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, 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