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, July 07, 2012

MORE OCCUPY COVERAGE



Details the visioning process at Philly national Occupy gathering.

UNDERSTANDING FRACKING



An original investigative report by Earth Focus and UK's Ecologist Film Unit looks at the risks of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale. From toxic chemicals in drinking water to unregulated interstate dumping of potentially radioactive waste that experts fear can contaminate water supplies in major population centers including New York City, are the health consequences worth the economic gains?

Marcellus Shale contains enough natural gas to supply all US gas needs for 14 years. But as gas drilling takes place, using a process called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," toxic chemicals and methane gas seep into drinking water. Now experts fear that unacceptable levels of radioactive Radium 226 in gas development waste.

Fracking chemicals are linked to bone, liver and breast cancers, gastrointestinal, circulatory, respiratory, developmental as well as brain and nervous system disorders. Such chemicals are present in frack waste and may find their way into drinking water and air.

Waste from Pennsylvania gas wells -- waste that may also contain unacceptable levels of radium -- is routinely dumped across state lines into landfills in New York, Ohio and West Virginia. New York does not require testing waste for radioactivity prior to dumping or treatment. So drill cuttings from Pennsylvania have been dumped in New York's Chemung and other counties and liquid waste is shipped to treatment plants in Auburn and Watertown New York. How radioactive is this waste? Experts are calling are for testing to find out.

New York State may have been the first state in the nation to put a temporary hold on fracking pending a safety review, but it allows other states to dump toxic frack waste within its boundaries.

With a gas production boom underway in the Marcellus Shale and plans for some 400,000 wells in the coming decades, the cumulative impact of dumping potential lethal waste without adequate oversight is a catastrophe waiting to happen. And now U.S. companies are exporting fracking to Europe.

Friday, July 06, 2012

CRITICAL LOOK AT OCCUPY



Wednesday marked America's Independence Day and the Occupy Wall Street movement took to the streets of Philadelphia, PA. The day known as "The National Gathering" drew occupiers from all over the country to plan the future of the movement, but critics believe the numbers that showed up were less than satisfactory, so is the Occupy Wall Street movement fading away? Arun Gupta, founding editor for The Indypendent, joins RT with what he saw in Philly.

My View:   I share many of Gupta's concerns about Occupy needing to mature.  I would venture that about 1,000 people at the most passed through Philadelphia while I was there. (The local media called it a bust because Occupy had predicted 10,000 would be there.  Shows the dangers of making crowd predictions to the media.)  Many of them came to play and socialize with their Occupy peers.  There were also many serious activists there who spent a good amount of time in circles discussing strategy and the like.  But things were not well organized.  Several times I went to the "information" table inside Franklin Park to ask when the next demonstration was going to take off and no one seemed to know.  One day I was able to eventually march (but it began an hour late missing the early rush hour traffic) and on the second day I was there I missed the demo altogether while I was sitting in the park waiting for it to start.  No announcement was made.  It just seemed to slide off onto the street and it was not announced within the park.  Confusing to say the least.

I saw the emails and Facebook reports about the "harsh police" who arrested 26 people when they late at night took over a street and refused to move.  But my experience was that the Philly police were quite calm and appeared to be trying to work with Occupy at every turn.  They did not armor up like I have seen done in so many other cities.  Instead most Philly cops were dressed in shorts and on their bicycles and were more concerned about dealing with traffic.  The heads of the police department were dressed in civilian clothes and were constantly talking with anyone who wished to speak with them - negotiating.  When the Veterans for Peace tent had to be moved off the Independence Mall on July 4 the police even brought a truck around to help VFP move all their stuff to another nearby location.  There were federal cops and Homeland Security there but the local Philly cops seemed to have kept them in their place and were calling the shots.  In one instance my friend Bob Smith (longtime local Philly peace organizer) said a federal cop got in his face and the Philly police told the fed to back off.  I don't think it does our movement any good to trash cops when they had in fact mostly been acting like we'd hope they would.

The essence of Occupy though is what happens locally all over the country.  I know that in some communities Occupy has basically died.  In others there is still good local activity going on.  Here in Brunswick Occupy still protests on the street each week and meets afterward.  They just had a big presence in the Bath July 4 parade.  (I hope to have some video of that on here soon.)  So I don't see Occupy being able to come up with some "big national plan".  Instead for Occupy to continue to be relevant it must continue to be active in local communities working on issues of importance in those towns and cities.  No one expects that they should retake the parks again.  That strategy has passed.  What matters now is can people move on to something more than playing grab-ass with the police?  The cat-and-mouse game with the cops is not a political strategy.  It is a sign of political immaturity.

The idea is to organize the increasingly frustrated and abandoned bunch of folks across the nation who have been cast to the side by the oligarchy.  Time will tell if Occupy can find good ways to keep reaching out.

Another Opinion:  Here is what Rob Kall, who lives in Philly area and runs Op-Ed News, has to say about Occupy.  

People wonder what the future of the Occupy movement is. I left the gathering very optimistic and hopeful. The energy, creativity, dedication and passion manifested by all ages is extraordinary. The encampments are gone. So be it. The future of occupy is in the people already in it and those who discover it and who the current people awaken, who will act as catalysts, moving the people of the world from a top down culture of dinosaurs to a bottom up, horizontal, direct democracy world of little mammals. That's how evolution happened. That's how the  metamorphosis of Occupy will shake the world and, from the bottom up, make the biggest changes seen since civilization began.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

UNHAPPY AT MDA


Missile Defense Chief Accused of Being a Toxic Boss 

By Spencer Ackerman 

A Defense Department investigation has recommended disciplinary action against the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency for verbally harassing his subordinates.

The Pentagon’s inspector general has found that Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly’s behavior as the military’s missile defense chief was “inconsistent with standards expected of senior army leaders,” according to Danger Room pal Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy.

O’Reilly would unleash a hailstorm of expletives on his staff for even minor infractions. When an unnamed staffer booked the general’s retinue in a hotel with “resort” in its title, O’Reilly profanely yelled in the lobby for at least 10 minutes, demanding the staffer admit s/he “fucked up.” The general was concerned that the media would portray the Missile Defense Agency as profligate.

He might have been more concerned about hemorrhaging staff. In his nearly four years as director, numerous staff members quit the agency because of his management style, a fact O’Reilly did not dispute to investigators even as he defended himself. O’Reilly would “berate you, make you feel like you’re the dirt beneath his feet,” a witness told the inspector general. Another said O’Reilly once threatened to “fucking choke me” in frustration.


Choking seems to be a particular preoccupation of O’Reilly’s. In June 2009, he allegedly said he would “gladly choke” a witness during a staff meeting. On another occasion, O’Reilly allegedly told a participant in a teleconference, “If I could get my hands through the phone right now I’d choke your fucking throat.”

According to the investigation, staffers would say “pass, sir” during meetings instead of risking an O’Reilly eruption. “You don’t tell the boss the truth if it’s bad,” one witness told the investigators.

O’Reilly defended himself by saying that he was trying to introduce accountability into an agency that had “a very negative command climate,” the investigation stated. He shut down many large projects, which O’Reilly claims his staff personalized. It’s worth noting that inspector general doesn’t accuse O’Reilly of mismanaging the Missile Defense Agency, which is one of the most lavish-spending commands in the military.

But it most certainly says that O’Reilly created a command climate of fear, in violation of military regulations demanding officers treat their subordinates with dignity. O’Reilly is on his way out of the agency as it is. But “We recommend to the Secretary of the Army consider appropriate corrective action with regard to LTG O’Reilly,” the inspector general’s report states.

TANK-LESS IN COLORADO



Lone protester, local  hairdresser Sid Lewis in Paonia, Colorado, stopped the July 4th parade led by tank owned by Bill Koch (Koch brothers fame) who owns area coal mines and is at root of fracking efforts in this peaceful valley. Fighting fires isn't enough. Paonia residents have to fight Koch billions too. Holding a sign reading 'Democracy Bought & Sold' and 'Trying to buy the planet, or just take it?', Sid stood in front of the approaching tank which led the parade and forced it to stop. He was finally shoved out of the way, but next he stood in front of Bill Koch's Hummer and that didn't stop... tried to run him down. He stood his ground until he couldn't any longer.

Following the parade, a man rushed him and said, "You're gonna get a bullet right between the eyes." But, later, as Sid stood over the 'recycling' 'compost' and 'landfill' bins educating people about trash, he received many comments of gratitude and praise.  It won't make national news, and maybe not even the Paonia paper... but, it should.

Update:   The Denver Post did end up covering this story.  See it here

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

PUSHING DRONES


I sat under the Veterans for Peace canopy this morning and talked to many of the young Occupy folks who passed by our spot on their way to the primary gathering place in Franklin Park.  I was there about three hours before a young woman approached us carrying a large painting.  Turns out she spent the entire night painting this scene of a night sky with 50 stars, fields with amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and a masked woman holding a banner that said that the blood we shed is for each other and not our nation.

She told us that she had a vision of the painting last night and wanted to paint it for us veterans.  All of us were very moved by her incredible artwork but even more so we were impressed with her loving spirit.  She asked us all to sign her diary.  The picture will be delivered to the next VFP convention in Miami in August.

Around 11am the huge July 4 parade began down Market St. and ended just after 1:00 pm.  As the parade was ending about 30 of us got behind a replica of a Predator drone (1/5 the actual size) that was mounted on a wheeled display.  We pushed the drone up and down the street and it was followed by people with signs, banners, and a bunch of white VFP flags.  Once the streets were reopened we crossed onto Independence Mall and circled around the area that was packed with tourists.  Pushing a drone, with replicas of Hellfire missiles mounted on it, gets the public's attention.

After wheeling the drone around for a good while in the blazing sun we returned to a still busy street corner and held a short rally with music and speakers.  I said a few words but cut them short because the temperature felt like it was about 120 degrees on the hot sidewalk.

I head back home in the morning on the train.  I was sorry I missed the parade in my own community today.  I heard that more than 30 people turned out for the joint PeaceWorks-Occupy contingent with an anti-corporate message in the Bath parade.  Thousands attend that parade and its a tough audience since so many of them work at the shipyard building destroyers. 

NO MOO NUKES



A giant cow and lots of people go after Vermont's aging, leaking, nuclear power plant. Who will speak for the cows?  They can't eat radioactive grass.  Ask the Fukushima cows........

Go solar not radioactive.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

IMAGES OF A DAY


  • During one circle under the shade of trees in Franklin Square Park a group called Guitarmy sat with guitars and banjos and talked about how to make meaningful music during a time when the music scene is controlled by a profit driven industry that is only interested in song lyrics like "bitches, blondes and big screen TV's."  You can learn more about them at www.occupymusicians.com
  • Free vegan pizza was served at the Occupy gathering in the park and alongside the street a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream truck was giving away free cups of the good stuff - three flavors to pick from.
  • At the Friends Meeting House in center city the bulk of Occupy folks are sleeping in the parking lot and in the ditches by the Quaker compound wall.  The ground is rough dirt.  Just feet away is a nice green lawn in front of the Quaker Meeting House but the campers don't appear to be welcome on the soft and clean grass.
  • A free Mumia Abu-Jamal tent was set up today right next to the veterans tent on the Independence Mall.  From 1:00-6:00 pm legendary Pam Africa from Philadelphia's Move organization led a rally.  By 6:00 pm a large group had gathered to hear rap, drumming, and speeches.  One African-American activist from Occupy Hood said, "No more sitting around waiting for the black messiah.  We got to decolonize the hood."  She said July 4 was not about "celebrating Independence day but the power of the people."
  • Just across the street from Independence Mall is a big building with a food court and tourist shops inside.  I went in there at one point today to get out of the heat.  I noticed one older woman with her family.  Later on while back outside at the veterans tent on the mall I saw the woman and her family walk by.  When she saw the protesters she gave a very disapproving shake of her head at us.  All around us is a plastic tourist version of revolution and celebration of the rich elite rebelling against the British.  We've been trained to glorify the rich "founding fathers" and most citizens know virtually nothing about the real origins of our "democracy".  The woman showing her disapproval of a living revolution happening in her midst as she consumes the plastic interpretation is the real story of this experience in Philly.

BLOCKING DRONE BASE



This video captures the essence of a civil resistance action against drone warfare at Hancock Air Field, Syracuse, NY.  The organizers hope it will be viewed as a "how to" film and inspire others to take action and resist the criminality of drone warfare.

In drone related news:

Researchers at the University of Texas have hijacked a civilian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) by spoofing its GPS signals, warning that UAVs could potentially be turned into missiles.

Professor Todd Humphreys and his team were able to take control of a mini helicopter UAV by sending out a GPS signal more powerful than the ones coming down from satellites. They hijacked the drone on June 25, at the request of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Monday, July 02, 2012

MARCHING IN PHILLY

At Franklin Square Park today several hundred people gathered to hear speeches and hold workshops in the hot Philly weather.  Water was kindly shared by everyone all day long.

One African-American woman, Gina McGill from Madison, Alabama, gave a moving talk where she called the 1% who control the nation and the world sadistic and evil.  "It's time for us to deal with the whole octupus instead of just it tentacles," she said.  McGill called for a real democracy that truly included and belonged to the 99%.  I couldn't help but see the irony as she spoke just blocks away from Constitution Hall where the rich white oligarcy once framed a new nation that excluded blacks, women, and the landless peasants who really built this nation.

One activist who spoke said, "Occupy is becoming a giant think tank" for the people where education and movement happens out in the open.

An artist sat in a cardboard box all day long painting Occupy art and his box was labeled "Get outside of your box."

I was impressed with a retired communication union member from New York who was part of Occupy there.  He held a large union flag and talked to anyone who would listen about the corporate consolidation of the tele-communications industry.

At 5:00 pm about 300 people began a two-hour march through the rush hour streets of center city.  Traffic was stopped and large throngs of people watched us march by as they waited for their city buses which were also blocked by the march.  Many of them took photos on their cells phones - a good number waved or smiled but many were not happy that we had delayed their trip home after a long day of work.

Mid-way through the march about 50 Communication Workers of America (CWA) joined us and we marched to the office buildings of Comcast and then Verizon.

The march was led mostly by a young and ethnically diverse crowd.  I was impressed by their skill in leading the group through the city and they showed great strength and determination.  They appear to be in this for the long haul.

Our Veterans Peace Team had a good contingent in the march and it felt good to be with them.

I must acknowledge that the police really played it right today, concentrating on traffic control and not giving us a hard time at all.  They were mostly dressed in shorts and on bicycles and kept a low profile.  Very unusual these days.  


Sunday, July 01, 2012

HEADING TO PHILLY


I am on the train from Boston to Philadelphia where I will join the expected 10,000 people who will gather to breathe life back into the Occupy movement.

The photo above comes from Philly where last night this image was put onto the front wall of Independence Hall where things took shape during the first American revolution.  The second American revolution has come here to reclaim democracy which has now been drowned by the corporations that rule the roost these days.

According to an Occupy news release issued today:

The Occupy National Gathering kicked off on June 30th, 2012 with a myriad of workshops, speakers, and a peaceful march against corporate personhood, making stops at Wells Fargo [Bank] to protest racist predatory lending, Fox News to confront corporate profit at the expense of the peoples' airwaves, and ended with an attempt to set up a space away from Independence Mall - in a park behind the Second Bank of the United States, located at 4th and Chestnut. This was promptly -- and brutally -- followed by a National Park Service raid, which included the assistance of the Philadelphia police department, on approximately 150--200 people peacefully assembled for a redress of political grievances. The raid resulted in one arrest.
I will be staying at the home of a Global Network friend who lives near the center of the city.  Early in the morning the Veterans for Peace Team will meet and from there it should be a busy and exciting time.  One reporter wrote that "I don't know that I've ever seen so many different varieties of police at an action-- local park police, USA Park Rangers, US Marshals, Philly Police-- even someone wearing a Department of Justice cap."

It was the same story in Chicago - they brought in tons of federal, state, and local police.  That appears to be the strategy every time we gather to protest these days.  Massive police presence and early assaults on protesters that gets big media coverage all intended to frighten the public and keep them away from the "rabble".

TURN SILENT WEEPING INTO PUBLIC OUTCRY

 Dongwon spent seven hours on the dredging barge and now is in jail
 Father Moon - defiant always
 Returning home after a long day protecting nature


How long can the soft coral reefs survive the unforgiving dredging barge?

How long can the aquatic life survive the pollution that comes from building this insane Navy base?

How can people justify destroying nature just to get a pay check?

Has our addiction to materialism become so strong that our hearts no longer feel our connection to nature?

Why are so many so silent as we witness, day-by-day this ecocide?

Who will let their silent weeping turn to public outcry?

SUNDAY SONG