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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

NASTY CAPITALISTS PREY ON HOMEOWNERS


The perfect story for Christmas - the greedy Scrooge-like corporations driving people from their homes even after they have paid their mortgages. Shouldn't Obama and the Congress be all over this? But that would require them to get out of bed with these corrupt Wall Street banksters.

Yves Smith has written the popular and trenchant financial blog "Naked Capitalism" since 2006. Yves has spent more than 25 years in the financial services industry and currently heads Aurora Advisors, a New York-based management consulting firm specializing in corporate finance advisory and financial services. Prior experience includes Goldman Sachs (in corporate finance), McKinsey & Co., and Sumitomo Bank (as head of mergers and acquisitions). Yves has written for publications in the United States and Australia, including The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Slate, The Conference Board Review, Institutional Investor, The Daily Deal and the Australian Financial Review. Yves is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

Friday, December 24, 2010

MAKING MOVIES TO PROMOTE WAR


War is hell, but for Hollywood it has been a Godsend, providing the perfect dramatic setting against which courageous heroes win the hearts and minds of the movie going public.

The Pentagon recognises the power of these celluloid dreams and encourages Hollywood to create heroic myths; to rewrite history to suit its own strategy and as a recruiting tool to provide a steady flow of willing young patriots for its wars.

What does Hollywood get out of this 'deal with the devil'? Access to billions of dollars worth of military kit, from helicopters to aircraft carries, enabling filmmakers to make bigger and more spectacular battle scenes, which in turn generate more box office revenue. Providing they accept the Pentagon's advice, even toe the party line and show the US military in a positive light.

So is it a case of art imitating life, or a sinister force using art to influence life and death - and the public perception of both?

Empire will examine Hollywood, the Pentagon, and war.

Interviewed are Oliver Stone, Chris Hedges and Michael Moore.

JAIL CONDITIONS FOR BRADLEY MANNING

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, December 23, 2010

MORE RADIO FOR THE HOLIDAYS


  • Alex Smith produces a program in Vancouver called Radio Ecoshock and had me on this past week. He told me it will start broadcasting on 24 college and community stations this Friday, Dec 24th, and on through that next week. At the end of the show I told Alex he did the one of best interviews I'd ever done. I loved how prepared he was and also how clear he was about what direction he wanted the interview to take. You can listen to the entire interview here

  • I missed doing our weekly radio show last night on WBOR at nearby Bowdoin College along with co-host Peter Woodruff who works at Bath Iron Works. We've been doing the show for the past two years - playing political music and commentaries. I hurt my back and after a trip to the chiropractor yesterday I was not in any condition to sit for two hours on a stool at the radio control board. Next week though I've got to be there as Peter will be away and I have to do the show on my own. I'm think I'll play a bunch of songs by The Kinks.

  • During this holiday time I am thinking of the growing number of poor people in this country. As welfare for the rich grows (more tax cuts and corporate subsidies) we are seeing more "little" people hit rock bottom. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that 42,389,619 Americans received food stamps in August, a 17% rise from the same time a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which tracks the data. That number is up 58.5% from August 2007, before the recession began.

In our nation's capitol, Washington DC, 21.1% of the public is on food stamps - the highest in the nation. In Maine 18% of the population now qualifies for food stamps. I've recently heard that the government is cutting back on how much money they give to the poor each month in food stamps as the demand grows for that support.

During this holiday season, when people all over the world go to church to pray and celebrate the birth of the "Prince of Peace", it might be good to remember what Jesus had to say about killing and the poor. Isn't it time that more of the good Christians spoke out on these important matters? It's nice that they help feed the poor, but how about turning over the tables inside the temples of the money changers? How about speaking out about the structural impediments to ending war and poverty?

What would Jesus say about that?

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH HELEN CALDICOTT


  • It's snowing again. A heavier snow this time and likely will be a big shoveling day. We've not had much real intense cold so far though, it is warm one day with the ground thawing out and then it gets a bit cold - back and forth. Your body can't really adjust properly and makes it easy to catch colds.

  • I was interviewed by Dr. Helen Caldicott for an hour last night for her radio show called If You Love This Planet. The show airs in Australia (where she lives most of the year) and also plays on many U.S. stations, particularly along the Pacifica Radio Network. We talked quite a bit about Obama and Helen is extremely disappointed in his first two years in office. She follows the space issue very closely having written a book called "War in Heaven". In 1997 Helen came to Florida for a couple of days to help our campaign to stop NASA's launch of the Cassini space probe with 72 pounds of plutonium-238 on-board. As we drove from place to place I talked to her about the broader space weaponization issue which she was not up to date on. She immediately got the significance of it and set to work learning more and teaching others.

One key area that we focused on during the interview is Obama's deployment plan for missile offense systems surrounding Russia and China. This led to the whole "security export" topic and my analysis about the Pentagon's plan for endless war to the benefit of corporate globalization and resource extraction. Not a happy holiday message at all.

She was also interested in our local efforts around the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign and told me that she'd like to come to the northeast for a few days in March when she returns to the states. She offered to give us a couple days to help us out, so if any of you reading this might like to have Helen visit to make the connections between endless war and fiscal crisis at home let me know and I'll put you on the list.

Helen said our interview should be on her web site within the next two weeks so just check the link above and you should be able to find it. I'll post a reminder when I hear it is on-line.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PILGER ON WIKILEAKS AND JOURNALISM



The award-winning investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger is one of many high-profile public supporters of Julian Assange and his organization WikiLeaks. Pilger has attended Assange’s court proceedings in London and has offered to contribute funds for his more than $300,000 bail. Pilger’s latest film, The War You Don’t See, includes interviews with Assange. Pilger says that WikiLeaks is revolutionizing journalism and galvanizing public opinion to stand up to global elites.

BULLIES AND WAR MONGERING

Tea bag protest sign

  • I was at the Sears auto center today getting new tires for our car. We had a snow storm yesterday afternoon and I had to drive through it and our nearly bald tires were spinning a bit in the snow. While I waited for the work to be done I went next door to a coffee shop so I could go on-line and check my emails. When I returned to the auto center waiting room three men were watching Fox News and I heard one of them saying, "I am tired of the nanny state. I think we should get rid of these laws like helmets for motorcycles and seat belts. If people want to die then it will help with population control." He had on a BAE Systems (aerospace corporation) jacket and had that look and walk of a neighborhood bully. This whole Republican take over in Maine (and most of the rest of the country) has emboldened these kinds of guys.

  • The U.S. media is gloating just a bit as North Korea backed down from another military confrontation with South Korea. Right on schedule the right-wing government, led by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (nicknamed the bulldozer and the rat by his people), stepped up with another round of war games virtually on the North Korean border. These military exercises, coming regularly these days, are without a doubt being strongly encouraged by the Obama administration who themselves are taking on the role of playground bully when it comes to North Korea and Iran. Thank goodness North Korea was wise enough to show restraint as clearly the U.S. and their junior-partners in Seoul are not capable of doing so.

  • Global Network board member Alice Slater (New York City) was quoted in a news release today about Obama's efforts to pass the new START Treaty in the Senate. She stated:

The Obama administration will pay a heavy price to ratify the modest START treaty should it receive the required 67 Senate votes this week to enact it into law. The president originally promised the weapons labs $80 billion over ten years for building three new bomb factories in Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Kansas City to modernize our nuclear arsenals as well as an additional $100 billion for new delivery systems -- missiles, bombers and submarines. He then sweetened the pot with an offer of another $4 billion to the nuclear weapons establishment to [try to] buy the support of Senator Kyl. Additionally, he is assuring the Senate hawks that missile [offense] development in the U.S. will proceed full speed ahead, even though Russia and China have proposed negotiations on a draft treaty they submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to ban space weaponization. Every country at that conference voted in favor of preventing an arms race in outer space except the United States, still caught in the grip of the military-industrial-academic-congressional complex which President Eisenhower took great pains to warn us against in his farewell address to the nation.



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DADDY WHAT DID YOU LEAVE FOR ME?


Justice Through Music partners again with the band Op-Critical, www.myspace.com/opcritical , in a new music video rendition of Roger Waters’ “The Wall,” to focus attention on the heartbreak of endless wars. “We made a few changes in the lyrics,” said Op-Critical’s Storm, “with the most powerful being: ‘Daddy, what’d you leave behind for me? On the Mall you left another name on the Wall.’”

The video, posted a few days ago on YouTube, has already had thousands of views and rave reviews.

Monday, December 20, 2010

CONFLICT RETURNS TO JEJU ISLAND

The U.S. and South Korean governments plan to cover this rocky coastline on Jeju Island with cement as they build docks to port Navy warships to help surround China's coastline
Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi (right) joins the protest in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island as construction begins

After months of delay due to elections and court hearings, the plan to build a Navy base in the Gangjeong village is now back underway. The villagers had hoped that the new governor on Jeju would protect the village but he will not. Likewise they lost a final legal battle to block the base construction. Now all that is left to the villagers will be to use their own bodies to stop the destruction of the sacred coastline.

Below is a report from Sung-Hee Choi who has gone to Jeju Island to be with the villagers during this hard time. We will keep you updated as things develop. You can help by calling the South Korean embassy in your country and tell them to "Stop building the Navy base on Jeju Island" which is called the island of peace and has been recognized by UNESCO as a global environmental jewell.

By Sung-Hee Choi (South Korea)

December 20

Today, around 8: 30 am, six stone powder dump trucks, a water-purifier tank cargo truck, a light truck, a cement-mix car, and a water car came to the planned naval base area.. The purpose of the Navy was the installation of the water-purifier tank in the planned naval base area of the Gangjeong village. Even though we intended to prevent the entry of those cars, since about 100 cement-mix cars uploaded with panel materials would come again in large size on Dec. 27, after the village meeting on Dec. 22, our opinions were collected to save our power for the D-Day. The corporation that was in charge of the construction of the water-purifier tank was the Daerim industry, the company that has been the cause of the Yongsan tragedy [where neighborhood activists were killed by the police when they tired to stop the "redevelopment" and loss of their homes and shops in their community] with Samsung [the developer].

There were about seven activists from the Pan-Island committee against the naval base, about seven villagers despite their busiest harvesting season of the year, and some peace activists in the planned naval base area of the Gangjeong stream. Despite little choice today considering the expected continuous struggles, the villagers’ council and the Pan-Island committee would resist against construction with all their power on Dec. 27, 2010.

Currently about 10 trucks are expected to come tomorrow at the similar time and the measure on that is still uncertain. However, it is expected that various struggles would be considered after the villagers’ general meeting on Dec. 22 that is the continuation of Dec. 17 meeting and many villagers and activists would gather power for Dec. 27.

Otherwise, Catholic priests peace mass against the planned naval base was held in the Joonduk coast connected from the Gangjeong stream, another absolute preservation area for an hour from 12pm.

UPDATE: For an update on the situation in the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island for Dec 21 see here

DEATH OF THE LIBERAL CLASS



Chris Hedges: Obama is a "Poster Child for the Death of the Liberal Class"

The compromise tax-cut deal that President Obama signed into law on Friday has angered many of his supporters. In his new book, Death of the Liberal Class, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges argues that the failure of President Obama to represent the interests of his supporters is just another example of a quickly-dying liberal class. In the book, Hedges explains how the five pillars of the liberal class: the press, universities, unions, liberal churches and the Democratic Party have become corrupt.

See an article by Hedges about his arrest in Washington last Thursday here

TOP SECRET AMERICA - POLICE STATE UNDERWAY

The Washington Post has an important story today about the expansion of domestic surveillance by local police agencies across the country in connection with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Below are a few bits from the article:

On a recent night in Memphis, a patrol car rolled slowly through a parking lot in a run-down section of town. The military-grade infrared camera on its hood moved robotically from left to right, snapping digital images of one license plate after another and analyzing each almost instantly.

At the same time that the FBI is expanding its West Virginia database, it is building a vast repository controlled by people who work in a top-secret vault on the fourth floor of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington. This one stores the profiles of tens of thousands of Americans and legal residents who are not accused of any crime. What they have done is appear to be acting suspiciously to a town sheriff, a traffic cop or even a neighbor.

In response to concerns that information in the database could be improperly used or released, FBI officials say anyone with access has been trained in privacy rules and the penalties for breaking them.

But not everyone is convinced. "It opens a door for all kinds of abuses," said Michael German, a former FBI agent who now leads the American Civil Liberties Union's campaign on national security and privacy matters. "How do we know there are enough controls?"

The vast majority of terrorism leads in the United States originate from confidential FBI sources and from the bureau's collaboration with federal intelligence agencies, which mainly work overseas. Occasionally a stop by a local police officer has sparked an investigation. Evidence comes from targeted FBI surveillance and undercover operations, not from information and analysis generated by state fusion centers about people acting suspiciously.

"It's really resource-inefficient," said Philip Mudd, a 20-year CIA counterterrorism expert and a top FBI national security official until he retired nine months ago. "If I were to have a dialogue with the country about this . . . it would be about not only how we chase the unknowns, but do you want to do suspicious activity reports across the country? . . . Anyone who is not at least suspected of doing something criminal should not be in a database."

Ramon Montijo has taught classes on terrorism and Islam to law enforcement officers all over the country.

"Alabama, Colorado, Vermont," said Montijo, a former Army Special Forces sergeant and Los Angeles Police Department investigator who is now a private security consultant. "California, Texas and Missouri," he continued.

What he tells them is always the same, he said: Most Muslims in the United States want to impose sharia law here.

"They want to make this world Islamic. The Islamic flag will fly over the White House - not on my watch!" he said. "My job is to wake up the public, and first, the first responders."

Like Montijo, Walid Shoebat, a onetime Muslim who converted to Christianity, also lectures to local police. He too believes that most Muslims seek to impose sharia law in the United States. To prevent this, he said in an interview, he warns officers that "you need to look at the entire pool of Muslims in a community."

When Shoebat spoke to the first annual South Dakota Fusion Center Conference in Sioux Falls this June, he told them to monitor Muslim student groups and local mosques and, if possible, tap their phones. "You can find out a lot of information that way," he said.

A book expanding on what Shoebat and Montijo believe has just been published by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based neoconservative think tank. "Shariah: The Threat to America" describes what its authors call a "stealth jihad" that must be thwarted before it's too late.

The book's co-authors include such notables as former CIA director R. James Woolsey and former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, along with the center's director, a longtime activist. They write that most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.

The DHS also provides local agencies a daily flow of information bulletins.

These reports are meant to inform agencies about possible terror threats. But some officials say they deliver a never-ending stream of information that is vague, alarmist and often useless. "It's like a garage in your house you keep throwing junk into until you can't park your car in it," says Michael Downing, deputy chief of counterterrorism and special operations for the Los Angeles Police Department.

The vast majority of fusion centers across the country have transformed themselves into analytical hubs for all crimes and are using federal grants, handed out in the name of homeland security, to combat everyday offenses.

This is happening because, after 9/11, local law enforcement groups did what every agency and private company did in Top Secret America: They followed the money.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

SUNDAY SONG

George Harrison wrote one for the "me culture"...... as in "don't tell me that" or "don't ask me to think about that"......"I just want to worry about me".......you get the drift.