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, October 23, 2010

WE'RE NOT #1 ANYMORE?

Friday, October 22, 2010

LEARNING TO LEARN THE RIGHT WAY


This animate was adapted from a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert.

RECRUITING CENTER ACTION

Protest on Saturday, Oct. 23, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm

I will be heading south to Kittery, Maine tomorrow for a demonstration at a new military recruiting center. Here are the details:

Protest at the main gate of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Walker Street in Kittery, Maine - a demonstration in opposition to the new multi-million dollar army recruiting battalion headquarters being built on the shipyard grounds.

A Regional Recruiting Battalion Headquarters is currently being built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. They will be targeting our youth regionally for recruitment and we will be there to protest! We will be carrying signs protesting this new aspect of the shipyard. We suggest slogans such as, "Keep our kids innocent" and "I don’t want to sell my soul to the Army" or "Killing civilians is not in my future."

This event is sponsored by New Hampshire Peace Action, Peace Action Maine, the New Hampshire and Maine chapters of Veterans for Peace, and Seacoast Peace Response.

For more information contact Will Hopkins, Director, New Hampshire Peace Action, 603-225-0559 (office) or 603-254-4727 (cell).


THE ROADS OF AMERICA

A friend of mine, Tom Weis, is riding his bike across the country to organize support for a green future. On his blog he says the following, "On September 12, 2010, I began biking from Boulder, Colorado to Washington, DC, calling for a modern day, green energy moon shot for America: a 100% U.S. renewable electricity grid by 2020. For the next two months, I will be pedaling solo 2,500 miles to Washington, DC on my futuristic, electric-assist rocket trike.

"It’s time for a new national conversation about our energy future, one I intend to have with everyday Americans I meet on Main Street, America. This ride is about the American people 'taking back our power' by demanding a green industrial revolution that will put unemployed Americans back to work, reestablish our role as world economic leader, and help ensure future generations a livable planet."

I met Tom years ago when I lived in Orlando, Florida. He was organizing on environmental issues and I was working on peace/space issues. We both are still at it and have stayed in touch over the many moons that have passed since then.

He has obviously determined that the time has come to go back to the grassroots in order to stir the imagination of the public in order to refocus them on what is needed if we are to get out from behind the eight ball. I think he is right.

Similarly the peace walk that I am now working on comes from the same organizing analysis. We need to be out on the streets reaching out directly to the public stirring their hearts and moving them to action.

Last night, as I dragged my worn out body into bed, I got a phone call from a woman in Belfast, Maine. She had seen a flyer about the peace walk at the Reny's department store where she works. She wants to participate and was so excited about the idea of the walk that I got charged up. She said she was going to talk to everyone at work about it.

This is what we are looking for. Here we are just a couple of weeks away from a national election where you'd hope the candidates would be talking about these issues but they are not because the two war parties are under the grip of the corporations that make money off our addiction to oil and militarism. But obviously there are people out there, like the woman who called and the legions of people Tom is meeting on his bike ride, that care about the future and are looking for some way to get connected to real solutions. They are looking for hope and change.

This is the job of an organizer and the groups we work with - it's our job to create ways for the public to see us, to get excited by the energy of our events, and to then be inspired enough to take our message to others in their life like the woman who works at Reny's is doing.

Tom will be blogging during his bike ride and I will be a regular reader because I too need to be recharged by good old fashioned grassroots organizing. Keep peddling Tom, just like I will soon keep walking here in Maine.

And while I am walking I'll be telling folks that the only way our nation can afford to fund Tom's excellent vision of a "green industrial revolution" is to stop our wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan for oil and to Bring Our War $$ Home.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

ISRAELI SOLDIERS SHOOT KIDS FOR PICKING UP RUBBLE


Some would call this genocide......

WHICH PART OF GOVERNMENT IS TOO BIG FOR YOU?

GETTING CLOSE TO HOME

Space week advertising on a door in Walpole, Massachusetts


I am at the Newark airport waiting on my flight to Boston. My flight from India got in at 4:00 am....for once I actually slept some on the plane. I am groggy though.

From Boston I take a bus to Portland where MB will pick me up for the final leg home. It's been a long trip and I am ready to go home.

I watched four movies on the plane. I gave my mind a rest from reading and such and just zoned out on the films. One of them that I watched was the Iraq war movie called the Hurt Locker....I was not overly impressed with it.

Once home, and rested up a bit, I will dive right back into organizing for the Maine Veterans for Peace Walk for Peace, Human Needs and Veterans' Care from November 2-11. I hope all Mainers reading this will join the peace walk for a day or even for a few hours. See more information about the route schedule here

The walk will be a bit like a vacation for me after this long trip to India. The route will take us through some beautiful country near the mountains and also along the ocean.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

MORE FROM CHRIS HEDGES

FRENCH FIGHT AGAINST PRIVATIZATION



French Unions have launched another strike against pension reform - the fourth major action in a month.

It comes as the unpopular pension reform bill edges closer to becoming law.

Trains and airports are running well below capacity and marches are planned across the country.

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Marseille, France's main southern oil port, where dock workers have been on strike for two weeks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

STONES IN KASHMIR & OBAMA'S ARMS SALE



The idea was for me to speak at the Women’s College in Srinagar today but it is closed due to the separatist turmoil in Kashmir. So we checked out of the government guesthouse and moved to the local home of an friend of Rao, a man who is a retired government worker.

As we drove from the college to the private home they explained to me that everything is closed in Srinagar today. All shops, even the corporate malls that fear they have to comply with protest movement demands, have shuttered their doors and windows.

The Muslim community is the majority here by about 80%. In Jammu it is about 40%. Thus the entire state is now increasingly Muslim and they are demanding “Azadi” or freedom. The Indian government has long ago promised autonomy for this state but has failed to deliver. People have had enough waiting.

After lunch we loaded into a press car from the Rising Kashmir newspaper and took a long driving tour of the city. We stopped and took a stroll through a beautiful botanical garden, more than 700 years old, that sits at the foot of the jagged mountains that surround the city. As we left the garden I noticed the waxing moon nestled near the top of the mountain range and I told the others that everywhere I go in the world I see the moon. It belongs to everyone I said.

Srinagar is one of the most interesting cities I have ever seen. The very old buildings, many of worn wood, have a real character. We drove around the huge Dal Lake and I heard that tourism, which is Kashmir’s biggest industry, is now decimated due to the political unrest. All along the lake are wonderful long wooden houseboats that tourists would normally rent as hotel rooms but they are now largely vacant.

Following the driving tour we stopped at the Rising Kashmir newspaper. Little did I know that our host is the father-in-law of the editor of the newspaper. We visited him in his office and talked about the Global Network’s efforts to keep the arms race out of space and the upcoming visit of Obama to India. Syed Rafiuddin Bukhari handed me a recent edition of the paper where he wrote a column about Obama’s trip. In the piece he describes that other countries are in competition with the U.S. over the $10.9 billion weapons deal with India. He wrote, “His visit will be followed by Presidents of France and Russia and before that German foreign minister is scheduled to visit New Delhi on October 18. Intense lobbying for the agreement has been on for many years with all the countries putting weight behind their products, which they believe, would fit in the requirements of Delhi.”

Bukhari felt that the U.S. was likely to get the weapons deal in the end due to greater political clout. He felt though that the hopes of separatist activists in Kashmir to get Obama involved in the “Azadi” issue was not likely to happen.

In the Rising Kashmir today an Op-Ed by the title “Listen to the stones” has a line in it worthy of note, “Wounded is an inner state of being in Kashmir.” As I wrote in an earlier post, Indian military forces have killed 111 people as the resistance has grown during recent months.

The piece also reports, “They [the young stone throwers] are viscerally anti-India but also anti-Pakistan. They are speaking a dogged new language of non-violence but are not above picking up the gun. They threaten to engulf India in a new round of bloody militancy but keep cajoling it not to push them that far. They have a disarming collegiate politeness but are floating on lethal helium of rage. Their talk has an undertow of radicalized Islamic rhetoric, but they are proud of Kashmir’s syncretic traditions. They are uncomfortable being typecast.”

The Indian government has been slow to respond to the growing cries for independence. The Indian right-wing party (BJP) refuses to even consider any change of status for Kashmir. Instead a multi-party commission was just sent from New Delhi to Kashmir to review the situation but their window-dressing proposals were not taken seriously. The money to create 43,000 make-work jobs for Kashmir has just been announced, likely as a strategy to keep the youth off the streets.

Protest leaders have announced a “black day” on October 27, calling for a complete strike in Kashmir.

The Rising Kashmir also carried a news story today entitled “Obama visit: Indian jet deal may create 27,000 jobs in US”. It reads in part:

Two major fighter jet manufacturing companies – Boeing and Lockheed Martin – are vying for the $10 billion Indian tender; which is expected to be raised by the U.S. officials during the November India visit.

“If either jet wins, we estimate that it could bring 27,000 jobs to the U.S.,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told a Baltimore-based think tank, thus indicating the importance the U.S. attaches in bagging such a deal.

Thus it is clear why Obama is unlikely to intervene in the Kashmir conflict that is a key spark to the already unstable relationship between India and Pakistan. As long as the U.S. keeps arming both sides, as it has done for years, the profits will continue to grow for the American weapons industry and the dangerous trigger for future conflicts in the region will be set.

This is the American global marketing strategy for the U.S. “security export” role in the world under corporate globalization. More weapons – more war – more profits.

As I continue to read the book by former Indian Naval Chief, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, he makes all this even more clear. One important strategy of corporate globalization he reminds the reader is “balkanization.” They did it in Yugoslavia when they broke apart that socialist country by fueling ethnic conflicts. Bhagwat says the global corporate agenda is now the same everywhere, fuel the rage and divide the people against one another. Then sell weapons and steal natural resources and exploit cheap labor as the people fight one another.

Bhagwat writes:

Therefore, the big question is whether the Indian military is being nudged to reorient itself to moving away from defending India and Indian interests to such unending, quests as ‘furthering regime changes, democracy, and the smoke-screen, of the global war on terror’, under U.S. auspices.

In other words, bring India into the expanding NATO effort to encircle China. The U.S. intends to arm India and Pakistan to the teeth and is mastering the old British Empire dictum of “divide and rule”. It’s a win-win for the U.S. if you think about it. Make lots of profit for the weapons industry; expand the power and influence of the military industrial complex inside the increasingly American “warrior culture” economy, and spur conflict around the globe that then justifies expanded U.S. imperial bases in these countries enabling it to control declining resources and still hold the keys to the global economic engine. A desperate and dangerous strategy indeed.

Sadly those in Kashmir who dream for Obama’s claimed “hope and change” will find it is not likely in the cards for them. He has bigger fish to fry and the growing conflict here helps justify the sale of more weapons to make his corporate masters even richer.

MILITARY SPACE PLANE UNDER DEVELOPMENT


The Pentagon is now working on several versions of the military space plane. They are selling it to the public as the "successor to the space shuttle" but it clearly is to be an offensive system.

When the U.S. Space Command annually holds their computer war game against China, set in the year 2016, the first weapon that is used is the military space plane that flies throw space and then drops a devastating first-strike attack on China's small nuclear force.

While the Pentagon acknowledges that they don't expect each of the versions of the military space plane now under development to work, they do expect at least one version to become operational in years to come.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

THE ROAD TO SRINAGAR


I am in a government guesthouse in Srinagar after a harrowing 10-hour drive from Jammu through the mountains. We were put into a van at 7:00 am, a total of nine people crammed into the vehicle, and we set off through the mountains. The most important thing to know is that this narrow two-lane twisting road was loaded with trucks hauling produce, buses, cars, vans, military convoys, and motorcycles.

Besides sucking more diesel fumes than ever before in my life, it was a constant game of leap-frog as our two drivers (who took turns at the wheel) did all they could to move our van ahead of other vehicles every chance they got. Horns were constantly blowing as drivers attempted to get back into line before a head-on collision happened.

It was not a boring trip. All along the way there was much to see. Monkey families sat on the side of the road watching the show. Shepherds moving their oxen, goats, or sheep were part of the traffic pattern all day long. Once a lone camel walked down the middle of the curving highway causing vehicles to pull to either side of the narrow road.

My favorite site though were the pack horses, heavily loaded, and herded by nomad families. I could just imagine that this was how people made their way through these mountains for thousands of years, long before the motor vehicle was created.

To either side of the road were very steep drop-offs and many times I looked out my window to see the tires of the van near the edges of the cliffs. We averaged about 30 M.P.H. throughout the 300-kilometer journey.

Everywhere there were police and military along the highway. Many military bases are sprinkled along the Jammu to Srinagar road. I would venture to say that Army men stood guard by the side of the road at least every quarter-to-half mile from mid-way along the mountain highway until we reached Srinagar. When we came to little villages or bigger towns the military presence surged.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are very near this area. I can see why the U.S. will never "win" the war in Afghanistan....fighting in these mountains against people who know every nook and cranny of them must be an impossibility.

One Army base we passed had a sign that read, “Cut them, kill them, kneel not”.

We saw only two accidents all day long. One truck carrying apples from Kashmir, heading toward Jammu, had run off the road into the gutter and broken its front axle. As we approached Srinagar a car had been sideswiped by another vehicle. It’s really amazing that more damage was not done along the way.

Midway wide rivers formed at the bottom of the huge cliffs, as we got closer to the mountains that surround Srinagar. Also as we neared the end of the trip rice fields were everywhere and migrant farm workers were in the fields harvesting the crop by hand. Their makeshift tents were ever present near where they were working.

Everyone in India seems to have a cell phone. Cell phone companies have painted their ads all along this highway – Tata, Airtel, Reliance, Aircel. Even the poor appeared to be talking on their phones as we drove by.

One last observation – no one wears seat belts in India.