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, August 03, 2013

STONE ON JEJU

Leading the march with Father Moon

Stone talks with Catholic Bishop Kang who is a huge supporter of the village struggle
Stone in Gangjeong village watching cements trucks roll into base construction site


Admiring Father Moon's T-shirt while International team coordinator Sung-Hee Choi looks on

Having just watched priests and nuns be removed from blocking cement trucks Stone must be feeling the emotion that pervades this movement.  In his speech at the end of the peace march Stone told the people that "Jeju naval base is a global issue".
Stone joins the daily 100 bows in front of Navy base construction site in Gangjeong village

These photos show Oliver Stone on the March for Life and Peace and then back at Gangjeong village where he witnessed the cement trucks pouring into the Navy base construction site. 

I heard that his luggage never arrived when he reached Jeju so he was showing himself to be a good sport in spite of that.

Can there be any doubt that Stone's timing for a visit was perfect and that this will indeed be a life changing experience for him?

I've got to say that I really respect Oliver Stone.  He just didn't blow in and out for a celebrity photo shoot - he really experienced the reality of this fight and put his body and soul into the middle of it.  Good on him!

HAVE A LAUGH (And get a 2nd job)



And do I have to say....boycott McDonald's?!!!

Friday, August 02, 2013

US DEPLOYMENTS KILLING HOPES FOR NUCLEAR ABOLITION


Right-wing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is angry that whistleblower Edward Snowden’s is not firmly in the grasp of the US and is demanding that Washington re-examine its relations with Moscow and "strip away the illusions that many Americans have had about Russia."

Following the news of Snowden’s one-year asylum status in Russia, McCain released an angry statement in which he condemns the “disgraceful” actions of President Vladimir Putin.

"Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin’s Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for."

"We should push for the completion of all phases of our missile defense programs in Europe, and move expeditiously on another round of NATO expansion, including the Republic of Georgia," the statement published on the Senator`s official website says.

The military oriented Stars and Stripes newspaper reported on July 30:  "For a major chunk of America's military community, the so-called 'pivot to Asia' might seem like nothing more than an empty catchphrase, especially with the Middle East once again in flames. But for the Air Force at least, the shift is very real. And the idea behind its pivot is simple: ring China with U.S. and allied forces, just like the West did to the Soviet Union, back in the Cold War.

"In Australia, for example, the Air Force will dispatch 'fighters, tankers, and at some point in the future, maybe bombers on a rotational basis,' said Gen. Herbert 'Hawk' Carlisle, chief of U.S. Air Force operations in the Pacific, during a breakfast with reporters in Washington this week. The jets will likely start their Australian presence sometime in the next year at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base at Darwin (already crowded with Marines), before moving to nearby RAAF Base Tindal, according to the four-star general.

"This is just the start of the Air Force's plan to expand its presence in Asia, according to Carlisle. In addition to the Australian deployments, the Air Force will be sending jets to Changi East air base in Singapore, Korat air base in Thailand, a site in India, and possibly bases at Kubi Point and Puerto Princesa in the Philippines and airfields in Indonesia and Malaysia.

"One of the main tenets of our strategy is to expand engagement and interoperability and integration . . . with our friends' and partners' militaries," said Carlisle.

So it's clear that Obama's "pivot" is more than the Navy - the US Air Force also has big plans to expand this provocative and expensive encirclement of China.

As we approach Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) days of remembrance it is vital to understand that any hopes for nuclear disarmament are being smashed to bits by the US military surrounding of Russia and China.  Russia and China have no incentive nor military justification to contemplate reducing their nukes at the same time the Pentagon's rope tightens around their necks.

Nuclear disarmament activists should listen to Russia and China as they react to US moves.  They are being upfront about their reluctance to shrink their retaliatory capability.  Disarmament activists need to be talking much more about US "missile defense", naval, and Air Force moves into the Asia-Pacific.  All of these destabilizing deployments are killers to hopes for nuclear abolition.

GUANTANAMO IS A SIGN OF OUR MORAL DECAY



Over the past months, as the prisoners who have been cleared for release from Guantanamo and yet kept after years of imprisonment and inhumane treatment, U.S. citizens have been on hunger strikes in solidarity with these prisoners.

Recently, prisoners on the mainland have been fasting as their only means of protesting torturous treatment.

Some of those on solidarity hunger strikes took complaints directly to the Senators in the Hart Building in D.C. a few days ago to demand Justice for Gitmo, Pelican Bay, and Palestine.

THIS KID IS SHARP!


OLIVER STONE VISITS JEJU ISLAND

The greeting party meets Oliver Stone at Jeju airport. 

Stone makes trip to Jeju prison to visit Professor (film critic) Yang-Yoon Mo who is serving an 18 month sentence for blocking Navy base construction vehicles.  Yang is on his 4th jail sentence.

Stone joins the March for Life and Peace currently making its way around the entire island.  Mayor Kang is on the right side of the photo. Catholic Bishop Kang is on Stone's left with hat on.


Big news from Jeju Island in South Korea today as award-winning film director Oliver Stone joined the Gangjeong villagers and supporters in their march around the island.  After Jeju Stone will travel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then to Okinawa where he will give support to protests against US bases there.

The Life and Peace March has two teams - one team of several hundred marching east and the other consisting of several hundred marching west - and both teams will meet up in Jeju City for a huge finale rally.  Stone will speak at that event.  One short video of Stone being met at the Jeju airport showed a large media contingent filming his arrival.  He is without a doubt the biggest name to yet arrive on Jeju Island to support the non-violent struggle against the Navy base.

I am particularly moved by his gesture to visit the prison to meet Professor Yang who was a leading film critic in Korea and has surely seen many of Stone's films over the years.  I can only imagine what this visit will do to lift Yang's spirits.  You can watch my all-time favorite Jeju video where Yang is interviewed on Gureombi rock before the Navy began blasting the sacred coast.  See it here

Oliver Stone graciously agreed to be interviewed for Regis Tremblay's new documentary film called The Ghosts of Jeju. He is using his celebrity to help people's movements all over the world which speaks well of him. 

Each of us can do something to help the Save Jeju movement.  One thing I'd urge is ordering the documentary The Ghosts of Jeju and showing it in your community.  Information on ordering the film can be found here

Thursday, August 01, 2013

MAINE DRONE PEACE WALK


Just thought I'd give you a brief update on plans for the October 10-19 drone walk.  Please note dates on your calendar.

Maine Drone Walk in October

Japanese Buddhist nun Jun-san from the order Nipponzan Myohoji (Grafton, NY) has agreed to lead our drone peace walk in Maine in October and will bring 4-5 others from Japan with her.  It is likely that a few from the Nipponzan Myohoji temple in Western Massachusetts will join us as well.  One Veterans for Peace member from New Jersey is also coming.

For several months some of us worked with the ACLU in Maine on a bill in the state legislature to make police have warrants before they can do surveillance with drones.  The bill passed the legislature with an addition that would allow the testing of "weaponized" drones in Maine.  Gov. LePage vetoed the bill.  We intend to stay on this issue here in Maine.

Presque Isle is trying to turn their airport into a military drone test center.  (They are also in the running to be the East Coast host for a ground-based "missile defense" launch site.) The Attorney General calls drones an "economic driver" in Maine. 

The Maine Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign, with support from Maine Veterans for Peace, have decided to organize a peace walk to begin on October 10 (during annual Keep Space for Peace Week) from Caribou to Presque Isle (about 20 miles).  We'd then shuttle south to Bangor and walk from there stopping in several communities before ending the walk on Oct 19 at the state capital in Augusta.  Since Oct 19 is a Saturday we'd request that people join us that last day to walk to the capital for an anti-drone rally. 

We've decided to call the walk "Preserve our Privacy: No Drone Spying in Maine."  We know that many conservatives/libertarians in Maine are against drones because of the privacy issue.  We intend to reach out to them as well.

Some ideas for messages on the walk include: Drones over Maine Watching You; We've Got our Eyes on You; One Nation Under Surveillance.

We will have a big need for a van/pick-up truck to help transport people and gear with us so please keep that in mind.

Please let us know if you have any interest in joining us for a day or more on the walk.

More as we roll on.

Tentative Walk Schedule

  • October 10 (Thursday) Begin in Limestone (former Loring AFB) and walk to Caribou (hope for program that night - more contacts needed in this area)
  • Oct 11  Walk to Presque Isle (hope for program that night)
  • Oct 12  Drive to Bangor and walk into city and have program that night
  • Oct 13  Walk toward Skowhegan (need to drive some part of the day) with program that night
  • Oct 14  Walk to Norridgewock
  • Oct 15  Walk to Farmington with program that night
  • Oct 16  Walk to Waterville with program that night
  • Oct 17  Walk to Belgrade
  • Oct 18  Walk to Augusta
  • Oct 19 (Saturday)  Walk last mile to state capital for rally - urge folks to join us from around state

SNOWDEN SAFE FOR A YEAR



NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is allowed to enter the country's territory. The whistleblower has been granted temporary political asylum in Russia, Snowden's legal representative Anatoly Kucherena said.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

JUST DOING HIS JOB


Bradley Manning has been found guilty of all charges except the "aiding the enemy" one.

I remember being told in school that democracy only worked if the people had the information about what our government was doing so we could take proper corrective actions and decisions.  The people are supposed to rule.

But as our nation's foreign and military policy has become an extension of global corporate operations those in power are increasingly keeping secrets from us because they know the people would not be happy if we knew the whole sordid story about what is actually going on in our name.

Bradly Manning was acting as a patriot by sharing the gruesome details about what "our" government has been up to.  For that he has been called a traitor and put on trial.  Now he is likely to be sentenced for years to come.

But in my mind Manning is a hero.  He has given his life so that the people can know the truth.  Now it is our turn.  Do we just let Manning's extraordinary act of selflessness and bravery go unrewarded or do we come alive and demand an end to our corporate driven wars and political corruption for resource extraction around the globe?

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

FINAL RAMBLINGS FROM PACIFIC TRIP


Here are a few odds and ends from my trip to Hawaii, Philippines, and Australia.  The Obama "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific is real, being debated across the Pacific, and is still largely a mystery to the American people.

  • One key strategy of the US is to get the "allies" to pay for as much of the Pentagon pivot into the Asia-Pacific as possible.  That's why we see South Korea building the base on Jeju Island, the Philippines allowing the US to dock ships at Subic Bay for free, and for the Australians to pay for the upgrades at Robertson Barracks in Darwin where 2,500 US Marines will visit on six-month rotations.
  • Even though the US was kicked out of Subic Bay naval base in 1991 a Visiting Forces Agreement in 2002 between the US and the Philippines allows permanent docking rights.  Hundreds of US Special Forces are now in Mindanao as well.
  • Agreements are also now being written to allow Japanese and Australian military forces inside the Philippines thus destroying Filipino sovereignty.
  • Mark Twain wrote about the US-Philippine War in 1900:  "Once I was not anti-imperialist. I thought that the rescue of those [Philippine] islands from the [Spanish] government under which they had suffered for three hundred years was a good business for us to be in. But I had not studied the Paris Treaty. When I found that it made us responsible for the protection of the [Catholic] friars and their property I changed my mind."
  • It is estimated that one million Filipinos died in the early 1900's during the US war. 
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is big in the Philippines.
  • US is also sending rapid deployment forces to Singapore.
  • Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is bad in that it creates "special tribunals" that can veto national laws, a direct assault to national sovereignty of those who sign it.  The TPP furthers the interests of casino capitalism.
  • An empire (US) falls when it loses control of its backyard like has happened in Latin America.  
  • When our empire falls will we create a new way of organizing our economic system?
  •  The pivot will feature new military strategies that utilize drones, special ops, cyber warfare and missile defense.
  • The US schizophrenia toward China is best illustrated by the word con-gagement.
  • Foreign policy in the US is subservient to military policy.
  • An expanding NATO now is joining the Asia-Pacific pivot by military "partnerships" with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore.
  • The new military alliance between the US and India breaks the long tradition of India's non-aligned status.  This new alliance is also aimed at China.
  • China's military budget is less than one-tenth of the Pentagon budget.
  • Approximately 50 US bases/facilities are now in Australia.
  • Australia refuses to answer this question:  Can the US forces in Australia be used to attack another country?
  • The ruling Labor Party in Australia used to oppose "missile defense" but not any longer.  They are now going to build four Aegis destroyers (with missile defense interceptors) for their own Navy.
  • US Patriot (PAC-3) missiles deployed in Okinawa use North Korea as pretext but are aimed at China.
  • A US "missile defense" X-band radar is now in Kyoto prefecture in Japan.
  • While the US currently occupies one-third of Guam it wants even more of the island for the military.
  • US weapons sales to Taiwan continue in spite of promises to China that they would stop.
  • US coordinates war exercises with Taiwan and commands the weapons (interoperability) that they sell to them.
  • Since the Obama pivot was announced there has been a 63% increase in US warship visits to Subic Bay.
  • On January 17, 2013 a US mine sweeper got stuck on a coral reef (World Heritage site) in the Philippines.  Several thousand square meters of coral were damaged.
  • The US is powerless to shape geo-political situations, it can destroy but can't create political solutions (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya).
  • US forces in Iraq continue to provide satellite intelligence to Turkey for their war against the Kurds.  In return the US gets bases and a recent "missile defense" deployment site near Syrian border.
  • The US military/corporate empire does not take defeat well and in fact becomes meaner when it does not get its way.
  • If you want peace you have to defeat the current economic system where people are slaves to the resource extraction and corporate production system.
  • Good organizing advice: Make trouble, fail, fight again, fail again....repeat until victory....determination, stubbornness and a bit of luck can go a long way.

THIS WEEKEND IN MAINE


Monday, July 29, 2013

OKLAHOMA RIGHT & LEFT PROTEST US SYRIA POLICY

 

I am very impressed to see this protest of folks from the right wing and left wing together in Oklahoma.  They are taking on US Syria policy.  We need more of this.

When I was up in Augusta a couple of months ago for the drone hearings I met a bunch of guys from right wing groups there for gun control hearings.  While we didn't agree on gun control we did find common ground on drone surveillance across Maine.  One of them showed me a bumper sticker that read "Protect my 2nd amendment rights to shoot down drones."

I told one of the guys on that occasion that the corporate oligarchy likes to keep the right and left snarling at each other over social issues which they steal us blind and keep waging wars.  He blew me away when he replied, "You know, we've been saying the same thing at our meetings lately."  Bingo.

If we are ever going to stop the bleeding being inflicted on us globally at the hands of our corporate masters then we've got to join hands across the spectrums.  So good on you Oklahoma for getting us started.  You are more than a fly over state!

HOME AND BACK TO WORK

I made it home at 1:00 am this morning.  I could barely make it up the stairs with my bags.  I slept until 11:00 am and had to get to work doing some legal stuff for my most recent arrest at Hancock Field drone base in Syracuse, New York.  As it is I am late on it anyway.

When I came through passport control upon reentering the US at the Dallas airport yesterday the guy at the booth ran my passport into his computer, marked a big red "I" on my reentry form, and said, "Come with me."  My first thought was here we go again.  The same thing happened to me when I came back from our Global Network conference in Sweden last month.

He took me to a room that was filled with Hispanics waiting permission to enter the US and I saw him put my passport on a shelf in an adjoining room separated by windows.  I only had one hour until my plane left for Boston and I figured I'd miss the plane for sure.

After about 15 minutes I saw one officer grab my passport and go to his computer.  When he approached the window he asked me, "Are you traveling alone?"  Yes, I replied.  "You've got a Protection Order against you.  Are you traveling with the person who has the Protection Order against you?"  No, I said, I am alone.  Again he asked me "Are you traveling with the person who has the Order against you?"  No, I said.  He handed me my passport and I was free to go.

The Order of Protection is from the base commander at Hancock Field in New York.  I got it when arrested there last April.  I can't imagine that I'd be traveling with the base commander.

I've got tons of work to get caught up with.  My desk is piled high with mail, phone calls to return, emails to respond to, new names to enter into our database, and a newsletter to get started with.  It's always tempting to come back and try to do it all at once.

Friday I leave for Washington DC to speak at the 90th anniversary War Resisters League conference called Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities.  I'll be on a panel and hope to show The Ghosts of Jeju documentary film during a workshop session.

It's times like this that I wish we could afford to hire a part-time administrative assistant for me.  But such is life in the peace biz.  We take what we can get and make the best of it.

Needless to say I consider myself very lucky to do this work and to be able to travel and meet such outstanding people around the world.  I give thanks and will hit my work pile with the best I've got - in due time. 

MEET VFP



Searching for Occupy met up with Veterans for Peace all across the country. They had plenty to say about War and Peace as well as the War on Mother Earth and all humanity.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

NSA OPS IN NEW ZEALAND



Kim Dotcom speaks at the GCSB Rally in Auckland to a crowd of several thousand citizens in Aotea Square. The people are NOT happy about the government's spying and want it STOPPED!

Protests were held all over New Zealand in recent days about their nation's role in facilitating NSA surveillance.

MARCH AROUND JEJU ISLAND BEGINS


SUNDAY SONG