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....
- Name: Bruce K. Gagnon
- Location: Bath, Maine, United States
Get the revised version of my book "Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire" - updated thru the end of 2008
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Egypt brings in the military to now try to do what the police could not - suppress the population.
I read one news story that reported a young man picked up a tear gas canister and saw it was made in the USA. That pretty much sums it all up for me.
The government of Egypt owes its power to the U.S. military industrial complex.
Something is sweeping the world....real hope and change. It's time for it to hit the USA.
Friday, January 28, 2011
WHITES FEAR SHARING POWER WITH PEOPLE OF COLOR
This law to destroy ethnic studies in Arizona is a push back from the increasingly insecure white population as they face demographic changes in the US. In just a few years from now blacks and Hispanics in North America will be the majority population and many white people fear they will lose political power.
So all around the country these kinds of racist tactics are being deployed. In some states anyone convicted of a felony crime loses their voting rights for the rest of their life. Thus you see the explosion in recent years of young blacks and Hispanics being arrested and charged with felony offenses for possession of small amounts of drugs. In the white community you find much less police enforcement of the same crimes.
Attempts like these to hold onto white control of the political system appear to be working in the short term. But over time the nation will be transformed as the racist white political system will be washed over by the rising tide of people of color.
If the whites had any good sense they'd embrace their neighbors and learn to share and live in peace. But white America has been raised with the false notion of exceptionalism and many of them are incapable of overcoming their racist indoctrination.
Instead the white power structure will employ similar tactics used in the past by the white minority government in South Africa. In the end they too will fail.
The soft coral just offshore of the Gangjeong village
Nowadays I am going to one-hour, one-man protest every afternoon in front of gate of the Navy field office, beside daily morning watch in the Joongduk coast. Yesterday, there were lots of workers who were working on the paving the road outside the gate.
They looked very weary and sad. I remembered my senior friend who advised me to have positive and reversing thought on the current construction being processed. So I shouted them, “I understand you. I am not angry with you. I know you are working on this because of your livelihood. So I don’t hate you. Let’s convert those builds inside the gate into our children’s school in the future. “
Then surprising things happened. I could see a worker working on the top of roller lightly nodded me. And another worker came to me and said, “There are little of us who really enjoy this work. I have been in the Joongduk coast for Christmas peace mass led by Fr. Kang Woo-Il on Christmas day. But what can we do as we are so powerless?”
I can never forget such sad face of his. I took hold of his hands and said, “We can win, let’s together save the Jeju as the Island of Peace.”
Something was happening inside me. Most of the construction workers inside the Navy field office came from the Jeju. They love their home. They don’t want base. But they work on it because they have to feed themselves. Yesterday, I read an article that a construction worker in Seoul died being frozen because of coldness in his small and unheated room. The situation of workers in the Jeju could be worse.
I was upset by such sad situation. I saw many of the workers inside the Navy field office work in such sad and haggard faces yesterday. I would remember the scene for a long time.
Days ago, another worker inside the base came to me and said similar thing that he was not really enjoying his works. He is a Gangjeong villager and seemed to be hated by some villagers who are opposing the naval base. His face looked very sad, too. He said how powerless he was.
I have never seen such sad faces... and I wanted to cry.
The villagers are crying deep inside.. even though they look worn out and appear passive in the struggle… they cry inside.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
- This is a photo of my town, Bath, just last week. We've had a couple days like that lately and it made for lots of shoveling. Last night we had another inch of snow or so and I spent an hour outside today cleaning up after that. I had to rake the roof and then shovel off the various paths in the back yard. It's begun to look like an Olympic luge course back there as the walls of snow keep getting taller.
- I taped my latest public access TV show today and had two wonderful Sudanese men on the program. Both were heavily involved in organizing the recent referendum for the Sundanese people who live in the northeast of this country. Over 800 people who originally came from South Sudan made their way to Boston so they could vote on the issue of splitting Sunday into two nations. Most of them I am told voted in favor of the split. They organized about eight buses from Portland to go to Boston. More than 2,000 Sudanese live in Maine which has become a major refugee relocation state since it is so predominately white. Portland now has immigrants from many nations living there.
- Our new Republican (Tea Party) Governor Paul LePage is in the news again today as a leaked memo from the Governor's "Communications Director" has gone public. In the memo the staffer says, "Once we take office, Paul will put 11,000 [state agency] bureaucrats to work getting Republicans re-elected." This, using state workers to promote a particular party, would of course be entirely illegal. It seems as though our new governor and his crew will be putting their inflated egos ahead of the people's business and will be inserting their snow boots into their hyper-active mouths quite frequently. I am predicting that they will be giving us something like this to write about at least every month - maybe even weekly.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
SOME REACTIONS TO O-BUMMER'S SPEECH
President Obama began his second State of the Union address by paying tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona but did not address the issue of gun control. He spoke about the need for clean energy but did not mention the word "climate" once in his address. He talked about the economy but never mentioned foreclosures.
Democray Now gets response on Obama’s the State of the Union speech with longtime consumer advocate Joan Claybrook and the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson, who is now director of High Road for Human Rights.
THE RISE AND FALL
Video now available for rent in local shops.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
PROTESTS MOVE TO EGYPT
Two Egyptian civilians and a police officer have died after a wave of unusually large anti-government demonstrations swept across the country.
The two civilians died in the eastern city of Suez, according an interior ministry offical. One, who had respiratory problems, died after inhaling tear gas; the other died after being hit with a rock thrown during a protest, the official said.
Meanwhile, in Cairo, a police officer died after being hit in the head with a rock during the capital's biggest protest in Tahrir Square in the city centre, the official said.
Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Tuesday in what were reportedly the largest demonstrations in years, and which they explicitly tied to the successful uprising in nearby Tunisia.
January 25, 2011
Over 150 prominent activists, authors, and academics have launched a petition with a statement that begins:
"We the undersigned share with nearly two-thirds of our fellow Americans the conviction that our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should be ended and that overall military spending should be dramatically reduced. This has been our position for years and will continue to be, and we take it seriously. We vow not to support President Barack Obama for renomination for another term in office, and to actively seek to impede his war policies unless and until he reverses them."
Some of those who have signed:
Nic Abramson, U.S. Boat to Gaza
Meredith Aby, MN Anti-War Committee
Elliott Adams, president, Veterans For Peace
Will Allen, author, The War on Bugs
Maria Allwine, Pledge of Resistance Baltimore
Vicki Andrews, Peace Circle - Grand Rapids MN
Jean Athey, coordinator of Peace Action Montgomery (MD)* and national board member, Peace Action*
Nellie Hester Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council & Black Agenda Report
Anna Baltzer, activist
Missy Beattie, activist and writer
Mark Bebawi, producer/host, The Monitor, KPFT
Medea Benjamin, cofounder, Code Pink*
Frida Berrigan, War Resisters League*
Toby Blome, activist, Bay Area Code Pink
William Blum, author of books on U.S. foreign policy
Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), Vice-President, Veterans For Peace
Roy Bourgeois, founder, School of the Americas Watch
Linda Boyd, activist
Lenni Brenner, author, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators
Jean Hay Bright, Maine's 2006 Democratic US Senate candidate
Elaine Brower, military mom, World Can't Wait
Mike Byerly, Alachua County Commissioner, Gainesville, Fla.
Scott Camil, President, Gainesville Florida Chapter, Veterans For Peace
Patty Casazza, 9/11 widow, former 9/11 Commission Family Steering Committee Member
Oskar Castro, board member, War Resisters League
Zach Choate, operation recovery field organizer, Iraq Veterans Against the War
David Cobb, Move To Amend coalition*
Jeff Cohen, author/media critic
William John Cox, Voters Evolt!
Catarina Correia, video editor, coordinating committee member, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Bud Courtney, New York Catholic Worker
David Culver, publisher, Evergreene Digest
Ronnie Cummins, national director, Organic Consumers Association
Matthew W. Daloisio, Witness Against Torture*
Nicolas J S Davies, author, Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq
Elena Day, People's Alliance for Clean Energy
Frank Dorrel, publisher, Addicted To War
Sibel Edmonds, founder & director, National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
Cherie Eichholz, national board member, Veterans for Peace
Roy Eidelson, past president, Psychologists for Social Responsibility
Pat Elder, Coordinating Committee, National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth*
Daniel Ellsberg, former State and Defense Dept. official, whistleblower of Pentagon Papers
Samuel S. Epstein, professor
Desiree Fairooz, Northern Virginians for Peace and Justice
Mike Ferner, national board member, Veterans for Peace
Joy First, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Robert Fitrakis, professor, editor
Lisa Fithian, convenor, United for Peace and Justice
Margaret Flowers, M.D., Physicians for a National Health Program*
Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report*
George Friday, Independent Progressive Politics Network
Sarah Fuhro, board member, Military Families Speak Out*
James Clay Fuller, retired newspaper editor
Monica Gabrielle, 9/11 widow, former 9/11 Commission Family Steering Committee Member
Bruce K. Gagnon, coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space*
Lila Garrett, radio host
Nate Goldshlag, national board member and treasurer, Veterans For Peace
Michelle Gross, president, Communities United Against Police Brutality
Thomas John Gumbleton, retired Roman Catholic Bishop
DeeDee Halleck, founder, Paper Tiger Tv, Deep Dish Network, emerita professor, UCSD
Connie Hammond, Progressive Peace Coalition, Columbus, Ohio
Kathy Hass, activist, Central Florida Code Pink
Bill Habedank, Veterans for Peace
Jim Haber, coordinator, Nevada Desert Experience
Susan Harman, Progressive Democrats of America*, Code Pink*
David Harris, Veterans for Peace
David Harris, draft resister, author
Leslie Harris, activist, Code Pink Greater Dallas*
Bob Heberle, former national board member, Veterans for Peace
Chris Hedges, author, Death of the Liberal Class
Dud Hendrick, Maine chapter president, Veterans for Peace
Steve Hendricks, author, A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial
Martha Hennessy, Catholic Worker
John Heuer, chair and national board member, NC Peace Action
Herbert J. Hoffman, vice president, Maine Veterans for Peace
Connie Hogarth, Cofounder WESPAC (Westchester Peoples Action Coalition)*
Lydia Howell, writer and host, "Catalyst", KFAI Radio
Sam Husseini, activist
Hugh Iglarsh, writer/editor
Rick Jahnkow, Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft*
Dahr Jamail, journalist/author
Mark C. Johnson, executive director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Larry Kalb, former Democratic congressional candidate
Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace
Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence*
Nada Khader, WESPAC Foundation
Joey King, national board member, Veterans for Peace
Howie Klein, publisher, DownWithTyranny.com
Michael Knox, professor and clinical psychologist
Georg Koszulinski, filmmaker
Joel Kovel, author, The Enemy of Nature, Overcoming Zionism
Andrew Kolin, author, State Power and Democracy: Before and During the Presidency of George W Bush
Steve Lane, activist
Jesse Lemisch, Historian, Emeritus Prof, John Jay Coll of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun/Network of Spiritual Progressives
Linda LeTendre, LMSW Christian Peace Witness
Dave Lindorff, editor, Thiscantbehappening.net
Erik Lobo, Veteran For Peace
Ralph Lopez, JobsForAfghans.org
David MacMichael, Ph.D., former CIA analyst
Sarah Martin, subpoenaed antiwar and international solidarity activist
Gene Marx, national board member, Veterans for Peace
Ethan McCord, IVAW, VFP, former army specialist from "collateral murder" video
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst
Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party Nominee for U.S. President
David McReynolds, Socialist Party USA*
Bob Meola, War Resisters League National Committee* and Courage to Resist Organizing Collective*
Michael T. McPhearson, co-convenor United For Peace and Justice, former executive director of Veterans For Peace
Camilo E. Mejia, activist, resister
Linda Milazzo, activist, writer
Dede Miller, activist
Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor
Nick Mottern, Consumers for Peace
Gael Murphy, co-chair, Legislative Working Group, United for Peace and Justice*, co-founder, Code Pink*
Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy*
Bruce Nestor, past president, National Lawyers Guild
Brad Newsham, activist
Georgianne Nienaber, activist and author
Stirling Newberry, former military contractor
Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center
Jeanne Olson, veteran, activist
Paul Ortiz, Veterans for Peace, author
Michael Parenti, author and activist
Cynthia Papermaster, director, National Accountability Action Network*
Judith Mahoney Pasternak, War Resisters League*
Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist
Lewis Pitts, Legal Aid of NC
Gareth Porter, author and journalist
Bill Quigley, Center for Constitutional Rights and professor of law, Loyola University New Orleans*
Jesselyn Radack, former Department of Justice legal adviser
Garett Reppenhagen, chair of the board of directors, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Ward Reilly, advisory committee member, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, VVAW
Jill Richardson, author
Katie Robbins, national organizer, Healthcare-NOW!
David Rovics, singer/song writer
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent, one of TIME's 2002 Persons of the Year
Richard E. Rubenstein, author, Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War
Stephanie Rugoff, project coordinator, War Criminals Watch
A.F. Saidy, M.D., Coalition for Peace in M.E. in L.A.
Nicole Sandler, radio host
Lisa Savage, Code Pink Maine*
Linda Schade, WikiLeaksisDemocracy.org
Bill Scheurer, PeaceMajority Report
Sue Serpa, coordinator, JobsForAfghans.org
Jamilla El-Shafei, Peace Action Maine, Code Pink
Joanne Sheehan, coordinator, War Resisters League New England
Robert Shetterly, artist, Americans Who Tell the Truth
Gar Smith, Environmentalists Against War
Michael Steven Smith, Law and Disorder Radio; board member, Center for Constitutional Rights*
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Democracy Unlimited
Jeffrey St Clair, CounterPunch
John Stauber, author, Weapons of Mass Deception
Josh Stieber, conscientious objector
John Stockwell, former intelligence officer, author
David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org
Rev. James L. Swarts, professor, Veterans For Peace, Progressives In Action Peace Committee Chair
Dennis Trainor, Jr., NoCureForThat.org
Diane Turco, Cape Codders for Peace and Justice
Sue Udry, Defending Dissent Foundation*
Elizabeth De La Vega, former assistant U.S. attorney, author
Robert C. Walter, Peace Action Maine, associate member of Veterans for Peace
Harvey Wasserman, author
Janet Weil, military family member
Alison Weir, president, Council for the National Interest
Beverley Whipple, Fla. chapter leader, Military Families Speak Out
Paki Wieland, activist
S. Brian Willson, Viet Nam Veteran, activist
Diane Wilson, shrimper, activist, author, Veterans for Peace
Marcy Winograd, former Democratic congressional candidate
Ann Wright, US Army Reserve Colonel and former US diplomat
Bill Wylie-Kellermann, pastor, St Peter's Episcopal Church - Detroit
Dan Yaseen, Peace Fresno
Charles M. Young, contributing editor, Thiscantbehappening.net
Kevin Zeese, Voters For Peace
Maggie Zhou, Climate SOS
* for identification only
The full statement (and full list of initial signers) is available with a petition at http://warisacrime.org/primary
STATE OF THE UNION IS BAD
- Obama's State of the Union speech is tonight and I won't be watching. Just like with George W. Bush, I can't stomach watching the magician at work. I get nauseous and it's bad for my blood pressure. I think the CodePink report card above pretty much sums it all up for me, although I'd give him a D-minus in Home Economics. They were far too generous with that C grade. Obama is a bummer - and so are his apologists. The big story with the corporate media will be the "seating arrangements" at his speech to Congress as some of the Repubs and Dems mix it up and sit next to one another. Why not? With few exceptions they are all playing from the same corporate game card and have been bought and sold by the oligarchy. Why not end the illusion that we have two political parties. It's just one happy corporate family!
- I am working on the Global Network's June 17-19 Int'l Space Organizing Conference brochure. I want to get the preliminary version printed in time for me to take when I go to join the Feb 13-28 Walk for New Spring that will go throughout the state of Massachusetts and is being organized by the New England Peace Pagoda (Nipponzan Myohoji). The way winter has been going so far it is going to be a cold walk. Should be some kind of experience for sure.
- I tape the next edition of my public access TV show on Thursday and am excited that I will have two leaders from the Sudanese community as guests. One of them managed the recent referendum, on splitting the country into two, for the many Sudanese who live in the Northeast of the US. They rented buses and went to Boston to vote. My other guest is the local representative for the Sudanese liberation movement. Maine is a major resettlement area for Sudanese refugees. Many thanks to Wells Staley-Mays for making these arrangements for me. He works closely with all the immigrant communities living in Portland.
- It's so cold here in Maine that some of our pipes froze yesterday and I had to go into the basement with a hair dryer to try to unfreeze them. It worked and we left the faucets running just a bit after that. We have tons of snow piled up around the house. It looks like a winter wonderland.
Monday, January 24, 2011
In a 2005 article entitled Pentagon begins military buildup on Guam the author wrote, "With China looming as a potential adversary and thousands of Marines moving out of Japan over the next several years, the Pentagon is turning its eye to Guam, the westernmost U.S. territory and an attractive launching pad for Pacific operations."
Later in the piece this appeared: "Guam and other U.S. land in the Pacific provide one major advantage over stationing troops in friendly countries: It is territory the military does not have to negotiate access to, said Robert Work, a naval analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments."
"All of the islands that we own over time -- if we're going to be operating in the Pacific a lot -- will tend to be very, very important," Work said.
The Pentagon wants to expand operations on Guam so it can host aircraft carriers, drones, and thousands more troops. New environmentally pristine and sacred lands are slated to be taken over for the increased military presence.
It has been difficult for the people of Guam to oppose U.S. militarism because it was America that liberated the island from the brutal Japanese colonization. But a growing movement to resist U.S. base expansion is happening and people are increasingly thinking and talking more about what their "status" should be.
Michael Lujan Bevacqua lives on Guam and teaches at a local university. I met him last year when we both traveled around South Korea together. He helps to organize opposition to the expansion of U.S. militarism on Guam and has an interesting blog called "No rest for the awake."
In one of his recent posts he talked about this issue of colonial status:
Guam is one of the last “official” colonies left in the world and the fact that we are so clueless about our status and so apathetic as an island to changing it is a travesty. We are a colony in denial about being a colony and sometimes it seems that our number one industry is neither military nor tourism, but rather making up excuses as to why it is either alright or necessary that we remain a colony.
This is understandable given that Guam is a pretty “comfortable” colony, but that does not change the fact that Guam’s relationship to the US is fundamentally not one of equality, but of ownership. Although Guam is the recipient of “state-like” treatment, we are not a state, we are a possession, an unincorporated territory, and so while we may want to feel that our relationship to the US is just like any state, any other corner of America, it is not, and we do ourselves little good by pretending it is otherwise.
Despite what most may think, our political status is not a minor issue, but literally affects everything on this island. Where you stand on Guam’s current colonial status and what you think (or don’t think) about what should happen next goes to the core of how you are a person of Guam. How you live here, what you feel about this place, what you think it’s capable of and where you think it should go next.
I like what Michael is doing here. He has decolonized his mind and is now offering others the challenge to do the same. This is a necessary first-step in making it possible for people to begin to think about how they feel about their beautiful and peaceful island being one more "power projection hub" for the U.S. military empire.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
REVOLUTION OF THE POOR PEOPLE
Tunisians who defied an overnight curfew to march towards the capital, are demanding the resignation of the interim prime minister. They described their journey as a "Caravan of Liberation". But the interim prime minister and his cabinet are refusing to bow to public pressure. From Tunis, Hashem Ahelbarra reports.
As President Obama and Congress brace to battle over how to reduce chronic annual budget deficits, Americans overwhelmingly say that in general they prefer cutting government spending to paying higher taxes, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Yet their preference for spending cuts, even in programs that benefit them, dissolves when they are presented with specific options related to Medicare and Social Security, the programs that directly touch the most people and also are the biggest drivers of the government’s projected long-term debt.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans choose higher payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security over reduced benefits in either program. And asked to choose among cuts to Medicare, Social Security or the nation’s third-largest spending program — the military — a majority by a large margin [55%] said cut the Pentagon. [55% of those polled also chose reducing troops in Europe and Asia as a way to cut military spending.]
This is excellent news. It means that even with all the corporate media blathering about the deficit and the need to cut back on "entitlement programs," once again the majority of American people are seeing through the fog. They are able to ultimately understand that it is not in their interests to cut Social Security and Medicare, etc. The corporate sales pitch is not working with the bulk of the people.
But - as with the numbers of Americans now against the Afghanistan war, about 63%, we've not yet been able to get people to move into action. (Action defined as public protests, more letters to editor on the subject, organizing local meetings to speak out, making demands on both political parties ........)
Maybe with the Republicans in power of the House of Representatives that will change. Possibly people will feel more urgency. (I hear you ask, how much more urgency do they need?)
I think that many of the folks who know better have been relying on Obama and the Dems to save them and they have been frozen from moving into action because in their loyal minds they perceive speaking out as being "against" the Democrats who have been in power. Even though they don't support many of the policies coming from Washington they seem to think that speaking out would make it likely that "Obama's team" would lose. Well, as it turns out, they have lost anyway in the House and are barely holding onto the Senate. Obama is no cinch to get reelected in 2012 either and even if he does he seems most interested in serving the interests of the corporations.
Maybe people will begin to thaw themselves out from this frozen state and begin to move into action before all is lost. Or maybe they will continue in their present state of fearful isolation and wait until all is lost before stepping up. Humankind has often shown the proclivity to do that.
This next year will be the strategic barometer. In the meantime thank goodness there are people out there staying on the case. Sadly though, unless we get some help soon, we are all going down the tubes.