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, January 04, 2014

TRACKING DRONE KILLS



Since 2002, the US has launched 461 drone strikes, killing over 3,500 people - 457 of whom were civilians, according to recent research. The strikes occurred in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The Pentagon recently released its annual report on the use of unmanned systems, which laid out a roadmap - through 2038 - of how the unmanned aerial vehicle program will continue to develop.

RT's Meghan Lopez talks about the UAV program's past and future with Mary Ellen O'Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, and Abraham Wagner, an adjunct professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University.

THE HUNGER GAMES



  • Our Gov. LePage (right-wing Republican corporate hack) is running for reelection on the backs of the poor.  He wants to drain "welfare" in order to kill it.  In Maine's largest city of Portland the governor has decided to move the state welfare office from the downtown area out near the airport which means folks, already without transportation, will have even more difficulty getting there.  Very slimy politics.
  • It reminds me of when I was attending the University of Florida after getting out of the Air Force.  I was using the GI Bill to pay for school but needed to work part-time to supplement my living expenses.  (I ate alot of peanut butter during those days.)  I answered an advert in the paper from an older woman who was disabled and writing a book about the many forms of genocide during Hitler's reign of terror.  I'd go to the library and do research and make copies for her - as well as rake her leaves and such.  In one book I found a chart called the "Caloric Reduction In-Take Schedule" that the Nazi's had created for the Warsaw, Poland Jewish ghetto.  They had a systemic plan to reduce calories and bring on earlier death for people that they wanted to kill.  A more subtle way of exterminating people.

  • So today when we see this hard-driving "austerity budget" campaign by the corporate oligarchy to cut social welfare programs (and retirement programs) I can't help but see that Nazi chart in my mind.  We now have millions of superfluous populations in the US (and beyond) and the ruling elite doesn’t need them or want them around.  There are many ways to get rid of people - killing them with misbeguided wars - make health care hard to obtain by the poor and working class - and reduce the amount of food people have access to.

  • According to recent statistics, some 14 percent (likely much higher in the real world) of US households are currently dependent on food assistance.  One food pantry worker recently commented to the media about the public's growing fear because of food stamp cutbacks, "They’re just worried to death that they’re not going to be able to feed their families."

  • With a trillion dollar a year military budget you'd think that we could cut there and use those funds to help create jobs and to feed and house the growing numbers of destitute people.  But as I've often said, the oligarchy is going to bring us all onto the reservation now.  The politicians in Washington get to decide whether we get shot or just die from starvation. 
In poll after poll after poll, 75% to 85% in the United States say their system of government is broken. Yet, what remains the top piece of advice to agitators for change? That's right: "Work within the system." And what remains the fallback ultimate reliable justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war: That's right: "We need to bring our system of government to others."

Newark, New Jersey on Wednesday, November 30, 1932: A delegation of women joins forces with 700 hunger marchers from New York as they head to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Hunger March protesting conditions during the Great Depression. The women are singing "Solidarity Forever".

Friday, January 03, 2014

MAKE A MOVE

An activist stands at the entrance to the CIA headquarters protesting the US drone attack in Yemen that recently killed a total of 17 innocent people

"People are practical. They want change but feel powerless, alone, do not want to be the blade of grass that sticks up above the others and is cut down. They wait for a sign from someone else who will make the first move, or the second. And at certain times in history, there are intrepid people who take the risk that if they make that first move others will follow quickly enough to prevent their being cut down. And if we understand this, we might make that first move."


- Words by Howard Zinn

CONFRONTING ISRAELI APARTHEID


  • The Israeli government is torturing Palestinian children, including keeping them in outdoor cages during winter, according to a new human rights report. A report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel claims children suspected of minor crimes have been subjected to “public caging,” threats and acts of sexual violence and military trials without representation.
  • Ilan Pappé is foremost among the Israeli "new historians" who have challenged the traditional view of Israeli history, especially the Israeli role in the 1948 ethic cleansing of Palestinians.  He teaches history at Exeter University in England.  I share some of what Pappé said in a recent extensive interview:
If I had to choose a formative event that really changed my point of view in dramatic way, it would be the attack of the Israelis on Lebanon in 1982. For us who grew up in Israel, it was the first non-consensus war, the first war that obviously was a war of choice: Israel was not attacked, Israel attacked. Then the first Intifada happened. These events were eye openers in many ways for people like myself who already had some doubts about Zionism, about the historical version we learned at school.

It [Israel] is a very indoctrinated society probably more than most of Western societies and more than the non-Western societies. It is not because of coercion that people are indoctrinated, it is a powerful indoctrination from the moment you are born to the moment you die. 

Even the first Zionist settlers when they came and realised that what they thought was an empty land or at least their own land, was full of Arab people, they regarded these people as aliens, as violent aliens who took over their land. It is this infrastructure they have built about the other side that feeds all the Israelis’ perception and visions. It is a dehumanisation of the Palestinians that begins in the late nineteen century. 

The Palestinian political elite lived in the cities of Palestine but the main victims of Zionism up to the 1930s were in the countryside. That’s why the revolt started there but there were sections of the urban elite that joined them..... I pointed out in one of my books that the British killed or imprisoned most of those who belonged to the Palestinian political elite and military or potentially military elite. They created a Palestinian society that was quite defenceless in 1947 when the first Zionist actions, with the knowledge that the British mandate was coming to an end, commenced. I think it had an impact on the inability of the Palestinians to resist a year later in 1948, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The task of changing Jewish society from within is formidable. This society seems to be more and more entrenched in its positions. The more I think about it the more desperate I am about succeeding in changing it from within.
  • The American Studies Association (ASA) is facing down the predictable backlash against its historic mid-December resolution in support of the academic boycott of Israel. "With the vote to boycott Israeli universities, the ASA has embraced a legitimate means of addressing Israel's human rights violations and challenging the U.S. government's unconditional support for Israel," reads the ASA press release. "As we move forward, threats and insults will not silence our voices or undermine the growing support for the academic boycott." 
  • Almost immediately after the overwhelming 2-to-1 passage of the resolution, the ASA faced a backlash organized by defenders of Israeli apartheid. In response, the ASA has issued a press release reiterating the social-justice motivations behind its resolution, while noting that its own members have been subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation for daring to break the wall of silence that for so long has muted any criticism within the U.S. academy of Israel's denial of Palestinian rights. Both the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, for example, published editorials condemning the ASA, while imposing a near-total "apartheid wall" against ASA members seeking to provide a counterpoint. The most virulent attacks, however, have come from university presidents. Kenyon College President Sean Decatur and Indiana University President Michael McRobbie not only condemned the ASA vote, but they also unilaterally and without consultation with faculty suspended the ASA membership of their American Studies programs. Presidents at Harvard, Purdue, Northwestern and University of Texas-Austin have likewise condemned the ASA vote. 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

RIGHT-WING RISE IN EUROPE



Nothing seems to be able to stop Europe's lurch to the political right. With only tentative signs of economic growth and precious little good news for deeply indebted countries like Greece and France, it's a movement that seems difficult to reverse. RT's Peter Oliver takes a closer look at a continent in search of new answers to hard problems.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

BEST WISHES IN THE NEW YEAR

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN SYRIA



The United Nations is warning Syria has become the most serious humanitarian crisis in the last 20 years.  People are now starving and suffering from the winter cold.

The US-NATO military alliance, led by the CIA, helped get this mess going by training and arming the so-called "insurgency" in their idiotic attempt to topple the Syrian government and install their own puppet.  Saudi Arabia emptied their jails and sent scores of fundamentalists to join the disparate Al-Quida forces that streamed into Syria from across the region.  The faked up sarin gas story, that Obama tried to use as a pretext for US cruise missile attacks, didn't work for the US war machine and has since been discredited.

Much like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan the US-NATO have left behind civil war and a growing refugee crisis with little immediate chance of resolution.

INSIDE THE DISUNIFIED EU



Disagreement between EU member states is growing as its newest members Bulgaria and Romania prepare to gain the same rights as other citizens. Freedom of movement and banking are driving a wedge between nations that fear the flood of benefit hungry immigrants and unfair competition as Polly Boiko reports.

BACK TO THE REAL STORY


Native News Online reports:

One hundred and twenty-three winters ago, on December 29, 1890, some 150 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by the US 7th Calvary Regiment near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Some estimate the actual number closer to 300.

Snowfall was heavy that December week. The Lakota ancestors killed that day were left in brutal frigid wintry plains of the reservation before a burial party came to bury them in one mass grave. The photograph of Big Foot’s frozen and contorted body is a symbol for all American Indians of what happened to our ancestors.


Today we see similar photos from Yemen or Pakistan where groups of innocent civilians have been massacred by the US military.  Kill and grab is the ideology of the nation that has 5% of the world's population but uses over 25%  of global resources.  War is about extraction and the US is good at it.  You can say that by now "it's nearly in the blood of any good American".  If not the desire to actually do the killing - then say most 'good Americans' have learned to look the other way while they hop into their wheels and go shopping for just the right stuff.
 
There is one story I most remember from the period (late 1800's) of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull in South Dakota.  They were the last two bands of resistance to the US control of the Black Hills so that gold mining could begin in earnest.  Finally they both gave up (largely because of starvation) and were sitting in tepees on their reservations.  No horses, no guns - waiting on the rancid meat and bug filled flour and thin blankets from the corporations that supplied the reservation.  It was a policy of genocide in order to clear the land of any obstacles to rip and snort extraction. Capitalism had to dominate and control this outlandish nature-based way of life that stood in the way of "progress".

But the corporations were not satisfied.  They were still greedy and saw the opportunity for more.  The end of the war on the indigenous people of the west had come.  (Similar to the situation today in Afghanistan.)  The weapons companies that made considerable profit from the civil war and Indians wars faced a massive downturn in contracts from the government.  So what the military industrial complex did in the late 1800's was to hire artists to create fake drawings of Crazy Horse back on the warpath.  Raping women, killing children - so-called terrorists. Then writers created false stories to go along with the renderings.  These phony stories were placed in major newspapers across the US and an "outraged public" called for Congress to do something about those 'wild injuns'.  So immediately Congress swung into action and appropriated more money for war. 

When we step back we can see these same historic "methods of operation" take place in our militarized culture today.  We can begin to see how the media many of us watch and read are playing our minds like a master fiddler. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

SAVE THE ARCTIC FROM DIRTY OIL

YOUR SURVEILLANCE $$$ AT WORK



The corporate oligarchy runs the US and significant parts of the world by using agencies like the NSA and the CIA to guide the propaganda and war machine.

Note the part near the end of the video about the NSA intercepting all computers that are sold on the commercial market and implanting chips in them so they can track all of us with every key stroke we make.  Over the top?

These guys inside the national security complex hate having the light of truth shined on them.  They are afraid at some point the public will turn on them - thus their naming of Snowden as a treasonous traitor and other such blarney.

The public is yawning as if awakening....we saw them respond well on the Syria issue.  We pray that the people will push back hard on these spying-surveillance issues while there is still a crack of light coming through the doorway.

SNOWED IN

We had more snow last night and are running out of places to put it.  Next Thursday and Friday the weather report says we will get up to 16 inches more of snow.  That will be a nightmare.

The last couple years we didn't get much snow at all.  But climate change experts predict that some places will get more drought and other places will be wetter in the future.  The predictions are that Maine will be a wet place and this winter's snowfall could be a sign of the times.

We have five doors on our big house so we've got to keep them cleared with paths open to each.  In addition we need paths to the shed and to the wood piles and compost heap.  Then the stairs (in the photo above) need to be cleared off and the roof over those stairs must be raked clear of snow or else when it begins to melt we get massive ice dams that can destroy the roof line.  Once you pull down the snow from the roof the stairs and ground below have to be cleared again.  It's a big job and I'm not complaining - it's why I wanted to move to Maine.  I love the snow and it is good exercise.

This morning MB and I were out clearing snow and it took us just over an hour to move about 3-4 inches of new snow.  The workout saves us from having to pay for a membership at the local YMCA.

We hire a friend to plow our long driveway with his truck.  After that is done we have to go and reopen the paths to the back doors and to the shed and wood pile.

There is nothing better than sitting in front of the wood stove in the kitchen watching the beautiful snow come down.  Once it stops though the work begins in earnest.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

ASSORTED OUTRAGES AND RAMBLINGS


  • Two days ago more than 100,000 people turned out in Seoul, South Korea to call for the resignation of right-wing President Park, the daughter of a former US puppet and brutal dictator.  The South Koreans have had it with their corporate dominated government that has drowned their democracy and they are non-violently pushing back.  We have so much to learn from the South Korean movements.
  • Over Christmas we had one of our dear local friends and her children share the holiday with us.  The single mother and her girls lived here at the Addams-Melman House for a couple of years and she still considers herself a lifetime member.  While here she was using my computer to try to figure out her unfair and bizarre college debt repayment schedule.  Like so many other students across the nation she is saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of student loans that must be repaid.  If Congress would just cancel one weapon system they could then forgive all student debt and give the next generation half a chance of getting out from under this indentured servitude.
  • The US government and its media, enthusiastic in their support for regime change in the Ukraine, has ignored information about the makeup and character of the demonstrations against the government. US and NATO officials have participated in the demos, including US Asst Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, and Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Murphy (D-CT). In fact, the demonstrators include racists, anti-Semites, and neo-Nazis. The leader of the“Fatherland” coalition in the absence of jailed leader Yulia Tymoshenko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, “as a Christian and a Greek Catholic," rants against gay marriage. A major contributor to the demonstrations is the far right “Freedom” party, which this year the World Jewish Congress - and many others - described as neo-Nazi. Another smaller component is the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, established by the former Nazi collaborator émigré group, the war time Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUM ) which assisted in the extermination of Ukrainian and other Jews. Still another is the Ukrainian National Assembly/Self Defense, which maintains a close relationship with the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany.  There are many other elements in the demonstrations, some of which appear to be non-violent and more democratic but you can count on the fact that the US is encouraging the right-wing elements to take charge and funneling big money their way. 

Sometime early next year, Boeing will make one state very happy and more than a dozen others very sad. It will select the location for a new manufacturing plant to build its 777X airliner, gifting what it promises will be thousands of good-paying jobs to the winner.

Those jobs are shaping up to be one of the most sought-after economic development prizes of 2014. Every state that covets them is, at Boeing’s urging, preparing a package of tax breaks and other government incentives, reaching into the billions of dollars. It’s the latest example of a decade-long trend: As good jobs have become harder to find, states have approved bigger economic handouts to attract or keep individual companies.
The state of Washington has offered Boeing $9 billion in tax breaks if they keep the 777X production there but the greedy bastards at the top of the corporation are fishing for even more.   

  • I did a live interview on Iranian TV this morning about US military base expansion in Okinawa. (75% of US military bases in Japan are located on Okinawa.) I expanded the interview to talk more broadly about the Obama "pivot" of 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific in order to control China.  I mentioned that other islands, like Okinawa, in places like Jeju Island, Guam, Philippines, Hawaii and more are being overwhelmed with Pentagon demands for more bases, barracks, ports and airfields. Why won't mainstream media in the US ever cover this issue?  They are usually owned by the same corporate interests who run the war machine. 
  • A late Xmas card from a friend here in Maine arrived with the wonderful hand-written words: "May your roots going down deeper than evil can reach keep your joy alive."  A true blessing.  

REVOLVING DOOR OF CORRUPTION


SUNDAY SONG