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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why U.S. Claims Venezuela is a 'Security Threat'


Israel's Brutality Against Palestinian Children



Palestinian children on the radar - as video emerges showing masked Israeli soldiers raiding West Bank homes at night and interrogating young boys.

Interview with Jeju Island Activists



The latest edition of This Issue features Paco Michelson and Hee Eun Park (Silver) from the Jeju Island International Solidarity Team.  They visited Maine for a couple days near the start of their national tour to share the story about the Navy base struggle in Gangjeong village where US warships will be ported as part of the US ‘pivot’ to surround China.  The 500-year old fishing and farming community on Jeju Island is now being destroyed to build the base.
See www.SaveJejuNow.org  for more information.

Protest in Prague: Tanks-No-Thanks


Pressenza reports:

In Prague’s Wenceslas Square some 1,500 people demonstrated yesterday, Saturday 29th March, against Operation “Dragoon Ride” in which US army personnel and equipment are crossing Czech Republic territory starting today on the way to their German base. Speeches were given by several anti-war organisations, including the Communist Party and World without Wars and Violence all of which spoke highly critically of the government for the way that the decision to allow this procession has been made without going through parliament and knowing that 70% of the population is against the presence of foreign troops.

What concerns the demonstrators apart from being an unnecessary show of strength is that this troop build-up looks like a step towards a war that implicates the whole of Europe.

Demonstrators did not allow themselves to be provoked by dozens of counter-protesters with American, Ukrainian and NATO flags who came to threaten the speakers.

Most organisations present agreed that the only way towards peace is to exit NATO which they consider to be an instrument of the USA to justify aggressive foreign policy. Dana Feminova, speaking for World without Wars and Violence said, “Although I don’t share the opinions of Putin in many areas, I have to agree with the analysis of our former President Klaus who said that Russia has no responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis.”

The atmosphere among protesters is one of great concern. Some have compared what is happening now to the invasion by Nazi Germany in 1938 after the Conference of Munich in which the then Czechoslovakia was handed over to Hitler by France and the UK.

It is certainly true that the last time tanks entered Prague, they were Soviet ones coming to crush moves to democracy and before that they were Hitler’s tanks so the presence of foreign military vehicles on the streets, far from reassuring people is making them nervous. 

USA: Protector of Monarchies



They are back
those Bush-era
neo-cons
have returned
with a vengeance
they lied
us into
shock & awe
and are now
deceiving
to set up
the next tragic
bombing run

The NY Times
and Washington Post
just carried
Op-Eds
from the likes
of war criminal
John Bolton
calling on the
US-Israel
unholy alliance
to unleash
their reign of terror
against Iran

The Obama
team
is also infested
with neo-con
vermin
the man
who ran
on the peace message
won the Nobel prize
now
mixing it up
with the worst characters
that Amerika
has to offer

The other US ally
in this suicidal
rush into war
with Iran
is the head-choppin
oil-rich monarchy
in Saudi Arabia
they fund
Sunni extremists
throughout
the region
we supply their weapons
and give them cover
by having our
presidents kiss
them on the cheeks

the USA
long ago
in revolt
against a royal family
has fallen
fallen
fallen
far from its once
mighty
claim
of democracy
and freedom
from despotism

we now carry water
for the greedy
desert kings

Washington
is lost
in the darkness
all for the toxic
black gold 

Sunday Song




Saturday, March 28, 2015

Protest of U.S. Army Convoy in Prague



RT reports:

Several hundred protesters gathered for an anti-NATO rally on Saturday in Prague, protesting against a US military convoy set to parade through the Czech Republic. The rally clashed with a pro-NATO demonstration held nearby.

Footage by RT’s Ruptly agency shows anti-war activists carrying flags and placards with logos such as ‘Tanks? No Thanks!’ and ‘Stop US Army.' At the same time, the pro-NATO demonstrators armed themselves with flags in support of the US military forces.

Scuffles and arguments erupted between the two groups. There were no reports of violence and police made no arrests.

The anti-NATO protesters have been speaking out against the bloc's 'Operation Dragoon Ride' drills, which involve over 100 US Strykers stopping in a new European city every night.

Demanding Justice



As protestors gather across Mexico to demand answers about the 43 students who have been missing since September, demonstrators in Washington, DC are also showing their support, hoping to inspire progress from the US. Anya Parampil reports live from the DC protest.

Saturday at the Movies: U.S. Base in Sicily Draws Mothers & Youth Protest



The English subtitles begin soon after the film is underway. 

A hundred miles off the coast of Africa, the American military has built a base in Niscemi, Sicily. Behind the cordoned-off facility, there is a new war instrument called the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). MUOS is used for drone-to-Earth communication. 

"When the Americans landed they began to collaborate with the mafia....."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Why Do Washington-London-Brussells Hate RT?



Media wars have reached a whole new level.  Secretary of State John Kerry, members of the EU and NATO all have singled out the television station - RT - as some kind of security threat. They are trying to Putin-ize the network and make the global public afraid to listen to the what they have to say.

On my way to the store this morning in the car I was listening to right-wing talk radio shock-jock Glenn Beck.  He was lauding the new 'film' by Fox News screamer Bill O'Reilly called "Killing Jesus".  Seems a real disconnect that mean-spirited O'Reilly is channeling Jesus - but then again it makes sense - the Fox News host wants to deepen his credibility with the growing Christian fundamentalist audience.  Too bad O'Reilly didn't learn anything about how to treat other people while studying the prince of peace.

Listening to Beck promote the O'Reilly film I thought about the steady flow of disinformation that is aimed at the public citizenry by corporate controlled media.  Especially younger people, who have little direct political experience, their minds are open books to be filled with the fear-based agenda of the corporate empire.

The good sign is the existence and growing popularity of RT, PressTV and other alternative media sources. I try to share many of these sources here on the blog and in other places.  I know it's a drop in the bucket but when we see the US-NATO talking heads crying about RT and other media we should feel confident that our collective sharing of these voices is indeed freaking out the oligarchy. 

Their cover is being blown.

What is the Story in Yemen?



Over a dozen are killed or injured in Yemen as Saudi Arabia and its allies push on with a full-scale campaign of airstrikes against rebels in the country. For more on the topic, RT talks to Franklin Lamb, who's an International lawyer and political analyst.

Make the Connections



Bruce Gagnon answers some questions outside of Bath Iron Works in Maine on March 21 about "What needs to happen to stop the US from emptying its treasury on endless war" and "Why are you protesting the building of the Aegis Destroyer"?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Military Public Relations or Food for Hungry Kids


  • Each branch of the US military spends hundreds of millions of $$$ each year on their public relations marketing campaigns. The idea is not only to recruit young people to join the military but to also convince the average American taxpayer that the massive amount of money wasted on our endless wars is a valid expenditure - because we are doing good bringing 'freedom and democracy' to the world.  It's all about creating illusions and mythology. 
  • The Navy has a big marketing program where they describe their branch of the military as "A global force for good".  The Army goes for the macho image with their "Army Strong" theme.  The Air Force uses the aggressive "Fly-Fight-Win" while the Marines goes with the exceptionalist tag "The Few, The Proud, the Marines?"
  • I learned today that 9,000 poor people across Maine have been kicked off 'food stamps' because they are unable to 'work or volunteer' under new guidelines forcing those getting welfare to 'earn' their benefits.  Maine is a very rural state with a population of about 1.2 million.  Many people live far out in the woods and have no reliable transportation.  Public transportation is virtually non-existent across Maine.  Thus many people are not able to travel to find jobs (that don't exist much anyway) or to volunteer with agencies that don't exist near their homes or are too far away to be able to reach on foot.  It's really just one more callous right-wing strategy to continue their relentless attacks on social progress.
  • The so-called conservatives and their neo-con partners in the Democratic Party, who claim to be worried about America's huge debt, really don't give a damn about that.  They know their unending wars are the biggest contributors to the national debt and they are in no hurry to stop creating global chaos.  The 'fiscal conservatives' know that more tax cuts for the rich also help create more debt and they don't seem to care.  The right-wing really wants to run up massive debt so they can have a stronger argument to attack social progress.
  • We had a phone call last night at our home from a local family that is on food stamps.  Due to continued cutbacks in their food stamps they now run out of food around the third week of each month.  They often ask us to help them with bread and milk which we always do.  But last night they told Mary Beth that they had no food in their house.  So today MB went to the store and bought food for the family.  You can be sure that there are millions of others across the nation in this same boat with no one to call for help.
  • I'd venture to guess that with just the public relations budget of the military our government could fund the food stamp program so children and their parents don't have to go hungry.
  • In 2009 an Associated Press investigation found that over the previous five years, the money the military spent on public relations at home and abroad had grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion that year. These numbers tell you all you need to know about the priorities of the US.
  • The US is selling 'color revolutions' all over the globe promising people if they join the side of capitalist globalization their lives will be paved in gold.  They will be free.  People around the world should be very careful about that word 'freedom'.  What it really means is that under capitalism you will be free to be on your own with no help from the government.  Corporations will be free to pick your pockets without any intervention or protection by the government.  The corporations have taken the word freedom and turned it inside-out.  

A Subtle Reminder




Hummers to Ukraine


US unloading hummers in Ukraine to help the Kiev regime better wage war on Russia's border.  Overall 230 of them will be shipped to Ukraine along with loads of other weapons systems.


Who does this benefit?  Of course first on the list is the military industrial complex that is witnessing an endless flow of American tax dollars into the weapons industry bank accounts.  Secondly it benefits the fossil fuel extraction corporations that want control of Russia's natural gas (largest supply on Earth) and can only get it if there is 'regime change' in Moscow.  Destabilizing Russia's border leads to the opportunity for destabilization inside of Russia.... a color revolution inside of Russia.

The US wants another fool like Boris Yeltsin to be running Russia who will hand over the nation's  assets to western banksters, agri-business interests like Monsanto (Russia has outlawed GMO's), and the US-British cabal of oil majors.

The fact that Russia can fight back (usually the US only likes to attack those that can't realistically defend themselves - Granada, Nicaragua, Haiti, Panama, Libya, Yemen, etc) seems not to bother the corporate oligarchy now in control of things in Washington.  They are blinded by their greed and appear quite ready to plunge the planet into a deadly World War III.

Opposing U.S. 'Missile Offense' Radar Base in Kyoto


U.S. X-Band Radar Base Jeopardizes Environment and Lives of Citizens of Kyotango in Japan

By Prof. Harumi Ishino

Is establishment of the U.S. Kyogamisaki TPY-2 Radar Base (The 14th Missile Defense Battery) in the city of Kyotango really necessary for defense of the nation? Is it really for enhancing safety and peace, and for benefit of people?

According to Government’s announcement, the purpose of establishing X-band radar base in Kyotango is for ‘missile defense’ to control especially attacks from North Korea. It is uncertain, however, that the X-band radar, providing data for interceptor missiles attacks of U.S. Navy Aegis really protects Japan. The establishment of a radar base in Kyotoango is a part of U.S. military ‘ballistic missile defense systems’ strategies for controlling South East Asia, and it means to defend U.S. bases in Pacific region and U.S. homeland in the first place.

The operation of X-band radar of Kyotango started December 26th, 2014. It has brought a drastic change on the life of people nearby small villages, namely Ukawa and Sodeshi (population 1,400). They live on mainly agriculture and fishery. The quiet environment of typical Japanese seaside villages is now a forefront of modern missile wars under the U.S. and Japan Security Treaty. With operation of X- band radar, they are now exposed to threats, or first attacks from other nations, and also, to unknown environmental change.

Today, local residents are exposed 24 hours continuing low frequency noise (55 to 70, over the limit of 41 decibels) caused by the engines. It is almost unendurable to human body. Many complain of headache or insomnia. Japan’s Ministry of Defense and local government of Kyotango discussed the matter in February, and now the U.S. Army has applied noise reducing mufflers. Yet, it does not seem to reduce noise effectively. Like Shyariki in Aomori, they had to have electricity directly from the electricity company to solve problem, which takes almost over a year.

Although, more than half of the people in the region were against the planning of the U.S. army site at the beginning, they were almost forced to offer their land for use (300 yen per 1m²).

They signed the contract, saying it was not for money the government paid them, but for the sustenance of villages, as the young generation tends to leave and forsake their native places. Moreover, they could not dare say no to the strong advocacy of ‘defending the nation’, and of ‘national interest’. Their ancestors who died during World War II sleep in the graves faced with the present radar base across the road. It was only reluctantly that they conceded.

All process from the start of construction through installation of the radar base was disputable. The related information was almost completely undisclosed. Before the actual construction, no satisfactory explanation on the adverse effects or possible health hazards was given in the town meetings or in the public hearings. Neither local governments of Kyotango and Kyoto Prefecture, nor Self Defense Forces which was supposed to work with U.S. military could give appropriate answers to questions raised by people concerned. No environmental assessment was conducted by the Government, since there is no domestic law applicable.

The construction of the site began suddenly in May 27th, 2014 with no public information until the very day before. The body of the radar was brought in, with no proceeding public notice. It was at midnight of October 21th, as if in the case of emergency traffic, they drove trains of trucks from Komastu airport of the Self Defense Force base. The process reminds us that Abe regime was preparing for the secret law to be enacted in the first half of the year 2014. This move was mainly for the sake of the military cooperation with U.S. Forces. On December 6th, 2014, the secret law was put in force.

A group of concerned citizens (Kyoto Citizens for Preservation of Environment)¹ sent an inquiry letter to U.S. Forces Headquarters, Zama Camp, addressed to Commander Angelella Salvertore in September 2014. The letter focused on the environmental questions citing the articles (Chap 12, 13) of Japan Environmental Governing Standards (JEGS). The answer from U.S. Army authorities was expected. In November, an answer letter came from Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Toner.  In the inquiry letter, was a crucial question whether U.S. Army has already conducted any environmental research on the base site before starting the construction?

To this question of an environmental research required in JEGS, their answer was vague, although they say they will comply with JEGS. Not referring to an environmental research directly, they say that natural resources management plans is not required, as the size of the site, 8.7 acres is less than the size applied to regulation, 500 or more. They add that “in case of smaller size, it is required if they have natural resources that are especially vulnerable to disturbance, but the land is not sustaining or serving for any known species for concern”.

It is reported that U.S. Forces in Zama asked Government of Japan for the need of research before the construction of the new base in Aug, 2013, and was given a negative answer (Kyoto Newspaper, Aug 8, 2014). It seems that the U.S. Forces agreed to the idea that no research was needed. 

However, under the U.S. regulations of NEPA, it seems they did conduct a small scale research. They mentioned that they conducted surveys on the noise, water, and electromagnetic wave with assistance of Ministry of Defense, and would conduct the surveys also after operation begins.

At present, the data of surveys before the construction turned out to be no help for the noise problem. The data given on electromagnetic waves was only at a few spots and counting data was far from satisfactory. The adverse effect of electromagnetic waves (6km radius) is still not clearly explained by either U.S. Army or Ministry of Defense, even after the start of operation. No satisfactory information is given to the public as to water and water supply system (50 tons’ need) or the water contamination that might be caused.

They say they conducted a physical survey of the caves (Ana-monju in Japanese) beneath the base site, and judged no physical damage would be caused. This cave is in fact listed in Red Data of Kyoto Prefecture as a protected landscape (formed with volcanic rocks 25 to 15 million years ago). The details of the survey are not given to public. They neglect the cave itself has been a sacred spot of religious worship of Monju (one of Buddha’s disciples) since 17th century, related to a nearby temple Kuonji. It is notable that they did not put much consideration into Japanese historical, cultural heritages.

To the question on the protection of endangered species, such as falcon (category II, vulnerable) and some vegetation (Red Data of category of Kyoto Prefecture), U.S. authorities denies direct harm. Their answer indicates that they limited the area of research to the small area of the actual site.

However it seems that change of environment at even one spot affects birds and plants in various ways, in a larger scale. Without conducting the proper environmental assessment, nobody really can predict how operation of X-band radar base with its electromagnetic waves, hazardous noise, and other possible contamination would affect the whole environment of living creatures.

The area is located at the east end of San’in Kaigan (Seaside) global Geo Park of UNESCO. It is evident that the army base would damage the beautiful landscapes, affecting bio-diversity environment, and local industries such as fisheries.
 
Mayor Yasushi Nakayama requested Major Jason Albright to call attention to the garrison to safety and security for citizens of Kyotango in Sept, 2014. People were worried about possibilities of traffic accidents or crimes caused by U.S. service personnel and civilian employees.

In spite of urgent driving lessons given to U.S. Army garrison, the numbers of traffic accidents counts 14 cases (at the end of February 2015), which is unusually high, with stationing of 160 personnel and civilians. The details of the accidents were not openly informed. People still fear for future accidents. They are worried that the region would be like Okinawa where many accidents and crimes are daily reported.

People begin to understand what the establishment of U.S. base in Kyotango in Kyoto means. Similar to the situation of Okinawa, the rights of people are not much regarded in Kyotango. The threat and danger which might be caused by the U.S. Army stationing in Japan, now is becoming a reality in the Kansai area. People of the mainland of Japan realize that they share agony with people of Okinawa.

Japan’s defense policy and recent government’s decision toward closer cooperation with U.S. Forces, denies rights of people for safety and peace, damages the environment, and violates the Constitution of Japan.

- The Global Network will hold our 23rd annual space organizing conference (July 29-August 2) in Kyoto in order to stand with the people of Kyotango in their opposition to this 'missile defense' radar base.