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, August 06, 2010

ATTACK ON IRAN GOING TO HAPPEN?


A group of former FBI and CIA officials (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) have sent a memo to Obama stating that Israel will bomb Iran later this month.

Michel Chossudovsky (Centre for Research on Globalisation) says that it would be impossible for Israel to launch an attack on Iran without the U.S. and NATO's green light and military support.

Chossudovsky calls war with Iran a "World War III scenario" and says the only way to prevent it is to speak out loudly now before it is too late.

The U.S. corporate war machine wants to get its greedy hands on Iran's oil and natural gas - that is the bottom line.

GETTING ALONG



Great cartoon by W. B. Park, the artist who illustrated my book. We've been friends since the early 1980's. He lives in Central Florida and has been one of the constants in my activist life all this time. He is a great humanitarian.

See his essay that went along with the cartoon here

REMEMBERING THE PEOPLE AND THE WORDS USED TO JUSTIFY MASS KILLINGS

After the bomb fell in Hiroshima, Japan


Today is the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. On August 9 we will remember Nagasaki. I think it is important during these days to recall that the USA is the only country in the world to have ever used nuclear weapons against another people. That should temper some of the self-righteousness as our government lectures some nations about the evils of nukes.

Massive spending on nuclear weapons goes on today at the Department of Energy laboratories in the U.S. New generations of military systems - from robotics, drones, cyber warfare, space weapons technology, nano-technology, and more - are being developed that will give the Pentagon the ability to kill on an even grander scale.

All in the name of liberty, freedom, and democracy.

When I was a kid growing up behind the barbed-wire fences on military bases I internalized those words. I thought I was patriotic. But after many years I have learned that those words have other meanings.

Freedom really means unrestrained capitalism. The military's job is to clear the path for corporate globalization which is mega-capitalism. Bulldozer capitalism that takes what it wants and destroys what it doesn't need.

Democracy means a Disney World-like place where the illusion of "control by the people" is held up but the reality is much different. Again the corporations run the show in the real world.

Liberty is for those who can pay for it. The legal system works for those with the most money. Free speech is for those who can afford to buy it. Freedom to protest is manipulated and allowed when it suits the interests of those in power. The recent denial of our international space conference by the supposed "democracy" in India is just one example.

I will spend the day tomorrow at the 6th annual Peace Fair in nearby Brunswick that is being organized by the local group called PeaceWorks. I've been asked to put up our Bring Our War $$ Home banner at the event.

During these coming days I will be thinking about those who needlessly died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the U.S. "tested" its nukes on human beings.

I will also be thinking more about these words that are used to hide and justify the real intentions of U.S. military power - corporate domination of the people and the Mother Earth.

All wars must end.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

ARSENAL OF HYPOCRISY GROWS

  • I'm stuffing envelopes with our latest Keep Space for Peace Week flyer and poster. The mailing will go out to hundreds of our key local activist contacts around the world. This year our space week of local events will be held during the period of October 2-9. We also hope to have DVD copies of the new documentary film Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space. Already Bob Anderson in Albuquerque, NM has lined up a showing at a local theatre for the film which won best documentary at the Whistler Film Festival outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. My next steps will be to begin collecting the list of local events held during space week. Let me know ASAP if you plan something in your community.

  • U.S. nuclear hypocrisy rears its ugly head again. Obama's administration is reported to be in advanced negotiations to share nuclear fuel and technology with Vietnam in a deal that would allow the nation to enrich its own uranium. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the U.S. state department-led negotiations could upset China, which shares hundreds of miles of border with Vietnam. Nukes are OK for Israel, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and other "allies" but not Iran or North Korea. Do as I say, not do as I do is the operating principle at work here.

  • The Washington Post recently reported:

The United States is also collaborating with Israel and friendly Persian Gulf nations to establish and improve their antimissile abilities. Two years ago, the U.S. military established a radar facility in Israel and plans to do the same in a nearby Arab nation.

Antimissile operations in Israel, the Persian Gulf and Europe are technically independent and in varying phases of preparation. However, they are each designed to interact with command-and-control programs run by the U.S. armed forces.

The U.S. Navy last year began fielding Aegis-class cruisers and destroyers outfitted with ballistic missile interceptors in the Mediterranean Sea. These warships are anticipated to serve as a first and essential component of the Obama administration's "phased adapted approach" to Europe-based missile defenses.

These "missile offense" developments will be the theme of our Keep Space for Peace Week in early October. They are not really aimed at Iran but in fact will be used against Russia and China.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

GEARING UP FOR NATIONAL VFP CONFAB

Last night we took our Iraqi refugee friends (mother and two sons) to a fundraiser at Flatbreads Pizza in Portland. For every pizza sold at the jam packed restaurant, Maine Veterans for Peace (VFP) would get a donation toward the 25th anniversary national convention that will be held at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland on August 25-29.

We had a good number of Maine VFP members with their families stuffing themselves. In addition the restaurant allowed us to set up a table at the entrance where we could peddle our new Americans Who Tell the Truth calendars and other assorted propaganda.

I will be working with Clarence Smith to coordinate the volunteers for the conference. We are going to need a bunch of people to help out, particularly packet stuffing on Wednesday, Aug 25 so if you can help please send me an email at globalnet@mindspring.com

In addition to veterans, the public will be invited to several key convention events that include:

  • Thursday, Aug 26 - Public meeting at the UU Church (425 Congress St in Portland) at 7:00 pm. Speakers will include Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), acclaimed author Terry Tempest Williams, and representatives from many different progressive constituencies. Entertainment will be provided by Inanna, Sisters in Rhythm.


  • Saturday, August 28 - Banquet at the hotel featuring award winning journalist Chris Hedges, former Army Col. Ann Wright (who was on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla), along with Noel Paul Stookey, of the revered group, Peter, Paul and Mary. Starts at 7:00 pm. Registration info here


  • Sunday, August 29 - The traditional conference finale march and rally through the streets of Portland's Old Port. Starts at the hotel at 9:00 am and concludes before noon. Emma's Revolution and ResistDance will perform along with some great grassroots activist speakers from all over the country.

It's going to be a great conference and comes at an important time as we are trying to jump-start the anti-war movement after nearly two years of lagging under the magic spells of Obama. Hope you will find the time to participate in some of these public portions of this historic 25th anniversary event.

Remember national VFP was founded here in Maine in 1985.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

WOMEN SPEAK OUT IN AFGHANISTAN


Things are worse for women today in Afghanistan. Hear the women tell the story.

Public support for President Obama's Afghanistan war policy has plummeted amid a rising U.S. death toll and the unauthorized release of classified military documents, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.

Support for Obama's management of the war fell to 36%, down from 48% in a February poll. Now, a record 43% also say it was a mistake to go to war there after the terrorist attacks in 2001.

OTHER KOREAN LANDS BEING TAKEN FOR U.S. MILITARY


Beside Gangjeong villagers in the Jeju Island, here are other villagers near the Korean DMZ, who are suffering from the invasive US-SK war alliance and fighting hard to save their hometown.

In the night of Aug. 1, 2010, more than 100 people gathered in the vigil tent of village called Ohyun-ri, City of Paju, the nearest city of the Korean DMZ in the Gyunggi Province, to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the villagers’ candle vigil to fight against the expansion of the Mugeon-ri military training field nearby Ohyun-ri. Even though, two years have passed since the candle vigil, the villagers and activists’ will have been never faded but kept stronger.

Yoon Han-Tak, Co-Chairman of the Villagers’ Committee against the Expansion of Mugeon-ri Military training Field, saying, “ Holding candles, we should think of the Ohyun-ri in the past, present and future,” claimed that, “ Unless this beautiful land abandons us, we, the people who were born in this land should never abandon here.”

By Sung-Hee Choi

IRAQ SLIGHT OF HAND


President Obama said Monday in a speech before the Disabled American Veterans national convention in Atlanta that the US military is on target to withdraw all its combat troops from Iraq by the end of August.

Democracy Now speaks with independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, who says this instead marks the beginning of a downsized and rebranded occupation that will rely heavily on private military forces.

Watch both of the magicians hands.

Monday, August 02, 2010

THIS IS HOW FASCISM BEGINS


'Attrition by enforcement' is the name of the game in Arizona. The goal is to dissuade undocumented immigration by making life unbearable for the undocumented already living in Arizona. Desert tent jails and arbitrary checkpoints are two of the tactics used to strike fear into the undocumented with the goal of deterring others from coming.

Ecuadorian filmmaker Oscar León, who has been covering this issue from Arizona for the past three years, points out that the undocumented can't possibly be separated from the documented Latino population without a police state, and Arizona has been developing it's own version long before the controversial SB1070 law was on the map.

Analysis: The corporations move jobs overseas by the millions and Americans are angry. The corporate controlled media and political system direct the anger toward Mexicans and other immigrants as if they were the cause of this economic collapse. Racism is used to fuel the anger and resentment of the white working class who are losing their jobs. Sadly they willingly take the bait....a race war is being created in order for the ruling class to escape from responsibility for the economic mess they have created. People have a moral obligation to not allow themselves to be pitted against others in this way. How is this different from Hitler turning the Germans against the Jews? Wake up people.

INDIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS NO TO GLOBAL NETWORK SPACE CONFAB


A billboard in India touting their expanding space program


We heard this morning that our October international space organizing conference that was to be held in Nagpur, India will not happen. For some strange undemocratic reason, our Indian hosts had to have the permission of their government in order to hold such an international peace confab. After shuffling the Indian organizers from one government office to another, the word finally came down from the External Affairs Ministry that it could not happen.

There is likely a connection between Obama's planned trip to India next November and them turning down our conference for October. There can be no doubt that the Indian government feared angering the U.S. by allowing such a conference to happen just before Obama's trip. It is no secret that the U.S. has for several years been pushing India to develop a Space Command and to become a junior partner in the Pentagon's growing Star Wars program.

Just a month ago we published our Space Alert! newsletter which had an article by Global Network board member Matt Hoey. The article was called "India Developing Space Weapons" and the opening paragraph read:

Indian military officials have set a target date to deploy an ambitious anti-satellite (ASAT) system, according to a report released in May by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The report, titled Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap (TPCR), states that the "development of ASAT for electronic or physical destruction of satellites in both lower earth orbit (LEO) and Geo-synchronous orbits" can be expected by 2015.

After publication of our newsletter Matt put his article up on several international web sites and there was an immediate response from the Indian government which strongly denied that they were pursuing an anti-satellite weapons test. I imagine this sequence of events might have made the Indian government a bit more worried about the potential of our October conference to expose their space weapons development plans even further.

I must ask, what kind of government that calls itself a democracy forces NGO's wanting to hold a peace conference to have to request permission in the first place? That kind of politics sounds more like a totalitarian dictatorship to me.

The U.S. aerospace industry sees the potential of the Indian space market and drools with delight. Despite the fact that India has 300 million people living in poverty, their growing economy represents a big market for the U.S. aerospace industry. And considering that India borders China, who the Pentagon is now militarily surrounding, ensures that the U.S. military sees the Indian continent as one more key outpost in its global military empire.

Sadly, we see that India is now on its way to becoming another military colony of another declining empire. Mahatma Gandhi would be rolling over in his grave if he could see the steps that India is taking today to join the U.S. in the space militarization game.

In it's 18th year of organizing such international space conferences, the Global Network has never had this experience of one particular country essentially blocking us from holding an educational meeting. Alternatively our Indian hosts have decided to go forward and still hold a conference anyway, albeit a national one rather than international. It is good that they plan to keep expanding the consciousness in their nation about the dangerous and provocative plans and consequences of India joining the U.S. Star Wars program.

Luckily the Global Network did hold an international membership meeting in New York City this past May during the UN's NPT Review Conference. So we were able to take advantage of the fact that many of our members were in New York for those events and we could meet and share information with one another.

We will now move ahead and begin work on our annual Keep Space for Peace Week of local actions during the period of October 2-9.

You can see the poster for our 2010 space week here

Sunday, August 01, 2010

CAN'T KILL THE SPIRIT


  • We went to a great fundraiser last night for a Gaza children's water purification and desalinization project. I heard that 175 people turned out at the church in Brunswick for the event to raise money for the Middle East Children's Alliance. Volunteers cooked food for a couple days in advance and a silent auction was held. Fateh Azzam, a Palestinian born in Lebanon, did a presentation about the expanding Israeli "settlements, checkpoints, and wall" that are now breaking the Palestinian lands into fragments that will ultimately prevent there ever being a contiguous Palestinian state. There is a strong and steady Middle East justice organizing movement here in Maine. The speaker asked the audience what former Sen. George Mitchell (from Maine) was doing in his job as Obama's "Middle East envoy" - the audience just laughed. We were all taught during the Cold War that walls were bad and only used by Commie types to deny freedom and such. Today U.S. taxpayers subsidize the construction of the walls around Palestinian lands and we remain much too silent.

  • I sent around an article yesterday from the right-wing Washington Times entitled "Defense Review Calls for Navy Buildup". The report by an independent panel, headed by former White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley (previously a Lockheed Martin executive) and former Defense Secretary William Perry, called for expanding the U.S. Navy from 282 ships to 346 warships. The most important line in the article to me is the one that calls on the U.S. to deal with threats from rising powers in Asia and to confront "an accelerating global competition for resources." They are really talking about China and it is obvious that Naval expansion becomes a key military strategy - thus the need for additional ports of call in the Asian-Pacific like the proposed base on Jeju Island in South Korea and new facilities in Guam. How would Congress pay for an expanded Navy? More cuts in social progress - particularly Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.

  • Noise report: Today the work crews have a day off so it is calm outside. No heavy dust flying around. They finished working directly in front of our house yesterday afternoon so they will move on down the street on Monday. While walking yesterday some neighbors pointed out to us that several trees in their yard by the road will be cut down. Sometimes I wonder if outhouses and hauling water was really so bad after all.