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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

SADLY HYPOCRITICAL


Our friends at St. Pete for Peace (Florida) have shared these important news bits:

How Can This Be?


A new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted Jan. 15-19 among 1,504 adults, finds that black people, women and Democrats are more likely to support the NSA spying program than white people, men and Republicans. According to the poll NSA approval rates are as follows:

  • 43% of Blacks and 39% of Whites 
  • 43% of women and 38% of men 
  • 46% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans
Support of the NSA is down since polling was done in June, 2013, at which time African-Americans, women and Democrats were even more in favor of the spying program.  Finally, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor criminal prosecution of Edward Snowden, according to the poll. Sixty-two percent of Democrats, versus 54 percent of Republicans, think that the government should pursue a criminal case against Snowden. The assumption is that partisan politics explains why more Democrats than Republicans approve of NSA spying, but why have women consistently been more supportive of the NSA program than men? [If George W. Bush was still occupying the White House these numbers would be just the opposite.]

Regarding the unexpected Black/White results, according to Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, "Forty percent of Blacks told a Washington Post/ABC poll in late August and early September, that they supported President Obama’s threatened air strikes on Syria. Although majorities of Blacks (56 percent), Whites (58 percent) and Hispanics (63 percent) opposed Obama’s air war, African Americans were the most supportive of war – the first time that has ever happened. Given that Blacks were far more pro-peace than either Whites or Hispanics in the pre-Obama era, the conclusion is inescapable: Substantial proportions of Black Americans are now more concerned with defending Obama than with preventing the death of thousands of innocents abroad, at U.S. hands. In siding with the NSA’s spies, Blacks have shown they are prepared to sacrifice their own civil liberties in order to safeguard the prestige of the icon in the White House." 


Ukraine protests

As the situation reaches a head in Ukraine - not surprisingly timed to coincide with next month's Olympic games in neighboring Russia - here is a December radio interview with Russian studies professor and Nation contributor Stephen Cohen who criticizes the American media’s coverage of ongoing protests in Ukraine as one-dimensional, ideological and worse than it was during the Cold War.  Cohen said it appears as though the "powers in the west" are behind the people in the streets.  This supports Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's accusation that European politicians are stoking the crisis in Ukraine

In making its case for how bad the Ukrainian government is behaving, The New York Times lamented new laws that "stiffened the penalties for setting up tents and stages in public spaces. The measure would bar the installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places, with violations punishable by fines of up to about $640, and 15 days in jail."  The new laws also banned wearing helmets at protests.  (These sound like laws that protesters and homeless people in the U.S. have been subjected to for years.)

INTERNET HELD HOSTAGE

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

HEY, HEY, HO, HO, TPP HAS GOT TO GO!



In Augusta, Maine......

Lisa Savage (on the right in the video) writes:

I have been called many things in my activist life, but last night was a first. We were called "unprofessional" repeatedly by the security guy at the Civic Center in Augusta, Maine. He also told me we had "no class." The extent to which US citizens are cowed by fear of hurting their standing in the community would be surprising -- if I weren't a student of history, that is.

Thanks to videographer Martha Spiess for her swift work getting out this great video of our unprofessional antics last night. Martha is the kind of professional I want to be! And huge gratitude to the Artists Rapid Response Team of the Union of Maine Visual Artists for their amazing banner. Nothing says classy like fine art!
And here is some great coverage by the Kennebec Journal (see full article here), a corporate sponsor of the event and the paper of record in Maine's capital city Augusta.

The paper is owned by the husband of Rep. Chellie Pingree, who has come out publicly against the TPP. So has Maine's other representative, Mike Michaud, who is currently running for governor.

Sen. Angus King and Sen. Susan Collins have yet to say where they stand on the TPP.

Maine is estimated to have lost 30,000 jobs, mostly in manufacturing, since Bill Clinton pushed through NAFTA.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

PUTTING THE PEACE ISSUE ON THE TABLE


  • This art work above was made by Suzanna Lasker here in Maine.  She's become one of the most prolific political artists in the state.  Maine has a wonderful organization called the Union of Maine Visual Artists.  They support one another across the state and have been a great resource to our progressive movements.

  • The printer delivered our Global Network Space Alert newsletter today and I began filling the many bulk orders that have come in from all over the US and around the world.  We didn't used to get many bulk orders for our newsletter but our last issue had a record number of requests and this current one is right up there as well.  It's exciting to see such good interest in the newsletter.  You can see it online here

  • I got alot of feedback on the EMP story that I blogged about a two days ago.  The response from various folks was helpful and encouraging.  Yesterday morning I got a phone call from Maine State Rep. Andrea Boland from Sanford.  A friend in the state legislature got her to call me about her bill to have the state "harden" the electrical grid to withstand "nuclear attack" and/or solar storms.  I tried to disabuse her of the notion that Russia or North Korea was going to attack the US but she surprisingly (especially for a Democrat) took a very strong Cold War anti-Russia stand.  At one point she more than hinted that people like me are being led down the garden path by foreign governments - in other words that I am either very naive or a closet commie.  I learned last night from someone down her way in southern Maine that Rep. Boland only lives about 10 miles from the Pratt-Whitney aerospace facility in North Berwick.  (At the plant they make the engines for the $75 million F-35 aircraft. The government has ordered 167 of them although the jobs estimates on the project by Lockheed Martin has come under criticism for being widely exaggerated.)
  • Once I put the Pratt-Whitney piece into the puzzle I had a better sense about why Rep. Boland is so strongly pushing a "missile defense" (MD) interceptor deployment site in Maine.  She told me that a new MD site would increase the amount of government military investment in related aerospace operations in Maine. Bingo.

  • This is a standard line that you hear from politicians (Republican or Democrat) these days - we should embrace any military production facility in our state because it is the only game in town.  Militarism is the top job creation program of our government.  We don't really build much of anything else but weapons.  So, as she told me, we should grab it before someone else does.  Ugh......

  • I tried to challenge her thinking about Russia and suggested we should be investing our national funds in other ways - how about building rail, solar, wind turbines, schools, hospitals, etc rather than more weapons and endless war?  It was frustrating.  One Maine activist wrote me this morning saying that he had always found Rep. Boland to be good on most issues like the environment.  I wrote back saying yes, this is the problem we in the peace movement have today.  We have to stand against liberal Democrats who are often good on environment, consumer issues, health care, women's issues, etc but when it comes to military production the Dems are standing at the head of the line with their hands out begging for more war money for their state.  This reality often puts the peace movement at odds with politicians that other parts of the progressive community like.  The peace movement gets the reputation of being party poopers. The truth though is that one key reason there is no $$$ for the environment, health care, education, etc is because of the massive Pentagon budget!  But saying that to some people is like farting in church.

  • I also had an email this morning from the producer of the Maine Calling radio program.  I had sent them a copy of my blog post and the man said he was going to go back and re-listen to the show and would get back to me about my concerns.  I was glad to get that message and will be interested to see what the gentleman has to say.

BIG ISSUE IN MAINE




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

THE RAGE IS ON




I saw an interesting exchange today on Facebook.  Someone wrote about problems with their local Housing Authority which runs government low-income housing programs. A responder on FB had this to say:


If you find out the answer to this, I would like to know as well. Cause if housing there is like it is here, just as corrupted, I am afraid anything you can do will have to be something outside the agency. Of course you are then running the risk of them finding some reason to put you out. Be careful. Here in the past year or so, it's gotten SO MUCH worse then it has in previous years, it's starting to feel like a concentration camp starting up. I hear it's going to be worse when they turn them into "tax credit homes" (RAD program) and that is by their own admission during one of the mandatory meetings at the home office.

Here, it's like complaining to the police about one of their own. Those lower down the chain are on a leash, only doing what they know they are allowed to do (and some instructed to do) from the higher ups. So many of them are in bed with each other, so to speak, as they employees are carefully selected and some groomed for special positions.

And if you think HUD will do anything, good luck on that. I had Doug Weed tell me face to face last year that HUD doesn't care and won't do anything about any of the corruption. But don't let my words discourage you, just be careful and let us know if you get any positive results and how you came about them.

People can't afford to pay the landlords anymore for a place to sleep.

It should be a human right,
a nice place to land at night,
free from fear, safe from the weather.

How come bankers get to work us like slaves to extract
our limited income by chaining us to a friggen highway-robbery 30-year mortgage? 
When the hell we going to complain about that?

It's the class war
it's raging on now
coming to a home near you
it's all the rage
everybody is getting into it

Some loving$$$ it,
some suffering from it.
And it rages on.

The rage is out there
gonna catch you before long.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

INSIDE AN IRISH JAIL HOUSE



79 year old Irish peace activist Margaretta D'Arcy had the temerity to lay down on the runway of Shannon Airport to prevent U.S. war planes from using it as a stopover to the battlefield in Afghanistan.  When this feisty lady refused to sign away her right to protest, she was sentenced to serve a three month prison sentence, in spite of the fact that she suffers from Parkinson's disease and is being treated for cancer.  She has been at Limerick prison since January 16th, her supporters have been holding daily protests in Ireland, and supporters from Iceland, Britain, the U.S., and international organizations, notably the Global Women's Strike (GWS Ireland), are demanding her release.

SELLING 'MISSILE DEFENSE' BASE TO MAINE

Today a friend emailed me about a radio program that played yesterday across Maine on the public radio network.  The show was supposed to be about 'solar storms' and the damage they could do to the electric grid.  So I listened to the show and came away outraged and motivated to learn more about the scam that is behind this story.

Our old nemesis Frank Gaffney (longtime weaponization of space advocate) is linked to this Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) story and is once again promoting fear and the interests of the military industrial complex.

His crew are working on a scare-campaign about space induced EMP taking out our electrical grid.  They've failed in Congress so are picking states one-by-one to join in the program to fund the 'protection of our grid'.

The Washington Congressional bill is called "Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage (SHIELD) Act" – legislation designed to ensure that, at a minimum, the roughly 300 transformers that make up the backbone of America’s electric grid are quickly hardened against electromagnetic pulse effects. Newt Gingrich is one of the key promoters.

Gaffney reports that, "In Maine a Democratic politician [Rep. Andrea Boland from Sanford] is pushing the state to adopt legislation calling for the 'islanding' of its grid, so as to ensure its continued viability in the event EMP takes down the rest of New England’s electric infrastructure.  It is to be earnestly hoped that, once again, 'as Maine goes', so goes the nation with other states emulating this effort to adopt grid-hardening measures that the federal government has failed to date to inaugurate."

The talking heads on the Maine radio program yesterday made the outrageous case that possible nuclear attacks from Iran and North Korea are key reasons for needing this protection.  And they made them sound imminent.

During this program one of the men was from EMPACT America, an organization “concerned about protecting the American people” from a nuclear or natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) catastrophe. One of their "missions" listed on their web site is to "Organize the American people to act effectively in furtherance of their security from the EMP threat at the federal, state, local, and individual levels." 

The EMPACT speaker talked about a possible east coast mid-course missile defense base coming to western Maine and said the state would be more likely to get it if the local grid was hardened so that the base could survive any EMP 'disruption'.  "State's have to take things into their own hands," he claimed.

Looking closely at EMPACT's board of advisors you find present and past right-wing members of Congress, retired military, weapons industry, Heritage Foundation, Navy nuclear program, and missile defense operatives.   

After the show got going they didn't talk much about solar storms and mostly talked about how we need to get Maine and Congress to quickly move and protect the grid - and mostly from Iran and North Korea. (Great geomagnetic storms have occurred in the past, but not since the advent of the modern electronic age.) 

According to Robert Farley, assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, "The central political purpose of the EMP awareness movement appears to be advancement of the cause of missile defense. The most extreme estimates of the effect of EMP restore the Cold War-era existential fears of nuclear war... The fact that EMP is poorly researched and not well understood works in its favor as a scare tactic. Since evidence of EMP’s allegedly lasting impact is purely theoretical, EMP awareness advocates can make outlandish claims regarding the threat that even the smallest nuclear arsenal poses." See more here

It should be noted that the Pentagon has long been planning to use "missile defense" programs as key elements in their first-strike attack planning on Russia and China.  (The missile defense systems would pick-off a countries retaliatory strikes after the Pentagon hit them first.  The US Space Command runs computer war games on this first-strike program each year. StratCom in Nebraska is in charge of this program.)

The thought of a national campaign to "harden the grid" can only lead one to remember similar programs in the past for fallout shelters that would give the public reassurance and the Pentagon confidence to follow through with its first-strike planning.  

It's very sad to hear one whole hour on Maine's top public radio station promoting this right wing, corporate first-strike attack program.  They promote fear and attempt to hijack already financially strapped Mainers with this boondoggle. Not one whisper of questioning was heard on this MPBN “missile defense” promotion program.  The corporate control of media is so intense now that even Maine public radio is corrupted.

In the end we should be working to create a solar society so we can get off the centralized corporate dominated grid.  A decentralized more simple lifestyle is the answer to the potential solar storm problem.  Hardening the grid so it can survive a nuclear war is playing the current insane power game that must be rejected. 

JAPAN'S DISPOSABLE WORKERS



Japan's structural economic problems are further alienating its already marginalized populations.

Photojournalist Shiho Fukada goes beyond the bright lights of Tokyo to document the country's unemployment crisis - disposable workers who are easily fired and live without a social safety net. They are usually shut out from the rest of the society, living in poverty but rarely acknowledged by their fellow citizens.

Fukada's photographs add a human face to widely discussed issues—from day laborers living on the streets to educated women taking banal jobs. She reveals the other side of Japan where alcoholism, hopelessness and suicide are increasingly commonplace.

This report is part of Pulitzer Center-sponsored project "Japan's Disposable Workers: Lost in the Global Unemployment Crisis"

Monday, January 20, 2014

DEMOCRATS TRYING TO DERAIL IRAN DEAL



On January 16 CODEPINK led a tour to the offices of two of the Senate sponsors Menendez (New Jersey) and Schumer (New York) of bill S.1881

OBAMA WORSE THAN BUSH ON TRADE DEALS


THE SOUL OF OUR NATION




MLK was a treasure.....if we each pick up the baton they can't kill us all. 

Keep planting the olive trees so we can feed the next generation.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

SWANSON ON OBAMA'S 'NSA BONE'



David Swanson will be speaking in Brunswick, Maine (public library) on Saturday, February 15 from 3:00-5:00 pm.  He's one of the really good ones out there and you'll enjoy listening to him talk about the need to end war and other such corporate malfeasance's.

Swanson writes:

President Barack Obama gave a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment on Friday, and not even his fans are proclaiming victory.  In this moment when Obama is actually doing one thing I agree with (talking to Iran), more and more people seem to be slowly, agonizingly slowly, finally, finally, finally, recognizing what a complete huckster he is when it comes to pretty speeches about his crimes.

Obama's speech and new "policy directive" eliminate the Fourth Amendment.  Massive bulk collection of everybody's data will continue unconstitutionally, but Obama has expressed a certain vague desire to end it, sort of, except for the parts that are needed, but not to do so right away.  The comparisons to the closure of the Guantanamo death camp began instantly.

See more here

SUNDAY SONG