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, April 28, 2012

THE MAD DEBATE



It was bound to end in disaster: two ideologues, one a communist and the other a neo-conservative, “do battle” over a skype link from a house in England where Assange is held under house arrest.

“You are a supporter of the closest thing we have to Nazism, which was a utopian idea, in the Middle-East! You support the Palestinians!” rails Horowitz in his opening statement. “I don't see anything to distinguish the Palestinians, who want to kill the Jews, from the Nazis.” It becomes clear almost immediately that, perhaps, this debate will generate more heat than light. But Žižek is in no mood to get burned, at one point needing to be physically restrained by Assange. Both sides accuse the other of being Nazis, and further accusations flung at public figures. Horowitz doesn't hold his tongue:

“Europe is a cultural theme park. It is insignificant. That's what the welfare state did — it took Europe out of the picture ... The Swedes have no morals”

His choicest morsels of opprobrium are reserved for Obama, however: “You've got a leftist in the White House, a guy who was brought up and trained by communists, whose whole political career was in the communist left”. This point is the most contested by Žižek: “In what meaningful sense is [Obama] a communist?”

Horowitz: "The United States is crippled in part because the Commander-in-Chief is a leftist!"

Žižek: "Here I respectfully disagree... if the United States still have a certain attraction and so on to the world, it is because of people like Obama!"

The circus continues, but perhaps the sanest moment lies in Žižek's last words, as the credits roll: “This was madness”.

BRIAN WILLSON ON JEJU ISLAND


This article is written by S. Brian Willson, VFP Member of Chapter 056 in Humboldt Bay, CA 

U.S. And South Korea Assault An Idyllic Island: Not For The First Time 

The beautiful island of Jeju in South Korea is packed with natural and cultural treasures and designated a UNESCO world heritage site. But it has the misfortune of appearing to the U.S. military strategically positioned to play a part in surrounding China.

Most Americans are unaware of Jeju or of the U.S. policy of increasing its military presence in Korea, Japan, and the rest of the Pacific -- even moving the Marines into Australia. But for the people of Jeju, attempting to nonviolently resist the construction of a new military base, there is an eerie sense of déjà vu.

In fact Jeju's history is central to how the United States became the militarized nation it has been for over half a century.

Veterans for Peace (VFP) recently sent members to Jeju to monitor the local resistance to this militarization, but they were refused entry by Korean security officials who gave no reasons other than following orders. VFP represents thousands of U.S. military veterans who have participated in various overt and covert U.S. interventions violating the sovereignty of countless countries. This aggressive foreign policy, little mentioned in our history classes, has caused incalculable harm to people, cultures, and the environment. Our personal experiences summon us to carefully re-examine the nature and patterns of U.S. foreign policy. Our clear understanding of past and present imperial adventures compel us to passionately and tenaciously oppose further militarism, war and aggression which we see as severe obstacles to the continuation of our species.

 In examining U.S. interventions since World War II, historian William Blum has recently catalogued the following disgraceful record: (1) attempted overthrow of more than 50 governments; (2) attempted suppression of populist and nationalist movements in 20 countries; (3) interference in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; (4) bombing of citizens in 30 countries; and (5) attempted assassinations of more than 50 foreign political leaders.

Shockingly, when all the empirical evidence is scrutinized, the U.S. has militarily intervened nearly 400 times since World War II in nearly 100 countries, while covertly intervening thousands of times. Millions of human beings have been murdered, maimed, and displaced as a result of this egregious, unlawful behavior. Adherence to international and Constitutional law, and honest diplomacy, have been thwarted over and over.

One of the darkest, virtually unknown chapters of U.S. intervention occurred in the southern portions of Korea prior to the Korean War. In 1945, a Joint U.S. Army-Navy Intelligence Study reported that the vast majority of Koreans possessed a strong desire for independence and self-rule, and were vehemently opposed to control by any successor to the hated Japanese who had ruled them since 1910. A subsequent U.S. study reported that nearly 80 percent of Koreans wanted a socialist, rather than capitalist system.

Despite the conclusions of these internal documents, U.S. President Harry Truman, after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, imposed a purportedly temporary partition at Korea’s 38th Parallel dividing a 5,000-year homogenous culture. He then commanded U.S. General Douglas MacArthur to “govern” the people living south of the 38th Parallel. In October 1945, needing a trusted Korean with “an [U.S.] American point of view” to be the U.S. strongman, MacArthur flew 71-year-old Korean-born Syngman Rhee from the U.S. to Seoul on MacArthur’s personal plane. Rhee, a Methodist who had lived in the United States for 40 years, was to be a surrogate ruler of Korea that was largely Buddhist and Confucianist.

Rhee unilaterally chose to hold separate elections in 1948 to “legally” create an artificially divided Korea, despite vigorous popular opposition throughout the Peninsula, north and south of the 38th Parallel, including residents of Cheju Island (now called Jeju, hereafter identified as such). What is referred to as the April 3 (1948) uprising on Jeju in response to these elections, actually lasted into 1950, and is the single greatest massacre in modern Korean history. The Jeju uprising in 1948 may be seen as a microcosm for the impending Korean War.

A CIA National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Rhee was so unpopular that the newly-established Republic of Korea (ROK) would not survive “without massive infusion of U.S. aid.”

The U.S. Embassy described the repression in response to the Jeju opposition to Rhee as a “scorched earth” campaign of “extermination.” Secret protocols placed all Korean Constabulary, police, ROK forces, and paramilitary units under USAMGIK’s (United States Army Military Government In Korea) control.

CIA documents concluded that politics under the USAMGIK and Rhee regime were dominated by a tiny elite class of wealthy Koreans who repressed dissent of the vast majority, using “ruthlessly brutal” policies similar to those of the previous Japanese machinery hated by most Koreans.

Then U.S. Military Governor of Korea, John Reed Hodge, briefed U.S. Congressional Representatives that “Cheju was a truly communal area that is peacefully controlled by the People’s Committee.” Despite this understanding, he commanded three U.S. military officers (among others) – Colonel Harley E. Fuller, Captain John P. Reed, and Captain James Hausman – to advise and coordinate the “extermination” and “scorched earth” campaign. Koreans who had collaborated with the hated Japanese occupiers now served in the U.S.-trained Korean Constabulary and police. Right wing paramilitary units became a brutal element of Rhee’s security apparatus. U.S. advisers accompanied all Korean Constabulary and police (and additional ROK units after 1948) in ground campaigns; U.S. pilots flew C-47s to ferry troops, weapons, war materiel while occasionally directing bombings; and U.S. intelligence officers provided daily intelligence. Additionally U.S. Navy war ships, including the USS Craig, blockaded and bombed the Island, preventing supplies and additional opposition forces from arriving, while preventing flight of boatloads of desperate Islanders.

Hodge’s successor, General William Roberts, declared it was of “utmost importance” that dissenters “be cleared up as soon as possible.” The repressive Japanese organization, “National League To Provide Guidance” (Bo Do Yun Maeng), was expanded by the Rhee regime. Used to systematically identify any Koreans who had opposed Japanese occupation, the League now worked to identify those who opposed the de facto brutal U.S./Rhee rule. Thousands were murdered, jailed, and tortured, and many dumped into the sea as a result.

The Governor of Jeju at the time admitted that the repression of the Island’s 300,000 residents led to the murder of as many as 60,000 Islanders, with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the “extermination” campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled. One of Robert’s cohorts, Colonel Rothwell Brown, claimed that the Islanders were simply “ignorant, uneducated farmers and fishers,” a weak excuse for repressing those who, Brown asserted, refused to recognize the “superiority” of the “American Way.”

U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and George Kennan, head of the State Department’s Policy Planning, agreed in 1949 that suppression of the internal threat in South Korea, (i.e., Koreans’ passion for self-determination), with assistance of the newly created CIA, was critical to preserving Rhee’s power, and assuring success of the U.S.’s worldwide containment policy. The 1949 Chinese Revolution made repressing the neighboring Korean’s passion for self-determination indispensable for success in the emerging “Cold War,” complementing successful U.S. efforts using CIA covert actions to thwart any socialist movements in Europe following World War II.

The 1949-50 National Security Council study, known as NSC-68, laid out U.S. aims to assure a global political system to “foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish.”

The Korean War that lasted from June 1950 to July 1953, was an enlargement of the 1948-50 struggle of Jeju Islanders to preserve their self-determination from the tyrannical rule of U.S.-supported Rhee and his tiny cadre of wealthy constituents. Little known is that the U.S.-imposed division of Korea in 1945 against the wishes of the vast majority of Koreans was the primary cause of the Korean War that broke out five years later. The War destroyed by bombing most cities and villages in Korea north of the 38th Parallel, and many south of it, while killing four million Koreans – three million (one-third) of the north’s residents and one million of those living in the south, in addition to killing one million Chinese. This was a staggering international crime still unrecognized that killed five million people and permanently separated 10 million Korean families.

Following the Korean War, Dean Acheson concluded that “Korea saved us,” enabling the U.S. to implement its apocalyptic imperial strategy laid out in NSC-68. In Korea, this meant that the U.S. consistently assured dictatorial governments for nearly 50 years, long after Rhee was forced out of office at age 85 in 1960. Since 1953, the U.S. and South Korea have lived under a Mutual Defense Treaty, Status of Forces Agreements, and a Combined Forces Command headed by a 4-star U.S. general. The fact is that despite claims to the contrary, Korea has never assumed sovereignty since the U.S. imposed division of Korea in 1945. The U.S. has possessed more than 100 military bases and nearly 50,000 troops on Korean soil, and even today has dozens of bases and 28,000 troops stationed there. For decades, the U.S. maintained its main Asian bombing range south of Seoul.

Despite this gruesome history, Koreans began to successfully assert some semblance of democratic governments in the 1990s. However, despite creation of a constitution that protects free speech and basic human rights, Koreans once again are experiencing egregious repression. The Korean residents of pristine Jeju Island vigorously oppose the construction of a deep-water port to host Korean and U.S. guided missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers at the village of Gangjeong. The South Korean government headed by reactionary President Lee Myung Bak is ruthlessly repressing their legitimate, constitutionally-protected free speech. This is not acceptable. The residents of Jeju have a long history of living in peace and harmony. They were brutalized in the late 1940s for wanting independence, and are being brutalized once again for attempting to preserve self-determination. It is déjà vu.

We have been following the daily brutal repression by as many as 1,500 Korean police and security forces of Jeju’s 1,500 residents whose voices of passionate and nonviolent opposition have been completely ignored. When we called the Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C. to ask why this deep-water port construction continues in Gangjeong over objections of more than 90 percent of its residents, the answer has been, “Don’t call us, call your own (U.S.) government.” Political pressure from the U.S. continues to interfere with sovereignty of the Korean people as their own government disrespects, then represses, the free speech of its own citizens despite protections inscribed in the Korean constitution.

We read reports in the Korean press of more than 2600 politicians, journalists and civilians being secretly, illegally spied upon during the current Lee administration. In January 2009, Korea Broadcasting Service (KBS) aired a program that disclosed a secret deal made by the CIA-style Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS), Korean police, and components of the Jeju Island government, to quash any opposition movement to the planned construction of a Jeju deep-water military port, saying such opponents are, in effect, traitors. It is being built by the huge South Korea conglomerate, Samsung, despite watchdog Public Eye citing its history of over 50 years of environmental pollution, trade union repression, corruption and tax flight. Samsung’s power in South Korea is so great that many citizens speak of the “Samsung Republic.”

And we note that the NIS has raided Korean citizens and organizations, even on the mainland, who support the valiant villagers of Gangjeong on Jeju Island who resist the militarization of their Island, of their coastline, of their villages.

The stakes are much higher now that U.S. President Barack Obama has chosen a dangerous policy to militarize the Asia-Pacific region, due to obvious U.S. political intentions to encircle resource-rival China. Jeju, only 300 miles from China’s mainland, is located in a strategic sea route between Japan, Korea, and China. Obama recently dispatched U.S. troops to a northern port of Australia (2,500 miles from China) as part of this plan, while possessing existing jet landing strips in Okinawa (400 miles), Guam (1,900), and new landing bases in Afghanistan (1,000) and Turkmenistan (1,500), and increased strategic relationships with Singapore (1,200) and Philippines (750).

The immensely biodiverse Jeju Island is a most inappropriate location for a deep-water port to host highly armed U.S. and Korean Navy war ships. Former Korean President Roh Moo Kyum designated Jeju as “Jeju Island of Global Peace” when he formally apologized for the April 1948 massacre. A popular tourist vacation spot, famous for honeymooners and sometimes called “women’s Island” due to its matriarchal history, it is also called the “Island of the Gods.” It is Jeju’s incredible unique ecosystem that makes the island so inappropriate for militarizing a deep-water port in quiet coastal village of Gangjeong. It is sheer madness to blow up sacred lava rocks to make way for violent war machines. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has designated no less than three World Heritage sites on Jeju, including the Gureombi Lava Rocks being blown up for construction of the Navy destroyer port that are being covered with cement along the coast. UNESCO has also designated nine Geo-Parks on Jeju, as well as designating it as a protected Global Biosphere Reserve that includes Jeju coastlines and its fragile coral reefs.

The Korean government has claimed the deep-water port will also host commercial cruise ships. Their huge weight and 1,000-foot length makes them twice as heavy and long as the 500-550 foot Aegis Destroyers. The port will not be capable of hosting these tourist ships, revealing this dual-use claim as fanciful propaganda.

Our military experiences tell us this plan by Korea and the U.S. to host missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers as part of its global anti-ballistic missile system on the pristine Island of Jeju is extremely threatening to world peace, destroys the peace of the residents of Jeju and Gangjeong village, and flaunts Korea’s Constitutional assurances of protecting free speech of its citizens. We urge the Korean government act decisively to end its continued deference to pressures from the United States, and instead commence pursuing Korea’s legitimate dignity and sovereignty.

BACK IN SEATTLE


When I arrived at the Mount Baker theater last night in Bellingham I was just a bit surprised to see my name in lights flashing on the marquee.  The talk was well attended and capped off a very nice visit with activists there.  Old friends from Florida, John & Dorie Belisle who live just outside of town on an apple farm, came to the talk and it was exciting to see them again.  They had sponsored me here some years ago when I first visited Bellingham.

After the talk was over Mike Jacobsen drove me to Seattle and we arrived about 11:30 pm.  I was taken to an empty house where I will be staying for three nights.  I had to get up early this morning as I was scheduled to do a half-hour live radio interview on a popular local station.

The host of the KEXP radio show remembered hearing me speak last time I was in Seattle and told me that when he is able to find any radio interviews I've done with other stations he likes to put them on his weekend public affairs show.  It's always good to know that someone is out there paying attention.

I'm washing my clothes now and preparing to get ready for a 1:00 pm talk today in nearby Redmond at Soul Food Books.  Then I am off for the rest of the day.  On Sunday I do my big speech here in Seattle at the University Temple United Methodist Church at 4:00 pm.  This event is being sponsored by a host of local groups including the United Nations Assn, Veterans For Peace, and Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

Just a note: last night I saw that Father Moon was back on the streets again in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.  A photo showed him, with cast on his broken wrist after his near tragic fall from a tetra pod, laying under a construction vehicle trying to block its entry into the Navy base construction area.  I can't imagine that his three broken vertebrae are yet healed but this remarkable 71 year old Catholic priest refuses to be deterred.  That is an example for all of us to follow.

Friday, April 27, 2012

BREAKFAST IN BELLINGHAM


Mike Jacobsen went to Jeju Island for three weeks and returned one week ago.  He is a member of Veterans For Peace in Bellingham, Washington.  I am staying at his home while here.  It's fun hearing Mike talk about his trip that came after the first three VFP members we sent over there were thrown out of the country by the South Korean government.

Yesterday, soon after arriving here, Mike took me to Western Washington University where I did a late afternoon talk.  From there I was taken to dinner with three other members of the local VFP chapter.

This morning I was lucky to be able to go to their VFP chapter's weekly Friday morning breakfast at a local joint.  About a dozen members of the Bellingham chapter were there and we had some great discussion about endless war and organizing strategies.

For lunch today we will be hosted by chapter member Gene Marx at his home.  Not yet heard plans for dinner.  But I am enjoying eating my way across Bellingham.  I speak tonight at 7:00 pm and then Mike will drive me the two hours south back to Seattle where I will be kept busy over the following three days.

The big talk here is about a proposed coal train (carrying strip mined coal) that would run from Montana and Wyoming to this part of Washington state where it would then be loaded on ships and taken to China.  In Oregon and here in Washington folks are strongly opposed to the plan and are organizing to stop it. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

SEATTLE TEA TIME

Bring Our War $$ Home art show in Maine

I am sitting in a coffee shop in downtown Seattle drinking English breakfast tea, a block from the Amtrak station.  Leonard Eiger, from the anti-nuke group Ground Zero, is meeting me in a bit to take me to an art show by Gillchun Ko from Jeju Island who is displaying his work in a nearby gallery.  Timing worked out nicely.  Leonard has been one of the key organizers for my several days of events here in Seattle this weekend. But first I head to Bellingham later today where I speak at a local college at 4:00 pm and tomorrow night at 7:00 pm in a community event.

My time went well yesterday in Walla Walla.  Was able to speak to enviro students and show a Jeju video.  Had dinner with another group of enviro students.  Nice to be able to drop that "little" known fact that the Pentagon is the world's biggest polluter and has the largest carbon boot print on the planet.  At my talk during the evening one environmental professor took umbrage at my critique of Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific and stated that we had to vote for him in November otherwise bad things will happen.  I used that as an opportunity to introduce the story about Chicago's Crown family (big time stockholders in General Dynamics) giving the magician $500,000 in campaign donations in 2008 and additionally raising funds for him within the military industrial complex.

After Obama won the election Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine reported that he got more campaign $$$ from the weapons industry than the Republican war hawk John McCain did.  The magician rewarded General Dynamics by moving their Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with "missile defense" systems, to the head of the line as preferred options for surrounding Russia and China.  One has to reward their chief donors you know.

I rode the light rail system from the Seattle airport into downtown.  Very smooth ride, passing cars alongside the freeway, a model for all big cities.

Build it and they will come.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ON TO WALLA WALLA

I was up early this morning to catch a ride from Olympia, Washington to the Seattle airport where I fly to Whitman College in Walla Walla. I speak to an environmental class in the early afternoon and then have a more formal talk in the evening. Tomorrow morning I will have a very early flight back to Seattle. From there I take a train north to Bellingham where I will spend two days being hosted by Veterans For Peace.

Whitman College is paying for the flight to get me out to southeastern Washington for the talk in Walla Walla. All along this trip I’ve had virtually no travel expenses – I think I’ve only had to buy one $27 train segment from Berkeley to Sacramento.

Last night I spoke to a good gathering of folks at the local Traditions Café that is an institution in Olympia. The talk was video taped and will be posted on various web sites in that community and well as on cable access TV. I had a nice rest while there although last night I had a hell of a time falling to sleep after having a glass of red wine following my talk. So this morning I woke up wishing I had not had the wine or was able to stay in bed longer.

I was driven to Seattle airport this morning by Glen Anderson who has maintained a weekly peace vigil in Olympia for the past 32 years.  That is quite a feat.  Dedication and stick-to-it-iveness for sure.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

MY FAVORITE JEJU VIDEO


I've posted this before on this blog but have found the need to watch it over and over because Yang Yoon-Mo has so much to say. He is very deep and his words are really important. He was on a hunger strike last summer for 75 days while in jail. Then more recently he was arrested again for blocking a Navy base destruction vehicle and did another 50-some day hunger strike. He is out of jail now and I heard he is being taken care of by nuns.

TALKING ABOUT KILLING ON TV


Mainstream media struggles to talk about U.S. killing in Afghanistan.

Scott Camil (Veterans For Peace) from Gainesville, Florida carries the day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

STATE SURVEILLANCE - WHAT CONSTITUTION?

IGNORING BAHRAIN

Zainab al-Khawaja is in jail, arrested after peacefully sitting on the road leading to the Formula One circuit last night. Zainab's father, Abdulhadi AlKhawaja is in the 74th day of his hunger strike in a Bahrain prison. He was sentenced to life for standing up for human rights and democracy in his country. His health has seriously deteriorated and he is not expected to last much longer.... from Huwaida Arraf
There is a big U.S. Navy base in Bahrain. That is why we've heard nothing from the Obama administration when it comes to defending the people there who are revolting against a monarchical dictatorship. In fact it is likely that the CIA is working against the uprising.

These stories keep reminding us of the presence of U.S. Naval bases.  They are the tip of the spear of empire.

GOD(s) BLESS US ALL


  • Students have been walking around Jeju Island in support of the Gangjeong villagers.  It appears to me that the numbers of Koreans from the mainland who are supporting the villagers is quickly growing.  This is such good news.  What we do around the rest of the world to help the cause will strengthen those inside of South Korea.  We must join hands around Mother Earth if we hope to defeat corporate globalization and its quest for military control of all of us so it can plunder what is left of the planet.
  • I went for an hour walk today.  Holly's house overlooks an inlet of Puget Sound and it is very wooded along the road by her home.  In the distance you can hear the ever present rumble of a major highway full of cars.  We are still doing so little to get ourselves out of these machines even though gas prices keep rising and we know that climate change is staring us in the face.  While in Oregon people told me they had more rain last month than ever before.  All along this trip people are talking about crazy weather patterns.
  • I talked with my son Julian today.  He mentioned his idea of banning cars which I heard with great joy.  I am so proud of the person he has become and how he is trying to integrate what he has learned in the debate world over all these years into his own life and the world as well.  It's a real hard time for his generation and he understands that as well as anyone.  I think the lesson for all of us is to keep reaching out and developing real community so we can help each other along the rocky path in the coming years.  Going it alone (one more example of the "Business Model") ain't gonna cut it.
  • I feel lucky to be doing what I do and I never stop thanking the great spirit for that gift.  I am trying hard to give it all I have and to remember that I am doing it so that Julian, and those who come after him, have a chance for survival.  There is no more important job for me - or for you. 

AN EARLIER OCCUPATION

The Columbia University (New York City) protests of 1968 were among the many student demonstrations that occurred around the world in that year. The Columbia protests erupted over the spring of that year after students discovered links between the university and the institutional apparatus supporting the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as their concern over a gymnasium to be built in the nearby Morningside Park in Harlem. The protests resulted in the student occupation of many university buildings and their eventual violent removal by the New York City Police Department.

The speech just after the 32 minute mark is particularly important for its relevance today.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

THE CORPORATE MEDIA

  • News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal and Fox News 
  • Walt Disney, which owns ABC News and ESPN 
  • NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast and includes NBC News 
  • Allbritton, which owns several TV stations and Politico 
  • Gannett Broadcasting, a division of Gannett, which owns USA Today 
  • Post-Newsweek Stations, the broadcast division of The Washington Post Co. 
  • Belo Cos., which owns 20 TV stations 
  • Cox Media Group, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Austin American-Statesman and other newspapers and TV stations 
  • Dispatch Broadcast Group, which owns Ohio and Indiana TV stations 
  • Barrington Broadcasting Group, which owns several TV stations around the country 
  • The E.W. Scripps Co., which owns TV stations and newspapers, including The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn. 
  • Hearst Television Inc., which owns 29 stations 
  • Raycom Media, which owns TV stations 
  • Schurz Communications, which owns newspapers and TV stations nationwide 

MAKING MORE JOBS WITH RAIL

  • I am at Union Station in Portland, Oregon waiting for my train to Olympia, Washington.  It's been a good couple of days here as my host Celeste Howard has kept me busy speaking at three different churches (two Unitarian and one Presbyterian) and at Pacific University.  In addition I've done a second interview on KBOO radio and an interview on public access TV sponsored by the local chapter of Alliance for Democracy.  So I feel that my message has gone out far and wide here and am grateful for the efforts made by Celeste to schedule a good mix of events.
  • Mike Hastie, one of the three members of Veterans for Peace who we tried to send to Jeju Island but was forced to immediately return home by the South Korean authorities, came to both of my talks yesterday.  In the middle of my speech, where I talk about the Navy base issue on Jeju, I asked Mike to stand and share his story.  It was sad to think he was so close to reaching Jeju.  He was seated on the plane going from Seoul to Jeju but was pulled off just before the plane took off.  He was held in a detention center inside the airport for some time and was never given any reason for his treatment other than, "You are not welcome in Korea."  In a way though it was a supreme complement to all of those who have been working so hard to internationalize resistance to the Navy base on Jeju.
  • They have an extensive public transit system here in Portland.  Many years ago my Florida friend John Hedrick had visited here and noticed they let people ride for free in the downtown area.  He brought this idea back to Orlando were I worked with him for several years organizing the People's Transit Organization that was over time successful in forcing Orlando to double their public transit funding.  Since that time I've always been a devotee of mass transit - and during this speaking tour I've made special effort to compare the jobs created by investing $1 billion in building rail systems (19,675) verses spending the same amount of money on military production which creates far fewer jobs per billion dollars (8,600).  That's a huge difference and I've made the case over and again that such use of our tax dollars not only would benefit labor unions, but would also help the environmental groups in a small way solve for the coming ravages of climate change and reduce the need to go to endless war for oil.  The conversion of the military industrial complex is a unifying theme - a transformative demand that we should be making over and over again.
  • I get a day off tomorrow in Olympia.  I'll be staying at the home of GN board member Holly Gwinn Graham who has arranged for me to speak on April 24 at 6:30 pm inside the popular Traditions Cafe.  Still another nine days to go.  I am having a good time and really enjoying meeting so many great activists along the west coast.  People often ask me where I find my hope and I like to tell them that one key factor is that everywhere you turn wonderful people are working hard to change things.

MARATHON BOY

SUNDAY SONG

VIDEO FROM SANTA MONICA



From my talk in Santa Monica, California on April 4. Thanks to Mansoor Sabbagh, Director of Global Voices for Justice, for filming and editing the video.