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, April 06, 2013

IT'S ALL ABOUT CORPORATE MINING



Obama is promising $100 million (as he goes after Social Security and Medicare) to launch a mission that is aimed at helping scientists capture asteroids. This mission is really about testing the technologies to fly to an asteroid and prepare to mine them.  The taxpayers are paying for this research and development phase and when it becomes technically possible to carry out the missions the process will be privatized.  Thus the public finances the aerospace industry start-up costs and gets very little in return.

I've noticed Al Jazeera is increasingly more conservative by touting the US line on issues.  During the past couple of years I've cut back on using their news reports as they are becoming captives of the corporate agenda.  The slant on this video is just one illustration.

CASTRO ON KOREA


The Duty to Avoid a War in Korea

"A few days ago I mentioned the great challenges humanity is currently facing. Intelligent life emerged on our planet approximately 200,000 years ago, although new discoveries demonstrate something else.

This is not to confuse intelligent life with the existence of life which, from its elemental forms in our solar system, emerged millions of years ago.

A virtually infinite number of life forms exist. In the sophisticated work of the world’s most eminent scientists the idea has already been conceived of reproducing the sounds which followed the Big Bang, the great explosion which took place more than 13.7 billion years ago.

This introduction would be too extensive if it was not to explain the gravity of an event as unbelievable and absurd as the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet.

This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, 50 years ago.

In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, in a matter of seconds, killed and irradiated hundreds of thousands of people.

General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that.

It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid.

I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary.

If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her.

Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet.

If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States."

Fidel Castro Ruz
4 April 2013

TIME OUT - BIG START FOR ORIOLES



The Baltimore Orioles, my favorite baseball team, are off to a great start.  They are 3-1 to begin the season but the best story is first baseman Chris Davis.

Davis drove in a career-high five runs yesterday, giving him 16 RBIs this season, the most of any player through his team's first four games since RBIs became an official stat in 1920, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Davis also became just the fourth player in major league history to homer in his team's first four games — joining Willie Mays (1971), Mark McGwire (1998) and Nelson Cruz (2011).

I was born in Maryland but since I grew up in a military family we moved all over the place - I never really had a home town.  The Orioles became my home town - they were my touchstone.

I'm enjoying this run so far.

Friday, April 05, 2013

FIRST THEY CAME FOR.......AND THEN THEY CAME FOR ME


Where are the activists as austerity bites? They have been beaten back

Protesters face violence, arrest and serious charges. Only the brave dare face this savage suppression

By Laurie Penny
Guardian (UK)

First they came for the students. This week, 12 van loads of police arrived at Sussex University, in collaboration with management, to evict students who had been occupying a room on campus for eight weeks. They had been taking a stand against privatisation of services at their university, creating a militant "pop-up union" and attracting support from all over the country: they had to be got rid of. Photographs from the day show police in antiseptic yellow uniforms swarming in as if to disinfect a wound in the body politic where the rage was bleeding through.

The suppression of student protest by the British state has been savage and efficient over the past three years. The students of Sussex were brave even to make the attempt. They knew all too well that they were risking arrest, serious criminal charges and physical violence from police and hired security, and that is what happened. It's what always happens when a government uses force to suppress radicalism.

Right now, as millions of people stare down the barrel of job losses, benefits sanctions, destitution and desperation and the rich are given tax cuts, I hear a lot of people asking why there isn't more resistance going on. Well, here's why. There was resistance, and it was brutally and systematically put down. The students, the street-organising anti-cuts campaigners, the Occupy movement. When people speak about the Occupy camps and anti-austerity protests of 2010-12, it is with a tone of regret, as if somehow those grassroots movements just fizzled out because those involved didn't know what they were doing. On the contrary: they were cleared out, arrested and beaten back by police, just like the students at Sussex.

In Tory Britain, as the cuts kick in, even the most peaceful protests are put down as a warning to the rest of us. Last November, Bethan Tichborne, a 28-year-old teaching assistant, appeared at a public event in Oxfordshire and calmly told David Cameron that he had "blood on his hands". She was referring to the prime minister's decision to take away vital social support from people with disabilities, a policy that has already cost lives.

Tichborne was grabbed, tackled to the ground and restrained during her arrest, as Cameron continued to speak: "The police officers on top of me either couldn't or wouldn't hear me," she wrote on her blog. "I was crying and bleeding, I couldn't properly breathe.". Two weeks ago she was convicted of causing "harassment, alarm and distress" and fined more than a month's wages. The message is clear: whether or not a protest is peaceful and legal is entirely up to the police and judiciary to decide, so if you want to play it safe, stay at home and sign a petition.

Last month, two of the students involved in the Parliament Square protests of December 2010, Alfie Meadows and Zak King, were acquitted of violent disorder. This is a charge used almost exclusively against political protesters that carries a sentence of five years in prison. Meadows, King and their friends spent two years fighting to overturn the charges, prevented from speaking out by the courts process.

It seems a curious coincidence that the police singled out Meadows for scapegoating as a violent extremist, given that on the protest in question, as the police attacked students in Parliament Square, he received a blow to the head that required emergency brain surgery. He still has a hand-length scar across his skull. Even now, I am obliged to say that it's not been proved in court that Meadows' near-fatal brain bleed was caused by a police baton, because if I didn't I might get sued.

Sadly, many of the liberal-minded folk now wondering aloud where all the anger on the streets has gone were the same people who condemned the students and anti-cuts protesters for being just a bit too noisy, too rowdy, too "violent". As soon as the frustrated kids of Britain and their allies started smashing up bus stops and lighting bonfires outside Tory HQ, that was too much: throw the selfish brats in prison, teach them to mind their manners. First they came for the students. Now they've come for the rest of us, who will speak out?

Any government trying to push through austerity against the will of a large proportion of the population is going to have to rely on force to deal with dissent. That's exactly what this government, which had the support of just one in seven of the population even before it started tearing up the welfare state, has done. New movements to resist austerity must expect to meet the same wall of state violence as soon as they become effective, because that's how the Tories operate. It's how they've always operated. And shame on us, even in these cowardly times, if we don't support those with the courage to take a stand.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

THE HISTORY TELLS THE STORY


US B-2 bombers seen over Korean peninsula last week simulating nuclear attack on North Korea


US presidents like to use the phrase "All options are on the table".  The phrase is likely listed on page one of the well worn US Presidential Manual that they are handed by the CIA soon after the swearing in ceremony.

•1950 Truman threatens Chinese over Chosin Reservoir, Korea.
•1951 Truman approves military request to attack Manchuria.
•1953 “Operation Big Stick” Eisenhower threatens China to force end to Korean War
•1954 Secretary of State Dulles offers French three tactical nuclear weapons to break Dienbienphu siege
•1958 Eisenhower orders JCS to prepare nuclear attack vs. China during Quemoy
•1967 Johnson's nuclear threats against Vietnam to break siege at Khe Shan.
•1968 Johnson threatens nuclear attack against North Korea USS Pueblo seizure
•1969 Nixon’s “November Ultimatum” against Vietnam.
•1973 Nixon pledges to South Vietnamese President Thieu that he will respond with nuclear attacks or bombing North Vietnam’s dikes if it violates Paris Peace Accords
•1975 Sec. of Defense Schlesinger threatens N. Korea with nuclear retaliation if it attacks S. Korea
•1976 Ax Incident, President Ford dispatches nuclear armed B-52 from Guam toward N. Korea
•1993 Clinton threatens N. Korea.
•1994 Clinton again threatens N.Korea
•2003 Bush dispatches 24 nuclear capable bombers to Guam during crisis with N. Korea.
•2013 Obama simulated B-52 & B-2 attacks against N.Korea

DON'T WORRY THE PIPELINES ARE SAFE



  • The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has imposed an indefinite no-fly zone over the area in Arkansas recently affected by a broken pipeline oil spill. It's sparked concern that the Exxon Mobil oil company may be trying to keep the TV cameras away from the scene.

  • More than one thousand protesters snaked though the mansion-lined streets of San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood yesterday in an attempt to convince Barack Obama, in town for a Democratic party campaign fundraiser at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty, to block the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

  • Ironically Gordon Getty joined the oil business with his father, oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, and eventually sold the family's Getty Oil to Texaco in 1986 for $10 billion.  He is one of the richest men in America.

  • You might remember recently when there was a huge climate change protest at the White House except Obama was not in town.  He was down in Florida playing golf with oil men.  The magician seems to like to hang out with oil big wigs.

MONTH OF DRONE ACTIONS NATIONWIDE



Washington's overseas drone strikes and their surveillance use at home has long attracted the attention of activists. Groups across the U.S. political spectrum say the strikes breach American law and hurt the country's international standing. Now a month-long anti-drone campaign has kicked off, with a protest in Manhattan.

Here in Maine our drone effort is focused on trying to get the state government to pass a bill to require law enforcement agencies to obtain a legal warrant before using drones for domestic surveillance.  Even this will be an uphill struggle for us because the Maine Attorney General does not want to limit the state police.  Additionally a small company in Maine, wanting to make drones, promises those golden words - jobs - and thus some politicians in Augusta are against any serious restrictions against drone use across the state.

BANGING THE WAR DRUMS



The media is talking war with North Korea and slapping China around a bit as well.  The American people are frozen in fear and depression and most won't be able to respond.

The mass of the people are economic basket cases and have yet to verbally connect the US military empire's endless wars to their local financial ruin.

Many are worried about losing their guns to the feds, but they don't seem to notice that they've already lost their tongues - and the precious right to speak out and demand real change.  If people wait just to use their guns then it will be much too late.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

PENTAGON TURNS SCREWS ON ASIA-PACIFIC


  • Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander of Pacific Command, recently told the Boston Globe that the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region is climate change. “The ice is melting and sea is getting higher,” Locklear said, noting that 80% of the world’s population lives within 200 miles of the coast. “I’m into the consequence management side of it. I’m not a scientist, but the island of Tarawa in Kiribati, they’re contemplating moving their entire population to another country because [it] is not going to exist anymore. We have interjected into our multilateral dialogue – even with China and India – the imperative to kind of get military capabilities aligned [for] when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations,” he said. “If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.’’

  • You can hear in Locklear's words how the Pentagon is viewing the coming reality of climate change from a military or "security" standpoint.  Obviously, despite all the denials from the corporations about climate change, the military industrial complex understands the problem.  Instead of showing leadership though to help move us toward rail systems, wind power, solar, home weatherization and other positive steps, the military will use climate change to ask for even more $$$ so they can bring "security and stability" to the impacted populations.

  • Another example of the weapons industry never missing an opportunity to sell more "product" is the Pentagon announcement today that the Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) "missile defense" system will be deployed to the island of Guam in "protection of the American territory's citizens and all of the US military forces deployed there from North Korea's ballistic missile threat". North Korea is not going to launch an attack on the US, nor on Guam, nor on Japan, or South Korea because it knows it would be pulverized in a retaliatory response by the US-South Korean forces.  The only way the shooting will start is if the US keeps tightening the noose around the neck of North Korea - which is entirely possible as Obama's pivot of 60% of US naval forces are moved into the Asia-Pacific region.  THAAD is built by Lockheed Martin and has an estimated range of about 120 miles and was designed as one element in an integrated system that includes the Navy Aegis interceptor missiles for longer-range targets and the short-range Patriot missile.

A CONFLICT INSPIRED FROM ABROAD



North Korea has suspended South Korean access to a joint industrial zone - the latest move in the ongoing conflict with Washington and Seoul. Pyongyang also says it will restart a nuclear reactor to beef up its arsenal - after Washington moved its military closer to the Korean peninsula during recent US-South Korea war excercises.

North Korea earlier claimed its missile units are combat-ready and warned of a possible pre-emptive strike on the U.S. and Seoul. Tim Shorrock has written extensively about US foreign policy and East Asian politics - and believes both sides should know they are playing a dangerous game.

REMEMBERING APRIL 3 MASSACRE ON JEJU ISLAND



Uni Park writes from South Korea:

Collective amnesia. Collective trauma. On picturesque Jeju Island, its quite easy to forget that Jeju was one big mass grave. So many deaths and unknown remains. I imagine the numerous golf courses and sprawling hillside resorts built above the dead. Today, April 3rd, marks the 65th anniversary of the 1948 civilian uprising and massacre where it is estimated 1/5 [up to 80,000] of the population on Jeju Island were brutally killed for associating or participating in people's committees or had refused to vote in a puppet election recognizing a divided Korea, all labeled communists. [These operations were directed by the US Army.]
These simple-minded farming, fishing communities wiped out. 230 villages disappeared, 40,000 homes destroyed or burned down. Someone once told me that there are very few old trees on Jeju because they were all burned down in search for those who tried to hide in the mountains.
Arthouse documentary film, 'Jeju Prayer' connects the governments bloody suppression of the 4.3 uprising and the Gangjeong village struggle against the naval base. A special pre-screening with the director and producer for Gangjeong villagers was held on Monday. Visually stunning, well edited, moving. Opening in theaters this week.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

CUT DOWN BY MANGANESE



International steel magnate Samancor is charged with putting profits before workers' rights. Former employees at their Johannesburg, South Africa plant are dying from manganese poisoning.

There is growing concern that many workers at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Maine are exposed to manganese poisoning as they cut steel to make Navy destroyers.  The dust created is inhaled and over time destroys the person.

There are stories that many workers have been developing symptoms similar to those in this video but when they went to the doctors provided by BIW they were asked if they "wanted to hurt the company." The warning is clear - proceed at the risk of your job.

Whether one is in South Africa, Maine, or other places (Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi) where steel is processed it is clear that the profit motive trumps everything.

Monday, April 01, 2013

OLIVER STONE ON JEJU



Regis Tremblay interviewed filmmaker Oliver Stone for his new documentary on Jeju Island.  Here are some outtakes from the interview that took place last week.

CENSORED BY CNN



RT interviews former CNN Investigative Journalist, Amber Lyon, about CNN's corrupt media empire, calling into question a media establishment where censorship can be bought.

ASSORTED NUGGETS



  • I taped another edition of my public access TV show this morning and had Richard Rhames from Biddeford, Maine on as my guest.  In my ten years of doing the show Richard has been my guest more than any other person.  He's a vegetable farmer and long-time activist in the state and he's been doing public access TV in his community for more than 20 years.  We talked about corporate agriculture killing small farms; 10-years since Bush II launched shock and awe against Iraq and the impact of US wars on the people; Obama's drone kill list; the drone bill now in our state legislature; our right-wing Gov. LePage trying to kill public education; and austerity cuts to social progress in the US.  He was wearing a button that said, "The meek are getting ready" so of course I had to ask him what that meant.  Should have the show up here on the blog in a week or so.  
  •  We had history made yesterday on this blog.  For the first time ever the page views on the blog from another country surpassed those in the US.  The hit counter that comes with the blog tracks which countries are visiting.  The results yesterday were as follows:

1. China

2. United States

3. Ukraine

4. United Kingdom

5. Poland

6. Russia

7. France

8. Romania

9. South Korea

10. Germany

I'd love to know who actually looks at the blog.  Let me welcome all those who pay a visit here.  Drop me a line sometime at globalnet@mindspring.com and say hello.
 
  • Baseball season begins today with my team, the Baltimore Orioles, playing their first game on Tuesday.  They had 13 losing seasons in a row until last year when the miraculously made the play-offs.  They set a record for the most one-run wins since the late 1800's - so really it was an improbable season and one that many baseball wags predict will not be repeated anytime soon.  So my love of baseball, a fine distraction from the woes of the world, will keep me occupied during the coming months.  Let's wish the O's well.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

SEND MESSAGE TO JEJU ISLAND JAIL HOUSE

 
Professor Yang-Yoon Mo now in Jeju jail for the 4th time with an 18 month sentence


Grassroots media activist Park Sung-Soo in Jeju jail for 28 days after refusing to pay large fines


Yang Yoon-Mo and Park Sung-Soo (Dungree) hit their 60th and 7th day respectively at the Jeju prison in South Korea as of March 31.

You can send a solidarity message to these two non-violent peace workers by emailing them via gangjeongintl@gmail.com

Professor Yang ended his long hunger strike last week and we hope his recovery is going well.

Park (Dungree) has for the past couple of years been one of the key producers of videos of the Gangjeong village resistance to the Navy base.  His almost daily updates have kept many of us intimately connected to the protests on Jeju Island.


Free all the political prisoners!

Stop the oppression of tremendous fines!

Stop the Navy base construction!

Boycott Samsung! 

SUNDAY SONG