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, October 01, 2011

FACE-TO-FACE AT BATH IRON WORKS


Lisa Savage (left) and Mary Beth Sullivan out in front of Bath Iron Works today to kick off Keep Space for Peace Week


Twenty-three of us from around Maine gathered in the rain today at Bath Iron Works during the Saturday shift change at the shipyard where Navy Aegis destroyers are built.

We arrived at 11:30 am and at noon, as the workers came pouring out of the yard on foot and in cars, we walked single file down the sidewalk toward the gate where many of those on foot were leaving work. We had a face-t0-face meeting with the workers and I wondered if they would shout at us or show any aggressive behavior toward our protest.

Surprisingly though none of the workers said anything as they walked across the street and onto the same sidewalk we were on. Few of them would make eye contact with us and it turned out to be a very powerful moment for all of us involved in the protest. Normally we just stand in one place as they drive past us on their way home from work. But today one of our folks had the idea that we should walk toward the gate where they exit the shipyard.

Several of our signs had images of rail systems painted on them saying "Built in Bath" as our way of signaling to the workers and the community at large our preference for the conversion of the shipyard from military production to building something that is needed in our society today.

Studies at the UMASS-Amherst Economics Department show that $1 billion in military production creates 8,555 jobs while investing the same amount of money in building rail systems would create 19,795 jobs. That's a huge difference and you'd think that every politician in the country would be grabbing onto that fact and calling for conversion in order to create more jobs. But sadly their silence on this important subject indicates the power the military industrial complex has over these political figures.

We had a good response from the general public, even in Bath, which indicates that people are fed up with endless war spending and they are beginning to see how conversion of the military industries would enable us to deal with some of the severe problems we have today - like climate change. We are quickly running out of time to deal with the coming ravages of climate change so reordering the way we live and function is priority #1.

As we are seeing with the protest on Wall Street in NYC, the real leadership these days is coming from disaffected citizens. The politicians have become less relevant to us as leaders and problem solvers because the vast majority of them are dominated by the corrupt corporate forces that now control our political system. Most elected officials have no vision nor enough courage to speak out if they had any.

There was a special feeling in our group today at Bath Iron Works. I was proud to stand with these remarkable activists.

BANKERS RUN THE WORLD



Mainstream media is thrown into a tailspin after an independent trader tells the BBC how the world of big money and politics looks from the inside.

Friday, September 30, 2011

JEJU PROTEST IN PHILIPPINES




Lately protests at South Korean consulate offices in support of Gangjeong villagers have been held in Australia and Hong Kong. Now the protest in this video has taken place in the Philippines. People in the Philippines know something about what happens when U.S. military bases take root in one's country.

German Global Network leaders just published a space issues newsletter for national distribution and included the Jeju issue.....see it here

People are starting to react to the Navy base on Jeju Island. Hopefully more of this will happen in the near future.

LATEST NEWS FROM JEJU

Gangjeong villagers and supporters in Jeju City today
Father Moon arrested again at Navy base construction gate
Father Moon filming as Jesuit Br. Pak is arrested at Navy base gate

There are now ten Gangjeong villagers and supporters in jail on Jeju Island. Included in this group are three priests (including the infamous Father Moon) who were arrested yesterday while protesting outside the Navy base construction gate. The mayor of Gangjeong village, Kang Dong-Kyun, still sits in jail. You can see more information about those currently in jail here

Yesterday more than 200 villagers and supporters went to Jeju City to do three steps, one bow in order to protest Navy base construction. You can see some incredible photos of this here

Last week a big meeting was held in New York City at NYU featuring Jeju Island artist Koh Gil-chun and Gloria Steinem. It looks like there was a good turnout for the event and the meeting made the news back in South Korea. You can see some photos here

When he was in Boston Koh met with Noam Chomsky and below you can see a short video of comments by the famous MIT professor.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WEST JOINS PROTEST ON WALL STREET



"It’s impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We’re talking about a democratic awakening," said Dr. Cornel West when he spoke with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman during a visit Tuesday night to the Occupy Wall Street encampment. Some critics have expressed frustration at the protest’s lack of a clear and unified message. But the Princeton University professor emphasized that "you’re talking about raising political consciousness so it spills over all parts of the country, so people can begin to see what’s going on through a set of different lens, and then you begin to highlight what the more detailed demands would be. Because in the end we’re really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution: A transfer of power from oligarchs to everyday people of all colors. And that is a step by step process."

Dr. West also called on President Obama to apologize for calling on members of the Congressional Black Caucus to “stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying” when unemployment among African Americans has reached record highs and two of five Black children live in poverty. This video features Amy Goodman’s interview with Dr. West, along with his address to Occupy Wall Street protesters.

CHOMSKY CALLS FOR MORE PROTESTS

THE ROCKETS RED GLARE

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

OTHER GRIEVANCES AGAINST WALL STREET


Over 700 hundred Continental and United pilots, joined by additional pilots from other Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) carriers, demonstrated along Wall Street on Tuesday. Notice the cops didn't beat them up, pepper spray their faces, nor arrest them.

The grievances against corporate power across the nation, and around the world, are enormous. The door has been opened and we should now expect that every sector of society that is being trampled upon by corporate power will step up and air their stories about corporate greed and ruthlessness.

Every now and then in history a spark gets lit that swings the pendulum of real change in our direction. The hard work, courage, and sacrifices made by the predominately young activists occupying Wall Street have lit this spark.

Do what you can each day to get out onto the streets and give the people a reason to see that something is indeed happening across the country. Don't let the corporate forces of greed and domination slam the doors shut again.

Our job is to keep the candles lit.

HANDING OUT FLYERS IN BLUE HILL & AUGUSTA

I just got home after two days of driving up and down the state. Yesterday I made it to Blue Hill by 3:00 pm to stand with Dud Hendrick (Veterans for Peace) and artist Robert Shetterly (Americans Who Tell the Truth) near the town bridge for an hour and 45 minutes with the Bring Our War $$ Home banner. They held the banner and I held a sign and gave flyers to passing motorists who took the time to roll down their windows. A couple people parked and walked back to where we were standing to take a flyer.

In the evening a wonderful concert was held in Blue Hill to benefit the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and more than 75 people attended. The Voices for Peace choir from Bangor performed and Rob Shetterly displayed nine of his activist portraits and talked about each one of them. It was all very well done - the choir would sing a song after Rob gave details about each of the activists he has painted for his series which now is made up of over 170 paintings.

I was asked to speak about the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign at the beginning of the show and then again at the end I was asked to send people off in an organizing frenzy. So I talked about hearing people last weekend at the Common Ground Fair keep saying, "Ah, you are just preaching to the choir." I told the folks last night that if they had come to the concert early they would have found the Voices for Peace choir practicing before the event. Good choirs need to get together and practice singing. So lots of folks who say they are in the choir don't know the song these days, and they are not coming to choir practice, I told the audience. The public is waiting for someone to stand up, to stick their neck out, to step forward, and when that happens they will follow the lead. So it's time for the choir to start singing!

Those words seemed to be appreciated and it was fun to be a part of the show. I went home with Dud and Jean to their house in Deer Isle and stayed the night in their guest cottage. This morning Dud made me breakfast and then we talked about the format for the October 9 finale event the campaign is planning in Augusta to celebrate the end of the 30-day Care-a-Van. Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Indian nation will be our keynote speaker at the meeting which will be held at the UMA Holocaust & Human Rights Center from noon to 3:00 pm.

After my talk with Dud this morning I drove back toward Augusta where I met fellow Veterans for Peace member Tom Sturtevant and we joined a MoveOn protest outside the Federal Building office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). They were protesting in favor of Obama's proposed jobs bill and Tom and I held Bring Our War $$ Home signs and handed out flyers to cars when they waited at the red light in front of the Federal Building. We passed out quite a number of them. (My feeling is that the Democrats are fooling themselves if they think this jobs bill is going to pass. Until there are serious cuts in Pentagon spending there will be little available $$ for job creation.)

As usual the response of the passing motorists in Blue Hill and Augusta was mostly positive. The people know things are a mess, they increasingly understand that war spending is draining the national treasury, and they are glad to see that someone is doing something.

Next up for the Care-a-Van will be Friday's Teach-In at Bowdoin College in Brunswick called Ten Years of War in Afghanistan: What Have We Learned? What Can We Do?.

Speakers: Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould, authors of Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire.

Panel: Professor Allen Wells, Professor Nat Wheelwright, Lisa Savage, Dudley Hendrick, Paul Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Gould

It will run from 3-5 p.m. inside Smith Auditorium, in Sills Hall at Bowdoin College.

I'll interview authors Fitzgerald and Gould earlier that day for my public access TV show.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

AMERICAN "EXCEPTIONALISM" AT WORK



This is how the bankers, Hedge Fund operators, and big insurance companies are protected these days. The New York City cops slam, bash, spray, and arrest citizens for having the audacity to challenge the unregulated thievery on Wall Street.

These protests on Wall Street are largely being ignored by the mainstream media. This report on MSNBC is a rare bit of coverage.

The idea that the U.S. is an "exceptional" nation is a lie. The idea that America is the bastion of freedom and liberty is a myth.

Where is Hillary Clinton at this moment? She's lately been lecturing the leaders of Libya, Syria, and other places where the citizens are in revolt. She's been talking alot of trash about rights of free speech and non-violence. But when the victims of state brutality are in the U.S. you find the "leaders" silent. It is evidence that their words ring hollow.

SPACE WEEK LOCAL EVENTS



Stop the Drones
No Missile Defense
End the wars & occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya
Bring Our War $$ Home
Convert the Military Industrial Complex



Local Events (List now in formation)


* Albuquerque, New Mexico (Oct 5) Showing documentary Pax-Americana & the Weaponization of Space 6:00 pm at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. Contact Stop the War Machine at 505-268-9557 or citizen@comcast.net

* Albuquerque, New Mexico (Oct 8) Anti-war and use of space for war protest at the University of New Mexico bookstore plaza, Central Avenue. Contact Stop the War Machine at 505-268-9557 or citizen@comcast.net

* Andover, Massachusetts (Oct 3) Vigil at Raytheon (where Patriot PAC-3 missile defense interceptors are made) at 7:00 am For more info call 978-686-4418

* Bath Iron Works, Maine (Oct 1) Vigil across from administration building on Washington Street (Aegis destroyers built at BIW) 11:30-12:30 am Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm (207) 763-4062

* Brighton, England (Oct 1) Symposium on ‘Power in Outer Space’ - How can human activity in outer space be understood in relation to social power? How can this social power be contested? Keynote speakers will be Dave Webb, Leeds Metropolitan University, and Peter Dickens, University of Cambridge, and Visiting Professor at the University of Brighton. More info available at: www.brighton.ac.uk/sass/powerinouterspace/

* Canterbury, England (Oct 1) Ground the Drones vigil and stall, anterbury City Centre, Noon – 2pm Contact: Gerard Bane: gez6551@yahoo.co.uk

* Canterbury, England (Oct 8) Ground the Drones vigil and stall, Canterbury City Centre, Noon – 2pm Contact: Gerard Bane: gez6551@yahoo.co.uk

* Colorado Springs, Colorado (Oct 3) Bannering outside the west gate at Schriever AFB (home of the Space Warfare Center and numerous other Star Wars programs) 3:30 - 4:30 pm bill.sulzman@gmail.com

* Colorado Springs, Colorado (Oct 7) Congressional office visits (Bennet, Udall, Lamborn) presenting Stop the War petitions, 4:00 pm bill.sulzman@gmail.com

* RAF Croughton, England (Oct 1) Rally at U.S. communication base, March to main gate 1 mile - starts Croughton village 12.00 midday. Returns 3:00 pm, Oxfordshire Peace Campaign, oxonpeace@yahoo.co.uk

* Fort Mead, Maryland (Oct 9) The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore will visit the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade at noon. Contact Max Obuszewski at mobuszewski@verizon.net or 410-366-1637

* Gangjeong, Jeju Island, South Korea (Oct 1-8) Public screenings of space films such as 'Arsenal of Hypocricy,' and 'Pax Americana,' during the space peace week in the Gangjeong village armha5156@gmail.com

* Guntur, India (Oct 8) Meeting in Andhrapradesh state with local intellectuals to discuss space weaponization issue jnrao36@sify.com

* Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Oct 5) Public screening of award winning documentary "Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space". We will also give an update on the 4-year protest by villagers against the construction of naval base on Jeju Island in South Korea. Organized by the Halifax Peace Coalition and the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG) at 7:30-9:00 p.m. Room 307, Student Union Building, Dalhousie University. hfxpeace@chebucto.ca

* Kaua`i, Hawai`i (Oct 15) Kaua`i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice intends to hold protests, in several locations around the Island, beginning with the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the West Side of the Island. Navy Aegis "missile defense" systems will be tested here to be deployed at Jeju Island, Okinawa, Guam and other locations. koikoi1@hawaii.rr.com

* Leicester, England (Oct 5) Protest outside Thales/ U-Tacs factory, Leicester, 3.30pm – 6pm Contact: Penny Walker: pennywalker@riseup.net

* Menwith Hill, England (Oct 4) - "The Alternative Tea Party" demonstration at U.S. NSA Spy Base from 6-8 pm. Contact Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases mail@caabcorner.org.uk

* Menwith Hill, England (Oct 16) "A Guided Walk Around Menwith Hill" - 2nd day of the CND Annual Conference in Bradford dominic@yorkshirecnd.org.uk

* Nagpur, India (Oct 1) Demonstration at 5 PM at the All India Radio Square jointly by the All India Peace & Solidarity Organisation, S.E.C. Railway Pensioners Assn, Pragatisheel Raillway Mahila samaj and the Indian Women for Peace & Development jnrao36@sify.com

* Nagpur, India (Oct 2) A Workshop on different types of space weapons including Drones jnrao36@sify.com

* Nagpur, India (Oct 5) A joint pogramme by the All India Peace & Solidarity Organisation, Indian Women for Peace & Development and the Matru Seva Sangh Institute of Social Work, 2 pm jnrao36@sify.com

* Nevada National Security Site (Oct 9) Vigil at nuclear weapons test and development site from 9-11 am and vigil at Creech Air Force Base 1-2:30 pm (major drone control base) both northwest of Las Vegas, NV. This day of action is the conclusion of an international gathering of Catholic Workers; for more info, visit www.lvcw.org or contact jim@nevadadesertexperience.org

* Oakville, Ontario, Canada (Oct 4) Oakville Community Centre for Peace, Ecology & Human Rights and Physicians for Global Survival sponsoring a talk by Anna Jaikaran, founding member of People Against Weapons in Space, and showing winning films from the No 2 Nuclear weapons competition, Oakville Town Hall at 7:00 pm bbirkett@interlog.com

* Omaha, Nebraska (Oct 2) STRATCOM (Strategic Command), Offut Air Force Base, Kinney Gate, 2:30-3:30 pm, klostermannm@osfdbq.org

* Oxford, England (Oct 1) Women in Black ‘Down the Drones’ silent vigil, 2.30pm Contact: Annette Bygott a.bygott@phonecoop.coop

* Ridhora, India (Oct 3) A talk and a rally of the Students at the Central India Management & Tehnology Institute, in the state of Madhya Pradesh jnrao36@sify.com

* Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Oct 8) Pax Christi Southeastern SD will view documentary film "Pax Americana & the Weaponization of Space," followed with prayer that includes the Sermon on the Mount Vow of Nonviolence. Caminando Juntos, 617 E 7th St., 1-3 pm gl_wieland@yahoo.com

* Stockholm, Sweden (Oct 3) A group of women from different peace organisations (WILPF, Women for Peace, Swedish Women´s Left Association, Swedish Peace Committee) will hold a vigil in front of the Parliamentary Building on International Childrens Day at 12.00-14.00. We will hold a banner: DRONES KILL CHILDREN and hand out leaflets. lappland.norberg@gmail.com

* Tucson, Arizona (Oct 3) Vigil at Raytheon (where "missile defense" kill vehicles are made) nukeresister@igc.org

* Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (Oct 8) Nonviolent resistance at Lockheed Martin, the world's largest weapons corporation and space weapons contractor, 1- 2:30p.m. at Mall & Goddard Boulevards, (behind the King of Prussia Mall) brandywine@juno.com

* Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (Oct 5) Vigil at space launch base front gate from 4:00-5:00 p.m. jdapel@yahoo.com

* Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (Oct 5) The "Wednesday Peace Vigil" meets 12:00-1:00 pm at the Cenotaph at the B.C. Legislature, Government Street at Belleville Street. This is also the day we will be observing the 10th anniversary of the weekly vigil which is opposed to all wars. Contact: jbrett@shaw.ca

* Visakhapatnam, India (Oct 9) Workshop "Everything on Weaponisation of 'Space" at Visakhapatnam in state of Andhrapradesh. jnrao36@sify.com

* Waddington, England (Starting Sept 3rd) "Ground the Drones" Peace Camp at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, where a new squadron is being formed to fly killer drones direct from the UK. For details of the camp contact Yorkshire CND on 01274 730 795 or dominic@yorkshirecnd.org.uk

* Wandsworth, England (Oct 1) Anti-drones stall, Clapham Junction, 11am – 1pm Contact: Wandsworth Stop the War Group: raysilk@btinternet.com

* Washington, DC (Oct 8) "Stop Missiles - all Defensive missiles are Offensive - from Jeju Island to Hawaii," with Ann Wright, 11am, Stop the Machine, Freedom Plaza microann@yahoo.com

* Washington DC (Oct 8) Tom Neilson will sing and discuss Keep Space for Peace Week at Freedom Plaza at 7:30 pm. http://tomneilsonmusic.com

* Waterville, Maine (Oct 6) CodePink Maine Ground the Drones candlelight vigil on KMD bridge (Kennedy Memorial Drive, near Hannaford) at 7-8 pm, fmi 207-399-7623

* Weld County, Colorado (Oct 8) Vigil at Nuclear Missile site N-8 in Weld County. Car Pool leaves Colorado Springs at 8:30 AM, vigil at noon bill.sulzman@gmail.com


Keep Space for Peace Week is co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK), Swedish Peace Council, Drone Campaign Network (UK), and United Against Drones (U.S.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

THE ANSWER IS IN NATURE



I am doing the best I can......

Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and who went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died on Sunday. She was 71.

She was an example of what a real Nobel Prize winner looks like.

TALKING WITH THE CHOIR AT THE FAIR


I spent Friday-Saturday-Sunday at the Common Ground Fair in Unity. About 50,000 people from throughout Maine and nearby states gathered for the annual celebration of the organic farming movement and alternative politics.

Veterans for Peace and Bring Our War $$ Home campaign shared a booth and talked with legions of people during the course of the fair. We handed out literature and sold buttons, bumperstickers and the very popular Americans Who Tell the Truth series of portrait cards by Maine artist Robert Shetterly.

I began asking people who approached our table if they knew how much money the Congress was spending on the Afghanistan war each month. Many would say they knew, or they didn't want to know, but in fact few people knew that the figure is $10 billion every month. But they were all clear that those tax dollars could be better used back here at home.

My follow-up question to people was, "I'm making a list of ideas. Please tell me how you think we can get out from behind this eight-ball." There were some interesting suggestions but quite a number of folks said they didn't think we could do anything to stop the coming collapse and return to feudalism. One man told me that the night before a group of his friends sat around a dinner table and they all came to the conclusion that nothing could be done. Their "knight in shining armor" Barack Obama, who was going to bring hope and change, had betrayed them. Now all was lost.

It's like a self-reinforcing circular firing squad. An epidemic of resignation. But I was not satisfied to leave it there. I prodded and poked and tried to find some sign of life and usually if I could get the people to talk some more they would work their way back to the land of the living. Many would throw me the old line that I was just "preaching to the choir" which is the excuse for those who want to say they agree with me but don't really want to get engaged. I would respond that the choir is not singing the song - in fact, most of the choir aren't showing up for choir practice. The choir is waiting for the choir "director", a leader who would make everything OK again.

I found that if I really listened to those who were sincerely wanting to find a way out of this dark time they were extremely grateful. One woman talked to me for some time and as she turned to walk away, she stopped and thanked me for seeking her opinion. I witnessed this several times and it occurred to me that few people are ever asked by anyone what they think. No one cares what they think!

I left the fair on Sunday afternoon and drove to nearby Belfast where a 4:00 pm rally was being organized by local peace and pro-democracy groups. Dud Hendrick (Veterans for Peace) and I both were among the speakers. About 50 people turned out in the middle of town for the event and many more folks drove by waving and honking approval of the signs being held that included the messages Tax the Rich and Bring Our War $$ Home.

The Common Ground Fair is a wedding of the movements. The alternative culture movements of cooperation, decentralization, and sustainability are linked with the activists for progressive political action. We need all of these strands of the environmental, social and political movements to be moving together, reinforcing each other, supporting one another.

Each of our problems and challenges today lead us back to the corrupt system of corporate control that puts a price tag on everything in our world - a price tag on nature, on freedom of speech, and on the vision of our collective future.

It will take all of us in the choir to do our part in these days ahead. We each have a role in singing the song of resistance to endless war and corporate control. We each have a part in giving voice to the path out of this dark nightmare. We must all keep singing....no matter how hard it might be at this time.

ANOTHER SPARK THAT LIT A MOVEMENT

Berkeley in the '60s (1990 - Mark Kitchell) from Stuart Christie on Vimeo.


As we see the rising of people on Wall Street it is good to remember our connection to past struggles like this.

See this powerful documentary about the process of youth radicalisation in America (Berkeley, California) from the anti-HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) in May 1960 onwards . . .

Sunday, September 25, 2011

HEDGES ON WALL STREET PROTESTS



This video is from the Occupy Wall Street livestream and was posted at YouTube on September 26

SUNDAY SONG