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, August 21, 2010

SATURDAY SONG


Woke up in the middle of the night with my mind racing for a couple hours.....this song describes the event.

Dave Davies (The Kinks) sings the song written by his brother Ray.

A GENERAL'S TAKE ON WAR & CORPORATE CORRUPTION


A 48-page reprint of Gen. Smedley Butler's 1935 booklet War Is A Racket. Foreword by Cindy Sheehan. Each copy is autographed by Cindy and includes a free download link of the audio recording in a digital MP3 file format.

Order here: http://www.warisaracket.net/



Friday, August 20, 2010

TROOPS PUNISHED FOR NOT ATTENDING CHRISTIAN CONCERT

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) reports one soldier's account of the incident at Fort Eustis, Virginia in its recent newsletter:

The week prior to the event the [unit name and NCO's name withheld] informed us of a Christian rock event that was about to take place on Thursday the 13th.

On Thursday 13th at 1730 we were informed that instead of being dismissed for the day, the entire company (about 250 soldiers) would march as a whole to the event. Not only that, but to make sure that everyone is present we were prohibited from going back to the barracks (to eliminate the off chance that some might "hide" in their rooms and not come back down).

We were marched as a whole to chow and were instructed to reform outside the dining facility. A number of soldiers were disappointed and restless. Several of us were of different faith or belief. A couple were particularly offended (being of Muslim faith) and started considering to disobey the order.

From the dining facility we were marched back to the company area. There was a rumor circulating that we may be given a choice later on to fall out or attend. Though it was only a rumor it was also a small hope enough to allow us to follow along a little longer before choosing to become disobedient. We were marched back to the company area. To our dismay there was still no sign of us having a choice.

We started marching to the theater. At that point two Muslim soldiers fell out of formation on their own. Student leadership tried to convince them to fall back in and that a choice will be presented to us once we reach the theater.

At the theater we were instructed to split in two groups; those that want to attend versus those that don't. At that point what crossed my mind is the fact that being given an option so late in the game implies that the leadership is attempting to make a point about its intention. The "body language" was suggesting that "we marched you here as a group to give you a clue that we really want you to attend (we tilt the table and expect you to roll in our direction), now we give you the choice to either satisfy us or disappoint us." A number of soldiers seemed to notice these clues and sullenly volunteered for the concert in fear of possible consequences.

Those of us that chose not to attend (about 80, or a little less than half) were marched back to the company area. At that point the NCO issued us a punishment. We were to be on lock-down in the company (not released from duty), could not go anywhere on post (no PX, no library, etc). We were to go to strictly to the barracks and contact maintenance. If we were caught sitting in our rooms, in our beds, or having/handling electronics (cell phones, laptops, games) and doing anything other than maintenance, we would further have our weekend passes revoked and continue barracks maintenance for the entirety of the weekend. At that point the implied message was clear in my mind "we gave you a choice to either satisfy us or disappoint us. Since you chose to disappoint us you will now have your freedoms suspended and contact chores while the rest of your buddies are enjoying a concert."

At that evening, nine of us chose to pursue an EO complaint. I was surprised to find out that a couple of the most offended soldiers were actually Christian themselves (Catholic). One of them was grown as a child in Cuba and this incident enraged him particularly as it brought memories of oppression.


AlterNet reports that "MRFF works to protect the rights of U.S. armed forces personnel to be free from unconstitutional religious proselytizing."

The MRFF has recently picked up over 30 new clients, including some in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, who have turned to the foundation in reaction to what they feel is a dangerous climate of religious coercion. MRRF founder Michael Weinstein says all the new soldier clients are Christian Protestants, and he stresses that 96 percent of MRFF clients are Christians persecuted for not having the approved kind of fundamentalist beliefs.

This kind of pressure to adopt a militant Christian faith is increasingly becoming problematic in the U.S. military. Alot of it has to do with the fact that a high percentage of the Pentagon's officer corp comes from the south and are themselves Christian fundamentalists. The MRFF website has reported countless cases of this proselytizing inside the military as they try to develop a consciousness with the soldiers that they are fighting a holy war against Muslims.

Religious freedom - whether to have none or the one of your choosing - is under serious attack.

OFFEND ME WITH THE TRUTH

Thursday, August 19, 2010

LEARNING TO LIVE WITHOUT WAR

PERMANENT WAR ECONOMY


I was handed a copy of the Tuesday edition of USA Today newspaper last night. The cover story was "Military towns enjoy big booms". The opening line of the article read, "Rapidly rising pay and benefits in the armed forces have lifted many military towns into the ranks of the nation's most affluent communities."

"Soldier, sailors and Marines received average compensation of $122,263 per person in 2009, up from $58,545 in 2000."

Killeen, Texas, home of the Army's Fort Hood, is today more affluent than Austin, the state capital and university town 60 miles away. Manhattan, Kansas, home of the Army's Fort Riley, is the state's wealthiest metro area. In 2000, it was the poorest of the state's six metros.

Tell me killing is not profitable for some. Any doubt we have become a killing culture in the U.S.?

It's obvious to me that we value endless war more than we do public education or health care.

The article reports that from 2000 to 2009 military pay scales grew 84% while private-sector employees saw a 9% increase. Federal civilian workers during that same period saw a 37% pay increase.

The bottom line is that it pays well to risk your life for big corporate control, domination, and profits overseas.

For me this is one big tsunami of proof that the oligarchy in control of America has indeed made the decision that our role under corporate globalization will be "security export" - which translates to endless war.

If you are on the military industrial complex gravy train then you will do well. If not, then you are screwed. Is this the best use of our tax dollars? Is this the kind of nation we want to be? What does this say about the soul of the America? What does this say about the future for our children?

The only legitimate response to this is Bring Our War $$ Home.

Fight for social progress while you still can. Buy local.

RARE LOOK INSIDE THE TALIBAN

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NEWS BITS

"These gentlemen are the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers.”

— Ronald Reagan while introducing the Mujahideen (Taliban) leaders to media at the White House (1985)

  • Despite Obama's statement that the U.S. troops will be leaving Iraq by the end of 2011 (except of course the 50,000 soldiers we'd leave behind plus the legions of "private security" forces we'd pay for) Secretary of War Gates told reporters last week that if the Iraqi government asked us to stay longer we would.....of course we would. And they are likely to ask.

  • The impending US and NATO military operation in Afghanistan's Kandahar province will strengthen the Taliban, not weaken it, according to a new report. The report, written by the Afghanistan NGO Security Office, criticised NATO's counterinsurgency strategy as unsuccessful. It found that violence has spiked with insurgents staging 1,319 attacks in June, up from 611 in January - a 115 per cent increase. The number of civilians killed also increased by 23 per cent, compared to the same time last year.

  • The World Health Organization says that, of some 15 million people affected by the floods in Pakistan, only about 1.2 million had access to safe water supplies while, in the areas most affected by the flooding, 200 of 1,167 health facilities — including several hospitals — had been damaged.

  • A national space conference was held this week in Huntsville, Alabama with the theme "Enabling Regional Warfighters." In its 13th year, the event drew about 7,000 people who heard presentations on such topics as "A Regional Perspective on Missile Defense," "Operational Perspective of Space and Missile Defense," "Space - Enabling the Warfighter," "Cyber Innovation to Preserve our Decisive Advantage" and "Space, High Altitude and Cyberspace." Huntsville is the home of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the Army's Missile Defense headquarters. It was to Huntsville that many of Hitler's rocket scientists were brought after the end of WW II to build the U.S. space program under the direction of Werner Von Braun.

  • They are currently digging the 5th large hole in front of our house. Seems they like this spot very much. They either are forgetting to put the pipes in the ground the first few times or as one house mate suggests they have discovered gold under the street. Either way it is a dusty and noisy mess out there.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CONFLICTS AMONGST REPUBLICANS GROW


Former Florida Republican conservative congressman Joe Scarborough takes on his party for the Muslim bashing....it's really getting dirty out there as presidential hopefuls use these issues to ingratiate themselves with the tea party movement.

Obama at first glance made a good comment saying we can't dictate where places of worship can be built but since then he has back-tracked on the statement. Typical magician modus operandi.

TIME TO CHALLANGE ISRAEL'S NUKES TOO


Wikipedia describes Mordechai Vanunu as a former Israeli nuclear technician who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently lured to Italy by a Mossad spy, where he was drugged and kidnapped by Israeli intelligence agents. He was transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors. Regarded by peace activists as a hero for taking a stand against weapons proliferation, Vanunu has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize many times.

Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 years in solitary confinement. Released from prison in 2004, he became subject to a broad array of restrictions on his speech and movement. Since then he has been arrested several times for violations of those restrictions, including giving various interviews to foreign journalists and attempting to leave Israel.

In 2007, Vanunu was sentenced to six months in prison for violating terms of his parole. In response, Amnesty International issued a press release on 2 July 2007, stating that "The organisation considers Mordechai Vanunu to be a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate and unconditional release." In May 2010, Vanunu was arrested and sentenced to three months in jail on suspicion that he met foreigners in violation of conditions of his 2004 release from jail.

The Associated Press reports that an August 8 letter, signed by Arab League head Amr Moussa, calls on world powers to endorse a draft resolution noting "concern" over Israeli nuclear activities and pressing the nation to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and allow International Atomic Energy Agency audits. The Arab countries are expected to present the proposed resolution, titled "Israeli nuclear capabilities," at next month's IAEA General Conference meeting.

The letter was submitted to top diplomatic officials in China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, said diplomats affiliated with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Barack Obama warned in July that efforts to place unique pressure on Israel over its presumed nuclear arsenal could scuttle plans for a meeting on establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty's 189 member nations agreed in May to schedule a 2012 conference aimed at creating such an area.

Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month indicated they would "work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel" at next month's IAEA meeting. "Any efforts to single out Israel will make the prospects of convening [a regional nuclear weapon-free] zone conference unlikely," the leaders added in a statement.

The Arab League, though, contended it does not seek to single out Jerusalem.

"Singling out a state assumes that there are a number of states in the same position and only one state was singled out," the organization's letter states. "The fact is that all the states in the region have acceded to the NPT except Israel."

HITTING THE TARGET


I love these musical actions. They make me smile.

I don't shop at Target, or any of the other big box chain stores, so it is easy for me to boycott them. This is a great effort though.

It's fun to watch the customers...one of them at the end was clapping along with the music.

I wonder if any of them were thinking, "Hey Target is an exciting place to shop, they even have live music."

Hopefully someone was handing out leaflets to the customers.

Monday, August 16, 2010

IS IT IN THE PAPER?

We stopped subscribing to Maine's largest newspaper this past weekend when our subscription payment ran out. The Portland Press Herald was bought by a right-winger during the past year and the paper has been increasingly taking a strong turn in that direction. Not only was the cost of the subscription going up but the paper was shrinking in size and was being used to promote the tea party agenda.

We also get our local community paper (Times Record) but it only prints on weekdays. Thus we needed a newspaper on the weekend.

We've decided to take the Boston Globe on Sundays. It's a decent paper with more news in it than the Press Herald has. We got the Globe this past Sunday and I found an article in it entitled "U.S. now tries to use a scalpel to fight terrorism." A couple of paragraphs really jumped out at me. They read:

The Pentagon is becoming more like the CIA. Across the Middle East and elsewhere, Special Operations troops under secret "execute orders" have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies.


Such programs typically operate with even less transparency and congressional oversight than traditional covert actions by the CIA.

As American counter terrorism operations spread into territory hostile to the military, private contractors have taken on a prominent role, raising concerns that the U.S. has outsourced some of its most important missions to a sometimes unaccountable private army.

Many Americans have no clue this is going on nor do they likely care. They just want the "bad guys" killed no matter how it is done. They don't worry about the loss of accountability or democracy because they have very little opportunity or occasion to practice "democracy" in their busy lives anyway.

The oligarchy counts on this "distance" between voters and decision makers as a way to keep the public out of the gory details of foreign and military policy.

The one thing that stands the best chance of returning the public to the debate about U.S. war policy is the cost of the wars. The public now rates "economic issues" as their #1 concern. Our job is to help the public make this important connection between economic collapse and funding of endless war that is now costing more than $7 billion each month.

Sadly most of our newspapers don't help us make these important connections. We have to find ways to do it on our own.

Fortunately for us in mid-coast Maine our local Times Record has a forward thinking editorial page editor who recently wrote an editorial about these connections. He will also be moderating a community forum organized by PeaceWorks on September 16 in Brunswick to be called "Where do our tax dollars go: What price does our community pay for the military budget?"

Several other local peace groups in Maine are reaching out to their small community papers and asking them to help co-sponsor such an event. The more we get the local media involved in connecting the dots the better off we will be.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SUNDAY PRAYER


Concentrate on unity
community
oneness
of spirit
rather than division

We come from the light
we are all energy
atoms
some call it adams and eves

Others say infinite consciousness
eternal life
eternal light
against the infernal darkness

Humanity is waking up from the long sleep
of wondering
and living under the boot
of the darkness
and those who find their strength from it

We are all real equals
in the light
no matter our color
or size
or sexual orientation
or place of birth

From the consciousness
the awareness
that we are atoms
we become free
from the enslavement
of body
and the cruel indoctrination

we are transformed
to become an immovable force
change becomes possible

No longer living in chains
under the boot
of dictatorship
we are free
to love
and to refuse to kill
or hate

We become light
we reach out to it
and we are free