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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Harlem of the West



Among the more worrying trends out of San Francisco in recent years—and the greatest tarnish to the city’s reputation for diversity—is the displacement of longtime residents of color. It’s not only Latinos being pushed out of the Mission District: Census numbers reveal a staggering 35.7 percent decrease in San Francisco's black population between 1990 and 2010. 

'The Last Black Man in San Francisco' Searches for Home in a Fast-Changing City.

Written and directed by Talbot, the film follows Fails—also a co-writer—and his best friend, played by Prentice Sanders. Neither quite at ease in their far-flung neighborhood, Hunters Point, or in the newly tech-ified San Francisco core, Jimmie and Prentice are outcasts at heart, searching for home in their native city as it changes before their eyes.

'Missile Defense' is Destabilizing



This banner arrived in the mail today from the printing company.  The layout design was done by Ellen Davidson and Tarak Kauff from Veterans for Peace.  Thanks to both of them for their good help.

The Global Network will carry this with us to Kyoto, Japan from July 29-Aug 2 for our 23rd annual space organizing conference that is being hosted by peace activists from across the Kyoto Prefecture.

The US recently deployed a 'missile defense' radar in Kyoto Prefecture and the Ukawa village has been resisting the deployment for some time.  During the conference we will take a side trip to join the villagers in a protest against the radar that is being aimed at China.

The US is now deploying "missile defense' systems throughout the Asia-Pacific on land and on-board Navy Aegis destroyers.  These interceptors play an important role in US first-strike attack planning.

They are now deployed in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Guam, Australia, and the Philippines.  Taken together these interceptor systems serve as a loaded gun pointed at the head of China.  Beijing has responded by building more nuclear weapons to ensure they have a "survivable retaliatory capability" and have moved many of their more vulnerable land-based nuclear weapons onto submarines so they are harder to hit in a possible Pentagon first-strike attack.

The US Space Command has been annually war gaming such a first-strike attack on China and Russia for many years.  In the computer war game the US fires weapons from space and through space in order to take out the "enemy" nuclear forces.  Then when China or Russia attempt to fire their remaining retaliatory forces the US 'missile defense' systems are used as a shield against them giving the Pentagon a theoretical successful first-strike.

The US walked away from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia soon after George W. Bush became president.  The ABM Treaty prevented either side from deploying 'missile defense' systems near the other nation which would give one side a strategic advantage.

Since the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty the Pentagon has been encircling both Russia and China with the destabilizing systems.

What is ALEC?


An Atlanta TV station just aired one of the best takedowns of the secretive nature of ALEC we've ever seen:
Posted by Media Matters for America on Friday, May 22, 2015

Stop Demonizing the Poor and Immigrants



On May 21st, more than 600 people marched and rallied in Portland against proposed cuts to General Assistance for asylum seekers and refugees in Maine.

Our right-wing Gov. Paul LePage continues to demonize the poor and immigrants in Maine - blaming them for our economic problems which is pure nonsense.

Corporations in Maine get hundreds of millions of dollars each year in state tax breaks but sadly few ever mention that fact.  Corporate welfare makes support for the poor and immigrants look like peanuts.

Chickens Come Home to Roost



Clashes are reported in central Kiev, Ukraine where crowds of protesters are rallying against the economic crisis and the soaring cost of private loans.

It was only a matter of time before the people turned on the US-NATO backed regime in Kiev which has been slashing public services and putting all their bailout funds from the US and EU into war on the people of eastern Ukraine.

There is no way that Kiev can maintain the war against their own citizens near the Russian border.  Maybe this is what Washington-Berlin-Paris-Brussels have come to understand, thus we see them backing away from their Kiev puppet project.

I wish these types of protests would stop burning tires.  The toxic pollution released is bad for all of us.  Get more creative like the Koreans do and make things that when burned reveal a message of opposition to the problem at hand.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Iran Has No Nuclear Bomb



Mohammad Javad Zarif (Minister of Foreign Affairs) criticizes the focus on limiting Iran's "breakout" potential -- the amount of time it would take it to develop a nuclear weapon -- and claims that Iran has long been capable of making a nuclear bomb if it wanted to....but it hasn't.

Israel has more than 200 nuclear weapons and refuses to sign the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which Iran has signed.  Sadly no western governments ever complain about Israel's bombs.

Support the Workers


I joined the march and rally of hundreds of workers at Bath Iron Works (BIW) today here in Maine during their half-hour lunch break.  Even though their union contract is good for another year the company (General Dynamics) boss Fred Harris is sabotaging the collective bargaining agreement and trying to force concessions that fall outside of the union contract.  Things like outsourcing of jobs to non-union workers are among the several items in contention.

Even though I often join a peace vigil at BIW calling for the conversion of the shipyard I still support the workers right to have a union.  I was trained as an organizer by the United Farm Workers Union so my heart has always been with the people who do the hard work that produce the enormous profits for the mega-corporations.

The Navy has determined that its shipbuilding budget is “unsustainable.” It can’t afford to cover the mounting costs of new aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and the expensive Zumwalt destroyers being built at BIW. The latter cost more than double what the previous Aegis destroyer cost - price per ship has risen to more than $4 billion. The Navy’s solution to its budget crisis?  Cut jobs, outsource to non-union workers, and, over time, likely move to get rid of the unions at shipyards like BIW.

What is the Plan B for Bath? Who ever thought the nearby Navy base in Brunswick would close and that thousands of jobs would be lost? How can our nation afford the expensive high-tech weapons systems that are costing the taxpayers an arm and a leg? How can we effectively deal with the coming ravages of climate change unless we immediately begin a transformation of our industrial policy from endless war to building rail systems, wind turbines, a solar society, and tidal power – all of which would help us in some degree deal with climate change?

Where is our congressional delegation when we need it to advocate for a new sustainable technology direction? Sen. Collins, Sen. King, Rep. Pingree and Rep. Poliquin remain on bended knees begging for more Pentagon funding because military production is the only real federal jobs program left.  They might talk a good game about environmental sustainability, but what are they doing to lead our state and the nation toward the kind of conversion that will be necessary if our children and grandchildren are to have any chance of decent lives?  The Native Americans said that all decisions must be made based on how they impact the next seven generations. Sadly, our elected officials are thinking only about their next election!

Studies have long revealed that our tax dollars create fewer jobs in military spending than in other fields. Building commuter rail systems at BIW would, in fact, nearly double the jobs. In addition, rail would get us out of our polluting cars and offer future generations a chance of survival.

I will keep vigiling for conversion of BIW (and more jobs) but will also support the good men and women who find themselves stuck in the middle of the US's industrial policy which is essentially endless war making.

One of the union leaders during the rally at BIW today quoted abolitionist Frederick Douglass who said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never did and never will."  He asked the assembled workers, "What is our demand?"  I agree with that sentiment.......

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Protest Against Arctic Sea Drilling


An estimated 500 climate activists took to kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and even a solar-powered party barge on Saturday to tell Shell to get the hell out of Seattle. Rallying cry: #sHellNo!

The oil giant brought a huge drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, to the city’s port last Thursday, over objections from the mayor, city council, and a whole lot of pissed-off Seattleites. Shell plans to use the port as a staging ground for oil drilling operations in the Arctic over the next two years. The kayaktivists made their objections clear — and made for a pretty spectacle against the blue-gray background of Puget Sound.

The fossil fuel corporations are itching to start drilling in the Arctic Sea as climate change is melting the ice faster than anyone had expected.  

The Pentagon has created the "US Navy Arctic Roadmap: 2014-2030".  The plan includes such gems as the Navy needing ways to distribute fuel in the [Arctic] region to air and surface platforms.  Fuel allocation needs to be staffed and protected which means bases will be built.  How close would they be to Russia and how would that go over?  The current US-NATO movement of major offensive forces along the Russian border, having used the Ukraine crisis as a pretext, helps the military more effectively "control" the Russian bear in the event of future conflict over Arctic resource extraction.
 
In March, 2014 the Navy took New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), and others for a submarine ride below the Arctic ice.  Friedman wrote:


“In our lifetime, what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming an ocean, and we’d better understand it,” noted Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations. “We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain and get anywhere there.” Because if the Arctic does open up for shipping, it offers a much shorter route from the Atlantic to the Pacific than through the Panama Canal, saving huge amounts of time and fuel.

Our Sen. King here in Maine sent around an email called Impressions from the Arctic.  He told his constituents that there has been "a 40% reduction in ice as a result of global warming".  He reported that "previously inaccessible" gas and oil reserves were now going to create "new opportunities".  King concluded, "I am convinced we need to increase our capacity in the region, something I intend to press upon my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee as we work on our military priorities for the coming years."


Sen. King is now lobbying hard to have the next annual Arctic development conference in Maine next October.  

One reason the US is pushing for 'regime change' in Russia is because that nation has the longest land border with the Arctic Sea which gives them an advantage in the region.  So by breaking Russia into smaller countries the US hopes that would give the oil extraction corporations an easier hand in controlling things there.

Human Rights in Saudi Arabia?



“No one dares to criticize publically Saudi Arabia, and that is a result of many things, including obviously the interests that Western governments have [in the country],” Amnesty International’s Sevag Kechichian told RT’s Ben Swann. Commenting on the state of human rights in the Middle Eastern country just one day after authorities began to post job listings for beheaders, the researcher told RT that the West’s stance is “absolute hypocrisy.”

The head choppers in Saudi Arabia make ISIS look like choir boys.......but do we hear any outrage on Fox News or CNN?  

Poor Poroshenko



Amidst accusations that Ukraine's army was to blame for a deadly shelling attack in Donetsk late Monday night, President Poroshenko, speaking in a BBC interview, said Ukraine needs to prepare itself to repel a Russian offensive. Geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser told RT that President Poroshenko wants to escalate the conflict.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Empire of Bases



For IN the NOW with Anissa Naouai, The Resident asks Americans how they feel about their military having more than 600 bases spread throughout the world.

'Color Revolution' in Macedonia Draws Response from Mass Public



The attempted 'color revolution' in Macedonia draws a huge response as people counter the US-NATO staged attempt to overthrow their government.  Initial assessments count over 90,000 citizens, making this rally the largest in the history of Macedonia. 

People of the former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Macedonia, etc.) are more politically sophisticated regarding the Color/Spring tactic as it was used against them twenty-five years ago when US-NATO broke Yugoslavia into pieces.  

The 'color revolution' template is funded by the CIA, USAID, National Endowment for Democracy and the George Soros foundation in order to turn governments into corporate controlled entities as we've recently seen happen in Ukraine, Georgia, Libya, and other nations. 

Experts say that as soon as Macedonia started to build relations with Russia and work with China to develop economic opportunities in the Balkans, the situation in the country suddenly radicalized, as the West did not like the steps taken by the government.   

Sputnik reports that Georgy Engelhardt, from the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the current government in Skopje decided not to follow the example of most European countries and refused to impose sanctions against Russia. Macedonia, being heavily dependent on the export of agricultural products, could not afford to lose the Russian market.

Second, Macedonia could potentially become a corridor-country for Russia's Turkish Stream, a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey. Since the United States and the EU worked hard to close down Russia's South Stream last year, they are now trying to block Macedonia from taking part in the South Stream project, Engelhardt said.

Global Network News



  • I taped my latest public access TV show (airs on 13 stations across Maine and on the Internet) today and was lucky to have Global Network board member Regina Hagen from Darmstadt, Germany as my guest.  We covered alot of territory in the 29-minutes including Germany's unclear position on Ukraine, European space policy, and the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) Review conference that she recently attended in New York.  The show should be available on YouTube in about a week.

  • We had three Maine Veterans for Peace members (Dan Ellis, Bob Dale, and Regis Tremblay) volunteering as studio production crew for the taping of the TV show.  Thanks to the guys for their great help in making this episode possible.

  • Just got word this morning from Sicily that the No MUOS group will be sending a representative to the Global Network's 23rd annual space organizing conference in Kyoto, Japan on July 29-Aug 2.  In addition we have members coming from Germany, England, Sweden, Norway, India, Nepal, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and the US.  (Likely activists from other countries will show up as well.)  During the conference we will make a solidarity trip to a village in Kyoto prefecture where the US has deployed a 'missile defense' radar that is aimed at China. A few of our leaders will go to Okinawa before our Kyoto meeting to stand in solidarity with the people there who are struggling to oppose US military bases on their island. Some will go to Jeju Island after our meeting as well.

  • The Global Network has been invited to send a representative from our organization to the 4th International Seminar for Peace and Abolition of Foreign Military Bases that will take place on November 22-25, 2015 in the province of Guantánamo, Cuba where a territory of 117 square kilometers has been illegally occupied for more than one-hundred years by a US naval base that is currently one of the most terrifying and inhuman torture centers of the planet.  While we meet in Kyoto for our annual event we'll make the decision which of our board members to send to Cuba on our behalf.