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, March 23, 2013

CLIMATE CHANGE UPDATE



India's Maharasthra state has been hard-hit by poor rainfall and dwindling water supply - causing many farmers to have to pay for water tankers to deliver water on borrowed money.

I CAN'T BELIEVE......



Idle No More Oklahoma rallies at the state capitol to protect the water and environment of the area.

Crystal Zevon who sent around the above video, and has been with indigenous people's recently at Tar Sands protests as she tours the country, writes:

I believe the theme emerging from my travels is that our Native brothers and sisters have been in this fight for a very long time. They understand the absolute necessity of caring for the land, our environment, through our daily attention to our Mother Earth at the same time we are engaging in the fight against the Earth's oppressors and destroyers. These actions are not mutually exclusive, they go together. They embody the importance of community and identification with our own communities.

On my journey, I'm finding that the Occupy movement awakened a lot of people, a LOT of people, mostly white people, many of them unlikely allies only a year and a half ago.  And, for those of us who have been activists for a long time, the Occupy movement gave us the support and forward momentum we had been lacking.  Now, Idle No More brings us back to the root causes and offers us a place to 'begin'.  This country is raping and pillaging across the globe exactly as we did to the Red Nations (the term Deb White Plume of the Lakota Nation prefers be used), but I'm feeling strongly that we need to address the original harm done if we are ever to succeed in stopping the devastation our country creates on a global level.  It will require humility and a willingness to take a backseat more than we are accustomed to.  At least today, I believe it is what is necessary.

Friday, March 22, 2013

CONNECTING THE FOSSIL FUEL DOTS



Why we are here - Veterans For Peace members Tarak Kauff, Mike Tork, and Ellen Davidson.

About 20 folks were at TransCanada today in Westborough Massachusetts, protesting the war on Mother Earth being waged by the Keystone XL pipeline.  Two were arrested, in totally bogus arrests, when they were not given time to leave.  

Video by Nat Goldshlag (VFP)

DESIGNED TO FAIL



A remarkable film about the history and consequences of planned obsolescence.  It's a great follow-up to my recent report about the anti-technology seminar I attended in San Francisco. 

I highly recommend you watch this film - it's a blind blower for sure.

PREPARING FOR WAR IN AFRICA



  • The graphic above was produced by the Pentagon's Africa Command (AfriCom).  It gives a clear indication how the military views the continent.  The Washington Post carries an article today called Drone base in Niger gives US a strategic foothold in West Africa.  The article reports that Obama has sent Predator drones and more than 100 troops to Niger.  The article only talks about the US being in West Africa at the request of host governments and the French to help fight terrorism.  (The Pentagon has already signed an agreement with Niger in January that provides judicial protection and other safeguards for US troops in that country.)  The article never made the slightest mention of resources which is really why AfriCom is ramping up US military operations there.

  • In fact France has interests in securing resources, particularly oil and uranium, which the French energy company Areva has been extracting for decades in Niger. Behind France's recent military intervention in neighboring Mali is the strong hand of the US.  The obvious goal is to militarize the entire region in order to control resources. Obama's strategy is to have France take the direct hit with the US taking a role in the background.  Obama figures it might not be a good idea to jump right into Africa while the US is still bogged down in Afghanistan.  But who better than the black president to get the US deeply engaged on the African continent.  Have you heard the Black Congressional Caucus or leading Black figures in the US publicly complain about Obama taking us into war in Africa?  Obama has effectively neutralized any opposition.
  • I got an exciting email yesterday from a student peace group at the University of Maine-Orono up near Bangor.  They read my Op-Ed in the Bangor Daily News yesterday about the proposed "missile defense" base in Caribou.  They wanted to express their concern and offered to help organize opposition to the base.  They are working on a protest rally for May 4.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

TOXIC CONSEQUENCES FROM IRAQ ATTACK SHOWING UP IN NEW BORN BABIES



Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail discusses with Democracy Now how the U.S. invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects suspected of being caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus.

Noting the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Jamail says: "They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to... What this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II."

Jamail has also reported on the refugee crisis of more than one million displaced Iraqis still inside the country, who are struggling to survive without government aid, a majority of them living in Baghdad.

SCRAP TRIDENT IN SCOTLAND

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

TRENDS IN NATIONAL SPENDING PRIORITIES



Facing soaring deficits and disagreements over the mix of taxes and spending in the budget, it is valuable to consider what the American people think governmental spending priorities should be and how their preferences have changed over the last four decades.

Since 1973 the General Social Surveys conducted by the University of Chicago have asked people whether government spending in various areas from health to foreign aid is too much, too little, or about right.

The General Social Survey is a project of the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago with principal funding from the National Science Foundation.

Here are the latest top funding priorities of the American people:

  1.     Improving the nation's education system
  2.     Halting the rising crime rate
  3.     Improving and Protecting the Nation's Health
  4.     Improving and Protecting the Environment
  5.     Dealing with Drug Addiction
  6.     Solving the Problems of the Big Cities
  7.     Improving the Condition of Blacks
  8.     The Military, Armaments, and Defense/National Defense
  9.     Space Exploration Program/NASA
  10.     Welfare
  11.     Foreign Aid/Assistance to Other Countries

Looking at how military spending and NASA are near the bottom while programs of social uplift generally dominate the higher priorities, one can see that the politicians in Washington are obviously not listening to the American people. 

With 57% of every federal discretionary dollar now going to the Pentagon it is more obvious than ever that the corporate-criminal-military-industrial-complex has completely circumvented the will of the public.

These finding should once again give the people confidence that their concerns for real social progress and peace are indeed shared by the vast majority of the nation.  Our task now is to effectively organize and fight for our collective vision of the nation.

AND THEN IT GOES BOOM

One of the early US nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands 

  • I've had a very busy 24 hours.  I spent most of yesterday preparing the news release about our opposition to the basing of "missile defense" systems in Maine and then sending it around to media in our state and around the world.  Then I posted it on several other alternative news web sites and forwarded it to our Global Network email lists.  By the afternoon I got several requests for radio interviews including a long one with Voice of Russia.  This morning I noticed the Bangor Daily News had included some of the news release in a story they did about local support up in Caribou, Maine for the base.  Included with that story is an on-line poll where they ask if you support the base or not.  You can see the article and vote in the poll here
  • The Bangor Daily News today also put my Op-Ed on their web site and told me it will run in the paper on Thursday.  You can see it here
  • Coupled with Obama's announcement of expanded missile offense is the story that the Pentagon has just used B-52 bombers to carry out simulated nuclear bombing raids on North Korea as part of ongoing U.S.-South Korean military war games known as Exercise Foal Eagle.  The Washington Times reported that the planes are based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.  The U.S., the only country on the planet to ever actually use nuclear weapons, is putting the loaded gun to the head of North Korea but the threat is heard by Russia and China as well. Please recall that Obama said he wanted to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  These actions he is taking will not help to create the necessary positive environment to secure nuclear reductions.  In fact Obama continues to go well beyond George. W. Bush by taking provocative military actions, particularly in the Asia-Pacific, as he restarts the Cold War with Russia and China.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

MORE PLUTONIUM SPACE MISSIONS ON THE WAY



Scientific American reports, "The United States has begun producing plutonium-238 again for the first time in a quarter century, marking a key step toward averting a feared shortage of this important spacecraft fuel, NASA officials say."

The Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear labs are in charge of the deadly plutonium expansion program.  They tell us it is safe and necessary for deep space missions.

What they don't tell the public is that DoE's  history of handling toxic plutonium-238 (the most dangerous substance ever created) is very bad.  Countless cases of worker contamination have been reported during previous nuclear space missions.  The radioactive substance gets into the air and water systems near the labs where it is handled.

The Global Network began protesting the launching of nuclear materials when Galileo spacecraft was launched in 1989, Ulysses spacecraft in 1990, Cassini space probe in 1997, and a succession of Mars rovers since that time.  We will continue to stand against the processing and launching of radioactive space missions now and into the future.

The nuclear industry views space as a new and expanding market for their deadly substance.  They envision nuclear powered mining colonies on the Moon, Mars, asteroids and other planetary bodies.  Imagine a host of nuclear launches on rockets that blow up from time to time.

In the NASA Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for these past missions the space agency acknowledged in a worst-case launch accident scenario that a 60-mile radius of Florida could become contaminated as the winds carried the radioactive fallout east to Orlando and Disney World, south to Vero Beach, and north to Daytona Beach.  NASA said they'd have to come in and remove all the people; all the animals; all the vegetation; all the buildings; and even one-half inch of topsoil because everything would be radioactive for thousands of years.  Imagine that and then remember how our government has done with hurricane disaster relief.

Don't believe the nuclear space hype.  It's a dangerous and a ticking time bomb.

NO JOY FOR THIS DAY


LOCAL DRONE BANS SPREADING



Charlottesville, Virginia, home to Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, has a long history of being a voice for freedom. Now it can add freedom from drones to the list, as Charlottesville's anti-drone resolution is the first of its kind in the nation. The resolution, which passed by a 3 to 2 vote, calls on the Virginia General Assembly and Congress to adopt legislation barring information obtained from drones from being used court-- and the city itself has adopted such a ban locally.

The measure also endorses a proposed two-year moratorium on drones in Virginia. Even though the legislation won't do anything to prevent federal or state operated drones from flying over Charlottesville, the resolution has raised awareness and prompted other cities and states across the US to take similar measures.

Eighteen states, including Maine's legislature, are now considering similar two-year moratoriums on drone use.  Such moratoriums would allow the citizens to catch up with this high-tech incursion into our civil liberties. 

OPPOSITION TO "MD" BASE IN MAINE

This ground-based mid-course "missile defense" interceptor was deployed in Alaska in 2009.  The underground missiles are helping to spark a new Cold War with Russia and China.


The Obama administration’s announcement that a “missile defense” base on the east coast of the U.S. will now be studied is the perfect example of a corporate-driven “solution” searching for a problem.

The studies have been justified by the supposed “nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran”.  Using North Korea and Iran as justification for new missile defense deployments is sketchy since neither of those nations currently has a rocket capable of reaching the continental U.S.  Nor would they likely fire one even if they had the capability considering the massive nuclear response that the U.S. could then unleash.

The east coast basing location for the technically challenged missile defense interceptor system appears to be either Caribou, Maine or Fort Drum, New York.

These missile defense systems have not been proven to work.  When Obama first became president he in fact decided to de-emphasize this Boeing-led program because it had failed to effectively perform during testing.  This new decision to ramp up the ground-based mid-course interceptor program appears to be a political one. It indicates that Boeing has secured enough Congressional support to put the program in gear once again.

This entire story is a great illustration how our democracy, and our economy, have become captives of the military industrial complex.  We are reminded of Dwight Eisenhower’s warning to us to ‘beware’ of the power of the weapons industry.  Further attacks on social progress in the U.S. will be necessary to pay for these boondoggle deployments.

The Pentagon’s missile defense programs are the “shield” that accompanies U.S. first-strike attack planning.  After the first-strike sword is thrust at Russia or China those nations would theoretically launch a retaliatory response at the U.S.  It is then that the Pentagon’s “missile defense” systems would be used to pick-off the retaliatory strikes. 

Every year, the U.S. Space Command holds war games to practice a first-strike attack on China.  Both Russia and China have repeatedly complained about U.S.-NATO missile defense deployments that are now surrounding their nations.  Russia has threatened to pull out of the New Start Treaty (Obama’s 2011 agreement with Russia for modest nuclear weapons reductions) because of U.S. “missile defense” deployments. 

North Korea and Iran thus have become convenient excuses for the Pentagon to develop systems that are recreating the Cold War with Russia and China.

Maine Veterans for Peace and CodePink Maine have also taken a position to join the Global Network in opposing any “missile defense” base in the state and pledges to help build opposition against it.

THE OIL IS KILLING US



Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance is a coalition fighting the expansion and construction of Tar Sands infrastructure in the Great Plains. We are in solidarity with people indigenous to this continent, communities near the point of extraction, and communities living in proximity to these toxic, cancer-causing refineries.

Monday, March 18, 2013

VFP TAKES OVER SOUTH BOSTON


Yesterday MB and I drove to Portland early in the morning and jumped on the bus to Boston.  We were going to join the Veterans for Peace (VFP) alternative St. Patrick's day parade through the streets of South Boston.

The traditional parade (with its military, fire and police focus) has refused for years to allow peace or gay rights groups to be in the event.  These organizations have taken the case to high courts and lost.  Three years ago VFP decided to just start a second parade that would follow in the steps of the traditional one.  Each year it has gotten bigger and yesterday was quite a large alternative parade with VFP members attending from throughout the area and from other states including New York, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Maine.  Other contingents in the parade included LGBT, religious, labor, environmental, Bread & Puppet Theatre, Green Party, and more.

The big controversy in Boston is now that they make the alternative parade wait for the street sweepers to clear the streets after the first parade is over thus delaying our start by about an hour.  The thinking of the local power structure is that most of the parade watchers will be gone by the time the VFP parade begins.  But the local media has extensively covered the story and many people have taken the side of VFP and waited to see the alternative parade.

It was cold and windy as we waited for the go-ahead and once finally moving we warmed up to the sounds of five different bands interspersed in our parade.  The Leftist Marching Band was right behind the huge VFP delegation that was at the head of the parade and we were amazed that they played continuously during the 4.5 mile route that wound its way through the neighborhoods of South Boston.  Many people stood on their door stoops drinking and waving to us, others sat in their windows and gave us the peace signs, and many young people cheered as they stood in long lines to get into the Irish bars sprinkled along the parade route.  During the more than two-hour parade I saw only one person give us the "thumbs down" and she was chided by those surrounding her on one stoop where quite a party was going on.

MB and I got home at 10:00 pm and were wiped out from the long day.  My cold, which was already lasting a full week, was set back even more but it was a spectacular experience.  We were able to take our message directly to thousands of "Southies" and the local media was covering our presence as well.

Much respect and congrats should go to Pat Scanlon and all the other members of Boston-area VFP chapters for fighting for the right to be in the parade.  Build it and they will come.

FASTING CONTINUES TO HALT NAVY BASE


Professor Yang Yoon-Mo hit 46th prison fast day as of March 18, 2013

On March 15, the National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base dispatched some representing people to the Jeju Prison. They are Fr. Mun Jeong-Hyeon, Fr. Mun Kyu-Hyun, mayor Kang Dong-Kyun, Mr. Kim Duk-Jin (Secretary of the Catholic Human Rights Committee) and Jang Hana (National Assembly Woman). The group urgently appealed Prof. Yang Yoon-Mo to stop his fast, very concerning about his deteriorating health.

Prof. Yang has been fasting since the evening of Feb. 1 when he was directly arrested from the court. He has demanding the cancellation of the whole fraud of Government result report on deceptive simulation and revocation of the Jeju naval base project.

Jang Hana, the National Assembly woman told Yang that the Special Verification Committee of the Democratic Party would fight on the matters on the fraud simulation.

As 70 day period ended on March 11 and Governor Woo Keun-Min signed an agreement with the government on the Civilian-Military Joint Usage on March 14 (see the Korean articles on it and whole protocol here in Korean language)and , it is expected that the new Park Geun-Hye government would accelerate the naval base construction with false promise of local development.

It is known that Prof. Yang did not make a clear answer but said that he would seriously consider it in the group’s meeting with him specially given for 30 minutes on March 15.

Kim Duk-Jin, Secretary of the Catholic Human Rights Committee delivered the condition of Prof. Yang, saying, “he became tremendously thin at first glance. He looked very energy-less but seemed to endure by mental power.”

The group will visit Prof. Yang either on Tuesday (19) or Wednesday (20) again.

Currently Ishle Yi Park, a mother, poet and activist (Poet Laureate of Queens, 2004-2007), Hawai’i has been taking solidarity fast with Yang Yoon-Mo.  If it is right, she hits her 18th day fast as of March 17. She ‘plans on fasting as long as Professor Yang is fasting.’

We very concern both of their health and strongly hope they would stop fast.

- Reprinted from Save Jeju Now

DISGUISING REAL MOTIVES



The primary goal of the US plans to bolster missile defense in Alaska isn’t about tackling a North Korean threat, but putting a claim on the natural resources of the Arctic, former MI5 intelligence officer, Annie Machon, explained in an interview RT.

Machon, believes that the North Korean threat is just as unrealistic for the US as the one from Iran, with control over natural resources once again being Washington’s true aim. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

SUNDAY SONG