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.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Report on Oura Bay, Okinawa gate blockade

Blocking construction gate at Camp Schwab on Oura Bay today (Monday) in Okinawa - gate closed for 5 hours - hundreds of folks doing the blockade.

It got rough near the end as the Japanese police got tired and angry.  They began to push hard and shove folks around alot.  I got thrown to the ground by some police who were trying to open the path for the dump trucks carrying rocks into the base.  I landed on top of a policeman and it looked to me like his arm got broken as he hit a cement block as he fell.  He was in great pain but he cushioned my fall.  I felt bad for him but it was his fellow police that drove us both into the ground.

After things settled down about 4:00 pm people assembled under the tents across the street from Camp Schwab US Marine base that sits next to Oura Bay where the twin-runways are being built for Pentagon warplanes.  People spoke and sang songs and each of us from VFP were asked to speak.

These folks are very tough and determined - 75% of them are elders and I've hardly seen anyone like them before (except on Jeju Island, South Korea).  Going to be like this all this week as more people are coming to join the blockade.

Their message:  Close US bases, No new base on Oura Bay, No US war with China, North Korea or Russia.  US leave Okinawan people alone!


Sunday, April 22, 2018

A movement of waking up about Syria

Carla Ortiz Oporto is a Bolivian actress and well known philanthropist.....on the Jimmy Dore show about her experience in Syria.

A very important and moving interview.


Oura Bay, Okinawa: Mayonnaise theory

On Oura Bay, Okinawa in 2015 with Veterans For Peace delegation

Fellow Mainer Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle) and I arrived in Naha, Okinawa late last night after our long flight from Boston.  We spent the day relaxing and going for a walk in the driving rain looking for a lunch spot.

After an afternoon nap we were taken to dinner by the Okinawa chapter of Veterans For Peace (VFP) which is hosting a VFP delegation for the fourth time.  It was during this dinner that Dud and I learned about the mayonnaise theory of soil testing at Oura Bay.

We are here soon after the defeat of Nago City Mayor Susumu Inamine who was a leader in the campaign to stop the construction of twin-runways on top of Oura Bay for the US.  Due to the 'pivot' of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific (to encircle China and Russia with expanded Pentagon bases) more airfields, ports of call, and barracks are needed.

Thus, pristine Oura Bay, home of several endangered species, is slated to have millions of dump truck loads of landfill emptied onto the bay to build the unwanted airfield.

The Japanese government, at the demand of the US, has been doing soil testing at Oura Bay for the last 15 years in preparation for runway construction.  The people who love the bay have been daily protesting against this insane construction project during this entire period of time.

At dinner tonight, we were told that soil testing of the sea bed at Oura Bay has revealed some startling facts.  Several professional engineers, now part of the Okinawan peace movement, have stated that the bay's sea bed is too weak to support the runways.  The bed has been described as being similar to tofu - that the weight of the massive amount of landfill would slowly sink into the sea because there is not sufficient solid bottom to hold the airfield.

But that theory is being revised and a new theory has come into being.  The engineers now believe that the bed at the bottom of Oura Bay is more like mayonnaise which would be even less able to support the massive twin-runway construction project.

As a result of this new understanding the US, and their Japanese client government, are needing to revise the construction plan but the elected mayors and governor of Okinawa stand in the way.  In order to 'fix the plan' changes must be made in the elected officials of this beleaguered island - 20% of which is now inhabited by US military bases.

Just a few months ago the Japanese right-wing ruling party poured loads of cash into the Nago City mayoral election and were able to defeat runway construction opponent Mayor Susumu Inamine.  (His opponent never mentioned the project during the campaign.) It was a shocking defeat - especially when polls show that at least 80% of the public opposes US military bases here.

Coming next will be the re-election campaign of runway critic Takeshi Onaga, Governor of the Prefecture of Okinawa.  The Japanese government, under direction from Washington, will move to defeat Gov. Onaga by once again pouring massive amounts of cash into the election campaign.  They will surely also utilize the mainstream media to demonize Gov. Onaga.

One reason for the call for 500 people each day during the coming week to join the protests outside US Marine base Camp Schwab, which sits next to Oura Bay, is to enliven public consciousness about the absolute necessity to ensure that Gov. Onaga is reelected and the plan to build the airfield upon the pristine bay is defeated.

It is this historic moment that Dud and I (VFP member Tarak Kauff from Woodstock, NY joins us tomorrow) find ourselves here in Okinawa.

At dinner tonight I was asked what I tell folks back home when I talk about Okinawa.  I said that I tell people that:

  • Okinawan people want to be left alone and wish to be treated with respect

  • They want their lands back and the environmental destruction from US bases to end

  • They don't want a war and they know that Okinawa is a prime target

One person replied to me, "The first thing you said is the most important. We want to be left alone."

We hear a lot these days in western mainstream media about Russian interference in the last US presidential election.  That is an accusation that carries little real evidence.

But the truth about US interference in Okinawan elections is real and evident to the people here.  The level of US hypocrisy and arrogance is astounding to anyone who is paying attention.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sunday song

Jeju Island: Peace in Sea Camp


We Hawaii activists are raising money to send Pua’ena Ahn, a young Native Hawaiian activist, to attend “Peace for the Sea Camp,” which takes place on a different militarized island each year.

Here is the link to the gofundme site:

“Peace for the Sea Camp” is a chance for Asia-Pacific millennials to organize in solidarity for trans-Pacific peace. This year, the island will be the infamously beautiful island of Jeju, in South Korea, site of terrible environmental and cultural destruction due to construction of a state-of-the-art navy base to house U.S. and South Korean destroyers outfitted with Aegis missile technology.

The Jeju base is one in a string of island bases being being built to create a deadly necklace encircling China.

If we can raise the funds for Pua’ena to go to Peace Camp this year, it will be the first time that an indigenous participant from a U.S.-occupied island will attend, which will make it especially fruitful for solidarity. Until now, the only islanders who have participated have been from the Korean and Japanese islands, Indonesia and Taiwan. A Native Hawaiian like Pua’ena, and who resides in the “belly of the beast” alongside Pearl Harbor’s Pacific Command, can bring great trans-Pacific solidarity, as well as insights to regional geopolitics. This is much needed during this time of volatility between the U.S. and North Korea, which may now be on the brink of signing a peace treaty.

Please chip in a little or whatever you can to send Pua’ena to Peace Camp. It will be a meaningful step toward peace in the Pacific.

Thank you!

Koohan Paik

Plutocracy II: Solidarity Forever

Plutocracy II - Solidarity Forever from Scott N on Vimeo.

Income inequality is a hot topic but it's also a stark reality that has plagued the country for hundreds of years. That sad history foreshadows what many are still grappling with today. The feature-length documentary Plutocracy II: Solidarity Forever is a studious and well-produced portrayal of America's long-standing clashes between the working-class and the industrial beast.

The film, which is the second part of an ongoing historical series, covers the seminal labor-related events which occurred between the late 1800's and the 1920's. Its subtitle refers to a 1915 song composed by Ralph Chaplin as an anthem for unionized workers. The film itself is the cinematic version of that anthem, as it allows us a comprehensive understanding of the need for these early labor unions, and the enormous sacrifices of its members to ensure fairness, safety, and equality in the workplace.

The operations of industries like railroads, steel and coal were characterized by slave wages, dangerous working environments, punishing hours, and child labor. With the birth of the labor unions, these industries were forced to re-examine their worker policies or run the risk of losing their businesses altogether. One of the earliest examples of this is the formation of the American Railroad Union in 1893, an event that is prominently featured in the film. After the organization won early successes in recovering wages for denigrated workers, its popularity skyrocketed among the working class. But the heads of industry soon fought back with their far-reaching strong-arm influence, and subsequent public strikes were marred by violence, oppression and unlawful arrests.

Modern political junkies will find special relevance in the film's portrayal of Eugene V. Debs, a co-founder of Industrialized Workers of the World, aka the Wobblies, who eschewed divisions based on race, sex, skill level etc. The film devotes an inordinate amount of attention to their actions in the film, including the remarkable free speech fights in California. In this age of Bernie Sanders and his message of democratic socialism, it is surprising to learn that Debs' popularity in the early twentieth century was particularly pronounced in states that lean heavily conservative today.

Also, the director explores the still-controversial "Propaganda of the Deed" campaign, which was essentially a terrorist campaign against moneyed elites by anarchists. He doesn't pass judgment on these actions, but he concludes that their ultimate effect was to increase the power of the police state.

Plutocracy II: Solidarity Forever is essential viewing for those with an interest in America's class struggles, and the ongoing efforts to level the playing field between the haves and the have nots.

Directed by: Scott Noble

Friday, April 20, 2018

Sachs: "Get out...we've done enough damage"

Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia University), not one of my favorite people, in this moment tells the truth. He calls US policy in Syria "contrary to international law, contrary to the UN charter". 

His focus on revealing the CIA and Saudi regime change operation in Syria, which began under Obama, is important for the people in the US to hear.  We don't often get that kind of historical memory articulated on mainstream TV.

So thanks to Sachs for that.  You can watch Jimmy Dore's excellent commentary on this MSNBC segment here


Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Libya story....

It has been seven years since the US gathered a 'coalition of the killing' to overthrow the government in Libya, in an effort to bring freedom and democracy to the people there.

How did that one work out?

The script is as follows: demonize the leader, bomb them, arm ISIS 'rebels', kill the leader, turn the nation into chaos, steal their resources, make lots of money from the war. 

Same story now playing out in Syria.

Up next:  Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China......

Hold onto your hats.....