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 12, 2012

GOLD FEVER



Illegal gold miners in Peru are destroying thousands of hectares of the Amazon forest, home to some of the world's most important biodiversity.

Biologists are working to save wildlife in the area, as their habitats are destroyed or endangered by the gold diggers.

At the same time, stopping the mining is presenting a tough challenge for the government.

In the final instalment of a three-part series, Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez reports from Madre de Dios in Peru.

IT'S THE MELTING ICE


  • I just finished a radio interview from Vancouver, Canada.  I mentioned that the Canadian government has decided to spend $35 billion to build more warships.  Our Global Network board member Tamara Lorincz in Halifax, Nova Scotia brought this to my attention.  Many of the warships will be built in her community.  She wrote, "It is the largest government procurement of any kind in Canadian history.  The warship contract is so corrosive and corruptive. The people of Nova Scotia have been duped and have allowed themselves to be duped.....The NDP and Labour have effectively left the peace movement in support of the warships."  I told her we face the same problem here with the Democrats.  They've rarely seen a weapons system that they don't support as military production is now virtually the only game in town.
  • I started thinking more about why Canada would want to build these warships.  I checked the map again.  It's the Arctic Ocean and the melting ice due to climate change.  The oil corporations can now get at the oil below the surface and the U.S. is enlisting Canada, Norway, and other Arctic allies to get ready for the push-and-shove match with Russia over control of that region.  More evidence that the Pentagon/NATO is the resource extraction service of corporate globalization.
  • I am working on my upcoming talks at the NATO Counter Summit (May 18-20) in Chicago and the Project Ploughshares event in Waterloo, Canada (May 24-25) called Securing the peaceful use of space for future generations. Got the first draft done and moving toward next steps.
  • Got alot of work to do outside today.  Already planted some sunflowers, hung laundry, and next need to get back to stacking wood.  Lawn needs mowing after all the rain we've had and our old fashioned push mower doesn't work so well if the grass gets too high.  Fortunately good weather today.
  • A short sports update:  After 14 losing seasons in a row my baseball team (Baltimore Orioles) are currently in first place with a 21-12 record.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, May 11, 2012

THE NATO NONSENSE

By Joseph Gerson

Don't Believe the NATO Hype: Alternatives Exist to War, Economic Crises 

As the NATO summit in Chicago approaches, misplaced paranoia is striking deep. A near-police-state regime is being imposed, not only to "protect" heads of state from protesters, but also to severely limit the freedoms of speech and assembly. Even nurses -- the United States' most trusted medical professionals -- have been deemed too dangerous to be allowed to rally.

Beyond this hysteria, peace, labor and immigrant rights activists and scholars are gathering in Chicago for the May 18-19 Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice, to present the case against NATO-driven militarism. Here are 10 reasons why:
  1. The U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan must end. Plans to use the summit to ratify fighting in Central Asia until 2024 spells death, suffering and disaster for all involved.
  2. There is an alternative to creating stability in one of the world's poorest nations: All-party Afghan negotiations -- including civil society -- and a regional peacemaking process.
  3. The United States is in decline. Students can't afford the world-class educations that are essential to both their economic security and the nation's revitalization. Our infrastructure and transportation systems are in disrepair, lagging behind those in many other nations. U.S. defense spending nearly equals the next 17 countries' military spending -- combined! And the Bush tax cuts have made the one percent exceedingly richer. This slow motion debacle must be stopped.
  4. There is an alternative: Cut military spending and restore a truly progressive income tax. Investing in civilian job creation for clean energy, health care, education and 21st century infrastructure could produce far more jobs than sending troops to fight in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Philippines.
  5. NATO was never an entirely defensive alliance. Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski describes NATO allies as "vassals" and explained that NATO provides a toehold from which to dominate Eurasia. Most people and nations resist being dominated. Since the end of the Cold War, at great expense, NATO has not focused on Europe, but on "out of area" operations like the Afghan and Libyan wars and partnerships from Mauritania to Turkistan, with more to come in Latin America to East Asia.
  6. There is an alternative: Retire NATO. Bring our troops and weapons home and close overseas bases. U.S. policy should not focus on preparing for and fighting wars that support corrupt regimes or overthrow dictators while leaving nations divided among armed militias with no functioning national governments.
  7. We suffer from 21st century Jim Crow segregation. More than two million people -- most of them people of color -- are in prison. An estimated 11 million undocumented people, the vast majority tax paying workers and their families, are forced to live in the shadows, fearing deportation and family separations due to draconian federal policies like "Secure Communities and "E-Verify." Children of immigrants who have excelled in school are denied access to college educations.
  8. There are alternatives: Suspend those police-state immigration policies. Enact comprehensive immigration reform to expedite the path to citizenship. Mandate in-state tuition for all in-state students.
  9. Four years into the Bush Depression little has been done to address the "betrayal of American prosperity," as detailed by Reagan-era trade tsar Clyde Prestowitz. The super-rich are getting richer. The middle class is shrinking. Millions of workers and their families suffer a jobless "recovery," while corporations maximize profits and CEO salaries by sending manufacturing jobs abroad. And the campaign for European-style "austerity" means greater unemployment.
  10. There are alternatives: Stop foreclosures. Revise tax laws to remove incentives for off-shoring jobs and restore progressive income tax policies like those of the (Republican) Eisenhower era. Invest in job creation by focusing on essential social services, 21st century education and training, and building modern infrastructures that our children will need to live decent lives and to hold their own in the global economy.
Frederick Douglass, the courageous abolitionist, taught that power cedes nothing without a struggle. And the old folk saying reminds us that "we make our road by walking." That's why we're coming to Chicago from Boston and San Bernadino, Tennessee and Toronto, Afghanistan, Africa and Asia.

The Counter Summit will be the forum to build the movement needed to follow the French in withdrawing from Afghanistan and overcoming nationally self-destructive austerity.

Peacefully, in the streets, we can support the Afghan and Iraq Vets whose discarded medals scream that war and military alliances are not the answer; that we need jobs, justice and a caring society if there is to be a 21st century American dream and greater peace in the world.

Dr. Joseph Gerson is Co-Convener of the Network for a NATO-Free Future and Director of Programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England.

SAVE JEJU PROTEST IN LONDON



An international week of solidarity with Jeju Islanders will be held in September.  Groups worldwide will be urged to organize local events to help build support for Jeju.  More details will be posted as they become available.

Breaking News from Jeju:  Professor Yang Yoon-Mo was sentenced to two years probation today in court.  The government prosecutors were requesting that he be given two years in prison.  It is obvious that his two long hunger strikes during the past year and the growing international solidarity with Gangjeong villagers has helped to prevent him from being salted away for a long time in jail.  Keep the fires burning.  I would venture a guess that Yang, once recovered from his recent hunger strike, will be back on the streets again soon enough.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

CHICAGO COPS SPREAD FEAR



In advance of next week's anti-NATO protests in Chicago the coppers there are spreading word that they plan to crack skulls.

They know that the word will spread and that their intimidating comments will make some number of people afraid to get out onto the streets.  This is about trying to tamp down the numbers before the protest even happens.

Welcome to the land of the free, home of the brave - this is what our democracy looks like today.  The cops, supposedly there to serve and protect the people, are in fact serving as the domestic military arm of corporate globalization.

WAR CRIMES TRIALS



For the second time, the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalize War is putting a former head of state and their administration before a peoples court to face charges of Torture and War Crimes.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

NATURE'S NECESSITY



Renowned cellular biologist, Dr. Bruce Lipton narrates the process of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly over a milieu of imagery in "The Evolution of the Butterfly". The film combines first hand footage from the Occupy Wall Street movement with stylized portraits of the recent economic collapse and gives a backdrop of hope to sometimes bleak reality.

PUZZLING QUESTIONS

  • I worked today with filmmaker Eric Herter who is taking my video footage from our Global Network conference on Jeju Island last February and turning it into a 27 minute piece.  We are about half way there now.  
  • U.S. Secretary of War Leon Panetta hosted China's Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie at the Pentagon on Monday.  The Washington Times reported, "A key issue the U.S. will explore is the objective of China‚Äôs 'very robust and rapid' military modernization, especially in a region that is 'at peace,' a senior defense official told reporters."  So this is how it works.  The U.S. doubles its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and China reacts by increasing its military.  Then the Pentagon brings the top Chinese general to our capital to hypocritically lecture him about their military buildup.  Of course the U.S. mainstream media says not a mumbling word about our own massive military machine that is surrounding China..  End result?  The American people are led to determine that China is out-of-control and that we need to buildup our military to contain them.  Call it mission success for the military industrial complex.
  • The Christian Science Monitor writes, "A large majority of Americans do not favor the new strategic partnership with Afghanistan signed during a surprise visit to Kabul last week by President Obama.  By a margin of 63 percent disapproval to 33 percent approval, respondents rejected a description of the deal that will include a US troop presence and billions of dollars in monetary support for Afghan forces in the decade after 2014, according to a Monitor/TIPP poll conducted April 27 to May 4."  The people are figuring this one out.  It only took 10 years but they have finally come around.  Now we all need to raise some hell on the streets so we can actually make the withdrawal happen.  Bring Our War $$ Home now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

THE MAGICIAN SAVES AUSTRALIA


Obama recently cut a deal to send 2,500 U.S. Marines to Darwin, on the north coast of Australia.

Is this defense or offense?

ENTRAPPING OCCUPY


In order to pay for the Pentagon's unquenchable appetite, the Congress is now hacking away again at food stamps, Meals on Wheels feeding program for the elderly, legal services for the poor, Medicaid, and other such "safety net" programs.

The safety net has been in tatters for years and exists in name only these days.  The attack on the poor is happening at the local, state, and national levels.  Here in Maine our Tea party Gov. LePage lectured the unemployed this week demanding that every "able bodied" person get off their couch and go find a job.  Nice talk but where are the jobs?  Basically in Afghanistan.

The oligarchy fears the Occupy movement because it essentially is the only game in town - there is no other nationally sustained resistance to endless war and the destruction of social progress.

Obama is out on the campaign trail spreading worry and fear about a Republican victory in November - 'more war, cuts in social programs, more tax cuts for the rich, a bad Supreme Court' - but we've also seen all that happen when the Dems and Obama have been in power.  Obama rode the anti-war horse into the White House, dismounted and locked the horse in the barn.  The rank-and-file local Dems (led by most unions) will mostly fall into line like lemmings and follow their president over the cliff.

We've got to stay out on the streets and keep demanding an end to Pentagon spending and voicing our strong support for social progress.  The forces pushing a return to feudalism are taking aim at Occupy with their poison arrows.  They are trying to make progressive thinkers freeze in fear.  When people freeze the oligarchy is free to do what they wish.

Let the spring melt those frozen from fear.  Resist or perish.  Democracy and our children's future is in the balance.



Monday, May 07, 2012

ANOTHER RT INTERVIEW

BIG MOON SHINES FOR ALL OF US

I've been marveling at the big moon the last couple of nights.  It reminds me that all of us on Earth, no matter where we live, are blessed with its great beauty.  It reminds me that it has been a symbol of joy and wonder on this planet since humans began knuckling our way around.  The moon reminds me that despite politics, national boundaries, and our differences, we all live on this tiny spinning orb called Earth.

Think about how Coca-Cola some years ago had the idea they'd like to put a big sign on the moon advertising their products.

Think about the mad scramble that is now beginning where some corporations want to control the moon so they can mine it.

I spent the entire day yesterday working in the garden - repairing our raised beds for growing vegetables and planting seeds.  I started work on our three cords of wood that need to be stacked.  Today the muscles in my back scream out to me.

RT has asked me to do another interview with them about "missile defense" so it is scheduled for 4:00 pm today.  It appears it will be longer than the last one I did.  The last interview has had about 20,000 hits and lots of comments so it was obviously seen by many.

The Russian - U.S. divide over MD is growing and the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago will only make matters worse as they will be announcing "initial operational capability" of the joint U.S. - NATO Europe-wide interceptor system that is undoubtedly being used to encircle Russia.

Though U.S. - NATO deny it, saying it is aimed at Iran, Russians are asking very legitimate questions like this one:  "We've been told about a defense system against an Iranian threat, as well as against so-called 'rogue states.'  All this is quite doubtful.  Why spend hundreds of billions of dollars just to intercept 3-4 Iranian missiles?  And why would Iran attack Europe when 70% of its foreign trade is with the EU?"

Sunday, May 06, 2012

SUNDAY SONG