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....

My Photo
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Thursday, January 19, 2017

No 'Missile Offense' in Korea!

Seongju and Gimcheon Residents Occupy The Minjoo Headquarters to Stop THAAD Deployment

Residents of Seongju and Gimcheon [South Korea] as well as Won Buddhists have pitched tents outside the Minjoo Party headquarters in Seoul and vow to stay until the main opposition party agrees to oppose the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile [defense] system.

They have been there since January 11 to demand the party officially adopt opposition to the THAAD deployment as its party platform. They also demand the formation of a special committee in the National Assembly to pressure the South Korean government to reverse its agreement with the U.S. to deploy the THAAD missile system.

With [President] Park Geun-hye’s impeachment under review by the Constitutional Court, the anti-THAAD movement is thinking ahead to the next administration. Currently, the Minjoo Party’s Moon Jae-in is a front-runner for the upcoming presidential election, which could be held as soon as April of this year. Should Moon become the next president, he and his Minjoo Party cabinet members will be responsible for answering to the U.S., which has historically imposed its military agenda on the Korean Peninsula, including plans for the THAAD deployment.

The Minjoo Party, however, has yet to adopt an official party platform on the THAAD issue. While certain individual representatives, like the Minjoo Party’s chief Choo Mi-ae, have expressed their concerns about the potential threat to peace posed by the THAAD deployment and have questioned the necessity for such a missile system, the party as a whole has failed to offer a definitive position on the issue. A recent Newsis interview with presidential candidate Moon Jae-in further muddled the Minjoo Party’s position on the issue.

On January 15, Moon said to Newsis that he does not think it is possible for the South Korean government to renege on its THAAD deployment decision with the U.S.. Despite being critical of the Park administration’s hasty and unilateral decision on the THAAD deployment, Moon expressed no intent to block the deployment. He is simply calling for the deployment to be paused while the constitutional court deliberates Park’s impeachment and until the next administration takes office.

People in the fight to oppose the THAAD deployment expressed their outrage against Moon’s comments. A lawyer from Minbyun (Lawyers for a Democratic Society, of which Moon was once a member) questioned Moon’s view of the issue — “Are you saying that a promise made with the U.S. is unbreakable while a promise made with [South Korean] citizens is unimportant?”

On January 16, the sixth consecutive day of the protest directed at the Minjoo Party lawmakers, Won Buddhists, Seongju and Gimcheon residents demanded a meeting with the Minjoo Party chief, Choo Mi-ae. A staff person of Choo’s office informed the residents that Choo would meet with them on Thursday, January 19. “How much longer must we wait?” the residents demanded to know, “Are you saying that six days [of waiting] is not enough so we have to wait another three days?” They added, “We need this meeting immediately so that we can hear Representative Choo’s position on the THAAD deployment issue.”

The persistence of the residents paid off, and Choo Mi-ae met with the residents on January 17. According to the residents who met with Choo, although she agreed that the THAAD system would be ineffective against North Korean missiles and expressed her opposition to the deployment, she did not confirm that her party will adopt an official platform on this issue. She did, however, promise to discuss with fellow lawmakers in the Minjoo Party the formation of a special committee in the National Assembly to address the THAAD deployment issue.

Meanwhile, due to pressures from China, Lotte [corporation], which owns the golf course where the US Forces in Korea (USFK) wants to deploy the THAAD system, is hesitant to finalize its deal with South Korea’s Defense Ministry to give up the golf course in a land swap. The Defense Ministry is awaiting a final approval from Lotte’s board of directors to acquire Lotte’s land and hand it over to the USFK. However, Lotte, feeling pressure from China, which has been strongly opposed to THAAD deployment in Korea and recently ordered an audit of Lotte’s businesses in China, has chosen to delay the decision. With significant investments in China, Lotte cannot ignore the neighboring country’s economic leverage. The deal may not be finalized until early February, later than expected by the Defense Ministry.

By ZoominKorea staff

Setting Up for War with Russia

Generals from US and NATO discuss at a news conference how they are war gaming in eastern Europe along the Russian border including Poland, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria.

So it is really a triple-edged strategy at work here. At the least the US-NATO are putting a loaded gun to Moscow's head saying get on your knees and submit to the west or else.

Secondly this is a major influx of profit for the military industrial complex.

Lastly, and most likely, the US-NATO are determined to take down Russia while they believe they still can before the growing Russia-China alliance (economic and military) makes it impossible to do so.

The arrogance of the US will ultimately lead to disaster because once these war mongers get going they are very hard to pull back.  It will be more than interesting to see how Trump deals with all of this.

The Obama administration is the one that is setting all of this in motion just as Trump enters office.  So while there are huge worries about Trump (and major protests planned against him) there has been very little concern and protest against Obama during his two terms in office as he over and over again escalated tensions along the Russian border.

It goes to show the utter hypocrisy of liberal Democrats.  When their party is in control of the White House they don't mind this kind of provocative and aggressive escalation tactics.  But as Trump comes into power those same liberals are holding meetings all over the nation to stop the 'new fascist dictator'.

Sadly they miss the clear reality that it was the old boss that created this mess - not the new boss.

I stand against both bosses - I continue to call both mainstream political parties in the US fascist.  The classic definition of fascism is the wedding of corporations and government.  We have that in the US no matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in power.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Getting Caught Up with Odds & Ends

New CIA disclosures reveal that Vladimir Putin used dolphins to help sneak up on the Democrat National Committee (DNC) in order to steal their secrets on behalf of Trump.

  • Since getting home from Okinawa I've been as busy as a one-armed wall paper hanger.  I had lots of lovely mail to get caught up with - including many gifts coming in for the Global Network as we hit our 25th year of operation.  Thanks to all of you who have been donating.  These donations give us confidence that our supporters appreciate our hard work and think we are heading in the right direction - especially as we face a new president who no one knows for sure what he will actually do once in office.

  • I'm also working on my statements and testimony for our coming Zumwalt 12 trial here in Bath Superior Court on February 1-2.  The group is taking this trial very seriously and putting great effort into making our statements to the judge and jury as clear as possible about why we risked arrest at Bath Iron Works in June 18, 2016 during the 'christening' ceremony of the latest Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyer.

  • I am also increasing my efforts on the Global Network's 25th annual space organizing conference that will be held in Huntsville, Alabama on April 7-9.  Our brochure is printed and will be in the mail on January 20 - inauguration day.  We've had our first registration come in from a Veterans For Peace member in Tennessee - someone we don't even know.  I've heard from GN board members in India, Sweden, Norway, England and the US that are going to be at the event.  It's very exciting.  You can see the conference brochure here

  • I've been enjoying the healthy debate on the No to NATO email list serve during the past couple of weeks.  The discussion, mostly from those in Europe, has gone back and forth on whether peace groups there should focus their upcoming inauguration protests on Trump or keep them directed at the US military empire and the expanding NATO war machine.  Several European peace group leaders have made the point that Trump isn't even in office yet but that is has been Obama who has been directing the massive US expansion of NATO up to Russia's borders including the current movement of hundreds of tanks and other military vehicles to new US military outposts in Poland and beyond.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trial of Zumwalt 12 Starts Feb. 1 in Bath

Trial of the Zumwalt 12 is scheduled to begin February 1st at 9:00 a.m. in Sagadahoc Superior Court in Bath (752 High Street) and is expected to last 2 days. 

Members of the group were arrested on June 18th of last year for blocking the road in front of Bath Iron Works during the ‘christening’ of the USS Michael Mansour, a $4 billion ‘stealth’ destroyer.   They are charged with “obstructing a public way”, a class E. misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of $2000 fine and 6 months in county jail.  

Arrested and charged were: Bruce Gagnon (Bath); Cynthia Howard (Biddeford); Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle); Connie Jenkins (Orono); Tarak Kauff (Woodstock, NY); Richard Lethem (Bath); John Morris (New Gloucester); George Ostensen (Hope); Joan Peck (Brunswick); John Peck (Brunswick); Jason Rawn (Lincolnville); and Russell Wray (Hancock). 

Bar Harbor attorney Lynne Williams has provided legal counsel to the group throughout the case and is attorney-of-record for Joan Peck.  The remaining defendants will represent themselves. 

Members of the Zumwalt 12 stress how important the support from people in the peace and justice community has been over the past few months and hope that many folks will be able to come out for the trial.

Lynne Williams reminds everyone that leafletting at the court house is not permitted, to avoid any appearance of attempting to influence jurors.  However, signs and banners are allowed on public property.

By Connie Jenkins

Fomenting Radical Discontent

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges is joined by journalists Abby Martin and Ben Norton to discuss the declassified U.S. intelligence report on Russia’s alleged “influence campaign” on the U.S. presidential election. They explore the allegations and why a large portion of the report is dedicated to RT America’s programming. RT correspondent Anya Parampil details the charges made in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report.

Protest in Italy

Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK on Vietnam

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Last Day in Okinawa

There are 32 US military installations on Okinawa taking up 20% of the island.  The people have been protesting regularly since 1952 against US bases but you'd never know that in the United States because these protests are not reported in the corporate dominated media

Yesterday we drummed and chanted outside the Okinawan prefecture building in Naha to encourage the governor to continue opposition to the Pentagon base expansion program on the island

We drummed and chanted outside the Naha jail yesterday honoring the three activists now under arrest for their peaceful and non-violent opposition to US base expansion at Henoko and Takae

Newspaper coverage of our protests this past week.  One women approached me this morning and said she remembered seeing my photo in the paper a year ago December when I first came to Okinawa with a Veterans For Peace delegation

Our three man VFP delegation along with the 25 other folks from Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order that we traveled with during our visit

The third graphic from the top shows the plan for the two-runway Marine airfield that will be built on top of pristine Oura Bay.  People make a living from this sacred water body where endangered sea mammals now live. Two million cubic meters of landfill will be put on top of the coral reefs in order to build the airfield.  Is this insane or what?

I'm at the airport in Naha, Okinawa now waiting for my flight to Tokyo.  From there I fly to Minneapolis, Minnesota and then change planes to Boston.  From Boston I take a two-hour bus ride to Portland, Maine where Mary Beth will pick me up and drive me the final 45 minute leg to Bath.  So it's a long trip home.

Yesterday, soon after arriving in Naha we walked through the heart of downtown on the main commercial street that had been closed to auto traffic.  Loads of people were on the streets shopping and listening to music.  So we walked down the middle of the street with Jules Orkin and myself carrying the gold VFP banner and then the Buddhists behind us drumming and chanting up a storm.  It was quite a scene and the best part was when a black GI saw us and made eye connection and gave a nod.  Very special moment.

(Click on the photos for a better view)


Sunday Song