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 18, 2017

Boycott Israeli Apartheid



Dr. Jeff Halper, co-founder of Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, was leading a tour of an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem when police arrested him on suspicion of 'incitement'.

Jeff was born in 1946 in Minnesota and emigrated to Israel in 1973. Since then he has been a tireless advocate for justice and civil rights for all Israelis and Palestinians. He spent ten years as a community worker in Jerusalem aiding low-income Mizrahi families. He co-founded ICAHD in 1997 to help resist Israel's strategy of house demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

He is the author of three books, Between Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century, An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Possession, Redeeming Israel, and Obstacles to Peace: A Reframing of the Palestinian - Israeli Conflict

In 2006 Dr. Halper was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing ICAHD's work "to liberate both the Palestinian and the Israeli people from the yoke of structural violence" and "to build equality between their people by recognizing and celebrating their common humanity."

What Does Solidarity Mean?


I am thinking of the people around the world today who are suffering from wars, hunger and environmental destruction.  No matter whether they are at Standing Rock - Jeju Island - Okinawa - Yemen - Somalia - Palestine - Syria - Donbass - or downtown Portland, Maine.  They all are suffering needlessly and their hurt touches me deep in my soul.

My work every single day is connected to these good people who never did anyone any harm but they suffer because the greedy among us want to control everything and they don't pause for a second when they run over these innocent lives.

I know I can't save them all - or maybe even any of them - but what I can do is stand in solidarity with them as often as possible.  I can give my heart, soul and voice to trying to help end the madness that consumes so many and I long ago pledged to myself that I would do just that - no matter the day-to-day results.

A Quaker friend, Al Geiger in Jacksonville, long ago told me not to be fixed on results but to just do the very best I could each day.  That advice was liberating for me and I hold onto that now in my work.

I love this photo above.  It is very simple and yet so profound.  Earlier today I spoke in nearby Brunswick to about 40 people at a luncheon organized by our local PeaceWorks group.  Before my talk at the luncheon a group of us, who were arrested last June here in Bath at the shipyard for blocking the road in front of a 'christening' ceremony, met to do some brainstorming about upcoming events.  One of the women in our group gave me a ride to Brunswick for the talk and after we got in her car she handed me some dried golden grasses that she brought home from her trip to Standing Rock, North Dakota.  I held it for a moment and put one tiny bit of the grass in my pocket.

Before every talk I give I always pray to the Great Spirit and try to remember that I am speaking for our Mother Earth, the plants, the animals, the water, air, land and the people who are suffering.  I try to keep my ego in check and remind myself that my talk is not about me - but the bigger things in life.  I try to remember what solidarity really means.

The things I have to say are often not easy to hear.  Today I weaved together stories about Ukraine, Jeju and Okinawa.  I talked about those who have been protesting daily for years against US bases and militarism.  I talked about how the doors to reform in Washington and across the nation have mostly been closed to us as the corporate agenda is in full swing.  I talked about the need for active non-violent resistance.

People generally want to be entertained when they hear someone speak.  They want the speaker to make them feel better - to tell them that everything is going to be alright.  People live inside social boxes and most never step outside of them.  I always try to encourage people to push beyond their normal comfort zones and I continually try to do so myself.

I ended my talk today with the following that I just read in a new book written by two local friends who for years led campaigns here in the midcoast of Maine against the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant.  Here is what I said:

In their new book called ‘The Death of Maine Yankee’ long time local activists Maria Holt and the late Betty King tell the story of that long insurmountable campaign to close the toxic nuclear power plant in Wiscassat.

Near the back of the book they tell a story from the mid-1990’s when Maine Yankee put up a huge tent in front of the plant and threw a big party.  There was a microphone for testimonials about all the benefits derived from the nuclear plant.  Ray Shadis and Ann D. Burt took to the microphone and spoke out against the plant and in favor of the future generations.

Ray Shadis’ remarked, “when you are fighting superior numbers, it still pays to spoil the game.  While they are congratulating themselves, you can take the shine off of it, and break the unanimity.  You are not entitled to say ‘what’s the use?’”

Maria and Betty also share a story about a Buddhist monk from Vietnam (likely Thich Nhat Hanh) who was asked, “What do you think of the American Peace movement?”

The monk answered, “We think of drops in a bucket.  We drops don’t care where in the bucket we fall – but in America everybody wants to be the last little drop that makes the bucket overflow.”

There will be another ‘christening’ at BIW on Saturday, April 1 from 9:00 am to noon.  We invite you and others in the community to come to the protest and consider being drops of water in the bucket.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Saturday Event in Brunswick


Thursday, March 16, 2017

John McCain Unhinged?



John McCain accuses Senator Rand Paul of working for the Russian president, as he voiced an objection to Montenegro’s accession to NATO.

Public Comments Due on U.S. Deployment of THAAD in Guam


The US Army has announced the availability of the updated Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ' missile defense' system Permanent Stationing in Guam, Environmental Assessment (EA), including the Draft Findings of No Significant Impact.  The EA assesses the potential impacts associated with the current expeditionary (temporary) placement and operation of a THAAD ballistic missile defense battery at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam [since 2013], and from the proposed permanent stationing of the THAAD battery at the current location on Northwest Field.  

The EA was previously released for public comment in June 2015. Because of changes to the overall size of the cargo drop zone (CDZ) training area and associated vegetation clearing, and the completion of agency consultations for biological and cultural resources, the updated EA and associated FNSI are being released for public comment. 

THAAD is also now being deployed in South Korea against the massive will of the people there.

The public comment period began on March 17, 2017 and ends on April 17, 2017. All comments on the EA and Draft FNSI must be received or postmarked no later than April 17, 2017. Comments may be submitted online or via postal mail addressed to:

U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command
Attention: SMDC-ENE (Mark Hubbs)
Post Office Box 1500
Huntsville, AL 35807-3801
  
You can give your comments online using this web site at www.THAADGuam EA.com  
or click here


Below are the comments submitted by the Global Network:

Our organization opposes the deployment and testing of THAAD in Guam.  The process of using lands on Guam is evidence of US continued colonization of this island.

The creation of suitable deployment sites for the array of THAAD technologies will have adverse effects on the land.

The storage and fueling of THAAD missile systems with liquid rocket fuel will leave a massive toxic residue in local water systems.

The testing of THAAD interceptor missiles in Guam will have adverse impacts on the land and ocean - particularly from their toxic exhaust and rocket fuels.

The cost of the THAAD program is contributing to major cuts in social programs and environmental programs in the US.  The American people can no longer afford to pay for this endless arms race.

The testing program of THAAD has revealed questionable results that are not to be trusted by the public and Congress.

In the end the THAAD program is destabilizing to world peace as so-called 'missile defense' is a key element in US first-strike attack planning. THAAD is the shield to be used after the Pentagon thrusts the first-strike sword at China or Russia.

Finally the health effects from the radars used by THAAD have not been properly studied nor has any health effects information been given to the people of Guam or the US troops that will be operating them.
For all these reasons we think the deployments of THAAD on Guam should be rejected.

Bruce K Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Genocide in Yemen



The United Nations has warned that the world is facing its largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War. Nearly 20 million people are at risk of starvation in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Last month, the U.N. declared a famine in parts of South Sudan.

Earlier this week, aid officials said they’re in a race against time to prevent a famine brought on by a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war and blockade. Almost 19 million people in Yemen, two-thirds of the total population, are in need of assistance, and more than 7 million are facing starvation. For more, we speak with Joel Charny, director of the Norwegian Refugee Council USA.

Not So Funny......





Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Shipping to Russian Border?



Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Will Griffin (VFP member) posted this today from his home in Georgia.

There's apparently been rumors down here in South Georgia that something big will be happening in about 2 months with the military. I shot this video yesterday on Ft. Stewart, which is the largest military base in the Eastern United States. This video shows an entire units worth of vehicles being ready to be shipped somewhere.

Movement Building in America - Inside View



Chris Hedges discusses successful strategies for resistance in the age of Trump with activist and attorney, Kevin Zeese.

RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at how Republican lawmakers are attempting to quell demonstrations across the US.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Must Read Article on Washington's Mess


Trump versus the deep state: a war with no heroes

By David Talbot 

Which side are you on — President Trump’s oligarchy or the deep state? If you answered, “None of the above,” score one for democracy. Neither side has the interest of the American people at heart — only its own power. They are behemoths bloated on their own ego and entitlement, and like the mighty showdown between Godzilla and Mothra, it’s impossible to cheer for either one, because democracy could be crushed beneath their monstrous, scaly feet in the process.

The battle between these titanic forces reached a new fever pitch last week, starting with Trump’s explosive Twitter charges that President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones and spiraling into another round of counter-allegations about a Trump-Vladimir Putin plot to steal democracy.

I happen to think there is some truth to both sides’ charges. Despite the outraged denials from the Obama camp, Trump might indeed have been tapped during the presidential campaign. On the eve of the November election, an intriguing national security blogger named Louise Mensch — a former Conservative Party member of British Parliament with strong intelligence ties — reported that the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes government spying, had granted a warrant for the FBI to conduct surveillance of certain Americans as part of the bureau’s investigation into possible links between Russian banks and Trump’s corporate empire.

That story was later picked up by the BBC and the Guardian in London, and more recently by the McClatchy news agency. So it’s unclear why most media outlets keep insisting there is no evidence to back up Trump’s allegations, which as usual were cartoonishly worded but still might contain a kernel of validity.
Likewise, despite the Trump camp’s sound and fury, it’s clear there were numerous contacts between his campaign and Russian officials — and at least in Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s case, they were dodgy enough to cause his hurried exit from the administration.

So there’s some truth on both sides in this Washington smackdown. And there’s plenty of distortion, disinformation and outright lies. After all, that’s how both sides roll. Trump’s entire presidency is built on fakery — from Obama birther conspiracy-mongering to bogeymen immigrants to magical health care solutions.

And the national security agencies at war with Trump? Well, let’s just say their own credibility — from Saddam Hussein’s missing weapons of mass destruction to the latest WikiLeaks revelations about CIA hacking of consumer technology — is not exactly solid. There were waves of laughter across the land when the agency responded to last week’s embarrassing document dump by claiming it never spies on Americans.

Most of us here in deep-blue California believe just about any accusation, no matter how sleazy or criminal, that is made against Trump. We are awash in leaks and tweets these days, a tsunami of headlines that the American people have no way of independently verifying. Which stories are fake news? Who knows? The media are providing little insight or guidance.

Nearly the entire media circus — from the New York Times to BuzzFeed — has been caught up in the shadow war between Trump and the national security establishment. And much of the media reporting on this beat is closely aligned with the security agencies. “If the Deep State can rid us of the blighted presidency of Donald Trump, all I can say is ‘Go, State, go,’” merrily wrote Vanity Fair columnist James Wolcott.

MSNBC has turned its nightly news lineup into a propaganda arm of the national security state, with a constant parade of former spooks and armchair generals foaming about the “Russian connection” and how Trump has handed our nation to the Kremlin. In today’s strange looking-glass world, the liberals have become the new red-hunters, sniffing for traitors everywhere from Trump Tower to “alt-left media” (as Wolcott calls it) such as Glenn Greenwald’s online publication, the Intercept.

It’s understandable why the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party wants to blame its humiliation on scheming Russians, instead of faulting its own clueless campaigning and corporatist politics. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, was quick to jump on the anti-Putin bandwagon, warning in a recent Guardian opinion essay that the Mad Genius of Moscow was out to destroy every democracy in the world. Cue mad cackle.

Democrats’ obsessive focus on the Russian menace wildly exaggerates Moscow’s impact on the presidential election. Even if the Putin regime did hack the Democratic National Committee, the relatively unsurprising email revelations about Clinton and her associates should not have been enough to sink her campaign, particularly in comparison with the grotesque stories that were made public about Trump.

When it comes to sabotaging democracies, Russia is a rank amateur compared with the U.S. Just ask the people of Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Honduras — and even France, where the CIA backed a right-wing military coup attempt in 1961 to overthrow President Charles de Gaulle, a national hero.

The Democrats’ Russian fixation has also hijacked our democracy. It’s become a massive distraction as Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan go about dismantling the health care system, civil rights, environmental protections and just about everything else in Washington that maintains some decency in American life. During the 2016 campaign, the media were all about Trump’s latest outburst, real or not — now they’re all about Putin’s latest chess move, real or not. Lost in all of this are the urgent issues of American decline and planetary crisis raised by leaders like Bernie Sanders. Remember him?

The American people need to maintain a healthy skepticism as we are bombarded with allegations from both sides of the Trump-deep state divide. We need to remind ourselves that the first casualty of war is truth. And make no mistake about it — America is at war with itself.


~ David Talbot is a columnist in the San Francisco Chronicle . I strongly recommend reading his recent mind-blowing book entitled The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government.

Message from Finland - No to NATO


Last month while on our speaking tour to several Nordic nations Dave Webb and I were taken to Helsinki, Finland by Kerstin Tuomala.  Yesterday she sent me a message that I felt was important to share with blog readers.  The US-NATO are trying to get their military boot into Finland which borders Russia.  During the days of the former Soviet Union Finland played a neutral role and it appears by the poll above that the Finnish people wish to remain the same now.  But the corrupt corporate forces that want war with Russia press ahead anyway - not giving a damn what the people really want.

I want you to know that I think it was very important you [and Dave] came to Finland. As you know, I have the opinion that it is not my business to judge the inside business of Russia, but my task is to work for that my country lives peacefully with our neighbors and so contributes to peace.
 
We had the annual meeting for the peace committee in Lapland (the meeting to choose chairman and board for our organization and to accept plans for action etc). Kaarina is continuing as chairman this year and I as secretary. We have a very good group – politically plural. Finland is the host for the Arctic Challenge Exercise this year and we will protest against it in the whole country in May. Our group decided to study half an hour in the beginning of each meeting - beginning with the 'Host Country Treaty' with NATO. It is a very bad treaty, because it gives NATO the right to use our territory as a base for war games but also for wars so that our taxes go to supply the NATO troops when they are in Finland. 
 
It is the same in Sweden, which this year will host the AURORA exercise as you know. I have noticed that the exercises have a tendency to start in Sweden. Two years ago the Arctic Challenge Exercise was the biggest NATO air exercise in the world and now we see that it is regular and is repeated every second year, this year Finland is the host. This year the Swedish peace movement is busy fighting AURORA, which is the biggest exercise ever since the Cold War and for which Sweden is host. I suspect it will be repeated after two years in Finland. 
 
 
In Finland resources are also used, more than 10 billion Euros, to purchase new fighters and warships and the same amount to use them. We in Lapland have taken stands against this and sent them to ministers, parliament groups and even the president.
In April we will have local community elections and the Peace Committee of Lapland will have a public discussion in Kemi with candidates of each party about how the local community can work for peace.
 
I have followed your Organizing Notes blog and am not astonished that Bruce is always hungry, because you really work so well. The recent report from Odessa, Ukraine was very urgent and at least in Helsinki Marja-Liisa is organizing a meeting about the massacre in Odessa and she expressed her thankfulness to get the updated report about the events in Odessa. Good that you have these contacts. 
 
It is important for us in Europe to know what is going on in our own continent especially as the official stand of our government ignores it completely and I am afraid that a part of the peace movement is ignoring it, too. Hope I am wrong about it, but I am afraid I am not. The peace movement in Sweden is much more clear about this. Here the main stream seems ignorant, even though we fortunately have exceptions. That is a matter we can study also in our Lapland group, because I think it is important. So all the information you get is really welcome.
 
Kerstin Tuomala
Simo, Finland

Monday, March 13, 2017

Pilger on His New Film about War with China



Question period with John Pilger after his film was shown at the Riverside Theatre Parramatta, Sydney, Australia in March 2017.

The film is called The Coming war on China.  See the trailer here

U.S. Prepares for War in Korea


THAAD, ‘decapitation’ raid add to allies’ new drills
 The Korea Herald

South Korea and the US launched their annual Key Resolve military exercise Monday, which involves scenarios for the employment of US anti-missile assets and special warfare forces tasked with removing North Korea’s leadership in a contingency.

For the first time, the allies are expected to apply an operational guideline to use the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] battery during the initial phase of the computer-based drill to intercept incoming ballistic missiles from the North.

Joining the program are US special warfare forces, including the SEAL Team Six, also known as DEVGRU, which killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Their missions are expected to range from taking out North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and securing the regime’s nuclear weapons, military officials said.

Scheduled to run through March 24, the drill is expected to be the largest ever in scale, with the participation of about 300,000 troops and the deployment of US strategic assets, including F-35B stealth fighters and the USS Carl Vinson nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The allies have also been carrying out the Foal Eagle field training exercise since March 1.

“(The) Key Resolve exercise has been defensive in nature and provided a bedrock for the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula,” JCS chairman Gen. Lee Sun-jin said during his visit Sunday to the air carrier alongside USFK commander Gen. Vincent Brooks.

“Faced with grave security concerns, the participation of the Carrier Strike Group shows that US strategic assets could be deployed at any time to the Korean Peninsula. ... If North Korea makes a miscalculation and conducts a provocation, it would be met with the allies’ overwhelming response.”

Separately, the US military said it has begun the process for the permanent deployment of the Gray Eagle aircraft to its air base in Gunsan, which is forecast to enhance the allies’ strike capabilities against ground targets, military officials here said. The unmanned attack planes will be assigned to the 2nd aviation brigade under the 2nd Infantry Division.

This year’s Key Resolve drills will be based on a 2015 operational plan, OPLAN 5015, which aims to remove the North’s weapons of mass destruction and prepare the allied troops for a pre-emptive strike in the event of an imminent North Korean attack, as well as “decapitation” raids targeting the leadership.

Pyongyang lashed out at the allies for the drill yet again this year, calling it a “rehearsal for war” designed to overthrow the regime and putting its forces on high alert.

“There is no guarantee that the combined exercise will not turn into a war,” said North Korea Today, a propaganda outlet of the communist regime. “Any pre-emptive attempts will be met with prompt and ruthless nuclear attacks.”

Last Friday, 38 North, a North Korea-specialized website run by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said the communist state may be preparing for a sixth nuclear test that could have the largest explosive power. It cited satellite imagery that shows tunnel excavations near the Pyunge-ri test site, where the North has previously conducted underground detonations. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mira Leslie Presente!


We learned yesterday that our friend Mira Leslie has just passed away from cancer.  Mira was devoted to the peace movement and particularly to supporting and walking with the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist monk Senji Kanaeda based on Bainbridge Island near her home in Seattle, Washington.

Just last January I walked with Mira and others connected with Nipponzan Myohoji when about 30 people from the US went to Okinawa for a week to do peace walks there and stand with the local people who are opposing existing and new US military bases on that beleaguered island that currently has 32 American bases on it.

Twice in the past three years Mira joined Senji Kanaeda when he came to Maine to lead peace walks through our state.  During these peace walks Mira became a dear friend.  I am certain she will be missed by the friends she made in Maine as well as by her many friends in Washington state.

Mira Leslie presente!

Bruce

Sunday Song