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, August 05, 2011

2011: NUCLEAR FALLOUT IN JAPAN



Japan's government has approved a plan that would compensate the victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The nuclear plant was severely damaged after it was hit by the March earthquake and tsunami. And now there are growing concerns over radiation contamination in food. Al Jazeera's Aela Callan reports from Fukushima on why rice farmers in particular are worried about their crops.

REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA & NAGASAKI

MISSILE OFFENSE & JEJU ISLAND

Christine Ahn with sea diving woman on her recent visit to Gangjeong village


August 5, 2011

Unwanted Missiles for a Korean Island
By Christine Ahn


New York Times/Int'l Herald Tribune

SEOUL — Gangjeong, a small fishing and farming village on Jeju Island 50 miles south of the Korean peninsula, is a pristine Unesco-designated ecological reserve where elderly Korean women sea divers, haenyo, still forage for seafood. It is also the site of a fierce resistance movement by villagers who oppose the construction of a South Korean naval base on the island that will become part of the U.S. missile defense system to contain China.

South Korea’s president, Lee Myungbak, says the base is needed to protect Seoul from an attack from Pyongyang. The problem with that assertion is that the Aegis destroyers that Lee pledged to deploy at the base aren’t designed to protect South Korea from North Korean Taepodong ballistic missiles (TBM).

In a 1999 report to the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon verified that the Aegis system “could not defend the northern two-thirds of South Korea against the low flying short range TBMs.”

Thus, instead of protecting South Koreans, the militarization of Jeju Island will introduce new security threats to the country by fueling an arms race in an increasingly tense region of unresolved conflicts. The naval base on Jeju Island will equip South Koreans and their American allies with the capability to strike long-range ballistic missile batteries in southeast China that target Japan or Taiwan. Washington sees this base as a central pillar to its defense system in the Asia-Pacific region. China, no doubt, sees it as a new threat.

The result of building the base, therefore, will only be increased stress on the U.S.-China relationship. One South Korean military analyst, Cheong Wook-sik, said that China sees the U.S. Asia-Pacific missile defense system “as the 21st century’s greatest threat.”

And a Chinese Air Force colonel, Dai Xu, speaking more generally about Washington’s Asia-Pacific strategy, wrote recently that Beijing “cannot always put up with American provocations.” He added that China “must draw a clear red line against American attempts to surround it.”

Meanwhile, on the American side, a 2009 Rand Corporation report confirmed that, given China’s growing economic threat to the United States, the Jeju naval base is crucial for America “to project power in the East China Sea and southward.”

Washington hasn’t been forthcoming about this base being built for U.S. interests, particularly in light of growing South Korean resentment of the high costs of U.S. military bases on the peninsula, and tensions over the recent admission by three U.S. veterans of dumping Agent Orange at Camp Carroll in southeast South Korea in 1978.

When I called the Korean Embassy in Washington to register my complaint about the Jeju naval base, the response was: “Don’t call us; call the U.S. State or Defense Departments; they are the ones who are pressuring us to build this base.”

Gangjeong villagers have used every possible democratic means to overturn the decision by Seoul to construct the base there. For four long years, the villagers have squatted on their farmland that was seized by the government, and laid down in front of cement trucks intending to pour concrete over the volcanic rock where pure spring water meets the ocean. Despite the fact that 94 percent of Gangjeong residents voted against the base, the central government, the military and Jeju officials colluded to make Gangjeong the designated site.

This week, the South Korean government ordered the police take further measures to restrict protesters, many of whom have already been arrested, heavily fined and barred from entering the waters and land that they have lived on and depended upon for generations.

Jeju is a bellwether of how conflicts in the Asia Pacific may be resolved in the near future. Will the South Korean people allow its government to blindly follow U.S. plans to draw its country in a standoff against China? Will the South Korean government choose to resolve conflicts through dialogue and cooperation?

No one in the United States, North and South Korea, Japan and China wants another militarized conflict; we still haven’t healed from last century’s wars. This is perhaps more apparent in Korea than anywhere else, a country where a militarized division still separates millions of families.

We must not allow an unneeded military base to destroy Gangjeong’s rich marine ecology and the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen and haenyo — people who provide us with human security — certainly not in the name of “national security.”

Christine Ahn is the executive director of the Korea Policy Institute and a member of the Global Campaign to Save Jeju Island.

VILLAGERS DEFEND THEMSELVES FROM RIGHT-WING


Yesterday hundreds of right-wing retired military were sent into the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island to show "support" for the controversial Navy base.

Before they arrived local villagers paraded and got ready to hold their ground as they continue to protect all that is sacred to them - the farming land, the rocky coastline, the coral reefs offshore, the fish, plant life and water.

The people of Gangjeong are defending their way of life - more than 300 years of living in this small farming and fishing village.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

LOCKED ONTO THE GLOBAL RESERVATION

The global corporate plan is to lock up the world. Put the people onto neo-feudal reservations and take control of all available resources (oil, water, minerals, etc) for corporate profit. The corporations plan is to maintain control of all available media to be used for control of public opinion. Control of governments is well underway. When opposition surfaces they would be smashed by overwhelming military control as the U.S. dominated NATO expands into a global war machine.

The European "debt crisis" war against social progress is also well underway. Last week's version here in the U.S. proved to be a victory for the corporate forces as they marshalled both political parties to stand with Wall Street to force through a plan that will over time lead to the dismantling of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other bastions of social progress. (See the story at Black Agenda Report called Barack Obama and the Debt Crisis: A Successful Con Game Explained)

I had an email from an old peace movement acquaintance the other day who took objection to me using Obama's name in vain in my recent email letter announcing the Global Network's annual Keep Space for Peace Week (October 1-8). The person ended her defense of Obama by saying she wasn't really involved in "activist things these days".

This is what has happened. Many "former activists" have gone into virtual retirement since Obama came to office. Because he is such a nice person, and speaks so much better than Bush did, they feel that they can trust he will just take care of things. By not being directly involved they lose touch with the day-to-day scorecard of foreign policy and domestic transgressions by his administration and his Democratic party lemmings. Thus, when one of us challenges the magician, we are called into question by these former activists who must justify their faith in the saintly Obama by challenging those of us who have stayed in the fray.

It reminds me of the Indian reservation system set up out west in the late 1800's. After the Native American populations were decimated by the onslaught of the U.S. Army "heroic" soldiers, the people were brought onto the reservations. But that wasn't enough. The government set out to next turn tribe against tribe and band against band. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull were not directly killed by the occupying Army. They got other Indians to do the dirty work for them.

Thus today, especially on Facebook, you see many liberals trashing those who are critical of Obama. The left is being taken apart as an effective opposition force against corporate domination and this is being done under the stewardship of the Obama administration. (Recall earlier comments by various Obama officials trashing critics on the left. They set the tone and the direction for this attack mode.)

Just yesterday I responded to one thread on Facebook that asked the question "Will liberals abandon Obama?" In response to one vicious liberal attack on critics, I suggested that the man might want to be careful about trashing people on the left. When the clamp comes down we might be your only allies left, I wrote. The guy responded with: "The Anarchists, Marxists, Maoists, Libertarians, and Pacifists that make up the Radical Left & who MUST have their way or the highway, attempting to DICTATE to the rest of the country from 16% are no one's ally."

As I read these misbegotten words my mind flashed back to the recent reports that the Pentagon was assigning military personnel the mission to establish false Facebook accounts so they could spread lies, hatred, misinformation, distrust, and maliciousness. I couldn't help but wonder if this "gentleman" was in fact one of those "heroic" soldiers at work turning tribe against tribe.

We see the same tactic underway today on Jeju Island as the right-wing South Korean government is sending hundreds of retired military personnel to the Gangjeong village to protest "in favor" of the Navy base. These shock troops will be looking to provoke violence which would then give the government the excuse to "clean-out" the protest movement. It is a sign of respect in one sense, as the base opposition movement grows, but on the other hand it is further evidence how the corporate forces have a modus operandi (MO).

This MO can be seen in full swing in Washington DC today inside the Obama White House. He is a determined operative for Wall Street and the corporate agenda. Our job as citizens is to disconnect ourselves from the instruments of social control. Only when we do that can we have any hope of becoming real human beings again.

RIGHT WING LINKS TO NORWAY KILLINGS



The man who is alleged to have influenced Anders Breivik through his writings on the "threat of Islamic fundamentalism" says the mass killing in Norway was "pure evil".

Paul Ray, a founding member of the anti-Islam English Defence League, has admitted meeting leaders of Europe's far right groups in Malta, where he now lives.

But in his first television interview, Ray told Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher that he found it hard to see how his writings could be linked to the massacre.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

MORE INSIDE SCOOP ON DEBT DEAL



President Obama has signed legislation to increase the U.S. debt ceiling in time to avoid a national default. The $2.1 trillion deficit-reduction plan cleared its final hurdle in the Senate yesterday, passing with a 74-to-26 vote. Six Democrats and 19 Republicans opposed the measure.

Members of the Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus rejected the deal because of its massive cuts to domestic spending and a lack of tax increases for the wealthy. Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland was among those to vote no, summing up her disappointment on Twitter by writing: "Nada from million/billionaires; corp tax loopholes aplenty; only sacrifice from the poor/middle class? Shared sacrifice, balance? Really?"

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

THE CORPORATE ORGANIZING STRATEGY



Also see the excellent Rolling Stone article "Debt Ceiling Deal: The Democrats Take a Dive" by Matt Taibbi here


Taibbi lays it out pretty clear and strong. He says about the Democrats:


The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn't fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time -- as fixed fights go, you don't see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did -- but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn't bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won't be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

And what does that mean? Who spends hundreds of millions of dollars for what looks, on the outside, like rank incompetence?

It strains the imagination to think that the country's smartest businessmen keep paying top dollar for such lousy performance. Is it possible that by "surrendering" at the 11th hour and signing off on a deal that presages deep cuts in spending for the middle class, but avoids tax increases for the rich, Obama is doing exactly what was expected of him?

MATT DAMON DEFENDS TEACHERS


Actor Matt Damon recently spoke at a rally in Washington DC defending public school teachers who are now under attack and being blamed far too often for the failing economy.

He gives it back to one TV crew.

SOLIDARITY MESSAGES ARE REQUESTED


Last night I was able to talk via Skype to our GN board member Matt Hoey who is now in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.

Matt put a couple of South Korean activists onto the call and they reported that villagers and supporters now have blocked all the construction entrances to the Navy base construction project.

The villagers have two basic demands:

1) Stop construction

2) Begin from scratch and do an entire new assesment of whether the base is actually needed or not. Included would be a proper environmental impact statement (EIS) which was never done in the first place.

The five opposition political parties in South Korea are now supporting these demands. Several of these political leaders have joined the blockades at the construction entrances and leading Catholic bishops in South Korea are regularly visiting the village and holding mass on the disputed rocky coastline.

Some mainstream newspapers in South Korea now seem to be searching for some "middle ground" which indicates the protests, and growing global support, are having an impact. You can see one such article here

On August 6 a large protest rally will be held on Jeju and people will fly to the island from around the mainland. I was asked last evening by one leading activist to request that peace groups around the world send short solidarity messages immediately that can be translated and shared with those at the rally.

So please take a moment and send a brief message to the struggling people on Jeju Island and let them know your organization stands with them.

You can send it to Matt Hoey hoey@spacetransparency.org and he will get them into the hands of protest leaders. It would be good to copy me with your statements as well.

You can follow the Save Jeju Island campaign here

MINING FOR LANDMINES



Landmines left over from the 1990s still pose a big risk in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where thousands of people have been killed or maimed by the devices.

Now, years later, as the nation hopes to move forward, officials are trying to remove the munitions that hinder its people from a life of safety and security.

One of the worst affected places is the area surrounding Kisangani's airport.

Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri reports from the northeastern city.

IT'S GOT TO COME FROM YOU



The House voted yesterday 269-161 in favor of the "debt crisis deal". Ninety-five Dems voted against it while the same number of them voted along with Republicans to pass this frontal assault on social progress. See how your member of the House voted here

The Senate voted today and passed it 74-26. See how your senator voted here

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote this morning, "Republicans insisted on budget cuts only, with not a cent of new revenue — and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what they got. There’s no way to spin it: Boehner and the GOP won. Obama and the Democrats lost....Progressives lost this battle. They retain the capacity to win the next one, if they are smarter and tougher. If they fight."

If they fight? Obama and his stable of timid Democrats fight? Never.

One of those Democrats who does, and did, fight against this was Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). He had this to say about the deal: "The Democratic Party is running away from its traditional role of protecting the poor, the elderly, and the working class. To whom do these groups now turn?"

Friend, and fellow activist, David Swanson has an answer for Kucinich (who he used to work for and fully respects). David says, "We turn to ourselves, Congressman. You know that. And you know I love you. But we've got to stop turning to people, much less parties. It's killing us. We can work with you and all of our friends, but we're going to have to do this ourselves. There's nobody so poor, so elderly, so working class, so sick, so weak, or so wounded that they can't help this country a hell of a lot more themselves than can your colleagues, Congressman, the vast majority of whom, politically speaking, aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit."

Here, here!

Another comment on the "deal" comes from outspoken actress Roseanne Barr. “The richest Americans and their corporations have no patriotism,” she wrote. “Like cowards, they chose to take food out of American baby's mouths instead of paying their fair share.”

Here, here!

So as Keith Olbermann says in the video above, and David Swanson wrote, it has to come from you.

By now hopefully you recognize that there is no political party that is going to "fight" for you. There is no president who is going to "fight" for you. As former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (also former wrestler) often says, the Republicans and Democrats are like professional wrestling. It's all a show. The deals are cut before hand and then they stage the drama for public consumption. And consume it the public does. Snarling and snaring - tea party against the liberals. But those who run the show sit back and laugh and back slap and rake in the bucks.

It's time to get a grip. It's time folks, may I say it once more, to rattle our chains.

Let me hear it now.......

Monday, August 01, 2011

MESSING UP NATURE

Navy now trying to shut off public access to coastline in Gangjeong village
David Vine, Asst Professor of Anthropology at American University in Washington DC, prays with the people

Catholic Father Moon talks with another activist


Gangjeong village Mayor Kang leads another protest


Protesting recent arrests of protest leaders




A BAD DEAL IN WASHINGTON



Looks like Obama and the Democratic Party leadership have agreed to a deal with the Republicans to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and leave the rich alone. No tax increases for the fat cats at the top. No "shared sacrafice".

The deal does not even allow temporary tax cuts on the rich to expire. Nor does it defund any wars. Yet it requires cuts of $1.2 trillion now and $2.5 trillion over a decade.

Once again the magician sells out his "base". He talks nice but always, always, always, moves to the right and plays with ball with those who are out to destroy social progress.

If you happen to be one of those who still support Obama, please tell me why?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

BACK HOME AND HUMMING ALONG

This photo is Enchanted Pond where MB and I spent the past week in a cabin. It's actually a lake but Mainers like to call them ponds.

One day we took a canoe around the entire pond and had lunch on the porch of an old cabin on the other side. It was wonderfully quiet. We took several long hikes in the woods or on old logging roads. Getting to this camp (which has seven cabins) took a long 12-mile ride on dusty and rocky roads from the main highway. We only left the camp once, on my birthday, to go into the town of Jackman so I could get a wireless connection at the local library and have dinner at a local restaurant.

I read three books, slept late everyday and talked with some of the others who were at the camp, including a couple who were both Maine hunting/fishing guides and like to come to Bulldog Camp on their free time. Their hound dog chased rabbits in the woods for an hour at a time.

Because of my severely skinned knee I was not able to swim in the amazing pond - my biggest sadness during the week. The water was calling me, calling me - I love to swim. Ugh!

The cabins had no electricity but did have gas lights and stove. One night I made a fire outside and cooked on the grill.

We saw no moose, bears, deer or fish. We did hear loons calling one evening and enjoyed the many birds that flew around us. We picked wild blueberries and raspberries on our walks.

So it was just what we both needed....a week away from it all..... sleeping , reading, walking and eating.

Now that I am home the garden needs tending and I have much work to get caught up with. It's nice to be back.

SUNDAY SONG