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

Monday, April 20, 2015

Corporate Trade Deal Protests Across Europe

Tens of thousands of people have turned out in major cities across Europe to vent their anger at the world’s biggest free trade deal between the European Union and the United States. The protesters argue that the Trans-Atlantic pact is a real threat to labor, health and safety standards. The demonstrations come as European and American officials are set to hold a new round of talks over the deal in New York.

Danger of Accidental Nuclear War Now More Than Ever

MIT professor, and military missile expert, Ted Postol speaks about the changing technical conditions and unstable political environment that are producing greater danger of accidental nuclear war between US and Russia than during the Cold War period.

Testimony from the Living

Funeral of recently assassinated independent journalist Oles Buzina in Kiev, Ukraine.  Heartfelt words from the many mourners about the loss of his life and their once proud country which is now in a civil war brought on by the interests that run the US-NATO endless war machine.

Where is the outrage in Paris, London, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Ottawa, Canberra, and Washington about these assassinations?  In fact the US-NATO are funding, training and directing the killers!

The west is the land of hypocrisy and decadence.

The West's Fundamental Fallacies

Retired Princeton professor Stephen F. Cohen on "Should the West engage or isolate Russia?" at The Munk Debates held in Toronto, Canada, on April 10, 2015.

Word of the Day: Bamboozled

The Courageous White House Vigiler

Concepción Picciotto (born in Vigo, Spain) is a peace activist living in Washington, DC. She has lived in a tiny peace camp on the sidewalk across from the White House, since August 1, 1981, in protest of nuclear arms and war. She has carried on the longest known continuous act of political protest in the United States history.

Concepción was inspired by fellow activist William Thomas, who originally began the White House Peace Vigil on June 3, 1981 and died on January 23, 2009. They began protesting on the sidewalk by the White House fence. National Park Service rules moved them across Pennsylvania Avenue to the front of Lafayette Park.  Many times over the years Thomas and Concepción were arrested but the courts finally backed their right to hold the remarkable peace vigil as long as it was kept staffed round-the-clock.

Concepción has a few volunteers that give her a temporary relief from time to time but two years ago a volunteer was late and the Park police hauled off her camp.  The issue was finally resolved and she is back across from the White House.

Whenever I visit Washington I always go by the vigil to stand for a few moments in respectful solidarity.  Years ago when William Thomas was alive we became friends which increased my desire to visit the vigilers as often as possible.

Saturday, while in DC for the conference, I walked over to the White House.  It was full of tourists and lots of political activity was underway.  A group of more than 100 Koreans were holding a protest in support of the Sewol ferry families.  Nearby in the jumble of people was a creative one-man protest against Israel's extermination of the Palestinian people.

Over at her camp site Concepción was holding court with several tourists.  Loads of people were all around her as they read her signs and peeked inside the meager living space.  I heard one man reading the signs to himself in a low voice.  A middle aged woman was snickering in disgust at Concepción - partially I guessed out of politics and partly out of 'middle American arrogance'.... such a thing was beneath the dignity of this woman's station in life. Just witnessing it was more than the poor woman could even stand! I could just hear her thinking, "Can't someone do something about this mess!"

I went up to Concepción and thanked her for her dedication.  She quickly said to me, "People are such cowards.  Talk, talk, talk.....we need action."  I told her I agreed and thanked her again.  She graciously thanked me in return.

I walked on - stopping to look back from the center of Lafayette Park - I could see many people reading and reacting.  Concepción (and William) long ago achieved the goal of getting their concerns under the skin of people from all over the world.  Mostly importantly the White House, the home of the 'American illusion', has been unable to chase away a courageous old woman who suffers from skin cancer and lack of sleep.

My heart and deep respect go out to Concepción.  We need more like her.

Sewol Protests in Seoul

A short video compilation of the Sewol protests in Seoul, South Korea.  You don't have to understand Korean to relate to the emotion and fierce determination of the Korean people who demand the truth about the Sewol accident that killed 400 young people when the ferry turned over in the ocean on the way to Jeju Island.

See a newspaper editorial (in English) blasting the police for using excessive force against the grieving families and their many supporters here

The real issue in South Korea these days is the drowning of the people's hard-fought for democratic rights as the current President Park (the daughter of the former brutal military dictator) is reimposing a harsh crackdown on people's movements across the country.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Radioactive Trash

Ruptly reports: Millions of tons of radioactive soil and debris can be seen packed in black bags in a temporary storage site at Tomioka, Fukushima prefecture. The drone video taken by Ruptly shows how the Fukushima nuclear accident continues to be a major health and environmental catastrophe. Unbelievably, TEPCO, the corporation responsible for the nuclear plant at Fukushima, is storing some of the most dangerous waste on earth in plastic bags near the ocean. Once again TEPCO is showing irresponsible behavior in how they are handling the results of the nuclear accident that occurred on March 11, 2011 resulting in a nuclear meltdown of the plant’s six reactors.

Remembering the Dead in Kiev

Ukraine has created a database of “separatists, militants, etc”. They call it “Information for law enforcement authorities and special services about pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, mercenaries, war criminals, and murderers.” Given the situation in the country and recent laws that have been passed, anyone in Ukraine that does not agree with methods or ideas of the regime could potentially become part of the database. Oles Buzina – a writer and a critic of the regime was there, and he was killed on April 16th.

Link to the database:

Sunday Song

Written by: Ray Davies (The Kinks)

Now that you've found your paradise
This is your Kingdom to command
You can go outside and polish your car
Or sit by the fire in your Shangri-la
Here is your reward for working so hard
Gone are the lavatories in the back yard
Gone are the days when you dreamed of that car
You just want to sit in your Shangri-la

Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher
You're in your place and you know where you are
In your Shangri-la
Sit back in your old rocking chair
You need not worry, you need not care
You can't go anywhere
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

The little man who gets the train
Got a mortgage hanging over his head
But he's too scared to complain
'Cos he's conditioned that way
Time goes by and he pays off his debts
Got a TV set and a radio
For seven shillings a week
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

And all the houses in the street have got a name
'Cos all the houses in the street they look the same
Same chimney pots, same little cars, same window panes
The neighbors call to tell you things that you should know
They say their lines, they drink their tea, and then they go
They tell your business in another Shangri-la
The gas bills and the water rates, and payments on the car
Too scared to think about how insecure you are
Life ain't so happy in your little Shangri-la
Shangri-la, Shangri-la la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher
You're in your place and you know where you are
In your Shangri-la
Sit back in your old rocking chair
You need not worry, you need not care
You can't go anywhere
Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la, Shangri-la

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The U.$. is Isolated Around the World

American media outlets are showing a growing concern over the influence of foreign media outlets, particularly the Russian media. However, in an exclusive interview, professor and philosopher Noam Chomsky says that America’s media machine has been spreading its own form of propaganda throughout the world, while at the same time refusing to acknowledge its own culpability in international conflicts. He tells Alexey Yaroshevsky more about the U$ manipulation of information and its effect on democracy.

U.$. Wants Another War!

Almost 300 American paratroopers have arrived in Ukraine to train Kiev forces. Their mission will officially kick off on Monday, and will continue for the next six months. They are members of the 173rd airborne brigade, which already trained Ukrainian forces previously - in international drills last September.

The U$ Pentagon is creating more chaos on Russia's border - imagine if it was the other way around and Russia was deploying troops in Mexico and Canada - what would the U$ response be then?

What You Learn on a Train

  • I'm at the Ecumenical Advocacy days conference in Washington now waiting for my workshop to begin.  Also speaking in the workshop will be Joseph Gerson (AFSC), David Vine (American University) and Dante Simbulan (Philippines).  Our subject is the growing danger of war due to militarization of the Asia-Pacific. Joseph is a long-time expert on the Asia-Pacific, David has written a book about US military bases around the world, and Dante is a former political prisoner in the Philippines after opposing the Marcos dictatorship. The crowd waiting in line to get to the coffee service after one session was quite impressive.  One thousand people are attending the confab.
  • The conference is being held at a hotel just three blocks from the Pentagon.  I took the subway and got off at the Pentagon metro stop.  All along the walls of the underground were big displays of space warfighting technology advertising the Orbital corporation.

  • On my eight-hour train ride here from Boston yesterday I sat next to a man for several hours who works for the weapons corporation Raytheon.  He happened to mention he had recently returned from an overseas trip to a certain country.  I was able to piece together that he was servicing a US "missile defense" deployment in the Asia-Pacific.  He was more than surprised that I knew anything about the subject and did not argue with me about MD being a key element in US first-strike attack planning.  After a bit he acknowledged that he'd rather be working on something less militaristic but when he went looking for a high-tech job after college there was nothing else out there except working for the military industrial complex.  

  • I'm staying in DC at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House - a place I often stay at when I come to DC.  The folks who live there are very active peace workers and take in refugee mothers and small children from Latin America and Africa. 

  • I head back home on an early train in the morning.  Sitting for eight hours on the train gives me lots of time to catch up with reading and Internet correspondence.  On the way here I read a fascinating article about the history of conflict between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church.  What was most interesting was how the Vatican has been deeply involved in continued military attacks on Russia over the centuries due to the presence of their major competitor, the Orthodox church, based in that country. 

Pentagon Wants More $$$ for Space Warfighting

Space Domination: Pentagon to Beef up Defense of Satellites  

by Staff Writers Washington DC (Sputnik)

United States satellites could be vulnerable to attacks, according to the deputy secretary of the Defense Department, who urged the government and private sector to work together to protect the key space assets.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, speaking during a session at the annual Space Symposium conference, said the satellites were "absolutely critical" to the operation of the US military, as well as its ability to fight future wars.

Because the session was classified, Work's comments were relayed to Reuters by his spokeswoman, Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson.

"We depend on space for everything from space-based communications, to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to positioning, navigation and timing," Work told 200 military and industry executives, according to Hillson.

The Pentagon needs to take action to defend military and intelligence satellites, Work emphasized. That includes partnering with industry to find new ways to protect satellites and the networks used to operate them.

In addition to defense, the government needs innovative and integrated ways to respond to any such attacks to US assets in space, he said.

"To maintain our military dominance we must consider all space assets, both classified and unclassified, as part of a single constellation," Work said. "And if an adversary tries to deny us the capability, we must be able to respond in an integrated, coordinated fashion."

Work's comments at the premier space event of the year sparked concern among space warfare experts.

"His remarks seem to be part of a concerted effort by the national security establishment to 'prime the pump' so to speak for a more active counter space program for the United States," Victoria Samson, a top space analyst at the Secure World Foundation, said in an email to Breaking Defense.

"What I find interesting is the connection between classified and unclassified space programs. It seems to be elevating the unclassified programs to a point where the United States would have to treat them the same as if an attack was on a classified satellite. That would imply that things can escalate pretty quickly should we come into a time of hostility. It also means there is more room for misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or mistrust."

Last month, Admiral James Winnefeld told Reuters that the US military was taking a broader look at the overall issue of "space control," language that Theresa Hitchens said has an offensive connotation.

Hitchens, a scholar the University of Maryland's Center for International and Security Studies and former director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva, told Breaking Defense that comments by Winnefeld and Work are out of step with the national security space strategy to date under the Obama administration, which has called for strategic restraint, with an emphasis multilateral approaches to shaping the space environment.

The Pentagon is seeking an initial $5.5 billion over the next five years to beef up protection of space assets and ground networks in the wake of growing threats from China and other countries.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Experiences in Ukraine & Russia

Sharon Tennison, author of "The Power of Impossible Ideas", talks about Russian history, Vladimir Putin, the crisis in Ukraine, and offers insights in building a win-win relationship between the United States and Russia. This program was aired on KMVT15 Community Media.

More Kiev Death Squad News

A Kiev tank displays their true colors in the current civil war against self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine who are resisting the US-NATO backed neo-Nazi regime

  • I am on bus and then train from Maine to Washington DC to be part of a workshop on the US military 'pivot' into the Asia-Pacific.  The workshop will be part of the Ecumenical Lobby Days at the capital where a thousand Christian activists are scheduled to attend.
  • More disturbing news from Kiev, Ukraine as the leader of a recent protest at the US Embassy has been killed by death squads.  (You might have seen the post I made of the protest video where more than 2,000 protesters where mooing like cows outside the embassy to illustrate that the US-NATO backed regime in Kiev will not allow the people to speak.  So much for US-style democracy.) 
  • One person wrote about this latest assassination:   "Another one of my friends, Oleg Kalashnikov, was killed. I'm very sorry. We were friends. I knew his family. Repeatedly I tried to convince him to leave Kiev. In response, he told me that if everyone leaves, then who will fight. I constantly tell my friends, remaining in Ukraine, that the organization of protests is futile. This power does not argue with its opponents, it eliminates them. Many of my friends were arrested, some disappeared, others were killed."
  • Fort Russ reports that home addresses of the murdered Kiev junta opponents were listed on a hit list website of the Interior Ministry.  One entry listed the home address of the ex-People's Deputy of the Party of Regions, Oleg Kalashnikov, killed the day before by hit squads at the entrance to his apartment.  The US has ensured that neo-Nazi operatives are now in charge of various Interior and Security departments of the corrupt Kiev regime.  The message is clear to anyone who opposes the US-NATO war project along Russia's border - resist this program at your own peril. It reminds me of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala during the 1980-90's.
  • Poland's retired Land Forces commander and Deputy Defense Minister Waldemar Skrzypczak used to be in favor of arming and training the Ukrainian military. That was before the Rada [Kiev parliament] passed the law glorifying the UPA [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Ukrainian Insurgent Army that joined Hitler's attack on Russia during WW II] -- the same UPA that killed Skrzypczak's uncle by pinning him to the door of a barn with a pitchfork. Now that Ukraine has shown its true colors, Skrzypczak has concluded that until Ukraine rids itself of its nationalism, it will be impossible for Poland to collaborate with that country in any meaningful fashion. It should noted that Skrzypczak is an influential figure in Poland, a veteran military officer whose service included the command of an occupation zone in Iraq, and who has few peers when it comes to authoritativeness on national security matters.