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, September 03, 2016

Capitalists Don't Give a Damn


I was tossing-and-turning in bed early this morning - my mind fixed on the images in the video from China about the blue jeans manufacturing operations destroying the local environment and the lives of the workers.

My mind also flashed to the videos from North Dakota where indigenous people have been massing in recent weeks to protect the Missouri River from a pipeline that the oil-i-garchy wants to lay to move their deadly poison.  And finally my mind flashed to Okinawa where the people are trying to protect the endangered Yanbaru forest and wildlife at Takae.

Each of these stories reveal the hard-hearted desire for profit and power - demanded by capitalism no matter the consequences to local populations or our Mother Earth.  I am screaming mad about all of this.

Then this morning I was graced (and that is the right word here - graced) by the videos from the Veterans for Peace delegation in Okinawa showing the singing and dancing of the marvelous people there as they struggle to block the destruction process so more helipads can be built in the forest for US Marine Corps Osprey transport helicopters.

The fierce determination, love and joy of the people on Okinawa (similar to what we've experienced in Korea) makes some of my pain and suffering subside - just a bit.  It helps me return to the core of my being where I too can find love and joy in the midst of the pure insanity that comes out of Washington and other capitals around the world that promote endless war and the destruction of our planet - all for corporate profits.

Over the years people have repeatedly asked me about the heartless capitalists who plow forward with their wars and destruction.  People ask me, "Don't these people care about what they are doing?  What about their own children?  Don't they care about the future?"

My response has always been the same.  I tell them about a book I read while in college called Lame Deer Seeker of Visions.

John (Fire) Lame Deer was born around the turn of the last century on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He was a full-blooded Sioux and in his book he wrote that the white man was blinded by his love for the 'Green Frog Skin' - the $$$$$.  Because of this worship for money and power the white man could not see/feel his connection to nature - he could not see/feel how poisoning the water or destroying nature would mean his own people would perish.

I'd call it a spiritual disconnection - a breaking of the sacred link between humans and nature.  A divorce between reality and imagined power and privilege.

A healing is needed.  The protests around the world against militarism and environmental destruction are part of the global healing now underway.  Each of us has a role to play in this healing process. 

Let it continue - let us hear the words of Lame Deer and others who are trying to tell us something important.

Bruce 

 

Dancing after a Victory in Okinawa



VFP member Will Griffin reports from Okinawa:

The people of Takae/Okinawa defeated the construction workers by blocking them off and taking control of a bridge that leads to the US Marines Helipad site. 

Look at this amazing site! The people controlling their own lands! This bridge is covered with happy people celebrating their victory through song and dance joined with Veterans For Peace members Matthew Hoh, Tarak Kauff, Michael Hanes, Ken Mayers, Mike Hastie, and Douglas Lummis! 


It was such a great feeling to finally see the people take back what is rightfully theirs!


#FreeOkinawa
#NoHelipadsTakae
#NoBaseHenoko  

Friday, September 02, 2016

More from Okinawa Anti-Marine Base Protests


Thursday, September 01, 2016

I'm Living for My Children, My Grandchildren



Defending the water - defending the future generations. 

Nothing is more sacred, nothing is more important.

Launch Pad Explosion



Had an early call from RT about doing an interview after the launch pad explosion this morning at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

I made sure to get into the interview the sometimes forgotten issue of launching nuclear devices from the space center....rockets blow up from time to time so we must not discount the dangers about plans to launch nuclear powered space missions in years to come.  The nuclear industry sees space as a new market for nuclear powered mining colonies on the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies.

Nuclear rockets, giving heavy lift capability, would be integral for these mining missions.  The madness continues.......

Bruce 


Ranked Choice Voting Referendum in Maine



My latest interview with Kyle Bailey about Ranked Choice Voting referendum in Maine on Nov 8....

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Imperial Candidate



Why We’ll Keep Going Back to BIW






By Bruce K. Gagnon

I recently returned from a nearly month-long trip to South Korea where I, and two others from Veterans For Peace, visited several farming villages that have been devastated by the expansion of bases for US military operations in the region.

While gone I missed the West Bath Court arraignment for the Zumwalt 12 arrestees. We were arrested at BIW during the June 18 ‘christening’ of the second Zumwalt stealth destroyer. Bar Harbor lawyer Lynne Williams represented me in court on Aug. 2. Our group of peace protesters pled not guilty to the charges filed against us for blocking the road and gate in front of BIW. We are scheduled to return to court in September and November before jury selection and trial is scheduled in December.

While in South Korea our delegation visited two 500-year-old fishing communities that have been torn apart to build an Air Force base and a Navy base. The bases have caused tremendous suffering for villagers who have fed their families and lived in harmony with nature there for so long. But the Obama-Hillary Clinton ‘pivot’ of 60 percent of Pentagon forces into the Asia-Pacific region necessitates more ports-of-call, airfields, and barracks for the US imperial operation now aimed at China. When America demands they be moved out of the way, these villagers become expendable.

We spent six days walking around Jeju Island in the intense early-August heat. There a Navy base has been built that will port the Aegis and Zumwalt destroyers built at BIW. More than 600 people from throughout South Korea came to the island to support the Gangjeong villagers who have been fighting unsuccessfully for the last eight years to stop the base.

Two teams of 300 each headed east and west around Jeju Island taking six days to complete the 5th annual Grand March for Life and Peace. It’s no coincidence that five out of the 12 of us arrested at BIW on June 18 have been to Jeju Island over the years to stand with the people as they opposed the base construction. The villagers suffer from depression as they watch their way of life dying. The 2,000- person village is currently being besieged by more than 5,000 Korean and American naval personnel.

I also spent considerable time in Seoul attending various protests against the announced deployment of the US THAAD (Theater High Altitude Area Defense) ‘missile defense’ system. The Pentagon plans to stick it on the mainland in the farming village of Seongju (population 10,000). The right-wing South Korean government, following orders from Washington, likely chose this village because it had backed the conservative government by a margin of 85 percent in the last national election. But that has now changed. Just before I arrived in South Korea the residents of Seongju held a mock funeral where they announced that they had, en masse, resigned from the ruling party. Then, just before I left Korea, 900 of these same residents took the sacred step of sitting together and shaving their heads. In Korea this is a big deal. It indicates the commitment to fight to the death, and in this case many women also joined the hair shaving, which is rare.

I know it’s really difficult for many Americans to understand all of this because we think of ourselves as the ‘exceptional nation’ bringing peace and democracy to the rest of the world. The warships built at BIW are seen by most Mainers as symbols of American freedom, but these days people in places like South Korea, Okinawa, Japan, Philippines and Guam only see suffering when the US military arrives in their communities.

From Oct. 11-26 there will be another peace walk through Maine similar to the ones we have organized over the past five years. This walk will be called ‘Stop the War$ on Mother Earth’ and will draw links between our endless wars for oil and the ravaging of our planet by the fossil fuel industry.

We’ve just had the hottest summer in recorded human history and you’d think the nation would go on a massive campaign to reorder our society to solar, wind, tidal power and mass transit production instead of picking a fight with China and Russia. It would make more sense to convert BIW from war making to peaceful pursuits and help give future generations a fair chance at survival. Unfortunately, while we crash and burn, the American people seem distracted by the ongoing circus sideshow on corporate TV.

For the sake of our children and world peace we’ll keep protesting the building of war ships at BIW.

- Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath

Defending Okinawan Forests from U.S. Marine Base



Okinawa: Villagers confront Japanese riot police attempting to force through the construction of US Marine Corps helipads in the Yanbaru jungles.

Japan Times reports:

Since July, the Japanese government has been conducting a massive police campaign in the Takae district of Higashi village that has left at least five demonstrators hospitalized, infringed upon press freedoms and been condemned by Gov. Takeshi Onaga, media unions and local residents.

Asked for comment on the injuries and blocking of reporters, the State Department referred The Japan Times to the Japanese government and U.S. Department of Defense. Anna Richey-Allen, spokesperson for the department’s East Asia and Pacific Bureau spokesperson, then issued a stock statement unrelated to the inquiries.

Likewise, USMC Public Affairs Officer George McArthur declined to comment on the alleged rights’ violations. The U.S. Marines in Okinawa also rejected an interview request from The Japan Times to discuss the helipad construction. Despite the request being made 10 days in advance, McArthur dismissed it on the grounds of it being “short-fuse” (sic). 




Veterans for Peace delegation currently in Okinawa at Takae......

Delusional Thinking


Setting Up the Straw Man for Rigged Elections



We know that US elections have been rife with manipulation for many years.  We know that major league voter suppression and voting machine manipulation have been around for a long time.

In recent days the allegations (and that is all they are) that Russia is hacking voter roles across the US appears to be part of a larger operation being undertaken by the ruling oligarchy in the US.

The American people have become the enemy and cannot any longer be trusted with a proper honest voting system.  So those who are running this corporate oligarchy (that is disguised as a democracy) are now moving to put our national voting system into the hands of Homeland Security.  Why?  Because the Russians are coming!!!!!!

Truthfully, playing this Russian card serves two primary purposes.  First to scare the public into accepting that we have to put Homeland Security in charge of voting which will give them a free pass to manipulate the voting machines beyond our wildest imagination.

Secondly this further demonization of Russia helps set up the provocative foreign and military policy planned by Hillary Clinton once she takes charge in Washington.  She is likely to win in a landslide - either because the non-stop Trump circus sideshow campaign will work its magic - and/or the voting machines will be programmed to make her vote tally jump like a Jack in the Box.

Some political activists across the US are already asking the legitimate question, "At what point do we acknowledge that elections in America are a waste of time - a rigged game - and we should be boycotting them?"

The way things are going these days that idea of election boycott might come sooner than any of us imagined possible.

Bruce

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Preparing for 16th Annual Keep Space for Peace Week



No Missile Defense 
Stop Drones Surveillance & Killing
Stop the Endless Wars 
No to NATO
End Corporate Domination of Foreign/Military Policy
Convert the Military Industrial Complex
Deal with climate change and global poverty

It's that time of year when the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space begins to compile a list of local actions planned around the world in conjunction with Keep Space for Peace Week.

Just this morning I emailed out the first list which is always a bit slim but you've got to begin some place.  Before long folks will start sending in notices about events they plan and just before space week starts the list is always quite impressive.

So far we've heard from folks in England, Australia, Sicily, Germany, Venezuela and in the US who are organizing events.  

This year we are likely to see some events come from South Korea as activists there are in the middle of a huge campaign against the Pentagon deployment of the THAAD 'missile defense' (MD) system in the melon farming community of Seongju.  I've previously written about the raging campaign there to oppose this provocative US deployment.

So-called MD is a key component in the US first-strike attack planning program.  MD is a layered program with various systems each playing a role in providing the 'shield' after the US first-strike sword lunges into the heart of Russia or China.

THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is just the latest in a series of US MD deployments now being stationed at bases encircling Russia and China.  The PAC-3 (Patriot 3rd generation) MD system is presently deployed near Russian and Chinese borders.

The Navy's Aegis destroyer-based SM-3 (Standard Missile-3) MD program is bumping up along the coasts of Russia and China and has about the best testing results of any of the Pentagon's MD programs.

US drone bases in the US and around the globe are often key targets of space week protests.  In order to fly the drones they must be guided by military satellites and ground down-link stations that are strategically placed around the world.  These same installations help the US Space Command coordinate the aggressive MD system as well.


Our actual goal, as we mark our 16th year of organizing Keep Space for Peace Week, is to help increase public understanding about how the Pentagon has taken over the space program in order to "control and dominate" space on "behalf of the war fighter" and corporate interests.  All US military operations these days are coordinated and directed by space technology.

The Pentagon and the aerospace industry have bragged for many years that Star Wars (the name given to describe all of this) will be the largest industrial project in the history of Earth.  In fact this program is so expensive that the US can't afford to pay for it alone - thus the reason the Pentagon is rounding up the allies to get involved in this military space program.  But all allied military space technology systems must be "inter-operable" with US space operations which of course means that everything is run through Pentagon satellites, ground-stations, and command and control centers with the US at the top of the "kill chain".

How does all of this get paid for?  Obviously the cost of space warfare technology is one key reason we see major emphasis on domestic austerity budgets in the US and across allied countries.  They are robbing from the poor and the working class to fund these space technology programs that are making the few at the top very rich.  Better we convert these weapons factories and build solar power, wind turbines, mass transit systems, tidal power and other things that help us deal with our real problem today - climate change.

Our poster for Keep Space for Peace Week is heavily focused this year on Pentagon MD deployments around the world.  You can see the poster here

Anyone can participate in space week - you can help by writing a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper, put up some of our space week posters around your community, or hold a house party and show one of our many videos which can be seen here.

Please let us know if you plan to organize a local event during space week this year. We welcome your solidarity in our campaign to keep space for peace.

Bruce

Monday, August 29, 2016

Working on the 2016 Peace Walk


MB and I just got back from a four-day trip to Downeast Maine where we spent a couple days being a tourist and walking along the beautiful rocky Atlantic coast.  We stayed our first night in Eastport and then our second night with friends in Hancock.  Our artist friend Russell Wray is the one who made this dolphin and banner (above) for our walk through Maine last year.

Russell is now working on the banner design for our Maine peace walk this October 11-26 that will travel from the Penobscot Nation on Indian Island (Old Town) inland to Dexter, Pittsfield, Unity, Waterville, Augusta, Norway, and Lewiston.  Then the walk will come back to the coast and head south from Brunswick, Freeport, Portland, Saco, Kennebunk, York Beach, and then end in Kittery at the Naval submarine shipyard.

The theme this year is Stop the War$ on Mother Earth as we attempt to connect the dots on our major challenges ahead.  There is no way we can flourish on this planet unless we deal with climate change and we can't stop climate change unless we deal with the certain fact that the Pentagon has the largest carbon bootprint on the Earth.


We think we are going to have a bigger walk this year than ever before for numerous reasons.  I hope most of them are obvious to you.  We've also got the best organizing committee yet for this walk, the 5th such one I've helped to organize through Maine.

On the last two days of our trip MB and I redrove the first half of the walk route because we needed to add two new night stop venues into our planning.  This was the third time to drive this route and each time you see new things - beautiful landscapes, the way of life of local folks, possible break stops along the road and more.

Peace walks are always magic and this one will have its own special qualities.  We will be honored to be led again by Buddhist monks and nuns from the Nipponzan Myohoji order.  This Buddhist order is known for leading peace walks and building peace pagodas around the planet.

This will be the 10th walk I have helped to organize - five in Florida when I worked there and five here since moving to Maine in 2003.

It gets into your blood these peace walks do - you see so many opportunities to reach 'beyond the choir' - alot of people clamor that we need to do more than preach to the choir so this process of walking the state, carrying a sign with my message, works well for me.

Bruce

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Update on Ukraine Situation



The US-NATO war project in Ukraine has stalled.  Europe is growing tired of the Kiev regime and the US has made such a mess of things there is little room for maneuvering.

Here is a good overview of the situation.