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 27, 2011

ODDS & ENDS


Mayor Kang being wrestled to the ground when he was arrested days ago


  • Latest news from Jeju Island is that Father Moon was released from jail late last night (it does not look good to keep a popular Catholic priest in jail - 40% of South Koreans are Catholic). Mayor Kang and two others are still in jail. A few days ago I reported that this weekend Catholics from the mainland will fly to Jeju Island on a special "peace plane" paid for by the head of all Catholic bishops in the country. I got the date wrong - they will be coming to Jeju on Sept 3. The international group Mayors for Peace is now working to build support worldwide for Mayor Kang with their 5,000 members. The South Korean government has stepped into a hornet's nest by arresting Mayor Kang. Once Mayors for Peace gets going on this effort things could really begin to blow wide open.

  • My trip to Washington DC tomorrow on the train for my trial will be delayed. Amtrak has cancelled the train schedule due to Hurricane Irene. In addition, the government asked for a delay in the trial since they were still not prepared to prosecute us for the simple act of standing in front of the White House in opposition to endless wars.

  • My second interview on Helen Caldicott's radio show began running yesterday. You can listen to it by clicking here

  • I got my first look at our Space Alert newsletter last night from our layout person. I've got the weekend to review it for errors before it will go to the printer on Monday. It's always such an overwhelming task to get started when I face the mounds of things to read....but once I get started I am like a huge rock rolling down hill....and it's always exciting to see the near-final product.

Friday, August 26, 2011

LOVE YOU FATHER MOON

Catholic priest Father Moon after being pulled down from the top of a van carrying Gangjeong village Mayor Kang inside

On August 25 the South Korean police arrested five members of the Gangjeong village protest movement. They were then taken to the nearby police station. The crowd of protesters moved to the station and continued with their protest.

Father Moon climbed on top of the police van that had Gangjeong village Mayor Kang inside to prevent him being moved to the nearby police station. Father Moon was wrestled to the ground by plain clothes cops. Then at the police station he again climbed on top of the van and was again taken down.

In the video you see this action play out and at the end you see Father Moon himself being moved to the prison in Jeju city. The villagers chant: "public authority is arrogant. . . they ignore villagers. . . love you, father"


TWISTED UP BY A SUPER COUP D'ETAT

The Boston Globe had a blaring headline on August 15: 'Doomsday' defense cuts directly affect panel members - Large military contractors are in their states.

Put your ear to the railroad tracks and you can hear the train coming. Now that the new 12-member Congressional "Super Committee" has essentially been given the power of God (and the Devil) the military industrial complex, and their appendage called the corporate media, are swinging into action. Their message? We can't cut Pentagon spending because it will hurt an already tight job market.....and we need these troops to keep knocking countries off the "Non-Integrating Gap" list (those countries that refuse to play ball with corporate globalization).

The article begins, "The six Republicans and six Democrats represent states where the biggest military contractors - Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co., and Boeing Co. - build missiles, aircraft, jet fighters, and tanks while employing tens of thousands of workers."

It's really quite a convenient "coincidence" that the appointed members of the Super Committee just happen to have the "biggest military contractors" in their states. Gee, I wonder when it comes down to more cuts in social spending OR cuts in Pentagon funding, which way will they go?

The Globe goes on to say, "Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, one of the Democratic members of the deficit-reduction committee, represents a state that was fifth in the nation with $8.37 billion in defense contracts this year, behind Virginia, California, Texas, and Connecticut, according to data on the federal government's website www.USAspending.gov ..... In Tewksbury and Andover, deep defense cuts could have serious ramifications for thousands of Raytheon employees working on the Patriot, the air and missile defense system."

In fact the former head of Raytheon, William J. Lynn III, was brought into the Obama administration to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense. On June 8 he was quoted in the right-wing Washington Times newspaper saying, "The wars of the future will be longer, deadlier and waged against a more diverse variety of enemies than ever before."

The message is clear - prepare for endless war and don't cut the military budget. Not surprising, right on cue, the Globe also quotes former "liberal" Democrat, and now Obama's Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta calling the possibility of Pentagon cuts the "doomsday mechanism."

On August 14 I wrote on this blog about the aerospace corporation contributions to key members of the Super Committee. I think it is worth repeating that important information. There can be no doubt that the appointment of these severely compromised politicians, and the steady drumbeat about "Doomsday" Pentagon cuts in the corporate media, are part of a larger plan to destroy social progress in America and to continue the massive military buildup and endless war. It's crucial that people also clearly recognize the "bi-partisan" nature of this magic show.

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

Welcome to the much acclaimed "democratic process" of decision making in the US of A.

OBAMA - STAY OUT OF TAR SANDS!



David Daniel, a Texas Landowner to be affected by the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, hits the road with other landowners for two weeks from Texas to Washington, D.C. on the 'Stop the Pipeline' Tour. They are telling average Americans, as well as President Obama, to say NO to the Keystone XL Pipeline and the dirty Tar Sands oil it transports.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WIFE OF SOLDIER TELLS STORY



Ashley Joppa-Hagemann tells the story of her husband Jared who took his life rather than return to war zone in Afghanistan.

Bring the troops home now!

WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO US?



  • The South Korean police arrested renowned Catholic Father Moon Jung-Hyun as well yesterday after he climbed on top of the police car that was taking the mayor to jail. Mayor Kang of Gangjeong village is still in jail. At a press conference this afternoon villagers and supporters said, "The arrest of Mayor Kang will bring greater resistance, arrest of Fr. Moon will bring higher wave of peace. . ." This weekend an airplane full of Catholics (paid for by the Jeju Island Bishop) will come from the mainland to stand with the villagers.

  • As I write this the Navy Blue Angels air team is screaming overhead as they prepare for this weekend's airshow in Brunswick. It's like pre-show publicity and makes one feel like they are in the middle of a war zone. The big difference though is that in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan this noise never ends and when the planes fly over head they drop bombs. Every day this week there has been a letter to the editor in the local newspaper opposing the airshow so there is alot of ferment in the community about it.

  • I've written in the past about my forlorn baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles. Last night we learned that one of the great players (Mike Flanagan) from the past, now one of the game time announcers, had died and early reports were that he had committed suicide. For a few years he had served as the team general manager and apparently had become despondent over 13 losing seasons in a row. It's very sad that he has died but even sadder that he allowed the long losing streak to break him. Flanny was a good man, deeply loved by the fans, and will be missed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MULTIPLE DEPLOYMENTS KILLING THE TROOPS


Army Ranger killed himself to avoid another tour, wife says
August 24, 2011

SEATTLE -- Army Ranger Jared Hagemann had served at least six combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, with another deployment to Afghanistan looming.

But the 25-year-old staff sergeant dreaded the prospect of another tour. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and found the pressures of another deployment so overwhelming, his wife said, that he repeatedly threatened to take his own life.

On June 28, he was found dead, a gunshot wound to his head, in a training area at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle, where he was based.

"He wanted out," Ashley Joppa-Hagemann said. "They should have let him out."

Hagemann's wife is convinced it was suicide. She insists that the next deployment would have been his ninth; the Army said today it would have been his seventh, and that he had just re-enlisted for another six years in January. The cause of the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

The Army hasn't yet determined the manner of death, said Maj. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman with the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Benning, Ga. The Army has launched two investigations to determine how he died and the factors leading up to his death. Investigators are reviewing Hagemann's medical history and looking into what diagnosis or treatment was made and whether policies were followed.

Joppa-Hagemann said the military knew about her husband's mental health problems but did little to help him.

"So many people knew there were issues. He sought help and nobody was paying attention," said the 25-year-old widow, who lives in Yelm with the couple's two young sons.

The Army has not held a battalion memorial for Hagemann, but Hagemann's unit participated in his funeral and gave him full military honors, DeSantis said.

His widow thought more should have been done: "It's ridiculous," she said. "He's served his time. Every soldier deserves a memorial."

Hagemann enlisted in the Army out of high school in 2004 because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. He stood up for what he believed in, his wife said, and the Rangers to him meant being the first one in, "taking care of the bad guys."

He was charming, outgoing and commanded everyone's attention when he walked into a room, she said. But after each combat tour, he would return cold, quiet, paranoid, and at times increasingly aggressive and violent. He drank more each time, had mood swings and recurring nightmares, she said.

In 2009, he was admitted for four days to Madigan Army Medical Center for mental health care services and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she said. He went to counseling for alcoholism but was later told he needed to do it on his own time.

"Soldiers aren't being allowed to take care of their mental health programs," said Seth Menzel, an Army veteran who has been advocating for Joppa-Hagemann.

In 2010, Hagemann received a glowing evaluation with top marks; raters noted his unparalleled loyalty to the Army and Rangers, and his outstanding potential. Later that year, he would return to Afghanistan for another combat tour. The tours lasted, on average, about four months, according to the Army.

His wife said he was growing increasingly frustrated and repeatedly asked to leave the Rangers unit. The Army's DeSantis said the battalion leadership was not aware of any such request from him.

"In the last month, he put a gun to his head three times. He told me every day was a struggle to wake up and want to live," Joppa-Hagemann said. "He said the things he had seen and done, no God would have forgiven him."

More on soldier suicides
-- The Associated Press

TRY THIS ONE ON FOR SIZE

PUSHING THE DRONES



Al-Jazeera lately has become increasingly "conservative" as they support many of the Middle East monarchs and has been showing signs of swinging around to support U.S.-NATO operations in Libya and beyond.

Here is a story that shows Democrats defending the use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan and misleads by claiming that there is virtually no opposition to their use.

POLICE INVADE GANGJEONG AGAIN - MORE ARRESTS

Mayor Kang just before being arrested

Woman chained herself to heavy construction equipment

The police, many in plain clothes, invaded the village today and aggressively grabbed five protest leaders and took them to jail. Included among those arrested was Gangjeong village Mayor Kang. Mayor Kang has been on three years' probation for the charges of 'violation on the law on rally', 'obstruction on the government affairs' and ' business obstruction'. The government would love to salt him away in jail for some time.

Former U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright has just arrived in Gangjeong to show support for the villagers. In an email this morning she wrote:

I’m in Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea and the sirens are blaring for citizens to come to the main gate of the Naval Base where construction is about to begin in an area that will destroy pristine lava fields and endanger marine life.

The siren sounds like a tsunami siren in Hawaii signaling an emergency. And that is what it is - 4 activists were arrested two hours ago, including the Mayor of Gangjeong, the cook at the camp and a member of SPARK and now 60 people have blocked front of the main gate of the base and many others at another gate.

Ten activists have locked chains around their necks and around each other and are sitting directly in front of a line of police at the gate. More arrests to follow no doubt.

You can follow the situation on Jeju Island from the new web site called Save Jeju Island

Can also find several videos from the police raid here



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MILITARY MADNESS


  • Latest news from Jeju Island is sketchy. The right-wing government still wants to crush the Gangjeong villagers protest camp along the rocky coast. The Jeju provincial council has submitted a request to the national government for a referendum on the construction of a naval base on the island. In a sign of real desperation South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said a majority of the residents of the village of Gangjeong support base construction, and only around 20-30 Gangjeong residents and some 70-80 non-residents are opposed. He added the government is working to win the understanding of those who oppose the building of the base by explaining its necessity. In fact the villagers voted by a margin of 95% to oppose the Navy base.

  • What's next in Libya? Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, is calling on Obama to put "boots on the ground" in Libya to "ensure stability". This is one of those statements by a member of the oligarchy that is intended to break the ice and to create the impression that the "wise counselors" are having to put some heat on Obama to get him to do "the right thing". In fact this whole episode has long ago been scripted.


  • I've wrapped up my part of our Space Alert newsletter and turned it over to our layout designer Nancy Randolph. Most likely will be to the printer by the end of the week.


  • Maine Veterans for Peace will hold a protest this Saturday in nearby Brunswick (at the recently closed naval air station) where the Navy Blue Angels (Hells Angels) will be the highlight of a weekend airshow. The protest will run from 10:00 am til 1:00 pm. Many local activists are leaving town for the weekend as they can't stand the noise. The "Angels" air team of screaming jets will arrive on Thursday, zoom around the region on Friday (with media representatives taking joy rides and promoting the show), then they perform on Saturday and Sunday and zoom out on Monday. So its several days of war zone noise and major league air pollution. The local sponsors of the airshow have to provide 49,000 gallons of jet fuel to secure the Navy air team. It's fundamentally a military recruiting bonanza.


  • I head back to Washington DC this Sunday on the train as my trial (along with about 15 others, including many veterans) for civil disobedience at the White House over the Afghanistan war resumes on Monday. The mid-July trial got postponed due to several legal technicalities. The trial is likely to run two days.

SHOCKING SILENCE

Monday, August 22, 2011

CARVING UP LIBYAN OIL

REMEMBERING THE DAY OF DECEPTION



Remembering the day that was used to justify endless war - let's hear from the real experts.

We must demand a real investigation of 9-11. Let the cards fall where they may.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

FALSE FREEDOM CAMPAIGNS


I made the 4 1/2 hour drive to Hartford, CT yesterday to speak to a peace group that was behind the Hartford City Council passing the Bring Our War $$ Home resolution a few months ago. Then I made the long drive home. By the end of the day my legs felt like they were radial tires - just humming with road vibrations.

It was mostly sunny today so I spent alot of time crawling around our tomato plants looking for green Tomato Horn Worms that love to eat the plants. I found four of them after a couple hours of inspection. I also cut some basil, brought in our garlic to dry, and made some refrigerator pickles from our booming cucumber crop. It felt real good to do these things.

I am watching with sadness the current U.S.-NATO campaign to destroy Libya. All for control of their oil and to get a military and corporate foothold on the African continent. A few years back I heard Rumsfeld's "strategy guy" (Thomas Barnett) on C-SPAN say "We'll be fighting in Africa in 20 years for their oil" but it looks like things are speeding up.

Not many peace activists are talking about Libya since the U.S. has long done a good job of vilifying Gaddafi and there is little chance for any other information to compete with mainstream propaganda. U.S.-NATO are causing a bloodbath, bombing and killing many civilians who they say they have come to free. There have been a few reports that the so-called rebels in Libya are heavily comprised of Al-Qaeda operatives. U.S.-NATO have armed these forces and give them air support. We've seen this picture before in Afghanistan.

Then after the "war" is over and Gaddafi is run out of Libya, and puppets are put into power, then U.S.-NATO will miraculously discover that Libya is infested with Al-Qaeda "terrorists" and we've got to clean-up the mess. That should be good for at least 10-20 years worth of occupation, military base building, etc.....it's called modus operandi.

It's sickening, sad, immoral, illegal and it's the New World Dis-Order. Bottom line is that any country (Libya, Syria, Iran, Cuba, Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela.........) that doesn't submit to the control of corporate globalization and corporate capital gets put on the list to be isolated, vilified, and taken down.

I'm tired of it and I am broken hearted to see the people have to suffer at the hands of U.S.-NATO false freedom campaigns.

SUNDAY SONG