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....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, November 24, 2012

CONSUMER NATION: A BLACK FRIDAY RANT


I have to admit - I don't shop much.  So clearly I have a prejudice and an agenda.  I believe that Americans (and much of the rest of the world) have had their minds colonized by corporate branding and materialism.  It unsettles me for many reasons - one of which is that people have given up their independence as a human being to become a corporate appendage or slave.

Black Friday used to be the day after Thanksgiving.  But now the greedy corporations have moved Black Friday to Thursday, Thanksgiving day, and the media is full of excited reports about the great success of this affront to the sensibilities of those like me who want to enjoy a day without the ever present hounding we get from the "retail industry".


One of the more ridiculous rituals that has been ushered in during recent years is the football huddle of workers before the store opens.  Joining hands in a circle, the highly underpaid staff are gathered by management for a rah-rah-rah moment.  What is the purpose of this gesture?  Team work?  A solemn pledge to serve the valued customer?  No, it is all about sell, sell, sell.  The customers and the workers are slave driven commodities and nothing more.

The stores advertise in advance a few highly discounted items to attract the "smart bargain shoppers" who are led to believe that they are getting over on the mega-giant corporation by being first-in-line to grab the super deal.  The idea is to carry all you can.  In our local newspaper (the story should have been moved to the Sports section) one shopper gave her sage wisdom on techniques required:

Cat Bibeau started her Black Friday shopping at midnight at Walmart and arrived at JC Penney as it opened just before 6 a.m.

"This is not for the newbie shopper," she said. "Only veterans."

The secret is to have a list and work around the clock, hitting stores as they open, she said.

Other advice: dress comfortably and wear a backpack to leave hands free to carry bags.

Erika Jordan of Parsonsfield shopped at JCPenney as a team with friends and family members. They had a game plan. Some of them hit the shoe department while Jordan and others stocked up on pillows and housewares.

"We've got to go to the car and unload and come back in," Jordan said, laughing.
 Beverly Maierhofer of Yarmouth, who arrived at the mall Thursday afternoon with her twin 16-year-old daughters, spent 15 minutes trying to find a parking space. At Forever 21, where her daughters bought sweaters and scarves, they waited another 15 minutes at the cash register.
Her total Black Friday savings: "Zip," moaned one of her daughters, Maddy.
"We are like the most pathetic shoppers," Beverly Maierhofer said.

Yes, and if you fall short at this gorging ritual then indeed consider yourself a failure.  You are not as accomplished as your neighbor who was able to get a "deal" on a flat screen TV even though they already have two others inside their over stocked home.

In America the overriding word is success.  I remember the cheerleaders at my oldest sister's high school back when I was just a boy.  It went like this:  S - U - C - C - E - S - S  THAT'S THE WAY WE SPELL SUCCESS! 

This cheer was repeated over and over and each time it got faster and louder so before long the theme was pounding in your fertile brain.  This is one more way the corporate mental occupation begins.  It's ever present in our lives.  The seed of the SUCCESS mythology firmly planted.

Those who resist this process are told there is something wrong with us....we are losers, hippies, slackers, not ambitious enough, overly serious, and more.  We are made to feel bad about ourselves for standing outside of the cultural norm.

But while we are outside the shopping mall we discover that there are those like Beverly Maierhofer standing with us as she realizes that she is a "pathetic shopper".  An outcast for sure. 

But don't despair Beverly redemption is possible.....there is always next year.

Friday, November 23, 2012

WHO DO WE FEED?


BOOKS NOT BASES



“Writers Action 1219” held the “Gangjeong Village Peace Library Proposal Ceremony” in front of the Jeju Naval Base project construction gate on November 21. Twenty-three representatives from the group attended and joined the civil disobedience campaign, joined by activists, villagers, and Catholic fathers. Below is their official statement made at the ceremony. Click here For further details and pictures.


We Want to Arm Gangjeong Village with Literature:
Proposal for the Creation of a Gangjeong Village Peace Library

As we stand here today each of us carries a book. We know that fire could turn this book to a handful of ashes. Water could turn it to a lump of batter. It could also be torn to pieces and scattered by the Gangjeong wind. But we know that it is the son of a tree, so it is the breath of the forest and the heart of nature. We know that the salamander and the red-foot crab live together in it, and the Aster Yomena and Cladium chinensis Nees plants grow together, and we know that life and anima are connected like the stonewalls of this village. Above all things, we know that the heart of this book is like the Gureombi Rock.

Therefore, today, we would like to launch this villager and civil group cooperative project, the “Creation of the Gangjeong Village Peace Library”. For the red-foot crab to crawl, the Cladium chinensis Nees to sway, and for the natives’ laughter to be heard by those that pass through Gureombi. For the Sarangbang [a type of traditional Korean guestroom] of beautiful life to protect and live with this sea longer than billy clubs, guns, swords, and cannons. We will arm this village with hearts of hope, peace, and solidarity against their arms of domination, hegemony, and war.

But literature does not occupy peace through destruction and replacement. We will not “build a library in Gangjeong Village” but “build Gangjeong village into a library”. We will clean and repair an old and empty house and connect homes to each other so that the whole village can be a library. We will create a library where adults can read books, children can dream, and together they can share stories, creating a presence of peace. This project will not end in a moment but will be forever with Gangjeong village.

We are going to put our effort into creating the Gangjeong Village Peace Library.

One, we will let everyone know about the meaning and necessity of the Peace Library through paper and action.
One, we will share everything necessary for creating the Peace Library and actively participate in the particulars of preparation.
One, we will steadfastly contribute to the Peace Library, the literature we have published thus far and will publish in the future.
One, we will participate joyfully in various literature events, lectures, and etc., which the Peace Library will hold in the future.

As we stand here today each of us carries a book. Tomorrow, we will become these books and protect this place as that book. Each letter in the book will crawl out like the Japanese mitten crab, wanting to see a recovered Gureombi, recovered lives, and a peaceful, beautiful Gangjeong Sea again. Because we believe literature is the food of Peace and solidarity for hope.

We desire that villagers and civil groups participate together in the preparation of this project and our will is that this project will lead to the total annulment of the Gangjeong Village U.S. Naval Base.

November 21, 2012
Seong-ho Ham & Sun-woo Kim
Gangjeong Village Peace Library Project “Writers Gathering” Preparation Representatives

Thursday, November 22, 2012

GOING HOME



Lots of family and friends coming today to the Addams-Melman House.

Going to remember many things - blessings, challenges, those who are suffering, and the Native Americans (the other Palestinians if you will) who had their land taken by force of arms.  Some things don't seem to change.......

In the meantime Homer is ready to eat.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

HEDGES NAILS THIS ONE

Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All


By Chris Hedges

Gaza is a window on our coming dystopia. The growing divide between the world’s elite and its miserable masses of humanity is maintained through spiraling violence. Many impoverished regions of the world, which have fallen off the economic cliff, are beginning to resemble Gaza, where 1.6 million Palestinians live in the planet’s largest internment camp. These sacrifice zones, filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums or mud-walled villages, are increasingly hemmed in by electronic fences, monitored by surveillance cameras and drones and surrounded by border guards or military units that shoot to kill. These nightmarish dystopias extend from sub-Saharan Africa to Pakistan to China. They are places where targeted assassinations are carried out, where brutal military assaults are pressed against peoples left defenseless, without an army, navy or air force. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the indiscriminate slaughter that characterizes modern industrial warfare.

In the new global landscape, as in Israel’s occupied territories and the United States’ own imperial projects in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, massacres of thousands of defenseless innocents are labeled wars. Resistance is called a provocation, terrorism or a crime against humanity. The rule of law, as well as respect for the most basic civil liberties and the right of self-determination, is a public relations fiction used to placate the consciences of those who live in the zones of privilege. Prisoners are routinely tortured and “disappeared.” The severance of food and medical supplies is an accepted tactic of control. Lies permeate the airwaves. Religious, racial and ethnic groups are demonized. Missiles rain down on concrete hovels, mechanized units fire on unarmed villagers, gunboats pound refugee camps with heavy shells, and the dead, including children, line the corridors of hospitals that lack electricity and medicine.

The impending collapse of the international economy, the assaults on the climate, the resulting droughts, flooding, precipitous decline in crop yields and rising food prices are creating a universe where power is divided between the narrow elites, who hold in their hands sophisticated instruments of death, and the enraged masses. The crises are fostering a class war that will dwarf anything imagined by Karl Marx. They are establishing a world where most will be hungry and live in fear, while a few will gorge themselves on delicacies in protected compounds. And more and more people will have to be sacrificed to keep this imbalance in place.

Because it has the power to do so, Israel—as does the United States—flouts international law to keep a subject population in misery. The continued presence of Israeli occupation forces defies nearly a hundred U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for them to withdraw. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, established in June 2007, is a brutal form of collective punishment that violates Article 33 of the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention, which set up rules for the “Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.” The blockade has turned Gaza into a sliver of hell, an Israeli-administered ghetto where thousands have died, including the 1,400 civilians killed in the Israeli incursion of 2008. With 95 percent of factories shut down, Palestinian industry has virtually ceased functioning. The remaining 5 percent operate at 25 to 50 percent capacity. Even the fishing industry is moribund. Israel refuses to let fishermen travel more than three miles from the coastline, and within the fishing zone boats frequently come under Israeli fire. The Israeli border patrols have seized 35 percent of the agricultural land in Gaza for a buffer zone. The collapsing infrastructure and Israeli seizure of aquifers mean that in many refugee camps, such as Khan Yunis, there is no running water. UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) estimates that 80 percent of all Gazans now rely on food aid. And the claim of Israeli self-defense belies the fact that it is Israel that maintains an illegal occupation and violates international law by carrying out collective punishment of Palestinians. It is Israel that chose to escalate the violence when during an incursion into Gaza earlier this month its forces fatally shot a 13-year-old boy. As the world breaks down, this becomes the new paradigm—modern warlords awash in terrifying technologies and weapons murdering whole peoples. We do the same in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Market forces and the military mechanisms that protect these forces are the sole ideology that governs industrial states and humans’ relationship to the natural world. It is an ideology that results in millions of dead and millions more displaced from their homes in the developing world. And the awful algebra of this ideology means that these forces will eventually be unleashed on us, too. Those who cannot be of use to market forces are considered expendable. They have no rights and legitimacy. Their existence, whether in Gaza or blighted postindustrial cities such as Camden, N.J., is considered a drain on efficiency and progress. They are viewed as refuse. And as refuse they not only have no voice and no freedom; they can be and are extinguished or imprisoned at will. This is a world where only corporate power and profit are sacred. It is a world of barbarism.

“In disposing of man’s labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity ‘man’ attached to that tag,” Karl Polanyi wrote in “The Great Transformation.” “Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed. Finally, the market administration of purchasing power would periodically liquidate business enterprise, for shortages and surfeits of money would prove as disastrous to business as floods and droughts in primitive society. Undoubtedly, labor, land, and money markets are essential to a market economy. But no society could stand the effects of such a system of crude fictions even for the shortest stretch of time unless its human and natural substance as well as its business organization was protected against the ravages of this satanic mill.”

There are 47.1 million Americans who depend on food stamps to eat. The elites are plotting to take these food stamps away, along with other “entitlement” programs that keep the poor from destitution. The slashing of trillions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs, given the political impasse in Washington and the looming “fiscal cliff,” now seems certain. There are 50 million people considered to be living below the poverty line, but because the poverty line is so low—$22,350 for a family of four—this figure means nothing. Add the tens of millions of Americans who live in a category called “near poverty,” including all those families attempting to live on less than $45,000 a year, and you have at least 30 percent of the country living in poverty. Once these people figure out that there is no economic recovery, that their standard of living is going to continue to drop, that they are trapped, that hope in the future is an illusion, they will become as angry as protesters in Greece and Spain or the militants in Gaza or Afghanistan. Banks and other financial corporations, handed trillions in interest-free money from the Federal Reserve, meanwhile hoard $5 trillion, much of it looted from the U.S. Treasury. The longer this worldwide disparity and inequality is perpetuated, the more the masses will revolt and the faster we will internally replicate the Israeli model of domestic control—drones overhead, all dissent criminalized, SWAT teams busting through doors, deadly force as an acceptable form of subjugation, food used as a weapon, and constant surveillance.

In Gaza and other blighted parts of the globe we see this new configuration of power. What is happening in Gaza, like what is happening to people of color in marginal communities in the United States, is the model. The techniques of control, whether carried out by the Israelis or militarized police units in our inner-city drug wars, whether employed by military special forces or mercenaries in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq, are tested first and perfected on the weak and the powerless. Our callous indifference to the plight of the Palestinians, and the hundreds of millions of poor packed into urban slums in Asia or Africa, as well as our own underclass, means that the injustices visited on them will be visited on us. In failing them we fail ourselves.

As the U.S. empire implodes, the harsher forms of violence employed on the outer reaches of empire are steadily migrating back to the homeland. At the same time, the internal systems of democratic governance have calcified. Centralized authority has devolved into the hands of an executive branch that slavishly serves global corporate interests. The press and the government’s judiciary and legislative branches have become toothless and decorative. The specter of terrorism, as in Israel, is used by the state to divert gargantuan expenditures to homeland security, the military and internal surveillance. Privacy is abolished. Dissent is treason. The military with its mantra of blind obedience and force characterizes the dark ethic of the wider culture. Beauty and truth are abolished. Culture is degraded into kitsch. The emotional and intellectual life of the citizenry is ravaged by spectacle, the tawdry and salacious, as well as by handfuls of painkillers and narcotics. Blind ambition, a lust for power and a grotesque personal vanity—exemplified by David Petraeus and his former mistress—are the engines of advancement. The concept of the common good is no longer part of the lexicon of power. This, as the novelist J.M. Coetzee writes, is “the black flower of civilization.” It is Rome under Diocletian. It is us. Empires, in the end, decay into despotic, murderous and corrupt regimes that finally consume themselves. And we, like Israel, are now coughing up blood.

THE GENERAL'S SON TELLS THE REAL STORY



The General's Son. Miko Peled is a peace activist who dares to say in public what others still choose to deny. Born in Jerusalem in 1961 into a well known Zionist family, his grandfather, Dr. Avraham Katsnelson was a Zionist leader and signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. His Father, Matti Peled, was a young officer in the war of 1948 and a general in the war of 1967 when Israel conquered the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and Sinai.

Miko's unlikely opinions reflect his father's legacy. General Peled was a war hero turned peacemaker.
Miko grew up in Jerusalem, a multi-ethnic city, but had to leave Israel before he made his first Palestinian friend, the result of his participation in a dialogue group in California. He was 39.

On September 4, 1997 the beloved Smadar, 13, the daughter of Miko's sister Nurit and her husband Rami Elhanan was killed in a suicide attack.

Peled insists that Israel/Palestine is one state—the separation wall notwithstanding, massive investment in infrastructure, towns and highways that bisect and connect settlements on the West Bank, have destroyed the possibility for a viable Palestinian state. The result, Peled says is that Israelis and Palestinians are governed by the same government but live under different sets of laws.

At the heart of Peled's conclusion lies the realization that Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace as equals in their shared homeland.

REAL TIME PAIN IN GAZA



Here is what you don't see in the mainstream media about Gaza. They don't even have proper fire fighting equipment.  This is such an example of Mr. Big picking on the little folks.  Israel and the US are bullies and nothing more. 

How can anyone defend Israel's high-tech lynching of the Palestinian people?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CAVALIERLY TALKING WAR WITH IRAN


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

These talking heads in Washington appear quite happy with the idea of a "hot war" between Israel and Iran.  It feels to me like the American people are being prepared, or set up, for this coming attack on Iran.

Rick Rozoff from Stop NATO website reports that on November 12, two days before Israel launched the “Operation Pillar of Defense” attack on the Gaza Strip, the three-week-long Austere Challenge interceptor missile exercises held by the Pentagon and Israel in the latter nation ended. The largest-ever joint war games, with 3,500 American and 1,000 Israeli military personnel involved, tested the Israeli Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow territorial and the longer-range US Patriot and Standard Missile-3 interceptor systems.

This indicates to me that Israel and the US had in fact planned this whole attack in advance to create a "battlefield" test of the new Iron Dome missile defense system in preparation for possible use against Iran.  It also appears that the US intends to "integrate" its missile defense system along with Israel systems in the event Iran responds to an Israeli attack on their nuclear facilities.  These crazy fools are playing at starting a wider war and anyone who thinks Obama is going to turn into a Nobel Peace Prize guy in his second term is in for some bad news.

It's very sick.  We should remember that Chris Matthews also promoted the Afghanistan and Iraq wars but later on, when the public soured on the wars, became a critic.  Now we see him playing the same promotional game again.

MILITARY INDUSTRIAL CORPORATE CRIMINAL SYNDICATE



This short video, released jointly by Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Brave New Foundation, reveals the extent of the Pentagon’s revolving door phenomenon, in which retired high-ranking generals and admirals cash in on their years of military experience by taking lucrative jobs with the war industry. 

CREW found 70 percent of the 108 three-and-four star generals and admirals who retired between 2009 and 2011 took jobs with military contractors or consultants.  In at least a few cases, these retirees have continued to advise the Department of Defense — all while on the payroll of the weapons industry.

Key Findings:
  • Retired generals can make more than their yearly military pay by serving on corporate boards
  • Contractors have increased spending on lobbying for 40 percent in the last five years
  • The U.S. government paid the top five weapons contractors $113 billion in 2011
  • As of early 2012, 68 percent of lobbyists for the top five military contractors had prior public sector experience
  • Pentagon rules prohibiting the revolving door are riddled with loopholes

MILITARIZING THE HIGH NORTH



Each year the Global Network holds its annual space organizing conference in a nation that plays a key role in preparation for high-tech space warfare. Our next conference will be held in Kiruna, Sweden on June 27-30, 2013.  This video helps to better understand the growing militarization of the Arctic regions. 

By bringing key peace movement leaders from around the world to northern Sweden next June we intend to shine a bright light on these offensive and destabilizing NATO plans for war to control Arctic resources.  As the Arctic ice melts the oil corporations are eager to control the region.  The US and NATO will play a key role to provide "protection" to the corporations as they attempt to wrest control of these resource from Russia who has major border areas with the Arctic.

All are encouraged to send representatives to this important conference.

Monday, November 19, 2012

HUMAN SOLIDARITY



CNN's Reza Sayah reports from the Rafah border crossing, where Egyptian demonstrators are beginning to enter Gaza.  They intend to stand alongside of the beleaguered Palestinian people.

SOME ISRAELI'S SHOW CONSCIENCE



Israelis soldiers refuse to serve in Gaza. Israelis protest against the war in Gaza, Tel Aviv January 8, 2009.

You can be sure that some men and women of conscience are refusing right now to participate in the immoral Israeli attack on Gaza.  God bless them all....let their numbers grow.

Stop the genocide of the Palestinian people.

A newer version of soldier resistance below.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

NEXT FOUR YEARS......



Glenn Greenwald took time to do a walk and talk interview with Luke Rudkowski. The two discussed the next 4 years with Obama, the lack of criticism of Obama from his base, and journalism tips.

TAKE ACTION WITH YOUR MONEY


ISRAEL HITS MEDIA CENTER



RT's Arabic-language sister channel — Rusiya Al-Yaum — was struck by the Israeli forces in Gaza Strip in the early hours of November 18, approximately at 01.30 am local time. RT's reporter Saed Suerki and cameraman Mustafa Al-Bayati were not injured as they had left the building one hour before the attack. The channel's media center was located at the top level of the 11-floor building among other media offices.

SUNDAY SONG