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, February 04, 2012

AMERICAN WAR CRIMES



It's called genocide. Where are the calls for war crimes trials against the U.S.?

Professor Chris Busby of the University of Ulster: Evidence suggesting that “Enriched” Uranium weapons (as opposed to depleted uranium antitank weapons which are bad enough) were used in Fallujah causing major birth defects, mutations and likely radioactive blowback contamination of US troops whose offspring now have high incidences of birth defects compatible with radiation poisoning of reproductive organs. Enriched uranium weapons are top secret and illegal because they are technically a poison gas and antipersonell weapons and therefore constitute international war crimes.

SUPER SAD



Super Bowl Ticket Information: The least expensive seats as of Wednesday were $2,100, and the cheapest tickets on the NFL's ticket exchange were $2,300. The individual ticket prices go up to $15,000.

Field-level luxury suite seating costs $650,000

Fans are expected to spend $11 billion on Super Bowl-related purchases, including the consumption of 1.25 billion chicken wings.

$3.5 million dollars will be paid for each 30-second commercial of which there are 70.

The military flyover of four jets just before the start of the game will cost approximately $450,000 for 23 seconds of "entertainment" - which is really military recruiting and war-mongering.

"What is done to the poor in wartime by bombs is done to the poor in peacetime by indifference. It is an eternal obligation toward the human being not to let him or her suffer from hunger when one has a chance of coming to his assistance. When once a certain class of people has been placed by the temporal and spiritual authorities outside the ranks of those whose life has value, then nothing comes more naturally to men than murder."

—Simone Weil

Friday, February 03, 2012

YANG TO HUNGER STRIKE TO DEATH

Latest report from Jeju Island is that Professor Yang Yoon-Mo confirmed his intention to carry out a prison fast once moved to the Jeju Prison. “It would be either I die through fast or the naval base is revoked.”

He is expected to be sent to the Jeju prison on Monday, Feb. 6.

On Jan. 30, he was arrested when he crawled underneath a dump truck. He was on probation from his last jailing in 2011. He did a hunger strike for 76 days last summer while in prison.

He told a local newspaper, “At the time of prison fast last year, [Catholic] Bishop Kang Woo-Il persuaded me to stop the fast but as the situation has become different, I will not stop it.”

“Unless the Navy stops its law-transcending illegal construction (destruction), my fast will not be stopped either. I will process a hunger strike struggle to accomplish a faith that the Jeju should remain as the demilitarized Island of Peace.”

Yang has been particularly upset by the treatment of villagers by hired thugs and goons sent into the village to harass the non-violent protesters. The thugs have broken into villagers cars and homes and pushed around and insulted the people trying to intimidate them.

He defined the current police measure against villagers as "the end stage." Yang deplored, “while the police don’t hear on the villagers’ claim that it is illegal construction, they exchange signs with thug-like people and are arresting villagers, Catholic Sisters and Fathers.”

I am certain that Professor Yang is serious about this new hunger strike as he knows that the dramatic nature of this effort will inspire more people in South Korea and around the world to step up their efforts to help Gangjeong village. He also knows that the total destruction of the rocky coastline, soft coral reefs offshore, plant and animal life, and the villagers fishing and farming way of life can only be protected by the courageous action he is planning to take.

ISRAEL WANTS WAR WITH IRAN



Max Blumenthal: Netanyahu wants GOP to win; has Obama in a corner on Iran

EMPIRE OF BASES



In this video Agneta Norberg (Swedish Peace Council and Global Network board member) summarizes the global NATO situation using the map of the world.

Agneta will be joining us on Jeju Island in South Korea for our 20th annual meeting on Feb 24-26.

OUTRAGE IN KYOTO



Excellent anti-nuclear power rant from young music group in Kyoto, Japan. Quite impressive. Great analysis and solutions offered. Very moving....brought me to tears.

MONEY AND LIVES


  • The ceremonious announcements that U.S. fighting in Afghanistan will end in 2013 is a pre-election public relations campaign. Do they mean the beginning or end of 2013? Why should more troops and innocent civilians have to be killed during this coming year or two? How many more $$$$$ will be wasted during this interim period? How many permanent "training" bases will the U.S. and NATO keep in Afghanistan after 2013? How many "Special Operations" troops will remain in the country doing their assassination and terror missions? A NATO spokesman quickly reacted by denying the 2013 "end of fighting" claim by the Obama administration. This official denial underscores the fact that it was indeed nothing more than 2012 election posturing.
  • In the last 90 days 5.6 million citizens have moved their money out of the big banks across the nation. That is big news and a huge victory. If you've not moved your money yet - what in the world are you waiting for? Do it now - put your money in a credit union or small local bank. Buy local. Boycott the big box stores. Starve the beast.
  • I head to the Maine Veterans for Peace annual retreat this weekend at Point Lookout, a fancy retreat center about 90 minutes north of here. The place was built for fatcat business executives and has probably the best view of the ocean in Maine. A non-profit organization bought the place and now the rabble get to rent the joint at competitive rates. We'll be brainstorming over the weekend about the future of Veterans for Peace in Maine. Our chapter is aging and the Iraq and Afghanistan vets are not joining our organization yet as most of them are trying to work their way through war trauma on their own. Luckily for them the group Iraq Veterans Against the War was created but their numbers are still not overwhelming. Experience shows though that most vets usually join groups like these some years after they have come home.
  • The command centre for the controversial "missile defense" shield in Europe will be housed at a U.S. air base in western Germany, a NATO spokesman said on Thursday. Ramstein Air Base, which already houses the European headquarters of the U.S. Air Force and a NATO installation, will host the centre, which NATO says aims to protect Europe from potential attacks by so-called "rogue states" like Iran. We of course know that the "missile shield" is a key element in U.S. first-strike attack planning and is being used to surround Russia. Just how does Obama's foreign and military policy actually differ from George W. Bush's?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

BEER IS CHEAPER THAN THERAPY



A Dutch documentary about America and its endless wars and "warriors".

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

PREPARING FOR WAR & PEACE

Holding a sign in Omaha, Nebraska a few years ago....Iran attack still remains a deep concern for all of us

  • A Nationwide Day of Protest has been called for February 4 to express outrage against the mounting drumbeat for war on Iran. Many activists are bringing resolutions before their towns or cities that declare opposition to an Iran war. How can we afford more war? Why does the oligarchy want another war?
  • I taped another edition of my public access TV show today. My guests Natasha Mayers and Ed McCarten played Constance and Herman Dollagrabber - representatives of the 1% and stars of the play I wrote just for my TV show. In the show I ask them questions about the growing economic divide across the nation and their feelings about class warfare. The play, done in one taping with no editing, has a surprise ending. Should have it up on the Internet in about a week. Natasha and Ed really got into their parts - costumes, jewelry, make up, props - the whole works.
  • I worked on the first draft of my speech for the Global Network (GN) annual conference that will be held on Jeju Island February 24-26. I'll use bits of it when I also speak on Oahu and Kauai in Hawaii as well. I leave for Hawaii on February 17 and will meet GN chair Dave Webb (England) and board member Lynda Williams (California) there for those events.
  • I heard today that the delegation from Japan and Okinawa will number up to eight people for our conference on Jeju. GN board member Atsushi Fujioka, a professor of economics, will be guiding the delegation to Jeju for their first visit. There are 108 U.S. military bases in Japan and Okinawa so folks there have much experience resisting these imperial outposts. The U.S. currently has 82 military bases in South Korea.

OBAMA DRONES ON

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LEFT & RIGHT TOGETHER ON THIS ONE


OB Rag
reports the following about new organizing happening across the nation concerning Obama's signing of the Indefinite Detention Bill or National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as it is formally called.

In a clear sign that grassroot activists on the left and on the right are joining together to fight the National Defense Act that President Obama signed into law on the last day of 2011, San Diego progressives and tea party groups are mobilizing starting this week in joint actions against local Congressional representatives.

Activists and organizers at both of the ideological ends of the political spectrum are extremely upset and concerned with provisions of the NDAA that will allow the government to pick up and detain American citizens indefinitely without charges and without trials.

A group in San Diego has formed the Save the Bill of Rights; they meet weekly, have a website and Facebook, and are planning at least two actions in the upcoming weeks.

Both libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who is running for president, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, for example, have issued statements saying the NDAA provisions violate the Fifth Amendment.

Since Obama signed the Act into law on December 31st, there have been bills introduced in both the House and Senate to repeal the worst of the NDAA and prohibit indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. Senator Diane Feinstein has introduced one such bill; it has bipartisan support in the Senate, and a House version has been introduced. Republican Ron Paul also introduced a similar measure.

Numerous petitions have been geared up against the NDAA. Here is one such petition calling on Congress to undo the NDAA.

February 3rd will be a National Day of Action against the NDAA, and the call is to protest at Congressional offices all over the country. Other groups have joined these efforts, including the hacksters Anonymous.

In Maine a protest will be held on February 3 at the Augusta offices of Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins who both voted in favor of the bill. (Maine's two members of the House of Representatives voted against the NDAA.) The protest will be held from noon until closing time - folks are invited to come for a shift and hold signs. Call Cathy Mink for details at 207-338-4920.

In Portland a protest will be held on February 3 from Noon - 2:00 pm at the office of Sen. Snowe (3 Canal Plaza Suite 601). Call 221-5899 for details.

It is my hope that we can see more joint protests and meetings between folks on the left and right. God knows we need to stop demonizing each other and figure out how we are all being screwed by the 1%. Our salvation is in our ability to bury the hatchet and work together when we can find common ground. The oligarchy counts on us hating one another.

LONG EMOTIONAL DAY


Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo, who nearly died from a hunger strike of 74 days last summer, carries water and crawled underneath a cement-mixer truck on January 30

Sung-Hee Choi reports from Gangjeong village:

It was a long, emotional day again for many villagers and activists here in Gangjeong on January 30. Strong direct actions were combined with gentle approaches. In right timing, AWC (Asian Wide Action Committee) activists came to be the witness of the struggle.

From early morning, some activists went to a neighboring town to delay the construction vehicles.

In Gangjeong, it was around noon that Br. Park Do-Hyun reading his statement in protest of illegal destruction has tried again and again to block the trucks with his own body. Every time, the police forced segregation on him, surrounding him with a wall of about 20 ~30 young policemen who came from Seoul to Jeju, knowing little about how the village has been called the ‘best village,’ in Jeju for its heaven-blessed condition for agriculture and how its environment is full of protection zones; how more than 94 % of the electorates in the village oppose the naval base; and how there are many people’s tear and pains in nearly 5 years’ struggle.

Br. Park Do-Hyun has already been arrested six times for less than a year. It is his second time that he has publicly shown his readiness to be imprisoned. But the authorities being afraid to make issue by arresting Catholic priests, seems to determine not to send the Catholic priests to jail but with segregation.

A young woman activist, covering all her face, diligently chased trucks for long hours with a small sign written in both sides: “Stop construction, please!” “Run slowly, please,”

Otherwise, a woman activist, Deulkkot was violently hit in her wrist and broken down her flag by a couple of the villagers who are in favor of naval base. She was walking along with an old Quaker, Mr. Oh Chul-Keun, to protect him. Mr. Oh has been daily doing three steps one bow for peace for nearly three months around construction site, in traditional cloth. The couple also tore the cloth sign in his back. The abusive couple also committed violence to a group of the Catholic followers and people across the gate. The police were slow to stop that violence committed by that couple.

No people including those who joined regular Monday morning Catholic mass could not leave the site. Tension was continuing and people were there to protect Br. Park from possible arrest and to show signs to passing vehicles. People ate lunch on the cement road across the gate.

As there was another Catholic mass around 4:00 pm, the struggle became intensified. Many more people including villages came to the site to join the struggle.

It was Br. Park again who entered underneath the construction vehicle that was illegally entering into the naval base business committee building complex as the Catholic Fathers in robes blocked the main construction (destruction) gate. His fragile body was on the cold cement ground so people cared for him putting mat underneath his body and covered him with blankets.

It was Mr. Song Chang-Wook who stopped another truck. He is a graduate of the ROK Military Academy, admitted to it as the top in its passing examination long years ago, and now an activist of an Island people’s self-governing solidarity organization. He firmly and resolutely stood, despite a police threat, in front of a truck that was following a former vehicle.

Around that time, it was Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo who agilely entered underneath a cement mixer trucks crossing the bridge over the Gangjeong stream. One could see only his white hair under a monster-like heavy vehicle. All the cement trucks following that truck were but stopped.

It was Fr. Moon Kyu-Hyun of more than 60s years old, who stopped another truck, by laying his body underneath a truck. He has been operated years ago in his heart and a heart beat instrument has been hung inside his body since then.

Except for Br. Park Do-Hyun, the three were eventually arrested.

In many faces of young woman activists, tears were constantly flowing down as they appealed to the cement truck drivers with signs and flowers to find another job other than that of naval base destruction. The drivers could only sigh. It was apparent that in their deep hearts, they didn’t want to make living with such destroying works, either. Young activists appealed them for a vision of the Peace Park instead naval base.

Dr. Song Kang-Ho was dragging down a destroyed boat damaged by the navy’s partial burning of it with cigarettes last year, all along the struggle sites, displaying it to the world. The Navy has been seldom hearing his demand on damage compensation on it.

It was right timing that the 8 representatives of the Asia Wide Action Committee (3 from Taiwan, 2 from Japan, 1 from Philippine, 1 from the United States, and 1 Korean guider, Mr. Heo Young-Koo, a renowned labor activist) came to the site after their international conference on both days of Feb. 28 and 29 (see http://cafe.daum.net/peacekj/49kU/1330) and saw all those wretched scenes. They recorded the scenes of the late afternoon with cameras.

On the contrary, the police, Navy, and Navy-contracted company staffs were in all chaos. They were perplexed and downhearted.

While some went to the police station to meet the 3 arrested, the others had their daily candle vigil. Prof. Yang was told later to have told them not to send more people to visit them in the police custody room but to encourage them to continue fight.

In the candle vigil, many who happened to visit the village on the day expressed their solidarity to the struggle. The 8 representatives of the AWAC shouted slogans in their own languages. People wholeheartedly responded them by repeating them. There were no more language barriers then.

Benji reported his visit to the Amnesty International meeting in Seoul on Jan. 28. He brought much good news. It is expected that about 15 people from the meeting wish to come to the International [Global Network] conference on Feb. 24-26. He also said the "Amnesty International is planning to set up coordinator roles to increase their level of activity this year relating to Gangjeong issue. A senior researcher of Amnesty International is expected to visit Gangjeong soon."

It was confirmed that an event will be organized on the 2nd of March in Seoul. An awareness and money raising concert called "Rock and Resistance", where the Gangjeong issue will be the main topic. Four famous music bands are invited and 200 to 250 people are expected to come to the event. Some of the money raised would naturally go to Gangjeong activism.


A long day passed again.

And today will be another struggle, too. It is also the date when 12 Catholic Fathers stand in the court again.

Let’s bless our struggle for peace and love.

Monday, January 30, 2012

PREPARING KIDS FOR ENDLESS WAR



The Pentagon has been saying for some time that America's role under corporate globalization will be "security export" which of course translates to endless war.

Thus the war industry is preparing parents and children for the reality that the only future that working class and poor kids have will be to join the military or sell drugs.

Any thinking parent should be all over rejecting these war toys and violent video games.

It always amazes me how some parents pay no attention to what their kids are doing until they go off and join the military. Then they wonder what happened. In fact their kids had essentially been recruited for "security export" when they began playing with the violent toys/video games the parents were bringing home or when they were watching the violent programs on the family TV while dressed in the "cute" camouflage clothes mom and day bought at WalMart or Sears.

Time to wake up.

OCCUPY MAINE - PORTLAND



Still at it in Portland, Maine.....a report by Occupy TV.

THE SCENE IN OAKLAND

PIECES OF LIVING

Occupy Augusta, with state capital in background, before they were removed from the park last month

  • The statewide Occupy meeting on Saturday was attended by more than 130 activists from up and down the state of Maine. It was not a decision making meeting but instead was a time for folks to share their determination to keep the Occupy movement growing. The group broke into issue workshops and I facilitated the one called war-militarism. I came away impressed that my fellow activists in Maine intend to press on through the winter and keep building toward the spring.
  • On Sunday MB and I drove friends Stan and Loukie Lofchie to Belfast for a memorial service for their beloved friend Richard Stander who recently passed away. I knew Richard as an active peace worker but in his earlier years he was an organic farmer and alternative community builder. It was a moving memorial with lots of music and testimonies from many of his beloved friends.
  • There are two Occupy camps in Washington DC -Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square - and the cops are going to take them down today. The cops went into McPherson Square camp yesterday and tased a guy in his pajamas and took him away. It seemed to be for no apparent reason other than to rile up the campers and get a story in the local media that the camps are in turmoil. It's obvious that the police all over the nation are trying to continually instigate violent responses from the Occupy movement but for the most part folks have been remarkably non-violent. You can see the video here
  • The time is coming soon for us to be going to South Korea for our annual Global Network conference (Feb 24-26) on Jeju Island. We will have folks coming from Scotland, England, Sweden, India, Japan, U.S. and throughout South Korea. Very likely some other countries will be represented because I know that in the Gangjeong village now are activists from France and Taiwan and possibly other countries as well. I'll be stopping (along with GN chair Dave Webb and board member Lynda Williams) in Hawaii for meetings on Oahu and Kauai prior to going to Korea.
  • One of the very tiny victories we've had is that Congress had decided to cut the Pentagon's rate of growth over the next 10 years by $492 billion. That means that the military budget would essentially still grow but at a slower rate and that some planned weapons systems and troop levels would have to be trimmed. But now we learn that Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) has just introduced a bill that will substitute a reduction of the federal government workforce by 10% in place of the first year of mandatory cuts. And this will likely be the first of many attempts to change the law to shield military spending. Republicans and many Democrats are now saying that the sky will fall if we do not exempt the Department of War from mandatory spending cuts - even as they insist that our deficit is such a problem that we must make brutal cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. You can send a letter to Congress demanding cuts here (I'm not happy with this "only cut the growth" in Pentagon spending but it is something that should not be thrown over board.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

THIS ISSUE LATEST GUEST



The latest edition of This Issue features Ed Friedman from Bowdoinham who is an environmental activist in Maine. He discusses the growing controversy around "Smart Meters". Ed is also part of a legal action trying to prevent CMP from force feeding these meters to the public because of the health, safety, and privacy issues that surround their installation.

SUNDAY SONG