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 25, 2015

USA Thanks for Poverty



From protest at US embassy in Kiev, Ukraine.  This kind of talk and protest can get you killed in Kiev these days by the neo-Nazi government backed by US-NATO.  Takes brave and desperate people to do this kind of action.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Callousness of Capitalism



  • I am on the bus from Portland to Boston where I will jump on the train to New York City for the Peace & Planet conference and protest this weekend.  This alternative conference is the precursor to the UN's Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference that begins next week.  There will be a big crowd of folks from around the world at the events.  I do two workshops on Saturday and will then participate in a march and rally on Sunday before returning home on Monday.  Many important stories out there today including the following.
  • The callousness of America's political and business leaders is shocking. A new report from UNICEF, on the well-being of children in 35 developed nations, turned up some alarming statistics about child poverty. More than one in five American children fall below a relative poverty line. The United States ranks 34th of the 35 countries surveyed, above only Romania and below virtually all of Europe plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. 
  • The great Lakota leader Crazy Horse once visited New York City and the poor white homeless children approached him asking for money.....when he returned to the reservation in South Dakota he told the people, "We are in big trouble. You should see how the white man treats their own children."
  • The Defense Department can’t account for $1.3 billion that was shipped to force commanders in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2014 for critical reconstruction projects, 60 percent of all such spending under an emergency program, an internal report released Thursday concludes. The missing money was part of the relatively small amount of Afghanistan spending that was routed directly to military officers in a bid to bypass bureaucracy and rush the construction of urgently needed roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, water treatment plants and other essential infrastructure.

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/04/23/264136/more-than-1-billion-in-us-emergency.html#storylink=cpy
  • A local retired union friend went to a meeting in my hometown of Bath, Maine last night that discussed union busting legislation now before our state legislature in Augusta.  All across the US there is an attempt to pass various anti-union measures.  The goal is to destroy the middle and working class in order to bring back a rerun of feudalism where the rich have everything and the rest of us live in the gutter.  In the US labor unions rely on the weak-kneed Democrats to defend them which is a sure losing ticket.  In other countries workers are far better organized and much more radical in their approaches to dealing with the global capitalist crackdown on labor.
  • Tens of thousands of unionized workers started a strike across South Korea Friday, demanding the government drop its bid to reform the labor market and pension program for public workers. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the nation's second-largest umbrella union, pressed ahead with its planned strike despite the government designating their strikes illegal.
    re here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/04/23/264136/more-than-1-billion-in-us-emergency.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saudi Arabia Pursues Disastrous Policies in Yemen



As Yemen is pulverized into oblivion, it remains unclear just exactly what Riyadh hopes to achieve in this war. Washington has tied itself to this conflict, but can’t control or explain it. Soon there won’t be much of Yemen left to make peace with.

A war without end......something the US is always happy to join.

Obama Gives Petraeus Easy Ride


      Petraeus "Sweetheart Deal" Exposes Obama's War on Whistleblowers

By Institute for Public Accuracy

Reuters is reporting: "Former U.S. military commander and CIA director David Petraeus will appear in federal court in North Carolina on Thursday to face sentencing for allegedly leaking secrets to a mistress who was writing his biography." Many, especially whistleblower advocates, contrast the light sentence -- a fine and probation -- Petraeus is widely expected to receive today with the harsh sentences whistleblowers have faced from Obama administration prosecutions.

Seven whistleblowers will be speaking to this and related issues at a news conference organized by ExposeFacts: “The Obama Administration’s War on Whistleblowers” on Monday. Speakers will include: William Binney (NSA), Thomas Drake (NSA), Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers), Raymond McGovern (CIA), Jesselyn Radack (Justice Department), Coleen Rowley (FBI) and Kirk Wiebe (NSA) -- see media advisory.

The Star-Ledger in a recent editorial titled "Eric Holder's brand of justice: Whistleblowers whacked, all-star generals walk" writes that: "What makes it galling is how Petraeus compares to men like Jeffrey Sterling." Sterling is facing decades in prison for allegedly disclosing information to New York Times reporter James Risen about an apparently bungled CIA plot to give flawed nuclear plans to Iran. He was to be sentenced tomorrow (Friday) -- immediately after Petraeus' deal is finalized today -- but his sentencing has been delayed and is now scheduled for May 11.

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel@gmail.com, @emptywheel
    Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She is the “Right to Know” investigative journalist for ExposeFacts and blogs at emptywheel.net. She just wrote the piece "DOJ Claims Grossly Disparate Treatment Will “Promote Respect for the Law.” Past related articles include "David Petraeus Gets Hand-Slap for Leaking, Two Point Enhancement for Obstruction of Justice."

    See also Wheeler's piece: "Desmond Tutu Calls for Justice for Jeffrey Sterling, Citing Petraeus Deal."

JOHN KIRIAKOU, @johnkiriakou
    Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Real News recently conducted a series of interviews with him, available here, and reports he "was recently released from prison after serving 23 months of a 30 month sentence for exposing the CIA's illegal torture program. ... He's under house arrest after spending 23 months in jail."

    Kiriakou said today: "I don't think General Petraeus should have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act, just as I don't think I should have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Yet only one of us was. Both Petraeus and I disclosed undercover identities (or confirmed one in my case) that were never published. I spent two years in prison; he gets two years probation."

JESSELYN RADACK, jradack@whistleblower.org, @jesselynradack
    Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the nation’s leading whistleblower organization. She will be speaking at the ExposeFacts news conference on Monday and said today: "Petraeus' sweetheart plea deal, likely a $40,000 fine and two years of probation, for leaking classified information shows how deep the government's hypocrisy is when prosecuting whistleblowers. I've had national security whistleblower clients who have disclosed far less sensitive information in the public interest and have faced decades in jail under Espionage Act charges. Patraeus' comparative slap on the wrist shows the government has plenty of options when dealing with whistleblowers -- I wish my clients could get such lenient sentences.

    "Petreaus' light sentence makes clear that the consequences for whistleblowing are far more severe than the negligible consequences for Petreaus' leaks. GAP's whistleblower clients lost their careers and spent millions on legal fees while Petraeus was able to retain his security clearance, advise the White House, make lucrative speeches across the globe, and pull in a massive salary as a partner in one of the world's biggest private-equity firms.

    "The fact that Petraeus is the recipient of a such a comparatively light sentence is of particular significance considering that three most recent directors of the CIA -- Leon E. Panetta, Petraeus and John O. Brennan -- have all leaked classified information casually, regularly and with impunity.

    "The leak prosecution double standard makes clear that the Obama administration's record breaking number of Espionage Act prosecutions has nothing to do with protecting classified information and everything to do with punishing and silencing whistleblowers. If leaks were the real concern, Petraeus would receive punishment as harsh as the government demanded for other accused leakers."

U.S. Trainers Help Prepare for War on Russia's Border



A “non-lethal aid" delivering US instructor teaches Ukrainian recruits how to use an RPG. At the end of the video one of the Ukie soldiers declares that they will soon go and fight in the East against their own citizens - right along Russia's border.

Word came yesterday that the military equipment which has been brought by US Army personnel for war games at Yavoriv range near Lviv in western Ukraine will be given to the Ukrainian military after the exercises are finished.  See more on this story here

Also reported today that US marines are now protecting Ukrainian President Poroshenko from his own troops.  See the story here

Meanwhile, mercenaries forces integrated by Academi (former Blackwater) are involved in combat operations in the east against self-defense forces. Eduard Basurin, Defense Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic has pointed to the presence of Academi mercenaries in Volnovakha, an area controlled by Kiev forces.  See video here

One more related story on Sputnik is that last week nearly 300 US servicemen from the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in western Ukraine to take part in joint military drills dubbed Fearless Guardian together with Ukrainian National Guard battalions [neo-Nazis]. It was announced that the overt combat training would take place in the Yavoriv district of the Lviv region, western Ukraine. Inexplicably though, the military drills have been shifted from the West to the Ukrainian eastern region.

Can there be any doubt that this war project in Ukraine is a full-bore US-NATO operation?  Proshenko is just a puppet whose strings are being yanked.

Corporate Welfare in Maine



Portland Press Herald reports:

Sometime this year, the state of Maine will cut two checks worth a total of $2.8 million and mail them to out-of-state investors. Next year, it will send two more checks, worth $3.2 million, to the same recipients. It will repeat that process for the next three years until roughly $16 million of taxpayer money has been withdrawn from Maine’s General Fund.

This payout of taxpayer dollars through 2019 will make whole a commitment the state made in December 2012 to encourage what was – on paper – touted as a $40 million investment in the resurgence of the Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket.

But the resurgence failed. A year after the investment was received, the mill’s owner, private equity firm Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, shuttered the mill and laid off more than 200 people. Great Northern filed for bankruptcy a few months later with more than $20 million in unpaid bills owed to local businesses, leaving many to wonder what happened to that $40 million investment that was supposed to save the mill.

The reality is most of that $40 million was a mirage.

Like most states corporate welfare in Maine is at epidemic levels.  Our right-wing Gov. LePage, who has made a career out of campaigning against welfare for the poor, so far has had little to say about this case. This story makes poor people's welfare cheating (which is minuscule) look like nothing in comparison.

Sadly the Democrats in our state legislature teamed with the Republicans to pass this horrific measure to further enrich the pirate class.

Practicing for War at Home



In recent weeks the US military, and likely Homeland Security, have been practicing internal suppression tactics from coast-to-coast.  The video above is from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where military and law enforcement were practicing the internment of citizens during martial-law style training. The clip shows armed troops arresting role players on the street before a column of prisoners are marched towards a mock internment facility. Black Hawk choppers are also seen whizzing between buildings. The SunSentinel newspaper reported that the exercises were being conducted by "U.S. Special Operations Forces who are undergoing urban warfare training."



This second video shows military drills in Ontario, California where National Guard troops can be seen patrolling residential streets and practicing traffic control. 

Also planned in the near future:

"Operation Jade Helm is a challenging eight-week joint military and Interagency (IA) Unconventional Warfare (UW) exercise conducted throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado,” according to an unclassified military document announcing the training drill, which runs from July 15 through September 15.

Multiple branches of the US military, including Green Berets, Navy Seals, and the 82nd Airborne Division, will participate in the 8-week long exercise, which may result in “increased aircraft in the area at night.”

Troops will be tasked with honing advanced skills in “large areas of undeveloped land with low population densities,” and will work alongside “civilians to gain their trust and an understanding of the issues.”
The exercise, in which some participants will be “wearing civilian clothes and driving civilian vehicles,” lists Texas and Utah as “hostile" territory.

The proposed theater of operations of Operation Jade Helm is shown on the map below:



What is the deal here?  Is Washington planning for coming water riots in California?  Is the government planning for "The Crash of 2016" as spelled out by Thom Hartmann in his recent book by the same name?  Is this a case that the US military machine has gotten so large, and unpopular in so many countries, that they now have come home to practice their war games? 

Anyway you look at it the picture looks bad for US citizens and the rest of the world. This metastasizing military war machine is a cancer to peace and to real freedom and democracy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

We Called it Progress


See the Writing on the Wall

The Wounded Knee massacre of December 29, 1890 in South Dakota. The 7th Cavalry Regiment surrounded the encampment and killed more than 200 lightly armed Lakota people.  This indiscriminate killing by the US military continues today.


My heart
cries out
in sadness
as I see
the writing
on the wall

The US empire
is collapsing
and the only way
for it
to hang on
is more war

The only way
to prevent
new alliances,
that cut out Washington,
is more chaos
and disruption
of those new
multi-polar formations

the picture
is clear as a bell
on the crumbling wall
I got a quick glimpse
of our future
and it spells
more heartache

Many don't want
to see
the ugly image
they quickly
slam the book shut
close the window
turn the TV back on
it reassures them
that all will be fine

Hillary will fix things
she will return
America to be what
we once were
the 'American way'
will be restored

Restored to
corporate slavery
the 'exceptional nation'
the Monroe Doctrine
the 'big stick'
peace
by superior firepower
the good old days
will return
at last......

Who Can You Trust?


The majority of Europeans - UK, French, German and Greek residents among them - distrust mainstream media coverage of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, a recent poll targeting over 4,000 people, reveals.
Greeks appear to have showed the least faith in their domestic media, with a total of 76 percent saying they were ‘fairly’ or ‘totally distrustful’ of mainstream reports on Ukraine. In Germany, the same opinion was shared by 57 percent of respondents.

Britons, on the other hand, have great trust in the mainstream media’s handling of the situation. As many as 55 percent of respondents stated they put a fair amount of trust in the coverage of events in eastern Ukraine by British media. Some 33 percent said it was biased, however.

In France, 47 percent of respondents said they don’t trust the Ukraine conflict coverage.

An average of 54 percent of the European residents put little or no trust in how mainstream media cover the Ukrainian conflict. 

See more here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fascism Alert: It Has Happened Here Before



January 29, 1935

Wall Street’s Fascist Conspiracy

Testimony that the Dickstein Committee Suppressed

By John L. Spivak

An organized conspiracy exists to seize the government by a fascist coup. The Congressional Committee appointed to investigate just such activities has not only failed to follow the trail of evidence to its fountain head – Wall Street – but has deliberately suppressed evidence pointing in the direction.

In these articles the reality of Wall Street’s fascist conspiracy will be made clear; the lineup of financial interests back of the conspiracy will be set forth; and the real role of the Dickstein Committee, which suppressed this evidence, will be revealed.

A suggestion of the existence of Wall Street’s fascist conspiracy was made public in November. The Dickstein Committee then was forced to call Gen. Smedley D. Butler, one of those who made the charges, to testify. And that was the end of the Committee’s interest in proving the charges.

The series of articles will go deeply into the whole situation, of which only a hint trickled through to the public. The suppression of evidence by the Dickstein Committee reveals the Committee’s real character: With an ostensible mission to uncover fascist activities, the Committee actually turned out to be a close collaborator with the would-be fascist rulers of the country; it covered up the conspiracy by suppressing evidence which led too high up in those financial and industrial groups which run Congress, “advise” the President, and dominate the country.

See the rest of this true story here

Watch documentary about this here 

Invest in Kiev!

Vitali Klitschko

Dear Sirs and Madames,

Some of you may have read my “invest in Kiev!” op-ed in the western values daily, The Wall Street Journal. Did you enjoy it? The nerd who wrote it for me employed various literary zingers such as ”our innovation thrives on freedom” and “the streets are safe”, but I — and I alone — came up with the concept of protecting foreign investors in Kiev with my “heavyweight title”. That’s a clever allusion to the fact that I used to punch people in the face for money, in case you didn’t pick up on that subtlety.

Seriously, my ghostwriter was constantly whining about how difficult it would be to convince western investors that their money would be safe in the most corrupt nation in Europe. What a worry wart! First of all, Ukraine’s “human capital”, as I like to call my fellow Ukrainians, receive Zambia-wages. They are ready and willing to give their lives to western enterprise. And secondly, I will personally K.O. anyone who tries to extort money from our new western business partners. But now I am repeating myself.

Kiev is open for business. As my ghostwriter rightly pointed out in my op-ed, ”utilities like heat and electricity are functioning”. Impressive, no? But now I am boasting, and not even about my prize-winning fists.

Okay. Look. I’m not going to spin fairy tales about free bags of salo here in Kiev. There are vague rumors of a looming default. Also, lots of crazy people running around with guns. Anything could happen. Ukraine could fall into a sinkhole tomorrow, but you don’t see people duct taping themselves to the highest tree branch. (Wait, would that actually work? No no no, because the tree would fall into the sinkhole, too. Damn…) What I’m trying to say is: Don’t be a pussy. Invest in Kiev.

There’s still plenty of time to privatize state property or lend us money that we will never be capable of repaying. That means our collateral — the entire country, literally — will be yours!

Join us, and you will prosper as we sink deeper and deeper into a pit of xenophobia and economic despair.

- Vitali Klitschko is mayor of Kiev. He probably didn’t write this article

Reprinted from Russia Insider

Help Fund the 'No Drones' TV Ads



The boards (directors and advisers) of the Global Network recently agreed to send $500 to help sponsor these remarkable 'No Drone' TV commercials across the nation in communities that have a drone operations base.

Nick Mottern at KnowDrones writes:

On February 27, this first-ever TV commercial began a week-long run on various cable channels in Las Vegas, NV, including CNN and MSNBC, showing viewers living near the Creech AFB drone control center what they probably have never seen before – children killed and mutilated by U.S. drones.  It’s graphic but necessary.

On Mar 31, the same commercial began a month’s run on CNN, MSNBC and even FoxNews in and around Beale AFB outside Sacramento, CA, a base critical to supporting U.S. killer drone operations.

Coverage of the TV ads in the Sacramento Bee, the major paper in northern California, led to another story in the Air Force Times
 And on it goes......

If you'd like to contribute to keep these TV ads on the air just click here

The Future of Humankind is at Risk

Ukraine President Poroshenko meets NATO Commander General Philip Breedlove to discuss the plan for more war on Russia's border


There is little doubt that US-NATO are advancing a dangerous and provocative military strategy to take down the Russian government.  The US thought they had full control of Russia when Boris Yeltsin ran the country after the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991. Washington is not happy with the way things turned out and appears to be saying, "Vengeance will be mine."

In an article entitled The Harvard Boys Do Russia The Nation magazine reported in 1998:

Through the late summer and fall of 1991, as the Soviet state fell apart, Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs and other Western economists participated in meetings at a dacha outside Moscow where young, pro-Yeltsin reformers planned Russia's economic and political future. Sachs teamed up with Yegor Gaidar, Yeltsin's first architect of economic reform, to promote a plan of "shock therapy" to swiftly eliminate most of the price controls and subsidies that had underpinned life for Soviet citizens for decades. Shock therapy produced more shock--not least, hyperinflation that hit 2,500 percent--than therapy. One result was the evaporation of much potential investment capital: the substantial savings of Russians. By November 1992, Gaidar was under attack for his failed policies and was soon pushed aside. When Gaidar came under seige, Sachs wrote a memo to one of Gaidar's principal opponents, Ruslan Khasbulatov, Speaker of the Supreme Soviet, then the Russian parliament, offering advice and to help arrange Western aid and contacts in the U.S. Congress. 
After seven years of economic "reform" financed by billions of dollars in U.S. and other Western aid, subsidized loans and rescheduled debt, the majority of Russian people find themselves worse off economically. The privatization drive that was supposed to reap the fruits of the free market instead helped to create a system of tycoon capitalism run for the benefit of a corrupt political oligarchy that has appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars of Western aid and plundered Russia's wealth.

The architect of privatization was former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, a darling of the U.S. and Western financial establishments. Chubais's drastic and corrupt stewardship made him extremely unpopular. According to The New York Times, he "may be the most despised man in Russia."

Essential to the implementation of Chubais's policies was the enthusiastic support of the Clinton Administration and its key representative for economic assistance in Moscow, the Harvard Institute for International Development. Using the prestige of Harvard's name and connections in the Administration, H.I.I.D. officials acquired virtual carte blanche over the U.S. economic aid program to Russia, with minimal oversight by the government agencies involved. With this access and their close alliance with Chubais and his circle, they allegedly profited on the side. Yet few Americans are aware of H.I.I.D.'s role in Russian privatization, and its suspected misuse of taxpayers' funds. 

When Yeltsin left office Vladimir Putin took over and the US was confident that they would control Putin as they had the Yeltsin government.  Over time though Putin has shown his loyalty is to the Russian people rather than the corporate bankers which has led to his demonization across the west.  The decision has since been made that if Putin and Russia won't fall into line behind US interests then there must be regime change in Moscow.  Thus we see the US-NATO war project in Ukraine.

Today we witness the US-NATO military encirclement of Russia's borders and efforts to destabilize the Putin government internally and externally.  One significant method of external destabilization is the US European Command's (EUCOM) European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) signed by President Obama which included $985 million in ERI funds. These monies enable the Pentagon to continue its efforts to "reinforce America’s solemn commitment to the safety and territorial integrity of our allies and to strengthen the security and capacity of our partners in the region."


Some examples of locations where ERI "projects are planned to be executed" include:

  • Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria (Airfield Improvement)
  • Amari, Estonia (Airfield Improvement)
  • Lielvarde, Latvia (Improve Airfield Infrastructure)
  • Siauliai, Lithuania (Improve Airfield Infrastructure)
  • Lask, Poland (Improve Support Infrastructure)
  • Campia Turzia, Romania (Improve Airfield Infrastructure)
  • Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania (Cargo Ramp/Multi-Modal Improvements/Fuel Storage Capacity)

This military "capacity building" along and near the Russian border illustrates the game of hardball that Washington and Brussels are now playing.  They are putting a loaded gun to Putin's head - the threat is being made to either submit or face expanded war and chaos similar to what the US-NATO have already unleashed inside Ukraine.

The US elite thought they had Moscow safely in the corporate bag back in the early 1990's but saw that long sought control slip away under the Putin administration.  Washington has repeatedly shown that it does not like to be denied and thus is willing to face a nuclear war with Russia in order to finish the job of corporate consolidation.  Sadly few citizens in the US know this history and lack a clear understanding of the present situation and the dangers involved.  Even many so-called peace activists are still blind to what the corporate dominated government in Washington is doing.

The future of humankind is at stake.  The time has come for the people across the west to wake up from their long sleep and see that their governments, led by the corrupt, greedy, and hypocritical oligarchy in Washington,  has put every one's future at risk.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Corporate Trade Deal Protests Across Europe



Tens of thousands of people have turned out in major cities across Europe to vent their anger at the world’s biggest free trade deal between the European Union and the United States. The protesters argue that the Trans-Atlantic pact is a real threat to labor, health and safety standards. The demonstrations come as European and American officials are set to hold a new round of talks over the deal in New York.

Danger of Accidental Nuclear War Now More Than Ever



MIT professor, and military missile expert, Ted Postol speaks about the changing technical conditions and unstable political environment that are producing greater danger of accidental nuclear war between US and Russia than during the Cold War period.

Testimony from the Living



Funeral of recently assassinated independent journalist Oles Buzina in Kiev, Ukraine.  Heartfelt words from the many mourners about the loss of his life and their once proud country which is now in a civil war brought on by the interests that run the US-NATO endless war machine.

Where is the outrage in Paris, London, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Ottawa, Canberra, and Washington about these assassinations?  In fact the US-NATO are funding, training and directing the killers!

The west is the land of hypocrisy and decadence.

The West's Fundamental Fallacies



Retired Princeton professor Stephen F. Cohen on "Should the West engage or isolate Russia?" at The Munk Debates held in Toronto, Canada, on April 10, 2015.

Word of the Day: Bamboozled


The Courageous White House Vigiler




Concepción Picciotto (born in Vigo, Spain) is a peace activist living in Washington, DC. She has lived in a tiny peace camp on the sidewalk across from the White House, since August 1, 1981, in protest of nuclear arms and war. She has carried on the longest known continuous act of political protest in the United States history.

Concepción was inspired by fellow activist William Thomas, who originally began the White House Peace Vigil on June 3, 1981 and died on January 23, 2009. They began protesting on the sidewalk by the White House fence. National Park Service rules moved them across Pennsylvania Avenue to the front of Lafayette Park.  Many times over the years Thomas and Concepción were arrested but the courts finally backed their right to hold the remarkable peace vigil as long as it was kept staffed round-the-clock.

Concepción has a few volunteers that give her a temporary relief from time to time but two years ago a volunteer was late and the Park police hauled off her camp.  The issue was finally resolved and she is back across from the White House.

Whenever I visit Washington I always go by the vigil to stand for a few moments in respectful solidarity.  Years ago when William Thomas was alive we became friends which increased my desire to visit the vigilers as often as possible.

Saturday, while in DC for the conference, I walked over to the White House.  It was full of tourists and lots of political activity was underway.  A group of more than 100 Koreans were holding a protest in support of the Sewol ferry families.  Nearby in the jumble of people was a creative one-man protest against Israel's extermination of the Palestinian people.

Over at her camp site Concepción was holding court with several tourists.  Loads of people were all around her as they read her signs and peeked inside the meager living space.  I heard one man reading the signs to himself in a low voice.  A middle aged woman was snickering in disgust at Concepción - partially I guessed out of politics and partly out of 'middle American arrogance'.... such a thing was beneath the dignity of this woman's station in life. Just witnessing it was more than the poor woman could even stand! I could just hear her thinking, "Can't someone do something about this mess!"

I went up to Concepción and thanked her for her dedication.  She quickly said to me, "People are such cowards.  Talk, talk, talk.....we need action."  I told her I agreed and thanked her again.  She graciously thanked me in return.

I walked on - stopping to look back from the center of Lafayette Park - I could see many people reading and reacting.  Concepción (and William) long ago achieved the goal of getting their concerns under the skin of people from all over the world.  Mostly importantly the White House, the home of the 'American illusion', has been unable to chase away a courageous old woman who suffers from skin cancer and lack of sleep.

My heart and deep respect go out to Concepción.  We need more like her.

Sewol Protests in Seoul



A short video compilation of the Sewol protests in Seoul, South Korea.  You don't have to understand Korean to relate to the emotion and fierce determination of the Korean people who demand the truth about the Sewol accident that killed 400 young people when the ferry turned over in the ocean on the way to Jeju Island.

See a newspaper editorial (in English) blasting the police for using excessive force against the grieving families and their many supporters here

The real issue in South Korea these days is the drowning of the people's hard-fought for democratic rights as the current President Park (the daughter of the former brutal military dictator) is reimposing a harsh crackdown on people's movements across the country.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Radioactive Trash



Ruptly reports: Millions of tons of radioactive soil and debris can be seen packed in black bags in a temporary storage site at Tomioka, Fukushima prefecture. The drone video taken by Ruptly shows how the Fukushima nuclear accident continues to be a major health and environmental catastrophe. Unbelievably, TEPCO, the corporation responsible for the nuclear plant at Fukushima, is storing some of the most dangerous waste on earth in plastic bags near the ocean. Once again TEPCO is showing irresponsible behavior in how they are handling the results of the nuclear accident that occurred on March 11, 2011 resulting in a nuclear meltdown of the plant’s six reactors.

Remembering the Dead in Kiev



Ukraine has created a database of “separatists, militants, etc”. They call it “Information for law enforcement authorities and special services about pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, mercenaries, war criminals, and murderers.” Given the situation in the country and recent laws that have been passed, anyone in Ukraine that does not agree with methods or ideas of the regime could potentially become part of the database. Oles Buzina – a writer and a critic of the regime was there, and he was killed on April 16th.

Link to the database: https://psb4ukr.org/criminal/

Sunday Song



Written by: Ray Davies (The Kinks)

Now that you've found your paradise
This is your Kingdom to command
You can go outside and polish your car
Or sit by the fire in your Shangri-la
Here is your reward for working so hard
Gone are the lavatories in the back yard
Gone are the days when you dreamed of that car
You just want to sit in your Shangri-la

Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher
You're in your place and you know where you are
In your Shangri-la
Sit back in your old rocking chair
You need not worry, you need not care
You can't go anywhere
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

The little man who gets the train
Got a mortgage hanging over his head
But he's too scared to complain
'Cos he's conditioned that way
Time goes by and he pays off his debts
Got a TV set and a radio
For seven shillings a week
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

And all the houses in the street have got a name
'Cos all the houses in the street they look the same
Same chimney pots, same little cars, same window panes
The neighbors call to tell you things that you should know
They say their lines, they drink their tea, and then they go
They tell your business in another Shangri-la
The gas bills and the water rates, and payments on the car
Too scared to think about how insecure you are
Life ain't so happy in your little Shangri-la
Shangri-la, Shangri-la la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher
You're in your place and you know where you are
In your Shangri-la
Sit back in your old rocking chair
You need not worry, you need not care
You can't go anywhere
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la