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....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, February 05, 2011

SUDANESE GUESTS



My latest public access TV show where I interviewed two leaders from Maine's Sudanese community.

TRYING TO STAY NON-VIOLENT AIN'T EASY WHEN YOU ARE UNDER ATTACK

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

THIS AND THAT


  • Much to my pleasant surprise I just found this photo on Facebook of our friend VV from Massachusetts. VV participated in both peace walks I helped to organize through Maine in 2010. She just got our GN newsletter in the mail. You can find it online here

  • MB and I are still sick and Karen is taking good care of us. My head is pounding and I didn't sleep much the last two nights. I hate being sick. Normally I am a pretty high energy guy but right now I can barely get out of bed.

  • Mubarak appointed Omar Suleiman, his intelligence chief, as vice president shortly after the demonstrations began in Cairo. On Saturday afternoon, the protesters in the square were flanked by a large banner that read: "No Mubarak, no Suleiman. Both are American Agents." Suleiman met with leaders of one political party but nothing came of it as he insisted that Mubarak was not going anywhere. Mubarak's government will keep trying to cherry pick some of the more ambitious leaders to try to cut a deal thus betraying the call of the movement to hang together to the bitter end. Suleiman is known to have been in charge of the state torture apparatus and will not be acceptable to the people in the street.

  • On the lighter side, baseball spring training begins in a couple of weeks. My Baltimore Orioles have had 13 losing seasons in a row. But this winter they have remade the team by bringing in a bunch of news guys who have great promise. Just last night they signed superstar Vladimir Gurrero. He has been one of the greatest hitters in baseball during his career. It should be more fun to watch baseball this summer.


 

Friday, February 04, 2011

INSIDE REVOLUTION SQUARE



I'm home in bed sick today.....finally caught up with me. Looks like I'll miss the VFP retreat this weekend.

This is an important report.

More: I was watching CBS News and they were talking about how the Egyptian transfer of power is going to take some time and that the public needs to be patient. Then one of talking heads starting recalling how various Iranians had once been brought to Egypt for torture and that it was known the CIA was involved. I started thinking that Mubarak and his agents must have lots of files and records to destroy before he leaves town. This could be one key reason why all of this back and forth is going on now. They are stalling for time.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

THESE ARE OUR ALLIES



This is the kind of regime our buddy Mubarak in Egypt has been running for years.

See the way this car just runs the people over.

ALWAYS TOMORROW

That is me trying to find our house. They all look the same on the street today after our most recent snow blast. It took some time but I finally found it....the one with the bumperstickers on the cars.

Seriously though, this is how I felt today - overwhelmed. I spent at least four hours outside shoveling after the last two days of steady snow. Lucky for me, my back has held up but I am worn to a frazzle. Sadly though everyone else in the house is either sick or has some physical issue that keeps them from shoveling with the exception of Laurie who had to go to Portland for an appointment. So I had the whole smear to myself.

I noticed on Facebook a Veterans for Peace friend who lives north of here said she was ready for a spicy rum and hot apple cider after dealing with her snow. So I tried it myself and I can report that now I am feeling little pain.

No politics out of me today. Right now I am going to go find a movie to watch and sit in front of the tube and let my mind shut down. There is always tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

MORE CRITIQUE OF WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE

ONE VOICE MOVES HEARTS



This vlog was recorded on January 18th by Asmaa Mahfouz, the woman who helped start it all. She had shared it on her Facebook, and it had gone viral. It was so powerful and so popular, that it drove Egyptians by the thousands into Tahrir Square, and drove the Egyptian government to block Facebook.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TURN TO VIOLENCE?


This morning we've learned via Al Jazeera TV that the Mubarak government has unleashed their secret police and thugs onto the peaceful people that have been gathered for days in the city square. There can be no doubt that despite milk-toast words about "democracy" and the "rule of law" from Obama, the U.S. has likely told Mubarak to take whatever steps are necessary to "regain stability" in his country. This would be the signal to use violence to disperse the people and to create division and fear as a strategy to quell the protest movement.


(Later this afternoon I heard a U.S. State Department public relations spokesman say that Hillary Clinton had called the "new" V-P of Egypt and told him that an immediate investigation was needed to prosecute those responsible for unleashing the thugs on the peaceful protesters. The media leaped to challenge that remark but he just repeated it and went on. This clearly indicates to me the total lack of seriousness with which the U.S. government views this incident.)

One news report said that Mubarak had sent out Oil Ministry workers, members of his political party, and state police into the square to beat up the pro-democracy crowd. MSNBC has reported that Obama had earlier sent a U.S. official, who has a long-time relationship with Mubarak, to meet with the Egyptian president and help guide his actions. There is no doubt in my mind that Mubarak would not be taking these hostile actions without the behind-the-scenes support of the U.S. military empire. Of course the U.S. must publicly call for peaceful resolution by renouncing the use of violence. But as Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say, the U.S. is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.

Let's see if the U.S. administration and Congress immediately pulls the plug on weapons grants/sales to the Egyptian government. Mubarak's government is the second largest recipient of weapons from the U.S. (just behind Israel) in the world. It is the U.S. weapons that have essentially kept the Egyptian people under control for 30 years. Where has the U.S. outrage been over torture and failed democracy during those brutal years?

Ben Wedeman of CNN tweeted:

bencnn White House issues pale, weak statement on situation in Cairo. Imagine if Tahrir were in Tehran. #Jan25 #Egypt

UPDATE: Just to illustrate my point further how the corporate oligarchy works and thinks, here is a very instructive comment from the war criminal Tony Blair. In an interview with CNN, Tony Blair, former British prime minister and currently an envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, defends President Mubarak, calling him "immensely courageous and a force for good."

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

SETTING AN EXAMPLE IN EGYPT



I was thinking last night what a great example the people's revolution in Egypt was setting for the rest of the world. By and large it has been a relatively peaceful and non-violent effort. Obviously at some level they have won over those who control the military. They appear to be uniting Muslim and Christian in the streets, old and young, unemployed and professional class. It's really the right way to do it.

Then I thought about the U.S. and the "Tea Party's" proclivity to strap on pistols and carry around super-duper machine guns as they claim their brand of revolution. They blame immigrants and blacks and "Socialists". Here it is all about separation and divide and conquer. It's like we have swallowed the "business model" brand of politics. In Egypt their success seems to be from a unity of purpose.

We have much to learn from the people in Egypt. I hope people in America are paying close attention.

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • I will be out of the loop from Feb 13-28 as I plan to join the Walk for a New Spring (click on the graphic above for better view of the walk schedule) that will start in Massachusetts and then lightly touch Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island before ending in Boston. It will be quite interesting to see how the weather treats us as we travel along. I will take my laptop and hope that I am able to do some blogging while on the journey. Hope my feet hold up. I need to do more stretching now, but I am so lazy when it comes to that.

  • The Maine Veterans for Peace retreat got postponed two weekends ago because of a snow storm so we are set to hold it this weekend. It appears the weather will let up just in time for us to hold the event. We will gather on Friday evening and then meet all day Saturday about an hour or so north of here along the coast at a swanky retreat center overlooking the ocean. They have a bowling alley there as well so a very competative bowling match will kick-off the weekend.....many bad backs and pulled muscles are likely to be the result.

  • On Saturday, Feb 12 the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home will meet from noon until 3:30 pm here in Bath at the Addams-Melman House. It will begin with a pot luck lunch. We've got much to talk about and it's very exciting to see how the campaign as moved around the country. CodePink has picked it up as one of their key projects and activists in Massachusetts are working hard on it having passed resolutions in Northampton and Amherst. I saw an email the other day from Baltimore and it is now catching on there. Recently I had a call from North Dakota and folks in several other states are using the Bring Our War $$ Home theme as well. It's an effort whose time has certainly come.

Monday, January 31, 2011

DIRECTING STAR WARS

Pearl Harbor has become the X-Band radar’s informal home

By Kyle Kajihiro (AFSC Honolulu, Hawai'i)

The Sea-Based X-band Radar (SBX) pulled into Pearl Harbor again on December 22, 2010. When the military originally proposed the expansion of its missile defense test range to include most of the north Pacific, many opposed the project, especially the homeporting of the $1 billion Sea-Based X-band Radar monstrosity in Hawai’i.

We were relieved when Hawai’i was not selected as the site, but soon we saw the terrible eye looming on the horizon as it pulled into Ke Awalau O Pu’uloa for repairs and maintenance, or so we were told. However, as this Honolulu Star Advertiser article explains, the SBX radar never spent a day in its Adak, Alaska homeport.

When it does head in, Hawaii has become the SBX’s home port by default. Ironically, in 2003, military officials considered but rejected permanently basing the SBX here. A spot three miles south of Kalaeloa was examined along with five other locations before Adak was selected.

Adak got the nod because it is between the “threat ballistic missiles” — presumably in North Korea — and the interceptor missiles in California and Alaska, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering III, then-head of the missile agency, said in a 2006 memo.

Instead it has been a kolea, wintering annually in the islands. The newspaper reports “The 280-foot-tall SBX, as it is called, has “loitered” in the vicinity of Adak several times, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said, but it has returned to Pearl Harbor 11 times and spent a combined total of more than a year and a half in port in Hawaii.”

DAYS SPENT IN ISLES

» 2006: 170 days

» 2007: 63 days

» 2008: 63 days

» 2009: 177 days

» 2010: 51 days

» Dec. 22 to present

Source: Missile Defense Agency

The Honolulu Star Advertiser writes:

Like a loyal tourist, the massive $1 billion Sea-Based X-Band Radar platform keeps returning to Hawaii, becoming an instant focus of public interest every time it moors at Pearl Harbor.

» Size: 240 feet wide and 390 feet long

» Height: 280 feet from keel to top of radar dome

» Displacement: Nearly 50,000 tons

The Missile Defense Agency is tight-lipped about the reasons for never mooring the SBX in Adak as planned in 2006, but the Coast Guard raised concern over operating a 280-foot-tall oil rig ship in the unforgiving Bering Sea, where waves routinely exceed 30 feet and winds top 130 mph.

The SBX radar is part of the massive expansion of the U.S. missile defense system in the Pacific. On the one hand, the system is anything but defensive. Russia and China both feel threatened by the ring of missile defense sites encircling them, as these missiles could neutralize retaliatory capabilities in the event of a first strike by the U.S. So they view the missile defenses as an escalation to be met by expanded offensive capabilities. The expansion of missile defense systems is causing great political and social unrest in the places where the U.S. wants to station the facilities including Poland, the Czech Republic, Guam and Jeju-do, Korea. Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands has already been taken over by the U.S. missile defense system, its native islanders crammed into one small squalid slum on Ebeye island.

On the other hand, the missile defense is a massive boondoggle for missile defense aerospace contractors. As one former engineer from the Pacific Missile Range Facility told me in disgust, the system is not designed to work. It is only supposed to be improved incrementally, thereby keeping the federal dollars flowing. So perhaps the decision to homeport the SBX radar in Adak was only to ensure that Alaska got its fair share of the military pork through construction projects. The program was initiated during the double reign of Senators Stevens and Inouye on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Meanwhile, the terrible eye is watching…

MORE SNOW AND OTHER NEWS



  • I'm not really complaining. But another big storm is heading our way, due to arrive Tuesday-Wednesday. It apparently means another 12-18 inches of shoveling. The last photo is our shed. Each time the snow plow driver comes to clear our driveway he pushes it up near the shed and we have to reopen the tunnel to get to it. It takes a long time to break through that mound. Last night we had our 4th anniversary Addams-Melman House potluck supper and played political bingo. It was a nice time, had a good laugh with everyone.

  • For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty in 2010, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. A sad commentary on these endless wars indeed.

  • The brochure for the GN's June 17-19 international space organizing conference is now available on-line. This event will celebrate 19 years of our work on the space issue. The conference (Raytheon, Missile Offense & Endless War) will be held in North Andover, Massachusetts where the Raytheon Co. has a production plant that is building missile offense systems. So far we've heard from GN leaders coming from Germany, India, England, Sweden, Japan, Canada, and from all over the U.S. It should be a great event. One very exciting part of the conference will be a concert featuring Tetsu Kitagawa, one of Japan's leading peace and justice singer/songwriters who has been described as Japan's Bob Dylan -- early Dylan, the one engaged with people's movements. On tour in the U.S. as part of his 100 consecutive concerts for peace, nuclear abolition, and defense of Japan’s peace constitution, Kitagawa will be joined by Pat Scanlon and other musical friends for a concert on June 18 at 8:15 pm.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

THE POWER OF HOPE



Images from Egypt as protesters defy curfew in Cairo and other cities taken throughout the day.

SUNDAY SONG