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, March 16, 2013

RIDING THE RAILS

  • My sign today at the Lenten vigil at Bath Iron Works had a painting (by an artist friend) of a public transit system with the words "Made in Bath" underneath.  Studies show that if they built rail systems at BIW the number of jobs would nearly triple.  A no brainer.
  • I went to Portland yesterday morning for a meeting about putting a public transit system between that city and Auburn.  I've always been a huge supporter of public transit since living in Germany as a kid and seeing the value of it.  Funny though that most of my life has been in places that don't have much public transit, like Maine.
  • One of the more interesting things about the meeting was the sales pitch coming from the organizers of the event.  I never heard the words oil, climate change, nature, or environment ever mentioned.  One speaker summed up the prevailing message when he said, "We are not trying to move people - we are trying to drive development" into the places where the commuter rail system would travel and around the stations that would be built in each community where the train stopped.  I sadly noted to myself that capitalism has infected every facet of decision making in this country.  We can't even talk about public transit without it being taken over by the investors who are looking for the next big development opportunity.  It's all about leveraging "public-private partnerships" to fund rail.  
  • No company makes rail cars in the US so it is likely that the Maine system, if built, would purchase their equipment from Canada.
  • But still I continue to support rail expansion because it is anti-car, anti-oil consumption, anti-individualism, and if we got serious about it could help in a small way deal with climate change.
  • The news last night brought us word that Obama's new Secretary of War (former Republican senator Chuck Hagel) has announced "missile defense" changes that include: more underground interceptor missiles to be put into Alaska; a possible similar interceptor base in upper New York state or Maine; a second space warfare radar going into Japan; and some changes to Obama's earlier announced schedule (Phase Four plan now being amended) for interceptors that are being used to surround Russia.  It appears to me to be more about a push-back by Boeing forces who are behind the long-range Alaska-based interceptors.  Soon after coming into office Obama announced that he would scale back that system and instead reward the Chicago-based Crown family who helped him get elected - and they just so happened to be majority owners of General Dynamics which builds the Aegis-based system that he decided to favor.  Seems that things are evening back out - it's all corporate $$$ driving the policy.
  • There is a very important article being passed around by long-time activist John Stauber.  It's called The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats and blows the lid on the Democratic Party colonization of the left in the US.  You can see the whole article here
  • I have to say that I am intrigued by the new pope story.  It's a crumbling church and the revelations that the new pope was involved in throwing radical Jesuit priests under the bus in Argentina guarantees that their "fresh face" will come into "power" already compromised.  There is so much corruption in that church - their "holy bank" runs drugs, sells weapons, sells birth control devices while preaching the virtues of just the opposite.  Total hypocrisy. 

PENTAGON'S DARK ARTS



The full length version of 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic reveals how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centers in Iraq.

HOLY PRIESTS OF GOD



Regis Tremblay writes:

Many priests, nuns, ministers, and Buddhist monks regularly travel to Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island to protest the construction of the massive naval base that is destroying the village, the pristine ecosystem, and contributing to the military expansion of the United States, not to mention raising the already high tensions of the region.

Among the most regular protestors are three Jesuits who have made direct action their priestly ministry. All have been arrested and jailed for obstructing construction of the base. I spent many hours each day chatting with them and filming their encounters with the Korean police as many as ten times every day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

TESTING THE BOMB



The word "savage" has been used to refer to people from so-called primitive cultures, but in his 2011 documentary, filmmaker Adam Horowitz turns the concept on its head and questions who exactly has been the "savage" in the US nuclear bomb human experiment "Project 4.1".  

 In the 1950s, the U.S. nuclear test bombed the Marshall Islands 67 times, vaporizing islands and exposing entire populations to radioactive fallout measured at 750 times the level of emitted by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. After the people of Rongelap received near fatal doses of radiation from one of these tests, the US intentionally moved them to a highly contaminated island to serve as nuclear test subjects for 30 years,  to measure the affects of nuclear radiation on humans. The experiment was conceived at Los Alamos.

NEXT GLOBAL NETWORK SPACE CONFERENCE



The High North and International Security Conference


June 27- 29, 2013

Kiruna, Sweden

Welcome to the land of the Midnight Sun in Northern Sweden!  Welcome to take part in a two-day conference and listen to a gathering of experts who will educate you about how space is used in global warfare.  2013 marks the 21st year of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

International authors and activists will give lecturers about how the North has developed to be one of the most important places for space warfare, how satellites and drones are used, and inform you about the dangerous National Missile Defence, the Galileo installations, radars and more. You will also be educated about the many NATO war exercises taking place in the North at the largest training field for war, called NEAT, which surrounds the City of Kiruna. Samic people will be present to tell about the impacts of these war exercises on their lives.

We have to be knowledgeable and take action. For that purpose we will have a vigil at Esrange - the world biggest space ground station a couple of miles outside the City of Kiruna.

  • Kiruna Airport is located 10 km from the Centre. Buses are running. There are direct flights to Kiruna from Stockholm and Copenhagen.
  • There is no registration costs, the conference is free.
  •  People have to pay for lodging. We expect people from the whole North. (See hostel list below)
  •  Everyone has to pay $50 for one dinner and 2 lunches.
  • Breakfast will be available at the Malmfältets logi & Konferens, Campingvägen 3
Conference Programme:
  
Thursday June 27th

Arrival at Kiruna Airport. Coach to Kiruna. Speakers will be collected at the airport by Women for Peace.

17.00 - 20.00 Registration: Malmfältens logi and Conference, Campingvagen 3.
Gathering and snacks.
  

Friday, June 28th

8.00   Registration.
9.30    Gun-Britt Mäkitalo, Women for Peace,
            Siw Holma, parliamentarian for the Left Party
            Bruce Gagnon, Introduces the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
10.00  Bård Wormdal, Space Installations in the North - The Satellite War.
10.45 Representatives from Esrange or IRF inform about the space activities.
11.30  Questions and discussion.
12.30   Lunch
14.00 Departure for Esrange.
19.00 Dinner at Malmfältens Logi and Conference.

Saturday, June 29th

9.30  Lectures about Space-related issues:
National Missile Defence, Drones, Galileo, Esrange and so on.....Bruce Gagnon (US) Dave Webb (GB) Regina Hagen (Germany) and others not yet confirmed.
12.30 Lunch
14.00 Workshops about important issues. India-ESA Space Cooperation, War games - impact on the Samic Society, The Race for Arctic resources and more.
16.30 Gathering and discussion.
Dinner-place to be confirmed.

Sunday, June 30th  

9.00  – 13.00 Global Network yearly membership meeting (all are welcome)
  
Details about Housing: Eva Jonsson, evannakristin@gmail.com

Details about the conference/Visa letter requests: Agneta Norberg, lappland.norberg@gmail.com      
  
Hostels
Kiruna Hostel                                         www.hotelcity.se
Malmfältens logi & Conferens           www.logikonferens.se
Tommy´s House                                   info@tommyshouse.se  
Youth Hostel Point North                   www.pointnorth.se
Yellow Hostel                                        www.yellowhouse.nu      

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

LATEST SHOW



On my latest public access TV show I interview Regis Tremblay about his activism and film making. While in Gangjeong village, South Korea, last September, Regis had the opportunity to interview over 20 villagers and activists who have been protesting the construction of a massive U.S. naval base in their tiny village to serve the needs of the U.S. “pivot to Asia” in order to check China.

Regis is working hard to finish a feature-length documentary, "Jeju: In the Crosshairs of War." See more here

JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING


A new Washington Post poll gives us the latest evidence that the American people are not stupid.  The poll found:

* Americans disapprove of the sequester cuts by 53-39
* 68 percent want Obama and the GOP to work together to avert the cuts, while only 28 percent want them to continue (the conservative position)
* 71 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicaid to replace the cuts; and 60 percent oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age to replace them.
* By contrast, 58 percent support replacing the cuts with more targeted cuts to military spending.
* 56 percent support replacing the cuts with an agreement that includes limiting deductions enjoyed by higher income individuals.

All we need now is to get folks to act on those positions.  In Maine we plan to deliver pizza-style door hangers across the state on April 5-13 asking people to call Congress and say "cut the military budget and defend social progress".

It's important for a dispirited public to see actual organizing that represents their own interests happening.  It gives people hope, gets them talking to their neighbors about the massive Pentagon budget, and encourages them to take action.

We don't have the corporate media on our side but we can walk door-to-door to pass on our message.  People want to be part of successful campaigns but they take hard work.  We have to do that work and now is the right moment to do it.

HEAVILY ARMED WITH THE TRUTH




WHERE IS THE BEAUTY?



Where is the beauty in the city?

The rough roads are stained by oil.
Ugly buildings
made of steel and glass
have no heart.
Prisons they are, an artist's
nightmare,
built to save the banks
and insurance companies
$$$ by taking the shape and character
of a box.
Office workers inside cubicles inside a big steel box.
A white collar prison.

The billboards and neon signs
light the dark sky
but bring no joy or mystery
to the night.
Stars are hidden from plain sight
by the nuclear glow of the city.
Imagine, North Korea is mocked
because they can see the stars at night.

Noise is ever present.
The snarling traffic
and angry honkers
all in a rush to get somewhere,
no where, who knows where?

The air is heavy with exhaust fumes.
You notice it when you walk,
hold your breath til the cars pass by…2,3,4,5,6
hold it, hold it, hold it.

The people don’t say hello much anymore,
they are busy looking down at their hands
pushing buttons with their thumbs,
lost in a satellite uplink,
some inane subject as meaningless
as their job at the burger joint.

Soon the drones are to come here,
constantly humming overhead,
to spy on us,
because we've now become the enemy too.
Who cares about privacy?
Some say "I don't have anything to hide"
.....others fear the clampdown is near.

Block after block of shops, selling products
we don’t really need.
Told to buy stuff by ads
that quietly crawled into our heads,
and haunt us in unsuspecting moments.
We have become vulnerable to those who
specialize in planting corporate seeds
in our brains, but they’re not really our
brains anymore, they’ve long ago been taken
over by the merchants of profit and death.
Where is the beauty in the city?

The flowers are planted each spring
by city workers
in the median strips of highways.
Planted to amuse the cars;
that must be true because the drivers
never see the flowers, they are much to busy
texting on their gadgets,
even more inane conversations.
What can people actually be talking about?
Politics, religion, philosophy, art?

No, they are tweating things like:
“I bot a hot dog”
or “I’m goin home”
or “U see fun nu beer ad on Suprbwl?”

Where is the beauty in the city?       

By Bruce Gagnon

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

INSIDE THE MAN



As the creative powerhouse behind hugely influential band The Kinks, Ray Davies was responsible for writing some of the best-loved songs of the 60s, including pop classics You Really Got Me, Tired of Waiting For You, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Sunny Afternoon and Waterloo Sunset. Alan Yentob meets Davies, a unique talent who describes with rare candor his troubled relationship with fame and the vicissitudes of his career. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

THEY ARE DIGGING US A HOLE



Video streaming by Ustream

On Monday, March 11, over 100 people representing a coalition of students, members of the Massachusetts Methodist clergy, mothers fighting for their children, and concerned community members marched into the Westborough, MA office of TransCanada Corporation and held a funeral mourning the loss of our future at the hands of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline will transport the tar sands that climate scientists say will lock us into irreversible global warming.

HOME AT LAST


  • I got home about 9:30 pm last night worn to a frazzle.  Had not slept much in two nights largely due to fact that my hotel roommate during the conference I was attending had late night parties in our room both nights.  I finally got them to leave but the roomie was in and out all night which kept me awake.  Thankfully my trip home was uneventful - just what was needed after having had the experience I did trying to get to Wilkes-Barre on Friday.  That was the trip from hell - movies have been made about journeys like that.
  • To top the whole story off, on the way out of New York city on Friday night (8:00 pm) the bus got just outside of the city and broke down along the side of the road.  We sat there for about 30 minutes before another bus came along and took half of us leaving the other half to wait.  I was lucky enough to be in the group that got on the first rescue bus.  Wonder how long the others had to sit there?
  • On the bus out of the city I sat next to a young Hispanic woman who has to commute four hours each day on the bus from her job in New York to her home in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania.  The bus was full of black, Hispanic, and other immigrant workers who can't afford to live in the city they work.  The woman told me she has an 11 year old son who she gets to see on the weekends.
  • My last night in the conference hotel was punctuated by a 5:00 am-ish police flashlight in my eyes when three cops entered the room with my roomie in tow who was being evicted from the hotel for having a alcohol-laced dust-up with the night manager.  They brought him up to pack his things before escorting him out the front door into the cold of night.  As I sat up in bed in groggy disbelief the cop with the beaming light asked me, "You got any guns in here?...or hand grenades?"  All I could think afterwards was that the revolution isn't going to do well in Wilkes-Barre when it finally arrives.
  • I am spending the day in bed recovering, my throat is sore and I have no energy.  Waiting for me when I arrived home was a special edition music magazine about The Kinks sent to me by my cousin -  great stories about each album they ever made so that will help pass the time in bed.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SUNDAY SONG