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, July 20, 2013

JOIN GANGJEONG MARCH

나는 강정간다... from DH song on Vimeo.
Director Song Dong-Hyo's latest short film "I'm Going to Gangjeong" (Jeju Island) showing the Grand March for Peace and Life 2012. 
The march this year will be from July 29 to August 3.
Noted filmmaker Oliver Stone will meet the march on August 3.

DISCUSSING THE PIVOT


I did three talks yesterday to just over 50 people in three separate groups in Manila and Quezon City.  They were students, teachers, labor organizers, and from women’s groups.  It about wore me out but I enjoyed the day very much.

It was so reassuring to find that these folks were interested in hearing about space issues and my take on the Pentagon “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific.

At each meeting I handed out information about Keep Space for Peace Week (October 5-12) and was happy to hear real interest in organizing some events in Manila during that time.

This morning Corazon takes me for a tour of the former US Navy base at Subic and the former airbase at Clark.  Along the way I am supposed to do one more newspaper and TV interview as well.

On Monday is the huge protest March in Manila in conjunction with President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).  Acquino, from a rich land holding family, is a classic neo-liberal politician doing the bidding of the corporate entities that control the Filipino government.

There will be two rallies and I believe I will be speaking at each one.  More on all that later.

WE MUST FORCE POWER TO RESPOND



Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Friday, July 19, 2013

OUR CHOICE: EXPAND WAR MACHINE OR DEAL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE


Denis Doherty (Australia) and I were on a commercial station TV show last night for a 45 minute interview about the Obama "pivot" into Asia-Pacific.  The award-winning show reaches a regional audience in the Luzon area.

We had to drive about an hour to reach the studio through city traffic and then the major highway connecting Manila and the Subic Bay region.  Along the way we passed miles of rice fields.  There is great poverty in many parts of Manila as people live in make shift cardboard shacks with rusty tin roofs.  Just across the street from one such place was a golf course surrounded by a tall fence.  So the rich and poor exist along side each other here.

The Philippines is under great pressure to increase their military spending to buy US weapons systems which would then make their military "interoperable" with Pentagon forces.  In the age of high-tech satellite driven war that would mean the US would essentially control the Filipino military.  So one way you can think of it is that the US is getting other countries like Philippines and South Korea to help pay for the expansion of the US war machine.

Two days ago I read an article in a local newspaper that reported a new "coalition" was forming to advocate for the Filipino government to expand its military spending.   One of the groups listed in the new coalition was a global warming group which made me sick to see.

I can promise you that any hopes of successfully dealing with climate change will be smashed by global increases in military spending.  It's going to come down to this - either we convert the military industrial complex now to sustainable production (solar, wind, mass transit, etc) or we bake together sitting inside our tanks, warships, Humvees and the like.

A CRACK IN THE WALL

‘America has no functioning democracy’

Former US President Jimmy Carter lambasted US intelligence methods as undemocratic and described Edward Snowden’s NSA leak as “beneficial” for the country.

Carter lashed out at the US political system when the issue of the previously top-secret NSA surveillance program was touched upon at the Atlantic Bridge meeting on Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia.

America has no functioning democracy at this moment,” Carter said, according to Der Spiegel.

He also believes the spying-scandal is undermining democracy around the world, as people become increasingly suspicious of US internet platforms, such as Google and Facebook. While such mediums have normally been associated with freedom of speech and have recently become a major driving force behind emerging democratic movements, fallout from the NSA spying scandal has dented their credibility.

It’s not the first time Carter has criticized US intelligence policies. In a previous interview with  CNN, he said the NSA leaks signified that “the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far.” He added that although Snowden violated US law, he may have ultimately done good for the country.

I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.”

Jimmy Carter was President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. After leaving office, he founded the Carter Center, an NGO advocating human rights. The ex-president’s human rights credentials won him Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Carter has frequently criticized his successors in the White House. Last year, he condemned the Obama administration for the use of drone attacks in his article “A Cruel and Unusual Record” published in the New York Times.

MEDIA DAY


Today is media day for me in Quezon City, Philippines.  Veteran Filipino activist Corazon Fabros took me this morning to a "media forum" which is a weekly gathering of journalists who discuss a particular topic.  Fifty TV/radio/newspaper journalists came to hear me discuss Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific and its implications for their nation.  It was great fun and they really understand things quite well and see grave dangers in the US military "coming back" into their nation.

Following that I did an interview for a local TV station and next I do a print media interview over lunch.  Later in the day are two more TV interviews - one of which is a one-hour live show.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

THE EMPIRE OF BASES ENFORCE CORPORATE INTERESTS


Today is the final day of the conference in Manila.  It's been a very good event and I've met some great folks and learned alot.  The Ban the Bases Now movement is strong around the globe as it takes on the important task of dismantling empire.  All the activist stories from various countries began with US corporate attempts to control land and resources.  Peasants in the Philippines lost their lands to the building of US bases many years ago.  Then they forced the US to close its bases in 1991 - a great victory for national sovereignty. 

But the US is coming back.  In a local paper yesterday was a headline "US may fund AFP facilities" that reported "Washington and Manila have expanded talks on military cooperation to include possible US funding to build facilities and the storage of US humanitarian and disaster relief supplies."  The rest of the article belies that opening line....in fact these "storage" facilities would essentially be another of the growing US "lily pad" bases where they pre-position military hardware to be used in the event of war fighting.  

Later in the same article they acknowledge this contradiction when they report, "The two countries have been in talks since 2011 for 'joint use' of civilian and military facilities in the former US colony."  In other words the US military is coming back full bore to the Philippines in Obama's "pivot" into the region to encircle China.  The talk of "humanitarian and disaster relief" is pure public relations.  The Filipino anti-bases movement is not buying the line.

We showed the new documentary The Ghosts of Jeju to the conference yesterday and it was well received.  At breakfast this morning one Filipino activist summed it up when she said she loved "the music, the history, and the scenes of resistance to the Navy base on Jeju Island."  I handed out dozens of copies of the video to people from various countries who are eager to take the film home for sharing with others.  The Jeju struggle has become a prominent story in the global anti-bases movement.

I stay here in Manila tonight and in the morning move to Quezon City for three days of media interviews and talks.  The schedule put together by Corazon Fabros looks quite hectic but exciting.  I met Corazon years ago when we were on a speaking tour of South Korea organized by Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi who now heads up the international organizing team on Jeju Island.

CAB DRIVER: WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH?



Luke Rudkowski talks to Mark McGowan, the Artist Taxi Driver about the various projects he has done over the years. Mark begins with a story about a trip to America where he crawled through the streets of NYC on President's Day with a George W. Bush mask on and a sign that read "Kick My Ass." Mark discuss his views on using art and direct action instead of protesting as a way to make people think.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

TAKING THE NEXT STEPS IN FLORIDA

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Political activists protesting the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial began a sit-in Tuesday in Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office, vowing not to leave until the governor returns to Tallahassee and addresses their concerns.

The protesters, a group of students known as the "Dream Defenders," filled the governor’s office at the Capitol, saying they want a special session of the Legislature to address Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which was passed in 2005.


Monday, July 15, 2013

KAUAI VISIT


On my last day in Kauai, Hawaii the local peace folks organized a picnic at the beach.  Here we are holding a sign from Okinawa where they are protesting the deployment of US Osprey aircraft.  The woman (marine biologist) in the middle of the back row with her hands in a circle had just returned from a trip to Okinawa where she helped build support to stop the US construction of a Marine airbase runway out into the ocean that will destroy a coral reef.

The folks in Kauai were great and treated me so kindly. 

MADE IT TO MANILA



I arrived in Manila last night about dinner time.  Organizers of the conference I am attending from July 16-18, called US Strategic Pivot to Asia Pacific, US Militarism, Intervention and War, had someone pick me up at the airport and take me to an interesting hotel where folks arriving were put in a room with six bunk beds.  Then this morning we moved to a hotel in another part of the city where the conference is set to begin.

So far I've noticed that folks are here from Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, Columbia, India, Kurdistan, South Korea, Germany, Malaysia, Canada, Hong Kong, US and of course the Philippines.  I'm sure I am missing some countries.

Sung-Hee Choi from South Korea is here representing the Gangjeong village resistance on Jeju Island and Dennis Doherty from Australia (his wife Dr. Hannah Middleton serves on the Global Network board of directors) is here as well.  They are the only two folks here who I already know.

After the conference long-time Filipino activist friend Corazon Fabros will organize some speaking and meetings for me with students and media.  Above is one event she has set up.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

SUNDAY SONG




GOD'S WHAT?



This verdict makes me sick but comes as no real surprise.  I lived in Central Florida for 20 years and can tell you it is one hell of a racist community.

Zimmerman is one sick dude and should be in prison.  My heart breaks for the family of Trayvon Martin.

This cannot be called justice by any measure of the word.

ANOTHER BASE DISPUTE IN ASIA-PACIFIC



Activists in Manila denounce Philippine government's plans to grant U.S. troops greater access to the country's military facilities.