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 19, 2012

NURSES WARM UP CHICAGO STREETS



Thousands of protesters took to Chicago’s streets ahead of the NATO summit due to kick off there on Sunday. National Nurses United teamed up with trade unions and the Occupy movement to form a mass rally in the Windy City.

­The NNU members demanded a Robin Hood tax to be introduced on banks’ financial transactions. That demand was rather a supplement to the protest against proposals to cut back nurses pensions.

“We've worked 30 years for them and don't want to get rid of them,” said Deb Holmes, a nurse at a hospital in Worcester.

Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist and Occupy activist Tom Morello performed live at the event.

Despite the largely peaceful nature of the event, one man was arrested for aggravated battery of a police officer.

While marching through the streets a group of several hundred protesters split up from the main rally and rushed through the city shouting all kinds of anti-NATO slogans and making caustic remarks to police officers. Over a dozen of these activists were arrested.

Three protesters have been charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, suspected of assembling Molotov cocktails. Each of the three men, aged 20-24, have been charged with possession of an explosive or incendiary device, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and providing material support to terrorism.

The Friday March has merely been a rehearsal for a really big rally scheduled for Sunday, when the NATO summit opens. The thousands of protesters that continue to arrive in Chicago have put the city in security overkill mode.

NATO WAR WITH SYRIA NEXT?

Friday, May 18, 2012

EARLY NEWS FROM THE WINDY CITY


The Mayor of Chicago and the magician

Here are some quick bits from Chicago:

  • An anarchist symbol was found on an abandoned shack in the woods in a Chicago suburb (likely had been there for years) and the media made a big deal out of it as evidence that there was going to be a war on the streets.
  • Backpacks are not allowed on the trains from the suburbs today - might be carrying something really bad.
  • Nine local activists were grabbed by the cops and held on Wednesday for 24 hours without lawyers being allowed to even know where they were.
  • Air Force fighter jets are flying over Chicago today and instructed to shoot down anything that looks like it might be intending to harm NATO.  They'd better be careful they don't shoot down one of their own spy drones. 
More to come I am sure.  You can't make this stuff up.  It's not paranoia.  This is military psy-ops to make public fearful and accepting of a militarized society.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

OCCUPY WALL STREET VIDEO



I was interviewed for this show that ran on Iranian TV.  I appear in the middle (11:28) and (15:40) and finally near the end (21:10).

Maine Occupy activist Regis Tremblay filmed me in my home office and uploaded the video that then went into this larger production.

JEJU PROTEST IN PARIS

Recent Jeju Solidarity Protest "PACEM JEJU" at the Paris Trocadero Human Rights Square.

IMAGES FROM JEJU ISLAND





People keep coming to Gangjeong village on Jeju Island to block the Navy base destruction process.  They keep getting arrested.  They keep building the movement to protect the village and nature.

CHICAGO BOUND


I am on a bus heading for Boston where I take plane to Chicago.  On Friday and Saturday I will be involved in the anti-NATO Counter Summit that is being held to promote alternatives to U.S. and NATO expanding militarism.  On Sunday a mass rally and march will be held.  The cops will be out in full battle gear.  The people are now the enemy.

One key aspect of NATO expansion is the surrounding of Russia.  After the break up of the former Soviet Union, U.S. Secretary of State Jim Baker promised Russia that NATO would not expand "one inch" into the former Warsaw Pact territories.  When Bill Clinton came into office he tossed that promise aside and NATO has been like a cancerous growth on steroids ever since.


U.S./NATO now has bases and/or military operations in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.  At the same time NATO partnerships are expanding into the Asia-Pacific region to include the likes of Australia, Japan, South Korea, and very likely India.  NATO expansion throughout Eastern Europe and into Asia-Pacific will further Chinese and Russian fears of containment and force them to militarily respond.
 
The fact that Russia has the world’s largest supply of natural gas, and significant supplies of oil, indicates one likely reason the U.S. and NATO are military surrounding her.
 
Climate change and the melting of the Arctic regions makes it possible for oil and gas corporations to drill there.  The U.S. is already lining up Canada, Norway and other Arctic allies to stand against Russia in this push-and-shove for control of these resources. (Note how much of Russia borders the Arctic.)

All of this spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for peace in the world.  It also means that the attacks on social spending here at home will continue as the Pentagon's voracious appetite for scarce tax dollars only gets worse.

The protests against NATO in Chicago are important because this is the military arm of corporate globalization.  Capitalism must control and devour the shrinking natural resource base of the planet to keep growing.  It needs a military machine to secure those resources.  Welcome to NATO!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

VETS TO RETURN MEDALS AT CHICAGO PROTESTS



Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will join thousands of protesters this Sunday at the NATO summit in Chicago. Democracy Now speaks to Iraq Veterans Against the War’s Aaron Hughes, who’s among a number of Afghanistan and Iraq war vets planning to return their medals of honor to visiting NATO generals.

"[Veterans] have to live with the failed policy of the global war on terror on a daily basis," Hughes says. "What have we been doing in this decade-long war? There is a real moral disconnect between that the idea that our military can build a democracy and the idea that our military is trained and designed to control, dominate and kill people... Occupations do not build democracies. Occupations do not extend individuals’ freedoms. The movements of the Arab Spring, that was building democracy. The movements of Gandhi, of civil rights in this country, people’s movements, that’s what extends democracy."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

THINGS GET UNDERWAY IN CHICAGO

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

EVERY CONSTITUENCY FOR THEMSELVES - A LOSING DEAL

  • I went to a rally this morning inside the State Capital in Augusta, Maine that was called to protest a state budget that eliminates health care coverage for more than 20,000 people, cuts prescription drug coverage for senior citizens and reduces funding for Head Start..  I spoke to one young woman who has Epilepsy and without support she is not able to afford her medication which helps her function.  Our Gov. LePage and the Republican controlled legislature are throwing her off the Maine Care program with their cuts.  The protest brought about 200 people into the hallway between the House and Senate chambers and folks chanted for about an hour and a half and then left.  I'm afraid it was too little, too late.  
  • The way it seems to work here in Maine is that each different constituency goes to Augusta on a different date to protest their piece of the action.  The unions, then the senior citizens, then the teachers, then the environmentalists, then the social service providers make their trek to the capital and plead their case.  All those groups are allied to and are essentially led by the Democratic Party. They don't really like to have the peaceniks involved since we are critical of both the Republicans and the Democrats for funding endless war.  Under the banner of the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home we have tried to organize (and model) a real coalition effort that makes the case that until we stop spending $10 billion every month in Afghanistan there will be no money for social progress back here at home.  But that is "controversial" because we are challenging a Democrat President Obama.  (Except take into consideration that 66% of the American people actually want us out of Afghanistan.)  So the left-wing in Maine remains divided around the issue of political party and virtually everyone is getting their ass kicked because we can't organize an effective resistance to the corporate dominated right-wing that runs state government.  Very sad and a bad organizing strategy.
  • I have just started working on the next edition of the Global Network's Space Alert newsletter - deadline June 15. Much to my utter delight my son Julian just submitted an article entitled "Space Missile Defense's Implications on PAROS and FMCT." Makes my old heart proud - the first time he has ever written something for the newsletter. He's spent the past year doing extensive research on space weapons issues as the high school debate world, where he coaches, had that as their topic during their debate season. He knows this stuff better than I do.

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    SERIOUS SELLOUT OF OCCUPY BY THE MAGICIAN

    Documents Show How White House and Democrats Worked to Protect the Banks Against Protests

    Did the White House Direct the Police Crackdown on Occupy?

    by Dave Lindorff
    A new trove of heavily redacted documents provided by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild makes it increasingly evident that there was and is a nationally coordinated campaign to disrupt and crush the Occupy Movement.

    The new documents, which PCJF National Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard insists “are likely only a subset of responsive materials,” in the possession of federal law enforcement agencies, only “scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with ‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement.”

    Nonetheless, blacked-out and limited though they are, she says they offer clues to the extent of the government’s concern about and focus on the wave of occupations that spread across the country beginning with last September’s Occupy Wall Street action in New York City.

    The latest documents, reveal “intense involvement” by the DHS’s so-called National Operations Center (NOC).  In its own literature, the DHS describes the NOC as “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management.”

    The DHS says that the NOC is “the primary conduit for the White House Situation Room” and that it also “facilitates information sharing and operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal, non-governmental operation centers and the private sector.”

    A better description for a fascist police state network could not be written.

    Remember, this vast yet centralized operation — what Verheyden-Hilliard describes as “a vast, tentacled, national intelligence and domestic spying network that the U.S. government operates against its own people” — was in this case deployed not against some terrorist organization or even mob or drug cartel, but rather against a loose-knit band of protesters, all conscientiously and publicly committed to nonviolence, who were exercising their Constitutionally-protected right to gather in public places and to speak out against the crimes and abuses of the corporate elite and the politicians who are bought and paid by that elite.

    Among the documents obtained by the PCJF in this second batch of responses to its FOIA filing is one from the NOC Fusion Center Desk dated Nov. 5, 2011, which collects at the federal level and then distributes the names and contact information of a group of Occupy protesters who were arrested during a demonstration in Dallas, TX against Bank of America, one of the nation’s biggest predatory lenders.  Although none of the seven arrested were charged with any serious crime (six were charged with “using the sidewalk!”), their names and contact information were widely disseminated by the DHS.

    Fusion Centers, a post-9-11 creation, are a federally-funded joint project of the DHS and the US Justice Department which are designed to share intelligence information among such federal agencies as the DHS, the FBI, the CIA and the US Military, as well as state and local police agencies. By their nature they are designed to circumvent legal constraints on various agencies, for example the ban on CIA domestic spying, or the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars active military activity within the borders of the US. There are currently 72 Fusion Centers around the US.

    Another group of documents shows that on November 9, two days after a demonstration by 1000 Occupy activists in Chicago protesting social service cuts in that city, the NOC Fusion Desk relayed a request from Chicago Police asking other local police agencies what kind of tactics they were using against Occupy activists. They specifically requested that information be sought from police departments in New York, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. Denver, Boston, Portland OR, and Seattle — all the scene of major Occupation actions and of violent police repression.

    Realizing that it would look bad if it assisted in such coordination overtly, higher officials in the DHS ordered the recall of the request but then simply rerouted it through “law enforcement channels,” where presumably it would be harder for anyone to spot a federal role in the coordination of local police responses. In response to that order, the documents show that the duty director of the NOC wrote that he would “reach out” to “LEO LNOs (liaison officer) on the floor” to assist. Verheyden-Hilliard explains that LEO is FBI’s nationally integrated law enforcement, intelligence and military network.

    On December 12, when Occupy planned anti-war protests at various US ports, Verheyden-Hilliard says the new documents show that the NOC “went into high gear” seeking information from local field offices of the Department of Homeland Security about what actions police in Houston, Portland, Oakland, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles planned to deal with Occupy movement actions.

    Another document shows that earlier, in advance of a planned Occupy action at the Oakland, CA port facility on Nov. 2, DHS “went so far as to keep the Pentagon’s Northcom (Northern Command) in the intelligence loop.”

    Given the subterfuge revealed in these documents that went into trying to create the illusion that the DHS was and is not coordinating a national campaign of spying, disruption and repression against Occupy activists, it is almost comical to find documents that show the DHS was in “direct communication with the White House” to obtain advance approval of public statements by DHS officials denying any DHS involvement in anti-Occupy actions.

    These documents show that both DHS and one of that department’s police arms, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) were in direct contact with Portland, Oregon’s police chief and mayor, discussing how to deal with protesters who were in part on federal property. The coordination between the feds and the local police and political authorities were intense. Yet the approved statement sent to DHS from the White House read:
    Any decisions on how to handle specifics (sic) situations are dealt with by local authorities in that location. If a protest area is located on Federal property and has been deemed unsanitary or unsafe by the General Services Administration (GSA) or city officials, and they make a decision to evacuate participants — the Federal Protective Service (FPS) will work with those officials to develop a plan to ensure the security and safety of everyone involved.
    There was, comically, also a White House-approved DHS “background” statement, too! (Typically background statements by federal officials are supposed to be used when they want to tell a journalist the true situation but don’t want to have that statement attributed to them or their department. Having it pre-approved by the White House defeats that purpose and is simply a manipulation of the media.)

    The faux “background” information included the following–a flat-out lie:
    DHS is not actively coordinating with local law enforcement agencies and/or city governments concerning the evictions of Occupy encampments writ large.
    Tellingly, the documents also include a Dec. 5 copy of the “Weekly Informant, ” an intelligence report published by the DHS’s Office for State and Local Law Enforcement. The issue includes an update from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) concerning the activities of the Occupy Movement. PERF, Verheyden-Hilliard notes, is the group that the federal government claims organized a series of multi-city law enforcement calls to coordinate the police response to Occupy, which led immediately to the wave of violent crackdowns. It was at those meetings that police were advised among other things to act at night, to use aggressive tactics and weapons like tasers and pepper spray, and to take steps to remove journalists and cameras from the scene of crackdowns.

    The overall sense from these latest documents is that Washington and the DHS, along with the FBI, was the nexus of the crackdown, orchestrating it, encouraging it, and attempting to cover its tracks.

    The documents among other things expose the massive hypocrisy of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party, which this election year have tried to co-opt and claim as their own the anti-fat-cat theme of the “We are the 99%”-chanting Occupiers, while actually acting in the interest of Bank of America and its fellow financial sector mega-firms in trying to crush the movement itself.

    To see all the new FOIA documents, go to the PJIF website.

    Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He lives in Philadelphia.

    PALESTINIAN NON-VIOLENCE



    Palestinian protesters blocked the entrance to the Ma'ale Adumim settlement, meters away from one of Israel's main interrogation centers in the West Bank. Two protesters were arrested.

    Hundreds of Palestinians are hunger striking in Israeli jails in a mass protest against detention conditions.

    An estimated 1,600 inmates out of 4,800 launched the hunger strike on April 17 to demand improved conditions in Israeli custody, such as an end to solitary confinement and more family visits. They have also challenged Israel's policy of indefinite detention without charge of suspected Palestinian activists.

    SINKING SHIP IN AFGHANISTAN



    There's been a surge of violence in Afghanistan - with bomb blast in the north of the country killing at least nine people. The escalation comes a week before NATO's summit in Chicago. NATO allies support for ongoing involvement in the embattled nation has never been lower.

    When having to make a choice between endless war and social progress people are deciding they want health care, income security, education, and a clean environment.

    Everybody is tired of the Afghanistan occupation except the military industrial complex, the bankers, and the oil corporations who want to control Caspian Sea pipeline routes through the region.

    Bring Our War $$ Home now.

    Sunday, May 13, 2012

    SUNDAY SONG




    ORIGINS OF MOTHERS DAY

    MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION

    Julia Ward Howe

    Written in 1870 


     Arise, then, women of this day! 

    Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of fears! 

    Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, 

    "Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. 

    "Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. 

    "We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs." 

    From the bosom of the devasted earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!" 

    The sword of murder is not the balance of justice! Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession. 

    As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. 

    Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. 

    Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, 

    And each bearing after her own time the sacred impress,
    not of Caesar, but of God ---

    In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask

    That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,

    May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient

    And the earliest period consistent with its objects,

    To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,

    The amicable settlement of international questions,

    The great and general interests of peace.