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....
- Name: Bruce K. Gagnon
- Location: Bath, Maine, United States
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Nelson Mandela's first interview in 1961 for ITN when he was 43 years old. A young Mandela flushes out his strategy for reclaiming fundamental rights for black South Africans from his hideout before his arrest.
Peaceful resting Nelson Mandela.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
BERKELEY PASSES RESOLUTION SUPPORTING JEJU
On Jeju Island, an environmental jewel sixty miles south of the Korean Peninsula, a massive naval base is being built to house US warships, submarines and aircraft carriers, serving as a key forward base for the " US Pacific Pivot", and turning the region into a hair trigger for global confrontation. Seven years of principled non-violent struggle by the affected villagers have resulted mostly in endless beatings, arrests, fines, imprisonment; a growing international solidarity movement; but little tangible in the way of political support from any national or local government.
On December 3rd, 2013, the City Council of Berkeley, California voted to support the Peace and Justice Commission's Resolution in support of the residents of Jeju Island and to End US support for construction of the Jeju Naval Base. This makes it the first city in the world to formally declare its support of the Jeju Islanders and its opposition to the base.
Despite being stripped out of the consent calendar and placed almost at the bottom of the council agenda--usually procedural maneuvers designed to kill off the item or impede passage--the resolution ultimately passed (with 5 votes in favor) and 4 abstentions in the Berkeley City Council. Council member Kriss Worthington, who had sponsored and fast-tracked the resolution, tabled the two items preceding the resolution, allowing it to be put to discussion and a vote, minutes before the clock ran out.
Huge popular support, an unusually vibrant and vocal group of speakers who stayed late into the night--waiting for over 4 hours for the opportunity to address the council for a single brief minute--and a massive flurry of emails from concerned individuals all over the country may have influenced the final vote.
Motivated activists from Starr King School, Pacific Lutheran Seminary, from the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, the Peace and Justice Commission, the Ecumenical Peace Institute, and others made passionate, informed pleas for support of the resolution. An activist in a wheel chair broke down in tears as she implored the council to support the cause of peace.
Also significant was a letter from Christine Ahn, a scholar at the Korea Policy Institute and peace activist, who wrote in a heartfelt and moving letter that she had named her daughter Jeju because of her passion for the cause of the peace activists on the island.
An earlier version of the resolution had previously been shot down in February by the Council. Even as it was drafted by the commission, Thyme Siegel of the Peace and Justice Commission had stated, with a straight face, "It is not our business of the US to tell the South Korean government and military how to defend itself against North Korea and China."
Council Member Linda Maio attempted to water down the resolution by stripping out references to the Pacific Pivot (despite corroborating statements from the Secretary of State and Defense); references to toxic dumping in bases in the Phillipines, and rapes and violence in Okinawa, (as well as missile tests in the Marshall Islands and drone bases in Australia). In particular, Council Member Maio stated, "Condemning the U.S Military for rapes--I can't put it in there", apparently oblivious to the fact that 22,000 rapes and sexual assaults occur within the military annually, a number that itself pales in comparison with the abuse that is dealt out to the general population by an occupying military immunized from local prosecution by Status of Forces Agreements.
She also removed information regarding the hardware being deployed (the US Navy's Aegis Combat System).
Council Member Max Anderson, a war veteran, however, stated that he had been in Okinawa, and had witnessed first hand the abuses, the rapes, the violence, and ugliness of the military occupation.
Council Member Gordon Wozniak mentioned the recent escalation of hostilities in the pacific with Air Defense Zones, stating that "it was not just about Korea, that it was Japan, China", and that the supporters of the resolution were "missing the point" [in focusing on Korea]. He did not seem understand that he had just proven the argument of the supporters, that the Jeju base was part of the general escalation of hostilities and projection of force in the pacific, and that its presence would exacerbate regional conflict.
Ultimately, what may have swung the vote may have been a missive from Gloria Steinem, legendary feminist icon and supporter of Jeju, addressing the city council:
"As you cast your votes about Jeju's future, I hope you will consider the attached", referring to her article in the New York Times where she had written, "There are some actions for which those of us alive today will be judged in centuries to come. The only question will be: What did we know and when did we know it? I think one judgment-worthy action may be what you and I do about the militarization of Jeju Island, South Korea, in service of the arms race."
BLESSINGS IN UKRAINE FOR ALL
I've been trying to follow the situation in Ukraine. I don't have good sources about Ukraine but I know that some people living there read this blog. I would ask them to share with me their thinking about the conflict in Ukraine.
My present take is that the Ukrainian government is corrupt and heavy handed. The expanding NATO juggernaut is creating instability in places like Finland, Ukraine and Georgia. The NATO-capitalist class wants everything...we know that.....so in the competition for market and resource control NATO must control the economies and military forces of these nations and the fight is on.
It also seems clear to me that Russia is the prize that NATO pursues. I've heard of plans that the US has developed to "balkanize" Russia thus making it easier to manipulate and control. One can understand the fear of many Russians.
The big problem for me is knowing that the Obama administration, being driven by the CIA, is helping to divide and conquer Ukraine. This is what they do best in Washington DC.
I feel bad for the good hearted people in Ukraine as they surely have many grievances against their government and they want change. Sadly the NATO enterprise they would next get looks alot like the hypocrisy and corruption of the Obama crew. It's a dead end street.
The new pope is said to have used these words in recent days:
"The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence,” Francis warns, “yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society—whether local, national, or global—is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility."
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
WE KILL PEOPLE & BREAK THINGS
Highly anticipated documentary from director Robert Greenwald on the impact of the U.S. Drone Wars, at home and abroad.
- The Boston Globe reports that Santa Claus will be protected this Christmas by a jet-fighter escort. Adding the jets is “part of our effort to give the program more of an operational feel,” said Navy Captain Jeff A. Davis, a spokesman for the command that sponsors the annual Santa tracking event, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD. “I think people are quite aware of the military’s true mission,” said Amy Hagopian, a professor of public health at the University of Washington, who has written extensively about military recruiting of youngsters. “If the military wants to keep its ranks stocked, it needs to appeal to children. The military knows it can’t appeal to adults to volunteer. It is like the ad industry." Allen Kanner, a California child and family psychologist and cofounder of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood says, "What we have to remember is that the military has been hiring marketing companies for many years to best reach youngsters under 18 for the sole purpose of recruitment. They also know you can develop something called brand loyalty — from birth to death.".
- Bill Sulzman (Citizens for Peace in Space, Colorado Springs) sent around a link to a blockbuster local story a couple days ago. The U.S. Air Force Academy is located in Colorado Springs and has just been busted for running a secretive program that recruited academy students to spy and inform on fellow cadets. Cadets who attend the publicly-funded military academy must pledge never to lie. But the secret program pushed some to do just that: Informants were told to deceive classmates, professors and commanders while snapping photos, wearing recording devices and filing secret reports. For one former academy student, becoming a covert government operative meant not only betraying the values he vowed to uphold, it meant being thrown out of the academy as punishment for doing the things the Air Force secretly told him to do. See the whole story here
- Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, has an important article about expanding US military role in Africa. He asks, "Before the gearing up proceeds much further, Americans might want to ask a few questions. Chief among them are these: Why the sudden shift in priorities? What's the aim? Who stands to benefit? What risks does the militarization of U.S. policy in Africa entail?" You can see the whole piece here.
Monday, December 02, 2013
LATEST THIS ISSUE
Guests are Lorry Fleming and Howard Waxman from the local group called Bath Citizens for Responsible TIF Action which campaigned against the recent corporate tax subsidy for Bath Iron Works here in Maine.
THE REAL PIRATE STORY
MB and I went to see the new movie called Captain Phillips last night. It's about the American commercial ship captain who was taken hostage for ransom by Somali pirates. The movie was well done and the acting quite superb, especially the Somali actors, but the film was rather slim on telling the real story why the people of Somalia have been reduced to acts of piracy in order to survive.
When I got home I watched several videos to find out more about the situation. I've previously posted some videos about this but it is a good time to do it again. Because there has been virtually no government in Somalia for years fishing trawlers from around the world took advantage and came right up along the coastline and fished out the waters off the African nation. Then foreign ships dumped toxic, and quite possibly radioactive waste, into the fish depleted Somali waters. The people are now desperate.
In the end the Captain Phillips movie turns into a recruitment film for the US Navy as they use warships and Navy Seals to kill the pirates and rescue Phillips. The film is based on a true story so you can imagine the massive cost of bringing in all these gas guzzling warships, helicopters, and the like. My first question was "how much did this rescue cost"? They might have come out better just paying the ransom to the pirates.
Now fast forward to the current moment as US-NATO have set up a naval operation in the waters off Somalia. The video just below shows how they use satellite and drone technology to track and monitor the pirates. But then you see them talking about land operations (conveniently noting that on land they are protecting 'humanitarian relief' convoys) but clearly this whole pirate operation has given the US-NATO a major excuse to militarize the hell out of the region.
Captain Phillips is the contemporary version of the 7th Cavalry rescuing the white settlers from Indian attacks out west. Except this time it's a high-tech version set on the African continent where lots of oil and precious minerals for cell phones and computers are under the ground just waiting for western corporations to grab them.
Drones to deliver for Amazon and for take-out pizza. Who knows what comes next. Maybe drones to deliver groceries too?
Bottom line is that before long hardly anyone will have a job anymore....who will have any money to order anything from Amazon or any other business?
The Guardian (UK) takes this story apart. Here are a few excerpts:
Here's the problem: it's all hot air and baloney. As Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, acknowledged in the 60 Minutes segment, his plan to begin delivery by drone won't be enacted until around 2018 – and that's a hugely optimistic timeline.
Bezos' neat trick has knocked several real stories about Amazon out of the way. Last week's Panorama investigation into Amazon's working and hiring practices, suggesting that the site's employees had an increased risk of mental illness, is the latest in a long line of pieces about the company's working conditions – zero-hour contracts, short breaks, and employees' every move tracked by internal systems. Amazon's drone debacle also moved discussion of its tax bill – another long-running controversy, sparked by the Guardian's revelation last year that the company had UK sales of £7bn but paid no UK corporation tax – to the margins.