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.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

THE OBJECTIVE FACTS


The US-NATO like to claim that their 'missile offense' deployments increasingly encircling Russia and China are intended to protect against possible nuclear strikes from Iran or North Korea.  Iran and North Korea though are the bogey-men.  The real prize is the final corporate takeover of the Russian and Chinese economies, and in the case of Russia, the world's leading supply of natural gas. (And don't forget the Arctic Sea melting ice that leaves Exxon-Mobil and Chevron a freer hand to grab that undersea oil - if Russia is neutralized.)

I had a Canadian man ask today to be removed from the Global Network email list because he said I was pro-Russia.  That reminds me of back in the 1980's, during the height of the Cold War, when I was handing out flyers at the Post Office in Orlando, Florida on tax day about US military spending.  One man called me a Soviet agent.  I told him, yes, sure, you are right and that damn Gorbachev is late again with his check!

That's the anti-communism bug which still is strong here in the America's.  If you dare tell the truth about US foreign and military policy that has anything to do with Russia or China then be prepared to hear the charge of "Red".

I am actually a green - working on behalf of Mother Earth.  My sign today at the Lenten vigil at Bath Iron Works here in town read:  Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on Mother Earth.

Hoka hey
it's a good day to die
from the bad ways

Hoka hey
it's a good day to be free
to take back my mind
from the corrupting corporate influences
that push profit over life
blinded by the love for $$$$

Hoka hey
it's a good day to tell the truth
to those who are nicely paid to hide from it

Hoka hey
it's a good day to be alive
not fearing anyone
looking instead for our spiritual connection
remembering that our #1 job
is to keep the next seven generations alive

Hoka hey

SHINE THE LIGHT ON THE TRUTH



The US is like Dracula - it can't stand the light of day.  The US lives and thrives by hiding behind shadows, deception and falsehoods.  This is why Disney World is so popular - the unreality of Cinderella's Castle fits well with the streets of gold mythology in the US story.

Any leader, any country that dares challenge the official line of the US is demonized and smashed.  The corporate media in the US, often staffed over the years with CIA operatives, repeats the lies until they are drummed into the heads of the American people.  This brainwashing is soon enough accepted as the gospel truth by the public - to the point that the people begin to believe that they were the ones to have thought up the ideas.  It's called internalized oppression.

I was on a radio program from Tampa, Florida yesterday talking about air shows.  There is going to be a big show there this weekend and the host wanted my take on these kind of events since I've organized protests at many of them here in Maine during the past 10 years.  I said air shows are Expensive, Polluting, Propaganda, Military Psychological Operations, Promote Idolatry and False Patriotism, Entertain, and Glorify War.

One caller accused me of being un-patriotic and stated that the US must have the "strongest military on the face of the planet in order to defend ourselves"...... from whom I asked?  The US spends more on the military than the rest of the entire world combined.  The Pentagon has nearly 1,000 military bases around the planet - how many does Russia and China have?  Google it.  Do they have bases in Canada or Mexico or warships off our Atlantic and Pacific coasts?

Why do we have to destabilize other countries and kill legions of people around the world in order to create jobs here at home?  We have a dark heart and yet we are unwilling to see that fact - instead we project our dirty deeds onto the rest of the world and accuse them of being the aggressor.  Look at the facts.  Look at who does the invading and knocking over governments.

I told the listeners to the Tampa radio station that I used to go to the air shows when I was young and living on Air Force bases.  I used to look up into the sky and idolized the war planes.  I had big photos of these war planes on my bedroom wall, along with my crucifix, when I was a kid.  I now realize that I had been brainwashed.

It wasn't until I was in the Air Force myself during the Vietnam War that I really learned the truth behind the facade.  I read the sordid story inside the government's own 'secret' history of the Vietnam War - The Pentagon Papers - and was liberated from my darkness.  Since then I've never stopped shining the light on the face of Dracula and I will never stop.

Friday, March 21, 2014

FIRST-STRIKE ATTACK WEAPONS



A new hypersonic arms-delivery vehicle able to penetrate highly protected airspace such as China's or Russia's has been developed by the Pentagon. Calling the development of hypersonic arms a top-priority, the Pentagon says that they did not want to be the second country to understand how to develop this type of weaponry. The vehicle is powered by new technology called a scram-jet, which is able to evade traditional air defenses. RT's Ameera David takes a look at the new weaponry.

DOES NATO EXPANSION THREATEN RUSSIA?


 

Responding to a question in a recent interview longtime noted journalist Diana Johnstone says:


US-Russian relations are determined primarily by an ongoing US geostrategic hostility to Russia which is partly a matter of habit or inertia, partly a realization of the Brzezinski strategy of dividing Eurasia in order to maintain US world hegemony, and partly a reflection of Israeli-dominated Middle East policy toward Syria and Iran.  Between the two major nuclear powers, there is clearly an aggressor and an aggressed. It is up to the aggressor to change course if relations are to be normal.

Simply compare.  Is Russia urging Quebec to secede from Canada so that the province can join a military alliance led by Moscow?  Evidently not.  That would be comparable, and yet mild compared to the recent U.S. gambit led by Victoria Nuland aimed at bringing Ukraine, including the main Russian naval base at Sebastopol, into the Western orbit. The material reality of this political orbit is NATO, which since the end of the Soviet Union has systematically expanded toward Russia, which stations missiles whose only strategic function would be to provide the United States with a hypothetical nuclear first strike capacity against Russia, and which regularly holds military manoeuvers along Russian borders.  Russia has done nothing against the United States, and recently provided President Obama with a face-saving way to avoid being voted down in Congress in regard to military action against Syria – action which was not desired by the Pentagon but only by the fraction of Israeli-oriented policy makers called “neocons”. Russia professes no hostile ideology, and only seeks normal relations with the West.  What more can it do?  It is up to Americans to come to their senses.

- Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions

GN ANNUAL CONFERENCE REPORT


Jo Yakgol from Jeju Island sings during protest at Vandenberg AFB

Dave Web from Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK talks about "missile defense" deployments at Vandenberg

Alice Slater from New York speaks about the nuclear missile tests launched at Vandenberg during vigil
Dennis Apel arrested once again by military police at the base
On the final day of the GN weekend conference we met outside under the warm California sun


Our 22nd annual Global Network (GN) space organizing conference was hosted this year by Catholic Worker (CW) activist Dennis Apel from the Guadalupe Catholic Worker House near Vandenberg AFB in California.  Dennis and his wife Tensie Hernandez have run the CW House in the migrant farm worker community of Guadalupe for the past 18 years.  During that time they have regularly held peace vigils at Vandenberg.

Dennis currently serves on the GN’s board and was with us in 2012 when the organization held our 20th annual meeting on Jeju Island, South Korea.  We were then invited by Gangjeong villagers where the US is forcing a Navy base to be built that will port warships being moved into the Asia-Pacific as part of Obama’s military ‘pivot’ into the region.  On that occasion eight of us from the GN, including Dennis, were arrested for crawling under razor wire to get onto the sacred Gureombi coastline to express our outrage over the blasting and cementing of the rocks.

Prior to our March 14-16 GN conference planned for Santa Barbara, California Dennis invited me to come to Las Vegas, Nevada to speak at the Pacific Life Retreat held on March 7-9.  This gathering of CW activists from across the west coast drew about 60 people and early each morning vigils were held at Creech AFB (drone base), Nellis AFB (air operations training base) and the Nevada National Security Site (formerly called Nevada Nuclear Test Site). 

It was great to be with this group of dedicated activists who are known for feeding and housing the poor and for their long-time determined resistance to the military industrial complex.

Following the Las Vegas retreat I rode back to California with Dennis and stayed at his home while waiting for the GN conference to begin.  We had time to go over last minute conference details – Dennis had secured our meeting site at a Catholic retreat center in Santa Barbara and he was using his connections to gather the food for our GN event.

Dennis was also working his local media contacts to promote the coming GN conference that was to begin on March 14 with a protest at Vandenberg AFB.  He has been arrested for non-violent protest at Vandenberg many times and the base has banned him from the grounds for life.  He took this “ban and bar” order to court and won at the federal district court level.  The government then took the case to the US Supreme Court that decided 9-0 that the base has the right to enforce their ‘boundaries’ but the bigger issue of the rights of the public to freely protest was sent back to the federal district court for further review.

Just over 30 of us arrived at Vandenberg at 4:00 pm on March 14 to hold a protest in support of the dedicated local activists who have been protesting at the base for the past 30 years.  We held a brief news conference to begin our solidarity vigil and soon after we began a phalanx of military police marched into our group and handcuffed and removed Dennis.  Within minutes they came back and took another of our GN board members MacGregor Eddy (WILPF) who has also previously been banned from the protest area outside the base.

Our protest at the base received good coverage twice by the two largest newspapers in the region as well as a local radio station.  That’s not bad considering how hard it is these days to get any notice by the mainstream media.

Vandenberg is a key space operations center that launches military satellites, is a deployment site for ground-base missile defense interceptors, and tests Minuteman nuclear missiles by firing them from the sprawling base into Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. 

Following dinner that first evening back at the retreat center we watched The Ghosts of Jeju documentary about the Navy base struggle and the sordid history of US militarism on Jeju and throughout Korea.  Activist and musician Jo Yakgol came representing Gangjeong village on Jeju Island and sang throughout the weekend.

We continued the GN conference program on March 15 with a two-hour sharing of the 40 people attending the retreat.  We had people with us from India, Norway, England, Japan, Canada, Korea, and throughout the US. It was a moving experience to hear the words from those attending.  All of us acknowledged the difficulty organizing against multiple US military operations throughout the world and cutbacks on social progress at home.  We agreed that the peace movement currently faces two severe challenges:  Many liberals are reluctant to publicly question Obama’s foreign and domestic policy and our movement is aging.

Journalist Bard Wormdal, author of the book The Satellite War, gave a fine presentation about how US deployment of a radar in Vardo, Norway near the Russian border is a key element in US “missile defense” strategy.  He went on to detail the extensive Pentagon use of satellite ground relay stations near the north and south poles which violate existing treaties outlawing these locations being used for military (surveillance and targeting) purposes.

Another presentation was made by Masaki Toda from Kyoto, Japan who briefed us on the pending deployment of another US X-band “missile defense” radar near their community.  Local activists in the Kyoto prefecture have been building a campaign to oppose the radar deployment because of its destabilizing nature.  While it is said to be aimed at North Korea the true nature of the radar will be for US military “control” of China.

Canadian activist Tamara Lorincz also made an excellent presentation about the need for demilitarization and conversion of the military industrial complex.  She thoroughly reviewed the work of former Columbia University professor Seymour Melman, the father of economic conversion.  All of us should be paying attention to the growing conversion organizing now underway across the nation.

On the evening of March 15 we moved the conference participants to a local church in Santa Barbara where we had invited the general public to join us for a program that included speakers and more music.  About 75 people heard several talks that included a fantastic video presentation about the history and work of the Global Network prepared by our board convener Dave Webb who also chairs the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK.  (We hope to be able to share this via YouTube soon.) Music that evening was performed by Tom Neilson, JoYakgol and Holly Gwinn Graham.

The conference concluded with a final planning meeting on March 16.  We reviewed GN finances, made a few minor adjustments to our boards, came up with a theme for Keep Space for Peace Week, and accepted the proposal to hold our 2015 annual space conference in Kyoto, Japan (likely in mid-June).

Keep Space for Peace Week will be held on October 4-11 this year and the theme will be Full Spectrum Dominance – Full Spectrum Resistance.  The colossally expensive and intrusive military eye in the sky, that coordinates all warfare on Earth, works to benefit corporate globalization.  Back on Mother Earth international resistance to corporate militarism is daily growing. We are asking renowned Florida artist W. B. Park to design our poster and flyers for space week this year.

The GN will also hold an event during the UN’s NPT events in New York City in 2015.  Board member Alice Slater will take on responsibility for setting this up.

Our Peace in Space awards were presented this year to west coast activists Dennis Apel, Tensie Hernandez, Lynda Williams, Holly Gwinn Graham and MacGregor Eddy.  Plus a special lifetime award was given to WW II veteran Bud Boothe who has been protesting at Vandenberg AFB for the past 30 years.

It was suggested that the GN offer an internship this year so we will pursue that opportunity.  We also decided to organize a video contest for students from around the world by inviting them to submit a 3-5 minute video on Keep Space for Peace.  First prize will be an all expenses paid trip to Kyoto, Japan for our 2015 annual conference.  A committee was formed to work on this.

In the meantime our work will be to support the local peace efforts of our affiliate groups and individual members in the US and around the world.  We’ll use our web site, blog, newsletter, staff and board travel, and our on-going media work to shine a positive light on good local organizing.  Many times during our meeting we reminded each other that millions of people around the world are working hard each day on these important issues and we stand linked to them.

We thank all of you who donate to the work of the GN each year.  Without your steady support none of our efforts would be possible.  We pledge to you our on-going efforts to build for peace on Earth and in space and to continue working to convert the military machine to peaceful purposes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

CATHOLIC WORKER - THE WORKS OF MERCY



In 1971, Dorothy Day and Tom Cornell were interviewed on the Christopher Closeup Show. Dorothy was introduced as the cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement, author of several books, and widely travelled lecturer. Tom Cornell was the former editor of the Catholic Worker newsletter.

During the interview, Dorothy, comments that “There is a movement of nonviolence all over the world.”

US-ISRAEL PUSHING 'MISSILE DEFENSE'



Israeli Homeland Security (iHLS) interviews Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) Chairman Riki Ellison about American and Israeli missile defense.

Ellison's expertise appears to come from being a former pro-football linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers where they used to put up defenses against the 'long bomb'.....other than than I can't figure out why he is the 'leading citizen proponent' of MD.

The truth is that the aerospace industry needs some kind of 'grassroots' base to promote MD.  Since there is not really any out there the industry funds Ellison to travel around the world to shill for the program.  Because of his football celebrity many doors are opened for him including recently when he testified before a congressional committee where he called for greater funding for MD.

His absurd claim that the US needs MD to guard against North Korea is belied by the fact that he is constantly promoting NATO expansion and MD deployments to encircle Russia and China.

PEEK INSIDE THE FAR RIGHT



BBC Newsnight's Gabriel Gatehouse investigates the links between the new Ukrainian government and Neo-Nazis.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

HOW TO AVOID COLLAPSE?



According to a new scientific study funded by NASA, modern civilization is heading for collapse within a matter of decades. In the study, mathematicians used theoretical models to predict what will happen to the industrialized world over the course of the next century. And they found that even with conservative estimates, the Earth is headed down a very tumultuous path. RT's Ameera David reports.

STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND TAKE A SWING


Monday, March 17, 2014

PICKING A FIGHT



  • Just landed in Newark after aircraft maintenance problems interrupted my planned flight sequence of Santa Barbara-San Francisco-Chicago-Portland.  Now I won’t make it back home tonight as originally scheduled and have to spend the night in Newark… getting home a day late on Tuesday.  Had to cancel the taping of my next public access TV show on Tuesday morning. 

  • I’ve been out of world news contact for several days and have not yet caught up with the latest about US-NATO intervention into Ukrainian affairs.  I did notice some comments by the recently installed US-NATO puppet government in Kiev threatening those who don’t want to follow the new ‘leadership’.  Funny how the US-NATO can barge into a country, help topple the government, and then complain when folks don’t want to go along with the show.

  • Now that the US has lost in Afghanistan the scriptwriters are looking for the new “Crazy Horse on the warpath” story that will keep the gravy train flowing into the coffers of the war machine … enemy creation is at the root of the “American experiment”.  Russia as the ‘latest’ mark makes a handy story line.

  • I read over the weekend that Obama’s Pentagon is sending the Navy destroyer USS Truxtun into the Black Sea as a show of the ‘grand old flag’.  This was seen by Moscow as a challenge to the Russian fleet and evidence that the US was "ramping up its military presence in the region." The Russians are right, this is just what the US is doing. Obama, the “good liberal Democrat” is doing the dirty work this time.  He is the white hat version of George W. Bush and gives the oil-i-garchy the extra bonus of keeping much of the left in their place – cowering on the sidelines.

  • Our Global Network 22nd annual conference went very well at a beautiful flowering Catholic retreat center in Santa Barbara, California.  Forty of us from many places spent hours sharing with one another – about our struggles, our fears, our times of joy, and lives of principled determination.  About 75 people attended our public forum on Saturday evening at a local church in Santa Barbara.

  • We told the media repeatedly, and they actually printed our words several times in two different local papers, that we’d come to Vandenberg AFB to stand with and honor those in the community who have non-violently protested at the base for a long time.  Bud Boothe, a WW II veteran, has been vigiling at Vandenberg for 30 years.  In the high times of the 1980’s Bud repeatedly invited activists to camp on his land during large protests at the base.  We presented him with a “Lifetime Achievement Award”.

  • These peace protests at US bases around the nation and worldwide are going up against the power of the military industrial complex and we are demanding an end to our growing local economic “addiction” to the war system drug.  Cancerous militarism is the new high-tech version of slavery – we are shackled to war.  One of our Global Network founders, Bill Sulzman from Colorado Springs, reported that his community has the highest level of dependency on the military in the whole nation.  They have five military bases in Colorado Springs and a slew of weapons production facilities as well.  How can we ever stop war when local communities have to rely on killing to create jobs? What does it say about the soul of our nation?

  • I am proud to work with this feisty crowd in the Global Network and our allied friends.  It was often said during our gathering that there are millions of us out there around the world doing these good works.  We need to find more ways to reach out to one another and recognize that our survival on Mother Earth depends upon what each of us can contribute to this historic effort.  Let’s be friends and put down the bully stick of war, environmental degradation, and economic collapse. 

WILL US-NATO RESPECT THE VOTE?


Sunday, March 16, 2014

SUNDAY SONG