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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

VFP Statement on Pentagon THAAD Deployment in South Korea



Click on the letter for a better view.....thanks to the board of Veterans For Peace for approving this statement.

Clinton Picks Tim Kaine from Virginia


Could Hillary Be Any Worse? Sure, Add Tim Kaine to the Ticket

By David Swanson

Tim Kaine has been consistently ranked as one of the least progressive Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Adding him to the Hillary Clinton ticket would be a kick in the face to Bernie Sanders supporters holding out hopeless hope for some sign of democracy within the Democratic Party.

Kaine was an anti-environmentalist pro-coal governor of Virginia, a supporter of the "right to work" (for less) law restricting union organizing in Virginia, and he is a supporter of corporate trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and including fast-tracking the TPP. An extremely loyal Democrat, he nonetheless criticized Democrats in 2011 for proposing higher taxes on millionaires.

Kaine is the anti-Bernie Sanders on policy and on process. He takes his direction from those in power, not from the public. In a poll of over 250 Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention (by the Bernie Delegate Network), only 2.7% of them said they thought Kaine would be an acceptable vice presidential nominee.

The bulk of what the U.S. government does, financially and in terms of work hours, is wage wars and move troops and weapons around the world. That whole topic, and even the existence of 96% of humanity, is largely absent from election campaigns. Yet war may be the one spot where people hunt for something more progressive than Hillary Clinton in Kaine's record.

Kaine supported a nuclear agreement with Iran, a diplomatic breakthrough arguably made possible by the departure of supreme militarist Clinton from the State Department. But Kaine backed President Barack Obama on that, as on everything else. To imagine that Kaine has challenged presidential war powers is to misread another part of his record.

Together with Senator John McCain, Kaine introduced the War Powers Consultation Act of 2014, which some falsely imagined to be a bill to strengthen Congressional war powers. It was not. The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress. The War Powers Resolution requires a president who launches a war on his/her own to notify Congress within 48 hours and to end it within 60 days unless Congress authorizes it. The McCain/Kaine bill would repeal the War Powers Resolution, turn Congress into a toothless consulting firm, and arrange for a vote without consequences on "approval" of each war within 30 days of its start. Only if Congress voted down "approval" would it vote on "disapproval." And if it passed "disapproval," nothing would follow from that. This amounts to nothing less than unconstitutionally bestowing the power to make war on the president.

The idea behind this "reform" is to take a Congress fully committed to allowing and funding every war, and compel it to also formally express its approval, thus strengthening the president's position. Kaine has thus pushed for a Congressional vote, a Yes vote, on authorizing a war on ISIS. He's expressed his view that President Obama lacks authorization. But Kaine has not put a hold on funding bills, has not forced a vote under the War Powers Resolution, has not introduced legislation to deny funding, has not introduced censure or suggested impeachment. He does not object to Obama's wars, he just wants Congress to clearly and publicly back them, so that the president is not the only one sticking his neck out.

Kaine has proposed authorizing air strikes but not ground troops, or at least he did before there were so many ground troops involved. And he's expressed awareness that some measures can be counterproductive. But his top commitment, followed most consistently, has been loyalty to the Obama White House. A shift to loyal obedience to a Clinton White House would not require much of Tim Kaine. He might have a few more wars to urge Congress to support, but it seems unlikely Kaine would deem that much of an inconvenience.


~ David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.  Swanson lives in Virginia.        

Friday, July 22, 2016

U.S. Pressures Japan to Remove Protest Camp in Northern Okinawa



Last December when our Veterans for Peace delegation went to Okinawa we visited several areas where the US is expanding bases and military training grounds.

One such area was in the northern part of the island called Takae where Camp Gonsalves, a.k.a Northern Training Area, of US Marine Corps is located.  Helipads for Army Osprey choppers are being expanded in the forested area that will surely impact the people, plants, animals, and fresh water.

It is a sparsely populated area but the local people have maintained vigil there daily and parked their cars in front of the gates to the training area.  In recent days the Japanese government, under pressure from the US military, sent in 1,000 police to remove the protest encampment.

As they were removing the people and the cars the police hit one of the protesting women in the face.  So it is clear that the government is now moving to get rough with the protests that have successfully slowed down the base expansion process.

All of this US military expansion throughout the Asia-Pacific is aimed at surrounding China and Russia in order to make it possible for the US agenda that calls for regime change in Beijing and Moscow.

Bruce

South Korea Labels 'Missile Defense' Critics as 'Impure' Enemies of the State


  • More than 2,000 Seongju (South Korea) residents - melon farmers, housewives, teachers, city councils, Martial Arts masters, veterans, etc.-- took 50 buses, traveled to Seoul and held a peaceful rally at Seoul Station Plaza yesterday, articulating their opposition to the deployment of the US THAAD 'missile defense' system.
  • The situation will get even worse for the people of Seongju as President Park Geun-hye (daughter of former dictator and US puppet who got his start as a collaborator with the occupying Japanese imperial Army during WW II) yesterday ordered to identify and root out all “impure” people. The residents in Seongju who had voted for President Park Geun-hye enthusiastically are now identified as “impure” enemies of the state. The Prime Minister (who just days ago was egged by the people of Seongju) pledged to follow President Park's order by finding and punishing the "impure" enemies.
  • Elderly residents from Seongju were unable to suppress their frustration. “Seongju adores Park Geun-hye, [but now] I want to cut off the finger I voted for her with. I mean it!” said one.
  • Mary Beth and I made it home from Toronto about 1:00 am last night after a 13-hour drive back to Bath.  I was asked to speak about Keep Space for Peace Week (October 1-8) before leaving the Toronto conference.  I was handed the tear-off portion of our space week flyer from a person committing to organize an event in Caracas, Venezuela during the week of global local actions.  The annual week of protest against the militarization of space has taken place each year since 2001.
  • A couple of days ago I also heard from activists in Sicily who said they planned to translate our space week poster into Italian and will hold a space week protest at the new US MUOS space directed warfare communications base near Niscemi.  You can see the space week poster here

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Selling a Coup to the Unsuspecting Public



Watch this Newsbud Call to Action presentation with Sibel Edmonds and Spiro Skouras exposing MSNBC-NBC-Pentagon joint disinformation operation during the critical early hours of the Turkey Coup Attempt.

They share the documentation and timeline illustrating the implementation of psychological warfare tactics packaged by the Pentagon, and brought to you and marketed by US media outlets.

Sibel Edmonds is the founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers.

Ms. Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI’s Washington Field Office. During her work with the bureau, she discovered and reported serious acts of security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence that had national security implications. After she reported these acts to FBI management, she was retaliated against and ultimately fired in March 2002. 

This is America



A therapist who works with people with disabilities is telling his story after he said police shot him while he was trying to help his patient with autism.

Cellphone video was released Wednesday afternoon showing Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands in the air, telling officers that weapons are not necessary. “When I went to the ground, I went to the ground with my hands up,” Kinsey said, “and I am laying there just like this. Telling them again there is no need for firearms. He is autistic. He has a toy truck in his hand.”

In his hospital bed and wearing bandages, Kinsey said, he was attempting to calm an autistic patient who ran away from a group home. Kinsey could be heard in the video saying, “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Inside Report from Cleveland




In Toronto for Peace Confab


Mary Beth and I arrived in Toronto, Canada last night after a hard 12-hour drive from Maine.  The first part - on the country back roads through the scenic mountains and fields of western Maine, New Hampshire and northern Vermont were lovely.  The early parts of Canada, the rolling fields of corn and hay were also quite precious.  Once we hit the super highway west to Ontario the drive turned to drudgery.  But we made it safe and sound and found the youth hostel where conference members are staying.

This morning we attend the two-day conference made up of members of the Canadian, US and Mexican Peace Councils.  (Activists also here from Cuba, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Greece.) I will talk about the sad but very real subject of Pentagon 'Full spectrum dominance' and the implications for world peace - which as you can imagine are quite horrid.

Full spectrum dominance means controlling 'conflict' at every level - on the ground, the oceans, the air and in space.  The US Space Command says it will be the 'Master of Space' and utilize space-directed warfare to control the planet below on behalf of corporate globalization.

The pirates have gone high-tech and intend to use this technology for their benefit.  The aerospace industry brags that 'Star Wars' will be the largest industrial project in human history costing big $$$$$$.  They intend to pay for it by cutting 'entitlement programs' which officially in the US are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and what is left of the welfare program after Bill Clinton got finished with it.

We've got our work cut out for us but I am encouraged by the recent protests in South Korea opposing US deployments of THAAD 'missile defense' systems.  In a very conservative community in the center of the country, the melon growing farmers of Seongju pelted their Prime Minister with eggs and water bottles and held his car up for six hours in utter disgust with the government's slavish subservience to the US military agenda.

This example of outraged citizen action shows that things can change rather quickly when people feel their very existence is at stake.

As an organizer it is my job to keep working the fertile soil and to help people make this transition from fear into action.  My hope is that this conference in Toronto brings us a step closer to a real global movement for peace.

Bruce

Monday, July 18, 2016

Organizing to Stop U.S. 'Missile Defense' Deployments


Last night I participated in a conference call with 18 other activists from South Korea, Japan, and across the US.  We were talking about the swirling controversy in South Korea since the recent announcement by the US that the Pentagon will deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) 'missile defense' (MD) system in the center of their country.

I was asked to give some background on the provocative US MD program that is now being deployed by the US military surrounding Russia and China.

Under the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty that the US had with Russia these destabilizing MD systems were not allowed.  When George W. Bush became president he withdrew from the treaty and the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency has been on steroids ever since.

Theodore Postol, ex-US Chief of Naval Operations science advisor and emeritus professor of science, technology and security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says the following about these systems:

  • The THAAD system was designed from its beginning to provide cuing information to the US national missile defense program.
  • Would track information on Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) prior to their ascending over the curved earth-horizon before being picked up by US national missile defense radars in Alaska.
  • The THAAD is incapable of accomplishing its professed objective of intercepting North Korean missiles targeted at South Korea because those missiles would not reach the higher altitude that THAAD is designed to protect.  South Korean targets are too close to the north and the incoming missiles would not reach high enough for THAAD to intercept them.
  • THAAD will increase tensions between China and Japan. Japan already has two THAAD radars and a THAAD battery is deployed in Guam.  THAAD in South Korea could also help track Russian missiles.

THAAD’s electro-magnetic radar (which poses worrisome health consequences for the local populations) can identify even a baseball that is within in 1-2,000 km, which means that it reaches from the west sea of Korea all the way to China which is within 1,000 km from South Korea.  In other words, China will be within the THAAD’s radar field.  This is why Russia and China strongly oppose THAAD and have stated that military counter-measures will be necessary.  THAAD increases the threat of war in Northeast Asia.

Cost: A single battery costs over $1 billion.  A THAAD Battery consists of six truck-mounted launchers, 48 interceptors (8 per launcher), a THAAD Fire Control and Communications unit, and one radar (the world's most advanced mobile radar).

Early tomorrow morning Mary Beth and I drive to Toronto, Canada for a conference of Canadian, US, and Mexican Peace Council members.  I've been asked to speak about these issues and to talk more about Keep Space for Peace Week (October 1-8).  Our theme this year is Chokehold on Russia and China: Why is the US provoking global war?  You can see our space week poster and flyer here

Russia and China have been warning the world for several years that US deployments of MD systems will make it impossible for them to participate in any serious negotiations to get rid of nuclear weapons.  Because MD systems are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning (they could pick off Russian or Chinese nuclear retaliatory launches after a US first-strike) neither of the two nations can afford to reduce their nuclear retaliatory capability.

Russia, China, and North Korea have all declared they would never launch a first-strike attack.  The US refuses to make a similar pledge.

In addition to THAAD the Pentagon is presently deploying several other MD systems - the Ground-based Mid-Course system in Alaska, California, and likely soon at a site in either Ohio, Michigan, or New York.  Also now being deployed near Russian and Chinese borders are the PAC-3 (Patriot third generation) MD systems and on Navy Aegis destroyers are the SM-3 (Standard Missile 3) interceptors that have shown the best testing results.

All together the Pentagon is developing a multi-layered MD program that raises the stakes for Russia and China.

After witnessing the 2003 US 'shock and awe' first-strike attack against Iraq, other nations now must consider that they too could be attacked by the Pentagon which claims that it must establish "full spectrum dominance" around the world on behalf of corporate globalization.

Bruce