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

Friday, August 24, 2012

SAMSUNG IS BAD NEWS

  • The Washington Post reports today that "After a year of scorched-earth litigation, a jury decided Friday that Samsung ripped off the innovative technology used by Apple to create its revolutionary iPhone and iPad. The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion. An appeal is expected."
  • Samsung also has a construction division and is the lead contractor for the Navy base on Jeju Island in South Korea.  They are now blasting the sacred rocky coast and will pour cement over the abundant life that lives between the rocks.  Samsung has also begun the process of dredging the seabed to make it possible to bring the big U.S. warships into the proposed base.  This dredging process will tragically harm the endangered soft coral reefs just off the coast.
  • Samsung has a long and dirty record of mistreating their non-union workforce where many electronics workers have died or become very ill from unregulated exposure to toxic chemicals used when building these expensive gadgets.
  • What can you do about all this?  Boycott all Samsung products and tell others to do the same.
  •  Yesterday, Nicholson Baker, the acclaimed author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, uploaded his first YouTube video. It's a recording of "Jeju Island Song," which Baker wrote as a plea to stop the construction of a military base in Gangjeong village.  You can listen to it here

WHY SO MANY SUICIDES IN MILITARY?

Our officers kill more U.S. troops than the Taliban

Record suicides prove our right to refuse to fight

August 23, 2012
By Michael Prysner
The author is a former corporal in the U.S. Army and a veteran of the Iraq war.

The U.S. Army revealed that July yielded the highest number of active-duty soldier suicides on record, with 38 in just a single month (this number does not include other branches of service, or Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who commit suicide once they get out of the military).

In the same month, 30 U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, the highest number in a single month so far this year, who should have never been sent to their deaths in the first place.
Suicides outpacing combat deaths has been a reality for years. In 2008, 2009 and 2010 there were more suicides in the active-duty Army than there were killed in Afghanistan.

Those who took their own lives, in reality, did not kill themselves. Our psychological bleeding started when we were sent by lying, crooked politicians to occupy a civilian population against their will. Once the bleeding started, they were killed by the long-exposed willful negligence by the military chain-of-command and millionaire politicians who refuse to address the suicide crisis and say there’s “not enough money” for adequate mental health services (all while they write blank checks to multi-billion-dollar defense contractors.)

The suicide epidemic and failure crisis in Army mental health is not a new story. The military brass and politicians in Washington have been well-aware, with intense public pressure, that urgent, emergency action is needed to stop the daily (yes, daily) suicide of active-duty troops.

But, their response to the epidemicbeing experienced by those they pat on the back and say “we support the troops” when they send us to warhas not only been complete inaction in making necessary changes to address the crisis, but in fact trying harder to deny treatment for PTSD and sweep the problem under the rug.

Our officers are the real enemy and danger to our lives

The worst offenders have been our own commanding officers. It is a known fact that general officers have ordered their subordinate Army psychologists to not diagnose soldiers with PTSD in order to keep those soldiers eligible to deploy to combat again, and to deny them compensation and treatment that “wastes taxpayer money.” Soldiers can literally walk into a mental health clinic on base with documented combat experience and trauma, tell the doctor they want to commit suicide, beg for help, and be told they are fine and sent back to their unit.

In addition to scandals over denying a legitimate diagnosis and treatment, the officer corps is responsible for creating a culture of harassment, intimidation and shame for those seeking help for PTSD. Anyone serving in today’s military knows the reality for traumatized troops; they are called a “malingerers,” told they are lying, are publicly berated and shamed in their units for seeking help, forced to deploy again and even formally punished for their symptoms.

Even if a soldier is lucky enough to get diagnosed and medically discharged with PTSD, the officer-run discharge process can take years and is so notoriously grueling, unfair, uncaring and stressful, that it is more likely to drive soldiers closer to suicide.

The officers’ facilitation of criminally negligent and inadequate treatment, coupled with the encouraged, open culture of shame and intimidation for those seeking help, it is no surprise that so many resort to suicide. Yet, every time these shocking statistics come out, the officers scratch their heads and say “we have no idea why this is happening!”

Sometimes they reveal their true feelings, like top commander at Fort Bliss, Major General Dana Pittard, who said in an official blog post “I’m personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess... suicide is an absolutely selfish act... be an adult and deal with your problems like the rest of us.”

Just like when a police department investigates itself for its own acts of misconduct, it’s no surprise the officer corps absolves themselves of all responsibility when their blatant misconduct is in the spotlight.

If a soldier was lying on the battlefield with a bullet wound and their commanding officer accused that soldier of lying, made fun of them, and did not allow the medic to treat the wound, that officer would (maybe) be disciplined when that soldier died. But when they do the same exact thing to wounded troops with PTSD, on a massive scale with hundreds now needlessly lost to suicide, they don’t even get a slap on the wrist.

And if a commanding officer was known to deny wounded soldiers on the battlefield a tourniquet or field dressing to make them needlessly bleed to death, it would be perfectly reasonable and accepted for the soldiers under him to refuse their orders into combat. The situation with suicide and PTSD is no different. 

The 38 Army suicides in July are the direct result of the actions of the officers who are in control of our lives. And with 30 soldiers killed in action in July, it reveals that in reality our own officers are more a danger to our lives than the so-called “enemy.”

There is a way out

Also in July, along with the highest suicides on record, the most revealing Pentagon-funded study on military suicides was released. Dozens of soldiers who had attempted suicide and failed were polled about why they did so. The conclusion was this: “It’s not that people who attempt suicide want to harm themselves... but they want the pain they’re in to stop and they don’t see any other way out.”

This reveals plainly and conclusively that the unwillingness and inability of the officer corps to treat psychologically traumatized soldiers with any dignity or fairness, locking them in a maze of a broken health care system with cruel harassment to top it off, feeling that there is no escape from that nightmare but death, is the reason we’re killing ourselves at the rate of one per day.

But the number one reason for suicidethe common belief among service members that there’s “no other way outisn’t true.

In late June, March Forward! launched a new campaign called ‘Our Lives Our Rights,’ designed to help service members collectively fight-back against the reckless orders of the officers and politicians, specifically helping them get out of the military and resist orders to Afghanistan.

The reality is, there is a way out. The way out is understanding that the officers that control our lives are powerless in the face of a united movement of active-duty troops and veterans collectively standing up for our rights. The way out is publicly demanding, alongside other troops, adequate mental health treatment, and exposing the broken system. The way out is exercising our right to become a conscientious objector, entitling one to an honorable discharge with full benefits. The way out is going AWOL, denouncing the military command for being responsible, and fighting the charges in court with a support network behind us.

Dozens of service members saw these ways out and exercised their rights. But not just for themselves; they formed the Our Lives Our Rights campaign to reach-out to other troops who think they’re trapped and to help them do the same.

This suicide epidemic makes crystal clear that our officers and “elected” leaders care nothing about our lives, and especially not the lives of those we’re told we’re “liberating.”  It proves that combat vets have the absolute right to refuse to deploy to war againbut more importantly, it proves that service members who have not yet deployed have the absolute right to refuse to go to Afghanistan to get PTSD in the first place. It's a war we have no reason to fight, against people who are not our real enemies.

Our leaders have shown for years that all we can expect from them is more reckless orders to a bloody, unpopular war against people who we have no reason to fight, and more neglect and mistreatment when we get home.

The suicide crisis will only be solved by the collective action of service members and veterans themselves. No solution will come from our chain-of-commandthe solution is fighting our chain-of-command.

To learn more about the Our Lives Our Rights campaign, how to get help, or how to get involved, visit www.OurLivesOurRights.org.

FACES IN THE RAIN


Sometimes you have to click more than once to start this video

Regina Pyon writes from South Korea:
Heavy rain fall. . .and so beautiful "faces" of Gangjeong. . .Scenes that filmmaker  Dunguree "dedicates to those who oppose the war bases of the world."

DRILLING IN ARCTIC



The Obama Administration has just given Shell a tentative go-ahead to begin drilling this summer off the coastline of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — the polar bear's most important onshore denning ground in Alaska. According to the government’s own estimates, there's a very real danger of at least one major oil spill if Shell moves forward with full-scale production. Even worse, the oil industry has no proven method for cleaning up oil in the Arctic's ice-filled waters. So the death toll of oil-soaked and poisoned polar bears, whales and seals would be unimaginable.

-Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., NRDC Senior Attorney

Thursday, August 23, 2012

TAMPA COPS PLAY RIOT WITH EACH OTHER



The Republican national convention begins in Tampa next week and 15,000 journalists are expected to be there to cover the very boring event.

Cops from around Florida will pour into Tampa to join the police state that will be established there to make sure that any real displays of democratic action are few and far between.

Already the cops and media and pumping the public with fear about anarchist bombings and such.  Same modus operandi (MO) they always use.

Notice at the end the "protesters" chant USA, USA.....not a chant we usually do.  And see them throwing the green tennis balls.  Nice touch.

Just a couple things missing though - no pepper spray and head busting.  I guess they are saving that for the real citizens.

NEW FILM FROM SWEDEN

 
This is the trailer for the Swedish documentary From Sweden with Love. Five activists decide to break into Swedish arms factories to disarm weapons. Sweden is one of the biggest exporters of arms in the world today. The year 2011, weapons were shipped out for a total sum of 13.9 billion SEK. Among these importers you will find countries that are already in war or violate human rights. The activists quit their jobs, leave their homes and get ready to fight for their belief. If they succeed they are not only risking being sent to prison but also getting huge damages.

For ordering details contact Tove Rasander at  info@rethinkproduction.se

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

THE PLAN


PLANES OVERHEAD

  • The Air Force Thunderbirds have been practicing over our heads for the past two days as they try to pump up the jam for the big airshow this weekend.  Several folks have told me they called the town of Brunswick to complain and were told "you are the only one that has called".  I know it is a lie because I've already heard from half-a-dozen folks who made the call and were told the same thing.  It's a trick ('you are the only one who feels this way so give up') politicians always use to demobilize the public.
  • Yesterday, much to our delight, the local Times Record newspaper printed our Veterans for Peace news release and the Stop Recruiting Our Children for War banner on page three.  A nice way to be sure that the community sees that there is indeed opposition to these expensive, polluting, and recruiting gimmick spectacles.
  • This morning I interviewed renowned peace activist Kathy Kelly on my public access TV show.  Then she came over to our house for lunch and we had a good organizing strategy conversation.  During my interview with Kathy I asked her why she thinks the U.S. is staying in Afghanistan.  Her answer:  China.  (Check out a map.) She is also now talking about the jobs issue and the fact that local communities are becoming addicted to Pentagon $$$$$.  Good to hear her make those connections.
  • Kathy speaks tonight at the library in Brunswick.  Her appearance will be a good building event coming just days before the airshow.  Americans get upset when fighter bombers fly over our heads for a few minutes.  Imagine if we lived in places where they fly day and night and drop bombs on us as well.

FBI ARE THE ONES BREAKING THE LAW



Richard Aoki was a militant activist and armed the Black Panthers, but turned out to be an FBI informant at the very same time. This information was made public after an investigation by Seth Rosenfield revealed FOIA documents that verify these claims by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Aoki committed suicide in 2009, but today many questions remain, such as to what extent did the FBI know the man was arming the Black Panthers? Trevor Aaronson, author of the "Terror Factory," discusses the slippery slope between the FBI creating criminals and catching them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

CLICK ONCE FOR JEJU ISLAND


  • National and international support for Jeju Island is growing dramatically.  Today, thanks to David Swanson, a team of groups is putting out an email appeal that will reach tens of thousands of people around the world.  We are asking folks to click here and send a message to Samsung Corporation (the lead contractor building the Navy base in Gangjeong village) and the World Conservation Congress (WCC).  The WCC will be held next week on Jeju Island and will bring 7,000 environmental activists to that event.  Korean environmental and peace groups have implored the WCC to take a strong stand against the destruction to nature that the Navy base will bring.  The WCC, in part funded by Samsung and other corporate giants, officially has taken a dive on the issue.
  • The groups sponsoring this email event today are:  Save Jeju Island; Gangjeong village, Jeju Island, South Korea; Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space; Veterans For Peace; Voices for Creative Nonviolence; Fellowship of Reconciliation; and Environmentalists Against War.
  • In recent months an international team of organizers have been working hard to secure the ability to reach as many of those 7,000 WCC delegates as possible.  The process has been bearing fruit.  One group of bio-ethicists has volunteered to draft a powerful resolution and to bring it to the entire WCC body calling for an end to the Navy base.  It will be fascinating to see how Samsung and the South Korean right-wing government try to kill this expression of international will.
  • The villagers will be working hard during the WCC (Sept 6-15) to pass literature to the environmental delegates and to hire buses to take many of those delegates to see the desecration of the village and nature for themselves. 
  • The peace community globally is increasingly on the ball when it comes to the Jeju issue.  But the environmental community has been slow to engage.  This current international effort to bring the Jeju issue to WCC activists could bear positive results.  Please click once for Jeju.

MINING THE SKY



Here is an interview with a proponent of privatizing space for resource extraction.

The aerospace corporations are eager to mine the sky for precious minerals.

One key element in all of this will be nuclear powered mining colonies on the Moon, Mars and asteroids.  The nuclear industry is eager for this space market to expand.  Imagine though what happens when launch failures happen, as they surely will, and plutonium rains down on our heads.

One big area of conflict is ownership - who can own the planetary bodies?  The Outer Space and Moon treaties at the United Nations say that no individual, no corporation, nor any country can claim ownership of any planetary body.  The U.S. never signed the Moon Treaty - I wonder why?

Imagine the conflict coming from an unregulated, frontier mentality that is now being promoted for space.

Monday, August 20, 2012

AWARD WINNING FILM NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE



Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space is a documentary film by Denis Delestrac with a music score by Amon Tobin. The film deals with the issue of space weapons and their politics, featuring interviews with several key United States military personal, academics such as Noam Chomsky and others, including Martin Sheen. The film won the Best Documentary award at the 2009 Whistler Film Festival and has been selected in a number of international film festivals

The prospect of Earth being ruled from space is no longer science-fiction. The dream of the original Dr. Strangelove, Wernher von Braun (from Nazi rocket-scientist to NASA director) has survived every US administration since WW2 and is coming to life. Today the technology exists to weaponize space, a massive American industry thrives, and nations are maneuvering for advantage.

Pax Americana tackles this pivotal moment. Are war machines already orbiting Earth? Can treaties keep space weapons-free? Must the world capitulate to one super-cop on the global beat?

With startling archival footage and unprecedented access to US Air Force Space Command, this elegant, forceful documentary reveals the state of play through generals, space-policy analysts, politicians, diplomats, peace activists, and hawks.

WORDS FROM PUSSY RIOT

Punk Prayer, English version by Carol Rumens

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish Putin, banish Putin,
Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish him, we pray thee!

Congregations genuflect,
Black robes brag gilt epaulettes,
Freedom's phantom's gone to heaven,
Gay Pride's chained and in detention.
KGB's chief saint descends
To guide the punks to prison vans.
Don't upset His Saintship, ladies,
Stick to making love and babies.

Crap, crap, this godliness crap!
Crap, crap, this holiness crap!

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
Be a feminist, we pray thee,
Be a feminist, we pray thee.

Bless our festering bastard-boss.
Let black cars parade the Cross.
The Missionary's in class for cash.
Meet him there, and pay his stash.
Patriarch Gundy believes in Putin.
Better believe in God, you vermin!
Fight for rights, forget the rite –
Join our protest, Holy Virgin.

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish Putin, banish Putin,
Virgin Mary, Mother of God, we pray thee, banish him!

WHY?


SUBVERTING CHILDREN'S PLAYFUL NATURE

Veterans for Peace Unveils Airshow Protest Banner
March & Vigil Planned in Brunswick on August 25

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Bruce Gagnon   443-9502   globalnet@mindspring

Maine Veterans for Peace (VFP)  has unveiled a beautiful protest banner created by Maine artists Natasha Mayers and Nora Tryon that will be used on Saturday, August 25 during the march and vigil opposing the Air Force Thunderbirds airshow in Brunswick.  The banner reads "Stop Recruiting Our Children for War" and shows children's playful nature being subverted for militarism.

The march will begin at 9:00 am at the corner of Main St & Bath Road in Brunswick and end at the front gate of the former Naval air station.  There the group will hold a vigil until noon as people drive into the airfield.

According to VFP protest organizer Bruce Gagnon, "We hear from many people in the greater community complaining about the noise and pollution from these expensive propaganda shows that are ultimately intended to serve as tools to recruit the next generation for war.  Last year our airshow protest was led by VFP founding member Tom Sturtevant who served in the Navy on an aircraft carrier during the Korean War.  He worked for years to end military recruitment in our public schools.  He passed away last winter and our protest this year is in his memory."

Veterans for Peace maintains that the Thunderbird warplanes drop bombs and kill women and children as well as soldiers.  They contend that these airshows glorify war and mislead impressionable young people.

The protest is being sponsored by the following organizations: 

Maine Veterans for Peace, CodePink Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, Peace Action Maine, Pax Christi Maine, Episcopal Peace Fellowship-Maine Chapter, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, PeaceWorks, Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home

- End -

Sunday, August 19, 2012

SPREADING THE MESSAGE


I went to Warren, Maine yesterday to Steve Burke's barn where Lisa Savage (CodePink Maine and co-coordinator of the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home) and I gathered to help print T-shirts.

Steve has lived on his farm since the mid-1970's and for many years ran a T-shirt making business from his barn.  A few years ago he gave up the biz and sold all of his high-tech equipment but kept a hand apparatus for making shirts for times just like yesterday.

At our last meeting of the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign we decided to buy a couple hundred shirts and print them with the great design done by Maine artist Nora Tryon.  It's our most popular image.  So yesterday Steve printed them and Lisa and I hung them to dry. 

We'll take them to the Common Ground Country Fair September 21-23 where we will share a space with Veterans for Peace.  We are going to ask just $5 for the shirts because we want folks to buy them and be walking all over the fair with this message.

Today Lisa sent a some of the shirts to folks who will be protesting at the Republican and Democrat national conventions coming up real soon in North Carolina and Florida.  Our goal is for the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign message to keep popping up all over the place.  We recently printed up several hundred bumperstickers with the same message as well.  We'll have them at the fair as well.

SUNDAY SONG