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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anti-THAAD Protests Growing in South Korea

Catholic Priest Pat Cunningham reports from South Korea:

Heavy handed tactics were used by the police and the security state in Seongju yesterday, March 18 to remove Won Buddhist monks and their Peace/Prayer Tent situated at the entrance to the Lotte Golf Club, the proposed site of THAAD 'missile defense' (MD) battery, which is being vigorously and nonviolently resisted by the Won Buddhists (who have a sacred site and place of pilgrimage in the area) and other civil and religious groups from around the country.

March 18 was the first day of the Peacebus and afforded up to 5,000 people from around the country an opportunity to come together in solidarity with the local villagers in walking for peace and resisting THAAD.

Yesterday happened to be the 249th day of candle light vigils and the Columban's [Catholic order] were happy to join peace/labor/environmental/religious activists to be present and walk in solidarity with the local villagers during these very tense and dark days on the peninsula when the drumbeats of war and military buildup have seemingly taken on an inevitability with military exercises and recent visits from US Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State stating that the possibility of a military strike against North Korea could not be discounted. 

This warmongering was countered by community leaders and their message of peace and dialogue built on a relationship of mutual trust that should be promoted by the next political administration. 

The message was loud and clear - 'THAAD is not inevitable or unavoidable - it will not be deployed and all peace loving people should resist its installation with all their might'.

This spirit of nonviolent resistance was on display yesterday when the monks and their supporters/activists successfully resisted police attempts to demolish the tent and ensured that it was hastily re-erected in order for the peaceful resistance to continue.

There will be more candle light vigils and protests in Seoul and Seongju in the coming weeks and months. The Catholic community in Seongju will continue with weekly Wednesday mass and prayer vigils in the village of Seosongri.

Op-Ed in Local Paper

Sustainable Energy to Ensure Future Generations

By Bruce K. Gagnon

Recently, a man in Bath who currently works at Bath Iron Works (BIW) told me, “We can’t afford to keep building these expensive Zumwalt destroyers.” The ships are now coming in at more than $4 billion per copy. He later told me that he no longer knows whom to believe as he watches Trump and the Democrats battle with one another. I told him he isn’t alone and is smart to mistrust all that is going on in Washington these days. The corporate oligarchies internal power struggle is not considering the well being of the public. We the people have got to come together and fight for our children and grandchildren who are being left with an economic and environmental mess to handle.

In early March I had to leave our Bath "Zumwalt 12" trial a day early to attend a conference in Sweden. After that event I did a speaking tour throughout Scandinavia and ended it in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was quite impressed to see the many offshore wind turbines in the waters between Sweden and Denmark as I rode a high-speed rail system over a bridge connecting the two nations.

My mind flashed to our own Gov. LePage who, soon after taking office, moved quickly to kill any chance of a Norwegian energy company building an offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine. (Experts say that the Gulf of Maine has the greatest wind power potential in the US.)

Very recently I read an article that reported on Gov. LePage’s failure to create more energy for our state and to lower our energy costs.

The governor’s plan to expand natural gas capacity in Maine has stalled, a good thing considering the fact that we must move away from fossil fuels if we hope to successfully deal with global warming.
LePage’s wrong-headed stands against rooftop solar and against greater statewide emphasis on energy efficiency is a direct threat to our future generation’s chances for survival.

From what I can see, the governor has also done little or nothing to promote public transportation across Maine. A commuter rail system from Portland to Bath would go a long way in reducing our state’s carbon footprint.

Studies from UMASS-Amherst Economics Department have long revealed that building a commuter rail system at BIW would double the existing work force. The cost of one Zumwalt-class destroyer could surely build a world-class commuter rail system for Maine. And shouldn’t creating clean energy jobs be a priority in our state? I don’t hear any of our elected officials pushing for that. If Sens. Collins and King really wanted to create jobs and deal with global warming this would be the way to go.

On April 1 there will be a christening at BIW as another destroyer (outfitted with missile defense interceptors) is commissioned. Peace groups from across Maine will once again hold a non-violent protest at the shipyard gates demanding that we end our wasteful addiction to militarism. We will call for the conversion of BIW to building commuter rail, wind turbines, solar and tidal power systems.

My son recently got married and he and his wife are likely to have children in the near future. I am focused like a laser beam on wanting to ensure that my descendants, and all future generations, have a real chance of survival on our Mother Earth.

Building more warships, which dramatically contribute to the Pentagon’s number one global carbon boot-print, won’t cut the mustard.

We should all care about preserving life on this fragile planet. Thus we must continually demand an immediate switch from endless war making to sustainable production that helps us deal with our real enemy today – climate change.

Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath, Maine

Very Smart...

Let's build these at US weapons production facilities across the nation rather than having endless wars to control oil.

This won't happen unless we demand it repeatedly!

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.... If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are [people] who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.”  

~ Frederick Douglass (American Abolitionist)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

'Brave Nazis' Shell Kindergarten in Eastern Ukraine

Those 'brave' western Ukrainian Nazis (armed, funded and trained by US-NATO) continue with their shelling of their fellow citizens in eastern Ukraine.

The training base in western Ukraine has rotating US Army Special Forces soldiers from Fort Carson, Colorado there teaching the Nazis the 'fine art' of warfare.  I know this to be true for two reasons:  first I've seen the base in operation on video which you can watch here.

Secondly, I have a friend whose son is stationed at Fort Carson in the Army Special Forces and at this moment he is at this training base in western Ukraine.

So in the video above the 'brave and valiant Nazi forces' shelled a kindergarten and 15 civilian homes.  Attacking unarmed and innocent senior citizens and a school - this is what the US is teaching its allies in Ukraine to do.  That in my book is terrorism - simple and easy to understand.  And dammed sicking as well.

Thank god they attacked at night when none of the children were taking naps at the school.  A small blessing indeed!

These are the lengths the US is going to in order to try to destabilize Russia in order to force regime change in Moscow.  The crime of these Ukrainian citizens living in western Ukraine?  They live near the Russian border and speak Russian as their first language.

It's all sick - very sick. All Americans should be outraged and ashamed of what our country is doing in Ukraine.


French Left Leader on Korea Tensions

Jean-Luc Melenchon is a leader of the Left Party in France and is currently running for president.

NewStateman reports:
Mélenchon passionately defends the idea of a new Republic that gives power back to the people and abolishes the “presidential monarchy”, wants more fiscal justice, a review of the European treaties to put an end to “austerity policies”, and a new ecological order which would see France drop nuclear power.

French voters go the polls on April 23 and May 7 in the two-round election, which is being closely followed outside France as another test of popular discontent with traditional parties and institutions like the European Union.

Emmanuel Macron, former investment banker and economy minister running as an independent centrist, remains the favourite to win France's turbulent presidential election race.

Macron would lead first-round voting with 26.5 percent, just ahead of populist leader Marine Le Pen at 26 percent, before beating her 64-36 in the run-off, according to the Odoxa poll. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Huntsville, Alabama: The Pentagon of the South

We are excited to share a short video that has just been made by our friend Will Griffin (Veterans For Peace) from Georgia about Huntsville, Alabama and our upcoming Global Network annual space organizing conference.

Will is an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran and I’ve had the great pleasure of traveling with him to South Korea, Okinawa, India and Nepal.

Last month Will made a trip to Huntsville to do some advance work for the conference and produced this video. 

Lately Will has been making various videos from his travels and peace work so you might want to follow him.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Missile Defense is Offensive

More information is available here...

Speakers & Music 

  • Reece Chenault (National Coordinator, U.S. Labor Against the War, Kentucky)
  • Judy Collins (Vine & Fig Tree, Alabama)
  • Bruce Gagnon (Global Network Coordinator, Maine)
  • Subrata Ghoshroy (Program in Science, Technology, and Society, MIT)
  • William Griffin (Veterans For Peace, Georgia)
  • Huntsville Feminist Chorus (Alabama)
  • Joy Johnson (Green Party of Madison County, Alabama)
  • Ken Jones (VFP, North Carolina)
  • Tarak Kauff (Veterans For Peace, New York)
  • Rev. Seonghye Kim (Co-chair Seongju Struggle Committee to Stop THAAD Deployment, South Korea) 
  • Hyun Lee (Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea & Militarism in Asia & the Pacific, New York)
  • Joe Lombardo (UNAC, New York)
  • Tiara Rose Naputi (Chamorro diaspora from Guam, Assistant Professor, Dept of Communication, University of Colorado)
  • Agneta Norberg (Swedish Peace Council, Stockholm)
  • Yasuo Ogata (Co-chair World Conference against A & H Bombs and former Member of Parliament, Upper House, Japan)
  • Lindis Percy (Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases, England)
  • J. Narayana Rao (Global Network board member, India)
  • Jason Rawn (Maine War Tax Resistance Resource Center)
  • Tulsi Das Shrestha (Vice-President, Global Network Chapter Kathmandu, Nepal)
  • Mary Beth Sullivan (PeaceWorks, Maine)
  • David Swanson (World Beyond War, Virginia)
  • Regis Tremblay (Filmmaker, Maine)
  • Dave Webb (Global Network Board Convener & Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK)
  • Lynda Williams (Physics faculty, Santa Rosa Junior College, California)
  • Col. Ann Wright (US Army retired, diplomat) * Keynote speaker

Conference Sponsors   

  • Alachua County Green Party (Florida)
  • Gainesville Iguana (Florida)
  • Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
  • Greater Brunswick (Maine) PeaceWorks
  • Green Party of Madison County (Alabama)
  • Maine Natural Guard
  • Maine Veterans For Peace, Chapter 1
  • Nashville (TN) Greenlands
  • North Alabama Peace Network
  • Selma (Alabama) Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation
  • Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea & Militarism in Asia & the Pacific
  • United National Antiwar Committee
  • US Peace Council
  • Veterans For Peace Chapter 99, Asheville (NC)
  • Veterans For Peace Chapter 14, Gainesville (FL) 
  • Veterans For Peace Chapter 174, Jacksonville (FL)
  • Veterans For Peace, Chapter 170, Savannah (GA)
  • Veterans For Peace National

Genocide in Paradise

Sunday Song

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Boycott Israeli Apartheid

Dr. Jeff Halper, co-founder of Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, was leading a tour of an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem when police arrested him on suspicion of 'incitement'.

Jeff was born in 1946 in Minnesota and emigrated to Israel in 1973. Since then he has been a tireless advocate for justice and civil rights for all Israelis and Palestinians. He spent ten years as a community worker in Jerusalem aiding low-income Mizrahi families. He co-founded ICAHD in 1997 to help resist Israel's strategy of house demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

He is the author of three books, Between Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century, An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Possession, Redeeming Israel, and Obstacles to Peace: A Reframing of the Palestinian - Israeli Conflict

In 2006 Dr. Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing ICAHD's work "to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence" and "to build equality between their people by recognizing and celebrating their common humanity."

What Does Solidarity Mean?

I am thinking of the people around the world today who are suffering from wars, hunger and environmental destruction.  No matter whether they are at Standing Rock - Jeju Island - Okinawa - Yemen - Somalia - Palestine - Syria - Donbass - or downtown Portland, Maine.  They all are suffering needlessly and their hurt touches me deep in my soul.

My work every single day is connected to these good people who never did anyone any harm but they suffer because the greedy among us want to control everything and they don't pause for a second when they run over these innocent lives.

I know I can't save them all - or maybe even any of them - but what I can do is stand in solidarity with them as often as possible.  I can give my heart, soul and voice to trying to help end the madness that consumes so many and I long ago pledged to myself that I would do just that - no matter the day-to-day results.

A Quaker friend, Al Geiger in Jacksonville, long ago told me not to be fixed on results but to just do the very best I could each day.  That advice was liberating for me and I hold onto that now in my work.

I love this photo above.  It is very simple and yet so profound.  Earlier today I spoke in nearby Brunswick to about 40 people at a luncheon organized by our local PeaceWorks group.  Before my talk at the luncheon a group of us, who were arrested last June here in Bath at the shipyard for blocking the road in front of a 'christening' ceremony, met to do some brainstorming about upcoming events.  One of the women in our group gave me a ride to Brunswick for the talk and after we got in her car she handed me some dried golden grasses that she brought home from her trip to Standing Rock, North Dakota.  I held it for a moment and put one tiny bit of the grass in my pocket.

Before every talk I give I always pray to the Great Spirit and try to remember that I am speaking for our Mother Earth, the plants, the animals, the water, air, land and the people who are suffering.  I try to keep my ego in check and remind myself that my talk is not about me - but the bigger things in life.  I try to remember what solidarity really means.

The things I have to say are often not easy to hear.  Today I weaved together stories about Ukraine, Jeju and Okinawa.  I talked about those who have been protesting daily for years against US bases and militarism.  I talked about how the doors to reform in Washington and across the nation have mostly been closed to us as the corporate agenda is in full swing.  I talked about the need for active non-violent resistance.

People generally want to be entertained when they hear someone speak.  They want the speaker to make them feel better - to tell them that everything is going to be alright.  People live inside social boxes and most never step outside of them.  I always try to encourage people to push beyond their normal comfort zones and I continually try to do so myself.

I ended my talk today with the following that I just read in a new book written by two local friends who for years led campaigns here in the midcoast of Maine against the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant.  Here is what I said:

In their new book called ‘The Death of Maine Yankee’ long time local activists Maria Holt and the late Betty King tell the story of that long insurmountable campaign to close the toxic nuclear power plant in Wiscassat.

Near the back of the book they tell a story from the mid-1990’s when Maine Yankee put up a huge tent in front of the plant and threw a big party.  There was a microphone for testimonials about all the benefits derived from the nuclear plant.  Ray Shadis and Ann D. Burt took to the microphone and spoke out against the plant and in favor of the future generations.

Ray Shadis’ remarked, “when you are fighting superior numbers, it still pays to spoil the game.  While they are congratulating themselves, you can take the shine off of it, and break the unanimity.  You are not entitled to say ‘what’s the use?’”

Maria and Betty also share a story about a Buddhist monk from Vietnam (likely Thich Nhat Hanh) who was asked, “What do you think of the American Peace movement?”

The monk answered, “We think of drops in a bucket.  We drops don’t care where in the bucket we fall – but in America everybody wants to be the last little drop that makes the bucket overflow.”

There will be another ‘christening’ at BIW on Saturday, April 1 from 9:00 am to noon.  We invite you and others in the community to come to the protest and consider being drops of water in the bucket.