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, October 11, 2014

Great Start in Rangeley


Made it to Rangeley, Maine to start our Walk for Peace & A Sustainable Future...... invited to a turkey supper with more than a hundred people at the local UCC church where we are sleeping on the floor - they just had Br. Senji Kanaeda sing an old Negro spiritual to the assembled ....beautiful start to our peace walk!

The reception has been fantastic.

Photo by Dud Hendrick

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ebola: What is the Real Story?


Ebola - what is really going on?  By the looks of the media reports we should all be hiding under our beds. 

One news story this morning reported that airplane cabin cleaning crews at New York’s LaGuardia International Airport began a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, citing, in part, possible exposure to the Ebola virus. Meanwhile, a poll found most Americans want flights banned from West African nations.

Yesterday I heard an interview on National Public Radio with Deborah Malac the US ambassador to Liberia.  She was repeatedly asked why it is taking the US so long to build field hospitals - in a rare moment of good journalism the NPR reporter said that Doctors Without Borders builds a hospital in three weeks.  The response from the US ambassador was pure evasion - "Well it takes time to get everything in place.....it rains very hard here.....blah, blah, blah."

For years the Pentagon's Africa Command (AfriCom) has had no luck in getting military bases built on the African continent.  No self-respecting African nation would allow them.  Now, due to Ebola, Rwanda's corrupt dictator has signed a deal with the US to build a base reports a Portland, Maine-based African immigrant activist.  Obama is pouring legions of US troops onto the continent for its "war on Ebola".

RT reports:

Stoking fears of an inevitable Ebola spread, Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, said this week that “there is no way we can keep Ebola [contained] in West Africa.”

He added that while many Western Hemisphere nations can handle an Ebola outbreak, if the virus appears in Central American countries like Honduras or El Salvador, he expects many people to head north for the US.

“If it breaks out, it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.”
Several thousand Africans have already died from Ebola.  For Africans it is all very real.  But my lifetime of watching the US shell game (watch both hands) leads me to doubt the 'front story' and wonder about the 'back story' to all of this.

It just feels a bit self-serving to see the US rush into Africa with troops building bases while Cuba sends in hundreds of actual medical doctors.  What is really going on here? 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Great Coming Event in NYC

For full details click here

Begins Saturday in Maine


Walk begins on Saturday - see route information here

America's Lap Dogs



When it comes to economic sanctions there are no winners... A reality that's becoming increasingly clear in Europe, where several member states are taking a financial hit from trade restrictions against Russia. This week we heard from German, French and Czech officials - saying they'd prefer the sanctions to be scrapped. For more on this, let's go live to the British MP George Galloway.

WITNESS TO WAR



Christine DeTroy keeps the Brunswick, Maine vigil going every Friday  - since 9/11 - through the rain and cold and snow.  She keeps the annual Peace Fair going too in Brunswick each summer near Hiroshima-Nagasaki dates time.

Her moving story in this video was produced by Regis Tremblay.

The Sun on My Face


Third floor
old dance studio
sun screaming
through window

I'm on the floor
yoga stretch
sun burning
my face
smile
heartbeat
breathe in
breathe out

I accept
the many gifts
in my life
sun burning
my face
another breath

I am peace
another breath
feel the stretch
I love myself
deep breath

pillow under knees
lower back pain
breath
I feel joy
sun moving
rather our
spinning orb moving
like surfing
the galaxy
smile
smile
smile

Inside Shaky Truce



In the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk, local officials claim three civilians were killed in overnight shelling. That's despite the Defense Ministry declaring a so-called "period of silence" there on Tuesday. The city's seen almost daily violations of the shaky truce. RT's Maria Finoshina is in the conflict zone.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Global Network Co-Founders on Occupy Radio



Star Wars isn't just for Hollywood. The tentacles of U.S. Empire stretch around the globe and up into space where thousands of satellites direct drone strikes and guided missiles. This week on Occupy Radio, peace activists and Global Network co-founders Bruce Gagnon (Maine) and Bill Sulzman (Colorado) join us to discuss the missile defense program that is orbiting overhead in space. And, just as your worst sci-fi nightmares start to seem uncomfortably realistic, Occupy Radio asks our guests about the courageous citizen movements to "Keep Space for Peace".

Wall Street is War Street



Veterans For Peace member Tarak Kauff interviewed after New York City finally agreed not to arrest veterans for vigiling against current wars at the Vietnam War memorial in the city.

The 30-Year War

Key Democrats, Led by Hillary Clinton, Leave No Doubt That Endless War Is Official US Doctrine

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept


Long before Americans were introduced to the new 9/11 era super-villains called ISIS and Khorasan, senior Obama officials were openly and explicitly stating that America’s “war on terror,” already 12 years old, would last at least another decade. At first, they injected these decrees only anonymously; in late 2012, The Washington Post - disclosing the administration’s secret creation of a “disposition matrix” to decide who should be killed, imprisoned without charges, or otherwise “disposed” of - reported these remarkable facts:
Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaida continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight. . . . That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism.”
In May, 2013, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on whether it should revise the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF). A committee member asked a senior Pentagon official, Assistant Secretary Michael Sheehan, how long the war on terror would last; his reply: “At least 10 to 20 years.” At least. A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed afterward “that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today — atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted.” As Spencer Ackerman put it: “Welcome to America’s Thirty Years War,” one which – by the Obama administration’s own reasoning – has “no geographic limit.”

Listening to all this, Maine’s independent Sen. Angus King said: “This is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I’ve been to since I’ve been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution today.” Former Bush DOJ lawyer Jack Goldsmith – himself an ardent advocate of broad presidential powers – was at the hearing and noted that nobody even knows against whom this endless war is being waged: “Amazingly, there is a very large question even in the Armed Services Committee about who the United States is at war against and where, and how those determinations are made.”

All of that received remarkably little attention given its obvious significance. But any doubts about whether Endless War – literally – is official American doctrine should be permanently erased by this week’s comments from two leading Democrats, both former top national security officials in the Obama administration, one of whom is likely to be the next American president.

Leon Panetta, the long-time Democratic Party operative who served as Obama’s Defense Secretary and CIA Director, said this week of Obama’s new bombing campaign: “I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war.” Only in America are new 30-year wars spoken of so casually, the way other countries speak of weather changes. He added that the war “will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.” And elsewhere: not just a new decades-long war with no temporal limits, but no geographic ones either. He criticized Obama – who has bombed 7 predominantly Muslim countries plus the Muslim minority in the Phillipines (almost double the number of countries Bush bombed) – for being insufficiently militaristic, despite the fact that Obama officials themselves have already instructed the public to think of The New War “in terms of years.”

Then we have Hillary Clinton (whom Panetta gushed would make a “great” president). At an event in Ottawa yesterday, she proclaimed that the fight against these “militants” will “be a long-term struggle” that should entail an “information war” as “well as an air war.” The new war, she said, is “essential” and the U.S. shies away from fighting it “at our peril.” Like Panetta (and most establishment Republicans), Clinton made clear in her book that virtually all of her disagreements with Obama’s foreign policy were the by-product of her view of Obama as insufficiently hawkish, militaristic and confrontational.

At this point, it is literally inconceivable to imagine the U.S. not at war. It would be shocking if that happened in our lifetime. U.S. officials are now all but openly saying this. “Endless War” is not dramatic rhetorical license but a precise description of America’s foreign policy.

It’s not hard to see why. A state of endless war justifies ever-increasing state power and secrecy and a further erosion of rights. It also entails a massive transfer of public wealth to the “homeland security” and weapons industry (which the US media deceptively calls the “defense sector”).

Just yesterday, Bloomberg reported: “Led by Lockheed Martin Group (LTM), the biggest U.S. defense companies are trading at record prices as shareholders reap rewards from escalating military conflicts around the world.” Particularly exciting is that “investors see rising sales for makers of missiles, drones and other weapons as the U.S. hits Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq”; moreover, “the U.S. also is the biggest foreign military supplier to Israel, which waged a 50-day offensive against the Hamas Islamic movement in the Gaza Strip.” ISIS is using U.S.-made ammunition and weapons, which means U.S. weapons companies get to supply all sides of The New Endless War; can you blame investors for being so giddy?

Space Week: From the American West to India

Protest vigil at Minuteman III nuclear missile M-8 silo in Weld County, Colorado on the 12th Anniversary of Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II.  Sisters Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert were joined by Citizens for Peace in Space from Colorado Springs.  The sisters were part of the Plowshares action at that location in October 2002.

Activists from Tucson, Arizona vigiled outside of Raytheon where the kinetic "hit-to-kill" warheads are built for the Pentagon's misnamed "missile defense" system. 

Lonesome cowboy vigils in the Tucson desert

Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao (center) meets with students of Matru Sewa Sangh Institute of Social Work after his space week presentation in Nagpur, Maharashtra state, India

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Privacy Under Further Attack in Britain



People in Britain will have to accept the loss of Internet freedoms if they want better protection from terrorists. That's the message from the head of the UK's National Crime Agency. RT's Polly Boiko reports.

U.S. Suddenly Loves Occupy (in China)



Good discussion with deeper level of understanding about what is really going on in China. 

CIA Drug Connection



"Kill the Messenger," the new Hollywood film based on Gary Webb’s life opens in theaters this week.

In 1996, Webb published an explosive series in the San Jose Mercury News titled, "Dark Alliance." The articles began:
"For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia’s cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the 'crack' capital of the world."
The investigative series sparked protests in African-American and congressional probes. It also provoked a fierce reaction from the media establishment, which denounced the series. The Los Angeles Times alone assigned 17 reporters to probe Webb’s report and his personal life. Recently declassified CIA files show the agency used a "a ground base of already productive relations with journalists [at other newspapers]" to counter what it called "a genuine public relations crisis."
Following the controversy, the San Jose Mercury News demoted Webb. He then resigned and pushed his investigation even further in his book, "Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion."

The CIA’s inspector general later corroborated Webb’s key findings, but, by then, his career was wrecked. The newspapers that denounced Webb largely ignored the CIA’s own report — it was released in 1998 amid the scandal over President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

In 2004, Webb died of an apparent suicide. He was 49 years old. Just after his death, Democracy Now! spoke with journalist Robert Parry about Webb’s death and legacy.


Just a Modest Request



  • Photo comes from Gangjeong village where they held vigil opposing drones and translated our Keep Space for Peace Week poster into Korean.  The folks in the village have been leaders in connecting the dots and helping to show others what true solidarity means.  The Jeju Island campaign against the Navy base that the US will use in its "pivot" to surround China has been doing great outreach to other campaigns throughout the Asia-Pacific and even with activists from Afghanistan to Italy.

  • Long time Washington DC Catholic Worker activist Art Laffin wrote yesterday about their early morning rush hour vigil at an entrance at the Pentagon.  "We proudly held Keep Space for Peace and No Weapons in Space signs at the Pentagon vigil this a.m. Several Generals walked by amidst the masses entering the building. I did make a modest request to them," Art said.  Art and others from the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house have been holding weekly vigils at the Pentagon for many, many moons.

  • Activity is picking up for me as we near the start of the October 11-20 Maine Walk for Peace & A Sustainable Future.  Saw yesterday that a weekly newspaper along the route has done a good advance story about the walk including full color photo on the front page.  You can see it here

Monday, October 06, 2014

US Goal: Rip Europe in Half



The sooner we're done with sanctions the better - that's the view of the man in charge of Germany's ties with Russia. Gernot Erler says Berlin understands the restrictions against Moscow are backfiring. RT is joined by John Laughland, Director of Studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris.

Two More Protest Stories

RAF Croughton, England on Oct 4 for rally at U.S. satellite communication base by Oxfordshire Peace Campaign

Protest against drones in front of Home Depot on island of Hilo, Hawai'i Click on photo for better view

  • I love the idea of holding a protest in front of Home Depot.  Go where the people are and god knows that the big box corporate stores are a huge part of the problem when it comes to corporate domination of our society.  The oligarchy is making it harder on all of us to be able to have true dialogue with the masses.  They fear honest discussion and friendships and respect for one another.  But a real democratic culture does not best serve corporate capitalism and must be taken down.  Corporate power uber alles.  Always exciting to know that good folks are out bringing to message to others.  It looks like they did a good job of it.

  • The top photo is from a rally in front of RAF Croughton in England.  (The 'RAF' in front of Croughton is a bit of an illusion.  The Pentagon runs Croughton but in order to keep the peasants on the farm they have to give way to local sensibilities about Britain being in charge.  They are not.) 

  • The US will be spending £200m to turn Croughton into one of it's largest international intelligence hubs. This major Pentagon communication and intelligence base supports many other US military bases in Europe and is involved in world-wide war operations. These include space communications, data links, military drone information, bomber guidance, missile defence, diplomatic communications, and command and control war fighting functions. A connected base is at Barford St John,  Banbury, Oxfordshire.
One of the US spy radomes at RAF Croughton

Black Lives Matter



Attendees at Saturday night’s performance of the St. Louis [Missouri] Symphony were treated to an addition to the evening’s scheduled program when a flash mob of protestors serenaded the audience with a civil rights song dedicated to slain Ferguson teen Michael Brown.

According to the St. Louis Dispatch, as the symphony musicians and chorus prepared to perform Johannes Brahms’ Requiem following intermission, two audience members stood up and began singing “Which Side Are You On?” to the stunned attendees.

Fellow protestors stood up throughout Powell Symphony Hall and joined in the song as banners were unfurled from the balconies reading: “Racism live here,” and “Requiem for Michael Brown 1996-2014.”

To drive home the point of their protest, the singers added “justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all” into civil rights classic.

Following the impromptu performance, paper hearts inscribed with “Requiem for Michael Brown, May 20, 1996 – August 9 2014″ were dropped onto the crowd below.

Kiev Won't Stop Shelling



Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine remains in a high state of alert, despite the ceasefire that's been in place since September 5th.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Vigil at Bath Iron Works

Click on photos for better view



Fifteen folks held a midday vigil yesterday at Bath Iron Works in Maine where destroyers are made for the Navy and are being outfitted with 'missile offense' systems.  These war ships are being deployed by the Pentagon to the coastal regions near China and Russia.

We timed our vigil for when the Saturday shift let out and hundreds of workers walked and drove right past us as we stood near the south gate of the shipyard.  Increasingly we are getting positive reactions from the workers who see our signs with wind turbines and rail systems on them and words that say "Made in Bath".  We've been trying to show workers that our goal is to see a transformation of the shipyard to building things that will help us deal with climate change rather than continuing to build weapons systems that are enormously expensive, destabilizing, and only exacerbate our carbon bootprint and worsen climate change.

Photos by Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)

Go Fly A Kite - No Drones


Wales and the World in Drones Protests

On October 4th groups of Welsh (UK) peace campaigners met on Poppit Sands in Pembrokeshire and in The Hayes, Cardiff to mark the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing.

Campaigners in over 40 countries across the world were taking part in simultaneous creative direct actions. They were demanding that governments stop producing and acquiring military drones, stop enabling them through infrastructure 'investment' - as has the Welsh Government at ParcAberporth, calling for a halt in military drone research and development, and instead help achieve a worldwide ban of these weapons.

ParcAberporth

On Poppit Sands, a group from Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire flew kites into the clear blue sky above the Teifi estuary. Kite flying is a popular national sport in Afghanistan; 80% of drone strike victims so far have been Afghans.

CND Cymru National Secretary Jill Gough said:

Flying kites is a show of solidarity to all people who live in fear of these remote spying and killing machines. There is always money for war, never money for the poor. While we are distracted by austerity and loss of public services, we in Wales must stay alert to the fact that governments across the world are developing these weapon delivery systems and surveillance machines - to the delight of the military hardware manufacturers and
dealers.
If all you have is a hammer - then every problem looks like a nail. Drones are not the solution to international conflict, they lower the threshold to war and initiate a new round in the arms race. They erode our humanity while ignoring international law and the likelihood of finding peaceful ways to resolve conflict.

This misguided policy of killing and terrorising people thousands of miles away with the push of a button must be stopped.

Israeli El-Bit/French Thales designed Watchkeeper Drones, are being developed and tested for spying, surveillance and target acquisition over mid-Wales. The unmanned planes fly from ParcAberporth in Ceredigion, over north Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and to the military training ranges on Mynydd Epynt in Powys. Welsh taxpayers also fund the development of armed drones being operated in the east of England.

Barclays Bank Cardiff


In Cardiff, Côr Cochion (Cardiff Reds Choir) sang songs of peace in the Hayes. They were joined by others to protest at Barclays Bank, which invests in the Israeli arms company El-Bit.

Choir member Wendy Lewis said:

Drones have been used extensively in Gaza against the defenceless civilian population. Barclays Bank has the blood of more than 400 children killed in the August bombing of Gaza, on its hands.

Inside the bank, a letter of complaint was handed to the manager and the choir sang:
 Barclays are funding the arms trade! That's how they keep profits high  Profit they put before people
They don't care how many die.

Plenty of things need investment. Hospitals, schools and much more. People must come before profit
Tell them to stop funding war!

CND Cymru Vice Chair Ray Davies later reported:

We ended our action before the police arrived, but not before we asked customers to cut up their bank cards in protest.

SUNDAY SONG