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, May 20, 2017

Important National Conference in Virginia


I plan on attending this event in June that will be held in Richmond.

UNAC conferences bring together many elements of the peace and social justice movements that rarely are found together.  Great speakers and movement leaders.

Check it out here

Friday, May 19, 2017

Jeju Water in Maine?



Recently Mary Beth came home from a workshop with a plastic water bottle that was provided to each participant which carried a startling but familiar name - Jeju Island, South Korea.  Who would have ever thought that Jeju water would show up here in Maine - especially since Maine exports water under the name of Poland Spring (a company owned by Nestle Corp. - that is a whole other story).

Talk about the inefficiencies and waste of capitalism.  Imagine the cost in shipping Jeju water all the way to Maine?  It makes no damn sense.

But frankly the bigger issue is bottled water at all.  Why do we purchase it knowing that plastic is polluting the oceans of the world in a huge way?  What is wrong with buying your own stainless steel water bottle and using it repeatedly? 

Research has shown that bottled water is basically the same as tap water in most places anyway. (Of course I acknowledge that in communities like Flint, Michigan one can't drink the tap water.)

In fact, certain brands of bottled water have been shown to have more contaminants than tap water due to the leaching of harmful chemicals from the plastic bottles. One of the chemicals used to soften plastic, phthalate, is of most concern. Pthalates are known to cause reproductive disorders, liver problems and increase the risk of cancer.


It's sad and discouraging that humans fail to grasp how our wasteful materialistic lifestyle is destroying all life (not just the humans) on our Mother Earth.  You'd think something as simple as plastic water bottles would help us see the light.

We can actually do something about this problem - we can stop buying plastic water bottles!

Bruce

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Favorite Cab Driver



The Artist Taxi Driver says that the British media is sick.  They are demonizing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the run up to the next election because he wants the rich to share a bit of their wealth in order that the poor and working class can have a better life.

But the greedy rich inside the ruling Tories (just like the rich here in the US) always 'want more'.  They never can have enough.

The rich must be restrained otherwise if left to their own devices they will barrel over all of us and create a global slave class.  That is always the tension between good and evil - the devil wants all the souls - the rich want all the money.

But it is difficult to restrain the rich when they own the media, they own most elected officials, and they own most of the institutions in our societies.  And it is getting worse these days as we see feudalism returning.

By controlling the media and Hollywood the rich use 'entertainment' to sell the public on the joys of wealth - making the public think that they too should strive to win the lottery and move into a house on the hill.  Guess what?  It ain't gonna happen in your lifetime!

What we need are political parties and leaders like Corbyn and Labour who are fighting for those who have been marginalized.  It's a program of hope and justice.

See a recent speech by Corbyn.  He lays out the issues and the solutions.  He is the kind of politician we all need these days.

Bruce

 

Democrats Steer Anti-Trump Outrage into Dead End Street



Comedian Jimmy Dore gets right to the point......

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tell It Like It Is.....


Din of Protesters Grows Louder By The Day


Lisa Savage dressed as Maine's Sen. Susan Collins at Bath Iron Works on April 1 prior to her arrest at the Navy Aegis destroyer 'christening'


By Lisa Savage
Times Record Op-Ed (Brunswick, Maine)

This month Governor Paul LePage convened an opiate addiction roundtable in Augusta that was attended by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Why Maine? Because in 2017 an average of one person a day dies of an overdose. It’s a serious problem.

The press conference on the steps of the State House had to be moved inside because protesters led by Planned Parenthood had gathered, noisily demanding full coverage for reproductive health care for women. Even inside, videos recorded that the chanting was loud enough to drown out the man at the podium. News coverage of the roundtable made reference to the protesters — thus amplifying their voices.

We who protest at the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard are often told that protesting does nothing. Routinely barred from entering the regular “christenings” when a warship is completed, our messages typically reach thousands in attendance. Reporters have told us they are warned that if they photograph or interview protesters outside the gates, they won’t be allowed inside to cover the event.

It’s difficult to tell whether our congressional delegation see us as they are whisked through the gates in cars with tinted windows. On April 1 we did catch of glimpse of Senator Angus King at BIW, a man who shook my husband’s hand in Bath’s 4th of July parade while campaigning and told him that bringing our war dollars home “sounds like a good idea.” Senator King continues to support huge budgets for the Pentagon and to accept campaign contributions from its contractors. I’ve shared copies of the UMass study demonstrating that military contracting is a poor jobs program with Senators King and Collins, and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin -- but the problem persists. Thus, I protest.

That Saturday I joined a tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience at BIW and was arrested for trespassing. News outlets around Maine carried a brief mention of the protest. As I arrived at school to do my regular job on Monday, coworkers cheered as they had seen television coverage of the protest. Now, my antiwar message has spread to many unusual audiences due to an unintended consequence of my arrest.

I was up for an internal transfer in my district, but the school board abruptly tabled the matter at their April meeting. I learned why a few days later: one board member was angry that I was protesting “the government who pays her salary.” Whether or not General Dynamics is now de facto an arm of the federal government would make an interesting high school debate topic, but whether my 1st amendment rights exist on the weekend probably would not. I’m entitled to freedom of speech on my own time whether my employers agree with me or not.

As a member of the Maine Education Association I took the matter up with my local president and he contacted our MEA uniserv director for advice. Officers there discussed the matter and advised that the district would have a “PR nightmare” on their hands if they attempted to discipline an employee for protesting outside of school hours at BIW.

Meanwhile, another colleague contacted me to say she wished she could be as brave as I was. One wondered why I had not told her of my arrest. As a public servant, I do not use my position as an educator in order to espouse my political views. I see my job as teaching children how to think, not what to think. Many of my coworkers marched in the massive women’s protests this year. Currently many are worried about the prospect of nuclear war. My arrest upped the ante and prompted them to ask, “Why am I not doing that?” I am delighted that they are discussing this possibility, because only mass civil disobedience is likely to bring the highly profitable war machine to a halt.

The final unlikely audience for my protest message was the law firm Drummond Woodsum, which provides counsel for most of the school districts in Maine. Consulted by my school board, they billed time explaining the 1st amendment and its ramifications. Subsequently, the board voted unanimously with one abstention to approve my transfer.

The Aegis 9 look forward to a jury trial this summer to explain our actions and further share our message: building warships at BIW is bad for the environment, bad for jobs and dangerously bad for our collective karma. Building sustainable energy solutions would be much better. As we await trial, we plan to go on protesting. My next unlikely audience: classmates at my 40th Bowdoin reunion in June. Will I disrupt commencement with my urgent plea for peace in our time? Stay tuned.

~ Lisa Savage is a teacher and literacy coach in RSU #74, a member of Peaceworks, and a director of the Maine Natural Guard campaign. She blogs at Went2theBridge.blogspot.com 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Arrested for Opposing Destroyers - Should be Building Wind Turbines & Rail Systems at BIW



We should be building offshore wind turbines and commuter rail systems here in Bath, Maine at the Navy shipyard instead of destroyers outfitted with cruise missiles and so-called 'missile defense' systems.

Seven of us from the Aegis 9 appeared in West Bath District Court today for our arraignment.  We all plead not-guilty.... two from our group had hired a lawyer to send in the paperwork for them since they could not be away from work.  We were arrested at Bath Iron Works (owned by General Dynamics) on April 1 for blocking a gate during a 'christening' ceremony for a new warship.

We next have to appear in the same court on Wednesday, June 28 at 8:30 am for a Disposition Conference with the judge and the state prosecutor.

We are facing a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  The judge mentioned in the court today that the state may ask for jail time for us if found guilty in our jury trial.

This short video above from Holland just goes to show how backward the US is as our nation slides further into collapse due to our outrageous waste of resources on endless war mongering.

Some years ago the Pentagon said that under corporate globalization of the world economy every country would play a different role and that America's job would be 'security export'.  That means building weapons and sending our young people around the world to kill and die on behalf of fossil fuel extraction corporation interests. So when you hear politicians talk about 'protecting our interests' around the planet this is what they really mean - the Pentagon has become the primary resource extraction service for capitalism.

The time has come though to reverse this insane trend - we should be using federal tax dollars to create a sustainable society so that the future generations have a chance to live.  It won't happen unless we demand it and organize to make it a reality.

Bruce

"I'm Doing This for My Family"


Monday, May 15, 2017

Forward Together....



Ex-Marine Matt Hoh speaks at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina at the 11th Annual Moral March on the capital opposing the state's right-wing policies.

Welcome to Ukraine



A friend of mine has a son in the US Army Special Forces.  He is currently stationed at a base in western Ukraine (the stronghold of Bandera Nazi supporters) where the US Army is training these Nazis (in the newly formed National Guard) and then sending them to eastern Ukraine to shell hospitals, schools, day care centers, churches, rail stations, airports, civilian homes, and apartment blocks killing their fellow citizens whose only crime is that they speak Russian as they live near the Russian border.

These actions by the US backed Ukrainian forces are war crimes.  The goal is to draw Russia into a war with US-NATO which has expanded their military operations right up to Moscow's border.

This video below shows Obama's Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt (the other person in the famous 'Fuck the EU' phone call with neo-con Victoria Nuland) boarding a train and spending the day at the training camp greeting American soldiers from Ft. Carson, Colorado.



If you'd like to get a handle on how this whole coup d'etat in Ukraine came about see this article here

Ignore this story at your own peril.

Bruce

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Upcoming Event in Brunswick


Will the Moon Rise in Korea?


The recent big victory for South Korean President-elect Moon Jae-in has many people wondering what will happen next?

Will Moon force Trump to pull THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) out of Seongju, the melon farming community which has now been turned into a US 'missile defense' (MD) base - and clearly a prime target in any war?  Will Moon reject Trump's demand that South Korea pay for the THAAD deployment?

Will Moon work to relax tensions with North Korea and re-open the door to reunification on the Korean peninsula?  Will the Moon shine bright and demand that South Korea have its own military and foreign policy rather than serving as a military outpost and colony for the US empire?

Below I've posted some thoughts on these questions from long-time peace activist and international law professor Francis Boyle.

As a fellow human rights lawyer I have great respect for President Moon and his pronounced willingness to carry on the Sunshine Policy of his two Human Rights Law President Predecessors. But there is very little he can do about THAAD now. Trump rammed it in there before Moon’s  election precisely to pre-empt Moon from  taking any steps to stop THAAD.

In all honesty, with 28,000 US troops there, South Korea is basically under the de facto  military occupation by  the United States left over from the Korean War. The US put THAAD in there as part of their “pivot against China” that was started by Obama. It will really be up to Chinese President Xi to convince Trump to pull out THAAD—if that can be done. 
Perhaps that objective can be accomplished as part of an overall deal among US-China-North Korea  for the denuclearization of DPRK. I am confident President Moon will do what he can to promote such a deal.

Global Network Advisory Board member Sung-Hee Choi lives on Jeju Island, South Korea and wrote the following comments about Moon:

There is no doubt that Moon is much better than [the last two right-wing presidents] Lee Myung-bak or Park Geun-hye.
However, it was Kim Dae-jung (1998-2002) under whose term, the first Korean Aegis destroyer was planned and it was Roh Moo-hyun (2003-20007) under whose term the baptism on the first Korean Aegis destroyer Sejong, the Great, was made.  It was also under the Roh Moo-hyun government that the Jeju navy base project was actually carried out. Roh's understanding with the Jeju navy base project was that it would strengthen self-reliant defense. I don’t think he so pushed the project. It was the deceased Park Chung-hee (the father of Park Geun-hye) government in 1960s who has conceived the idea to build a US base in Jeju. It was the military who established the plan to build a Jeju navy base in earnest in early 1990s. It was also the Jeju Island government then who sought for his own selfish interest with the introduction of the navy base in the Gangjeong village.

My point is none of the liberals such as Kim Dae-Jung, Roh Moo-hyun and probably Moon Jae-in, too, have been fully aware of the nature of MD. Or they have not been really free from the influence by corporations like Samsung and/or United States who would punish them for mere resistance. Therefore we should watch the liberals continuously, especially in relation to MD matters.

Another element that makes Moon’s term really difficult is of course, the push by the United States government who is really clear in its position to hand over financial burden to alliance countries by arms sales. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Commander of the United States Forces in Korea, has stated in his testimony to the US Senate Committee on April 19 that his next purpose after the THAAD is to sell more MD systems to South Korea. It brings direct interest to US economy, he said.

It means Moon will never be liberated from such push of MD arms sales throughout his term. Today, it is THAAD but tomorrow, more arms might be added to it, such as SM 3…

Since writing those words Sung-Hee sent additional information informing us that President Moon supports an increase in military spending, or bringing it close to 3 percent of South Korea's gross domestic product. The new president's policies could also pave the way for Seoul to acquire its own nuclear submarine.

In addition some expect that Moon may indeed be interested in the introduction of SM3 interceptor missiles on-board Korean Navy Aegis destroyers, namely the THAAD of sea....

So in the end South Korean peace activists can't take a rest - they are going to have to keep the movement building going and pressure President Moon not to follow the dictates of the Pentagon to further militarize the Korean Peninsula.  Just goes to show that 'liberals' are not our saviours.  

Sunday Song



The Fugs will perform a live version of "Exorcism of the White House" on Tuesday afternoon, May 30, at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C., as part of a Veterans for Peace Rally.