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, December 01, 2012

TALKING SPACE WARFARE ON RADIO

  • I did a two-hour radio interview today with Rick Staggenborg from Oregon on his SFPI Radio which is broadcast on the Internet and available on podcast.  You can listen to it here. Rick did a good job of studying our Global Network website and came up with lots of good questions to keep the interview moving along.  Several people from around the country called into the show and we've already got a new member from Tucson, Arizona who heard the interview and sent in his membership.  So it appears Rick has a good listening audience.
  • I am suffering a bad cold so a few times my voice started to give out on me but I got through it all in the end.
  • I spent the afternoon at Bowdoin College in Brunswick watching the women's and men's basketball games in a double-header.  I love to watch basketball live - I spent many hours as a boy on the court playing ball.  I'd still be doing it today except my knees are shot from the years of pounding on the hardwood and cement courts.
  • Our newsletter gets printed Monday.  The local newspaper prints it for us and they will do the mailing to our national list.  I will do the mailing to our international list and it will take me a full day to complete that job.  After that it will be a slow week until next weekend when I go to New York City for an organizing strategy meeting being put together by some Veterans For Peace and Occupy folks.  Should be an interesting trip.  
  • On Sunday, December 9 the local PeaceWorks group will hold their annual holiday party here at the Addams-Melman House in Bath.  Will be from 2-4 pm.  All are invited to attend.  Bring some finger food to share.  I will get back from NYC just in time for the party.

Friday, November 30, 2012

THE NEW NORMAL - WORKING WHILE POOR



Sarah Jaffe, Independent Journalist/The Atlantic, joins Thom Hartmann. Fast food jobs were once thought to be transition jobs for teenagers and college kids - but now - Americans of all ages are relying on them for income. Isn't it time fast food workers were paid a living wage - rather than the next to nothing wages they can barely survive off of now?

Read a New York Times article on the strikes here

CLIMATE CHANGE UPDATE - MUST SEE FILM



Excellent video about Occupy Sandy (Exxon)....makes links to climate change, war on the poor, and more.

The film was created by Josh Fox, maker of Gasland.

Don't waste your money giving it to the Red Cross.....donate to Occupy Sandy. 

"MISSILE DEFENSE" BASE ON EAST COAST?


  • Senate Republicans including Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), on Thursday threw their support behind a controversial proposal to develop an East Coast "missile defense" site in the U.S. to defend against Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles that do not yet exist. Maine and New York state have been suggested as potential locations for the base.  The House of Representatives passed a bill last spring calling for the east coast MD base.  The Senate had yet to officially act on the issue.  Negotiations are now underway in the Senate on the Defense Authorization Bill.  While I don't think it is likely that a base construction funding amendment will make it into the final bill it is very possible that language calling for a "study" of the base could pass.  Some Democrats have in the past expressed support for such a study.  This is how things happen in Washington - bad seeds get planted and they eventually sprout into expensive and destabilizing new weapons programs.  We need to bring this crazy plan into the light and help drive a stake through it while we can.  Maine Veterans For Peace voted last night to oppose any such base in our state or any place else.
  • But in the end we find most politicians these days supporting anything that will bring "jobs" into their state.  Since the Pentagon is practically the only game in town anymore, they get more than 54% of every federal discretionary tax dollar, the political beasts are on their bended knees begging for any of that largess to be brought home.  If America's role under corporate globalization is going to be "security export" then why not get a piece of the action?  That is the prevailing sentiment these days.  
  •  The latest edition of our Global Network newsletter, Space Alert,  is available online here. The newsletter is now at the printer and should be in the mail early next week.We are happy to ship bulk orders to anyone in the U.S.  -  all we ask is for reimbursement of postage. Let us know if you are interested.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NEXT THE OCCUPATION WALL MUST FALL


The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state on Thursday, a stinging diplomatic defeat for Israel and the United States, both of whom strongly opposed the Palestine’s statehood bid.

The Associated Press reports that the UN voted 138-9, with 41 abstentions, in favor of a resolution upgrading Palestine’s status to non-member observer state.

Seven other UN member states joined Israel and the US in voting against recognition of Palestinian statehood. These were: Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.

Notable nations among the 41 abstentions included: Australia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

SHOOTING THE MOON?



During the Cold War, the U.S. hatched a plan to detonate a nuclear weapon on the moon. CNN's Brian Todd reports.

FIGHTING!



Twenty people shaved their heads in Seoul and Gangjeong village.  Sit-in overnight protest and fasting started in front of National Assembly building in Seoul on November 29 against the government budget bill for Jeju naval base railroaded in the defense committee only with the presence of the ruling party members. 
The night in Seoul and Gangjeong is very, very cold. . ..Video by Dunguree

SOME TRUTH FROM MCKINNEY



Some more truth from former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

She speaks at the Kuala Lumpur Perdana Global Peace Foundation and the KL War Crimes Commission launch an inquiry into the facts and evidence of the events on that tragic day - 9/11.

McKinney got run out of office once and then got reelected. But Mr. Big and his gang got her the second time around and forced her out of office again.

She ran for president as Green Party candidate in 2008. At that time people would ask me who I was voting for....I would say the black woman.

McKinney, while in the House of Representatives, would have her staff call us and ask what they could do to help the Global Network in our fight to stop the launching of nuclear power into space.  She was the one and only politician to ever extend such a hand. 

TAKING DIRECT ACTION



It would be nice though if these activists also paid some buck naked visits to the offices of some leading Congressional Democrats and urged them to stop wasting $8 billion a month on the occupation of Afghanistan.

Taxing the rich is right on but that alone isn't going to fund social programs and pull the nation out of our fiscal death spiral.  We've also got to hit the trillion dollar a year Pentagon budget hard. 

The days of funding guns and butter are over.  It's either going to be guns or butter. 

Obama talks about getting out of Afghanistan by 2014 but has signed a deal with President Karzai to keep more than 10,000 U.S. Special Forces troops (and some unknown number of paid private "security" forces) there at least until 2024.  How much is that going to cost?

Those trying to save social progress are going to have to get alot more sophisticated with our demands real quick.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

RAMBLINGS WITH A RUNNY NOSE


It's snowing just a wee bit outside
barely noticeable except for a few tiny flakes
that fall in the cold of the day
walking the dog
with my nose dripping
like a leaky faucet.

First draft of newsletter back
from layout designer
few things don't fit right
few words here or there
out of place
a good edition all in all
but I still feel grumpy reading it
must be my aching body.

Housemate arrives with load
of assorted squash from local organic farm
no one from soup kitchen
willing to pick it up.

I've rearranged my office
a surge of energy
the dusty clutter got to me
I needed a comfortable chair
to watch Wizards lose their games
on NBA Internet channel
my one diversion
sports now completely under control
of corporations
like everything else these days.

Homer wants his long walk
thru the woods
a sniffers wonderland
I only had energy for around the block
he's disappointed
and letting me know it.

Regis came by to talk Jeju shop
his film is coming along
he's working hard
excited about historical connections
photos, film, stories from past massacres
the 7th Cavalry deja vu
from Wounded Knee to Korea.

Julian was great on the radio the other night
a damn good spokesman for a different way
'each according to his ability, to each according to his need'
sharing rather than the greedy earth gobbling
capitalism we now have
a christian concept maybe
but might hurt collection plate on Sunday.

A friend wonders if I have any good news
a few things I reply
have to search hard in the brain housing
to find them
but I know they are there
the smells of good food, laughter, song,
a smiling face
a determined protester braving the winds
of fascism
standing in front of a cold stone government building.

It's not a poem
its musing
not amusing
but still is what it is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CAN YOU SEE IT?

 
"The Womb this crawled from is still going strong.“ (Bertolt Brecht)

This Brechtian line from the epilogue of his play 'Arturo Ui' refers neither to a single man nor to a woman. The metaphor rather epitomizes an economical and political system that has performed at its "best“ during the NAZI period between 1933 to 1945.

The English translation below does not adequately reflect the meaning of Brecht's precise and dialectic wording in German.

Therefore learn how to see and not to gape

To act instead of talking all day long

The world was almost won by such an ape!

The nations put him where his kind belong.

But don’t rejoice too soon at your escape

The womb he crawled from is still going strong.
 
Taken from Eirenae's blog

Monday, November 26, 2012

HEARD OF TPP?

 Why So Secretive? 
The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Coup 

 By Andrew Gavin Marshall, Occupy.com

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the most secretive and “least transparent” trade negotiations in history.

Luckily for the populations and societies that will be affected by the agreement, there are public research organizations and alternative media outlets campaigning against it – and they’ve even released several leaks of draft agreement chapters. From these leaks, which are not covered by mainstream corporate-controlled news outlets, we are able to get a better understanding of what the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually encompasses.

For example, public interest groups have been warning that the TPP could result in millions of lost jobs. As a letter from Congress to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk stated, the TPP “will create binding policies on future Congresses in numerous areas,” including “those related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.”

In other words, as promised, the TPP goes far beyond “trade.”

Dubbed by many as “NAFTA on steroids” and a “corporate coup,” only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters actually have anything to do with trade. Most of it grants far-reaching new rights and privileges to corporations, specifically related to intellectual property rights (copyright and patent laws), as well as constraints on government regulations.

The leaked documents revealed that the Obama administration “intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations,” as Obama and Kirk have emerged as strong advocates “for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.”

In other words, the already ineffective and mostly toothless environmental, financial, and labor regulations that exist are unacceptable to the Obama administration and the 600 corporations aligned with the TPP who are giving him his orders.

The agreement stipulates that foreign corporations operating in the United States would no longer be subject to domestic U.S. laws regarding protections for the environment, finance or labor rights, and could appeal to an “international tribunal” which would be given the power to overrule American law and impose sanctions on the U.S. for violating the new “rights” of corporations.

The “international tribunal” that would dictate the laws of the countries would be staffed by corporate lawyers acting as “judges,” thus ensuring that cases taken before them have a “fair and balanced” hearing – fairly balanced in favor of corporate rights above anything else.

A public interest coalition known as Citizens Trade Campaign published a draft of the TPP chapter on “investment” revealing information about the “international tribunal” which would allow corporations to directly sue governments that have barriers to “potential profits.”

Arthur Stamoulis, the executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, explained that the draft texts “clearly contain proposals designed to give transnational corporations special rights that go far beyond those possessed by domestic businesses and American citizens... A proposal that could have such broad effects on environmental, consumer safety and other public interest regulations deserves public scrutiny and debate. It shouldn’t be crafted behind closed doors.”

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a public interest organization, undertook an analysis of the leaked document on investment and explained that the international corporate tribunal would allow corporations to overturn national laws and regulations or demand enormous sums in compensation, with the tribunal “empowered to order payment of unlimited government Treasury funds to foreign investors over TPP claims.”

Even under NAFTA, over $350 million has been paid by NAFTA-aligned governments to corporations for “barriers” to investment “rights,” including toxic waste dumps, logging rules, as well as bans on various toxic chemicals.

Because let’s be clear: for corporations, such regulations and concerns over health, safety and environmental issues are perceived solely as “barriers” to investment and profit. Thus their “government” would sue the foreign government on behalf of the corporation, on the premise that such regulations led to potential lost profits, for which the corporation should be compensated.

The TPP allows the corporations to directly sue the government in question. All of the TPP member countries, except for Australia, have agreed to adhere to the jurisdiction of this international tribunal, an unelected, anti-democratic and corporate-staffed kangaroo-court with legal authority over at least ten nations and their populations.

Further, TPP countries have not agreed on a set of obligations for corporations to meet in relation to health, labor or environmental standards, and thus a door is opened for corporations to obtain even more rights and privileges to plunder and exploit. Where corporate rights are extended, human and democratic rights are dismantled.

One of the most important areas in which the TPP has a profound effect is in relation to intellectual property rights, or copyright and patent laws. Corporations have been strong advocates of expanding intellectual property rights, namely, their intellectual property rights.

Pharmaceutical corporations are major proponents of these rights and are likely to be among the major beneficiaries of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP. The pharmaceutical industry ensured that strong patent rules were included in the 1995 World Trade Organization agreement, but ultimately felt that those rules did not go far enough.

Dean Baker, writing in the Guardian, explained that stronger patent rules establish “a government-granted monopoly, often as long as 14 years, that prohibits generic competitors from entering a market based on another company’s test results that show a drug to be safe and effective.” Baker noted that such laws are actually “the opposite of free trade” since they “involve increased government intervention in the market” and “restrict competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.”

Essentially, what this means is that in poor countries where more people need access to life-saving drugs, and at cheaper cost, it would be impossible for companies or governments to manufacture and sell cheaper generic brands of successful drugs held by multinational corporate patents. Such an agreement would hand over a monopoly of price-controls to these corporations, allowing them to set the prices as they deem fit, thus making the drugs incredibly expensive and often inaccessible to the people who need them most.

As U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman correctly noted, “In many parts of the world, access to generic drugs means the difference between life and death.”

The TPP is expected to increase such corporate patent rights more than any other agreement in history. Generic drug manufacturers in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia would suffer. So would sales of larger generics manufacturers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, which supply low-cost drugs to much of the world.

While the United States has given up the right to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical corporations (hence the exorbitant price for drugs purchased in the U.S.), countries like New Zealand and even Canada to a lesser extent negotiate drug prices in order to keep the costs down for consumers. The TPP will grant new negotiating privileges to corporations, allowing them to appeal decisions by governments to challenge the high cost of drugs or to go with cheap alternatives. Referring to these changes, the U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders’ Access to Medicines Campaign stated, “Bush was better than Obama on this.”

But that’s not all the TPP threatens: Internet freedom is also a major target.

The Council of Canadians and OpenMedia, major campaigners for Internet freedom, have warned that the TPP would “criminalize some everyday uses of the Internet,” including music downloads as well as the combining of different media works. OpenMedia warned that the TPP would “force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without privacy safeguards, and give media conglomerates more power to send you fines in the mail, remove online content – including entire websites – and even terminate your access to the Internet.”

Also advanced under the TPP chapter on intellectual property rights, new laws would have to be put in place by governments to regulate Internet usage. OpenMedia further warned that, from the leaked documents on intellectual property rights, “there can be heavy fines for average citizens online,” adding: “you could be fined for clicking on a link, people could be knocked off the Internet and web sites could be locked off.”

The TPP, warned OpenMedia founder Steve Anderson, “will limit innovation and free expression.” Under the TPP, there is no distinction between commercial and non-commercial copyright infringement. Thus, users who download music for personal use would face the same penalties as those who sell pirated music for profit.

Information that is created or shared on social networking sites could have Internet users fined, have their computers seized, their Internet usage terminated, or even get them a jail sentence. The TPP imposes a “three strikes” system for copyright infringement, where three violations would result in the termination of a household’s Internet access.

So, why all the secrecy? Corporate and political decision-makers study public opinion very closely; they know how to manipulate the public based upon what the majority think and believe. When it comes to “free trade” agreements, public opinion has forced negotiators into the darkness of back-room deals and unaccountable secrecy precisely because populations are so overwhelmingly against such agreements.

An opinion poll from 2011 revealed that the American public has – just over the previous few years – moved from “broad opposition” to “overwhelming opposition” toward NAFTA-style trade deals.

A major NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll from September of 2010 revealed that “the impact of trade and outsourcing is one of the only issues on which Americans of different classes, occupations and political persuasions agree,” with 86% saying that outsourcing jobs by U.S. companies to poor countries was “a top cause of our economic woes,” with 69% thinking that “free trade agreements between the United States and other countries cost the U.S. jobs.” Only 17% of Americans in 2010 felt that “free trade agreements” benefit the U.S., compared to 28% in 2007.

Because public opinion is strongly – and increasingly – against “free trade agreements,” secrecy is required in order to prevent the public from even knowing about, let alone actively opposing, agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And this, as U.S. Trade Representative Kirk explained, is a very “practical” reason for all the secrecy.

CAPITALISM, IS IT RUINING THE EARTH?

  • My son Julian is visiting for Thanksgiving and it has been great to see him again.  Last night we went to his favorite lobster restaurant on Bailey's Island.  The wind was blowing like crazy and it was cold as hell.  Very few people were in the restaurant, tourists being long gone, and we got a table nearest to the wood stove.  During the car ride to the restaurant and all during dinner we had a lively discussion about capitalism vs communism.
  • Tonight Julian will be on the radio show that Peter Woodruff and I do at Bowdoin College's WBOR from 6:00-8:00 pm (EST).  The topic for the show is "Capitalism, Is it ruining the Earth?"  Julian is a debate coach so he will be making the case that indeed capitalism is in fact killing life on the planet.  It's rather difficult to argue with that point.  You can listen live online by clicking here and then looking for the yellow button.
  • In the morning Julian heads overseas where he will be coaching debate for the next while.  Should be an exciting trip for him.  We will miss him.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

ANOTHER JEJU HUNGER STRIKE


Today is Sung Sim Jang’s 19th day of hunger strike.

The 42 year old is from a village 40 minutes outside of Gangjeong on Jeju Island. For 13 years she worked as a taxi driver in the region.

Outraged by what is happening in Gangjeong, she decided she has no other choice than to enter a hunger strike.

On the fourth day she got her hair shaved off in protest

She is all day, every day in front of the gate.

Joining mass…

Reading or praying

And joining the blocking of the gate

and she is still going strong and not going to give up

- Words and photos by Carol Reckinger who is now in Gangjeong village and has a photo blog with many great images which can be found here

Also check out the Save Jeju Now web site here

SUNDAY SONG