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, June 04, 2011

UNCOMMON COURAGE AWARD

Senate page fired for anti-Harper protest

By: Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press

June 3, 2010

OTTAWA - Paging all protesters!

A 21-year-old Senate page put her job on the line Friday in a silent call for Canadians to give some sober second thought to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's majority Conservative government.

Brigette DePape staged an unprecedented protest on the floor of the Senate chamber, walking out into the red-carpeted centre aisle carrying a red "Stop Harper" sign that she'd pulled from beneath her skirt as Gov. Gen. David Johnston read the new government's speech from the throne.

The University of Ottawa graduate stood silently holding her hand-painted sign for at least 20 seconds — while the vice-regal made a barely perceptible hitch in his address and a stunned room full of dignitaries and invited guests stared in mute astonishment.

With Harper, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk — among others — looking on, the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons finally escorted DePape out of the Senate.

Six seated justices of the Supreme Court of Canada sat in their ermine robes with their backs to DePape, seemingly oblivious to the drama unfolding three paces behind them.

DePape was nearing the end of her year-long job as a page, and the Senate communications staff said her employment has been terminated.

The stunt was well planned, with a news release popping up in the emails of Parliament Hill reporters minutes after the event.

"Contrary to Harper's rhetoric, Conservative values are not in fact Canadian values," DePape, calling herself Brigette Marcelle, said in the release.

"How could they be when three out of four eligible voters didn't even give their support to the Conservatives? But we will only be able to stop Harper's agenda if people of all ages and from all walks of life engage in creative actions and civil disobedience."

In an interview later, DePape said she was "extremely nervous."

"But, I don't know, there was something inside of me that said, 'You have to do this.'"

Reaction from senators and MPs was decidedly cool, although Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin, a Progressive Conservative, noted that the Senate floor is supposed to be a place of free speech.

"One of the principal rules is free speech," Nolin shrugged. But he noted the security staff "are scratching their head today."

Being a page is highly coveted part-time job in which university students run errands for MPs and Senators in parliament — everything from fetching a glass of water to exchanging messages.

Veteran Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett called the protest by a security-cleared employee "an abuse of parliamentary privilege."

"That's lots of room for that out on the lawn, or whatever," she said.

And Green party Leader Elizabeth May lauded DePape for her bravery but suggested that by interrupting the Governor General she'd used it in the wrong venue.

"Essentially, in theory, we're in the presence of Her Majesty, that is the sovereign," said May. "That isn't Stephen Harper's room. That's somebody else's room."

It's not the first protest for DePape, who graduated this spring after an award-winning four years studying international development at the University of Ottawa.

She worked as a summer intern last year for the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in Winnipeg and took part in last June's G20 protests in Toronto.

Afterwards, DePape wrote an op-ed in the Winnipeg Free Press where she opined about the impact of protesters.

"My dad told me that protesting at the G20 was unproductive and ineffective. I was crushed. Suddenly, riding in my parents' car, I felt powerless ... But my question for him and his generation is: what will change things, then? If protesting is meaningless, as he suggests, what can we do to create a more just society?"

She also made the environment a prominent feature in a one person play she performed at an Ottawa youth event last March. At one point she expressed her frustration with political leaders.

"Our government needs to change," she said in her skit performed at Ashbury College last March.

DePape exhibited no signs of remorse when speaking of her latest exploit.

"I've been learning a lot about politics and being on the Hill, I really got to see first-hand the politics of Harper and his agenda going forward," she said, adding "I decided that I could not just sit idly by any longer and decided this was a good time to take action."

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau said DePape had stepped on the "sense of respect and decorum" that goes with a throne speech and he'd rather the protest hadn't happened.

"Dissent is part of our democratic system," added Trudeau.

"I don't think she'll be too badly punished for it, either — concretely here, or in her future endeavours."

In fact, the buzz on social networking site Twitter was largely positive, and DePape appeared to have a job offer from someone at the Public Service Alliance of Canada before the day was done.

"Brigitte Marcelle contact me for a job at the #PSAC," said the message. "We are looking for gutsy organizers."

LATEST NEWS ON YANG

The news these days from Jeju Island is that Yang Yoon-Mo did not end his hunger strike until yesterday. He was visited by Catholic Bishop Kang at the hospital where he has been since being released from jail.

Bishop Kang told Professor Yang, "You were in a life-risking hunger strike and I was so sorry that I couldn't join you. During my last visit in jail, your pure soul came into my sight and I have had great respect for you. Through the 59 day-long hunger strike, God seemed to be always with you. ...... I hope you stop the hunger strike and try to recover your health so that you can go back in solidarity with the people...... Your sacrifice has given many people a momentum to think about the naval base nationwide."

Professor Yang responded, "I'll do so as you wish. . .... After recovery, I'll come back to Gangjeong village for struggle."

Kang is Bishop of the Jeju diocese and also chairperson of the Korean Catholic Bishops' Conference. Catholics make up about 40% of the South Korean population. Bishop Kang and the Catholic Conference have been supporting the Gangjeong village for some time. They have held several masses along the rocks of the village shoreline.

Friday, June 03, 2011

GIVE KUCINICH CREDIT



Got to give Kucinich credit for forcing this debate and vote on the constitutionality of Obama's Libya war.

KUCINICH OUT OF LIBYA RESOLUTION FAILS IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES


FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR HOUSE RESOLUTION 51

3-Jun-2011

QUESTION: On Agreeing to the Resolution

BILL TITLE: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya

Yeas-Nays-Present-Not Voting
Republican 87-144-0-8
Democratic 61-121-0-11
Independent
TOTALS 148-265-0-19


---- YEAS 148 ---

Adams
Akin
Amash
Bachmann
Baldwin
Bartlett
Becerra
Benishek
Berg
Bishop (NY)
Braley (IA)
Brooks
Broun (GA)
Buchanan
Burgess
Burton (IN)
Camp
Campbell
Capito
Capuano
Cassidy
Castor (FL)
Chaffetz
Cicilline
Clarke (MI)
Clarke (NY)
Clay
Cleaver
Coble
Cole
Conyers
Costello
Davis (IL)
Davis (KY)
DeFazio
Doyle
Duffy
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Farr
Fincher
Flake
Fleming
Foxx
Frank (MA)
Garrett
Gibson
Gohmert
Gonzalez
Gosar
Gowdy
Graves (GA)
Grijalva
Guinta
Gutierrez
Hall
Hanabusa
Harris
Hastings (FL)
Hinchey
Holt
Huelskamp
Huizenga (MI)
Jackson (IL)
Jackson Lee (TX)
Johnson (IL)
Johnson, Sam
Jones
Keating
Kingston
Kucinich
Labrador
Landry
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Lewis (GA)
Luján
Lummis
Lynch
Mack
Manzullo
Markey
McClintock
McGovern
McHenry
McKinley
Michaud
Miller (MI)
Mulvaney
Nadler
Napolitano
Noem
Nugent
Pastor (AZ)
Paul
Paulsen
Payne
Pearce
Perlmutter
Petri
Pingree (ME)
Pitts
Poe (TX)
Posey
Price (GA)
Rangel
Reed
Ribble
Richardson
Rigell
Roe (TN)
Rooney
Ross (FL)
Roybal-Allard
Royce
Schmidt
Schrader
Schweikert
Scott (SC)
Scott (VA)
Scott, Austin
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Sherman
Southerland
Speier
Stark
Stearns
Stutzman
Terry
Thompson (MS)
Tierney
Tonko
Towns
Upton
Velázquez
Visclosky
Walberg
Walsh (IL)
Waters
Webster
Welch
West
Westmoreland
Wolf
Woodall
Woolsey
Young (AK)


---- NAYS 265 ---
Ackerman
Aderholt
Alexander
Altmire
Andrews
Austria
Baca
Bachus
Barletta
Barrow
Barton (TX)
Bass (CA)
Berkley
Berman
Biggert
Bilbray
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (UT)
Black
Blackburn
Blumenauer
Bonner
Bono Mack
Boren
Boswell
Boustany
Brady (PA)
Brady (TX)
Brown (FL)
Bucshon
Buerkle
Butterfield
Calvert
Canseco
Cantor
Capps
Cardoza
Carnahan
Carney
Carson (IN)
Carter
Chabot
Chandler
Chu
Clyburn
Coffman (CO)
Cohen
Conaway
Connolly (VA)
Cooper
Costa
Courtney
Cravaack
Crawford
Crenshaw
Critz
Crowley
Cuellar
Culberson
Cummings
Davis (CA)
DeGette
DeLauro
Denham
Dent
DesJarlais
Deutch
Diaz-Balart
Dicks
Dingell
Doggett
Dold
Donnelly (IN)
Dreier
Edwards
Ellison
Ellmers
Emerson
Engel
Eshoo
Farenthold
Fattah
Filner
Fitzpatrick
Fleischmann
Flores
Forbes
Fortenberry
Franks (AZ)
Fudge
Gallegly
Garamendi
Gardner
Gerlach
Gibbs
Gingrey (GA)
Goodlatte
Graves (MO)
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Griffin (AR)
Griffith (VA)
Grimm
Hanna
Harper
Hartzler
Hastings (WA)
Hayworth
Heck
Heinrich
Hensarling
Herger
Herrera Beutler
Higgins
Himes
Hirono
Hochul
Holden
Honda
Hultgren
Hunter
Hurt
Inslee
Israel
Issa
Jenkins
Johnson (GA)
Johnson (OH)
Johnson, E. B.
Jordan
Kelly
Kildee
Kind
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
Kissell
Kline
Lamborn
Lance
Langevin
Lankford
Larsen (WA)
Latham
LaTourette
Latta
Levin
Lewis (CA)
Lipinski
LoBiondo
Loebsack
Long
Lowey
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lungren, Daniel E.
Maloney
Marchant
Marino
Matheson
Matsui
McCarthy (CA)
McCarthy (NY)
McCaul
McCollum
McDermott
McIntyre
McKeon
McMorris Rodgers
McNerney
Meehan
Meeks
Mica
Miller (NC)
Miller, Gary
Moran
Murphy (CT)
Murphy (PA)
Neugebauer
Nunes
Nunnelee
Olson
Olver
Owens
Palazzo
Pallone
Pascrell
Pelosi
Pence
Peters
Peterson
Platts
Polis
Pompeo
Price (NC)
Quayle
Quigley
Rahall
Rehberg
Reichert
Renacci
Reyes
Richmond
Rivera
Roby
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rohrabacher
Rokita
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Ross (AR)
Rothman (NJ)
Runyan
Ruppersberger
Ryan (OH)
Ryan (WI)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sarbanes
Scalise
Schakowsky
Schiff
Schilling
Schock
Scott, David
Sessions
Sewell
Shimkus
Shuster
Simpson
Sires
Slaughter
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Stivers
Sullivan
Sutton
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (PA)
Thornberry
Tiberi
Tipton
Tsongas
Turner
Van Hollen
Walden
Walz (MN)
Wasserman Schultz
Watt
Waxman
Weiner
Whitfield
Wilson (FL)
Wilson (SC)
Wittman
Womack
Wu
Yarmuth
Yoder
Young (IN)


---- NOT VOTING 19 ---
Bass (NH)
Frelinghuysen
Giffords
Granger
Guthrie
Hinojosa
Hoyer
Kaptur
Lofgren, Zoe
McCotter
Miller (FL)
Miller, George
Moore
Myrick
Neal
Rush
Schwartz
Shuler
Young (FL)

THE SHINERS

Click on photo for better view

Peter Woodruff and I went to the state capital in Augusta yesterday for the labor union rally called to defend collective bargaining rights for public employees. The Republicans in the state legislature have introduced a bill to make Maine a "Right to Work" state, or as the unions called it "A Right to Work for Less" state. The media reported that more than 600 were there and I'd venture a guess that was about right.

Peter and I brought our own signs. We were one of the few that did as most people carried the union mass produced signs as you can see in the photo above. Throughout the large crowd I noticed at most six home-made signs.

Before the speeches began Peter and I climbed the stairs behind the podium as we usually do when we go to these events. Once there we noticed two leading staffers (a man and a woman) from the state AFL-CIO down below talking and pointing to our signs. The woman then climbed the stairs and told Peter, "We don't want to send that kind of message. We still need some GOP (Republican) votes to kill this bill. We want you to put it down."

Peter was shocked. At first he put his sign down. Then he turned it so the blank side was facing the audience. Then when the speeches began he turned it back around so the "offending" words could be seen by the large crowd standing before us. On the way home a perplexed Peter said, "I wasn't calling for revolution. I was calling for participation in the system, for people to vote."

When I read the story published in the Portland Press Herald today about the rally I had a good laugh. The article reported, "Protesters held signs that read: 'Next time vote them out!,' 'Solidarity' and 'It's a war on the workers.'"

Peter's sign was the one that said "Next time vote them out!" and mine said "It's a war on the workers." Not bad.

I've talked before on this blog but can't say often enough that this way of accommodation, of trying not to anger the Republicans, is a sure-fire strategy for failure. But I strongly believe that this is supreme evidence of how the labor unions (in Maine and by and large across the nation) have become appendages of the Democratic Party. And the Democrats have sent the unions in Maine a message - don't come on so strong that you piss off the GOP.

It's the GOP though that is cutting the throats of the workers and poor people in this state and across the land. And, sad to say, it is the servile Democrats (with a few noteworthy exceptions) that are unwittingly, or not, helping them do so by their displays of timidity.

Years ago in Florida when I was an organizer for the United Farm Workers Union I learned about shiners. When a fruit tree was picked, no matter how hard they tried, workers usually found that they missed one piece of fruit and it really stood out in the otherwise barren tree. They called them shiners.

Yesterday Peter and I were the shiners in the crowd behind the podium. We didn't plan it that way. We both are union members and answered the call to come to a labor rally. We made our signs and showed up. Little did we know that the mass produced signs were one way to "control" the message. So our "out of place" message stood out for sure.

As it turned out the 600 workers in attendance were way ahead of their leadership. When the State House sound system couldn't be heard by the workers the assembled began chanting slogans on their own. They too were shiners.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

ESCALATION COMING IN LIBYA

LETTER TO KOREAN GOVERNMENT



I wanted to share this letter from long-time peace activist (and Veterans for Peace member) Brian Willson. It is a remarkable letter and included important historical information about Jeju Island. It was posted on May 26.


Honorable Li Tae Sik, Ambassador
Embassy, Republic of Korea
2450 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Sir:

As a former US military officer who participated in our illegal war against the Vietnamese people, I am outraged over the decision of the South Korean government, under relentless pressure from the United States government, to contract with Daelim and Samsung Engineering Construction companies to build a Navy base at Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island (Island of Peace). This decision goes against the expressed wishes of the citizens of Gangjeong. Korea represents itself as a democratic republic that upholds human rights of its citizens. How can this be? The stated purpose is to create a deep water port for additional Korean Aegis Destroyers ($1 Billion each), and porting new US Aegis Destroyers. This mentality toward evermore war and militarization creates insecurity, not security! And that you consent to such tyrannical US pressure is shameful!

Well known South Korean movie critic, Prof. Yang, is on his 53rd day of a water only fast and has chosen to die unless construction of the Navy base is permanently cancelled. Korean citizen Sung Hee Choi is in jail on her 10th day of a hunger fast. At least seven other Koreans have been illegally jailed in Jeju for their nonviolent protest. And now, in the USA, there are a number of people who have begun fasts in solidarity with the villagers of Gangjeong who are vehemently opposed to construction of this base in their peaceful, beautiful village.

I have traveled to Korea on eight different occasions learning more of your history, and the history of US presence since our first intervention on the Korean Peninsula in August 1945, and our continued militarizing/controlling influence on your people and culture.

I am aware of the horrendous massacre in 1948 of at least 30,000 Jeju villagers by Syngman Rhee's ruthless death squads, under the direction and oversight of US ground advisers and US air support. The continued influence of the US in South Korean affairs, including the obstruction of a permanent peace treaty with North Korea, perpetuates a mentality of hatred, motivated by immense profits for the military industrial complex while threatening peace for both Korean people, and the rest of us.

Please stop construction of the Navy base on Jeju Island, the Island of Peace.

Sincerely,

S. Brian Willson
Portland, Oregon 97206
bw@brianwillson.com


US Military Photos in National Archives: Some of the thousands of Jeju citizens rounded up in 1948 by Korean Constabulary and right wing vigilantes under orders from the US military. Islanders opposed the partition of Korea and US puppet Syngman Rhee's undemocratic elections in the South VS wishes of the vast majority of Koreans. 30,000 - 60,000 Cheju (Jeju) Islanders were murdered in the scorched earth repression ordered and overseen by Colonel Rothwell Brown, US military commander on Jeju, in concert with Captains James Hausman and John Reed, using US weapons and air power. One of the Korean collaborators with the US military was Park Chun Hee, later to become dictatorial ruler of South Korea, who escaped execution by helping identify his former associates, including his own brother. This, despite the fact that commander of US armed forces in Korea at the time, US General John Reed Hodge, acknowledged that the vast majority of Jeju’s inhabitants were poor farmers and fishers living a marginal existence but who lived democratically in a "truly communal area that is peacefully controlled by the people’s committees.”

REGISTRATION FOR 19TH ANNUAL SPACE ORGANIZING CONFAB

Raytheon, Missile Offense, and Endless War
June 17-19
North Andover, Massachusetts

Working together to demilitarize and create a sustainable future

2011 marks the 19th anniversary of Global Network’s organizing efforts to build an international constituency to Keep Space for Peace. Each year we gather to share the latest international developments on Pentagon and aerospace industry plans for the militarization of space. We approach this conference with clarity that U.S. “missile defense” programs are actually key elements in overall Pentagon first-strike planning. The Raytheon Company, which had 2009 sales of $25 billion, is a leading builder and promoter of the missile “offense” program. Headquartered in Massachusetts, Raytheon has a manufacturing plant in Andover that builds the Patriot (PAC-3) system that is now being used by the Pentagon to help encircle Russia and China.

Speakers/Singers: Dave Webb (UK), Agneta Norberg (Sweden), Regina Hagen (Germany), J. Narayana Rao (India), Tamara Lorincz (Canada), Atsushi Fujioka (Japan), Manashi Mohanty (India), Tetsu Kitagawa (Japan), Joseph Gerson (Massachusetts), Alice Slater (New York), Carol Urner (Oregon), Loring Wirbel (Colorado), Bill Sulzman (Colorado), Matthew Hoey (Massachusetts), David Meieran (Pennsylvania), John Schuchardt (Massachusetts), Lisa Savage (Maine), Paki Wieland (Massachusetts), Joyce Katzberg (Rhode Island), Marty Nathan (Massachusetts), Nicole Moreau (Maine), Vanessa Lynch (Massachusetts), Mary Beth Sullivan (Maine) and Bruce Gagnon (Maine).

Plenary Panels & Workshops: Local Space Organizing Reports from key Global Network activists from around the world; Raytheon & the Military Industrial Complex: Consequences of Missile Offense Deployments in Europe and Asia; Cyber Warfare, Drones, and other new space directed technologies; Missile Defense in Europe: U.S., NATO and a New Cold War; Missile Defense Deployments in Asia: Provocative Strategy & a New Arms Race; Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign; Students Speak Out: Space Weapons Technology Impacts on Social Progress

Vigil: On Friday, June 17 from 3:00 - 5:00 pm a vigil will be held at the gates of the Raytheon production plant as the workers leave for home. Local activists have been holding vigils at the facility for years. (NW corner of Rt 133 and I-93 intersection)

Conference: Saturday, June 18 day-long conference with panel discussions and workshops held at Merrimack College. Key Global Network activists from around the world speaking about current U.S. and allies space weapons technology developments and strategies.

Concert: Tetsu Kitagawa, one of Japan's leading peace and justice singer/songwriters 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 (North Parish Old Center Hall, North Andover). Open to the community, as well as to conference participants, tickets will be available at the conference and at the door for $10.

Cost: Registration for the conference is on a sliding scale. Please pay what you can best afford between $15 - $100. Registration fee includes three meals on June 17-18. (Suggested fee is $50 which covers our basic costs.)

Event Co-Sponsors: AFSC Disarmament Program; Alliance for Peace & Justice, Western Mass.; CodePink Maine; Essex Unitarian Universalist Church; House of Peace; Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home; Maine Veterans for Peace; Merrimack Valley People for Peace; New England Peace Pagoda; New Hampshire Peace Action; North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice; Office of Mission and Ministry, Merrimack College; Peace Action Maine; Salem Peace Committee; United for Justice with Peace (Greater Boston); Veterans for Peace Chapter 9 Smedley Butler Brigade; Veterans for Peace Chapter 45 Samantha Smith; War Resisters League New England; WILPF

Registration Form:

Get the full conference program, schedule and registration brochure at: http://www.space4peace.org/

Name_____________________________

Organization__________________________

Address__________________________

City______________State______

Postal Code__________

Country_______________Phone ( )_____________

Email________________

□ Enclosed is my conference registration in the amount of $_______ . I/We will eat these meals: June 17 supper___

June 18 Lunch ___ June 18 supper ___ (Checks payable to Global Network)

□ Enclosed is $10 each for June 18 evening concert _______

□ Please sign me up for home hospitality on ________ for ______number of people

□ Please send me local hotel information

□ I live in the Andover area and can offer hospitality to ______guests. Contact me

□ Sorry I can’t come, but here is a donation to help cover conference expenses

Return to:
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com
http://www.space4peace.org/

OPEN FOR CONTROVERSY

Maine's new Tea Party Republican Gov. Paul LePage has opened the state to "business" and to endless controversy. As one enters Maine the state welcome sign has been "augmented" by the governor to include an additional sign that reads "Open for Business". This past weekend someone took the sign down and it is now missing.

While at the state capital today I learned that the sign is now available for "trade" - an even swap for the labor mural that Gov. LePage recently pulled down from the walls of the Maine Department of Labor. Will the governor agree to the deal?



BREAKING BREAD


Gloria Steinem shouts "No Navy base" with villagers

The latest news from Jeju Island by way of Regina Pyon at SPARK is:

Yang Yoon-Mo was hospitalized for medical check up and to recover. It will take quite a long time to recover to "eat" actually, but he can talk and sit. Talked on phone just now and conveyed all your warm messages and wishes. On June 4, Bishop Kang U-il of Jeju Catholic Diocese, who is also chair of Korean Bishops' Conference, will visit him to the hospital.

Other reports are:

Sung-Hee Choi delivered thanks so much to everyone for their international solidarity and support. Her health is not good because of low blood sugar and low blood pressure. That's why she stopped her fasting yesterday on 14th day.

I went back to Bath Iron Works (BIW) again on Wednesday and was able to hand out 10 flyers. As one worker passed by he asked, "How is your friend?" I told him that Yang was released from jail and had stopped his hunger strike. I was very moved that he asked and it made me certain that there was quite a discussion happening inside the bowels of BIW. One woman, who on Tuesday had taken my leaflet and had given me a kind word as she took it, waved to me yesterday as she left work. Another called out to me as the 15-passenger van he was in with other workers was locked in traffic in the far lane. He said, "Can I please have one of those papers?" I weaved my way through the rumbling cars to hand him one and watched him begin to read the contents of the leaflet to the others in the van.

In the moments following the opening of the BIW gate at 3:30 pm, when the workers pour out of the shipyard and rush toward the street where I was standing, a wave of love washed over me. It was a transformative moment as I felt such affinity for these people who work hard to feed their families. It is not their fault that our nation's priorities are in my opinion so far out of whack. Of course many of them feel good about the work they do and that is understandable. But in the end they are human beings, my brothers and sisters, and I feel no ill will toward them. As I stood there I hoped that they could feel this respect I have for them. Far too often workers and peace activists are divided from one another. I feel no such division from them.

I want to frequently return to BIW for these afternoon vigils where I raise serious questions on my signs and hand out information. My hope is that over time the walls that separate us can fall.

Today I will head to the state capital in Augusta to join union members from across the state for a rally to oppose our governor's proposal to create a "right to work" law that would allow people to reap union benefits without paying union dues. It's one of the right-wing strategies being pushed nationwide to defund the unions who often put big money into campaigns to defeat Republican candidates in state and national elections.

I am a member of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) and support the rights of all workers to organize.

Solidarity forever. Solidarity with workers and solidarity with people who struggle to save their land and their way of life from the expansion of militarism. It is all the same to me.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A LESSON FROM SHERIFF TAYLOR



As the Patriot Act is extended in the U.S. we turn to Mayberry, North Carolina and Sheriff Taylor for a fundamental lesson in Constitutional law.

YANG SPRUNG FROM JAIL BY GROWING PRESSURE ON SOUTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT

A weak and thin Yang Yoon-Mo (right) released from jail after 60 day hunger strike

Gloria Steinem bows along the Gangjeong coastProfessor Yang was released from jail today. He was sentenced to one and one-half years in jail with a suspended sentence but with two years probation. There can be no doubt that the international outcry on his behalf has helped spring him from the jailhouse.

Regina Pyon, staff person at SPARK in South Korea, reports, "Yang didn't mention yet about his hunger strike. The first word he spoke was 'Is Gangjeong peaceful?' and 'My struggle will be continued to the end. Gangjeong villagers are the teacher who led me to the road of justice.'

Sung-Hee Choi will go on trial June 10. She has ended her hunger strike and urges others to end their hunger strikes at this time.

We are thrilled at the release of Professor Yang Yoon-Mo but deplore the strict conditions of a two year probation which is obviously intended to silence him politically.

Our plan to send MacGregor Eddy to Jeju Island on behalf of the Global Network remains in place. She will be there for the June 10 trial of fellow Global Network board member Sung-Hee. People are already responding to our fund appeal to pay for her travel. We must not let our voices die down now. People must continue to spread news about Jeju Island and keep the heat on to halt the Navy base construction.

American feminist activist Gloria Steinem visited the Gangjeong village in recent days along with a delegation of Korean women. I am certain that her visit was a huge lift to the villagers who have been working so hard for the past four years to bring this issue to the world's attention.

We are so proud of our friends in Gangjeong village and all the South Korean activists who have worked so hard to support them. It is an honor for us to work together in this good struggle for peace.

Many NGOs in South Korea launched the "Korean National Committee against Jeju Naval Base Construction" on June 1. They plan to hold a press conference on June 8 and are requesting that international activists send a joint statement for the news conference. We will begin now to put that statement together. Let me know if your organization would like to be listed as a signatory on this basic statement of our support for the Gangjeong village struggle against the Navy base.

We will keep you posted as we get more news about Yang and Sung-Hee. Thanks for keeping up with all this.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SPECIAL FUND APPEAL TO SEND GN BOARD MEMBER TO JEJU ISLAND

The Global Network has decided to send one of its board members to Jeju Island, South Korea in order to bring messages of solidarity from our international membership to the struggling people of Gangjeong village. MacGregor Eddy (WILPF) from Salinas, California has been a leader in the international effort to build support for the people on Jeju Island.

The South Korean government is building a Navy base there, destroying endangered soft coral reefs and a shoreline of remarkable beauty in this fishing and farming village.

Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi is in jail on Jeju and is now on her 15th day of a hunger strike. She was arrested for holding a banner saying "Not one flower, Not one stone" at a Gangjeong village protest. Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is also in jail since blocking a truck with his body on April 6. He is now on his 59th day of hunger striking and vows to die unless the Navy base construction is halted. The naval base will be used for porting U.S. Aegis destroyers that carry so called "missile defense" interceptor missiles.

MacGregor would be in Jeju Island during the Global Network's upcoming 19th annual Space Organizing conference on June 17-19 that will be held in Andover, Massachusetts. One of her tasks will be to regularly report back to our membership while there and to let the South Korean media know about the growing international support for the villagers struggle to save their way of life and the sacred nature that surrounds them.

We need to raise the funds to send MacGregor on this trip and appeal to you to make a special donation to the Global Network for this purpose. You can make a tax deductible donation one of two ways. First, you can go to our web site at http://www.space4peace.org/ and look for the orange Donate Now! button (also found here on the blog) and make a secure on-line donation. Or you can put a check in the mail to GN at PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011.

Let us hear from you right away. Help us send MacGregor on this important solidarity trip. Thanks for your support.

AN OPENING FOR PEOPLE IN GAZA

THE BLINDNESS OF MILITARISM





Over the past weekend hundreds rallied in Gangjeong village in South Korea to protect the rocks and the plant and animal life that will be destroyed once the thousands of huge "tetra pods" are all placed in the water and cement gets poured over everything to build the piers in order to dock the visiting U.S. warships.

The military (who says they are out to bring security) does not care about the life forms that are killed. Their brazen quest for power and control separates them from the living world around them. Power is like a drug and they always need more as the addiction numbs them to life. The plants, the rocks, the coral, the fish, the clean water do not exist in their minds. It is a spiritual disconnection.

Here in the U.S. we witnessed last week the U.S. House of Representatives voting to give the president formal power to declare war anyplace and anytime he wishes. The Constitution says that only Congress can declare war but now that the corporations own Congress the loyalty of both parties has switched from protecting the people to protecting the profits and global imperial agenda of the corporations. This is the time that we live in. Democracy has been smothered just like the life forms living among the rocks in Gangjeong will be smothered by the concrete.

This weekend we learned that our dear friend Sister Jackie Hudson, a Catholic nun, recently arrested again for yet another act of protest against the endless war machine appears to have had a heart attack inside the Irwin County Detention Facility in the state of Georgia. It is one of the new "privatized" jails where the lines of authority are blurred and for some reason they have decided that Jackie doesn't need to be sent to a hospital. For the last several days lawyers and doctors and supporters of Jackie have been calling the jail and anyone else they can reach. I called the jail last night and talked to the "supervisor" who told me Jackie is fine inside the jail medical room. I asked that my message be passed on to the "warden" when she returns to work today but I was told that would not be possible because it would be a "violation of personnel policies" to transmit that call. You can make a call to demand Jackie be taken to a proper hospital: ask for Warden Barbara Walrath – 229-468-4120 .

Today begins my 9th day of fasting in solidarity with all life forms in and around Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. My heart is with Yang Yoon-Mo who is now on his 58th day of hunger striking and Sung-Hee Choi on her 14th day.

I am grateful to those who have been writing me and sending messages to the South Korean embassy in their country. In recent days I've heard from people in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, Wales, England, China, Philippines, Japan, Hawaii, and all over the U.S. who are taking steps to show support. Many of these same people are fasting for a day or more. Thanks to all of you. Please keep spreading the word. I will return to Bath Iron Works again today.

Monday, May 30, 2011

BOOK CLUB: MICHAEL PARENTI



His new book "The Face of Imperialism"

REMEMBERING AND PREVENTING WAR




Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. where the war dead are remembered. Most communities have parades where Boy and Girl Scouts and high school bands march. Squads of old veterans, dressed up in uniforms that no longer fit, march as well. Local business use the march as free advertising and try to dress themselves up in patriotic colors but their true intentions are obvious. There is little creativity or things of real value in these parades.

There is a big parade in nearby Brunswick and each year the local peace group called Peaceworks gathers its members and participates in the parade behind their banner. Today our Maine Veterans for Peace, dressed in our black T-shirts with our name on the front, walked behind the women from Peaceworks. All together we had about 30 of us.

Dud Hendrick, Maine VFP president and Vietnam veteran, made a couple hundred copies of my blog post about my vigil at Bath Iron Works in support of the folks on Jeju Island and he and other members of the group handed them out to crowds watching the parade. Dud is also now fasting for several days in solidarity with Gangjeong villagers. He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. The leaflet asked people to write to the South Korean embassy in Washington DC urging them to cancel the Navy base construction in the Gangjeong village.

Usually it is still cool when the Memorial Day parade comes each year and we have to wear sweatshirts but not today. After an unusual thunder storm last night, that woke up practically everyone in the region, we were greeted today with hot muggy weather - more like Florida than Maine.

I walked the whole two and one-half miles with our group in the parade but by the end my legs were a bit wobbly. I am home now sitting on my bed with my laptop and a cool glass of watermelon juice. Today is the 8th day of my solidarity fast and it is the 57th day (Korean time) of Yang Yoon-Mo's hunger strike and the 13th day for Sung-Hee Choi.

The South Korean peace group Solidarity for Peace & Reunification of Korea (SPARK), a Global Network affiliate, reports that over the weekend hundreds of people gathered in Gangjeong village for protests. In a news conference SPARK leaders told of the growing international solidarity efforts and fasts that are now happening.

It appears that my earlier information about the June 4 trial of Yang was wrong. It now seems to be that he will be sentenced on June 1 (Korea time).

So if you have not yet written or called to show support for the villagers on Jeju Island now is the time to do it. Please don't wait. If you live outside the U.S. please call the South Korean embassy in your country and get others to do it as well.

If you live in the U.S. please call the South Korean office at the United Nations - 212-439-4000. Also write to the South Korean embassy in Washington DC using this email defenattache@yahoo.com

Sunday, May 29, 2011

CHASING HOMELESS IN ORLANDO

 

I lived in downtown Orlando, Florida for 20 years....have never seen a more backward political community anywhere else I ever lived. Sad to see that folks still have to fight tooth and nail for every good thing but love their courage and determination.

See newspaper story here

WORDS FROM SUNG-HEE CHOI


JungJoo Park from South Korea has provided us with the latest communication from Sung-Hee Choi who is now on her 11th day of hunger striking on Jeju Island, South Korea. It is Sung-Hee laying under the construction vehicle and in the middle of the photo above.

JungJoo writes, "What Sung-hee in a prison said to people who support her a few days ago."

The revolution comes in time we do not know.
It comes suddenly when we are in desperate, so close to give up.
I believe in that long water flow which are made by tiny water drops gathering rather than someone's big power at certain time.
I especially believe the power of culture, power of arts, no, I believe the power of cultured people and artists.
And I believe the truth will be spread out to this whole world as our young generation begin to stand up.
But our fight has to be fun.
And again, our youth should be a source of strength for our fight.
You do not know how much I miss you, Gangjeong village, Gureombi...
I miss them so much, appreciate them so much, and I'd love to see them all.
Brother, Taewhan, will you sing again?
And everyone, will you sing together?
We get together again and do a dance on Gureombi?
But on the other hand, I am glad to come trapped.
More and more people coming to Gureombi, more things are doing!!
Here, I read books that I missed so far, and think a lot of ideas I missed.
There is a passage, especially coming so often these days.
"The absolute, must open one side of the door if the other side is closed."
Let's walk together toward the open door!
(And the tears flow quietly)
I've never ever cried while visiting.
But so many young people have come, my tears of happy flowing.
Please call more young people of 20's. Let my tears flowing more.
For a while I was totally numb.
I got here so unjustly.
If your transparent and clear forces get together, It will change everything at the moment nobody can expected.
At the moment we think of defeat, we are really missing out on everything.
But we do not fail as long as we do have beliefs.
I believe history.
Take courage and anger at the same time.
Lying down under a dump truck and crane must be finished by our generation.
You do your things in your way.
More enjoyable, more fun!
Not short time later, a lightning flash occurs and the naval base will be destroyed.
At that moment we must able to say openly.
'I am that thunder and lightning.'
I believe history and you.
Your infinite power available is up to you!


- Sung-Hee Choi
Jeju Island, South Korea

SUNDAY SONG





Honoring Gil Scott-Heron this time on Sunday Song.

7 DAYS MAKES ME WEEP

I woke up at 3:30 am very hungry and couldn't get my mind off eggs, grits, toast, faken bacon (soy), and English breakfast tea with milk. My only other food craving so far has been French toast smothered with maple syrup. Why am I not craving pasta? Amazing.

I couldn't go back to sleep so I thought writing this might help cure this itch. We'll see if it works. Desperate people take desperate measures.

I am still getting lots of emails from people concerned about my health. I appreciate it very much but please don't worry about me. I am doing fine. It is Professor Yang that I am most concerned about right now. He is now on his 55th day of hunger striking. His health is in serious danger. Last night I had a call from a Korean-American friend in New Jersey who called South Korea for me to get the latest information. They are going to put Yang on trial on June 4. Can you believe that? Outrageous. He very well might be on his death bed at that point.

We need everyone to take action now to literally save his life. Please write to the South Korean Defense Attaché assigned to Washington DC. at this address and demand an end of the Navy base construction in Gangjeong village...... defenattache@yahoo.com

This is all Yang Yoon-Mo is asking of us. He is hunger striking to spur us to help build international consciousness and support about the insanity of this Navy base that the U.S. is pushing the South Korean government to build.

And please spread word to your friends and neighbors about this situation. Urge them to watch the video interview with Yang and/or the coral reef video . Call the South Korean embassy in your country.

The story of Bobby Sands comes to mind. He was an Irish volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and member of the United Kingdom Parliament who died on hunger strike while imprisoned in 1981 inside the HM Prison Maze after 66 days. He was 27 years old. Professor Yang is in his late 50's.

All joking aside, I feel particularly compelled to continue this fast because I've seen Gangjeong village and have met the people there. It's real for me. But I am also motivated by the fact that I live in Bath, Maine where these very Aegis destroyers are built. And my life's work is about preventing an arms race in space that is being accelerated by the continuing deployment of missile offense systems on-board these warships.

I thank you for taking action to help save Yang's life. He is a good man who deserves to live. His village - the rocks, the fish, the vegetation, and the water deserve to live as well.