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, May 25, 2013

BOYCOTT COKE


A-P PIVOT



Obama's "pivot" of 60% of military forces into Asia-Pacific is well underway.  We are talking big $$$$ here.  New aggressive war fighting technologies are being rolled out almost daily.  Here is a video about one of the latest.

WE ARE WHAT WE EAT



Friday, May 24, 2013

OBAMA CONTINUES TO JUSTIFY DRONES



Less than 24 hours after she interrupted President Obama’s major speech on the future of the secret drone war and Guantánamo, CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin describes why she repeatedly interrupted Obama’s address. Benjamin, the author of "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control," criticized Obama for failing to explain why a U.S. drone in Yemen killed the teenage U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in 2011.

"I was very disappointed. He said that his policy is to capture, not kill. That’s just not true. I know personally of many incidents where it would have been very easy to capture people, like the 16-year-old Tariq Aziz in Pakistan, who was in Islamabad at a well-known hotel, but instead was killed by a drone strike two days later," Benjamin says. "I think the president is really justifying the use of drones, which will continue to happen under his administration and be passed on to the next."

SENATE DEFEATS GMO AMENDMENT






The United States Senate decided again Thursday that it simply does not want to let states tell people whether or not they are eating genetically modified food.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly -- 71 to 27 -- against an amendment to the sweeping farm bill, squashing a measure that would not have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, but merely would have let states decide if they wanted to require such labeling.

LOVE RADIO

  • Been a busy couple days of radio.  My weekly radio show at WBOR (along with co-host Peter Woodruff) in Brunswick got moved to Wednesday from 6-8 pm for the summer season.  Our theme this week was war trauma and we played some of the talk by Dr. Paula Caplan from last weekends Veterans for Peace symposium on the same subject.  Peter rounded up a bunch of good music to go along with the theme as well.
  • Last night I was invited to do an interview on WMPG radio in Portland about drones.  The timing was quite perfect as Obama had just given his big drone and Guantanamo speech yesterday as well.  (I watched the speech on C-SPAN and heard the familiar voice of Medea Benjamin interrupting Obama's slick words until they dragged her out of the hall.)  I needed to find a ride to Portland to do the show so Regis Tremblay took me and I promised him I'd buy dinner as a thank you gesture.  It's always fun to spend time with Regis and hear his latest stories about wrapping up his documentary about Jeju Island, South Korea.
  • I spent much of yesterday working on my talk (The Militarization of American Life) that I will do at the Moana Nui 2013 Teach-In on June 1-2 in Berkeley, California.  I will be one of 45 speakers and it's a real pleasure to be invited along with these wonderful folks.  Moana Nui means "great ocean" in Polynesian.  The conference program says: 
As militarization and corporate globalization rapidly advance in the Pacific, we urgently need deep collaboration and dialog with, and among, Pacific peoples. They are being directly confronted by the expansionist drives of the world’s most dominant powers (U.S., China, Russia, as well as Indonesia and Japan) all seeking economic and political control of Pacific territories. Resource battles, giant trade agreements, and rapidly accelerating preparations for wars across the region, are threatening the lands, environment, rights, cultures and sovereignities of all Pacific nations and Indigenous peoples. As the saying goes, “When elephants battle, the ants are crushed.” New resistance is required.
  • In anticipation of the Moana Nui event I've been asked to be part of an hour-long radio interview [with Jerry Mander and Kyle Kajihiro] on Saturday on KPFA (10 am Pacific time).  I love doing radio more than practically anything else.  It's a real challenge to speak into the great unknown and try to create mental images that keep people listening.  Years ago in Florida, back in the 1980's during the Cold War, one of the best local talk show hosts named Clive Thomas used to have me on his show which ran four hours long.  He taught me alot about doing radio during those grueling, but exciting, experiences.  During those interviews the conservative Central Florida audience would vilify me as pro-Soviet and call me every name in the book.  During the breaks Clive would critique my performance and we'd go at it again once back on the air.  He was a great teacher.  Sadly he was eventually chased off the air by right-wing Christian fundamentalists who bought the station but I have always felt lucky that I got to learn from one of the best.  
  • On Sunday, May 26 Regis Tremblay will be showing his just completed film The Ghosts of Jeju for the first time at the public library in Brunswick, Maine.  The show begins at 3:00 pm.  All are invited to attend what should be an exciting event.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

FIGHT BACK GROWS IN NORTH CAROLINA



Fifty-seven protestors were arrested Monday at the North Carolina General Assembly, bringing the demonstrations led by the state chapter of the NAACP to their highest total in their fourth straight week.

Hundreds thronged the Senate rotunda to show support for demonstrations that are drawing increasing numbers of people to Raleigh for what the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is calling "Moral Mondays." General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver placed the arrest count at 57, which brings the total over four weeks to 158.

The beauty is to see the diversity of this movement.  The middle class and poor people (of all colors) coming together to defend each other.  This is a model we all should be following.

TARIQ ALI ON SYRIA



Hezbollah militants have joined forces with pro-Assad troops in the fearce fight for control of a rebel stronghold on Syria's border with Lebanon. The town of Qusair is considered a key entry point for smuggling arms into Syria. Middle East expert Tariq Ali believes the recent escalation of sectarian violence in the region is being used by the West to target Iran.

BE GMO-FREE



On Saturday, March 25 there will be a Global March Against Monsanto.

In Portland, Maine I will be attending the protest at 2:00 pm at Monument Square. 

Stand up and demand to be GMO-free!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LEARNING ABOUT THE BAY


I did something different today which was nice for a change.  I was asked to volunteer at the Spring Bay Day held by the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMB) - a local environmental group that I belong to.

They hold this event each year for local school kids to come and learn about the interconnected web of life that lives in and around the Merrymeeting Bay that is in our part of Maine.  Over 250 fourth graders were brought to the headwaters of the Bay and I served as a chaperone for one of the groups from nearby Phippsburg.  There were three sessions where the kids were taken to different environmental topic areas and leading ecologists used very creative interactive exercises to teach them about their particular specialty.  It rained for the first hour or so but we all kept going and had a great day.

I learned alot watching the kids play in the mud, marvel at live eels, learn about some edible plants, and come to grips with the impact of toxins on the food chain.  Beside being cold and wet the kids were quite well behaved which made my job much easier.

Six rivers flow from the north into Merrymeeting Bay which at one time was teeming with life.  One of the session leaders told us a story about 14 foot sturgeon that used to be in huge supply - their eggs were harvested and sent to Russia for caviar.  These days the fish are a protected species and don't get nearly as big but they are often seen leaping into the air in the bay.

Ed Friedman is the president of the FOMB and I've had him on my public access TV show a couple of times over the years to talk about his work.  It's a great group and I was happy that I could be of some use to them for once.

THE SACRED CORN




SUNNÚ is a documentary about the destruction of rural life and its relationship to the monopolization of the food industry. It shows the deterioration of family farming and the chasm between rural and urban realities, as well as the struggle of indigenous farmers and small farmers to keep producing corn, despite the society’s ignorance regarding the civilizing importance of this grain. Corn has always been the center of Mexico’s economic, social and culinary life, the heart of its very identity.

Mexicans are forgetting how important the grain truly is: it lies at the heart of local economies and community life that forms the basis of our nutrition and identity. It’s ironic because we all eat corn every day, but really don’t know where our food comes from any more.


If native maize disappears, there will be no turning back. We will never recover something that took thousands of years to come into being.

The fate of corn will not only affect Mexico or one specific region, it will affect all of the world’s consumers and producers.

See more and donate toward the film fund here

Monday, May 20, 2013

PLAN AHEAD - OCTOBER DRONE WALK IN MAINE


We had a meeting here yesterday at the Addams-Melman House of our Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home.  We decided to work on the drone issue for the coming period of time.

One key decision was to organize a drone walk through parts of Maine next October 10-19.  Some of that period is during the Global Network's annual Keep Space for Peace Week of local actions around the world.

Japanese Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda from the order Nipponzan Myohoji has offered to lead a peace walk in Maine in October if we were interested.  For several months some of us have been working with the ACLU in Maine on a bill in the state legislature to make police have warrants before they can do surveillance with drones.  It seemed like we had support of the state legislative Judiciary Committee on the bill.  But then Maine's Attorney General Janet Mills (the former V-P of Maine Democratic Party) pushed through her own bill that lets police make all the rules for drone use in the state.  In addition she put language into the bill that would allow the testing of "weaponized" drones in Maine.  

Presque Isle is trying to turn their airport into a military drone test center.  The Attorney General calls drones an "economic driver" in Maine. So we decided to organize a peace walk to begin on October 10 (during annual Keep Space for Peace Week) from Caribou to Presque Isle (about 20 miles).  We'd then shuttle south to Farmington, the area where the Attorney General is from.  We'd then walk from there stopping in several communities before ending the walk on Oct 19 at the state capital in Augusta.  Since that day is a Saturday we'd work to get people to join us that last day to walk to the capital for an anti-drone rally. We decided to call the walk "Preserve our Privacy: No Drone Spying in Maine."  We know that many conservatives in Maine are against drones because of the privacy issue.

I volunteered to coordinate the walk.  We will need a van, contacts in the Caribou-Presque Isle area, as well as walkers. (Anyone interested in working on the walk route with me should give me a shout.) We will ask Natasha Mayers to get her artist group to make some drone banners for us.  We will invite other Nipponzan Myohoji monks and nuns from other areas to participate as well.  Jun-san will also promote the walk in her circles.

Walks are a great way to take an issue out to the public.  In addition to the legions of cars that drive past it is also much easier to get local coverage on an issue when you walk through a community.  It's great exercise and a wonderful community building experience.  I am excited to get working on it.

Just since I first sent word around today about the walk I've heard from a couple members of Veterans for Peace from other states and some experienced walk organizers that want to be involved.  Already a solid core of folks forming.....going to be fun.

ISRAELI PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE



Israeli teenager Natan Blanc was sentenced to a tenth prison term of 28 days for refusing to serve in the Israeli army last week. With the latest sentencing, he has been sent to prison more times than any previous conscientious objector in Israel. Earlier this year, supporters and activists held one of many regular support vigils on a hilltop overlooking the IDF’s Prison 6, where he is currently being held.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

SUNDAY SERMON



Chris Hedges talks on how spying and television allows the corporate state to take control of our minds and souls. The consequences of which resulted in a liberalism that has become profoundly bankrupted. Author of The Death of the Liberal Class and other great books.

SUNDAY SONG WITH BONUS TRACK







A March Song for My Dear Love

Without Leaving Love, Glory, or Name
Determined to Fight for Democracy to the Last.

With only the Banner of Liberation in the Wind,
Our Comrades Falling Fight.

Not Being in Despair,
Looking Forward to Seeing the Dawn of a New World!
Though Time Passing On,

Our Land Remembering Truth.

Awakening Our Spirit,
Speaking Up Truth.

Making One Step Forward,
So Those Who Survive Follow!

- South Korean popular resistance song born from the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement during dictatorship