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 23, 2014

FULL HOUSE


Lots of comings and goings at the Addams-Melman House these days.  Housemate Karen has moved to North Berwick to be with her artist man friend through the winter.  Into her space has just moved one of MB's friends and her son.  Then downstairs in an empty room a young man who is teaching math and science in a nearby middle school has moved in.

For two weeks we have three college student guests from Malaysia, Israel, and England visiting.  The kitchen has been humming non-stop and this morning I made a big pot of pasta sauce from all the tomatoes we have grown and been given by friends.

The cold won't be far away and we've got enough wood ready for winter.

We had a dozen people back out on the streets with us in Bath this morning for a Gaza solidarity vigil.  We did a solemn silent walk through the heart of downtown and the busy farmers market.  Will do same again next Saturday at 10:00 am.

RUSSIAN AID ARRIVES IN EASTERN UKRAINE



Tons of food, water and medicine have finally reached the struggling citizens of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine. The aid column is now back in Russia - after unloading its vital cargo in less than 24 hours. RT's Maria Finoshina traveled with the convoy through the war-torn region.

Corporations like Monsanto want control of the rich fertile land of eastern Ukraine to grow their GMO products for European markets that have been reluctant to accept them.  Oil companies have already begun fracking operations under the cover of Kiev's shelling of the eastern region.  NATO hopes for military bases right on Russia's border.

In recent days Spanish farmers have been dumping their rotting produce and burning EU flags due to the US-EU sanctions on Russia.  These sanctions have closed the prosperous economic door into Russia for many European companies.  So this war on Ukraine is now having detrimental impacts all across Europe.

Score one for Russia on the grand chessboard as it once again proves the US-NATO fear mongering (Russia's aid convoy is a trojan horse!) to be nothing but a pack of lies - meant to further demonize Russia in the eyes of the world.

Friday, August 22, 2014

LAUNCH ALERT



The real-life missile silo setting really helps make this short film something special. A nuclear engineer lets his art hobby get in the way of his job—but when something goes awry, it may just save him.

Writer and director David Soll, who produces political ads as his day job, funded Silo through a successful Kickstarter campaign and got the rights to film in a decommissioned Cold War-era missile silo in the Adirondacks.

KIEV TAKES OUT MUSEUM AS THEY ESCALATE SHELLING



Russia's Foreign Ministry has called the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ukraine appalling. Cities have been shelled by the military every day this week. RT's Maria Finoshina reports from Lugansk.

The crime of those in eastern Ukraine?  They wanted to vote for their own mayors and governors rather than having them appointed by corrupt oligarchs in Kiev.  They wanted to be able to speak their historic Russian language and not have it banned by Kiev.  They want the Nazi's running the show in Kiev to stop killing them.

MAINE PAPERS PUSH BACK AGAINST MISSILE DEFENSE BASE

Rangeley, Maine where the Pentagon is considering basing up to 60 'missile defense' interceptors aimed at Russia and China


In recent days two newspapers in Maine, the Portland Press Herald (largest paper in the state) and the Times Record (from the Midcoast) have written editorials opposing the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency proposal to base up to sixty interceptors in Rangeley.  Also being considered as a host site for the expensive and destabilizing 'missile defense' (MD) base are Ohio, Michigan, and New York.

It was quite encouraging to read these two editorials both of which commented on the fact that the Pentagon does not really want the base.  It was mandated by Congress that public hearings be held in the four states because the lead contractor for this MD project, Boeing Corporation, used its considerable influence in the halls of government to sell the project as a jobs creator.  Who can argue against jobs, right?

The Times Record editorial took this jobs issue squarely on by writing:


$3.4 billion can create a lot of jobs for some lucky community. But that same $3.4 billion could be used to replace the highways in a large state such as Maine, or rebuild our aging schools, or pay for alternative energy systems to keep school costs down, or improve the whole country’s airports. Or fill in the blank for the job creating stimulus of your choice...
Let’s be clear. If we as a state are seeking a federal boondoggle to create jobs, let’s ask for one that is life affirming and useful to the majority of our citizens. The missile defense system in the western mountains does not meet this criteria in any way. 

Every now and again we get a sign that the local media is paying some attention to what activists are saying about issues like more military spending.  These editorials are evidence that our combined voices are being heard by someone.  That's encouraging.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

REMEMBER THIS ONE?


I LOVE THIS WOMAN



We the people are ordered to constantly walk or we're threatened with arrest during the Mike Brown protests!

It's the same unlawful order day after day! No rights of assembly for anyone in the new constitution being written in the streets of Ferguson!

She will not comply!

BLIND SPOTS


A TERRIBLE BEAUTY IS BORN


We can't let this go away.  Ferguson, Missouri or the many other places blacks are gunned down by cops.  We can't let Gaza go nor Ukraine nor Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Africa - its all about the rape of resources and the elimination of unneeded people.  It's global genocide by the corporate elite.

Obama is so quiet - he makes more noise after a white reporter is killed by ISIS.  Obama promises revenge and sends bombers to Iraq.  In the case of Ferguson Obama sheepishly utters a few words of defense of media rights to report on protests but admonishes protesters for stepping out of line.  More than a week after the killing of Mike Brown Obama finally sends his attorney general to promise a federal investigation.  Got to keep our eyes on that ball.  Might just roll off into obscurity.

Obama has shown long ago that he has walked away from the black community and poor people in general.  The 'poor' word is never heard from his mouth as he maintains he is busy defending the 'middle class' while bowing to the dictates of corporate power.

I was reading a great book last night called 1968: A History in Verse by Edward Sanders who was a member of the band called The Fugs.  Things haven't changed much since then - except that more younger people were on the case in those days.  Student and minority movements were strong and being tracked and undermined by the FBI and CIA.  Today many young people are chained by college debt and in despair about what can be done.  Many still cling to the mythology of 'success' and are stuck on the treadmill.

Sanders recalls getting FBI files that contained agent memos from May 10-23, 1968 reminding all FBI offices:

"of the necessity of taking immediate action to expose, disrupt, and otherwise neutralize the activities of the New Left.  As a part of this program, you were instructed to remain alert for and to seek specific data depicting the depraved nature and moral looseness of the New Left.  You were further instructed to consider ways to use this material in a vigorous and enthusiastic approach to neutralizing them."

Local cops, federal 'law enforcement' agencies, religion, courts, media, unions, and politicians were largely lined up against the 'New Left'.  Activists and their organizations were undermined and ridiculed in the media.  But what they had to say about equality, peace, justice, environment and more were right on the mark.

It's the same way today.  Same struggle - same issues - same oligarchy in power that still uses largely the same methods to keep control. 

Sanders recalls the story about protest singer Phil Ochs running from the head-bashing cops in Chicago in '68 at the time of the Democratic Party convention when Mayor Daley went for blood.  As Ochs ran for cover the words of the poet Yates kept running through his head.  Sanders imagined it was these words: A terrible beauty is born.

One could ask that about Ferguson today?  Or Gaza? Has a terrible beauty been born when people around the planet stand together demanding justice before there can ever truly be peace.

COPS ON RAMPAGE IN MISSOURI



Another killing of a black man by cops in St Louis, Missouri.  This one though was recorded on the spot.  The ruling corporate oligarchy has given the police the green light to get the race war going.  What else could it be?

Notice how after shooting the man about ten times they handcuff the dead body.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THIS AIN'T FLORIDA...THIS IS ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI


KIEV CLOSING IN FOR THE KILL



Eastern Ukraine has sustained another day of heavy shelling. Today at least 5 people were killed in an army assault on a village near Donetsk, while the city itself was also hit. Inside the city, people are struggling with a dire humanitarian situation.

I was particularly moved by the 82 year old woman at the end of this news report who refuses to leave Donetsk as the Kiev regime's conscripted army, directed by the US, closes in for the kill.  Kiev has been saying they plan to take full military control of eastern Ukraine by September 1.  That means lots more innocent people will die in the next few days. 

THIS IS AN EMERGENCY


It's all normal now
militarization of police
militarization of culture
creation of police state
lock down time 

who is the enemy?

In Ferguson
the predominately
black crowd shouts
'We are in Gaza'
they know what is
coming down

In Gaza
Palestinians,
long accustomed to
tear gas,
send Facebook messages
to Ferguson
about how to deal
with tear gas

the protests against
corporate dictatorship
are global

back at home
Obama interrupts
his vacation
makes lame statement
about Ferguson
"In America we don't
arrest journalists"

looks bad
after all
we are 'the light'
of freedom,
Disney style,
but truth be heard
America is home
of racism
and classism

Ferguson  is
blowing America's cover
it's an embarrassment
but also a planned
necessity

planned in that
the militarization
of most local police
has long been
in the works

necessity because
with corporate oligarchy
takeover of the nation
the shit is going to
hit the fan
and the cops
have been made ready

If America will kill
for 'our interests'
in Iraq, Afghanistan,
Libya, Palestine,
Africa,
Ukraine,
Latin America,
Asia
then it will kill
when necessary
at home

The main problem
is that most
in America
don't want to see
the writing
on the wall
it might
require one
to take positive
action
and people
are afraid
they might be
next on the list

better to take
the bait
of black
against white
brown immigrants
stealing our
crumbs

divide
and conquer
America
learned it well
from our British
forefathers

the sun
did set
on the Brits
and is now
setting on
Washington
the great
illusion is over

The
supreme irony
is oligarchy
put black man
in charge
of the demise

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

REACHING BEYOND THE CHOIR


Lots of people complain that we are often "preaching to the choir".  Peace walks give us great opportunities to reach well beyond our normal activist boxes.  Both the organizing of a walk and the actual walk itself introduces us to many new people and organizations.

The sharing community that gets created during a walk is more than magical and sends sparks out into the air as we pass through rural and urban settings.  People take notice and open themselves to the message and spirit of the walk.

I been involved in about a dozen or so walks.  They are life changing experiences and I look forward to this one as well.

FROM THE POPE TO WAR GAMES IN SOUTH KOREA


Pope Francis was just in South Korea for 100 hours and there was much popular movement action in the streets across the nation.  His translator on the trip was one of the Catholic priests who has been involved in the Jeju Island Navy base struggle and he met with Jeju Catholic Bishop Kang who has been a huge supporter of Gangjeong village where the Navy base is being built.

English language newspaper the hankyoreh reported:

 In his Aug. 15 mass for the Feast of the Assumption in Daejeon, the Pope urged attendees to fight the “spirit of unbridled competition” and reject “inhumane economic models.” This was also a blunt criticism of the South Korean economic system and its focus on the “myth of growth.”
“When the Pope said we need to change from globalization of capital to globalization of solidarity, he was calling for both a spiritual change in the ones who exclude the poor as well as a change in national and international institutions,” said Jung Tae-in, director of the Corea Institute for New Society.
Global Network board member Sung-hee Choi, long time activist on Jeju Island, wrote today:

Recently, Pope Francis has visited Korea from Aug. 14 to 18. He left us many moving messages of peace and justice, but the South Korean (ROK) conservative Park Geun-Hye government  started the World-biggest war exercise Ulji Freedom Guardian (In government drill, about 480,000 personnel join. In military drill, about 50,000 Korean soldiers and 30,000 US soldiers) started along with the United States on his leaving day. It ends on Aug. 21. The exercise targets North Korea and the strategy includes preemptive nuclear strike against her. The exercise will be a passage for the US to push for the US-Japan-ROK trilateral military alliance and Missile Defense system.

Australia, France, Denmark, and some UN Command in ROK - dispatching nations join it as observer.

FERGUSON: A TOP DOWN PROBLEM


Monday, August 18, 2014

KAREEM TELLS THE TRUTH



The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Will the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?

The answer can be found in May of 1970.
 
You probably have heard of the Kent State shootings: on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University. During those 13 seconds of gunfire, four students were killed and nine were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. The shock and outcry resulted in a nationwide strike of 4 million students that closed more than 450 campuses. Five days after the shooting, 100,000 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C. And the nation’s youth was energetically mobilized to end the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and mindless faith in the political establishment.

You probably haven’t heard of the Jackson State shootings.

On May 14th, 10 days after Kent State ignited the nation, at the predominantly black Jackson State University in Mississippi, police killed two black students (one a high school senior, the other the father of an 18-month-old baby) with shotguns and wounded twelve others.

There was no national outcry. The nation was not mobilized to do anything. That heartless leviathan we call History swallowed that event whole, erasing it from the national memory.

And, unless we want the Ferguson atrocity to also be swallowed and become nothing more than an intestinal irritant to history, we have to address the situation not just as another act of systemic racism, but as what else it is: class warfare.

By focusing on just the racial aspect, the discussion becomes about whether Michael Brown’s death—or that of the other three unarmed black men who were killed by police in the U.S. within that month—is about discrimination or about police justification. Then we’ll argue about whether there isn’t just as much black-against-white racism in the U.S. as there is white-against-black. (Yes, there is. But, in general, white-against-black economically impacts the future of the black community. Black-against-white has almost no measurable social impact.)

Then we’ll start debating whether or not the police in America are themselves an endangered minority who are also discriminated against based on their color—blue. (Yes, they are. There are many factors to consider before condemning police, including political pressures, inadequate training, and arcane policies.) Then we’ll question whether blacks are more often shot because they more often commit crimes. (In fact, studies show that blacks are targeted more often in some cities, like New York City. It’s difficult to get a bigger national picture because studies are woefully inadequate. The Department of Justice study shows that in the U.S. between 2003 and 2009, among arrest-related deaths there’s very little difference among blacks, whites, or Latinos. However, the study doesn’t tell us how many were unarmed.)

This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor.

And that’s how the status quo wants it.

The U.S. Census Report finds that 50 million Americans are poor. Fifty million voters is a powerful block if they ever organized in an effort to pursue their common economic goals. So, it’s crucial that those in the wealthiest One Percent keep the poor fractured by distracting them with emotional issues like immigration, abortion and gun control so they never stop to wonder how they got so screwed over for so long.

One way to keep these 50 million fractured is through disinformation. PunditFact’s recent scorecard on network news concluded that at Fox and Fox News Channel, 60 percent of claims are false. At NBC and MSNBC, 46 percent of claims were deemed false. That’s the “news,” folks! During the Ferguson riots, Fox News ran a black and white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the bold caption: “Forgetting MLK’s Message/Protestors in Missouri Turn to Violence.” Did they run such a caption when either Presidents Bush invaded Iraq: “Forgetting Jesus Christ’s Message/U.S. Forgets to Turn Cheek and Kills Thousands”?

How can viewers make reasonable choices in a democracy if their sources of information are corrupted? They can’t, which is exactly how the One Percent controls the fate of the Ninety-Nine Percent.

Worse, certain politicians and entrepreneurs conspire to keep the poor just as they are. On his HBO comedic news show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver ran an expose of the payday loan business and those who so callously exploit the desperation of the poor. How does an industry that extorts up to 1,900 percent interest on loans get away with it? In Texas, State Rep. Gary Elkins blocked a regulatory bill, despite the fact that he owns a chain of payday loan stores. And the politician who kept badgering Elkins about his conflict of interest, Rep. Vicki Truitt, became a lobbyist for ACE Cash Express just 17 days after leaving office. In essence, Oliver showed how the poor are lured into such a loan, only to be unable to pay it back and having to secure yet another loan. The cycle shall be unbroken.

Dystopian books and movies like Snowpiercer, The Giver, Divergent, Hunger Games, and Elysium have been the rage for the past few years. Not just because they express teen frustration at authority figures. That would explain some of the popularity among younger audiences, but not among twentysomethings and even older adults. The real reason we flock to see Donald Sutherland’s porcelain portrayal in Hunger Games of a cold, ruthless president of the U.S. dedicated to preserving the rich while grinding his heel into the necks of the poor is that it rings true in a society in which the One Percent gets richer while our middle class is collapsing.

That’s not hyperbole; statistics prove this to be true. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center report, just half of U.S. households are middle-income, a drop of 11 percent since the 1970s; median middle-class income has dropped by 5 percent in the last ten years, total wealth is down 28 percent. Fewer people (just 23 percent) think they will have enough money to retire. Most damning of all: fewer Americans than ever believe in the American Dream mantra that hard work will get them ahead.

Rather than uniting to face the real foe—do-nothing politicians, legislators, and others in power—we fall into the trap of turning against each other, expending our energy battling our allies instead of our enemies. This isn’t just inclusive of race and political parties, it’s also about gender. In her book Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution, Laurie Penny suggests that the decreased career opportunities for young men in society makes them feel less valuable to females; as a result they deflect their rage from those who caused the problem to those who also suffer the consequences: females.

Yes, I’m aware that it is unfair to paint the wealthiest with such broad strokes. There are a number of super-rich people who are also super-supportive of their community. Humbled by their own success, they reach out to help others. But that’s not the case with the multitude of millionaires and billionaires who lobby to reduce Food Stamps, give no relief to the burden of student debt on our young, and kill extensions of unemployment benefits.

With each of these shootings/chokehold deaths/stand-your-ground atrocities, police and the judicial system are seen as enforcers of an unjust status quo. Our anger rises, and riots demanding justice ensue. The news channels interview everyone and pundits assign blame.

Then what?

I’m not saying the protests in Ferguson aren’t justified—they are. In fact, we need more protests across the country. Where’s our Kent State? What will it take to mobilize 4 million students in peaceful protest? Because that’s what it will take to evoke actual change. The middle class has to join the poor and whites have to join African-Americans in mass demonstrations, in ousting corrupt politicians, in boycotting exploitative businesses, in passing legislation that promotes economic equality and opportunity, and in punishing those who gamble with our financial future.

Otherwise, all we’re going to get is what we got out of Ferguson: a bunch of politicians and celebrities expressing sympathy and outrage. If we don’t have a specific agenda—a list of exactly what we want to change and how—we will be gathering over and over again beside the dead bodies of our murdered children, parents, and neighbors.

I hope John Steinbeck is proven right when he wrote in Grapes of Wrath, “Repression works only to strengthen and knit the oppressed.” But I’m more inclined to echo Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” written the year after the Kent State/Jackson State shootings:

Inflation no chance
To increase finance
Bills pile up sky high
Send that boy off to die
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life 

MORE ON PROPOSED RANGELEY MISSILE BASE


Sunday, August 17, 2014

MAKE IT BETTER FOR MY SON



Captain Ron Johnson spoke of the need for communication, understanding, and faith at Sunday’s Rally for Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Johnson began by apologizing to Brown’s family. “I wear this uniform, and I should stand up here and say that I’m sorry,” Johnson said to a long round of applause. “I’ll tell you right now, I came in today and saw people cheering and people clapping; this is what the media needs to put on TV.”

Johnson replaced Ferguson Police Chief Jon Belmar after several days of over-militarized police presence led to a crisis in the St. Louis suburb. Johnson cited his link to the community, pledged to protect its right to protest, and brought it back to the personal bond he feels with his own family, and how he sees the experience shaping the bond for the families of the Ferguson community.

“When this is over, I’m gonna go in my son’s room,” Johnson said. “My black son, who wears his pants saggy, wears his hat cocked to the side, got tattoos on his arms. But that’s my baby, and we all oughta be thanking the Browns for Michael. Because Michael’s gonna make it better for our sons, so they can be better black men.”

THE KILLING CULTURE


Why?

Because we can
we want to feel
powerful
and
dominant
that's what we do
in this culture

We are taught
to win
at all cost
we can kill them
fast
or we can kill them
slow

Our mission
our job
our role
in America
says Pentagon
is
'security export'

we are warriors
hunters
killers

We've been chosen
by the man
we are the
primary resource
extraction service
for corporate
globalization

We do it
because we can
it's our culture
'full spectrum
dominance'

SUNDAY SONG