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, January 26, 2013

TAR SANDS PROTEST IN PORTLAND


It was cold today in Portland for the No Tar Sands rally-march-rally.  The temperature was 20 degrees but the cold wind coming in off Casco Bay had to take it below freezing.  We gathered at Monument Square in downtown for a short rally and then marched to the waterfront for a final rally.

From the waterfront, just across the bay, you can see the big oil tanks that would collect the Tar Sands oil from western Canada.  It would be carried by the Enbridge/Portland-Montreal Pipeline, 76% owned by Exxon-Mobil.  At least 1,000 folks were at the rally which, considering the weather, was quite good with many coming from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Canada.

At the final rally they announced they had 15 speakers and the first one took at least 15 minutes as we stood shivering....not great rally planning considering the weather.  By the time they were half way through the speakers list more than half of the crowd took off.

The best speaker of the day was the Green Party's Jill Stein who was the only one I heard connect the dots....but she spoke in the pre-march warm up rally and had little time to speak.

On the good side many of the more cautious environmentalists from the Natural Resources Council and Sierra Club were at the event - they don't usually do street protests.  So it is positive to see them realizing that the corporate domination of our political system has gotten to the point that more public action is needed to protect the planet and the future generations.

In many of the speeches though there was still a tendency to see Obama and the Democrats as a key part of the strategy to stop the Tar Sands Pipeline.  My own reading of the tea leaves is that Obama won't stand up to big oil and block the pipeline and that ultimately more vigorous direct action will be needed.  Time will tell.

My sign drew some interest today as a good number of people asked me, "Is that true"...... that the Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on the planet?  Yes indeed it is true.  It's all spelled out quite explicitly in the book called The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism by Barry Sanders.

Based primarily on research culled from documents released or leaked by the military itself, The Green Zone is the first book to provide a comprehensive examination of the relationship between militarism and ecological destruction.

Unless and until the Pentagon is included in the environmental articulation and organizing strategy we will ultimately be unable to get a handle of the major causes of climate change.

A secretive funding organisation in the US that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate "counter movement" to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has reported.


The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.

Friday, January 25, 2013

THE GREAT CLASS DIVIDE



Michael Parenti, noted political scholar and author of The Face of Imperialism discusses the changing role of media in the political landscape, the lenses of the two party system, race, culture, and class on media reporting, and more.

WATCH OBAMA'S OTHER HAND


  • I was in bed sick most of the day yesterday.  I watched Part 1 of a film called The Lenin Train and read.  Had little to no energy but it was so cold outside I didn't want to go anywhere anyway.  Today as been a different story as I took a cab to Topsham and hitchhiked back home after an appointment.  A man who owns a local antique shop picked me up and took me to Bath.  I asked him how business is going and he said "It's been bad for the past four years."  He told me that working people routinely bring him little items and say, "Can you give me $20 for this, it was my mom's....I need the money to buy some food."
  • Tomorrow is the big New England Regional No Tar Sands Pipeline march and rally in Portland.  Will be eager to see how strong folks turn out as we get a test of the impact climate change issue will have in helping to wake the public out of their numbed out sleep walk.  It will be awful cold (about 21 degrees) but Mainers are notoriously hardy folks.
  • There has been a spike in the love people are showing for Obama on Facebook since the inauguration.  That big event gave folks something "good" to crow about and the liberals on FB are cranking away.  Obama mentioned climate change in his speech.....so hopes are up.  People still want to believe that Obama will pull a rabbit out of the hat at just the right moment.  But so far the rabbits all look like corporate welfare checks.  Obama dances nice, has a great smile, knows just when to say the right thing, keeps connected to the "little" people via popular mass media - he is indeed the magician.  Watch his other hand - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Tar Sands Pipeline, his support for "clean coal" (dirty), natural gas (fracking) and endless war on 'terrorists' in places where declining supplies of natural resources are found. Watch the acceleration of the militarization of local police departments in cooperation with the Pentagon. Watch the drone strikes....it's an endless list of bad shit. But Obama keeps dancing - he's optimistic!  He knows who he really works for.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

LEADING BY EXAMPLE



Uruguay's Jose Mujica - the poorest president in the world.

PORTLAND PROTEST SATURDAY


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WE KILLED EVERYTHING THAT MOVED IN NORTH KOREA

  Charles Hanley Interview from Regis Tremblay on Vimeo.

Regis Tremblay, who is making a documentary film about Jeju Island, writes:

On January 17, 2013, Paul Michaud and I spent the day with Pulitzer Prize winning author Charles Hanley. Hanley, Sang-Hun Choe and Martha Mendoza, all AP reporters, shared the prize for their book, The Bridge at No Gun Ri which relates the massacre of as many as 400 innocent men, women and children by the U.S. military in 1950.

Parts of the lengthy interview will be included in my feature-length documentary, Jeju: In the crosshairs of war...again. At some future date, I will post the entire interview.

MAINERS PUSHING FOR CORPORATE $$$$ BAN

State Senator Geoffrey Gratwick from Bangor talked about introducing a resolution calling on the state legislature to support a Constitutional amendment to ban big bucks in elections. His race last November drew $500,000 in outside money.  About 100 people attended the rally.
Before the Move to Amend rally began I went up into the Hall of Flags where the big heavy industrial developers and contractors were working the state legislators.  I stood with my sign for a half-hour and created a bit of a stir amongst the industry lobbyists.  When I make my protest signs I always try to connect as many dots as possible in just a few words.

I went to the state capital in Augusta, Maine yesterday to attend a news conference and rally for Move to Amend which is trying to ban corporate $$$$ that has been contaminating our elections since the Supreme Court gave Mr. Big "free speech" rights a couple of years ago.  Eleven states across the nation have either passed referendums or resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment to ban corporations from stealing our elections with their dirty money.

The show got started a bit late because they were waiting on a bus load of folks from Bar Harbor so I drifted upstairs into the Capital Hall of Flags that sits in the middle of the building and is used for many big rallies and political functions.  On this particular day the huge development and construction corporations occupied the hall and were giving free food to the legislators and public.  They each had big displays of their corporate 'rip and snort' technologies that are tearing Maine to shreds.  Cianbro, behind me in the photo above, wants to build an enormous "East-West Corridor" across Maine for corporate trucking, pipelines and power lines to move "resources" from Maine's coast into Canada.  There is an underutilized rail line already covering that route but these corporations eye the huge construction contracts that such a corridor would provide.

Farms, forests, ponds, rivers and animals would be in grave danger from such a project.  People along the corridor pathway are now organizing in opposition and have already slowed the process down.

The news conference and rally finally got started when 11,000 signed postcards from Maine citizens (in a state of only 1.3 million) were presented to the media.  (Statewide radio covered the event, some TV, but nothing in the newspapers this morning.  I wonder why?)

Several people made excellent statements.  I was particularly impressed with newly elected Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick.  He is a medical doctor who in November beat the incumbent Republican state senator in Bangor.  About $500,000 from outside groups poured into that one race - highly unusual for Maine state legislative politics.

After winning his seat Gratwick pledged he would make campaign finance reform a priority when he arrived at the State Capital. “This election points out the terribly destructive role of outside money on local politics,” he said. “Money that has no traced source is going to destroy our democracy. I take this seriously and one of my goals will be to change this process.” The money spent on political advertising “could better be spent on many of the things our local communities need,” he said at the time.

Yesterday Gratwick made a very strong pledge to work hard to pass a resolution in the legislature. 

In my town of Bath we are organizing now to request that our city council pass a similar resolution in support of a constitutional amendment.  So far 36 towns in Maine have passed such resolutions.  On February 21 we will hold a public meeting at city hall in Bath to discuss this issue.

PROTESTS IN TURKEY AGAINST US-NATO MISSILE DEPLOYMENTS


Yesterday peace activists in Turkey held protests in several cities against US-NATO deployment of Patriot (PAC-3) "missile defense" systems being deployed in their country along the Syrian border.  Ostensibly deployed to "protect" Turkey, these systems are being sprinkled around the globe in the ever expanding US-NATO encirclement of Russia, Iran, and China.

There was no debate in the Turkish parliament about allowing these missile deployments into their country. These kind of un-democratic decisions often lead to spiraling escalation which benefits the war makers.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was provoked by the Soviet construction of missile bases in Cuba but there were earlier actions by the US that helped create the nuclear conflict. In April 1962, the US deployed the Jupiter medium-range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads in Italy and Turkey. Considering that the Cold War was characterized by conventional and nuclear arms races, the Soviet counter-missile measures in Cuba were a predictable response to the US missiles in Turkey.  Kennedy finally agreed to pull US missiles out of Turkey and the Soviets pulled out of Cuba.  Today the US is double-timing its encirclement of Russia-Iran-China.

We sent a solidarity statement to the Turkish activists from the Global Network. They shared it with the media.  Here it is:

We stand with you as you oppose deployment of NATO Patriot missile deployments in Turkey that are aimed at Syria.  These systems are provocative and key elements in first-strike attack planning.  So-called "missile defense" systems are actually the shield that is used following a first-strike attack.  Thus when they are deployed they only increase tensions and possibilities for wider war.
The US-NATO are now deploying these "missile defense" systems on land and on Navy Aegis destroyers around the world surrounding Russia-Iran-China.  As a result both Russia and China are increasing their offensive military capability in order to counter US-NATO moves.
It is crucial that the global peace movement stand in unity to oppose these mis-named "missile defense" systems - they should be called missile offense.
We send our greetings, our solidarity and our best wishes for peace.
Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

INDIANS TOLD TO BUILD BOMB SHELTERS


 
Sign-On Statement Against Rising India-Pakistan Nuclear Tensions

Fear is being spread in the Kashmir region of India that nuclear war is imminent with Pakistan.  People are being told to dig air raid shelters.

Recent reports of some gruesome happenings on the borders between India and Pakistan have led to comments, magnified multi-fold in these highly networked times, of a nature designed to stoke further hostility rather than to calm heightened fury.

Not only has the border skirmish led to diplomatic tensions, military build-up and war hysteria in the sections of the media on both sides of the border, but the Jammu and Kashmir Police, on the Indian side, has reportedly issued advisories for its citizens on how to conduct themselves in the event of a nuclear exchange. This is nothing but pure insanity.

As revealed by saner sections of media and some public intellectuals, unfortunate violent skirmishes on Indo-Pak border have become routine, only to be overplayed occasionally by either side for their political convenience. Given that both India and Pakistan are nuclear-armed, it is highly imperative that saner counsels prevail.

We, the undersigned, call upon politicians, the civil society and the public at large in both countries, to exercise caution as regards jingoistic media reports and commentaries. We urge all concerned to re-engage instead in working for the common prosperity of people on the both sides.

For organizations to sign on to the above statement please send an email to Kumar Sundaram in India at editor@dianuke.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pksundaram

You can also sign the statement directly on Kumar's web page here

THE WORLD OF DRONE$



A big "market" opportunity.......

INAUGURAL DIE-IN



  • Die-In at the Inaugural parade yesterday in Washington DC.  The protest highlighted Obama's "I have a drone" war.
  • At one of the Obama pre-Inauguration parties two nights ago rapper Lupe Fiasco was thrown off the Inaugural Concert stage for rapping about the grim future of our country under Washington's, and Obama's, policies. This is what he said:
I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullshit
Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets
How much money does it take to really make a full clip
9/11 building 7 did they really pull it
Uhh, And a bunch of other cover ups
Your childs future was the first to go with budget cuts
If you think that hurts then, wait here comes the uppercut
The school was garbage in the first place, that's on the up and up
Keep you at the bottom but tease you with the uppercrust
You get it then they move it so you never keeping up enough
If you turn on TV all you see’s a bunch of “what the fucks”
Dude is dating so and so blabbering bout such and such
And that ain't Jersey Shore, homie that's the news
And these the same people that supposed to be telling us the truth
Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit
That's why I ain't vote for him, next one either
I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
And I believe in the people.

~Lupe Fiasco~

  • I am heading back to the state capital in Augusta this morning for another protest.  This one will be organized by Move to Amend - the campaign to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban corporate $$$ in our elections.  Organizers are bringing a resolution to the state legislature calling for their support in the effort to keep corporate Mr. Big from stealing elections.  Already 36 Maine towns and cities have passed similar resolutions.

Monday, January 21, 2013

REMAKING THE MLK IMAGE


More at The Real News
Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.

A RADICAL REVOLUTION OF VALUES



Martin Luther King Jr.: "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" 

Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967.
 
MLK was killed, I believe, because he had crossed the line to speak out against U.S. imperial wars. He was also rumored to be considering at the time running for the White House with Dr. Benjamin Spock (a key leader of the peace movement) as his vice-presidential running mate.

A Spock-King team would have united the black and white activist movements that were so strong during the late 60's. It was then that the decision was made to take King out.

I highly recommend the book called Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. by William Pepper. I read it some years ago and it was a life-changer for me.

See it here

I am convinced that in America the oligarchy lets you speak out (it helps maintain the illusion of democracy) until you become a real threat to their power. In the case of MLK, the decision was made that he was going to seriously challenge the power of those who run the show.

Sadly today we have a president who cowardly hides behind the name and memory of MLK to justify his wars and his attacks on civil liberties and social progress.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

YOU DON'T PLAY WITH MLK




RESISTANCE ON OKINAWA


The_Target_Village by LemmyCautionTK

Very moving film about US bases on Okinawa and the growing resistance of the people.

This is just one more example that the US-NATO "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific is harming people and the environment.

The film reveals that during the 1960's Okinawan villagers (including children) were forced to perform as Vietnamese targets as the US soldiers practiced guerrilla warfare in their forest.

SUNDAY SONG