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, June 02, 2012

FUN DAY IN GANGJEONG



A day filled with people’ cheerful sports meeting, “Cheers for Peace of Gangjeong!!! Beat, Military Base!”… the 12th Nationwide citizens’ event to revoke the Jeju naval base was held in the village.

CREATING A SOLAR SOCIETY


Germany Sets New Solar Record By Meeting Nearly Half of Country’s Weekend Power Demand

By Timon Singh

Germany fed a whopping 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour into the national grid in late May, setting a new record by meeting nearly half of the country’s weekend power demand. After the Fukushima disaster, Japan opted to shut down all of its nuclear power stations and Germany followed suit after considerable public pressure. This seems to have paved the way for greater investment in solar energy projects. The Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster announced that the weekend solar energy generation met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs AND was equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity!

Germany’s solar power industry has always been a world leader, but since the the country closed eight nuclear power plants after the Japanese disaster and announced they would be shutting down the remaining nine by 2022, pressure to find alternative energy has mounted. Other sources such as wind and biomass are expected to pick up the slack, but solar power has never been more important.

By meeting a third of its electricity needs on a work day and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed, Germany’s solar power industry has broken all previous records. Speaking to Reuters, Norbert Allnoch, director of the IWR said: ”Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity. Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”

“This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power,” Allnoch said. “It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants.” By receiving government-mandated support for renewables, Germany has became a world leader in renewable energy. Currently the country gets about 20% of its overall annual electricity from renewable sources and has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined. Like most other European countries, it is aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020, but at this rate it is the country most likely to actually follow through.

ANOTHER VIEW ON SYRIA MASSACRE



Alistair Crooke, a former British intelligence officer talks about the killings in the Houla area on Friday, 25 May, 2012. He says that it is very unlikely that soldiers would have committed such atrocities. It bears more the signature of some anti-Shia Iraqi killings squads.

Former Pentagon analyst Thomas Barnett called for a NATO intervention into Syria this morning on U.S. National Public Radio.  Barnett suggests that NATO's intervention could "speed the killing".  His call is one more piece of evidence that NATO proponents are increasingly trying to circumvent the United Nations in favor of the U.S.-dominated "alliance".  You can listen to his interview here

An alternative analysis of the Houla Massacre and the overall Syrian situation can be found here

Also an interesting story about BBC using a photo from Iraq in 2003 to show bodies of the dead in Syria can be found here

ODDLY CONNECTED


I've gone through my note book from my recent trips and have found some bits that I wanted to share.  Somehow they are all connected.  Also a few news items as well.

  • Maine's state Democratic Convention began last night and Rep. Mike Michaud told the assembled that he is fighting for a bill to require U.S. military uniforms be made in America.  Now that's vision!?  What about a solar society?  What about a national rail system?  No, this is just one more sign that the Democrats accept that our role in the U.S. will be "security export" under corporate globalization but maybe we can make the uniforms here in Maine.  Ugh.  (A perfect illustration of my last point below.)
  • 60% of Pakistan's national budget this year will go to cover their debt service and pay for their military.  No wonder the people are revolting against their government.
  • Well over $60 million was spent in Chicago to pay for the NATO summit.
  • Activists in Chicago are occupying health clinics that are being closed to make the connection to endless war spending.
  • In his new book "Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power", Zbigniew Brzezinski says that a "greater west" can control China in the years ahead.  This is why we see NATO expanding into the Asia-Pacific.  
  • Our traditional organizing strategies and tactics to bring about change are increasingly blocked by the privatization of domestic, foreign, and military policy and the corporate drowning of democracy.  We need more local discussion/reflection/brainstorming/strategizing about how to deal with this reality.
  • Increasingly national progressive foundations are insisting that grant recipients not connect the dots between issues and not get outside of the Democratic Party box.  This severely impacts our ability to deal with the previous point.
  • 80% of new loans to Greece go to pay for previous debt and 20% to buy weapons from Germany, France and others.
  • The opposition to austerity is taking a progressive and a reactionary direction.
  • We've globalized capital, globalized phones, globalized war, and now we've got to globalize the resistance.  (This came from Jesse Jackson during the Counter-Summit in Chicago but it's not a direct quote because I missed some of it because he was talking so fast.)
  • The German elite is not excited about "missile defense" but because the Obama administration wants it they go along.  But they will contribute as little funding as possible to the program.
  • The resource extraction issue is not included in the U.N.'s Outer Space Treaty while the Moon Treaty (which the U.S. never signed) has a slight but undeveloped reference to the issue.
  • Current U.N. and international technical and legal tools are inadequate to deal with the commercialization of space.
  • 60 countries today have satellites in space.  The U.S. owns 46% of all satellites in orbit.
  • India, with more than 600 million people living in poverty, is expanding its space program and will concentrate on missions to Mars.  The U.S. has been urging India to join Pentagon military space efforts and India has created a "Space Command".
  • By 2018 there will be 43 missile defense capable Aegis warships in the U.S. Navy.  They would have 500 interceptor missiles on-board.  These could be used as anti-satellite weapons or as the shield after a U.S. first-strike attack on Russian or Chinese nuclear forces.
  •  There is an adjustment going on within NGO's as we witness the drowning of democracy.  To be an "insider" you have to either go along with this way of accommodating to corporate domination or you are marginalized as someone who is unrealistic and the "enemy of the possible".  Limits are being imposed on what is possible, whether it be securing a single-payer health care system or a treaty to ban weapons in space.  NGO's are being sorted into two columns - those who fit into the new "realistic" box or those who don't.  Those who are willing to accommodate, and make fewer demands, don't enjoy having those around who challenge this accommodating style.

Friday, June 01, 2012

U.S. EXPANDS CYBER WARFARE



As if the United States hasn't already been involved in enough wars, the US government has admitted its role in launching a secret cyber attack against Iran. Since the first day Obama took office, the plot named "Olympic Games" was used to launch online attacks with cyberweapons such as the Stuxnet computer worm, which disrupted certain aspects of Iran's nuclear program. Aaron Swartz, founder and executive director of Demand Progress, joins RT with more on the online war.

BACK YARD ART

From the left Maureen Block, Karen Wainberg, Mary Beth Sullivan, and me

This past weekend a bunch of people (about a dozen) came to our house to make a garden mural.  The operation was supervised by Maine artist and mural maker Natasha Mayers.  Housemate Karen Wainberg has been dreaming about putting such a mural on our back yard shed for some time.  She organized the event. Now it is done.

Former housemate Maureen, also an artist, made the two big birds at the top of the mural and changed the one on the right into a Baltimore Oriole in honor of my forlorn baseball team.  Very kind, thanks Mo.

I was mostly in charge of the keeping the folks fed and watered during the art fest.  But Natasha insisted that I offer some paint strokes to the mural so I helped MB make the sunflower in the lower left corner. 

The mural is very visible from the street and alot of folks passing by will admire this great work.

You can click on the photo for a better view.

TAKE IT TO SAMSUNG


Samsung makes electronics like TV's and cell phones.  They also have a construction division and they are the lead contractor building the Navy base on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Samsung hires thugs who push-and-shove and sometimes beat up the villagers who are non-violently fighting to save their way of life.  On one occasion I heard that the thugs had broken into villagers homes and cars and left shit - yes shit - as a way to intimidate them.

On June 9 a protest is being organized in London, England at a Samsung store.  This is a big step in the movement as it connects the corporate policy to the military policy.  Think about doing something similar in your part of the world. 

A mighty force is developing in many cities as Korean citizens are teaming with local peace activists to work together on this issue.  Build it and they will come.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

MY LATEST SHOW



Regis Tremblay has interviewed me on his show so I invited him to come and be interviewed on my public access TV show.  He's an interesting guy with quite a background.

I think you'll enjoy meeting this man.

SOUTH KOREAN ARMY OFFICER UNDER FIRE FOR SUPPORTING VILLAGERS


On May 21 a 29-year old South Korean active service Army captain, who graduated from military academy, stood in the military court as a defendant under the charge of ‘insulting higher officers,’ including the President Lee, for his political remarks on Twitter. 

One of his remarks was that even though he was in favor of the naval base in the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in principal, it is a violation of democracy to forcefully enforce it. 

This is just one more bit of evidence that support for the Gangjeong villagers is indeed growing across South Korea - even amongst those in the military.  The government must crack down hard upon the brave captain in order to deter more of this from happening.  But with each such crackdown more people will be moved to stand up in support of the people and the nature of Jeju Island.

MD AS OFFENSE



Missile shields are usually for defense, but can Tim convince his cardboard chum that they can lead to very offensive and destructive situations?

ON AND OFF


  • Our electricity just went out - I could hear a big pop outside when it went off.  Then it came back on again.  The same thing happened yesterday.  It seems to happen frequently these days.  As I travel I take special note of the condition of the physical infrastructure around me.  It's a mess.  The U.S. is coming apart at the seams.  Roads and bridges crumbling.  Schools with leaky roofs and libraries closing.  Public hospitals shuttered.  Obviously those in power understand this but they seem to do nothing.  The $$$ continues to flow into the coffers of the Pentagon.  The human infrastructure is similarly collapsing as you see more homeless, more unemployed, more with mental health issues released onto the street like unwanted dogs.  There is a plan behind this - it doesn't just happen.  It's called neo-feudalism.
  • Last night I drove south to Biddeford, Maine where I appeared on the one-hour public access TV show hosted by my friend Richard Rhames.  He was recently on my show so I returned the favor.  Richard, and his co-host Matt Hight, always make the show fun as they crack jokes while we tape the interview.  It's nice to break up the serious stuff with some razing.  Matt is a former Biddeford City Councilor while Richard now serves on the City Council.  I tease Richard that he is helping to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.  
  • I've been closely following a running debate on a major peace movement list serve between one Obama supporter and the slew of Obama critics.  No matter what Obama does (expand drone attacks, sign the NDAA, etc) the supporter keeps telling everyone that they have to be "realistic" and support the president because the Republicans would only be worse.  The standard line.  This morning I noticed that Tarak Kauff (Veterans for Peace) had dug up some info about the Obama supporter. Tarak wrote that the Obama defender has "led Progressives for Obama, now called Progressive America Rising, as an independent left-progressive initiative, in part to convince those on the radical left to pursue what he considers more pragmatic alternatives." 
  • It reminds me of the U.S. Indian reservation system where the federal government pitted band against band and chief against chief once the Native Americans were brought into captivity.  We see similar tactics underway today as the Pentagon and Democratic Party put their operatives into progressive movements to keep the left "under control" and thus unable to organize a unified and sustained opposition to the polices of endless war and dissolution of social progress that come out of both political parties. In many states the national foundations have pulled funding from groups that are critical of the Democrats.  Here in Maine this took place a few years back and now the largest coalition of "progressive" groups in our state is directed by the former "CEO" of the Maine Democratic Party.  This group has refused to work with the peace community to connect the dots between the cost of endless war and the growing cutbacks in social programs.  Instead their strategy is to criticize the Republicans in hopes that voters will put the Democrats back in power.  When previously in power the Democrats in Maine essentially began the process of defunding social programs.
  • When I was in Chicago for the anti-NATO counter-summit I attended a workshop about the current campaign in Wisconsin to unseat right-wing Gov. Scott Walker.  The occupation of the state capital in Madison was first led by university teaching assistants who marched against cutbacks in education funding.  This then surged with various progressive constituencies joining the occupation of their capitol.  One of the young organizers said that once things really took off the unions came to the capitol and said they were going to take over.  The young people said no way because they knew that the unions were connected to the Democrats at the hip.  The organizer told us in the workshop, "We are going to have to do it, the Democrats won't do it alone."  She was of course referring to the push-back against Gov. Walker.  Only when an independent progressive movement was in place did the Democrats fall in line and begin to show some spine.  
  • So the progressive community went out and gathered 900,000 signatures to force a recall of Gov. Walker which will come to a vote in a special election on June 5.  But first the Democrats had to have a primary election to decide who would face Walker.  The progressive groups ran Kathleen Falk as their preferred choice and the Democratic Party machine ran Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  Barrett won.  There is serious disappointment in Wisconsin about Barrett because many progressives see him as the weaker of the two. At a debate last Thursday, the first of two during the month-long campaign, Barrett barely mentioned the laws passed last year by the Republican-controlled state legislature at Walker’s behest. As politico.com noted, “The issue of worker’s rights—which initially sparked last fall’s movement that resulted in the collection of nearly 1 million signatures—was almost a secondary issue in the debate." 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BAD PACIFIC TRADE DEAL



An international trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership between nine countries is stirring up a lot of controversy. Some U.S. lawmakers are wondering what the TPP is doing behind closed doors. The trade agreement has provoked a Sen. Ron Weden to propose legislation that would require the U.S. trade representative to consult with lawmakers, but according to some reports the Obama administration is refusing to release the details. Melinda St. Louis, international campaigns director for Public Citizen, give RT her take on the TPP.

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE WITH BASEBALL CARDS - IT'S JUST A GAME

  • The New York Times revealed Tuesday how Obama “has placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical.” He insists “on approving every new name on an expanding ‘kill list,’ poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war.” The Times described how more than 100 members of “the government’s sprawling national security apparatus” meet in a video conference to go over potential nominees for the death list and “recommend to the president who should be the next to die.” The nominations then go to the White House where Obama, guided by his top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, approves names added to the list.
  •  Lisa Savage from Solon, Maine writes, "President Obama's signature warfare method, the use of unmanned drones for extrajudicial killing, is a game changer. The warrior ethos which sustained commitment on the part of young men through the ideals of courage and manliness is waning. On Memorial Day a friend wondered if we should also honor the drones, since they do so much of the killing these days.  No one can predict the spiritual toll this will take on Americans who deploy drones against civilians, including many child victims. Aerial bombing by the U.S. is nothing new, but a bomber pilot did his job at considerable risk to his own safety. For drone operators at their joysticks, where every kill is a 'bugsplat,' the search for their own courage will be challenging."
  • A Florida friend wrote this week:  "A thought on our discussion of the Republicrats (same party -- America needs a 2 party system!!!!). I am going to start calling the 2 candidates 'Obombney' -- it combines their names to show that there is no difference between the 2 parties and also shows their propensity and desire for bombing the crap out of all countries that they can and keeping our defense [military] budget inflated."  
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"HOW DID THIS GENTLEMAN ACCESS THE COURT?"



Protestor interrupts court hearing where Tony Blair is having to explain his relationship to the Murdoch media empire that helped make him prime minister of the UK.

The inquiry is investigating press standards, and currently focusing on the relationship between the press and politicians.

President George W. Bush had major problems selling his disastrous invasion plans for Iraq. The public smelled a rat. Strong majorities of both Democrats and Republicans opposed a preemptive invasion without confirmation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by UN inspectors. That was during December 2002 and January 2003. Bush needed something special to push his diabolic plan over the top.

Blair's government released two fraudulent intelligence papers during the critical period just before the March 2003 Iraq invasion, the September 2002 report and the Iraq or Dodgy Dossier in early February 2003. Rupert Murdoch's media cartel led the charge for war. He headlined stories about both bogus reports including the outrageous claim that Iraq could launch chemical weapons at the invaders within 45 minutes of an attack and the big lie about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger to develop nuclear weapons.

CONNECTING THE DOTS



My friend and fellow Maine activist Regis Tremblay has created a new project called Truth TV.  He is a former Catholic priest, teacher, coach, and filmmaker for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.  He got canned from his state job when our new Teabag Gov. LePage came into power.

Last fall Regis jumped into the Occupy movement and has become committed to "connecting the dots" between the various manifestations of corporate domination.

With that in mind he interviewed me recently about the Global Network and my take on the connections between corporate domination and the Pentagon.  Here it is.

Monday, May 28, 2012

ANGRY & DETERMINED IN QUEBEC

MEMORIALIZING WAR

Our combined Greater Bunswick PeaceWorks and Veterans for Peace members were in the local Memorial Day parade today.  Out of 48 entrees in the parade they once again put us near the end at the 42nd slot.

We've renamed our Maine Veterans for Peace chapter after Tom Sturtevant and his daughter carried one side of our VFP banner today.  He would have been very proud of her as he never missed being in the parade until his unexpected passing last winter.  Tom is terribly missed by all of us.

During the course of the parade, that begins in the town of Topsham and passes through Brunswick, I saw four people turn their backs on us.  One woman in this small group yelled right at me, "If it wasn't for those who died you wouldn't be able to walk."  It's really quite a mistake to believe that our soldiers die so that we can hit the streets back at home.  In fact during all my years as an activist I've never seen any military people come to our aid when cops and local governments have tried to limit our ability to publicly protest.  It has been the movement lawyers and activists themselves who have often been beaten and gone to jail that keep our freedoms of speech and assembly alive.

Most of the parade is a bunch of feel good nationalistic hoo-hah.  Memorializing war does nothing but keep the support for wars going.  It's fiction that they are honoring the troops.  I saw yesterday in the local paper that 50% of the soldiers coming back from current wars are filing disability claims but there is not enough money in the federal budget to support them.  Once they are finished with active duty they are largely forgotten.  Note the epidemic of suicides today with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11% of the general adult population.

The most touching moment this morning was after the parade was over and we were making our way back to our cars.  A young woman stopped me and said, "Thank you so much for doing this today.  My husband has just been deployed for 15 months."

Like most of those with family members in the military today this woman just wants her husband to come home - the sooner the better. For most GI's it's just a job.  The patriotic jive has become increasingly meaningless to growing numbers of troops and the public.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

FUKUSHIMA RADIATING ALL OF US




Dr. Michio Kaku, a founding member of the Global Network in 1992, is extensively featured in this video report.

Stop all nuclear power on Earth and for space operations as well.

DEMOCRATS SHOW THEIR TRUE COLORS AGAIN


I've spent my entire adult life trying to rein in the Pentagon budget in order that social progress could be maintained and flourish across the land.

Today's headline in the Washington Post makes my blood boil: Panetta warns both parties on defense budget cuts

The article begins:  Defense [War] Secretary Leon Panetta said in an interview broadcast Sunday that looming cuts to the defense budget would be “disastrous” for national security and urged Republicans and Democrats to work together to avoid a budget showdown.

Yes, Leon Panetta, the "good California liberal Democrat" and former member of Congress shows his real colors here - and may I say - the colors of his party.  When push comes to shove the Democrats always find a way to stand alongside the Republicans to do two essential things in the U.S. Congress.  First they bail out Wall Street and secondly they continue the wars and keep Pentagon budgets busting at the seams.  Even if it means the dissolution of social programs.  They call it bi-partisanship.

In the end Panetta, and the military industrial complex, will prevail.  They will circumvent required cuts in military spending and as a result there will be further attacks on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, mental health programs, public education, environmental programs and the like.

The aggressive militarism that supports corporate globalization must come first - at all costs.  To hell with the rest of us.  We are all being brought onto the reservation now.  When it comes to budget making - the people are the enemy now.  Except of course on April 15 (Tax Day) when the corporate dominated government is more than happy to scoop up the tax collections and funnel them into the maw of the Pentagon.

How in God's name could I ever consider voting for one of these Democrats in the coming election?  Spend my life organizing to stop endless war and then go and hand my consent back to the same party that says it would be "disastrous" to cut the Pentagon budget.

No f_ _ _ ing way!

The Democrats are a damn disaster.

SUNDAY SONG