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, May 05, 2012

WAR GAMING ATTACK ON IRAN



Don't think that the U.S. and Israel are not itching to take Iran out......

JEJU GLOBAL SOLIDARITY ACTIONS PLANNED



Gangjeong village Mayor Kang delivers a message to activists around the world as protests are planned in coming days in many cities.

The list of actions:

  • May 5th Washington D.C., USA: Lafayette Park in front of the White House, from 2 to 4 pm (Contact: kangjungDC@gmail.com)
  • May 6th Paris, France: Human Rights Court in Trocadero, from 3 to 6 pm (Contact: wunrei@yahoo.com)
  • May 6th Fukuoka, Japan: In front of Korean Consulate from 2 to 3 pm (Contact: tyrolschool@jcom.home.ne.jp)
  • May 9th London, UK: In front of the Republic of Korean Embassy from 2 to 5 pm (Contact: Angie ZELTER, reforest@gn.apc.org Phone: +44-1547-520929 and 078-3535-4652)
  • May 9th Berlin, Germany: Paris Square in front of the Brandenberg Gate from 3 to 6 pm (Contact: mousie@korea.com)
  • May 9th Frankfurt, Germany: In front of Korean General Consulate from 3 to 4pm and in front of City Hall from 4:30 to 6 pm (Contact: hanytrans@googlemail.com)  
  • May 9th San Francisco, California, USA: At Korean Consulate, 711 Van Ness St, 9:00 am (Contact: info@bayareacodepink.org)
  • May 12th New York, USA: Union Square from 3 to 5 pm (Contact: azbules@gmail.com)
Please help to keep spreading the word about Jeju Island.  Call or visit the South Korean embassy/consulate nearest you and tell them No Navy Base and Boycott Samsung (the lead base construction contractor).
Stop preparations for war in the Asia-Pacific!

Friday, May 04, 2012

WEST COAST SPEAKING TOUR REPORT


 Outside the South Korean consulate in Seattle on the last day of my trip

I have just returned from my 30-day (24 city) speaking tour that took me from San Diego, California to Bellingham, Washington.  Along the way I did a total of 31 talks including six events at colleges/universities.  I did 14 radio interviews (two of which were broadcast nationally) and recorded three public access TV programs.  At least a dozen times my talks were video recorded for Internet or local TV use.

Not once, that I am aware of did mainstream newspapers or TV news cover any of my talks.  This indicates how the corporate media now effectively blocks out the messages from the peace community (and other progressive movements).  Years ago on such a trip it would have been normal to frequently have a local newspaper cover such an event.  But due to cutbacks in newsroom staffs and the general corporatization of mainstream media that is no longer the case.  The same can also be said for local TV news.

But the positive side of this is the tremendous growth of alternative media - radio, public access TV, and video production, which gets wide distribution via the Internet.  We must all recognize and give more support to these alternative media activists who spread our movement messages.

My talks featured the Obama administration "pivot" of foreign and military policy into the Asia Pacific, which is resulting in a doubling of Pentagon operations in that region.  This is particularly being manifested in the "missile defense" encirclement of Russia and China today.  These moves on the grand chessboard are intended to give the U.S. greater control of the declining supplies of scarce resources around the planet.  The Pentagon's role in the world today is to serve as the primary resource extraction service for corporate globalization.

At several of my speaking events some local elected officials were in the audience.  My favorite part of these presentations was the question & answer period.  You can imagine that quite often the same themes emerged.  Here are a few of the top questions and a bit of my responses:

  • What can we do? (We first have to decolonize our own minds; take a trip to the Wizard of Oz to get more courage and determination; connect the dots in our work so that we build links between progressive organizations that sadly often work independently of each other; remind people that the Pentagon is the world's biggest polluter with the largest carbon boot print.)
  • Why has Obama betrayed those who put him in power? (He is a corporate captive; google the Crown family of Chicago that in 2008 were majority stockholders of the General Dynamics Corporation and gave Obama $500,000 and raised $$ for him within the military industrial complex - MIC.  Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine reported soon after the 2008 election that Obama raised more funds from the MIC than the right-wing war hawk John McCain did.)
  • Don't the corporate bigwigs realize that their children will suffer as well as the environment worsens and the economy collapses?  (These folks seem spiritually disconnected from our Mother Earth.  Their love for the dollar has broken their connection and ability to see how they are fouling their own nest.  Consumerism, materialism, greed, and hunger for power are a disease.  We have to reject the “Business Model” and the “Success” mythology.  We have to embrace our Mother Earth and hear the next seven generations cry out to us to give them a future.)
  • Who in the Congress can we really count on?  (There are a few noble exceptions but politicians aren't going to save us - we have to do it ourselves by getting organized and making demands to end corporate control of our government and to convert the MIC.)
  • What keeps you going? (I find my hope knowing that everywhere I go there are good folks doing this work.... plus I am very stubborn.  We each don’t have to solve all these problems, we just each have to do our bit.  It all adds up to create a global movement.)
There are way too many people to thank in this email but I want to make one exception.  Global Network board member MacGregor Eddy (WILPF) suggested I take the train from San Diego north and I did.  It was a pure joy.  The ride was great (now and then I had to take a bus as well and only a couple of times did I have to catch a ride in a car) and being on the train allowed me to spend those travel hours on my laptop keeping up with my email correspondence.  The scenery was often spectacular.  MacGregor donated most of my train travel segments using her frequent travel awards on Amtrak, which was a huge donation to the organization. 

It felt good to be using mass transit and I always spoke about the great pay-off that happens when we spend $1 billion on building rail systems (19,675 jobs) instead of putting that same $1 billion into military production (8,600 jobs).  In each talk I asked the audience to raise their hands indicating support for spending their tax dollars on either rail jobs or weapons manufacturing.  You can imagine which side easily won.

The Navy base on Jeju Island, South Korea was also a key feature of each of my talks.  At the end of many of the talks I showed a video from Jeju Island to make things more real for people.  As was fitting, on the last day of the trip about 25 of us held a protest vigil at the South Korean consulate in Seattle.  The consulate staff handed several of our delegation a piece of paper that inaccurately stated that the Gangjeong villagers support the base - in fact 94% of them voted in a secret ballot to oppose the Navy base.  The Jeju issue is an important human and environmental example of just how the U.S.  pivot into the Asia-Pacific is already negatively impacting life in that region.

This trip was a remarkable experience for me.  I was deeply touched by the kind hospitality offered me all along the way.  I also felt that each local host organizer appreciated that they were linked to a larger effort and that made their task more valuable.  I am grateful to everyone – especially those who turned out to hear me speak.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

ON RT TODAY



Here is my interview today on RT about U.S. surrounding Russia with so-called "missile defense" systems.   Russia is of course freaking out.

Imagine if Russia, or China, were putting bases in Mexico or Canada.  The U.S would be going ballistic.  We are doing it to them and the American people don't even know it.  A new Cold War is being created that will benefit the military industrial complex.  But because people's minds in the U.S. are largely colonized by the corporate media few of our citizens can see the bigger picture.  Instead people are being led to the cliff like lemmings as the oligarchy cranks up this campaign to demonize Russia and China to justify their encirclement.

Wake up and survive.

SWIM WHILE YOU STILL CAN BRAVE ISLANDERS

 Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is now facing more jail time

Kayaks blocked so people try to swim to Gureombi rock

On May 11 Professor Yang Yoon-Mo will be back in court.  He was released from jail about a month or so ago where he was again hunger striking - this time about 50 days.  Last year his hunger strike lasted 75 days while in prison and he only resumed eating after appeals from the Catholic Bishop of Korea.

Reports are that the government prosecutor will seek a two-year prison sentence for Yang this time because he is a repeat "offender".  

In other Jeju news there is this gem:
On May 1, Labor Day, Park Geun-Hye, daughter of deceased ex-President Park Chung-Hee who ruled South Korea for decades with military dictatorship made absurd remarks that, “In case of Hawai’i, tourism income is 24% while military-related income is 20% in its whole finance,” and “If we construct the Jeju naval base as civilian-military dual use port and make it well so that 150,000 ton cruise can enter and exit, it would not likely to be less than Hawai’i” (Headline Jeju, May 1).
Hawaiian peace activist Kyle Kajihiro responded to Park's remarks with:
“I would invite Ms. Park to take a swim in Hawai'i's most famous military-tourist attraction: Pearl Harbor (the true name given by Native Hawaiians is Ke Awalau o Pu'uloa). However, the water is too toxic. And before she could get very far, she would be arrested by the Navy for trespassing in military waters. There is no tourist activity within Pearl Harbor except for those museum sites controlled by the government.”
The waters just off Gangjeong village are increasingly being contaminated by the Samsung blasting of Gureombi rock and other destruction operations.  The villagers are closely monitoring the contamination and reporting it to the media and public at large.  Despite the Navy's claims that the base will have no environmental impact the evidence is mounting to prove otherwise.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

ANOTHER DETERMINED FLAG RAISER




A non-violent Palestinian woman climbed on top of an Israeli military vehicle as she protested outside Ofer prison in solidarity with the ongoing prisoner hunger strike. The  protester has been identified as Rana Hamadeh.

Above is video of the protest and the aftermath when Israeli military tried to arrest her. Activists protected her from the military and were pepper sprayed at point blank range.

HOW THE MEDIA LIES


As I was traveling home yesterday, while in the airport, I noticed that CNN News was reporting that only 40 people had turned out for the May Day protest in New York City.  This photo is from the march down Broadway yesterday from Union Square.  Obviously more than 40 people were involved.


This is how the media does it.  They likely picked a remote spot, before anything even began, and reported that only 40 were there.  Then that becomes the story.  I've seen the corporate media do it again and again over the years.


I slept in a bit late this morning and have been catching up with the mail the rest of the day.  Looks like I will be doing a radio interview from Vancouver tonight at 10:00 pm (EST).  Mike Jacobsen from Bellingham will be on the show as well.


Tomorrow I will keep plowing through my stack of work that needs catching up on.  I brought home many names to add to our Global Network database and also need to write a report summarizing the trip.  


On Saturday I speak at a Pax Christi Maine retreat at USM in Portland and then on May 18-20 I will be in Chicago for the anti-NATO protests.  Then on May 24-25 I will head to Toronto to speak at an event organized by Project Ploughshares on the peaceful use of space.

STORY OF A DETERMINED MAN



Dr. Song Kang-Ho's struggle at Gangjeong.  He has been arrested 10 times and sentenced to a total of 20 million won fine. . .He was violently arrested again last April 1 and has been detained in Jeju piison for one month now. Film by Dunguree

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

HEADING HOME

Gillchun Ko, artist from Jeju Island, suggested we hold a protest at the South Korean consulate yesterday in Seattle

Mike Jacobsen was the VFP member we were finally able to get into Gangjeong village after the first three were denied entry by South Korean authorities.  Mike was there for three weeks and I stayed at his home when I spoke in Bellingham, Washington.  He's wearing a Korean VFP vest and carries the distinct yellow No Navy base flags he brought home from Jeju.

We had 25 people show up yesterday at the 4:00 pm vigil outside of the South Korean consulate in Seattle.  Leonard Eiger, who was the key organizer for my several days in the Seattle area, put that protest together in just a few days after artist Gillchun Ko requested that we get as many people as possible to gather there.  Gillchun, who is from Jeju Island and has been a leader in bringing artists to Gangjeong village, has been in the Seattle area for a few weeks while some of his art work is being displayed at a local gallery.

While we were at the consulate a group of about 10 folks went inside to seek a meeting to express our collective outrage over the Navy base destruction.  The consulate staff keep them waiting for some time but eventually agreed to meet with four of the people.  The consulate handed them a letter which was packed full of lies including a statement that Gangjeong villagers want the Navy base built.  Once I get a copy of the letter I will post it here.  It's a real zinger.

Earlier in the day yesterday I was taken to the University of Washington-Tacoma where I was invited to speak to students and people from the community.  A good crowd turned out and I had one hour to spin my stories.  Being my last talk of the 30-day trip I told them I had promised myself that I'd stay strong the whole way through and save my best for the last. 

On Sunday I did a talk at the University Methodist Church in Seattle and three different video cameras were set up to film the event.  I asked Gillchun Ko to speak as well and he presented an excellent slide show of photos from Gangjeong village after my talk.  During every talk on the trip I have included the Jeju issue and am happy that I was able to help increase the awareness about this strategic campaign with so many activists on the west coast.

After the protest was over at the consulate Leonard drove me the one hour south back to Tacoma where we had dinner at the Catholic Worker House that was created many years ago by the much loved 84-year old Father Bix.  Bix, as he is called, recently got out of jail after doing another civil disobedience action against nuclear weapons and is on house arrest until late summer so he has to wear one of those ankle monitoring devices that the government uses to keep tabs on people.  I had met the legendary Bix once before but it was a pleasure to see the great love that his extended community has for him at the pot luck that celebrated his being honored earlier in the day (just after my talk) at the University of Washington-Tacoma. Bix donated an original Picasso peace drawing to the school.  Japanese activists had given the drawing to Bix and a large delegation he had taken from Tacoma to Hiroshima-Nagasaki a few years back.

I am writing all of this on the airplane as I fly from Seattle to Detroit.  Once in Detroit I have a three hour lay over before flying back to Maine.

It's been a great trip and I am a bit sad though because it is hard to say good-bye to so many fine people I have met along the way.  I'll write more with some reflections in the next few days but I am just so grateful for the great support and hospitality that was offered to me and the Global Network during this experience.  Thanks to all of you.

Monday, April 30, 2012

PORTLAND, OREGON INTERVIEW



My public access TV interview in Portland, Oregon.  Interview was on the show sponsored by the Alliance for Democracy.  Was filmed last week.

VFP GOES INTERNATIONAL



Veterans For Peace is going international.  A chapter has just begun in the United Kingdom.  Good job lads.  There is more yet to come.

This is a clear indication that the resistance to war is increasingly becoming globalized and working in a cooperative way.  It's the perfect antidote to the cancerous NATO and globalized capital.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

OBAMA'S SIGNATURE DRONE STRIKES



Activists, lawyers, human rights advocates, civil liberties defenders and others came together for a major international summit on drone warfare and the issues created by drone use yesterday in Washington DC.

The summit was co-organized by CODEPINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve. An exceptional lineup of speakers addressed participants detailing salient and significant aspects around the Obama administration’s expansion of the covert drone wars in countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

See more here

ANGIE ZELTER ON IMPORTANCE OF JEJU FIGHT

RADIO INTERVIEW ON VIDEO



Mike McCormick interviewed me very early yesterday morning on KEXP radio in Seattle.  He also filmed the interview.  Here it is....I was barely awake after not getting to bed til midnight the night before.

SPEAKING TRUTH



Leah Bolger is the new national president of Veterans For Peace.  She talks about her recent arrest and trial for speaking out at a hearing of the Congressional "Super committee" last fall.

She also speaks eloquently about the need to shut down the wasteful war machine.

THE BAD SEED IS BEING PLANTED IN SPACE

I really enjoyed my time at Soul Food Books in Redmond yesterday.  Frankly I'd never heard of Redmond before, but it turns out to be the community where Microsoft Corp. employs 30,000 people just outside of Seattle.

I sat on a chair on the stage after one of the owners and another man played a couple of songs to warm things us.  Most of the chairs in the room were filled and I saw people throughout the book store/coffee shop/community center listening and that included both guys working behind the counter who each had a question during the Q & A.

Sarah, the other co-owner, told a heart warming story when she introduced me.  As it turns out she grew up in Idaho and was just a small kid in 1997 when NASA launched the Cassini space probe with deadly plutonium on-board.  Her father was supporting our opposition to the launch and that is how she knew about it.  But she was most worried about ET getting home safely.  She had just seen the movie ET and was terribly concerned that the Cassini launch would knock out ET's rescue mission.  Her father though told her not to worry because the good folks opposing the Cassini launch would not let anything happen to ET.  Just goes to show that you never know how far and wide these campaigns we organize can travel.

I get tired of doing the same talk day after day so yesterday was an example of how I switch things up depending on the local situation.  After hearing Sarah's amazing story I began by talking about our Cassini campaign and I focused on NASA's own Environmental Impact Statement that said if there was a worst case launch accident and release of the toxic plutonium that they'd have to remove all the people within a 60-mile radius.  Then they'd have to go back in and remove all the buildings, the vegetation, the animals, and finally the top 1/2 inch of soil because everything would be radioactive for thousands of years.

Imagine then a host of these launches in the coming years as the nuclear industry puts nuclear powered mining colonies on the Moon. Mars, and asteroids. The aerospace industry intends to carry this bad seed of war, greed, and environmental degradation into the heavens.

The New York Times ran a story this past week that "a company called Planetary Resources Inc. will unveil its plans to mine asteroids that zip close by Earth, both to provide supplies for future interplanetary travelers and to bring back precious metals such as platinum. The venture may sound far-fetched, but it has already attracted some big-name investors, including Larry Page and Eric Schmidt of Google, as well as profitable technology development contracts."

International space law (United Nations Moon Treaty and Outer Space Treaty) currently maintain that no country, no corporation, nor individual can claim ownership of any planetary body.  Thus these "start up" companies hoping to claim the rights to mine the sky must first re-write present space law and their lawyers are working on doing just that.

The reason international space law was created was to try to prevent the mad rush to control space resources that would inevitably lead to conflicts.  Just like after Columbus "discovered" the new world, all the European sea powers were soon cutting each others throats trying to control the resources and markets that were then available.  Without some kind of law to prevent such a "gold rush" the same thing will happen again in space.

One of the jobs of the Pentagon's Space Command in the coming years will be to create a militarized highway between the Earth and the planetary bodies so that the military industrial complex can control who gets into space and who does not.

In the 1989 report to Congress called Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years congressional staffer John Collins suggested that with military forces controlling the "Earth-Moon gravity well" that the U.S. would be able to "hijack rival shipments upon return" thus allowing complete control and domination of space.

After years of taxpayer investment in NASA's space technology infrastructure Obama has accelerated the privatization of the space program.  Soon these aerospace industry corporations will begin to mine the sky and bills are set to be introduced in Congress to make their profits tax exempt.  The bad seed of greed is indeed being planted in space.

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2012/04/24/2080178/mining-asteroids-in-our-future.html?storylink=addthis#.T5h2-gol3Fw.facebook#storylink=cpy

SUNDAY SONG


I've been playing this song at the end of several of my recent talks. It is a powerful song and brings tears to my eyes each time.