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 25, 2011

THE GREEK DEBT SCAM





Sorry about these commercials on these videos. I don't know how to remove them. But the videos are good.

See more on this whole Greek banking-debt scam here

STOP WAR ON LIBYA



On Friday evening, June 24, 2011, a forum entitled, "Eyewitness Libya," was held in Washington, D.C., at the Festival Center. It featured former-Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who has just returned from a fact-finding mission to that country. The event was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition.

CONFERENCE VIDEO


GN Chairperson Dave Webb (CND UK) produced a powerful video that he showed to begin our recent conference in Massachusetts.

For reasons I don't understand he has not been able to get it on YouTube but it is now available for downloading.

Just click here for the download. It might first require you to download a special player program (Adobe Shockwave) but just follow instructions to do that.

Friday, June 24, 2011

RICH OUT TO DESTROY SOCIAL PROGRESS

DEMOCRACY NOW COVERS MAYORS RESOLUTION



Thursday, June 23, 2011

SPACE ORGANIZING CONFERENCE REPORT

Agneta Norberg (Swedish Peace Council) received the Global Network's "Peace in Space Award" at our recent conference

Our 19th annual space organizing conference, entitled Raytheon, Missile Offense, & Endless War: Working Together to Demilitarize and Create a Sustainable Future, began on Friday, June 17 with a 1½ hour afternoon vigil outside the gates of Raytheon in Andover, Massachusetts. Over 65 people joined us at the gates as the workers poured out of Raytheon in their cars. Luckily the rain did not pour down upon us as we stood under threatening skies. It is known that 4,500 people work at the Andover facility where they build “missile defense” systems like the PAC-3 (ground-based launchers) and SM-3 (Aegis destroyer based) interceptor missiles that are now being deployed near the borders of Russia and China.

Arthur Brien from the Merrimack Valley People for Peace was glad to see so many people at the vigil. He has been holding a weekly vigil at Raytheon’s gates for 20 years – often alone.

A reporter from a local weekly newspaper came to the vigil to take photos and interview Global Network (GN) leaders from around the world that had come for the conference. The daily newspaper in Andover told us they’d likely not be able to give any coverage to the conference due to the fact that the Boston Bruins has just won the professional hockey championships. A convenient excuse indeed in this company town.

Following the vigil we had a supper at the Unitarian Church in Andover and heard speeches by John Schuchardt from the co-sponsoring North Shore Coalition for Peace & Justice. Art Brien also spoke and received a standing ovation from those in attendance. Local activist Mary Kate Small sang peace songs and then GN board member Loring Wirbel from Colorado Springs gave us more information about Raytheon’s key role in moving the arms race into space.

On June 18 we moved the conference to nearby Merrimack College where just over 100 people turned out. Two plenary sessions offered us a chance to share reports from GN leaders from six countries and across the U.S. We learned even more about Raytheon’s growing role in developing new technologies for crowd control, reconnaissance and surveillance, and for missile offense. New generations of robotic weapons, drones, and other nano-technology weapons are being created at academic institutions where “university-corporate partnerships” are increasingly being sold as a solution to fiscal problems at these schools. The lines between military and local law enforcement are being blurred as new “dual use” technologies are being created to spy on the public and suppress public dissent.

The issue of NATO expansion and the surrounding of Russia and China with “missile defense” systems, and the likelihood of a new arms race, were major themes of the conference. We heard from GN leaders in Canada, Sweden, England, Germany, Japan, and India – each one with a similar story about growing militarization of their societies and harsh cutbacks in social spending. Each of these nations, to some degree or the other, is being dragged into “partnerships” with the U.S. and the ever-expanding NATO as endless wars move from Iraq to Afghanistan to Yemen and now Libya.

The four workshops helped everyone dig deeper into the key themes of the conference. Topics discussed were cyber warfare (the U.S. now claims that an attack on its computers will be taken as an act of war), drones, missile offense expansion, the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign, and students speaking out on the domestic impacts of space militarization. As it turned out, the National Conference of Mayors was meeting the same weekend and on June 20 passed a Bring Our War $$ Home resolution that brought coverage of that issue to the front pages of the New York Times (June 22) and was the top story on the CBS evening news (June 20) as well as being reported in many other mainstream media outlets. The GN was instrumental in helping to initiate and spread the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign that was born in Maine.

On the evening of June 19 a second conference dinner was held at another Unitarian Church – this time in North Andover. War Resisters League/New England leaders Joanne Sheehan and Rick Gaumer cooked both of our dinners during the conference. It was wonderful having them with us and their good cooking was much appreciated by all. Two Peace in Space awards were presented after dinner to long-time GN board member Agneta Norberg (Sweden) and to the Merrimack Valley People for Peace. Art Brien accepted the award on his group’s behalf. GN chairperson Dave Webb (England) surprised all of us by presenting me with a Peace in Space award as well.

One dinner time highlight was the story telling by John Stewart (Florida) who did his comedic rendition of the time in 1997 when he and I and a few others from the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice led the CBS-TV 60 Minutes film crew and NASA security around the Kennedy Space Center tourist facility as we protested the deadly launch of 72 pounds of plutonium-238 on the Cassini space mission. People loved John’s bit.

Following the dinner we walked across the street to the Old Center Hall where we had a magnificent concert to cap off the evening. Boston-area Veterans for Peace leader Pat Scanlon and friends performed some of his rousing anti-war songs. Then we heard from a young man named Andrew McGarrah who sang a brilliant Sadako song in a tribute to the young girl who died trying to fold 1,000 paper cranes following the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our special guest, Japanese folksinger Tetsu Kitagawa, blew our hearts wide open with his wonderful songs – one of which is a tribute to the anti-militarist Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution that the U.S. is pressuring the Japanese government to dump so they can be dragged into the increasingly aggressive global NATO war making alliance. The wonderful thing about Kitagawa was that he spent the entire day with us at the conference. He spoke little English but sat through all the plenary sessions and workshops with his translator. Rarely do you see such a “star” do that. We must thank the AFSC’s Joseph Gerson for arranging to bring Kitagawa to the event.

On the final day, June 19, we held our annual membership business meeting. Finding a meeting place on a Sunday in Andover was not easy and we settled on a local Chinese restaurant, which had a large meeting room. Thirty of us met to review the past year and make plans for 2012.

One major item of discussion was our annual Keep Space for Peace Week (October 1-8), which this year is during the 10th “anniversary” of the war in Afghanistan. We decided to connect our poster theme and promotion of space week to the war and in particular to the fact that drones utilize military space satellites to carry out their deadly missions which often result in killing scores of innocent people. The week will again be co-sponsored by WILPF.

Three women from Sweden were at the meeting, one of whom (Ingela Martensson) was for a time a parliamentarian for the Liberal Party in the Swedish parliament. She volunteered to do all she could to bring the space weaponization issue to the EU body during Keep Space for Peace Week. Dave Webb, who also chairs CND in the UK, was extremely excited about this and wants to work with Ingela on that project.

We also discussed the need to undertake more work around the issue of the corporatization and militarization of academia and dreamed of the possibility of hiring, at the least, a part-time worker to help us do campus organizing around this growing problem. Regina Hagen (Germany) reported that students in her country have recently been organizing to oppose similar trends there. It would be good to connect students around the world on this issue.

As we met our GN board member Sung-Hee Choi (South Korea) remains in jail on Jeju Island for holding a banner that read “Touch not one stone, not one flower”. Another board member, MacGregor Eddy (California) was just preparing to return home after her 10-day solidarity visit to Jeju where she represented the GN. Due to the generosity of our members and supporters our recent travel fund appeal for MacGregor’s visit to Jeju had brought in enough money to send another person to the island. We decided to send Matt Hoey (Massachusetts) in late July and I have begun to talk with leaders of Korean-American organizations about sending representatives as well. A church group in Germany that I have been in contact with about Jeju will also send a person to be part of this international delegation.

Just prior to our conference we had received an email from GN board member Wooksik Cheong who lives in Seoul, South Korea. He said that leaders from the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island had requested that the GN consider holding our 2012 annual space conference there in solidarity with them. We discussed this amongst several other offers we have received from India, Sweden, Japan, and Hawaii to host future meetings.

We decided to send word to Jeju Island that we would like to meet there though because of the crucial situation we felt meeting earlier than normal in 2012 might be best. Jeju Island is one of those striking situations where the deployment of missile offense systems on Navy destroyers to surround China’s coastline converges with many other important issues. Coupled with the disastrous environmental consequences of building a Navy base on this pristine environmental treasure, is the need to support the beleaguered yet determined people in the Gangjeong farming and fishing village. This coming together of such a set of issues just cannot be ignored.

We also decided to tell organizers in Hawaii that several of our GN leaders could stop there on the way to Korea for a mini-conference. Hawaii has become a key “missile defense” testing ground and we feel it important to learn more about their local situation and strengthen our links with activists in that heavily militarized and isolated state.

We also decided to do our best to send as many of our GN leaders as possible to India in October 2012 for a space issues conference that will be organized by our board member J. Narayana Rao as his country barrels headfirst into Star Wars. And we gave our friends in Sweden the go-ahead to begin organizing for a 2013 space conference in their country as the development of a space launch, test range, and tracking facility in northern Sweden is expanding, largely due to its proximity to the Russian border.

There was a wonderful spirit at this conference and it was clear that the leadership of the GN understands the necessity to step-up our efforts around the globe if we hope to prevent the weaponization of space and stop endless war. When one person wondered if we could really afford to send GN representatives to all of the proposed events in 2012, Lotus Yee Fong (California) said, “With the U.S. surrounding Russia and China, how can we not do everything we possibly can to prevent war with them?”

Lotus is exactly right. We should not be limited by worries about funding at this time. The Global Network has always done a lot of work with a very meager budget. We must keep making the links between space technology and “conventional” war on the Earth below. We should continue to show solidarity with those working so hard to resist space militarization from Jeju Island to Hawaii to Sweden and to India. We need one another now more than ever.

I say build it and the support will come from our members to do this sacred work. Let our 20th year in the Global Network be our most active yet. Thanks to all.

CYBER WARFARE HITS MY COMPUTER

My computer was taken down for the past 24 hours by some top-notch cyber hackers. My computer doctor told me he'd never seen any virus like the one that hit me yesterday. It knocked out by access to email and to the Internet and somehow also knocked every other computer in the house off-line.

Needless to say I've now got a backlog of emails a mile-long waiting for me. Do I believe that the military industrial complex was responsible for this hit? Yes, I do. Does my computer doctor think it was someone from inside the military industrial complex that knocked out my computer? Yes, he does.

Do I expect it to happen again? Yes, I do.

Conference Videos: In the meantime GN board member Loring Wirbel (Citizens for Peace in Space, Colorado Springs) has created a page on YouTube for videos he recorded of many of the talks at our recent conference. You can see them here

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MIXED MESSAGES

Mayor Kang of the Gangjeong village tries to climb on-board the dredging ship that is preparing to destroy the soft coral reefs just off Jeju Island. The people are giving it their all and need our support more than ever.

  • No one is quite sure why Sung-Hee Choi's trial date has been changed to June 29. She's been in jail a long time now for just holding a banner. I think they are keeping her locked up because of her blog and organizing activity that was dramatically helping to spread word about Jeju Island all over the world. But if the right-wing South Korean government of President Lee thinks keeping her in jail will cut off that link they are wrong. The Facebook page has now taken over that role and increasing visits to the village by South Koreans is leading to more spontaneous protests around their country in support of Jeju Islanders.

  • Obama is going to make his weak Afghanistan speech today where he will propose to keep this quagmire going for many years to come. He will suggest the removal of 5,000 troops this summer with an additional 5,000 by the end of the year. That would leave 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan along with NATO forces and the mercenary forces that are hired by private contractors. So the more than $10 billion a month occupation will continue. Despite a few notable exceptions, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress will do all they can to keep this disaster going. Forget the crumbling economy at home. How can anyone now say that voting for Obama in 2012 will bring us change?
  • These same political hacks in Washington keep nagging at us about the growing debt crisis. But when it comes to massive Pentagon war spending they remain largely silent. Recent polls show that 73% of the American people support a withdrawal from Afghanistan. The people are not stupid and understand the links between endless war spending and fiscal crisis. The people don't want their Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and what is left of the social safety net dismantled. But the corporate hacks, posing as elected officials, by and large are out to bring feudalism back to America. I am more than fed up with corporate minions pretending to be "liberal Democrats". God, they disgust me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

GN CONFERENCE JOINT STATEMENT


Global Network 19th Annual Conference Joint Declaration

At a time when the Obama Administration would like to stress its adherence to a more multilateral National Space Policy, the members of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space remind us that the real global situation in space militarization should still be disturbing, when we see the real-world plans of the U.S., its NATO allies, and industrial nations worldwide. Even as the four years of an unprecedented recession have cut into commercial space enterprises, military budgets continue unabated, and are approaching $1 trillion annually in the U.S. The knee-jerk air-assault responses to the Libya crisis, followed by the SEAL assault on the Bin Laden compound in Pakistan, show that even as citizens of the Middle East and Maghreb nations rise in largely nonviolent campaigns for change, the U.S. and its NATO allies respond with integrated air, sea, and ground assault campaigns that use the theaters of space in virtually every aspect of military strategy.

Global Network points out that, even as concern about long-range missile-defense networks in some regions has abated, the U.S., NATO, Israel, and other nations have increased the development pace on tactical land-based systems like the PAC-3 missile, and sea-based Aegis systems using SM-3 interceptors. Spy satellite launches from the National Reconnaissance Office have continued at a rapid pace, as have classified space-plane tests from the Air Force and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The space plane tests, in particular, are elements of a new Pentagon program called Conventional Prompt Global Strike, managed through the U.S. Strategic Command and highly favored by Obama. This mission seeks the ability to strike anywhere on the planet in a two-hour window. These developments are actually offensive. They are destabilizing, promote a new arms race, and siphon money from domestic needs without enhancing true security.

Trends in warfare in 2011 make it clear why Global Network has chosen Raytheon Corp. this year as representative of the large military-industrial giants we oppose. Raytheon is critical in development of the PAC-3 and SM-3, it produces elements of land- and space-based missile defense such as the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, and it outsources much intelligence processing from the National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency. As the Pentagon turns to space for Global Strike purposes, Raytheon is on the front line.

Global Network commits itself in 2011, a year of global citizen uprisings, to peaceful support of nonviolent struggle. GN supports the efforts of citizens in South Korea, Japan, Guam, and other nations in their struggle to remove U.S. bases, and calls on the U.S. and NATO to avoid military options in the Middle East and Africa. GN calls for an end to missile defense, negotiations for a treaty to ban weapons in space, the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, an end to global-strike plans, a reduction in military budgets worldwide, and a reorientation of space use to emphasize peaceful purposes.

- This meeting took place in Andover, Massachusetts on June 17-19, 2011. More than 100 people from eight countries attended the conference entitled Raytheon, Missile Offense, and Endless War: Working together to demilitarize and create a sustainable future.

FIGHTING TO SAVE THE CORAL




Villagers are trying to stop the barges from taking measurements as they prepare to begin the dredging that will destroy the coral reefs off Jeju Island.

The sea floor will be dredged in order to extend the piers far from shore and to allow the huge U.S. Aegis destroyers and aircraft carriers to port there once the base is completed.

Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi's trial has been postponed again until June 29 as she remains in jail for holding a banner while trying to block Navy base construction.

An interesting article was posted on the Jeju Island support Facebook page this morning called Endless War Wastes Money - and Lives written by former U.S. Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC). It is obvious that he is paying attention to what is going on in the Asia-Pacific these days as he mentions the struggle on Jeju Island. He writes:

Now I have come across Zbigniew Brzezinski's 1997 book, "The Grand Chessboard," describing Eurasia, including the land mass of Russia and China. Brzezinski writes: "For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia. ... Now a non-Eurasian power is pre-eminent in Eurasia -- and America's global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained."

Thus, the U.S. policy of encirclement of Russia and China. Apparently, it's being implemented with President Obama promising missiles for Poland; establishing a naval base with South Korea on Jeju Island; and staying in Afghanistan.

RUSSIA'S REALLY BAD IDEA: FLOATING NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

OBAMA'S MAGIC SHOW GETTING OLD

Monday, June 20, 2011

U. S. MAYORS PASS WAR $$ HOME RESOLUTION IN BALTIMORE MEETING

Bring Our War $$$ Home Rally from William Hughes on Vimeo.


Maine's Lisa Savage leads off the Baltimore rally to Bring Our War $$ Home during the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting. About 15 mayors have brought a Bring Our War $$ Home resolution to the meeting and as I type this they are preparing to have a floor debate over the resolution.

The campaign began here in Maine two years ago and has spread across the country since then. Bring Our War $$ Home resolutions passed in the Maine communities of Deer Isle, Portland, and School Administrative District #74 (Solon), followed by Northampton and Amherst, Massachusetts and, most recently, by Hartford, Connecticut.

See a news report here and here and here

Update: At 11:52 am today the U.S. Conference of Mayors overwhelmingly passed the Bring Our War $$ Home resolution. Now we need to get folks to take them to their local cities and towns for passage at those entities. It was the lead story on the CBS evening news tonight.

BROTHER SONG BEATEN BY SAMSUNG & NAVY ON JEJU




New barges are being brought into the ocean area just off the coast of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. They are preparing to put a huge cement structure called a Caisson into the water which will be part of the piers being built.

When village protester Brother Song tried to get on the barge 20 Samsung Construction and Navy employees attacked and beat him with bamboo clubs. He was injured and passed out. The emergency medical service came and took him to the hospital. The village people are angry about Brother Song's beating and went to the Naval base office where they held a mass protest.

The village people told the Navy to remove the barge. Even though Brother Song was injured, the Samsung Construction guys answered, "What's the big deal?"

One supporter reported on the Save Gangjeong Facebook page, "I just got off the phone with Brother Song and he is okay. He woke up and although he says he is bruised up and hurt his hip, he doesn't have any broken bones even though he was kicked and beaten and pushed off the barge and fell onto another boat below. The villagers have asked him to rest in the hospital now so he is doing that. He thanks everyone for their support and urges us to keep on resisting."

MacGregor Eddy returns home today after ten days in the Gangjeong village doing support work. We thank her for making the trip and carrying the Global Network's messages of solidarity to Jeju Island.

At our annual Global Network membership meeting yesterday we made the decision to send another of our board members to Jeju Island at the end of July. We have asked Matt Hoey to go to Jeju and to continue the work that MacGregor started for us. He has agreed to go. We are strongly urging other organizations around the world to send representatives to Gangjeong village during the last week of July. So far we have heard from German church groups and from Korean-American organizations that they will also be sending representatives during late July. Please let us know if you are interested and we can help make arrangements.

Things are really starting to heat up in the village so we all need to step up our support work. The first thing we need to do is get more people to know about this situation so please share this information and send people to the Facebook page. We also need to get some international media coverage of this crisis so any assistance you can give would be helpful.

Brother Song has also requested international assistance in raising $3,500 for another boat that they can use to protest the barges that are increasingly working offshore. If you are inclined to help with that fundraising please let us know.

By the way, be sure to boycott Sumsung products!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

STILL MORE FLICS FROM 19TH ANNUAL SPACE ORGANIZING CONFAB

Chow time
The young women who spoke about social impacts of spending on space militarization. Vanessa Lynch (Massachusetts), Manashi Mohanty (India) and Nicole Moreau (Maine). Tamara Lorincz (Canada), J. Narayana Rao (India), and Matt Hoey (Massachusetts)
Dave Webb's opening bit about Raytheon....he promises to put it on YouTube
Carol Urner (Oregon) talking about the need for U.N. treaty to ban weapons in space
The registration table with banner for Fukushima
Offering instructions on how to find the toilets.........

Just a few of the many photos taken by Marian Stanton...see more here


Here are more confab photos by Nicole Moreau here

ASSORTED CONFAB PHOTOS

Joyce Katzberg (Rhode Island)singing
Pat Scanlon and Friends
Our cooks Joanne Sheehan and Rick Gaumer, longtime WRL leaders from Connecticut
The gang at the end of the day...missing the folks from the Cyber Warfare and Drones workshop
Dud Hendrick (Maine) prepares the students for their workshop
Tetsu Kitagawa and other Japanese singing
Atsushi Fujioka (Japan) and Regina Hagen from Germany
GN Chairperson Dave Webb from UK talking about Fylingdales protests
The gang at a plenary session
Vanessa and MB
Veterans for Peace at the Raytheon vigil
International friends preparing for vigil
Three generations of the Fitzgerald family (from Maine) at the vigil
Cathy Mink (Maine) and Alice Slater (New York City). Many cars going by honked their approval at the vigil
Boryana Tacconi (Massachusetts) showing off cakes made by her husband

Agneta Norberg (Sweden) with her map of U.S. bases (click on it for better view)

SUNDAY SONG