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, April 22, 2011

THE CHAIR FORCE TO LIBYA - DRONES TO EXPAND WAR



Thirty-seven people who protested at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, New York against the use of drones were arrested Friday....see details here

FORMER JEJU GOVERNOR GOES NATIVE


Sung-Hee Choi reports from Jeju Island, South Korea:

On April 21, Shin Goo-Beom, an ex-Jeju Island governor, who is doing the 5th day solidarity fast along with the movie critic Yang Yoon-Mo, said in the press interview in the National Assembly that, “The naval base construction currently occurring in the Jeju is nothing but a criminal activity and the navy is betraying the residents under the excuse of national security and illegally destroying nature and trampling down people’s human rights.” He strongly demanded the National assembly’s investigation on the Jeju naval base construction.

Shin Goo-Beom started his fast in solidarity with Yang in Yang's tent in the Joongduk coast on April 18. [Professor Yang remains in jail where he continues his fast.]

To have the former Jeju Island governor join the protest, engage in a solidarity fast, and return to the National Assembly and call the Navy base construction "a crime" is a hugely courageous act and must be buoying the spirits of the Gangjeong villagers in a big way. Good for Shin Goo-Beom!



In the evening after the day’s struggle, people gathered in the Joongduk coast, the reclamation-planned naval base area, to see the music concert sponsored by peace groups.

A girl sings a revised song ‘like a rock’. She sings to let us live like the strong rocks in the Joongduk coast and save the sea & coast from the base construction (April 21, 2011)

GOING BACK FOR LAST TIME?



Risking it all for a paycheck, some photos and a flat screen TV. That is a tough call. The fact that the government is getting ready to button up the area indicates that things are worse than they are letting on. Nothing could be more sad than this.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

REJECT THE SYSTEM - LOCALIZE

SUBVERTING DEMOCRACY AT THE LOCAL LEVEL


Corporate Coup d’état Coming Soon to a City Near You

By Rania Khalek

In her book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein demonstrates how wealthy elites often use times of crisis and chaos to impose unpopular policies that restructure economies and political systems to further advance their interests. She calls these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, “disaster capitalism.”

Disaster capitalism is on display around the country, as legislators use the debt crisis afflicting their states as an opportunity to hollow out the public sector. In Michigan it’s being packaged as “emergency financial management” by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who is looking to exploit an economic crisis that has left his state with a severe budget deficit. In March, Snyder signed a law granting state-appointed emergency financial managers (EFM) the ability to fire local elected officials, break teachers’ and public workers’ contracts, seize and sell assets, and eliminate services, entire cities or school districts, all without any public input. He claims these dictatorial restructuring powers will keep Michigan communities out of bankruptcy.

Michigan currently has unelected EFM’s in charge of the schools in Detroit, as well as the cities of Pontiac, Ecorse, and Benton Harbor. In Benton Harbor, the city’s elected mayor and city commissioners were stripped of all power by unelected EFM, Joseph Harris. Harris issued an order saying the city commissioners have no power beyond calling meetings to order, approving minutes, and adjourning meetings. This decimation of local democracy is spreading. Robert Bobb, the EFM that has taken over Detroit’s public school system, sent layoff notices to all of the district’s 5,466 unionized employees. Bobb says he will exercise his power as EFM to unilaterally modify the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Federation of Teachers starting May 17, 2011.

ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss said the law raises concern about separation of powers, its impact on minority communities, collective-bargaining rights and privatization of services. She is absolutely correct. Faced with a deficit, emboldened EFMs can sell off public property to developers, close public schools and authorize charter schools, and void union contracts with literally no recourse for local, tax-paying residents or their elected officials to stop it.

And, it gets worse. Michigan has joined with the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) to develop a training program for prospective emergency managers. According to their website, TMA members are a professional community of turnaround and corporate renewal professionals who share a common interest in strengthening the economy through the restoration of corporate value. Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon, while speaking about the new program during a seminar on municipal distress, said that mayors and school superintendents are essentially running big businesses that, in many cases, are more complicated than private companies. It’s no surprise then, that Wall Street investors are thrilled about the potential impacts of the EFM law.

An estimated 400 accountants, lawyers, school employees, and city workers began classes offered by the program in Lansing, Michigan this week on topics including “Dealing with the Unionized Workforce,” navigating municipal bankruptcy and negotiating contracts for sewer, water and other utilities. ”Dealing with the Unionized Workforce” is code for destroying unions and has nothing to do with balancing the budget. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) in an appearance before the House Oversight Committee, under questioning from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), admitted a key provision in his state budget proposal to curb union rights had no fiscal benefit, putting to rest the notion that union-busting governors like Rick Snyder have any intention of actually solving their state’s economic woes. As for “negotiating contracts for sewer, water, and other utilities”, this is code for privatize, privatize, privatize!

This so-called financial emergency is really a democracy emergency. Local governments are NOT corporations, nor should they resemble them. The true purpose of emergency financial management is the conversion of a democratically elected government into a hierarchal business entity through economic “shock therapy”, which would be impossible if workers, elected representatives, and residents had any say. Michigan has become a laboratory for CEO Governor Rick Snyder to impose disaster capitalism onto his state. If we allow what is taking place in Michigan to continue unabated, it won’t be long before disaster capitalism finds its way to a city, town, or school district near you.

- Rania Khalek is a young, progressive activist with a passionate dedication to social justice. Check out her blog at http://raniakhalek.com

TAX THE RICH


  • A new Washington Post-ABC poll finds that 72% of the American people support raising taxes on families with income more than $250,000. At the same time 78% oppose cutting spending on Medicare (health program for the elderly) as a way to chip away at the national debt. On Medicaid — the government insurance program for the poor — 69% disapprove of cuts. Despite the steady drumbeat in the corporate media saying that we need to drain "the entitlement programs" in order to balance the budget, the public appears able to make their way through the fog to a better fiscal remedy. Tax the rich. Tax the corporations. When you add to this the 65% of Americans who want us to get out of Afghanistan then you begin to see the outlines of a real plan to bring fiscal sanity back to the nation. Even though the American people are clear on these issues it does not mean the corporate controlled Congress will listen to them. People are going to have to organize and publicly demand these things if we hope to save social progress.




  • My trip to speak to a Sociology class at Boston University on Tuesday night was well worth it. The class was three hours long so I had plenty of time to engage the students and we had quite a good discussion. They asked loads of questions - from 9-11 to the true intentions of corporate globalization. The teacher, an Irishman named Paul Pelan, had done a great job opening the minds of these students to new ideas. Two of them are connected to the National Guard, there was one BU basketball player, and then a mixture of students with other interests and career ambitions - freshman to seniors. I asked them to think about what was the number one job of a human being. I also invited them all to come to the Global Network's space conference in June.


  • I am half-way done with the wood stacking here at home. Luckily I have some time these days to work on this. Today housemate Amanda and I took some time to talk about the meaning of life, raising kids, and being a free agent in this corporate controlled world. She has two kids that bless our house with their energy and their verve for life.

HISTORY OF KILLING FOR PROFIT



April 20, 2011 is the 97th Anniversary of the Ludlow, Colorado Mining Massacre.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

NO NUKES IN INDIA



Japan's nuclear crisis seems to have given fresh impetus to protests against a proposed nuclear power complex in India.

While one person was killed and at least 20 others injured after police clash with protesters in Maharashtra state, critics say the Jaitapur site lies on an active fault-line increasing the risk to residents.

Prerna Suri reports from New Delhi.

LATEST SHOW



My latest public access TV show with John Reed, author of the new book "Elegant Simplicity: Reflections on an Alternate Way of Being". John lives in France half the year and comes to the U.S. for the other half and has a unique perspective on American culture.

OBAMA-BUSH


Click on graphic for better view. See the full article here. It's a rare piece from the mainstream media.

THREE CUPS OF COLD WATER




See the CBS 60 Minutes news show report on this here

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

DISTRACTIONS FROM THE FACTS


* The U.S. currently ranks thirty-fourth (34th) out of the thirty-four (34) members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development in regards to spending on social programs. The amount the U.S. spends is currently only 7.2% of our gross domestic product on programs that make up our social contract with the American people. Here are a couple comparisons between the U.S. and Germany. The claim that social spending must be cut in the U.S. because it is killing the economy is a lie. Militarism and corporate welfare is what is causing the U.S. economy to collapse.


Population below 50% of median income
USA: 17%
GER: 8.4%

Child poverty
USA: 22.4%
GER: 10.7%

Infant mortality rate
USA: 7.8
GER: 5.4

Homicide rate
USA: 5%
GER: 0.86%

Life expectancy
USA: 78.3
GER: 79.4

Unemployment rate
USA: 8.8%
GER: 6.3%

Exports per capita
USA: $3,375
GER: $14,169

* I heard the other day that the FBI was raiding union offices in Hartford, Connecticut looking for immigrants. Recently the FBI has been raiding the homes of peace activists in several states as well. Expect more of this in the near future as the government creates distractions for the public.


First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.


* I am heading south today to Boston where I speak tonight to a Sociology class at Boston University about the Global Network's space organizing conference on June 17-19 in Andover, Massachusetts. People are just beginning to focus on the conference and registrations are starting to pick up. Local activists in Massachusetts are also now beginning to increase their efforts to promote the event. Looks like we will have a good international representation at the event with key Global Network leaders coming from as far away as India, Japan, England, Sweden, Germany, Canada, and throughout the U.S.

Monday, April 18, 2011

PICTURES OF RESISTANCE

The new construction entrance to the Navy base on Jeju Island, South Korea. The fresh water stream empties into the sea. The Navy base cement pier would begin here. Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, still in jail for lying down under a construction truck, is now in his 13th day of fasting against the base.
Gangjeong villagers lying down to block road with banners.
Rocks piled up by villagers and supporters to block construction effort.
Fighting to save the soft coral.
Fighting to save these endangered species. When the sea bottom is dredged, in order for U.S. Aegis destroyers and aircraft carriers to port here, these will surely be destroyed.


For daily updates on the Navy base struggle on Jeju island see here

TODAY'S HISTORY MOMENT



You can watch a longer film about Emma Goldman here

Sunday, April 17, 2011

SUNDAY SONG







There are rumors flying around that The Kinks will soon be reformed. To this lifelong fan that would be a great event. Until then I will continue to enjoy and share some of the enormous back catalog of songs by Ray and Dave Davies.