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, August 13, 2011

AMERICA'S #1 EXPORT PRODUCT - ENDLESS WAR



The economic draft is working well for the Pentagon. The worse the economy gets, the more working class and poor kids are forced to join the military because there are really no other options for them. The schools in their neighborhoods now often serve as funneling operations for the military - the kids flow from school into boot camp.

This excellent video puts all the cards on the table. It's an example of first-class journalism.

CNN INTERVIEWS GLORIA STEINEM ABOUT JEJU ISLAND

Friday, August 12, 2011

IOWA SUMMER INSANITY

BRINGING THE WAR TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD


The Jamaica Plain Gazette (Boston, Massachusetts) reports today that "U.S. military commandos practiced raids in the shuttered Agassiz Elementary School last month, including a nighttime helicopter landing on the school’s roof. The elite special forces training was done without notice to nearby residents."

The exercises were top-secret training for the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The 9:00 pm maneuvers were witnessed by many living in the neighborhood. “It was really scary,” said resident Sara Wermiel, whose house is just feet from the school and was bombarded by a “sandstorm” kicked up by the chopper. “It just seems nuts to me,” said Wermiel.

Wermiel said the explanation was far from clear, with officers saying that the event was “practice in case there were terrorists at the school.”

The overall purpose of training in Boston was to practice urban military operations, military spokesperson Kim Tiscione said. One reason for choosing Boston was that it is not commonly used like some other cities are, so it provides challenges for troops, she said.

“We’re from Special Operations,” Tiscione acknowledged, referring to the umbrella organization of all four military branches’ special forces. “I’m kind of being vague on purpose. It’s more of a challenge for us when people know who we are.”

Yes - we're from "Special Ops". We can do whatever we want. The message to the American people is - get used to it.

Now, was this military exercise done in the white wealthy section of Boston? No, it was held at 9:00 pm on a summer night when the nearby basketball court was full of young, likely mostly unemployed men, while others were out on the street or sitting on their door steps. This was a warning to poor and working class people. You know it was a poor and working class neighborhood because of the shuttered school. Rich white neighborhoods don't have closed schools.

This is evidence that USSOCOM is preparing for the coming revolution in America as the economy collapses. They are practicing their "special ops" tactics to land in urban neighborhoods so they can "control" uprisings. But these "exercises" also serve as warnings to the public - they have a chilling effect on those who might even think about standing up against the corporate machine.

They acknowledge that USSOCOM is not only holding these "ops" in Boston. They are doing them all across the nation - sending the same warning with each chilling raid in the dark of night. It's evident that the corporate dominated government sees the people of America as the enemy.

As usual Mr. Big uses the "terrorism thing" to justify their own offensive program of terror that is all about preparing to round up the hostiles to put us on the reservations.

This kind of stuff needs to be identified and denounced while we still can. It's fascism plain and simple.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

THE TAR SANDS GAMBIT



Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offers his support for the Tar Sands Action, a two week sit-in at the White House to stop the Keystone XL pipeline

See more here

POLITICIANS LIE...THE PROOF IS IN THE PICTURE

Here I am having the conversation with Sen. Olympia Snowe on July 16 that she claims she never had.....I talked about the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign extensively.....


By Lisa Savage
Solon, Maine

I just had a call from my sister in Code Pink Pat Taub saying that flying to Chicago today she happened to be on the same plane with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and had about 5 min. to "do an intervention" with the senator. Pat said she talked up the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign and Olympia said she had NEVER HEARD OF IT. (Wow, who does our senator think is buying this b.s.?)

Bruce Gagnon just had a convo with her at a parade last month, I delivered letters to her Bangor office twice in the last three weeks, plus numerous visits to her offices by various BOW$H activists over a two year period. Then Pat said we better start funding needs at home before we end up like London.

Of course the senator said, but we need to fight terrorists. And Pat said, we're creating more terrorists every day with our policies.

WHAT IS THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF RIOTS?




During these kinds of "youth rebellions" my mind always returns to the book Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut. Published in 1952 (the year I was born) it is a book about mechanization and human alienation as a result of people becoming expendable to technology.

Today we have a corporate global economy that is doing everything possible to make people superfluous as profits come before people. We no longer have many telephone operators, we rarely use travel agents (I still do) who are being replaced by airline web sites, and even in the grocery stores they've introduced self checkout (which I refuse to do). It's all about cutting jobs. There are zillions of other examples like auto manufacturing where robots and computers increasingly replace people.

In Player Piano we see conflict result as the younger generation gets a message that the existing society does not need them. The machines become more important than people. The displaced people begin to see the machines as their enemy - obstacles to their own future. In the end they revolt and try to destroy the enemy - the machines.

Vonnegut said this about his story, "Player Piano was my response to the implications of having everything run by little boxes. The idea of doing that, you know, made sense, perfect sense. To have a little clicking box make all the decisions wasn't a vicious thing to do. But it was too bad for the human beings who got their dignity from their jobs."

The social unrest in England, and around the world in recent months, has much to do with how the increasingly dominant corporate economy is structured. It is set up so the wealthy few get richer when they don't have to pay human beings, or they at least only have to pay them slave wages.

So is it really any surprise that the youth in England are tearing up their communities? What stake do they have in their own neighborhoods? Do they have jobs? Do they feel like they have a real future? Do they feel like bloviating politicians who threaten them with more police crackdowns have their interests at heart? No one listens to them now as they while away their useless lives playing video games or doing designer drugs which are most often supplied by the very elite that then puts them in jail for using. When these disaffected youth gather together and burn and pillage they not only feel a sense of power but the whole word "listens" to them and is forced, even for a moment, to consider them.

It's rather easy for people like me to say these youth need to develop some political demands. The bloviators will say they need to restrain themselves and bring their grievances to the "proper" political processes. But the political machine has no real intention, nor at this point any real capability, to deal with the fundamental problem at hand - and that is that global corporate society has written the masses of poor and working class people off the map. They have been expunged.....they don't exist.....and their numbers are growing everyday. The corporate elite have no intention of changing that fact. Here in the U.S. we see the whole program in motion as they attack with a vengeance programs of social uplift.

All the marginalized are left to do is to rattle their chains the best way they can. It's all very sad indeed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

YOUTH IN ISRAEL PROTEST ABOUT THEIR FUTURE



The tent city camped along one of the busiest corners of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv has all the hallmarks of the Arab Spring and has become a rallying point for Israelis faced with economic woes. On Saturday, more than a quarter of a million people took to the streets across the country, marking one of the biggest public protests in Israel's history. What began as a simple protest against the high cost of living has turned into something far deeper. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has announced a committee to look into implementing economic reforms. The protesters say this is a good start, but they are not going to start breaking down the tent city until the reforms are actually made. Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reports from Tel Aviv.

HIGH SPEED CHASE ON JEJU ISLAND



On August 9th, 2011 South Korean filmmaker, documentarian and peace activist Dungree was arrested at a nonviolent protest by secret police. He like many others within the no base resistance movement in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island committed no crime. He is just one in a long line of peace activists targeted by the navy and police to date. It is believed that his role as a prolific videographer for the resistance led to him being targeted. He is currently being held in prison on Jeju Island without having been charged. This video shows our efforts to reveal the men who abducted him.

SHARING THE GIFT

The people, the water, the fish, the coral and the rocks are all connected. All my relations.
Former national legislator helps block the road to the rocky coast
The Navy says the base on Jeju Island will be for warships and tourist ships. Where have you ever seen a secure military base that allows tourists to run around the same piers that Navy ships are docked on? It's public relations.


Matt Hoey reluctantly returns home to Massachusetts today after more than two intense weeks of representing the Global Network in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. He wrote on Facebook, "It is impossible not to fall in love with this place and the people. Gangjeong village is a very special place. It has changed the way I see the world."

It will take some serious readjusting for Matt when he gets home. Rarely in America do you get to feel the kind of real community and solidarity that he has experienced on Jeju Island. Seldom in America does one get to feel that sense of purpose that he has experienced by living and working with people who are focused on protecting all the life around them.

In America, and even in most parts of South Korea, people have fallen into the capitalistic society trap of chasing money and materialism. A sense of purpose is hard to find. But in Gangjeong village one gets encircled by a love for the land, the water, the fish, the coral, and one another.

Matt has just received a special gift - a life changing gift. His challenge now will be to hold it close to him, to find a way to share it with others, and to keep working to connect the world to that life changing gem called Gangjeong.

The Global Network has been invited by the Gangjeong village leaders to hold our 2012 space organizing conference in their embattled community. We have accepted their invitation. We want to invite each of you to join us on Jeju Island on February 24-26, 2012. Come and be touched by the gift.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I AM APPALLED



  • I just finished taping my latest public access TV show and my guest was Lisa Savage who is the Maine Coordinator for Code Pink. Lisa and I share the coordination role of the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home. Lisa is a school teacher and brought along one of her students so we gave her the job of running one of the two cameras in the studio. Lisa is always articulate and comes across real well on air. Working as a high school teacher she is on the front lines of where cutbacks are happening and thus her motivation to end war spending is even more real.


  • Obama's new man at the Pentagon, Leon Panetta had this to say the other day about the military budget: "We're already taking our share of the discretionary cuts as part of this debt-ceiling agreement, and those are going to be tough enough. I think anything beyond that would damage our national defense." He's calling for more cuts in Medicare and Social Security rather than the massive budget for endless war. He is a "liberal" Democrat.

  • Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) says that he is "appalled" that Obama wants to keep our troops in Iraq - even after the president has told the nation that we have brought our troops home. Rep. Frank should be appalled. It's past time for the left side of the Democratic Party to start standing up to Obama's corporate agenda. But the problem is that Rep. Frank goes on to say that he supports, and will continue to support, Obama. So the problem is that Obama feels no real pressure from inside his party. The left-leaning Democrats grumble a bit but they always fold their tents and go home when it comes down to the wire. The American people, by margins of 70%, want us out of Afghanistan and Iraq. But are few in Congress that are willing to fight Obama on this point (Kucinich one of the few exceptions). Until this changes people will continue to see the Democratic Party as enablers of the military industrial complex.


  • Monday, August 08, 2011

    REMEMBERING JACKIE HUDSON

    Sister Jackie Hudson (second from left) at the Tacoma Federal courthouse during a trial and leafleting for Keep Space for Peace Week


    Friends,

    I write this because I want you to be aware of and outraged by the situation faced by many thousands of incarcerated people in this country today...in private, for-profit prisons that are about to challenge China's cheap labor force in the name of corporate greed.

    My dear friend, Sister Jackie Hudson, Dominican nun and Plowshares activist, passed away last Wednesday, and I am sad indeed. She ran the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Bremerton (organizing resistance and vigils regularly at the Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor) and she was one of the nuns who went to federal prison for 2 1/2 years for a simple symbolic nuclear disarmament action in Colorado in 2002, which I wrote about in the song "Sisters of Sacred Earth and Space".

    Her friends figure she may have gotten the myeloma that ultimately killed her from the contaminated drinking water at the Victorville, CA federal prison in which she served her time until 2005. The air force had been using nuclear materials there, and the prison was built over the old air force site. The women were warned not to bathe in the water if they had open sores, but they all drank it. Then they built the new men's federal prison bucket by bucket of concrete and sand, for 15 cents an hour. Fortunately, Jackie, then only 70, was given an office job for 10 cents an hour.

    Jackie's last stretch in prison, a private hellhole in Georgia, is what did her in...she was detained in March for a civil disobedience Plowshares action at the newly planned $85 billion (Obomba) nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, TN. In prison she was ignored when she complained of chest pains, not given her asthma meds, given Advil for intense pain, and ignored after she fell twice in the shower. Like all the other women there, her basic needs were disregarded and ignored. (Humor? One roll of toilet paper per woman for a week. It would almost be funny if it were not hideous.)

    After lying in bed for days calling for help, she was finally (due to intense outside pressure from the peace community there at Oak Ridge) transferred to the U of TN hospital where she was found to have pneumonia and two broken ribs. (God damn the private prison system, taking over the country and challenging China for cheap labor. Prisoner neglect is epidemic at these places.)

    Jackie was sent home to Washington State, hospitalized, and stabilized as much as could be. But there were too many things wrong. After one bout of chemo, Jackie's partner Sue said Jackie's little body just couldn't take the multiple complications. She passed quietly, attended at all times by friends.

    Jackie was only 76. (Only 76, I say, since the older I get the younger it all looks!)

    Yesterday, I wrote "Jackie's Waltz" and played it at Ground Zero, during the annual Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorial actions. I will play it for her service on Saturday there too. It was for her I wrote "Love Will Lead Me Over", a song loved in the peace community here. The writing and the singing help me deal with grief, and like Jackie, I do not fear death.

    Congressman Dennis Kucinich was with us yesterday too, and his beautiful fiery heartfelt words about the need for disarmament and the intense foolhardiness of this country's behavior in the world would have cheered Jackie's heart. His words about the prison system echoed what I have said above. The ridiculous trumped-up debt ceiling debacle, all of it...lies and deceit. So many issues...we need to take this struggle to the streets, he says, and I agree.

    It isn't just that nobody's listening to us when we say "NO" to more wars, more nuclear weapons, and more nuclear plants, and no to tar sands pipelines, trillions to support illegal occupations and unwanted new bases globally and Theatre Missile Offense systems, and a bloated military and Pentagon budget, and corporate greed that cripples and impoverishes the 'middle class'. We aren't heard when we say NO to private prisons and their abuses, nor those of the working people in the US, and the unions that helped us get a weekend.

    It's that the powers that be don't seem to care. Not at all.

    This planet is our only home. We have no other. Over millennia it has intelligently supported life, in whatever state life has been. It's our little spaceship home. We are all related, too. It's our family at stake, our sanity and our souls, too.

    If you haven't started yet, I ask you to act. Speak up, speak out, tell friends, pick your work, and go to it. We can't opt out nor can we cop out. We all have known that these hard days would come...they are here. Globally, it all appears to be up for sale to the most dire criminal elements: Everything we value. Everything we need for decent living on a dear, abundant planet that is now so stressed - water, air, land, oceans, life in all its forms, the sacred and the mundane, the dearest of all things, the right to live in peace.

    Earth will win, I know. It's a strong planet. And whether or not we humans make it might be for you (and for me, often) a moot point, we are here and we have children and we love them and (mostly) we love each other. So we are it. Pick something that needs to be done and do it. You will never be without friends if the work is true and justice is the result.

    I wanted to say this to you, in Jackie's honor, and because I have been hearing her in my heart. One more step, and then another. Piecing the puzzle together, peace by peace, one day we could prevail.

    I started talking about the private prison system, and I ended with the Big Picture. Ah, well, it's the Aquarian way. Thanks for reading this. Thanks for whatever you do to help.

    Love and hope,

    Holly Gwinn Graham
    Olympia, Washington

    SELLING GUAM



    Because the U.S. is doubling its military presence in the Asia-Pacific it needs more places for bases....Navy, Army, Marines, and Air Force.

    The people of Okinawa are trying to get rid of U.S. bases so the Chamber of Commerce in Guam wants to slide the relocated Marines to their already heavily occupied island.

    The available land for expanding U.S. bases on Guam is sacred to the indigenous Chamorros people. So a conflict is brewing. The way to sell the deal to the people of Guam is to pump up fear of China.

    Michael Lujan Bevacqua, an activist and educator on Guam, in a recent blog entry wrote:

    These members of Guam's economic elite had many meetings with Washington officials, and at each meeting according to them, the message was the same, Guam is strategically important, Guam needs to be built up militarily and the reason why is because of CHINA. China is growing in power both economically and militarily and has plenty of disposable income which it is spreading around the world to places where it both have current interests and has potential future interests (whether resource based or strategy based). So on the one hand, these titans of local industry head to Washington with prophecies of possible doom in the Asia-Pacific region with the rise of the Kraken that is China, being unleashed across the world. They argue in the most polite terms possible (which is characteristic of American ambivalence towards China) that China is dangerous and must be kept in check and Guam is the best place to do the checking from.

    So according to the first face of Janus, China is a gathering threat to the United States and Guam can play a key role in keeping it from becoming too threatening.

    Yet at the same time as representatives of Guam spell doom and gloom for the Pacific over China, they are also going to Washington talking about getting Visa Waivers for guess which country? It certainly wouldn't be China since as we all know, China is such a huge threat to the United States and cannot be trusted and Guam has to be built up in order to contain China. Oh, wait, lana, maleffa yu', it is China!

    That's right, such is the life on the tip of the spear, where your economic engines are in their essence contradictory. Guam as a strategic military location needs to be kept secure, it needs to have its points of entry carefully checked and watched to ensure that whatever strategic assets that are placed here not unnecessarily put at risk. But Guam is also a tourist hub, and tourism actually does generate more money than military spending on Guam, but there are moments where the business of militarization conflicts with the business of tourism. The Guam Visitor's Bureau's report on how the military buildup will affect tourism argued that there will be a further decline because of the perception of Guam being too military, and that is something which already hurts Okinawa's tourism from mainland Japan, and so it would also be a stigma that Guam would end up shouldering as well. For the tourism industry you need markets and you need people who want to come to Guam and who will have money in their pockets to spend when they get here. China is the prize which everyone lusts after, with it's emerging middle class who are all looking for ways to spend their money overseas.

    Sunday, August 07, 2011

    EVEN IF YOUR VOICE SHAKES

    Mary Beth Sullivan was presented with an award from PeaceWorks for her dedicated work for peace

    Cartoonist and activist Anne Gibbons from New York City joined us for the weekend...her words in pink hanging on the line

    Peter Woodruff from Arrowsic, Maine makes his point

    It's been a busy weekend here. Friends Ann and Ivan arrived from New York City on Friday just in time to go swimming at my favorite pond. Then on Saturday we were at the annual Peace Fair in nearby Brunswick which is organized by the local group PeaceWorks.

    From 10am to 4pm on Saturday I sat under the big tent at the Bring Our War $$ Home table along with University of Maine-Farmington student Nicole Moreau talking with people, selling posters and bumperstickers, and handing out literature.

    I've done this same routine several times during the seven years the Peace Fair has been happening but there was something different about yesterday. First off, we sold more stickers yesterday than any other time. No one defended Obama when I blasted him for being a corporate tool. One guy bought seven of our Bring Our War $$ Home posters at once.

    It's obvious that folks have reached the end of their rope. They are starting to see that no political party is going to bail them out. They are seeing that Obama's game is stale and that he is a phony. They are realizing they must start to get engaged. Putting a bumpersticker on their car is a declaration of intent - an intention to engage in the process of taking power away from the illusionists.

    Mary Beth strung a clothesline and asked people to write a message that was in their heart and hang it out for all to see. By the end of the day the line was full of determined statements and visions of an alternative society - one not based on war, greed, and environmental destruction.

    The only way we prevent more Hiroshima and Nagasaki's, more Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya's, is for all of us who believe otherwise to be heard and not to give up or give in.

    As Mary Beth says, "Speak out, even if your voice shakes."

    SUNDAY SONG





    On Jeju Island South Korea, in the village of Gangjeong residents along with peace and environmental activists from around the world are rallying to protect UNESCO Heritage sites and their community from a massive military base construction project. This video was shot on August 4, 2011 and it shows nonviolent protestors rallying in front of the base construction headquarters. In the final minutes of the video the cameraman passes from the jubilant peace activist side of the police barricade, manned by hundreds of police officers in riot gear, to the pro-base section. It is here that retired military personal insult police and spew vulgarity. These former military officers do not reside in the village of Gangjeong and traveled from the mainland to show their support for the base construction project.