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, February 16, 2013

A LIFE ON THE STREETS


It seems like I've spent half my life standing on street corners holding protest signs.  If you want to see and know America that is the place to be.  People in their automobiles are living their "dream" of independence and upward mobility - at least that's what they've been conditioned to think.

Today seven of us stood for an hour in the breezy-cold under gray skies with snow lightly falling in front of the administration building at Bath Iron Works. We started at 11:30 am and at noon the shipyard horn blew and minutes later a steady stream of cars come flying out of the parking lots.  Many of the workers drive over-sized pickup trucks, most of which are newer models attesting to the fact that the wages inside the yard are good enough to secure a heavy vehicle loan.

Most of the workers don't engage as they roll by.  Now and then someone will awkwardly wave to us and we get a good number of the middle fingers.  One women drove by today and shielded her face from us with her left hand.....she had an Army bumper sticker on her truck.....I wondered if she was a Christian fundamentalist who viewed us as the devil?  My mind wanders in those minutes.

When I attend these kind of vigils I come to work so I usually stand by myself and concentrate on the faces that drive by.  I want to make eye contact.  If I'm going to stand in the cold then I want to make sure my sign gets read. 

Maureen and George Kehoe-Ostensen organize these Lenten vigils and do the same during the Advent season.  Week in and week out we gather to bring the disarmament and conversion message to the workers and the public. 

At the end of the vigil we always stand in a circle.  Maureen asks us to bring those suffering from wars into our circle and also to remember those who are in prison for protesting against war.  She then invites us to bring other names into the circle.

This is my 10th year in Maine standing at these BIW vigils and today I thanked Maureen and George for their steady leadership that brings us all together.  It's a meditation for me in many respects.  It's a hard road to stand on but a meaningful way to spend a life.

STOP WAR GAMES, START PEACE TALKS


Statement Opposing U.S.-South Korea Joint Military Exercises Key Resolve Foal Eagle

The Korean War, known in the United States as “The Forgotten War,” has never ended.  Every year, the United States stages a series of massive joint war games with its ally, South Korea (ROK).  These coordinated exercises are both virtual and real.  Among other things, they practice live fire drills and simulate the invasion of North Korea—including first-strike options.

While we - peace, human rights, faith-based, environmental, and Korean solidarity activists – are deeply concerned about North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test, we also oppose the U.S.-ROK joint war games as adding to the dangerous cycle of escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.  North Korea views these war games as an act of provocation and threat of invasion like that which we have witnessed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and routinely condemns these maneuvers as aimed at “bring[ing] down the DPRK by force” and forcing it to “bolster up the war deterrent physically.”  South Korean activists also decry the role of these war games in the hostile perpetuation of the division of the Korean peninsula and are often persecuted for their protests under South Korea’s draconian National Security Law.

The U.S.-ROK “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” annual war games, usually staged in March, and “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” in August, typically last for months and involve tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and deployed from the United States, as well as hundreds of thousands of their ROK counterparts.  U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and Space Command forces will participate in these exercises and practice scenarios including the removal of North Korea’s leadership, occupation of Pyeongyang, and reunification of the peninsula under U.S. and South Korean control.

In South Korea, peace and reunification groups have long opposed these war games. They have called for peninsula-wide demilitarization entailing the eventual removal of U.S. troops. As one organization puts it, “Unless and until US forces are completely and permanently withdrawn from South Korea, it will be impossible to establish peace on the Korean peninsula.”
 
We call upon the U.S. and South Korean governments to stop the costly and provocative war games and take proactive steps to deescalate the current tensions on the Korean peninsula.  

The Perils of the U.S. Pivot

In the past five years, hard-won efforts by the Korean people to ease North-South tensions have been reversed. Through its massive military buildup across the region, the United States has amplified regional tensions.  Recent years have been witness to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, increasing nationalism and militarism in Japan (the world's sixth greatest military spender), and a host of increasingly militarized territorial disputes.  The global Cold War may have ended 20 years ago, but as the recent round of U.S.-led sanctions on the DPRK and threat of a third DPRK nuclear weapons “test” illustrate, the anachronism remains alive and well on the Korean peninsula.

Crisis on the Korean peninsula furnishes a rationale for U.S. militarization of the region, and the Pentagon has committed to deploy 60% of its air and naval forces to Asia and the Pacific to reinforce its air sea battle doctrine.  Announced as the “pivot” of U.S. military resources to Asia and the Pacific, President Obama’s policy, which necessitates more training areas, runways, ports of call, and barracks for the massive shift of U.S. military forces, disregards the impact of militarization on the lives of ordinary people in the region.  

The disastrous ecological and human costs of this "pivot" are acutely apparent in the current construction of a naval base on Jeju, an "island of peace" in South Korea known for having the planet's densest concentration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Once celebrated for its pristine beauty and sea-based culture, Gangjeong, a 450-year-old fishing and farming village is being torn to shreds by the South Korean government in collaboration with the United States, which can freely use any ROK military installation.  Base construction crews are dredging acres of world-class, bio-diverse coral habitats and covering them with concrete.  The obliteration of these coastal ecosystems also destroys the millennia-old livelihoods of the villagers, 94% of whom voted against the base in a local referendum.  Gangjeong villagers are watching their heritage, economy, vibrant local culture, spiritual center, and very core of their identity collapse into rubble. 

This same multi-facted people’s struggle is being played out in many places across the Asia-Pacific. Within President Obama’s “pivot” policy, U.S. bases in South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Hawaii, and Guam are ever more important.  Moreover, his administration has been pressing hard to open up previously closed U.S. bases in geostrategically vital nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines.  

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the July 27, 1953 Armistice Agreement that brought the combat phase of the Korean War to a temporary halt but did not end the war.  The Armistice Agreement stipulated that a peace agreement be realized within three months and that negotiations take place for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea.  Over the past several decades, North Korea, often portrayed in mainstream media as an irrational rogue state, has repeatedly requested peace negotiations with the United States.  Yet today, we station nearly 30,000 military personnel and operate over 40 military bases on the Korean peninsula.  We have spent the past 60 years living not in a post-war era, but under a ceasefire whose consequences are borne most acutely by the Korean people.  On this anniversary of the irresolution of the Korean War, the longest conflict the United States has been involved in, we as human rights, Korean solidarity, faith-based, peace, and environmental organizations call for attention to the human and ecological costs of permanent war as the modus vivendi of U.S.-Korean relations.  Efforts that promote increased militarization and conflict and the destruction of the rich biodiversity in Korea are immoral and go against universally shared values of building peace, caring for Earth, and respecting the human dignity and worth of every person.

Resolution for Peace

We, the undersigned peace, human rights, faith-based, environmental, and Korean solidarity activists, call upon the U.S.-ROK governments to cancel their dangerous and costly war games against North Korea.  

We strongly urge the United States to turn to diplomacy for common and human security rather than militarization, which will only undermine regional and U.S. security.  We further request that the Obama administration focus its strategic shift to the Asia region on finding diplomatic and peaceful solutions to conflict, and building cooperation with all nations in the region, including China, DPRK, and Russia. 


On this anniversary of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Agreement, which several decades ago called for a peaceful resolution to the Korean War, we join with our peace-minded brothers and sisters in Korea and call on the Obama administration to deescalate the current tensions and do its part in realizing “Year One of Peace” on the Korean Peninsula.

Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific*

Christine Ahn, Gretchen Alther, Rev. Levi Bautista, Jackie Cabasso, Herbert Docena, John Feffer, Bruce Gagnon, Joseph Gerson, Subrata Goshoroy, Mark Harrison, Christine Hong, Kyle Kajihiro, Peter Kuznick, Hyun Lee, Ramsay Liem, Andrew Lichterman, John Lindsay-Poland, Ngo Vinh Long, Stephen McNeil, Nguyet Nguyen, Satoko Norimatsu, Koohan Paik, Mike Prokosh, Juyeon JC Rhee, Arnie Sakai, Tim Shorrock, Alice Slater, David Vine, Sofia Wolman

To join the list of endorsers, please email your name, (organization if possible) and your city/state or country to Bruce Gagnon at – globalnet@mindspring.com
Deadline for endorsements is February 28

* The Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific is comprised of individuals and organizations concerned about and working for peace and demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific on a comprehensive basis. For more information see: www.asiapacificinitiative.org.

MOVE TO AMEND IN MAINE



Across the state of Maine 37 local cities and towns have passed resolutions in support of banning corporate $$$ in our elections.  Eleven states have either passed resolutions at their state legislature or held statewide referendums in support of an amendment to the constitution that says campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.

Last week town councilors in neighboring Brunswick voted 6-3 in support of such a constitutional amendment.  On March 6 Bath City Council will vote on a similar resolution.  In order to help make this happen I've been working with a local Move to Amend committee in Bath.  Yesterday I handed out flyers in front of the local post office inviting people to a public meeting on Thursday, Feb 21 at our city hall auditorium beginning at 6:30 pm.  This meeting will feature speakers and discussion about ending corporate influence in our electoral process.

Last November a state senate race in Maine (Bangor area) saw $450,000 of mostly out-of-state money get pumped into that local election.  When a state senate race draws that kind of attention and corporate funding you know that we are in big trouble.  An effort is also underway in Maine's state legislature to pass a similar resolution in support of the constitutional amendment to ban big $$ in politics.  Without such an amendment to our constitution we are nothing but a corporate slave state.

Friday, February 15, 2013

INSIDE THE PIRATE STORY





Stolen Seas presents a chilling exploration of the Somali pirate phenomenon and forces you to rethink everything you thought you knew about pirates.

With first hand accounts from leading experts on the subject refuting the common misconceptions, Stolen Seas explores theories of what drives a country to piracy, from every point of view. It is a film about a country on the brink, at the mercy of global capitalism in overdrive, and young boys with nothing to loose.

Stolen Seas is an eye opening refutation of preconceived ideas on how or why piracy has become the world's most frightening multi-million dollar growth industry.

SERVING LIFE SENTENCE



Documentary now showing in theaters in major cities across the nation.

See more here

DRONING ON AND ON


  • Drone medals?  The out-going Secretary of War Leon Panetta has announced that the Pentagon will begin awarding the Distinguished Warfare Medal to individuals for "extraordinary achievement" related to military operations that occurred after Sept. 11, 2001. But unlike other combat medals, it does not require the recipient risk his or her life to get it. It will be given to drone pilots and cyber "warriors" who sit at computer screens safely distant from the "battlefield". The medal will be considered a bit higher in ranking than the Bronze Star, but is lower than the Silver Star, military officials said. 
  •  Associated Press reports that federal officials on Thursday solicited proposals to create six drone test sites around the US. The FAA is required by a law enacted a year ago to develop sites where civilian and military drones can be tested in preparation for integration into U.S. airspace that's currently limited to manned aircraft. The law also requires that the FAA allow drones wide access to U.S. airspace by 2015.  About two dozen government-industry partnerships have been formed over the past year to compete for the sites. The agency forecasts an estimated 10,000 civilian drones will be in use in the U.S. within five years. 
  •  Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, New York is a drone base that has drawn many non-violent peace protests in the past two years. Recently the base Operations Commander has gotten an “Order of Protection,” to guard himself from “assault, stalking, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, sexual misconduct, [or] forcible touching,” by the nonviolent activists.  Not to be deterred nine activists were arrested earlier this week for blocking an entrance to the base.  In a statement the protesters declared, "We come to Hancock Airfield, home of the National Reaper Drone Maintenance and Training center, this Ash Wednesday -- to remember the victims of our drone strikes and to ask God's forgiveness for the killing of other human beings, most especially children.....Lent is a time to repent--literally, to change our minds. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' command to love our neighbors and our enemies. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' radical, non-violent message of love."  On April 26-28 the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars will hold a conference that will include workshops, panels, and talks on Friday night and Saturday. On Sunday an action is planned at Hancock Field to call attention to the criminal, innocent and, illegal deaths caused with drones from the base.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

THIS OCCUPATION IS HAZARDOUS


PUT YOUR EAR TO THE RR TRACKS


The American Indians used to say, "Put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming."

The signs have been around for many, many moons that the ways of the white man are killing the Mother Earth.

Yesterday 50 big names in the climate change movement took a bust in front of the White House.  Included in the group were folks like environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org; Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former president of the NAACP; and Daryl Hannah, an actress.

Their action was smartly timed as a way to pump-up-the-jam for the really big rally this Sunday planned for the same location.  I've heard that four bus loads are heading to Washington from Maine.  Our housemate Karen Wainberg is already heading that way.

Among those who were arrested yesterday was Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.  Common Dreams reported on the action and quoted Brune: “For the first time in the Sierra Club’s 120-year history, we have joined the ranks of visionaries of the past and present to engage in civil disobedience, knowing that the issue at hand is so critical, it compels the strongest defensible action. We cannot afford to allow the production, transport, export and burning of the dirtiest oil on Earth via the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama must deny the pipeline and take decisive steps to address climate disruption, the most significant issue of our time.”

Very good statement.  Glad to see the Sierra Club stepping it up.  But it brings to mind a very interesting reality.  It means that the Sierra Club, who historically loves to put Democratic Party politicians in canoes on Earth Day for photo-ops, has come to the conclusion that they can't rely on the Democrats anymore.  It means that the very president who most mainstream environmentalists worked for and voted for is now very surely going to cut our collective throats by approving the XL pipeline.

The Democrats in recent years have contributed to the corporate erosion of national environmental law.  And the Democrats have been complicit in aiding and abetting the military industrial complex (with the largest carbon footprint on the planet) in its mission to become the primary resource extraction service for corporate globalization.  So the Democrats in the US are in bed with the fossil fuel corporations, the polluters and the war makers. 

But the ties still linger.  The protesters yesterday made a point to note they were not protesting Obama per se.  They were instead just applying the pressure the president requested - as if they were helping to free an other wise captive, or restrained, Obama.

I don't think Obama is in chains.  I think he has willingly and eagerly submitted himself to serve as an agent of the corporate oligarchy.  Never during his political career has Obama shown any indication that he has core values.  His 100 votes as an Illinois State Senator, where he registered himself "present" on the most controversial issues, indicates a proclivity to avoid conflict and to instead look ahead to a larger personal goal.  He has become president.  He is a captive of the corporations.  I will be shocked if Obama stops the XL pipeline.  People will have to protest against him at some point.  Put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the corporate train of destruction coming.

The whole system is the problem.  We have to call it all into question.  A revolutionary restructuring of "modern" society is necessary.  Now.

We start when we begin to hear, see, and act in a clear way.  The deceptive fog of democracy must be lifted.

CONNECTING THE SHIPYARD CRIME SCENES

Tamara Lorincz (2nd from left) and her crew at the weekly shipyard protest in Halifax
Photo from a previous protest at Bath Iron Works but same sign I used yesterday at the Lenten vigil in Bath

  • I went to an hour-long vigil yesterday at Bath Iron Works (BIW) where General Dynamics builds the Navy Aegis destroyers.  We had eight folks.  It was the first of a weekly series of vigils during Lent organized by the Smilin's Trees Disarmament Farm.  The next vigils will be Feb 16, 23, and March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.  Each will be from 11:30-12:30 pm. During the closing circle I told the others about the weekly Halifax, Nova Scotia shipyard protests by Tamara Lorincz.  
  • This morning Tamara sent me a news article from her local paper that reported "Top level [war ship] designs will be done by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works of Maine in concert with Irving."  Irving is the Canadian corporation building the naval ships for their government that are going to be used to "patrol" the Arctic region on behalf of the big corporate oil drilling operations that are made possible by melting ice due to climate change.
  • The Canadian right-wing government is being fully integrated under US-NATO control which means expanded militarization.  Cutbacks in Canada's social programs will be increased to pay for the military ramp-up.  
  • Tamara calls General Dynamics and Irving "partners in crime" and I think that is the perfect description.  The crime is the "theft" from those who hunger and are in need as former President Eisenhower warned us.  The crime is diverting us from dealing with climate change by building rail, wind, solar and other sustainable technologies.  Instead our criminal governments keep us addicted to militarism and oil extraction.  
  • Lent is a time to fast from our culture of excess by resisting the temptation of militarism.  Pray it be so.  Help us act to make it happen.

'CUZ THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO


by Robert Shetterly

We humans constantly are telling ourselves stories about moral and immoral behavior. Many of the most memorable -- if only because of repetition -- are from the Bible. From them we learn about moral courage and cowardice, about wisdom and folly, about when to obey and when to rebel.  And, of course, most Bible stories tell us to believe in God. But God -- He/She/It -- is so many things at once: God is Love, God is Nature, God is Truth. How can I believe in all these things at the same time? I’m more comfortable with each of those declarations about what God  IS when  the formula is reversed. For example, I prefer Nature is God. If that identifies me as a pagan, so be it. But the Bible stories still move me profoundly, especially when I try to apply them to the world around me. 

For instance, remember the story of King Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents? Herod, in an attempt to protect his crown from being supplanted by the rumored birth of the King of the Jews, ordered the execution of all male children in Nazareth under the age of two. He cannot identify which child might be Jesus, so he decides to kill them all. We are expected to think about this monstrous crime as the work of a paranoid maniac, which it is. And we may be expected to learn that totalitarian leadership can lead to this sort of barbarity. That is also correct.  

But couldn´t we also interpret Herod´s actions as the use of rational and necessary collateral damage to ensure the continued integrity of the state? If the sanctity of the state is the foremost good, then security has to trump justice and the right to life of any individual. In fact, security then becomes justice. It’s the same political and philosophical excuse used for drone warfare by our government today. If children are killed as a by-product of killing terrorists, then the killing is justified. Herod feared Jesus wanted to overthrow his state. Our government fears the terrorists do. Are all actions that advance the security of the state de facto ethical?  Should our drones be called Herod? (Image: Giotto's 'Massacre of the Innocents')

Take a look at Giotto’s masterful 14th Century fresco of the Massacre of the Innocents.  Above the town square, where his soldiers are lancing and decapitating children, Herod stands calmly giving his orders, pointing out the next victim as calmly as a US president ordering a drone strike. In neither case is any consideration given to law or to morality, or to what we might quaintly call “due process.” We witness the paranoid justice of security. 

What lesson is this behavior meant to teach our children? I am reminded of how Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled in the late 1960s to answer young black men in the ghetto when they asked him why they should not use violence to achieve their rights. They reminded Dr. King that the US government claimed the use of extreme violence in Vietnam as justified and necessary to promote democracy, so why shouldn’t they use the same method to achieve equality at home? King’s only answer was to condemn the war as immoral, a war that was racist, imperialist, and for the benefit of the military-industrial complex at the expense of the poor. 

Another instructive Bible story is the Wisdom of Solomon parable. King Solomon is approached by two women both claiming to be the mother of the same child. How can he know who is telling the truth? DNA tests were still a ways off. So, he suggests a compromise. Compromises are good. He raises his sharp sword intending to slice the baby in half. 

One woman objects and gives up her claim in order to protect the child. Solomon in his wisdom now knows who the mother is and hands her the intact child.

But our Solomon today is CEO of Terrible Swift Sword, Inc. His “compromise” has a special interest. What an opportunity to demonstrate superior sword performance! This shareholder Solomon asks us to accept the damage done to our children by gun violence, by contamination, by poor education, by fast food, by climate change, by absurd drug laws, by continual war funding, by the necessities of Empire -- on & on -- as “compromises” so that profits may be enhanced and markets expanded. The wisdom of capitalism. The lives of our children are being sliced in half. 

When the rights of money become part of the process of ethical compromise, wisdom is lost. When we allow our justice to be derived from our fears for security, ethics are lost. We are not then wise kings with wise swords, but armed and frightened barbarians with bottom lines. Every would-be Solomon becomes a Herod.

How do I know this? The Bible tells me so.

 - Robert Shetterly is a writer and artist who lives in Brooksville, Maine. He is has created the series of portraits called Americans Who Tell the Truth.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

GROWING CRACKDOWN IN JAPAN



In Japan police have recently arrested many anti-nuclear acrivists. A protest rally against police oppression was held in Osaka.

NUTS & BOLTS ORGANIZING

The Vermont Breakthrough! How a Human Rights Movement Is Winning a Healthcare System that Puts People First from NESRI on Vimeo.


This video tells the story of a successful grassroots campaign organizing for our human rights. This video is co-produced by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) and the Vermont Workers' Center.

It really well illustrates how to put together a campaign from start to finish.  Worth watching.

WHAT DO WE REALLY KNOW ABOUT NORTH KOREA?



RT's Abby Martin talks to the national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition, Brian Becker, about North Korea's nuclear drive, its tense relations with the US and the rationale of harsh rhetoric coming from the international community.

She starts out with some good Korean history - remember that this year marks 60 years since the Korean War Armistice (ceasefire) was signed between the US and North Korea.  To this day the US has refused to sign a real peace treaty with North Korea.

THE HIPPIES WERE RIGHT


ASSORTED STORIES OF INTEREST

  • Last week I posted a news video from Nova Scotia about Global Network board member Tamara Lorincz's lonely vigil against Canada's vigorous new warship building program.  This morning she sent around news about a man who stopped to talk with her during her vigil.  Turns out he is the President of CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local.  Tamara tells a great tale about their meeting and says, " I was shocked that he readily agreed with me!" It's a perfect illustration that you never know the power that one person can unleash.  The union president told her that the workers were talking about the protest inside the shipyard and wanted more information.  See the full story here

  • I received an email this morning from Bard Wormdal a journalist working for NRK, Norway's largest media house. He has been working as journalist for more than 25 years, with a special interest on Arctic and international issues.  Bard has just released the English versions  - e-book and paperback - of his new book The Satellite War.  The e-book can be downloaded for free until Monday. The Satellite War is about the global militarization of space with a special  focus on the polar areas. You can download it here
  •  A new article called U.S. Dollar Collapse: Where is Germany’s Gold? by Peter Schiff is worth reading.  He reports: The financial world was shocked this month by a demand from Germany’s Bundesbank to repatriate a large portion of its gold reserves held abroad. By 2020, Germany wants 50% of its total gold reserves back in Frankfurt – including 300 tons from the Federal Reserve. The Bundesbank’s announcement comes just three months after the Fed refused to submit to an audit of its holdings on Germany’s behalf. One cannot help but wonder if the refusal triggered the demand.
  • The next general meeting of Maine's new Alliance for the Common Good will be held on Friday, February 22 from 6-8 pm in Augusta.  We will meet at Mediation & Facilitation Resources (11 King St).  All are invited to attend.  We are planning some great upcoming events across the state and welcome new energy and ideas.
  •  Our Green Party neighbor Fred Horch reports:  Although Maine Citizens for Clean Elections and other groups will lobby to strengthen Maine’s clean election system, these efforts are facing strong opposition from Republicans who are framing the issue as “welfare for politicians.” The Governor’s proposed budget for 2013-2014 defunds $4 million from the Maine Clean Elections Fund, effectively gutting the program. In the context of a structural gap of hundreds of millions of dollars, the Governor’s spokesperson justified this budget proposal on the grounds that other needs had higher priority. See the whole story here

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

HONORING PAUL & ESLANDA ROBESON



In a Black History Month special, Democracy Now remembers the lives of the legendary civil rights activist, singer and actor Paul Robeson and his wife Eslanda, whose story is not as well known. One of the most celebrated singers and actors of the 20th century, Robeson was attacked, blacklisted and hounded by the government for his political beliefs.

Eslanda Robeson, known by her friends as "Essie," was an author, an anthropologist and a globally connected activist who worked to end colonialism in Africa and racism in the United States.

Democracy Now is joined by historian Barbara Ransby, author of the new biography, "Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson."

WE WANT CUTS IN THE WAR MACHINE



Bring Our War $$ Home now.

UNDERSTANDING THE KOREA NUCLEAR TANGLE



North Korea has exploded its third underground nuclear test.  I am against all nukes - every one of them - on all sides.  But the hypocrisy of the US (who has done 1,054 nuclear tests) is blinding.  Here is part of a statement by the U.S. Working Group for Peace & Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific that I am part of.

We oppose the development, possession of, and threats to use nuclear weapons by any nation. We have deep concerns that North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test contributes to an increasingly dangerous region-wide nuclear arms race. We understand the North Korean test was part of a cycle of threat and response to previous U.S. nuclear threats, and to continued military provocations. We cannot ignore the double standards and hypocrisies of the members of the “nuclear club” who refuse to fulfill their Article VI disarmament commitments of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty commitments by “modernizing” their omnicidal arsenals while insisting that other nations refrain from becoming nuclear powers.

We note that beginning with the Korean War, the U.S. has prepared and threatened to attack North Korea with nuclear weapons at least nine times, that it maintains the so-called U.S. “nuclear umbrella” over Northeast Asia, and that its current contingency plans for war with North Korea include a possible first-strike nuclear attack.

The Obama administration’s first-term policy of “strategic patience” with the DPRK, reinforced by crippling sanctions that contribute to widespread malnutrition, connected to the stunting of growth in children and starvation, has proven to be a grave failure. The policy has foreclosed crucial opportunities to explore diplomacy and engagement.

Added to these factors was the January 22, 2013 UN Security Council resolutions condemning North Korea’s December rocket launch and the tightening of the existing punitive sanctions program against North Korea.  The double standard that permits all of North Korea’s neighbors and the U.S. to test and possess missiles, space launch, and military space technologies and to threaten the use of their missiles is extraordinary.

2013 marks the sixtieth year since the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, which established a ceasefire but did not end the Korean War. We join Koreans around the world who call for Year One of Peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as our partners across Asia and the Pacific who have designated 2013 as the Year of Asia-Pacific Peace and Demilitarization. 

Working Group Members:

Christine Ahn , Gretchen Alther, Rev. Levi Bautista, Jackie Cabasso, Herbert Docena, John Feffer, Bruce Gagnon, Joseph Gerson, Subrata Goshoroy, Mark Harrison, Christine Hong, Kyle Kajihiro, Aura Kanegis, Peter Kuznick, Hyun Lee, Ramsay Liem, Andrew Lichterman, John Lindsay-Poland, Ngo Vinh Long, Kevin Martin, Stephen McNeil, Nguyet Nguyen, Satoko Norimatsu, Koohan Paik, Mike Prokosh, Juyeon JC Rhee, Arnie Sakai, ; Tim Shorrock, Alice Slater, David Vine, Sofia Wolman

The Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific is comprised of individuals and organizations concerned about and working for peace and demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific on a comprehensive basis. For more information see here

CLASS WILL NOW BEGIN - PLEASE BE SEATED AND QUIET


Monday, February 11, 2013

YANG HUNGER STRIKING AGAIN IN PRISON


Report by Sung Hee-Choi from Jeju Island about Professor Yang Yoon-Mo entering his 12th day of hunger striking as he returns to prison with a 18 month sentence for continued non-violent protest (obstruction of business the government called it):

In fact, his daily fast is carried out from hard resolution. According to Park Hee-Sou, Chairman of the Island Provincial Council, who visited Prof. Yang in the jail along with other two Council representatives and strongly recommended him stop of fast on Feb. 5, Prof. Yang said:

" I hear the sound of the Gureombi Rock being broken by construction (destruction) even in my sleep during the night. Even though I suffer every day, I am taking fast from the resolution that I have to inform the people the fact that the naval base construction itself is done by an evil law. If I spend one year and six months without difficulty, it means I acknowledge that I committed crimes."

However, it is true that his health has been rapidly weakened after the long time fasts of more than 74 days (including about 60 days' prison fast) and 42 days (in jail, too) in 2011 and 2012 each. Many people hope he will stop the fast from the worry of his health.

You can follow all the news from the Gangjeong village struggle by going to Save Jeju Now

KILL THEM ALL....



Journalist Nick Turse describes his personal mission to compile a complete and compelling account of the Vietnam War’s horror as experienced by all sides, including innocent civilians who were sucked into its violent vortex.

Turse, who devoted 12 years to tracking down the true story of Vietnam, unlocked secret troves of documents, interviewed officials and veterans — including many accused of war atrocities — and traveled throughout the Vietnamese countryside talking with eyewitnesses to create his book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.

“American culture has never fully come to grips with Vietnam,” Turse tells Bill Moyers, referring to “hidden and forbidden histories that just haven’t been fully engaged.”

It's important to have Turse further document these atrocities which have essentially been US official policy from the genocide of Native Americans - to the war on the Philippines - to the Korean War - and onto Iraq and Afghanistan today. Kill them all - a policy that repeatedly came from the highest levels of the US government.

The Pentagon always claims that our "enemies have no respect for human life" but the facts point to just the opposite being the truth.

ENSURING THE CONTINUATION OF THE POWER STRUCTURE




RT's Abby Martin sits down with former NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake, about his personal story as a whistleblower and what he describes as a 'total betrayal' by part of the government.

US-NATO MISSILE OFFENSE



I was interviewed on RT last night about the Pentagon's "missile defense" system.  The US says it is being built to protect against Iran and North Korea but in fact it is being used as part of the US-NATO encirclement of Russia and China.

BRINGING TOGETHER THE MOVEMENTS IN THE UK



Ten years after the largest protest in British history in February 2003, activists examine Britain's legacy in Iraq and the era of continuous warfare.  They pledge to connect the anti-war and anti-austerity movements throughout the UK.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

SEN. KING - DRONES ARE NOT HUMANE!


I sent a Letter to the Editor of the Brunswick Times Record yesterday about our newly elected Sen. Angus King's comment that drones are a "humane weapon."  King lives in Brunswick and my hope is that many who voted for him, thinking that he'd be a moderate Independent, will feel compelled to get him to change his harsh thinking about drones.

It would be good if fellow Mainers, and others from around the world, would send Sen. King messages to help him see his remarks are wrong and hurtful.  You can reach Sen. King here
   
Dear Editor:

Predator and Reaper drones are not humane.  The Pentagon calls them "efficient Hunter-Killer platforms".

The Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearings for President Obama's new CIA director, John Brennan, unleashed a fire storm of criticism about the killer drone program.

Sadly the day following the February 7 public hearing I heard Maine's new Sen. Angus King interviewed on MSNBC where he called drones a "very smart artillery shell....a more humane weapon." 

Sen. King is an intelligent man which is likely one reason he was appointed to the Senate Intelligence Committee that was in charge of holding the Brennan confirmation hearings.  Unfortunately the Senate Intel Committee appears to be more concerned with protecting the administration's drone war than getting to the bottom of the truth.

The drones, with their "Hellfire missiles" on-board, have been used over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.  Reports have been surfacing for years that legions of civilians are being killed by the unmanned drones which are flown by pilots sitting in front of computer screens back in the US using military satellites to guide them.  Global outrage against these unforgiving weapons has grown so strong that the UN has begun an investigation into the legality and casualties of drone strikes.

A new study from Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute finds that the number of Pakistani civilians killed in drone strikes are “significantly and consistently underestimated” by the US government.  The Bureau of Investigative Journalism issued a report detailing how the CIA is deliberately targeting those who show up after a drone attack - rescuers and even mourners at funerals.

So far a minimum 2,629 people appear to have died in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. The Bureau’s work suggests 475 of them were likely to have been civilians.  We are making new enemies with every drone strike.  Obama's CIA designate Brennan claims that no civilians have been killed.

I call on Sen. King to retract his statement that drones are a "humane weapon" and believe that he should apologize to the citizens of Maine and to the civilian victims of US strikes.  I would urge those who voted for Sen. King, thinking he was a moderate alternative, join me in asking him to change his thinking on drones.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Bath

CONTROL THE MEDIA, CONTROL THE MESSAGE, CONTROL THE PEOPLE



Here are the top twenty media corporations in the U.S. according to mediaowners.com  All but two of the following, #18 and #19, are members of the Council On Foreign Relations.

1.   Time Warner Inc.
2.   Walt Disney Company
3.   Viacom Inc.
4.   News Corporation
5.   CBS Corporation
6.   Cox Enterprises
7.   NBC Universal
8.   Gannett Company, Inc.
9.   Clear Channel Communications Inc.
10. Advance Publications, Inc.
11. Tribune Company
12. McGraw-Hill Companies
13. Hearst Corporation
14. Washington Post Company
15. The New York Times Company
16. E.W. Scripps Co.
17. McClatchy Company
18. Thomson Corporation
19. Freedom Communications, Inc.
20. A&E Television Networks


The six corporations that collectively control U.S. media today are Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal.  Together, the "big six" absolutely dominate news and entertainment in the US.  But even those areas of the media that the "big six" do not completely control are becoming increasingly concentrated. For example, Clear Channel now owns over 1,000 radio stations across the US.  Companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are increasingly dominating the Internet.

You can find much more information about the vast holdings of various media corporations here 

SUNDAY SONG