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 19, 2011

TAKE IT FROM THE "POOR"



Warren Buffett's op-ed is a thoughtful treatise on the advantages the super-wealthy currently enjoy at the hands of the tax code, or to put it another way, "class warfare."

FAKE RIGHT-WING INTERNET IDENTITIES



Lee Fang, Think Progress joins Thom Hartmann. Thom noticed for years that people have been going into his message boards - particularly around the time of elections - and posting right-wing propaganda - and one guy ADMITTED that he's being paid by Conservative organizations to do this. But it appears that the Chamber of Commerce may be up to something much more nefarious using fake internet identities. Earlier this year - ThinkProgress obtained hacked emails from the defense contractor HB Gary Federal - that suggest that - with the help of other security firms - HBGF was working with the Chamber of Commerce to sabotage Progressive organizations like ThinkProgress and the union SEIU.

THINGS NOT OVER IN EGYPT



Egypt's ruling military council has been in power for six months and there are several signs the honeymoon between the men in uniform and protesters may be coming to an end.

Activists have been complaining about the referral of thousands of civilians to military courts, and there is growing anger about the ban on protesting in Tahrir Square.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Cairo.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

SPACE WEEK AND MORE



  • I have begun compiling the list of local actions during our annual Keep Space for Peace Week which will be held October 1-8. This year our theme will be how drone warfare is directed by military satellite technology. The list always starts out slowly, I keep updating it as people let us know about events they are organizing, and by the time October comes around we expect to have a strong list of global events. We are purchasing a full-page advert in The Nation magazine (last edition in August) that will feature our poster. You can see the poster here


  • Still plugging away on the latest Global Network newsletter, Space Alert, and hope to have it ready to go for layout by next Monday. It's always a challenge to get all the writers to meet deadlines - about half are in so far. The growing cost of space launches and dramatic cost overruns on virtually all space technology programs is just mind boggling. This will be a major theme of the newsletter.


  • I did a second hour-long interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott last night on her radio program. She told me she got such good response to last week's show she wanted to do another and this time we mostly just focused on space issues. What an honor to be on her show once, but two weeks in a row is just incredible. I'll post the link when the interview gets put on Helen's website.


  • I travel Wethersfield, Connecticut on Saturday to speak to United for Peace group. In advance of that this morning I did a short Internet interview with Stan Heller which he immediately posted on his web site. You can find it here (look for it in the upper right hand corner of the home page).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WOMEN ORGANIZE FOOTBALL & DEAL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE IN PERU



In the isolated Andean communities of Peru, poor indigenous peasants used to live in a state of economic and social apartheid. Entire families lived on less than a dollar a day.

A few years ago, Juana, an indigenous peasant, organised a football team for women in the Andes, opening a path to her community's participation in politics for the first time.

MY LATEST TV SHOW



My guest is Lisa Savage who coordinates Code Pink in Maine. She lives in the rural community of Solon, Maine and co-coordinates the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home.

SUNG-HEE CHOI RELEASED FROM JAIL - 2 YEARS PROBATION


Sung-Hee in green shirt with papers after 3 months in jail, her mother on right (click on photo for better view)

Final Testimony
Charge: Obstruction of Business
The Accused: Choi Sung-hee

Your Honor,

I, Choi Sung-hee, am a visual artist. I have been drawn to the beauty of Jeju Island, the pearl of Korea, and to the beautiful ecological preservation of Gangjeong village, which has been called the diamond of Jeju Island. I have also been drawn to the friendly spirit of the Gangjeong villagers who live peacefully with nature. Their will to protect and love the natural environment has moved me deeply, and I have been very inspired by their independent historical consciousness to realize peace for the greater people of Jeju Island through their preservation and protection of their village. I believe that their admirable spirit deserves the support and respect of all the Korean people as well as the people of the world. It is for this reason that I demonstrated my support for their non-violent and peaceful resistance against building the naval base.

Every time I placed myself beneath the wheels of construction trucks in an effort to protest the illegal, cunning, and manipulative measures to carry out the construction of naval base, I reminded myself of two important mottos, which were articulated by the older generation of colleagues. The first is “Unless you come forward, who will speak for that coral, fish, and shells that cannot speak?” The second is “This land we are living on is on lease from the next generation of people.”

The construction area that I endeavored to protect is home to endangered species like the red-footed crab and the narrow-mouthed toad, which are recognized by the Ministry of the Environment. On March 15, 2011, the Jeju Provincial Assembly rescinded the motion to nullify the “absolute preservation area” designation, thereby reestablishing the legal grounds for the protection of the Jungdeok coastline. Several legal actions by local residents are also underway, including an appeal to rescind permission to use this area for national defense and as a military facility, an appeal to affirm the “absolute preservation area” designation, and an appeal to ensure the public right to fair surface water use. In addition, the project for preservation of cultural assets is still in progress yet what has been assessed through this project has not been properly conveyed to the local residents. In light of the ongoing status of these legal actions and the cultural assets assessment, I cannot but arrive at the conclusion that the move to forcefully continue with construction without checking into or conforming to proper procedures is illegal. In the case of the Saemangum area, construction was brought to a standstill because of a legal dispute. Why then is construction at Jeju Island being enforced without accountability or conformity to legal safeguards? Construction companies contend that the suspension of work harms business, but companies, which employ a lot of subcontractors, foster the conditions that themselves generate problems.

Construction companies, the Navy, prosecutors, and the police charged me with twenty counts of obstructing business, but what I did was to obstruct their illegal actions. In fact, what I did was meant to halt the manipulation of the law, which exploits people in order to advance the narrow interests of power. Siding with the haves in society, all branches of authority, i.e., legislative, executive, and judicial, exercise absolute power and wield illegal violence in their attempt to shrink any space for disobedience and dissent. Insofar as my actions were undertaken as a last resort to legally assert self-defense, I am not guilty.

I object to the charges related to the events of May 19. On that day, the Seogwipo Police and the Jeju prosecutor arrested me on the spot as a criminal who had been obstructing business, yet the situation was as follows: construction workers and police were carrying out the demolition of neighboring facilities through “execution by proxy” without ensuring that proper legal steps were taken. At that point, seven villagers and civil rights activists had already been arrested so I, along with other women, raised a banner in silence: “Touch not even one stone, touch not one flower.” I do not remember if the police read me my Miranda rights; all that I remember is that they said, “Ms. Choi Sung-hee, we hereby arrest you as a criminal.” After this, five or six policewomen, dressed in civilian clothes, forced me into a police car, and, the police and Jeju prosecutor rendered me into custody on the charge of obstructing business. They say I obstructed business on May 19, but how does expressing protest by silently holding a banner constitute an illegal act tantamount to damaging the property of construction companies? Moreover, they inserted a clause indicating that I placed myself under the wheel of construction truck in order to justify their “arrest” of May 19 and “detention” of May 21, only to remove this clause along with the word “criminal-in-the-act” from arraignment after I protested. They “arrested” me first with a “false indictment” in order to “detain” me in custody. I cannot help but suspect that the whole rigmarole was designed for my “detention.” The Gangjeong village association and peace advocacy group that I am affiliated with accordingly released a public statement on May 23 to criticize the police and the prosecutor, which indicated that “the prosecutor, in conducting an investigation to determine the validity of the arrest warrant for Choi Sung-hee falsified additional information for the purpose of indictment” and that “the prosecutor indicted Choi Sung-hee on false charges that she obstructed business.”

I feel it is important to ceaselessly expose abuses of power and to highlight the need to curb such abuses on the part of the Seogwipo police department and the Jeju prosecutor’s office whose officials are paid by the islanders’ tax money. I speak out against the abuse of power because I fear that there will be more victims like myself if I remain quiet. Recently, the police and the prosecutor’s office have been badgering the residents of Gangjeong with a barrage of citations and demands for compensation for the damages the residents supposedly caused to the tune of about $280,000. This is nothing more than an oppressive tactic aimed at creating tension among the residents who in turn will blame peace activists for provoking the officials to behave badly, thereby driving a wedge between the activists and the residents.

I detect in the oppressive attitude in the officials the same sort of attitude responsible for the horrific 4.3 massacre. The history of Jeju Island is one of endless struggle against outside forces and this time, it faces the might of the central government and the Korean Navy. The Jeju prosecutors and Seogwipo police, instead of acting on behalf of the islanders, are committing treachery in collusion with the central government. A survey indicates that 44% of the residents of Gangjeong Village suffer from severe depression, and 34.7% of them have attempted suicide. On June 17, a villager was reported to have attempted suicide by consuming herbicide. On June 20, Navy personnel resorted to violent means to disband a group of peaceful demonstrators. Former Assemblywoman Hyun Ae-ja made a statement, “It’s a crime for the military to treat civilians with violence, even in wartime.” However, the central government, against the wishes of the villagers, quietly watched the Navy ruin the shoreline of the rare coral reef, which had been designated as a natural treasure.

Korea’s Constitution guarantees all of its citizens’ human respect and the right to pursue happiness. Sadly, this is the not the case in Gangjeong today. Your Honor, I believe that you can hear the voice of conscience founded in the Constitution.

Many people voiced their concern that Jeju Island and its future generations will become vulnerable to attack because its naval base is associated with the missile defense system of the United States. It is my duty and right to enact a peaceful non-violent demonstration against a base which is certain to invite war. I am told that about one thousand people have telephoned the Korean Embassy in Washington D.C. to voice their opposition to the naval base construction in Gangjeong. The danger of building a naval base in JeJu has become a concern for not only Koreans but also the international community. I understand that a Korean Embassy worker told callers that they should contact the U.S. government because it is pushing the naval base project rather than the Korean government.

Your Honor, why is the naval base problem developing into the second 4.3? One of the main reasons is because both the 4.3 massacre and the naval base conflict stemmed from the contravention of rights by outside forces (such as the U.S.) and their threat to the islanders’ right to peaceful existence. That is the reason why Jeju residents (who more than anyone had resisted outside powers) and the citizens of the Korean peninsula must recognize the fact that the major international powers have designs on the Jeju Island as a geostrategic location. They must realize that their home could become a battleground for the major powers and put a stop to the naval base.

Recent tensions between the U.S. and China justify our concern for the peace of Jeju. At a U.S.-Japan conference on June 21, the importance of forming alliances to isolate China was emphasized, suggesting the participation of the U.S., Australia, Japan, India and Korea. In this conference, the sale of Standard Missile 3 (developed by Raytheon of the U.S. and Mitsubishi of Japan) to Korea surfaced as a strong possibility. On July 9, the U.S., Japan, and Australia held a joint military exercise near Brunei in Indonesia. On that same day, the U.S. nuclear submarine USS Texas entered Korea’s waters and docked. Korea and the U.S. plan to hold training sessions for airborne fueling procedures every six months in preparation for possible actions against China, according to the experts. U.S. fuel-supply airplanes are said to operate out of its airbase in Okinawa. On August 4, the former chief of staff for the Korean Air Force was reported to have revealed military secrets to Lockheed Martin, the U.S. maker of fighter airplanes as well as destroyers that might dock in the Jeju naval base.

Was there American pressure to build the naval base on Jeju Island? I hear the clicking of the champagne glasses in the halls of weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon amidst the moaning sounds by the Gangjeong villagers. What region and country can revitalize the trade in U.S. weapons, their number-one export following their economic difficulties due to their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? It is Jeju Island in the Republic of Korea.

The island of peace is facing a crisis.

Your Honor, there is another important item I would like to bring up. It is the matter of environmental protection. Jeju Governor Woo Geun-min has failed to represent the people who elected him to look after their interests. He has neglected his duties in protecting Jeju’s unique environment and failed to abide by the rules and regulations set forth by UNESCO with respect to the management of the geological park.

According to the Jeju Daily on July 12, the third clause of UNESCO rules calls for continuous efforts by the governor in order for Jeju to retain its UNESCO designation as a natural treasure; the fourth clause calls for the islanders’ cooperation in the upkeep of the natural treasure. Assemblyman Yoo Won-il points out that the naval base site is only 1.5 km. from the UNESCO biological protection area; construction of the naval base will certainly cause UNESCO to retract its designation.

Instead of providing protection for the area, Governor Woo Geun-min is colluding with the Navy to ruin it. He is also trying to bring commercial tourism into the area. He recently stated that the Department of Defense promised him help promote tourism. Samsung, one of the firms involved in the naval base construction, has already begun advertising for tourism. When we examine all of these factors, we can conclude only one thing: the government, the military, and the corporations are colluding to destroy the environment, against the wishes of the islanders.

Your Honor, I ask that no more peace activists and Gangjeong residents stand here victimized as I am. I have faith in your conscience. Is it just for me to stand here because of my non-violent demonstration to preserve the island of peace? Or, shouldn’t the governor who sold Jeju out to the central government, military, and capital stand here? How about Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and Minister of Defense who turned over the island to the outside powers against the will of the people? People pay for their salary and yet they are oppressing weak people like me.

According to Howard Zinn, a well-known American peace activist, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the number of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience.... Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”

It is my hope that building the island of peace is actually realizable, not merely in language. Many people speak of building a peace park and a UN peace school instead of the naval base. Don’t you feel warm thinking about a world in which our young people and their children—free of pressure from draft and school tuitions—realize their dreams and work together to build a peaceful world? That hope keeps alive my passion for justice and gives me courage.

Thank you.
Choi Sung-hee
Jeju Courthouse

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FOX NEWS HACKS DON'T LIKE MCKINNEY



They refer to Saddam's attorney - they are talking about former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark who served during the Johnson administration.

Rich men like Bill O'Reilly can't imagine us poor folks passing the hat to reimburse each other for travel expenses. It's standard operating procedure.

O'Reilly declares that her trip was paid for by Libya and Iran, without any facts, and people listening to his show will believe it because they heard it on TV.

Thanks to James Williamson for this video link. He's the tall guy with the hat in the background.

A MEDIA PALL ON RON PAUL



Perfect example of how the corporate media goes out of their way to drown voices that stand in opposition to endless war spending - even when they belong to the Republican Party!

But legions of Republicans are listening to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and he is helping us to convince the public that these wars must end. In addition, even Fox News fanatics are seeing how their favorite network is putting the screws to Rep. Paul. That should be a learning moment for many of them.

MEET THE TEXAS BOSS - SAME AS THE OLD BOSS

This is Governor Rick Perry (R-Texas) who has decided to run for president because God told him to do so.

Maybe God might want to advise him not to hold his arm up in that position. People might become a bit wary. He should make sure he shaves every day as well. I'd suggest no mini-mustaches, you know the kind just under the nose.

Perry says he wants to bring the Texas "economic miracle" to the rest of the nation. The truth is that the jobs he claims to have created are mostly minimum wage service jobs.

I heard that the Bush family is supporting Perry's run for president. That endorsement should tell us all what this man is about.

Monday, August 15, 2011

NO ECONOMIC RECOVERY WITHOUT JOBS


The following are 19 facts about the deindustrialization of America

#1 The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001.

#2 Dell Inc., one of America’s largest manufacturers of computers, has announced plans to dramatically expand its operations in China with an investment of over $100 billion over the next decade.

#3 Dell has announced that it will be closing its last large U.S. manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in November. Approximately 900 jobs will be lost.

#4 In 2008, 1.2 billion cellphones were sold worldwide. So how many of them were manufactured inside the United States? Zero.

#5 According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

#6 As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent compared to the same time period a year ago.

#7 The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000.

#8 According to Tax Notes, between 1999 and 2008 employment at the foreign affiliates of U.S. parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million. During that exact same time period, U.S. employment at American multinational corporations declined 8 percent to 21.1 million.

#9 In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of U.S. economic output. In 2008, it represented 11.5 percent.

#10 Ford Motor Company recently announced the closure of a factory that produces the Ford Ranger in St. Paul, Minnesota. Approximately 750 good paying middle class jobs are going to be lost because making Ford Rangers in Minnesota does not fit in with Ford's new "global" manufacturing strategy.

#11 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

#12 In the United States today, consumption accounts for 70 percent of GDP. Of this 70 percent, over half is spent on services.

#13 The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#14 In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use. Today it ranks 15th.

#15 Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

#16 Printed circuit boards are used in tens of thousands of different products. Asia now produces 84 percent of them worldwide.

#17 The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.

#18 One prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

#19 The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept.

THE FIGHT OVER PUBLIC EDUCATION



This film and investigation connects the dots and reveals why the Koch brothers are trying to end public education and how their wealth winds up in the hands of Jim Crow. Watch the video, then call David Koch and tell him to stop funding school resegregation now. His number is 212-319-1100.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

WALKING THE DISPUTED GANGJEONG ROAD



Peace activist Rain Jung walks down the farm road leading to the peace camp. This is where the battle to prevent the naval base construction is taking place. This road was once lined with vibrant greenhouses and farms. Now it is often a place where riot police clash with nonviolent peace activists and environmentalists. Jung offers commentary on the unlawful arrest of activist Sung-Hee Choi, the environmental damage caused by Samsung and other issues. For more information visit http://www.savejejuisland.org/


Interview and film editing by Matt Hoey

"For any person of common sense, building a naval base on Jeju sounds absurd. The island, designated by the central government as `Peace Island' in 2005, is home not only to its 530,000 residents but also to nine UNESCO-designated Global Geo Parks, three World Natural Heritage sites and a Biosphere Reserve."


From the Korea Times on 8.12.2011

MIXED BAG



  • In this photo you'll notice the guys loading bombs have on gloves and masks. I've seen alot of bomb loading photos over the years but never one like this. The bomb is being loaded onto a drone. I can't help but wonder what toxic substance is inside the bomb that the GI's need protection from. Is it Depleted Uranium? If any of you have any ideas please let us know.

  • I spent about seven hours over the weekend doing painting of the outside of our big house. We had some boards replaced on the front of the house and they needed painting so I went all around and took off peeling paint and repainted those many spots as well. Maine is so wet that in places that don't get enough sun the paint never dries and just peels off the house.

  • I was interviewed by Dr. Helen Caldicott last week for her radio show which airs in Australia, Canada, and throughout the U.S. We covered many subjects including "missile defense, the next NASA plutonium launch, Jeju Island, Obama's weakness, Bring Our War $$ Home campaign, and more. You can listen to the one-hour interview here

  • I begin work in earnest this coming week on the next Global Network newsletter. We will be featuring the drone issue along with our usual review of the latest news from the Pentagon's plan to move the arms race into space.

  • The new Congressional "Super Committee" will have enormous power to determine what gets cut and what doesn't in the year(s) ahead. Twelve lawmakers have been appointed to select more than $1 trillion in spending cuts. There has been some talk about cuts in Pentagon spending being recommended. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington (the senator from Boeing) and Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas will co-chair the committee.

The military industrial complex already has a head start on lobbying these "folks" . Since 2007, the twelve chosen for the committee have taken roughly $1 million in war industry contributions to their PACs and campaign committees. Here’s how much they’ve been given, according to http://www.opensecrets.org/ :


Patty Murray (D-Wash.): $276,200
Max Baucus (D-Mont.): $139,100
Dave Camp (R-Mich.): $130,800
John Kerry (D-Mass.): $73,500
Rob Portman (R-Ohio): $68,700
Fred Upton (R-Mich.): $36,500
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.): $32,000
Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas): $29,000
Pat Toomey (R-Pa.): $17,100


Notice how well the Democrats do at raking the $$$ into their campaign war chests.

RIGHT-WING SOUTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT PREPARES FOR ONSLAUGHT



The right-wing government in South Korea can feel the international pressure building against the Navy base on Jeju Island. There is a growing awareness - just in recent days I've received peace movement newsletters from Canada and Australia that featured major articles about the Gangjeong villagers.

The U.S. produced Korean Quarterly just ran a two-page spread about the base resistance. Last week were the two New York Times Op-Eds and yesterday a news story ran in the International Herald Tribune. The CNN news story (see below) and now this piece from Al-Jazeera indicate that word and support is rapidly moving around the world.

Today we've received word that the government is mobilizing a big force in the village and many think it will be a harsh thrust by the government against the people in order to destroy their peaceful resistance camp along the coastline. Here is the latest from one of the activists in the village:

We just got back from the Emergency meeting and the nightly vigil. I can confirm that what Fox David said is true. 600-700 more police have arrived here along with the water cannons and other riot equipment (perhaps tear gas?). They are about a twenty minute drive from here. Before there have been struggles with the police but this is the first time for them to bring heavy riot dispersal equipment. Village Leader Kang lead the meeting and was very, very serious. The atmosphere here is heavy. We don't know how many total police are now in Jeju, but perhaps up to 1,600. We've heard rumors that "they" want to "end" everything this week. Although we do not expect the police to come tomorrow (the 15th), we are preparing anyway, and we expect them to come very soon. We are preparing heavily, for what could be the biggest struggle yet. There is a feeling that this might be it. Everyone is very tired, but they are also ready. The people here are so brave. They know they have truth on their side. I don't want to give too many details about our thoughts and plans both because I don't know all them and also for safety reasons. But anyway, now is the time to act. do whatever you can. spread the word, and be prepared. Now we wait for the sirens and pray.

By Paco Michelson

SUNDAY SONG