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.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Smells, Sounds, Looks Like Bush-Blair 2003 WMD in Iraq Lies


Another Dangerous Rush to Judgment in Syria

By Robert Parry 

With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths.

Before a careful evaluation of the evidence about Tuesday’s tragedy was possible, The New York Times and other major U.S. news outlets had pinned the blame for the scores of dead on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. That revived demands that the U.S. and other nations establish a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which would amount to launching another “regime change” war and would put America into a likely hot war with nuclear-armed Russia.

Even as basic facts were still being assembled about Tuesday’s incident, we, the public, were prepped to disbelieve the Syrian government’s response that the poison gas may have come from rebel stockpiles that could have been released either accidentally or intentionally causing the civilian deaths in a town in Idlib Province.

One possible scenario was that Syrian warplanes bombed a rebel weapons depot where the poison gas was stored, causing the containers to rupture. Another possibility was a staged event by increasingly desperate Al Qaeda jihadists who are known for their disregard for innocent human life.

While it’s hard to know at this early stage what’s true and what’s not, these alternative explanations, I’m told, are being seriously examined by U.S. intelligence. One source cited the possibility that Turkey had supplied the rebels with the poison gas (the exact type still not determined) for potential use against Kurdish forces operating in northern Syria near the Turkish border or for a terror attack in a government-controlled city like the capital of Damascus.

Reporting by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh and statements by some Turkish police and opposition politicians linked Turkish intelligence and Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists to the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds, although the Times and other major U.S. news outlets continue to blame that incident on Assad’s regime.

Seasoned Propagandists

On Tuesday, the Times assigned two of its most committed anti-Syrian-government propagandists to cover the Syrian poison-gas story, Michael B. Gordon and Anne Barnard.

Gordon has been at the front lines of the neocon “regime change” strategies for years. He co-authored the Times’ infamous aluminum tube story of Sept. 8, 2002, which relied on U.S. government sources and Iraqi defectors to frighten Americans with images of “mushroom clouds” if they didn’t support President George W. Bush’s upcoming invasion of Iraq. The timing played perfectly into the administration’s advertising “rollout” for the Iraq War.

Of course, the story turned out to be false and to have unfairly downplayed skeptics of the claim that the aluminum tubes were for nuclear centrifuges, when the aluminum tubes actually were meant for artillery. But the article provided a great impetus toward the Iraq War, which ended up killing nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Gordon’s co-author, Judith Miller, became the only U.S. journalist known to have lost a job over the reckless and shoddy reporting that contributed to the Iraq disaster. For his part, Gordon continued serving as a respected Pentagon correspondent.

Gordon’s name also showed up in a supporting role on the Times’ botched “vector analysis,” which supposedly proved that the Syrian military was responsible for the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin-gas attack. The “vector analysis” story of Sept. 17, 2013, traced the flight paths of two rockets, recovered in suburbs of Damascus back to a Syrian military base 9.5 kilometers away.

The article became the “slam-dunk” evidence that the Syrian government was lying when it denied launching the sarin attack. However, like the aluminum tube story, the Times’ ”vector analysis” ignored contrary evidence, such as the unreliability of one azimuth from a rocket that landed in Moadamiya because it had struck a building in its descent. That rocket also was found to contain no sarin, so it’s inclusion in the vectoring of two sarin-laden rockets made no sense.

But the Times’ story ultimately fell apart when rocket scientists analyzed the one sarin-laden rocket that had landed in the Zamalka area and determined that it had a maximum range of about two kilometers, meaning that it could not have originated from the Syrian military base. C.J. Chivers, one of the co-authors of the article, waited until Dec. 28, 2013, to publish a halfhearted semi-retraction. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Backs Off Its Syria-Sarin Analysis.”]

Gordon was a co-author of another bogus Times’ front-page story on April 21, 2014, when the State Department and the Ukrainian government fed the Times two photographs that supposedly proved that a group of Russian soldiers – first photographed in Russia – had entered Ukraine, where they were photographed again.

However, two days later, Gordon was forced to pen a retraction because it turned out that both photos had been shot inside Ukraine, destroying the story’s premise. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Retracts Russian-Photo Scoop.”]

Gordon perhaps personifies better than anyone how mainstream journalism works. If you publish false stories that fit with the Establishment’s narratives, your job is safe even if the stories blow up in your face. However, if you go against the grain – and if someone important raises a question about your story – you can easily find yourself out on the street even if your story is correct.

No Skepticism Allowed

Anne Barnard, Gordon’s co-author on Tuesday’s Syrian poison-gas story, has consistently reported on the Syrian conflict as if she were a press agent for the rebels, playing up their anti-government claims even when there’s no evidence.

See the rest of this story here    

~ Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Yemen is Starving: End U.S. Complicity in Devastation of the People


Press Release
For immediate release               

Contact:
Martha Hennessy - 802-230-6328; marthahennessy@gmail.com
Carmen Trotta - 347-259-8536; trottacarmen@yahoo.com
Cathy Kelly - 773-619-2418; FastingForYemen@gmail.com

Yemen Is Starving: Peace activists, protesting the mounting humanitarian crisis in Yemen, to begin week-long fast and vigil at the UN.

New York, NY -- On April 10, 2017, approximately 20 peace activists will begin a week long vigil and fast in front of the United Nations. They are calling for peace and justice in Yemen, and standing in solidarity with its civilian population. They will also be demanding an end to U.S. complicity in a war that is taking a devastating toll on the Yemeni people.

Ravaged by war, blockaded by sea, and regularly targeted with Saudi and U.S. airstrikes, Yemen is now on the brink of total famine.

Yemen is currently being ravaged by a brutal conflict, with injustices and atrocities on all sides. More than 10,000 people have been killed, including 1,564 children, and millions have been displaced from their homes. UNICEF estimates that more than 460,000 children in Yemen face severe malnutrition, while 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer acute malnutrition. The U.S. backed Saudi-led coalition is also enforcing a sea blockade on rebel-held areas. Yemen imports 90% of its food; because of the blockade, food and fuel prices are rising and scarcity is at crisis levels. While Yemeni children are starving, US weapons makers, including General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, are profiting from weapon sales to Saudi Arabia.

At this critical juncture, all member states of the UN must urge an end to the blockade and airstrikes, a silencing of all guns, and a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen.

With their fast and peaceful protest, the activists will urge a radical departure from U.S. policies exacerbating the deadly tragedy facing Yemeni civilians.

Participants note their responsibility to ensure that the U.S.:
1.    Stops all drone attacks and military “special operations” within Yemen
2.    Ends all U.S. weapon sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia
3.    Provides compensation to those who suffered losses caused by U.S. attacks.

The activists will gather each day from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the United Nations Isaiah Wall, on First Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets. They will be joined by activists and supporters from around the U.S. who will share their protest and peaceful witness to the tragedy currently befalling the people of Yemen.

Partnering in this project are members of the New York Catholic Worker community, Code Pink, Witness Against Torture, the Upstate Coalition to End the Wars and Ground the Drones, Friends of Franz and Ben, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Veterans for Peace NYC Chapter 34, World Beyond War, Kairos Community, Just Foreign Policy, Peaceworkers, Pax Christi Metro New York, Know Drones, World Can’t Wait, Granny Peace Brigade, NY, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, D.C., Benincasa Community, NY (list in formation)

Social Media: FB/Twitter @FastingForYemen; Facebook Event: https://goo.gl/REWlb5; HTs: #FastingForYemen #YemenIsStarving #RememberYemen

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Who is the $100 Billion Military Empire?



U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country

Internationally, there are just under 200,000 U.S. troops that are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world.

Here are the top 20 countries they are stationed in, as well as an “Other” category that represents the rest:

RankCountry/TerritoryU.S. Troops
#1Japan39,345
#2Germany34,805
#3South Korea23,468
#4Italy12,102
#5Afghanistan9,294
#6United Kingdom8,479
#7Kuwait6,296
#8Iraq5,540
#9Bahrain5,504
#10Guam3,831
#11Spain3,256
#12Qatar2,976
#13Turkey2,234
#14Djibouti1,961
#15Jordan1,759
#16United Arab Emirates1,079
#17Belgium842
#18Cuba/Guantanamo806
#19Romania667
#20Greece407

Other / Unknown34,834

Total199,485

In 2015, Politico estimated that there are 800 U.S. bases abroad, and that it costs up to $100 billion annually to maintain this international presence.

The best thing that people can do for world peace is send the U.S. military packing - Yankee go home!

The Rat Race


El Empleo / The Employment from opusBou on Vimeo.

'My Conscience Leads Me to No Other Choice'



"Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence", also referred to as the Riverside Church speech, is an anti-Vietnam war and pro-social justice speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was assassinated.

Although this speech was given decades ago, it is still as relevant as ever.

May the Light Be With You.....



How can we lose now?  We've got the light sabers......

Afghanistan and Iraq war vet Will Griffin (also a VFP member) made these.  That is Dave Webb in the top one who is the Chair of the United Kingdom's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and also the board convener of the Global Network.  And yours truly below Dave.

Will went to India and Nepal with Dave and me last November for our speaking tour and seems to have caught a bit of the space bug.  We're glad to have his good support.

We've asked Will to do the welcome talk at our 25th annual space conference in Huntsville, Alabama this weekend.  We are going to share our light sabers with him!

Bruce

Monday, April 03, 2017

BIW Destroyer Protest Video



On April 1st, 2017, nine peace activists were arrested while blocking the entrance to the "Christening" ceremony for a new Aegis destroyer at Bath Iron Works, a leading US naval shipyard owned by General Dynamics.

Aegis destroyers are an important coordinating and missile-carrying component in US nuclear and conventional war strategy.  These warships are being sent by the Pentagon to help encircle Russia and China causing much instability around the globe.

The activists and their supporters contended that the money spent on these expensive weapons systems is immoral, and that the shipyard's workers -- and the world -- would be better served if they produced high-speed trains, solar, wind turbines, and tidal power generators.

Video made by Eric Herter from Brunswick, Maine

Protests in French Guiana



Historic processions of more than 250,000 people are underway in French Guiana and its not being covered by the media. French Guiana is de facto a colony of France in South America largely inhabited by Africans. France has three other such colonies to this day including Mayote in the Comoros, Runion Islands neighboring Mauritius and Martinique in the Caribbean.

These are considered overseas 'departments' or 'territories' by the French colonialists, but they are nothing more than euphemisms designed to disguise and maintain their colonies. 😡 And right now, the people of French Guiana have taken to the streets numbering a quarter of million to protest the economic and racial abuse they have suffered under their white colonial masters in France.

French Guina was a former slave colony turned prison colony of the French, before becoming an 'overseas department' to extract its mineral wealth at the expense of the people of French Guiana.

We urge all of you to show international solidarity with our brothers and sisters by sharing this video as these historic protests are not being covered by the imperialist sponsored corporate media.
Pan-African Renaissance 

Getting Ready for Huntsville Events April 7-9

Rev. Seonghye Kim from South Korea (left) and Juyeon Rhee from New York who will serve as interpreter for Rev. Kim during her speaking tour of the U.S.


We are happy to hear that Rev. Seonghye Kim (Co-chair Seongju Struggle Committee to Stop THAAD Deployment, South Koreahas arrived in the US – a relief as we were concerned that she might have problems from immigration authorities.  She will be doing a national speaking tour and we are grateful that a visit to Huntsville, Alabama could be included in her itinerary.

In addition to Huntsville the speaking tour will visit Berkeley, Oakland, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, New Brunswick, NJ, New York City, Washington DC, and Fairfax, Va. 

VFP member Will Griffin made a video to promote the Global Network's 25th annual space organizing conference and in so doing learned that virtually 1/3 of the local population in Huntsville are connected to the military industrial complex.  See the video here

Like so many other communities across the nation that are dependent on Pentagon spending (including mine here in Bath, Maine) Huntsville has a very small peace community. So we are grateful to local folks for generously helping us out the way they have done.

Calls and emails are still coming into our office as people let us know they are planning to attend the events.

We should have a good crowd with activists coming from seven countries and 16 states across America.

In recent days we've also been hearing from local media in Huntsville.  I am certain this conference and protest should be a big story in a community that is so dependent on military spending - thus their nickname 'The Pentagon of the South'.

How can the peace movement ever flourish and grow in the US unless and until we go into the deep south and give support to local activists who often feel isolated and in a sense forgotten by the larger movement? 

I know that during my fifteen years as Coordinator of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice our membership was always grateful to those who came down from the north to attend our frequent space center protests at Cape Canaveral.

See y'all soon.....

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Seongju & Huntsville: No THAAD on April 8



Another video from South Korea where a melon farming community protests the US deployment of the provocative THAAD 'missile defense' system.

At the start of the video local women cheer the news reports that recently impeached right-wing President Park Geun-hye was arrested in the early morning hours of Friday, March 31 and is currently jailed at the Seoul Detention Center while awaiting trial. The Special Investigation Bureau in charge of investigating the Choi/Park corruption scandal is expected to indict Park and make a motion for trial in mid-April.

The ironic thing is that the Seongju farming community voted 85% in favor of the US puppet President Park in the last election.  Park likely felt confident that since Seongju residents were loyal conservative party supporters they would go along with the US plan to deploy THAAD in their community.  But the people rebelled and held a mass funeral march to resign en mass from the ruling party.  They then quickly joined the peace movement and THAAD has become a dominant issue in South Korea.


The plan is now to organize the 2nd nationwide peace action (the first one drew more than 5,000 people) in Seongju on April 8, the same day the Global Network meets in Huntsville, Alabama where THAAD is currently being developed.

You don't have to understand Korean to watch this moving video......

THAAD is also deployed in Guam and will soon be flight tested from pristine fishing village Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Bruce

Sunday Song




April Fools in Russian



(The English bit starts at 29 second mark)

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has uploaded the following answer machine message, to be appropriated "at any diplomatic mission of the Russian Federation" - business as usual, on April Fool's Day.

"Hello, you've reached the Embassy of the Russian Federation. If you'd like to request a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponent - press 1. To use the services of Russian hackers - press 2. To request election interference - press 3 and wait until the next election campaign. Please note that all calls are recorded for quality improvement and training purposes."

Not long after, Maria Zakharova, Russia's Foreign Affairs spokesperson, published the following Facebook post:

"At 3pm on 1 April, the media office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was contacted by journalists of the Associated Press, who asked to 'officially confirm that the answerphone message is in fact a joke.' I am kind of sorry that we ruined the celebration for AP, who were probably marking the occasion!"