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 22, 2012

CLIMATE CHANGE UPDATE




ZAPATISTAS SILENTLY RISE AGAIN



Leonidas Oikonomakis writes:


Since the early hours of the 21st of December 2012, thousands of Zapatistas from the Bases of Support of the EZLN — their faces covered with the legendary Zapatista pasamontañas and paliacates around their necks — started marching in silence, in perfect formation, entering the cities of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Comitan, and Altamirano, and occupying their central squares.
 
This is the most impressive Zapatista mobilization since May 2011, when — together with the Movement for Peace, Justice, and Dignity of the poet Javier Sicilia — they gathered more than 30.000 people in the central square of San Cristóbal de las Casas in a manifestation against the “War on Drugs” of Felipe Calderon that has already cost Mexico more than 70.000 deaths.
Right now we are expecting the Communiqué of the Comandancia General of the EZLN, but what is certain is that today’s impressive silent mobilization is the Zapatistas’ response to the increasing repression their communities have been facing from the government and its paramilitaries over the past years, in combination with the return of PRI — the party against which the EZLN initially mobilized in 1994 — to government.

It is also a message to the world: that the Zapatistas are still here, in silence and with patience, like the water of the river that beats the sword…

"The Story of the Sword” is an ancient parable that demonstrates how the indigenous peoples of Mexico can finally defeat the European invader. “The tree”, says Subcomandante Marcos when narrating the story, “tried to fight the sword, but was defeated. The stone likewise.” But not the water. “It follows its own road, it wraps itself around the sword and, without doing anything, it arrives at the river that will carry it to the great water where the greatest of gods cure themselves of thirst, those gods that birthed the world, the first ones.”

Late in the day a one-page communiqué signed by Zapatista rebel leader Sub-Comandante Marcos, El Sup, began to go viral on the internet. The communiqué simply read the following:
 
Did You Hear?
That is the sound of your world falling apart.
It is the sound of our resurgence.
The day that was the day, was night.
And night will be the day that will be the day.
Democracy!
Liberty!
Justice!

See alot more of the story and photos here

WOMEN STANDING UP



From the comfort women who suffered sexual slavery during the Japanese occupation to domestic workers subjected to assault and isolation by their employers, to systemic causes of intimate partner abuse, the Philippines has had enough of violence against women. Watch as they RISE in this short film for ONE BILLION RISING, a campaign by V-Day culminating on Feb. 14, 2013 with a billion people strikingand dancing in the streets to oppose violence against women.

THE CRUEL OCCUPATION



A US Marine has had his rank reduced and been fined $500 fine for urinating on corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan after pleading guilty at a special court martial in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Friday, December 21, 2012

GOTTA GO TO WORK


THE POOR NRA.....


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

Protesters hold up banners as the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks at a news conference focusing on guns and violence following the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

INDIANS TAKE OVER A SHOPPING MALL



Stir my heart....Indians in North Bay, Canada took over a shopping mall in their community.  The people were drumming, singing and dancing.  Security guards came and pushed around some people and a couple got knocked to the floor.  But the native people kept drumming and singing to the end.

Talk about exposing the contradictions.....the native way of harmony with nature in the face of mindless consumerism and materialism.

The flash mob was a part of a national campaign across Canada to bring to light grievances the First Nations (indigenous) people have against the right-wing government of Stephen Harper.

CBC News reports:

As Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence continues her hunger strike on Parliament Hill in an attempt to get a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a grassroots protest movement of First Nations activists across Canada has united on social media and at public rallies.

Idle No More's supporters say they are upset about the effects of the Harper government's policies on their communities. They want First Nations to be recognized as sovereign stakeholders in decisions affecting the country's land and resources.

 The campaign was started by four women from Saskatchewan who were protesting against a number of bills before Parliament. They are particularly critical of Bill C-45, the government's omnibus budget legislation, which they say weakens environmental laws.

"There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well," says a manifesto published on the group's website, idlenomore.com.
 "We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them."

See the full article here

BROKEN PIPES - BROKEN PROMISE


It's the hidden time bomb just waiting to explode.... the under ground world of pipes for drinking water and sewer systems that keep cities working.  They are collapsing across the nation and there is virtually no $$$ to repair them.

Yesterday in Portland, Maine a rupture of a century-old water main that flooded Somerset Street, disrupted 4,000 homes and businesses and prompted a 24-hour boil-water notice exposed a stark reality: Most of Portland's water pipes are old.  Some lines date to the late 1800s. To replace everything that needs to be replaced system wide would cost $630 million. The city's current budget for such repairs is $3 million a year.

The $8 billion a month now wasted in Afghanistan would fix alot of pipes across the nation. But alas, it is not yet to be.

Can one begin to imagine, just for a moment, that those who really control the levers of power in Washington know that this problem exists and they choose to ignore it because they have their own agenda?

I would humbly suggest that the corporate oligarchy does not care about this country, nor any other country, instead they have bigger fish to fry these days.  International capital is about running the whole global show - and the way to pull this deal off is to drain all nations of their treasury and leave the workers in a place where they have to toil for practically nothing if they wish to survive.  Then they arm themselves to the teeth under the auspices of NATO as they fully expect push back from the masses.  It's a return to feudalism - except this time the lords and masters work for the mega-banks and corporations.

Aren't we lucky to live in such exciting times?  The challenge is not to sleep walk through the journey.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

END OF TIME


"And I would like to say that according to the Mayan Calendar the 21st of December marks the end of the time and the beginning of no-time. It is the end of the Macha & the beginning of the Pacha. It is the end of selfishness & the beginning of brotherhood. It is the end of individualism & the beginning of collectivism... the 21st of December this year.

The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a biocentric life. It is the end of hatred & the beginning of love. The end of lies & the beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness & the beginning of joy. It is the end of division & the beginning of unity."

― Evo Morales, President of Bolivia to the UN General Assembly, 67th Session, 2012

YOUR TIME TO CHOOSE


Social Security or Military Empire?
 
 
You have likely been receiving many email appeals to call Congress about the so-called "fiscal cliff variety show" now running in the media.
 
I am convinced that it is a largely scripted process whereby the two corporate controlled political parties do their dance and then continue to hack away at social progress.
 
We had just recently heard the Congress and Obama talk about the need for $50 billion in Pentagon cuts each year for the next 10 years.  Chump change in the grand scheme of things.  Now even that slim number is being cut in half in order to please their military industrial complex masters. It could be even lowered still to virtually no military cuts.  After all, the Pentagon is targeting Syria and Iran next and needs all the $$$ it can get.
 
We've each got to do more.....and this will be an ongoing process.  Just see Greece and other nations where the bankers are re-accumulating cash as they break societies down to the bone.  We are being hollowed out as well and we will virtually all be brought onto the reservation.
 
I urge you to do something immediately - even if you feel like it is a waste of time.  We have to get the people out of their frozen state and each time we crack the ice a bit we move just a bit further along.
 
I'd first ask you to sign the petition to Congress here.
 
Write a letter to editor of your local newspaper. The free weeklies often have larger circulation than the daily papers do. My letter was published in my local paper yesterday.
 
Organize a meeting locally and statewide to bring all the losing parties together so that we can begin to know one another and begin to work together.  The old business model of organizing - every organization for themselves - is not going to make it for us any more.  We've got to continue the work Occupy started of connecting the dots.  Except this time one of the dots that often gets left out - the U.S. military empire and its insatiable fossil fuel diet - has to become part of the organizing equation.
 
Hopefully your organizing will lead to action.  Here in Maine, just last Saturday, 40 keys local leaders met in our state capital of Augusta.  We named ourselves the Maine Alliance for the Common Good.  There were people in the room that we don't always work with.  Not everyone we invited came but it was a good start.  A demonstration at the state capital was planned for January 8 and we intend to connect all the dots this time.
 
We also have to make a pledge to one another that we will stop swallowing the B.S. from the media and the two corporate political parties.  We have to pledge to each other that we won't serve two masters at the same time.  People have to choose between being apologists for the corporate agenda or get onboard for all of humanity and the environment.
 
We have serious problems and an honest assessment cannot leave one to be overly optimistic.  But we have a little two-year-old running around the kitchen as I write this.  She is a part of our house's extended community.  She is a bright and joyful child who we've come to adore like our own.  We have to be fighting for her now.  And our Mother Earth is in toxic shock.  One day she is cold with shivers and the next day she is sweating in fever.  The weather here in Maine has never been so strange.  We must act and act again.  Nothing is more important.

SYRIAN GIRL



Syrian girl does a series of commentaries on the Middle East.  You can find her page here

See the related article called US in bed with extremists as new phase in 20-month war begins written by former staffer at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee here.

THE MESSY DETAILS


Yes the messy details are continuing to emerge about the "deal" that is being cut by Obama and the Republicans.  I'd suggest the corporate interests are quite happy to have this president in power at this time.  He does such a great job of appearing tough in presidential campaigns and then turning into melting butter come time for negotiations.

Yesterday I posted evidence of the magician's two-handed act to sell his base out on Social Security and social progress in general.  Today the word is that his cuts on the war machine are going to be slim pickins.

Below are some choice comments by Jack Rasmus from his article entitled Fiscal Cliff—The Well Orchestrated Dance

Forget about the $500 billion in defense cuts called for in the sequestration deal of August 2011. That’s no longer an issue, and never was. If readers had listened closely to Obama in the second presidential debate, when asked by the moderator what was his position on that issue, he briefly answered ‘that was Congress’ proposal, not mine’. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that even in the sequestration deal, only $24 billion in 2013 is scheduled in defense cuts. Look therefore for about half, or no more than $200 billion over ten years in military spending cuts. That will come from withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq and Army personnel downsizing. Military equipment expenditures will likely actually rise, however, after 2014 as the US military redeploys to the western pacific and Navy-Air Force spending takes precedence over Army expenditures. Defense equipment companies know the deal for them is already cut. They reportedly even have no ‘Plan B’, according to the Wall St. Journal, in the event that military spending is reduced per the sequestration agreement, which is now virtually out of the question. Unlike the reduction of the cuts in military spending by half in a Fiscal Cliff agreement, don’t expect the other $500 billion in the 2011 sequestered cuts social programs to be similarly reduced by half.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

OBAMA SELLING OUT HIS BASE....AGAIN



Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich on Tuesday night criticized President Barack Obama for agreeing to adjust the measure of inflation for safety net programs like Social Security.

During an appearance on Current TV, Reich said the President was “chipping away at Social Security and Medicare by fiddling with the formula for inflation” amid the ongoing budget negotiations. The proposed changes to the measure of inflation — called “chained CPI” — would lead to smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries.

The average retired Social Security recipient gets $12,000 per year and for many that is all they get.  They have no other pension plans.  For Obama to make significant changes in the inflation adjustment they get is to set them back.  Over time these folks would eat less, take less medications, live in a colder house and more.  They end up dying earlier as well.

If you think Congress should stop Obama from caving in then please call them at  202-224-3121

LEONARD PELTIER ON AIR



Leonard Peltier, one of the nation’s most well-known and longest incarcerated prisoners, speaks out from the U.S. Penitentiary at Coleman, Florida, where he is currently held. Peltier is the Native American activist and former member of the American Indian Movement who was convicted of aiding in the killing of two FBI agents during a shootout on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. Sentenced to prison in 1977, Peltier is now 68-years old. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman spoke with Peltier on Saturday when he called into a press conference organized by his supporters.

TRAIN WRECK UPDATE



  • In a potentially precedent-setting decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a National Lawyers Guild (NLG) lawyer's challenge to military spying on peace activists can proceed. The ruling marks the first time a court has affirmed people's ability to sue the military for violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights. 'This has never been done before,' said NLG member attorney Larry Hildes, who is handling the case. 'The U.S. government has spied on political dissidents throughout history and this particular plot lasted through two presidencies, but never before has a court said that we can challenge it the way we have.' The ruling is the latest development in the lawsuit, Panagacos v. Towery, first brought by Hildes in 2009 on behalf of a group of Washington state antiwar activists who found themselves infiltrated by John Towery, an employee at a fusion center.
  •  Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein criticized Obama’s latest proposals as, “throwing ordinary Americans under the bus while continuing to reward the economic elite. These proposals cut the cost of living adjustments for Social Security, seek $400 billion in unspecified cuts to Medicare and other health care programs, extend the Bush tax cuts for households making as much as $400,000, and fast track changes to the corporate tax code. The bipartisan policies of recent decades made the rich a lot richer, pushed millions into poverty and insecurity, and created a 16 trillion dollar national debt. Now both establishment parties are using the national debt as a concocted excuse to cut critical services including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and food stamps.  While their proposals differ around the margins, both Democrats and Republicans are promoting austerity budgets that are highly likely to deepen and extend the Great Recession. We need a prosperity budget not an austerity budget. By redirecting trillions of dollars being wasted on the bloated military, Wall Street bail outs, health insurance profiteering, and tax breaks for the wealthy, we have more than enough money to fund our real urgent needs – job creation, infrastructure investments, reducing mortgage and student debt, health care as a human right, and aggressive action against climate change," said Dr. Stein. 
  • You may call your "representatives" in Congress and rattle your chains by dialing 202-224-3121I did my duty today and called Sen. Collins and Rep. Pingree's office.  At Pingree's office the staffer who took my call acknowledged that Congress is talking about cutting very little of the massive Pentagon budget.  I urged our congresswoman to be more vocal and show leadership on this topic.  I'll keep you posted on the results.

WHY DO WE CALL THEM ENEMIES?



Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire joined the Afghan Peace Volunteers and 9 other international peace builders in Kabul, Afghanistan to remember the 2 million victims of war over the past four decades in Afghanistan.

December 10th was the International Day of Human Rights. In this Human Rights week in Kabul the above mentioned sent a petition to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon asking for a UN-brokered ceasefire by all the warring groups in conflict in Afghanistan.

WE ARE THE TRUTH



For a world that needs it...be encouraged.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SANTA'S BLESSINGS?


  • This photo was created by an Arizona gun club in 2011 that offered the chance for customers to pose with Santa.  "Our customers have been looking for a fun and safe way to express their holiday spirit and passion for firearms," said the gun club manager.  The UK's Guardian published the story and ran the photo with it.  See it here.  Peter Woodruff and I will do the first hour of our weekly radio show on the assault weapons theme on Wednesday from 6-8pm (EST).  Our show slot got changed again.  You can listen online via WBOR
  • It will be interesting to hear what the Christians say about the militarization of Christmas.  Next we'll see images of Jesus on the cross holding an assault rifle.
  • The scripted (remember professional wrestling metaphor) "fiscal cliff crisis" in Washington is nearing its long anticipated crescendo.  Obama and the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner have started playing footsie following their opening round of snarling and cursing at one another.  Trial balloons are being floated that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will take hits as expected.  Increased taxes on the rich will come but "negotiations" are presently underway to determine if they will start at $250,000 or $500,000 per year income brackets.  Not much being said about the Pentagon budget except for a few strains of that familiar tune "wasteful military spending" (which is of course true) but does nothing to indicate a serious reassessment of the U.S. military empire.  If you are so moved you can reach your representative and our senators through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
  • We had a really good statewide meeting in Augusta last Saturday.  Were about 40 folks there from 20 Maine communities and we came up with an initial campaign called Budget for all....why not?  Also decided to call our efforts the Alliance for the Common Good.  The whole intent was to say that we have to connect the dots between all our issues and find ways to support one another.  The "good old days" of single issue focus are dead.  We are all getting our asses kicked and need to work together when possible.  Our next meeting will be in Augusta on February 9.  Two TV stations showed up and did interviews but nothing appeared on air.  One newspaper reporter came and stayed for the entire meeting which is very unusual.  The story ran in three papers across Maine on Sunday.  See it here
  • I earlier wrote that I did a phone interview with Iranian TV on Saturday.  On Sunday morning they called again and I did another live interview on Press TV in Tehran.  It was about a three-minute spot and they asked me to talk about the growing conflict between Japan and China.  I suggested that the U.S.-Japan military alliance was about surrounding China and trying to destabilize the region - just as U.S.-NATO are currently doing in the Middle East and Africa.

Monday, December 17, 2012

NOW APPEARING EVEN IN LUXEMBURG

Gangjeong in the Luxemburg daily newspaper

Here is the next article. It was in the most widely read daily in Luxemburg. Three more articles to come. Lots of love from Luxemburg. I am sad that I am not in Gangjeong anymore! And I miss all of you!

  - Carole Reckinger (Photojournalist who recently spent several weeks on Jeju Island)
You can see Carole's photo blog from Gangjeong village here

Another great article was also just published in The Nation magazine.  You can find it here

"V FEEL UR PAIN"


From those who know of fear and death far too well. Pakistani children in Karachi light candles in tribute to Sandy Hook victims.  

The children of Pakistan has experienced enough sadness as a result of Obama's drone "kill list" gone astray.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT YEMEN?



Jeremy Scahill goes to Yemen in an Al Jazeera documentary to investigate the effect of America's war in Yemen, as part of the greater 'War on Terror'.

This report exposes Obama's lies about U.S. military operations in Yemen.  It seems clear to me that the U.S. is knowingly creating a destabilized situation which will then allow them to "justify" further militarization on the African continent.  That expanded U.S. military presence over time makes it "easier" to control the natural resource extraction process in Africa.

It's a sick and cynical strategy but one that has worked over and over again.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

TO STAND AGAINST THIS WAR ECONOMY



Part III in a series examining the sainthood cause of Dorothy Day, an American activist and founder of the Catholic Worker movement. This is an examination of how Dorothy Day's staunch pacifism during World War II tarnishes her reputation in Catholic circles.

I'm not into sainthood but Dorothy Day's life is an important story to know about.

SUNDAY SONG