratic party?

If you have any self respect left - do something to build the momentum to help end war.

It's your war, you are paying for it, and your country is collapsing all around us as you worry about Sarah Palin.

The truth is that if Sarah Palin was president today she would be asking for another $33 billion for war and you would be screaming about it!

IT'S EARTH DAY


Protect your mother....everyday

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WHO WILL SPEAK FOR THE FISH, THE CORAL, THE WATER?


Activists from Jeju Island, South Korea in 2008 held an action to oppose the construction of the Navy base in the Gangjeong village. Six people from the village went underwater and held banners amongst the colorful coral protesting the base and expressing their concern that the coral life would be destroyed by the Navy base and Aegis destroyers.

CALL NOW: Call the South Korean Embassy at 202-939-5692 (Admiral Choi) or 202-939-5600or email at consular_usa@mofat.go.kr

Tell the South Korean government that you oppose the U.S. and South Korean Navies building this base!

WHY MISLEAD ABOUT PENTAGON-NASA CONNECTION?

I was a bit surprised to hear Obama last week promote the Mars missions with such vigor. His call for manned missions to the red planet won't be cheap and you wonder how the nation can afford to pay for them. He intends to increase NASA funding by $6 billion over the next five years - one of the few budget increases in government discretionary funding.

Democracy Now did a short story on the Obama announcement and had Victoria Samson from the Secure World Foundation on to talk about it. Amy Goodman asked her about the military connection to NASA and she denied there was one. Anyone who follows the space program knows differently. Here is what she said.

AMY GOODMAN: We should say we’re talking to Victoria Samson at the Denver airport. She’s just coming from Colorado Springs from this meeting [annual aerospace corporation "National Space Symposium"]. Can you talk about the meeting and the uses that the Pentagon has for NASA? And when we talk about $6 billion, is some of that actually military spending but just sort of under the guise of giving it to NASA?

VICTORIA SAMSON: Well, no, I don’t think so. There’s a real separation of church and state between the United States Pentagon and NASA. They’re very careful not to combine the two. But on the other hand, you know, NASA uses rockets that the Pentagon uses for other sort of options, so when you look at the investment on heavy-lift sort of vehicles, solid rocket motors, things like that, there is sometimes a benefit for both sides. But I don’t think—the $6 billion over five years, that’s NASA funding. And if you look at it compared to what the United States Department of Defense gets, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to their annual budget.

Let me just list a couple of examples of the Pentagon-NASA connection:

1) NASA's space shuttle for years has put military satellites into orbit

2) NASA for years has done Star Wars technology and other military tests on-board the International Space Station

3) The 1994 Clementine mission to the moon, ostensibly to map the surface of the moon, tested Star Wars sensors for the Pentagon. The mission was jointly sponsored by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and NASA.

4) The space shuttle Endeavour, launched on January 31, 2000 from Cape Canaveral, did an 11-day radar Earth topology mapping mission that created high resolution 3-dimensional maps for 80% of the Earth’s surface. Few in the corporate dominated media though mentioned the fact that the Pentagon gave NASA over $200 million for the shuttle flight. Most of the high resolution maps created by the mission were classified TOP SECRET and were put under the control of the military. Most likely these maps have been used since in the 2003 "shock and awe" attack of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan to help direct targeting.

5) On April 22 the Pentagon will launch a test of the new military robot space plane, the X-37B, from Cape Canaveral in Florida. According to media sources, "The X-37B initiative leverages extensive and early NASA, DARPA, Air Force, as well as investments by its builder – Boeing Phantom Works. The funding level for the overall project is within the Air Force's classified budget."

There are zillions more examples of NASA-Pentagon collaboration. For Ms. Samson to claim there is a "real separation of church and state between the U.S. Pentagon and NASA" is an outright distortion of reality. Democracy Now should do a correction of this kind of serious misinformation.

There is no doubt that Ms. Samson knows better than this and one can only wonder if the Secure World Foundation has gotten so far into bed with the aerospace industry that they have no shame about becoming apologists for the military takeover of the space program.

TRAINED TO KILL

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CLOSE U.S. BASES!

On April 25, a people's gathering will be held in Okinawa to call for the closure of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the return of the land, and to oppose construction of another base elsewhere in Okinawa.

The US-Japan Security Pact signed by the mainland Japanese government resulted in Japan's consent of allowing the U.S. to force its unwanted military bases on the people of Okinawa. The U.S. bases have damaged Okinawa's rich environment, and created daily issues: noise pollution, accidents and crime, and the linked dangers of war.

The problems of the bases in Okinawa are not Okinawa's problem. They are, instead, a problem of those of us from the mainland who are forcing this burden onto the people of Okinawa.

We must seriously consider this issue now--more than ever.

If no site in mainland Japan is willing or planning to accept the bases in its own territory, then this burden must not be forced onto Okinawa. We cannot push the problem around within Okinawa and pretend that we are not aware that this is happening.

The U.S. Marine Corps must withdraw, and the Futenma Air Station must be closed.

The people of Okinawa are united in their opposition to the forced placement of the Futenma base in Okinawa.

- Copied from Ten Thousand Things

In Washington DC: The people of Washington, DC will show solidarity with the Okinawans with a rally, in front of the Japanese embassy, on Sunday, April 25 at 2 p.m. The embassy is at
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.

PLAYING GOD WITH OUR MOTHER EARTH

From Democracy Now:

Pat Mooney on the Dangers of Geoengineering and Manipulating the Planet to Combat Climate Change.

Supporters of geoengineering have proposed radical ways to alter the planet to decrease the level of greenhouse gas emissions. Proposals include creating artificial volcanoes to pollute the atmosphere with sulfur particles, fertilizing the oceans and placing sun-deflecting aluminum foil in the sky. But opposition is growing to geoengineering.

Here at the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change in Bolivia, the ETC Group is launching an international campaign against geoengineering experiments. We speak with the group’s founder, Pat Mooney, a Right Livelihood Award winner.

AN OLD FRIEND PASSES ON


* Our dear old dog Red was put to sleep yesterday and we will miss him badly. He was 15 years old and was the best dog I ever had. He had developed Cushings disease and in the past few weeks was losing his ability to stand up and walk around. Never did he complain, always his kind gentle spirit remained. We buried him in Georgetown in the woods along the marshland on land owned by our friend Rosie Paul. Our neighbor girl Leann, who has grown to love Red, dug the hole in the rocky soil. We wrapped him in my beloved red Navajo Indian rug that was one of my most favorite possessions. Native people believe that the best gifts are those hardest to give away.

* A few days ago I got a call from Sr. Mary Jude Jun from St. Louis, Missouri who told me she had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Then on last Friday, as my train headed south to Hartford, she called again and said the doctors had given her just a couple weeks to live. She told me she wanted me to know how much she supports the work of the Global Network and that she would be praying for us. Sr. Mary and I had never formally met but for many years she has been one of my most avid email friends. She would often send comments to the various emails I forwarded around and made an effort to share our space work with others living in her retirement center.

When I began to speak in Hartford on Friday night I began telling the story of Sr. Mary's call and that in her own time of great worry she was thinking of us and praying for our success. That kind of selflessness deeply touches my heart.

* The word from Jeju Island in South Korea is not good. The military has begun the process of buying up some of the land near the proposed Navy base in the Gangjeong village and tearing down some of the tangerine growing green houses. The military has also successfully forced the postponement of the legal case of the villagers that they hoped would help stop the base construction. On April 28 the military plans to hold a small ceremony to bless the construction crews, largely made up of the big corporation Samsung.

The people in the village are meeting every evening to monitor the situation and prepare to resist the construction process.

Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi has been in Gangjeong for several weeks writing about the situation. She reports, "This sudden whole elevation of tension cannot be done without the U.S. strategy and will to militarize the maritime border with the missile defense system, against China and to use the Jeju Island as one of her effective bases to invade the poorer countries, along with the bases in Okinawa, Guam, Tinian, Hawaii, and other areas."

You can see her photos and full reports here

TAKE ACTION: Call the South Korean Embassy at 202-939-5692 (Admiral Choi) or 202-939-5600 or email at consular_usa@mofat.go.kr

Monday, April 19, 2010

CONFLICT AT TEA BAG RALLY

TRIP REPORT TO CONNECTICUT & MASSACHUSETTS

At the Teach-in in Northampton, MA.

This report follows my short trip to Hartford, Connecticut and Northampton, Massachusetts to speak about the campaign I have recently been co-coordinating in Maine called Bring Our War $$ Home.

On April 16 I took the train to Hartford where I spoke to 50 people from the West Hartford Citizens for Peace & Justice. This group is led by the very enthusiastic Flo Woodiel who described herself as one of the “freeze ladies” from the days in the early 1980’s when the nuclear freeze campaign was blazing hot across the nation. The freeze campaign got its start in Massachusetts and Connecticut, as these two states were instrumental in creating the early momentum around the issue of ending the nuclear arms race.

Flo told me that since those glory days their local group had been looking for the “right” issue and had been yet to find it. They felt that the Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign made sense to them and helped to connect the dots to other key issues like defending social progress, dealing with climate change, creating jobs, as well as stopping the push for endless war.

In my talk I spelled out the basics of our four-month old Maine campaign that was topped off when Maine’s largest city (council) in Portland recently passed a resolution calling on our congressional delegation to Bring Our War $$ Home by a margin of 7-1.

I described to the Hartford audience how our goal in Maine has been to make war spending a local issue as communities struggle with the fiscal crisis that affects our state just like it does in 44 others across the country.

We have made it a priority to reach out to town councils, school boards, and the state legislature (where we have now secured 22 state senators and representatives signatures on a letter calling on our congressional representatives to vote against further war funding.)

A vote is expected in the coming weeks on another $33 billion war supplemental proposed by the Obama administration. That is on top of $137 billion already passed by Congress for 2010 war spending.

I left Hartford hearing promises that they would immediately begin working on the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign and would take the additional responsibility to reach out to other towns in their state with the understanding that these kinds of efforts work best if they can be spread throughout our states and be organized in a coordinated and cooperative fashion.

On April 17 I took an early bus to Northampton where I was met by peace movement legend Frances Crowe who is now 91 years old and still working hard. I had been invited to speak at a Teach-in called “Bring the War $$ Home” which was organized by The Alliance for Peace & Justice. Other speakers were Michael Klare (defense correspondent for The Nation magazine) and Sut Jhally (Professor of Communications at UMass).

In my talk to about 125 people at the event I again outlined the goals and organizing steps we took in Maine to build our war $$ home campaign. I shared with them some words from a recent surprise editorial on April 14 in the Midcoast Maine newspaper called The Times Record that said in part, “In the buildup to Tax Day locally, we had two [city council] presentations last week by local peace and social justice activists calling attention to how much our federal tax dollars are going to war funding….one could argue that Bath and Brunswick are ideally suited to having a robust and healthy debate about 'war dollars,' given the makeup of our local economies and communities….Why not schedule the public hearings that have been requested and give everyone – shipyard workers, retired and active-duty sailors, peace activists, apolitical taxpayers – the opportunity to weigh in on critically important questions concerning national priorities and how our tax dollars are being spent?”

I also shared copies of the Bring Our War $$ Home pizza-style door-hangers that we distributed on the weekend of April 10-11 in 17 communities across Maine.

Following my talk in the plenary session workshops were held and I led a well-attended session on the same theme as the Teach-in. During the workshop it became apparent that this particular issue was going to move quickly across western Massachusetts. Already the folks in Amherst have scheduled to take a war $$ home resolution to their city council on May 5. The town of Leverett is also planning to do the same very soon.

During the long bus ride back to Maine I began reading a new book that Frances had recommended I get called Beyond Vietnam: The Politics of Protest in Massachusetts, 1974-1990. In this book I read the story about the founding of the nuclear freeze campaign in western Massachusetts by Randy Kehler, Judith Scheckel, and Frances Crowe. Their work to bring freeze resolutions and referendums to the many towns across their state lit the fuse that forced the nuclear freeze movement into national prominence.

When I returned home I found an email waiting for me from the wondrous Frances that read in part, “Enormous thanks for coming and speaking exactly as we envisioned the talk. It gave the emphasis and energy we needed.”

It is clear that Frances, like Flo Woodiel in Hartford, feels that the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign is the right organizing ingredient for this particular moment in our country. Both of these veteran peace activists will now undertake the effort to create statewide campaigns, that along with our efforts in Maine, will help galvanize much of New England as people cast about looking for answers to our national fiscal crisis and concomitant attack on social progress.

It is our hope that activists around the country will explore making similar efforts to create Bring Our War $$ Home campaigns in their community.

For more details about the campaign see this web site at http://www.bringourwardollarshome.org/

Sunday, April 18, 2010

PAX AMERICANA & THE WEAPONIZATION OF SPACE





This new space issues film, now making its way around the world at major film festivals, features several of our key Global Network leaders.

Created by French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Delestrac, Pax Americana is now seeking a U.S. distribution deal.

Please help spread word about it.