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 12, 2014

YANG OUT OF JAIL


Yang Yoon-Mo was released yesterday at midnight after 435 days in prison on Jeju Island.  His crime?  Non-violently resisting the Navy base construction by blocking construction vehicles.  This was his fourth jail sentence.

About 100 people from all over Korea came to welcome him as he came out of jail.  In the photo above Father Moon greets Yang in the traditional way with tofu as he walks out of the prison compound.

Gangjeong villagers are now in their seventh year of resistance to the Navy base that will port US aircraft carriers, submarines, and destroyers outfitted with 'missile defense' systems.  Jeju Island sits at the mouth of the Yellow Sea through which China imports 80% of their oil on ships.  The US is attempting to be able to "control" China by developing the ability to choke off their ability to import resources for their huge economy.  It's like putting a loaded gun to China's head.

The Gangjeong village has been living in harmony in their bountiful natural setting for more than 450 years.  Plans call for virtually the entire village to be sacked in order for the Navy base to be built.  Warships made at Bath Iron Works here in Maine would be ported at the Jeju base.  There also appears to be plans to build an airbase on Jeju as well.

Friday, April 11, 2014

FUKUSHIMA FALLOUT



It's been three years since radioactive water began leaking from Japan's stricken Fukushima Nuclear reactor. And with dozens of U.S Navy personnel falling sick from radiation contamination, new questions are arising over what Tokyo's electric power company and the U.S Navy may have known about the extent of radiation exposure. RT's Ameera David reports.

UK'S TRIDENT DECISION



The UK taxpayer will be stuck with a bill for almost three and a half billion dollars to modernise the nation's nuclear arsenal even though polls suggest the majority of the population think it's a waste of money.

Renewing the US-built Trident missiles will happen over a 50 year time span. And is likely to leave the UK's nuclear capability dependent on Washington.

EASTERN UKRAINE UPDATE



Anti-Kiev protesters in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk have given an ultimatum to the post-coup government. They say they want a referendum to be held within 10 days on whether to breakaway and join Russia. That's their response to demands to leave occupied buildings or face a crackdown.

THE PEOPLE WANT TO RISE




It's just another day
sometimes you feel so sad
sings Paul McCartney

living, breathing
heart still beating
still feeling the outrage
it's just another day
it's just another day

The job of an organizer
is to get things popping up
in many places
create buzz
gets more folks thinking
and talking
standing up on their feet again
feeling human
and for once not just an agent
of the corporate machine
a peg in the board

It's actually fun to see the pot
stirred
in a positive way
that touches the mind, heart
and emotion

Now and then you stumble
onto a winning card
the people want to rise
the oven has been warmed
time for the baking

NAVY'S NEW $$$$$ GRAB



This is the rail gun that will be onboard the new Zumwalt stealth destroyer that gets 'christened' on Saturday at Bath Iron Works in Maine. 

The rail gun projectile can travel at seven times the speed of sound.

It's interesting the way folks in the video get so excited about lowering the costs for these killing devices.  We are supposed to all cheer along.

It is an indication though that we are having some impact, slight as it might be, because finally the Pentagon is under serious pressure to cut costs.  But the high-tech weapons corporations want more $$$ to dream up new expensive weapons systems that will make their stockholders rich.  War is big biz.  Fuck the morality they say.

It's a rough road.  In order to keep the market humming the weapons corporate have to hype the threat.  They've been doing it here since the early days when Army soldiers, dressed as Indians burning down white pioneer homes, were used to pump up the national fear in order to keep westward expansion and weapons sales going.  These cats have it down to an art.

But most of the public sees through the lies and the deception.  Many of them though have given up hope and another lot is just waiting on the sidelines for things to look popular, or safe, to jump into the fray.

As Howard Zinn wrote, "People are practical. They want change but feel powerless, alone, do not want to be the blade of grass that sticks up above the others and is cut down. They wait for a sign from someone else who will make the first move, or the second. And at certain times in history, there are intrepid people who take the risk that if they make that first move others will follow quickly enough to prevent their being cut down. And if we understand this, we might make that first move."

The future counts on all of us.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

MAINE STUDENTS MARCH AGAINST CUTBACKS



I went to Portland today with my friend Peter (who took these photos) to join the rally and march against University of Southern Maine's (USM) proposed cuts of 13 faculty members (nine of which are women) as well as several liberal arts programs.

There have been a series of protests in recent days after USM students learned that their school was being hollowed out in order to be turned into a vocational facility.  Calling the teacher firings "retrenchment" the administration of USM is pursuing an austerity program that will have severe impact on the working class students who attend the school.

Obviously the proposed cutbacks at USM are part of the broader attack on poor and working class people across the nation.  But key to this return to feudalism is the destruction of public education.  The rich suggest that the children of the middle class don't need music, art, humanities, sociology, political science, women's studies, history and the like.  Instead the elite tell us that the most working class students can hope for is to be given training for an uninspiring job working for a corporation.

One local lawyer who attended the protest (and took on the case of defending the students right to march when the city turned down their request for permit) told me that he believes part of the agenda is to have USM students "intern" for corporations under near slave wages thus having the vocational institution become a placement agent for the business community.

I was proud to see the young people defending their school and their public education.  Most heartening was to see them connecting the dots as they linked the attacks on USM to the broader corporate strategy of destroying social progress and the environment in America and around the world.

The key to success with this issue, and any other, is determination and repetition.  Often groups hold a couple protests and then give up.  One thing we've learned watching the daily seven-year protest on Jeju Island in South Korea is that when your future is at stake you must stay on the case if you hope to have any real impact.

HOW THE NSA WORKS



With the National Security Agency and other government organizations increasingly surveilling citizens, people have realized that the internet has lost its "innocence," according to German author Holger Stark. The writer for German newspaper Der Spiegel believes that everything we do on the internet is insecure and we must be more knowledgeable and vigilant with our online activities. The author spoke with RT's Lindsay France about the NSA and the quest for control of the internet.



Wednesday, April 09, 2014

THROUGH THE BACK DOOR: MORE U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN UKRAINE



There is growing concern about the possible use of mercenaries by Kiev to quell anti-government unrest in eastern Ukraine. According to reports, around 150 private-American military contractors have been brought in from a private firm called Greystone.

WAR MACHINES TOUTED AS AGENTS OF MERCY


I received a package in the mail two days ago from a friend in Hawaii.  She sent me the front-page story from the Honolulu Star Advertiser  newspaper that screamed with the headline "War machines touted as agents of mercy".  A large photo carried the caption that began with "US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense ministers toured the USS Anchorage at Pearl Harbor".

Hagel is on a mind-washing trip throughout the Pacific in order to sell the notion that Obama's 'pivot' of 60% of Pentagon forces into the region is a "sign of the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief the US military can provide."

As evidence of this kind and gentle spirit Hagel's public relations team suggested that the amphibious assault landing craft they toured "works well for humanitarian assistance" because it has two medical operating rooms and a six-bed intensive care unit.  So next time there is a tsunami or any other kind of natural disaster where hundreds of thousands are impacted - have no worries because here comes the assault landing craft.

But the true intentions of the Hagel trip emerged when the Secretary of Endless War was asked about the pivot.... is it real and is the US giving up on the Middle East?

"The US is not retreating from any part of the world.  There is no indication of that, especially in the Middle East," Hagel said, adding America has a "tremendous resource asset base" there.

Hagel noted that America has 300,000 men and women stationed or deployed abroad in almost 100 countries.

It was interesting that even the craven Honolulu Star Advertiser (the name of the paper reeks of corporate control) could not entirely buy the elixir that Hagel was peddling. Their screaming headline reeked of skepticism and cynicism.  But in the end the paper fell into line and ran a four-picture spread that helped promote the Pentagon's message.

When I was in the Philippines last year I heard the same story about expanding US military operations there - except those using the "humanitarian and disaster relief" lingo was the Filipino government.  Already the US war machine has its regional puppets repeating the mantra. 

So will the Navy's new Zumwalt destroyer, set to receive the "blessings of christ" on Saturday here in Bath, be a $4 billion "humanitarian and disaster relief" warship?  How many hospital beds does it have?

Why not end the pretense and build hospital ships with hundreds and hundreds of beds and send them into the Pacific to deal with the coming ravages of climate change?  Why not change the name of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to the 'Natural Guard' and just be done with it?

We are told the Zumwalt will be home ported in San Diego, which confirms that the mission of the destroyer will be to sneak up on China and prepare to blast them.  Maybe after the war with China ships like the Zumwalt can stitch up those maimed by the battle so they can be sent back to work in the sweatshops run by the mega-corporations who make our stuff these days. 

No doubt about it, the oil-i-garchy is hard at work.  We should be as well.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

CONNECTING THE DOTS IN MAINE: APRIL 11-12 EVENTS UPDATE




This weekend Maine Veterans for Peace, and other sponsors, will hold three events in our state to make public the issue of the US military 'pivot' into the Asia-Pacific.  This pivot is being used to provocatively surround China and Russia as 60% of US forces move into that region.  Vital in this pivot will be naval forces, many of which are built at Bath Iron Works. 

Remembering the call to work within our 'bio-region' the issue of the Navy's April 12 ceremony in Bath thus looms crucial for our collective movements.  The ‘christening’ of the new $4 billion Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer ought to be connected to climate change and growing cutbacks in social spending.

At this very moment USM students are in the streets protesting faculty lay-offs and cuts of entire programs, while climate change activists are stepping up their local efforts to arouse the public about our warming Mother Earth.  To all of our movements the public appears tranquilized in the face of these mounting crises.

The US ‘pivot’ is all about control of declining resources on the planet.  In order to be successful the Obama team has stepped up military escalation and confrontation that benefits the agenda of the resource extraction corporations.  Not only is this strategy highly expensive, but also it dramatically exacerbates the already massive carbon footprint the US has.  In fact the Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on the planet today, and during the development of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate the US military’s boot print had to be waived as a relevant issue in order for the US to agree to sign on.  There can be no doubt that warships equal global warming.

On Friday, April 11 the International Panel on the US ‘Pivot’ to Asia-Pacific will speak at UM-Orono at 2:30 pm in the Memorial Union/Bangor Room.  Speakers from AFSC, India, Japan and South Korea will share their expertise on the impacts of this US military expansion.

On Saturday, April 12 Maine peace groups will hold a rally in Bath from 10:00 am to noon right across from the official ‘christening’ of the Zumwalt destroyer.  The police will block off Hinckley Street along Washington Street for the protest event.  VFP’s sound system will broadcast the 1994 Labor Day rally inside BIW where speakers called for the conversion/diversification of the shipyard.  Following that we will have open mic and music.  Many creative banners will be on display for the thousands of people who come to witness ‘Christ’s blessing’ of the warship.  American ‘exceptionalism’ will be on display that day. (Following the rally folks are invited to the Addams-Melman House, 212 Centre St, in Bath for soup and conversation.)

How do we end the US addiction to military production in our local communities?  Unless the workers at BIW feel that people across Maine share their desire to "build something more positive" then little movement toward real conversion is possible. Jobs are key... there must be public discussion about how we convert BIW and protect jobs. By connecting the issue dots we can help create an alternative strategy that reduces spending on militarism, helps end wars for oil, lowers our national carbon boot print, and creates 'products' like needed commuter rail systems at BIW.   This difficult but crucial undertaking is our greatest challenge.

Later in the evening on April 12 the same international panel will speak at the new Unitarian Church in Brunswick.  Potluck supper begins at 6:00 pm and the panel discussion at 7:00 pm.  The public is warmly invited.

The link above is to a short military promotional video about the Zumwalt destroyer.

Maine Veterans for Peace

Monday, April 07, 2014

THE SARIN SHELL GAME



Was Turkey behind last year’s Syrian chemical weapons attack? That is the question raised in a new exposé by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh on the intelligence debate over the deaths of hundreds of Syrians in Ghouta last year.

The United States, and much of the international community, blamed forces loyal to the Assad government, almost leading to a U.S. attack on Syria. But Hersh reveals the U.S. intelligence community feared Turkey was supplying sarin gas to Syrian rebels in the months before the attack took place — information never made public as President Obama made the case for launching a strike. Hersh joins Democracy Now to discuss his findings.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

THE MONEY GO-ROUND

THE AUSTERITY TRAP



Bill Black: The media has failed to report on the causes and possible solutions for Europe's deflating economy.

SUNDAY SONG