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.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday song




Saturday, August 18, 2018

Radical love



From Academy Award® -winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom), Won’t You Be My Neighbor? takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers. A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this emotional and moving film takes us beyond the zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination.

Julian Assange hacked NASA plutonium space launch



WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be kicked out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London at any time as their new conservative government has been pressured by Washington to turn over the Internet activist to the US for 'prosecution of alleged crimes'.  Since when is reporting on government corruption and secrecy a crime?  With this in mind I wanted to repost a blog I did in 2011 after my son Julian, who is a debate coach in Taiwan, brought it to my attention that Assange had likely hacked the 1989 NASA launch from Florida that I organized protests to stop.  Here is the story.

The leaflet above was advertising a protest I organized at the space center in Florida in 1989. This was during the period from 1987-1997 were we held one large protest after the other against the nuclearization and weaponization of space. Sometimes there were 500 people there, frequently about 1,000 came, and our biggest ever was more than 5,000.

Just today my son Julian, who grew up attending these events during his childhood, sent me an email with a link to a book written by Suelette Dreyfus with Research by Julian Assange that was published in 1997. The book was called Underground: Front Page. You can find the book here

Julian told me, "One of the debate topics for the Harvard tournament is about WikiLeaks and I've been doing a lot of research on Julian Assange. Here's a link to a book he worked on...read the first chapter!!!"

So I dutifully clicked on the link.

Much to my surprise I found that the authors began their book with an account of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice's 1989 campaign to oppose NASA's launch of the Galileo plutonium-238 space probe that garnered international media coverage. This was the first of three major nukes in space campaigns that I led (the others Ulysses in 1990 and Cassini in 1997).

The authors wrote:

For weeks, the protesters had been out in force, demonstrating and seizing media attention. Things had become very heated. On Saturday, 7 October, sign-wielding activists fitted themselves out with gas masks and walked around on street corners in nearby Cape Canaveral in protest. At 8 a.m. on Monday, 9 October, NASA started the countdown for the Thursday blast-off. But as Atlantis's clock began ticking toward take-off, activists from the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice demonstrated at the centre's tourist complex.

That these protests had already taken some of the shine off NASA's bold space mission was the least of the agency's worries. The real headache was that the Florida Coalition told the media it would `put people on the launch pad in a non-violent protest'. The coalition's director, Bruce Gagnon, put the threat in folksy terms, portraying the protesters as the little people rebelling against a big bad government agency. President Jeremy Rivkin of the Foundation on Economic Trends, another protest group, also drove a wedge between `the people' and `NASA's people'. He told UPI, `The astronauts volunteered for this mission. Those around the world who may be the victims of radiation contamination have not volunteered.'


I'll always remember the 1989 launch of Galileo because it was delayed over and over again for about a week. The international media was gathered at the Kennedy Space Center tourist area with nothing much to do so each day during that week we'd assemble as many activists as we could get and hold another vigil and news conference which helped us tremendously to get the word out around the world about the deadly plutonium space launch.

In chapter one of this book is a whole section about a computer worm that got planted inside of NASA's computers during this very time. Was the Galileo delay due to a hacker trying to help us stop that launch? Was a hacker also trying to symbolically "sit on the launch pad"?

The authors wrote about NASA beginning to suspect that the worm inside their computers was put there by protesters. (In fact at the time I don't think I even had a computer or knew how to send email.)

NASA was working in an information void when it came to WANK [worm planted by hackers]. Some staff knew of the protesters' action down at the Space Center, but nothing could have prepared them for this. NASA officials were confident enough about a link between the protests against Galileo and the attack on NASA's computers to speculate publicly that the two were related. It seemed a reasonable likelihood, but there were still plenty of unanswered questions.

It just goes to show that you never know who is paying attention to your efforts. Who could have known that Julian Assange, who has become such a historic figure due to his courageous work with Wiki Leaks, would be moved enough by our campaign to feature it in the first chapter of his book? Maybe it was because it was a classic story about out-of-control technology and the "little peoples" reaction. Any way you cut it one has to acknowledge that it has a nice twist.

One side story should be told here as well. My son Julian was nine years old in 1989 and one day during the campaign I came home and he had my gas mask on. In his most serious voice he told me, "Don't worry Dad, if Galileo blows up I could wear this gas mask for the rest of my life." He was trying to make me feel better. His words cut right to my heart and my soul and virtually every day since that time I have stayed true to the cause because I believe that no child, my own or anyone else's, should ever have to think of living in a radioactive wasteland wearing a gas mask for the rest of their life.

Bruce

Friday, August 17, 2018

Parade postponed - we'll take it as a victory



Trump's big military parade has been postponed to 2019.  The cost had soared to $92 million.

The president of Veterans For Peace Gerry Condon writes:


Trump's military parade has definitely been "postponed" until at least 2019, according to multiple mainstream media sources.

Two hundred organizations were planning to protest, and the projected 92 Million Dollar price tag was an embarrassment.

The 4-6,000 troops who were to march in the parade must be relieved.

Protest actions being planned for D.C. will go ahead, with a somewhat different flavor. This is a victory. 

The main goal of this organizing was to stop the military parade from taking place, which would have been an affront to the entire world.

Veterans and military family members will lead a solemn procession among the various war memorials on the mall on November 11 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the horrible carnage of World War I. 

Street theater will dramatize the costs of war and challenge the manipulation of support for soldiers, veterans and war dead to prepare the public for rich men's wars.

Keep on Waging Peace!
Gerry

A CNN story on the parade cancellation had a tremendously wonderful quote from the leader of the American Legion (normally they are all about celebrating the wonders of the US military and the empire).  Maybe the crack in the dam is wider than we thought!  Here is the quote:

"The American Legion appreciates that our President wants to show in a dramatic fashion our nation's support for our troops," American Legion national commander Denise Rohan said in a statement. "However, until such time as we can celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism and bring our military home, we think the parade money would be better spent fully funding the Department of Veteran Affairs and giving our troops and their families the best care possible."

Ba-boom!  That's quite a big statement in this war weary country.  The American Legion is aware that at least 22 US soldiers each day are taking their own lives.  It's time to stop the parades and these wars that only benefit the corporate elite.

Bruce

Thursday, August 16, 2018

More from Karl Grossman on space issues



More from journalism professor Karl Grossman in this The Real News interview.

Karl, one of the founders of the Global Network in 1992, gives the organization a nice plug near the end of the video.

Karl has been on the 'space case' since just after the NASA space shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986.  He learned that the next mission of the Challenger was to carry deadly plutonium-238 on board.  He wrote a story for The Nation about that and one of the members of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice (where I was working at the time) alerted me to the article.  I called Karl and we've been working together ever since.

We were in almost daily communication during our international campaigns in 1989, 1990, and 1997 opposing NASA launches of even more plutonium-238 on the Galileo, Ulysses and Cassini space missions. 

The Global Network (created in 1992) was born out of these early campaigns to stop the launching of nuclear power into space.

Bruce

JFK: Another vision for space




One more likely reason that JFK was assassinated by the military industrial complex.

At the time of his killing JFK was reaching out to Cuba to normalize relations; had made a largely ignored speech at American University in Washington DC calling for full nuclear disarmament; was carrying on secret personal correspondence with Nikita Khrushchev (leader of the Soviet Union); and had issued orders to prepare to withdraw US troops from Vietnam after his reelection.

It's all documented in this hugely important book entitled 'JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why it Matters' by James W. Douglass.

This book is a life changer.

Bruce 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My interview on Loud & Clear

Listen to "Space Force” a gift to the military-industrial complex" on Spreaker.

President Trump’s new Space Force will be the first new military branch since the creation of the Air Force 70 years ago, if Congress approves it and it can get off the ground. But what exactly is a space force? And do we really need one? We’re joined from Maine by Bruce Gagnon, the coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.