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, April 27, 2013

REPORT FROM PEACE CONFERENCE IN TURKEY


Global Network board member Agneta Norberg (Sweden) holds map showing US-NATO military bases all around the world.  She and Global Network chair Dave Webb (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK) are at an international conference in Istanbul, Turkey opposing US-NATO deployment of "missile defense" systems in that country aimed at Syria.

Dave Webb reports:

At the conference - well attended with 150-200 (mostly young people). Agneta and I have given our presentations on behalf of the Global Network - we have heard many calls for stopping the imperialist intervention by the US and its allies. Support for the Syrian people and their right to self determination has been expressed by all speakers. Agneta and I added our concerns about the use of space and the expansion of NATO and the number of US bases being used for the continued militarisation of space and solidarity with the protests against the US Patriot missiles being stationed in Turkey.

Friday, April 26, 2013

DRONE ACTION IN SYRACUSE



Just arrived in Syracuse, New York after an eight-hour drive from Maine in a rental car.

This video was made by Ted Forsyth from Rochester (NY) Indymedia who did interview with many of the speakers who are coming to Syracuse.

The “Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire" convergence begins tonight and runs through Sunday.  Civil resistance is planned for Sunday at Hancock Field (drone base) which I plan to participate in.

I was in Augusta all day yesterday to attend the Maine legislature's Judiciary Committee work session on the drone bill.

Attorney General Janet Mills still opposes any requirements for police to have warrants. She also spoke alot about drones being an "economic driver for the State of Maine" and wants no restrictions on them - especially attempts to regulate drones having weapons on board.

Drone makers and Presque Isle airport representatives pushed hard for no limits on weaponized drones in Maine that could be tested in the northern part of the state.

I still think a two-year moratorium on all drones in Maine is the best step. Such a moratorium would give us more time to educate and mobilize the public who is strongly against drone surveillance as they learn about it.
But those pushing drone testing don't want a moratorium - they want to move ahead quickly with a bill that has very limited regulation and allows weaponized drones testing.

The drone industry is drooling at the idea of big profits from the surveillance society and they sell the idea to the public by promising lots of jobs.  Yesterday in Augusta the drone maker was threatening the politicians that if they didn't pass a bill that allows "weaponized drone testing" in Maine then he pull up his stakes and move some place else. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

DRESSING UP A WAR CRIMINAL


The George W. Bush presidential library extravaganza is a disgrace to law, morality, justice, and truth.

The man should be tried and put behind bars as a war criminal - right alongside of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Colon Powell and the rest of the crooked bastards.

Obama will now go and proclaim all the great things Bush did which is disgraceful and demeaning to all those innocents who Bush and company had killed.  It indicates how the corporate oligarchy works - good cop and bad cop - but in the end they all protect one another.  Just like the mob - it's a criminal syndicate in action.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

MAINE DRONE SURVEILLANCE BILL HEARING ON THURSDAY IN AUGUSTA

 
I've just learned that the Maine state legislative drone bill (LD 236) is being discussed again tomorrow (Thursday) by the Judiciary Committee in Augusta at 1:00 pm on the 4th floor of the capital building.
 
It would be very important to come to this work session if you can or at least to contact members of the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary to let them know you demand that the police must have warrants before doing drone surveillance of citizens in Maine.
 
It appears that Maine's Attorney General Janet Mills (a Democrat) is pushing hard to gut the warrant requirement in the bill and that the Democrats on the committee are weakening under her pressure. AG Mills wants the police in Maine to make their own rules about how they do drone surveillance.

Throughout our history though we have seen that government has over and over again used every available means to monitor innocent people and to suppress legitimate dissent - drone surveillance will be no different.
 
You can find the Judiciary Committee members contact info at http://www.maine.gov/legis/house/jt_com/jud.htm

DEPORTED FROM JEJU ISLAND

Emily Wang from Regis Tremblay on Vimeo.

Regis Tremblay writes:

Taiwanese peace activist, Emily Wang, is being held by Korean Immigration and is to be deported for opposing the construction of that massive naval base in Gangjeong village, Jeju Island, South Korea. The base will serve the purposes of America's "pivot to Asia" and will not ensure the security of South Korea or S. E. Asia.

After a casual visit to Gangjeong Village, Emily discovered the struggle opposing the construction of the base and her conscience demanded she remain. While there, Emily discovered an amazing ability to create beautiful art depicting the struggle and the beauty of Gangjeong village. Her art is being sold to support the activists who are struggling day and night for seven years.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

REMEMBERING A LEGEND





  • Jane Brown (left), Richie Havens, and me at the October 24, 1987 protest outside the gates of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. I was saddened to hear today about the passing of the legendary folk singer.  He came to the protest at the space center that I organized while working for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice.  He was very kind to us, didn't ask for any money, just poured his heart out in his energetic and humble way.  He just wanted to help.

  • We had two big protests that year against the militarization of space - the first one in January 1987 drew more than 5,000 people and 186 were arrested for symbolically trying to enter the base to sit on the launch pad where Trident II nuclear missiles were being test fired.  Jane Brown was a good friend and leader of the South Florida Peace Coalition and had arranged for Havens to sing at our rally in October.  You can see a news article from the Orlando Sentinel (dated September 3, 1987) which promoted our October 24 rally here.  Back in those days we could actually get some media coverage of these events before and after they happened.

  • I am wearing a hat that read "American Agriculture Movement" which was given to me by another speaker that day - an old peanut farmer from northwest Florida by the name of Fred Williams.  Fred came to speak out against the militarism of space which for us was a big deal.  Family farmers struggled to survive as they are pitted against corporate agri-business and he appreciated that we were getting his message out to folks from the cities.  In return for inviting him to speak at our rally he invited me to his farm, loaded me into his pickup truck and drove me around to other peanut farms in his neck of the woods and even over the border into lower Alabama.  He would introduce me to his farmer friends and say, "Bruce is going to tell you about Star Wars." They were very receptive to what I had to say and understood that an arms race in space was going to cost all of us an arm and a leg.

  • On our weekly radio show tonight at a nearby college station partner Peter Woodruff and I did an hour tribute to Richie Havens by playing his music. He was a great man, a great worker for peace and justice, and will surely be missed by all of us.  He fully gave his life to his beliefs.

DEFENDING EDUCATION




IN MEMORY


NON-VIOLENT STREET FIGHTER FOR PEACE



One of America's most dedicated activists is Max Obuszewski, from the “Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore,” who shares his views on Earth Day/Endless War.

I've known Max for a long time and when ever there is a call for action he is near the front of the line.  For many years he worked for the Quaker-funded American Friends Service Committee until they began downsizing some years ago.  But Max has created a life for himself that allows him to remain steadfast in his work.

He is a true defender of peace, life on Mother Earth, and the sacred.

Monday, April 22, 2013

MISSILE DEFENSE DEBATE



I was invited this evening to participate in a debate on "missile defense" that was held live on Huffington Post.  Two right-wing pro-MD advocates against me and a representative from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

I had to restrain myself a few times when the folks from pro-MD groups made outlandish statements.

You judge who won the debate.

DRONE PROTEST THIS WEEKEND AT HANCOCK FIELD IN NEW YORK

 

On Friday morning I drive a rental car from Maine to Syracuse, New York to participate in the Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire: A Convergence for Action! on April 26-28 at Hancock Field.  Hundreds of antiwar activists are expected to attend from all over New York and around the country for a weekend of workshops, music, networking and action. I will speak on a plenary panel during the conference.

The Air National Guard base at Hancock Field near Syracuse has remotely flown the MQ-9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan since late 2009. 

The National Defense Authorization Act signed into law last year by President Obama allows for the establishment of six national test sites where drones could fly through US civil air space.  Hancock Field is one of 37 sites around the nation that have applied to be selected as one of the six test sites.  Powerful Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is using his influence in the Senate to push the selection of Hancock as one of the bases.

There have been a series of protests at Hancock Field during the past couple of years including major civil disobedience actions opposing the operation of drones at the base.  In late 2011, 31 activists were found guilty after trespassing to protest the MQ-9 Reaper drones.

The events this weekend are being sponsored by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars which is primarily composed of activists from upstate New York representing a diverse assortment of Peace and Justice organizations in different cities. They seek to educate the public and Hancock Air Base personnel about the war crimes perpetrated in Afghanistan with the MQ.
 
MQ-9 Reaper is built by General Atomics.

DEFENDING THOSE STICKY CIVIL LIBERTIES



Glenn Greenwald, columnist for The Guardian and author of the book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.

CODE NAME



Intrigue. Romance. Revolution. It all comes together in this action-packed documentary film which chronicles the tumultuous birth of a new nation in East Timor through a never-before-seen perspective.

Kirsty Sword, a young Australian activist, aspired to be a documentary filmmaker, but instead became a underground operative for the Timorese resistance in Jakarta code named 'Ruby Blade'. Her task: to become a conduit of information and instruction for the enigmatic leader of the resistance, Kay Rala "Xanana" Gusmão, while he was serving life in prison for his revolutionary activities. Through correspondence, they fell in love.

Alias Ruby Blade captures their incredible love story from this beginning to the ultimate triumph of freedom in East Timor, demonstrating along the way the astonishing power of ordinary individuals to change the course of history.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

FIELD TESTING THE CLAMP DOWN



4th Amendment to the US Constitution: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

On Friday, April 19 in Watertown, Massachusetts during the manhunt for Boston Marathon bombing suspect police and federal agents spent the day raiding people's homes and performing searches. Police were filmed pushing people from their homes at gunpoint, marching the residents out with their hands raised in submission, and entering the homes to perform their searches.

As I watched this from afar I could not help but flash back to the Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990 –  February 28, 1991) which the Pentagon claimed was the first space war.  It was during that time that the US Space Command "field tested" their entire space warfare technology system.  They pre-identified all of Iraq's military targets in advance with space satellites.  In the first 2-3 days of the war some 95% of those targets were bombed, essentially ending the war.  But the "war" would last for several more weeks as cruise missiles (at $1 million each) and other weapons were expended and aerospace corporations were working round-the-clock to replace them.  The Space Command checked out many other aspects of their "yet to be put into action"  war-making high-tech do-dads during that show.

While I know nothing about the guilt or innocence of the two young men accused in the Boston Marathon bombing, it does seem clear to me that at the very least this incident offered Homeland Security the opportunity to do a field test and they made full use of it.

We saw the latest in domestic surveillance technology being used.  We saw massive coordination of local, state, federal police/military forces - all now indistinguishable from one another - they looked like one huge invading army.

We most dramatically saw the field test of plans to shut an entire major city down - locked down under military control.

On December 31, 2011, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law.  The act authorizes the military to detain, indefinitely and without trial, anyone it deems to be a terrorist or supporter of terrorism, including any US citizen.

We saw these same militarized police forces suppress the non-violent Occupy movement all over the US just last year.  The American people should be careful what they cheer for.  Next they might come for you.

SUNDAY SONG