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....
- Name: Bruce K. Gagnon
- Location: Bath, Maine, United States
Saturday, October 20, 2012
OUR OCCUPY FRIEND FACES FORECLOSURE
Occupied By Art is a neighborhood-based effort working to build community and save Maple Edge Studios (331 Middlesex Rd., Topsham, Maine) from foreclosure.
MORE BASES ON JEJU?
It is starting to look like Jeju Island will be turned into a national sacrifice area. Latest information reveals that there is growing concern and evidence that Air Force and Marine bases could be established on the "Peace Island". Here is the latest from a member of the National Assembly.
On Oct. 18, the issue raised in the National Assembly inspection on the Republic of Korea Air Force was on the ‘South zone search and rescue corps’ that is being discussed to be installed in the old but currently unused Alttre Air Field, Moseulpo.
Kim Jae-Yoon, Democratic United Party, a member of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly claimed that it is a tactic ultimately to build an Air Force Base. He claimed that the Jeju, Island of peace is at the risk to be degraded as the ‘Island of military base.’
Speaking at a Pentagon news briefing last June, Pacific Command commander Admiral Samuel J. Locklear said: “We’re not really interested in building any more U.S. bases in the Asia-Pacific." “We shouldn’t have to at this point in time. We have reliable partners and reliable allies, and together we should be able to find ways to—not only bilaterally, but in some cases to multilaterally—to be able to find these locations where we can put security forces that respond to a broad range of security issues.”
Translation: The U.S. is having the South Korean government build the Navy base on Jeju Island for us. A couple nights ago I was watching the local Congressional debate on TV and our Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (Democrat) was asked where we can cut the federal budget. Her answer was that we can cut back on some of the money we spend on foreign bases by getting our allies to build them for us. She didn't say we shouldn't have or use the bases for our military empire. This "liberal" instead said we should get others to pay the costs for us.
In the meantime the dredging of the ocean, just offshore from Gangjeong village continues. The protests at the Navy base destruction gates continue as well.
Friday, October 19, 2012
A DECENT MAN
George McGovern is nearing the end of his life. I voted for him when he ran for president in 1972 - my first vote. I also worked as a volunteer on his campaign. I put one of his bumperstickers on my desk at Travis AFB, California and went door to door off base in the evenings to help his campaign. What I learned first-hand was that the mainstream Democratic party operatives in California, and all over the country, virtually abandoned McGovern because they thought he was too radical.
McGovern's loss to Nixon was hard to swallow. In 1968, as a young 16 year old conservative, I supported Nixon. But by 1972 I had been transformed by joining the military during the Vietnam War. There was no turning back for me after that.
THE GOOD SPIRIT WORLD
- On Saturday evening I've been invited to speak in Portland to 140 students from throughout New England at a regional meeting of college chapters of Alpha Phi Omega (the community service fraternity). The theme is Team Work. Should be an interesting experience. I'll talk about a few different teams I've been on over the years and some of the glaring differences between them.
- On Sunday evening in Newton, Massachusetts I will speak at the First Unitarian Church, 1326 Washington Street at 7:00 pm. Topic is "How space technology coordinates all warfare on Earth." MB will come with me and we can stay at the home of her brother who lives in the area.
- Then come Monday I get on a plane in Boston and fly to South Dakota where I will go on a personal retreat until November 5. I will mostly spend time in the Black Hills, what the native people call the Paha Sapa - the heart of the Earth. I lived in this place for three years growing up when my dad was stationed at Ellsworth AFB outside of Rapid City. It was there I was first touched by native culture, history, and spirituality. My family moved many times in that nomadic military world but I always felt that this was my favorite place - the one that was hardest for me to leave. I've tried to go back there throughout my adult life as often as possible (not often enough) and each time I feel a sense of peace that I've found in few other places.
- I need to recharge my soul - it takes a toll on you doing this work day in and day out. I plan on doing alot of walking in the woods, reading, writing, and just a bit of thinking. As an organizer I am always thinking about strategy - how do we best reach the people and help move things in a better direction? These are hard times for us and in many ways the lens in which I view our present moment is colored by the way I see American history. The genocide of the Native Americans is essential to my world view. Our government determined that the Indians stood in the way of "progress" and had to be destroyed and their lands taken from them. Nature was a commodity. Today we see a corporate system that determines that because of job outsourcing for cheaper labor, robotics, mechanization, and computerization that loads of people are not needed - they are superfluous. I believe that in the U.S. the poor and the middle class are being brought onto the reservation.
- This 21st century reservation is a bit different. This time you get a credit card (indentured servitude), a color TV and a car. As long as you can keep making the minimum monthly payments you are OK. But when your job gets downsized or exported and you can't pay the bills you are going to be out on the street fending for yourself. Statistical evidence shows when this happens to people there is a direct correlation to diminished life span. Some might even call it a form of genocide - corporate style.
- One of my favorite stories is one about Sitting Bull, Sioux Leader and Medicine Man, who was forced to bring his band onto the reservation in 1881 because they were starving. (Just a few years before gold had been discovered in the Black Hills and the Army was sent in to clear a highway so miners and settlers could come.) The Army had systematically reduced the buffalo herds down to near nothing after they had invented new high-powered rifles that were used from trains to kill the buffalo - leaving them to rot on the plains. In 1884 Sitting Bull joined the Wild West Show for several months and visited many of the big cities along the East coast. While in the cities he would sit on a door stoop and homeless street kids and beggars came to ask him for money so they could eat. He gave many of his earnings from the Wild West Show to these people. When he returned to the Standing Rock reservation Sitting Bull told the people, "We are in big trouble. You should see how the white people treat their children."
- These are the threads that run through me - they create much emotion, outrage, a sense of solidarity, and love for the Earth. They also create an understanding of what this system of corporate capital is willing to do to the people. Like the Indians said, put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming.
- I am going to the Black Hills to reconnect with the good spirit world. I need it badly.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
HALF OF GREEK YOUTH UNEMPLOYED
Scenes of violence return to the streets of Athens where police have resorted to tear gas to disperse anti-austerity protesters. Thousands of Greeks voiced their anger over a new round of cuts being demanded by the country's lenders in exchange for another bailout payment. This coincides with a general strike that has seen tens of thousands of people walking off the job - for the second time this month. RT talks to Panagiotis Sotiris from the University of the Aegean.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
|Citizens for Peace in Space protesting outside Schriever Air Force Base (Star Wars base) in Colorado Springs during Keep Space for Peace Week. The base logo reads "Master of Space."|
- The controversy over Republican V-P candidate Rep. Paul Ryan's phony pot and pan washing at a Ohio soup kitchen over the weekend has got me going. He arrived with his family after the meal was over and all dishes were washed. Ryan, wife, and kids put on white kitchen aprons and he commenced to re-wash a couple steel serving pans. They mentioned the story on mainstream news last night but let him off the hook when the reporter claimed that Ryan "washed some dirty dishes". This is how they do it at corporate media central.
- Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her vice presidential running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested Tuesday outside the venue at Hofstra University where Obama and Mitt Romney met for their nationally televised mud wrestling match. I read this morning that both women were handcuffed to a metal chair in a remote police warehouse on Long Island for eight hours. Real threats to corporate capital. Stein-Honkala will be on 85% of state ballots in the upcoming election.
- The Pentagon is now preparing to deploy F-16 fighter bombers in Poland. The Russians are asking why? F-16's are able to carry nuclear bombs, which are currently stored at nine American depots in five countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey.
- One out of eight persons in prison on the entire planet Earth is African-American.
THIS REALLY PISSES ME OFF
Two weeks into the West Bank's annual olive harvest, Israeli settlers have destroyed hundreds of trees and attacked Palestinian farmers in what rights groups warn is a dangerous escalation of violence.
Israel, and their fanatical settlers, are committing genocide against the Palestinian people. It's got to stop.
Boycott Israeli products. Demand an end of U.S. military aid to Israel.
VFP PROTEST AT VETERANS MEMORIAL
Veterans for Peace Protest, October 7, 2012 from Will Holloway on Vimeo.
Veterans for Peace protest to mark 11 years of war in Afghanistan held at the Vietnam Veterans Plaza in New York City on October 7. The city has a rule that the memorial closes at 10:00 pm but VFP refused to leave and 25 were arrested.
It's time to end the U.S. and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.
Veterans for Peace protest to mark 11 years of war in Afghanistan held at the Vietnam Veterans Plaza in New York City on October 7. The city has a rule that the memorial closes at 10:00 pm but VFP refused to leave and 25 were arrested.
It's time to end the U.S. and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
THE ATTACK OF POW'S ON KOJE
This video includes scenes from the U.S. attack on prisoners at the Koje POW camp during the Korean War..
But interestingly it begins with some references to germ warfare against North Korea. The U.S. adamantly denied all such charges at the time. But years later it has been clearly proven to be true in a book called “A Plague Upon Humanity” by Daniel Barenblatt. Barenblatt tells the story of the hidden history of Japan’s biological warfare program before and during WW II. And as the Korean War heated up the U.S. used the Japanese bio-war experts to help spread deadly diseases against North Korean and Chinese forces. See a previous blog post about this here
Remember this video mostly presents the "official" story. But the scenes from Koje give some idea of the use of military force against unarmed POWs.
LARGELY UNKNOWN STORY ABOUT ANOTHER KOREAN ISLAND
|North Korean POWs brought to U.S. camp on Koje Island during Korean War.|
|U.S. Army officer likely doing "re-education" of North Korean and Chinese POWs at Koje camp. The primary goal was to get them to "renounce" Communism so the U.S. could refuse to repatriate them to their respective countries.|
|Doing labor at Koje POW camp.|
Last winter Korean War veteran Tom Sturtevant from Maine passed away. I was a friend, we met at our Maine Veterans For Peace chapter, and he went to South Korea with us in 2009 for the Global Network annual conference that was held in Seoul. Tom was deeply affected by his participation in the Korean War as a Navy man working on an aircraft carrier that played a key role in the US saturation bombing of North Korea. Tom spent much of his adult life becoming a student of the war.
After his death his family asked VFP to go through his papers and books and these documents were then given to various people. Knowing of my continuing interest in Korea I was given Tom’s Korean War files and books. One of these books was a treasure beyond imagination. It is called Koje Unscreened by Wilfred Burchett and Alan Winnington – both attended the Korean War cease-fire talks at Panmunjom from the time they started until the Americans broke them off on Oct 8, 1952.
I had never heard of a place in Korea called Koje. As it turns out Koje is another island just off the southern tip of the Korean mainland and in this case the U.S. used it as an enormous prisoner of war camp largely due to its isolation. In recent days I have read the book and done hours of Internet research about Koje and discovered that in addition to Koje, there was another island prisoner of war camp that the U.S. ran during this same period – it was on Cheuju (Jeju) island.
While doing my Internet searching I found many photos from Koje that help illustrate life at the U.S. camp. International media was largely kept away from this place so few journalists ever bothered to tell this story to the world. The book was published in April of 1953, while the Korean War was still in stalemate. Much of what you find on the Internet is the official U.S. line that reflects the fact that few journalists ever investigated, or were allowed to really know what happened at Koje.
On July 27, 1953, a cease-fire agreement between the U.S. and North Korea marked the end of the Korean War. The war killed more than 37,000 Americans along with approximately three million Asians beginning in June 1950.
The Korean War though is not really over. Today the U.S. occupies the Korean mainland and regularly engages in war exercises aimed at the north with its puppet South Korean (ROK) government that came to power after WW II. Following the Japanese defeat they were driven from Korea and the U.S. put the former Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese in charge of the ROK. This led to civil war as the U.S. and its South Korean puppets considered those Communists who had fought against Japanese imperialism the new enemy.
Koje Unscreened tells the largely unknown story (outside of Korea and China) about the prisoner of war camps on the island.
POW camps in North Korea contained only a few thousand prisoners while those in the South, mainly Koje, contained some 170,000 People’s Army (North Korean) soldiers and Chinese troops.
With peace negotiations at Panmunjom largely stalemated (between July 1951-July 1953) over the prisoner of war exchange issue the U.S. tried to avoid taking that final step of breaking off the talks because it would look bad in the eyes of public opinion. They wanted to provoke the Korean-Chinese side to do it instead.
President Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson seized on the prisoner disparity issue as a weapon and took the decision to detain a large proportion of the Korean and Chinese POWs.
China’s Chou En-lai (directed peace talks for their side) said at the time, “The U.S. has in the prisoner of war camps under its control, placed large numbers of U.S., Syngman Rhee [ROK] and Chiang Kai-shek [Nationalist Chinese] special agents posing as Korean and Chinese prisoners of war, to coerce prisoners of war to make declarations ‘refusing repatriation’…Prisoners of war who refused to submit were viciously beaten up by these special agents.”
The U.S. initiated an international public relations campaign to show that the prisoners did not want to return to their respective Communist countries. The authors wrote that by chance or otherwise, Catholic Cardinal Spellman ‘happened’ to visit the camps…and by the same sort of coincidence the State Department's U.S. Information Service broadcast a long interview with the prelate on January 28, 1952 from Tokyo in which Spellman said that “of 150,000 prisoners, 71 per cent do not want to be returned to Communist rule”. The broadcast went on that Spellman described a group of 300 Chinese who had tattooed themselves with the words ‘I am anti-Communist’ in the Chinese, Korean and English alphabets. “The anti-Communist tattooed Chinese,” Spellman claimed, “want to be placed in the frontline of the UN forces so they can demonstrate actively their opposition to Communist rule in their own country.”
|POWs "building" the Statue of Liberty with Christian cathedral replica in background - a photo op for the world to create the impression that North Korean and Chinese POWs had renounced their country.|
|The Statue of Liberty amongst the thousands of POWs who just really wanted to go home.|
At one point the U.S. tried to turn 38,000 North Korean prisoners over to Rhee who would “press-gang” them into his army. This did happen in many cases and some of the soldiers made their way back to join the North Korean army.
U.S. Gen. “Bull” Boatner was sent to Koje to “use maximum force” to get the prisoners to renounce Communism. The authors interviewed a Canadian soldier, Cpl. John Jollymore, who reported that Boatner visited the Canadian run prisoner compound on Koje on June 3, 1952 and said, “I don’t want you to shoot the prisoners, slash them with your bayonets or butt them with your rifles, but if you must shoot, shot to kill, kill, kill.”
ICRC (Red Cross) did a study of the Koje camp and reported that four days after the prisoner lists were exchanged on Dec 19, 1951, almost 800 of these ‘reclassified civilians’ were beaten up, six were killed and 41 wounded by rifle fire for protesting being classified as ‘South Korean civilians’. They demanded their right to prisoner of war treatment as loyal members of the North Korean People’s Army. The ICRC found 9,200 prisoners in a state of semi-starvation but their report was ignored by the western media.
On May 23, 1952 a letter was smuggled from Koje to the media and was signed by 6,223 North Korean prisoners. In part it said, “Not a day, not a night but the sacrifice of some of our comrades occurs. The American guards, armed to the teeth, are repeatedly committing acts of violence and barbarity against our comrades. They drag them out and kill them either in public or in secret with machine-guns and carbines. They drive our comrades by the thousand into gas chambers and torture rooms. Many patriots are loaded into iron barred cages of police cars and taken to the seashore where they are shot and their corpses cast into the sea.”
There was another U.S. prison of war camp on nearby Cheju (Jeju) Island. In September 1951, 97 Chinese POW’s were killed there and in October 56 more were killed and 120 wounded when American troops open fire on prisoners for dancing and singing in celebration of third anniversary of the establishment of Chinese People’s Republic. The “official” U.S. story, fed to UPI, was that “the Communists planned to break out and join the Red guerrillas in the Cheju Mountains.”
The authors maintain, “The previous large-scale massacres of war prisoners had all been against Korean prisoners. This time it was doubtless hoped that the provocation might be more effective if directed against the Chinese and to make it doubly effective, the day chosen was China’s National Day.”
The book reports that the U.S. broke 67 of the 243 articles of the Geneva Convention by its actions on Koje. Article 118 of the Geneva Convention reads: “Prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities.”
All of this has much relevance to me as we watch Obama’s military pivot into the Asia-Pacific and the U.S. “containment” of China picks up pace. The words of authors Burchett and Winnington, writing in April 1953, seem prophetic: “America’s policy is for more war, a bigger war, war with China and wars elsewhere in the Far East to commit China’s armies.”
The evidence of U.S. brutality and deception also are important to remember as we see a lineage of these policies run from Korea to Vietnam and then on to Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan and to Libya. At some point the American people must come to grips with the ugly and cruel evidence that the U.S. military empire is little different from the evil done by WW II fascist enemies in Germany, Italy, and Japan.
IT'S ALL IN THE NUMBERS
Monday, October 15, 2012
TECHNOLOGY TRUMPS NATURE
The retired space shuttle Endeavor has been brought to Los Angeles where it will be entombed in a museum as are so many other relics of "progress".
The space plane was hauled from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center, where it will be displayed in a new exhibit hall. The two-day, 12-mile journey began on Oct. 12.
About 400 trees had to be cut down in order for the shuttle to be transferred to the museum.
“They are cutting down these really big, majestic trees,” said Lark Galloway-Gilliam, a neighborhood council member and longtime resident of the Leimert Park area. “It will be beyond my lifetime before they will be tall like this again.”
We have been taught to worship technology and to reject our spiritual connection to nature. The space shuttle was a military program. It was used to place war-making satellites into space or to repair them. It was used to run Star Wars tests during its orbital missions. It was used to do research for many science projects that in the end benefited mega-corporate interests and were subsidized by the tax paying public who got little in return.
The successor to the shuttle is now being prepared for its third launch. The X-37B military space plane is set for takeoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on October 25. The last mission of this "global strike" vehicle remained in orbit for over one year because it is essentially a space drone. Many speculate that the mission of the X-37B, beyond spying from space, could be to drop bunker buster type weapons on ground targets after zooming down from space.
In fact at the U.S. Space Command they have been computer war gaming such a first-strike on China set in 2016. The military space plane is the first system used to launch the attack that attempts to take out China's underground nuclear missiles (about 20 of them) that are capable of hitting the west coast of the U.S.
After the initial U.S. attack from space China attempts to fire a retaliatory nuclear strike. The U.S. "missile defense" systems presently deployed in Taiwan, Japan, Okinawa, and South Korea - as well as on Aegis destroyers outfitted with interceptor missiles deployed just off China's coast - take out the remaining Chinese capability.
Thus another key element in U.S. first-strike war planning is being put into space and the public will be made to cheer it the way they cheer the retiring shuttle.
Bread and circus. It's a broken spiritual connection that has us worshiping Gods of Metal rather than the sacredness of all life.
GETTING TO THE ROOTS OF THE CORPORATE MESS
|Blocking the gates at Kleine Brogel, Belgium airbase to prevent NATO nuclear weapons exercises. Should we not be talking about who and what NATO "protects"? Hasn't NATO become the military arm of corporate capitalism?|
- Early this morning peace activists began using non-violent means to try and stop the departure of F-16 airplanes from the base in Kleine Brogel, Belgium. Starting today, Belgian pilots are training for the deployment of nuclear weapons together with their NATO partners. Small groups of activists are going onto the runway to stop the taking off of the F-16s. Meanwhile, the main gate of the base is being blocked. In this way, Vredesactie and Action pour la Paix hope to prevent the preparation for war crimes. From 15 to 26 October, Belgian F-16s from the military base of Kleine Brogel are participating in the NATO war exercise “Steadfast Noon” in the German air base of Büchel. This exercise is a way of training for the deployment of nuclear weapons. All NATO countries that have American nuclear weapons on their territory are participating: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Holland and Turkey. Some other countries are taking on a supportive role.
- For the first time Walmart’s retail workers have gone on strike and momentum is building fast. Workers in Florida, Maryland, Texas, Washington, California, Missouri, Minnesota and Kentucky all walked off the job -- bringing the strike to a total of 12 states. These workers don't have a union, and they are taking a huge risk by going on strike. But if they know that tens of thousands of people are standing with them, it will give them the boost they need to keep up the fight in the face of Walmart’s potential retaliation. Show your solidarity by signing here
- The latest health study found that in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the siege, this figure was more like one in 10. Prior to the turn of the millennium, fewer than 2 per cent of babies were born with a defect. More than 45 per cent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in the two years after 2004, up from only 10 per cent before the bombing. Between 2007 and 2010, one in six of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage. See the full story in the UK's Independent
- India's nuclear industry, Australia's newest prospective uranium customer, has been slammed by that country's own auditor as dangerously unsafe, disorganised and, in many cases, completely unregulated. The two countries will soon begin negotiations on a safeguards agreement to allow Australian uranium to be sold to India, after the Labor Party last year dropped its long-standing opposition to trading with countries outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Australia holds the world's largest uranium reserves and exports more than 7,000 tonnes every year, including to China. The government's refusal to sell to India was a source of continuing friction between the two countries. India's last nuclear weapons test was in 1998, but its civilian nuclear industry is growing rapidly, with the number of operating nuclear plants expected to rise from 20 to more than 60 over the next decade. See full story here
- All of the above are examples to me of the present reality of corporate capital run amok. As I cast about like a fisherman trying to find my/our way out of this insanity I keep running into the long tall wall of capitalism. This morning I watched the daily video report from the month-long South Korean SKY march. At one point they were rallying outside a huge COSTCO (which is a big corporate wholesale operation throughout the U.S. and now I assume going global). While the speakers were Korean I could piece together that it must be a labor dispute, and likely also about the Yankee cultural invasion. Capital, when it goes global, runs over tradition, culture, law, the environment and the like. It is backed up with a growing NATO-led military boot.
- Unless and until we begin to talk about capitalism - and move away from reformist measures which are blocked at virtually every turn by corporate money - we are not going to make any real progress as organizers and activists. My son Julian has introduced me to Slavoj Zizek, a Slovenian philosopher, and professor at the European Graduate School and senior researcher at the University of Ljubljana. The latest piece Julian sent me by Zizek is called "Capitalism: How the left lost the argument". My son is pushing my politics. I am trying to embrace the challenge. You might want to take a look at the article here
Sunday, October 14, 2012
LIVING WITH THE EARTH
New Mexico residents are trying to a break free from Los Alamos’ nuclear legacy by creating more environmentally sound ways of living. At the forefront of this struggle is renegade architect Michael Reynolds, creator of radically sustainable living options through a process called "Earthship Biotecture." Reynolds’ solar homes are created from natural and recycled materials, including aluminum cans, plastic bottles and used tires. These off-the-grid homes minimize their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels by harnessing their energy from the sun and wind turbines. In Taos, New Mexico, Reynolds gives Democracy Now a tour of one of the sustainable-living homes he created.
SPACE WEEK PHOTOS
|Even in the bedrock of the south, at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the space week message was seen on the street.|
Gun-Britt Mäkitalo (above) and Agneta Norberg (below) held a workshop about the resistance against Navy base on Jeju Island on October 13th. It was part of the one-day event called Inspiration the World at Workers Studiehouse in Stockholm, Sweden.
|Drone death march through the streets of Boston by WILPF.|
|GN board member Sung-Hee Choi talks about South Korea's growing cooperation with the U.S. military in developing space warfare technology during a protest at Navy HQ in her country.|
|Weekly anti-war vigil in Montrose, California held Keep Space for Peace Week posters.|
|Space week event held in Nagpur India.|
|India has more than 300 million people living in poverty. The U.S. has pressured India to create a Space Command where they are now testing anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons as part of U.S. effort to "contain" China.|
|Peaceniks were up with the sun to hold a vigil at Raytheon in Tucson, Arizona. Raytheon builds the "kill vehicle" for Pentagon "missile defense" systems.|
|Workers at Raytheon were greeted with this sign as they came to work.|
Here are a few photos from Keep Space for Peace Week events around the world. Our message continues to spread thanks to dedicated peace workers.
You can click on the photos for a better view.
Poco y poco.