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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Heading to Washington for Veterans Protest

Eric Herter picked me up at our house at 5:00 am this morning and we drove south to Portland, Maine to grab at 6:00 am bus to Boston.  After a two-hour wait we jumped on a train heading to Washington DC so we can attend the Monday and Tuesday protests by Veterans For Peace.

Three of us will be staying at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in DC.

Veterans are gathering from around the country for the rally and march on Tuesday beginning at the Lincoln Memorial that will end at the White House with civil disobedience against America's cycle of non-stop wars and the mad waste of trillions of dollars on them.
I don't see much chance of any reforms happening in Washington now that the oligarchs control the government.  Our nation has become a 'failed state' in the sense that the Congress and White House only work on behalf of the rich and the corporate interests.

So what is left to the citizen to do about this sorry state of affairs?  All the doors to real change have been slammed shut in our faces.  For me the answer is obvious - we must organize and participate in non-violent resistance.

Thomas Jefferson famously said, "The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations....Every generation needs a new revolution."

I am not inclined to sit back and wait for someone else to fix things.  That's not how my understanding of history works.  The idea of democracy is a participatory activity and if we are to have a nation run by the people then the people have to make it happen - especially as we face times like these where democracy has been drowned by Mr. Big and his $$$$$$.

I don't go to Washington thinking that 'one protest' will do magic and turn everything around.  Over the years I've been asked a zillion times, "What good did that protest do?"  That's not how it works - one protest is not meant to turn things around just like that.  It's a building process where the issues get illuminated, demands made, the public is made to confront the reality even if they don't want to acknowledge it, more people get inspired to act, consciousness and movement builds and spreads.

The Occupy Movement is one example of how one action spread around the country and around the globe.  The 1% and the 99% became household concepts and those themes made their way onto the nightly news and front pages of newspapers.

In a way you could say that protesting is a 'leap of faith' - the spark is not always lit at each protest but now and then the fire catches on.

I've come to the point that I don't really worry if protests I attend are 'worth it or not'.  I do them because I believe in the issues at hand and I feel compelled to act.  I have no choice - I must stand in non-violent resistance even if there are only a handful of us.  But I've been around long enough to have confidence that when we do act together ripples and waves are created that take our heartfelt demands further into the public consciousness then we could ever know or imagine.  I've learned to have faith that things will move in a good way if we stay loyal to our own beliefs in what we stand for.


Update:  It is 4:17 pm and our train has stopped in Wilmington, Delaware.  They just announced that somewhere ahead of us another train hit some truck on the tracks and there was an explosion.  So we are sitting and are not going to be arriving in DC on time.

Stop the Wars

The Single-Payer Mantra

Keep repeating it - we want single-payer - Medicare for all!

Sunday Song

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Manchester-Libya Connection in Five Minutes

By Pepe Escobar

Let’s focus on Ramadan, father of the Manchester “martyr” Salman Obeidi; now that’s a nasty piece of work.

He hails from the al-Obeidi tribe, from al Gubbah in eastern Libya. Under Gaddafi he was a Sgt. Major, very pious and Islamist-connected. He left Libya in 1991 and settled down in the Saudi Wahhabi paradise where – crucially – he trained mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan against the Najibullah government, after the Soviet retreat. 

In 1992 the mujahideen enter Kabul, as in bomb it to death, including the recently “normalized” Hekmatyar. Ramadan goes to London and then Manchester, joining the Libyan Islamist diaspora that coalesces around the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

Ramadan connects with none other that Abu Anas Al-Libbi – who also lives in Manchester – and will become the brains behind the al-Qaeda attacks on Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Ramadan also connects with the infamous Abdelhakim Belhaj – former mujahid in Afghanistan and VERY close to… Osama Bin Laden. Belhaj convinces Ramadan to go back to Libya.

After the Cameron/Sarkozy/NATO “liberation” of Libya, Ramadan joins the Al Umma party, whose leader is Sami al Saadi, one of the LIFG’s top commanders, and gets very close to the Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariani, the spiritual guide of hardcore Islamist militias linked to Belhaj.

Three years ago Ramadan was part of the Islamist militia raid that re-conquered Tripoli’s airport; son Salman flew from Manchester for this one, was shot, and treated in Turkey.

Ramadan was also part of the Benghazi Defense Brigades; a mish mash of Islamists from Katiba 17 (financed by Qatar and instrumental in the Benghazi revolt against Gaddafi) and Ansar al Sharia. You all remember what happened on 9/11, 2012; it was Ansar al Sharia operatives who attacked the US consulate in Benghazi.

Arguably the key point in all this mess is that Ramadan profited from the MI5 rat line transporting Libyans back to the home country to fight Gaddafi. The minister in charge of authorizing this “policy”? Theresa May [currently running for Prime Minister as a Tory].

MI5 and the British government always knew, all along, what Ramadan was all about. He was certainly an asset; the Brits were heavily involved in eastern Libya from the start. He has not been arrested; he’s now under protection, Mafia-style. His “arrest” took place – how lovely! - just as a shadow flight carrying US Special Forces landed in Misrata.

The only missing link is why son Salman “betrayed” his al-Qaeda Dad by converting to Daesh.

This is just an ultra-concise summary of the whole stinking-to-high-heavens scam. But you get the drift.

~ Pepe Escobar is a Brazilian journalist. He writes a column – The Roving Eye – for Asia Times Online, and works as an analyst for RT, Sputnik News, and Press TV as well as formerly for Al Jazeera. Escobar has focused on Central Asia and the Middle East, and has covered Iran on a continuous basis since the late 1990s. Escobar has reported extensively from Afghanistan. 

"Spend $$ on Your Own People"

Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma believes that improper distribution of funds and hyper inflated US military spending, not globalization or other countries “stealing” US jobs, is behind the economic decline in America.

The Deep State is the State

By Ron Jacobs

The deep state is not some enigmatic entity that operates outside the US government.  It is the US state itself.  Like all elements of that state, the so-called deep state exists to enforce the economic supremacy of US capitalism.  It does so primarily via the secret domestic and international police forces like the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies.  The operations of these agencies run the gamut from surveillance to propaganda to covert and overt military actions.  Naturally, this so-called deep state operates according to their own rules; rules which ultimately insure its continued existence and relevance.   Although it can be argued that it was the 1950 National Security Directive known as NSC-68 along with the Congressional Bill creating the Central Intelligence Agency that launched the “deep state” as we understand it, a broader understanding of the “deep state” places its genesis perhaps a century prior to that date.  In other words, a structure designed to maintain the economic and political domination of certain powerful US capitalists existed well back into the nineteenth century.  However, the centralization of that power began in earnest in the years following World War Two.

For those who don’t know what the NSC-68 actually was, it is essentially a directive that militarized the conflict between US capitalism and Soviet communism.  It was based on the correct understanding that US capitalism required open access to the resources and markets of the entire planet and that the Soviet Union represented the greatest threat to that access.  Not only did this mean the US military would grow in size, it also ensured that the power of the intelligence sector would expand both in terms of its reach and its budget.  When one recalls that this period in US history was also a period when the FBI and the US Congress were going after leftists and progressives in the name of a certain right-wing ideological purity, the power of the US secret police becomes quite apparent.

As the 1950s turned into the 1960s, the so-called deep state’s power continued to grow.   Some of its better known manifestations include the failed attempt to invade revolutionary Cuba that became known as the Bay of Pigs, the use of psychoactive drugs on unsuspecting individuals as part of a mind control study, and numerous attempts to subvert governments considered anti-American.  Among the latter actions one can include covert operations against the Vietnamese independence forces and the murder of the Congolese president Patrice Lumumba.  In terms of the “deep state’s” domestic operations, this period saw the intensification of spying on and disrupting various groups involved in the civil rights and antiwar organizing.  Many elements of the domestic operation would become known as COINTELPRO and were directed by the FBI.

Although the agencies of the so-called deep state operate as part of the US state, this does not mean that those agencies are of one mind.  Indeed, like any power structure, there are various factions represented.  This means that there are disagreements over policies, priorities, direction, and personnel.  The only certainty is that all of its members agree on the need to maintain the supremacy of US capital in the world.  At times, the seemingly absolute power of the CIA and FBI have caused the US Executive Branch to try and set up other means and methods in order to circumvent that power.  Two examples of this that come quickly to mind are the establishment of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) by the Kennedy administration in 1961-1962 and the failed attempt (known as the Huston plan after its creator Tom Huston) by the Nixon White House to centralize the direction of all US government intelligence operations in the White House.

There is no soft coup taking place in DC.  The entire government has been owned by big business and the banking industry for more than a century, if not since its inception.  That ownership has been dominated by the military-industrial complex since about the same time as when the aforementioned agencies were created.  That is no coincidence.  However, their role in the current uproar over Russia and Michael Flynn is not because they are taking over the government.  It is because their current leadership represents the factions of the US establishment that were removed from power in November 2016.

Donald Trump is not against the so-called deep state. He is against it being used against himself and his cohorts. .  In the world of capitalist power, the factions Trump represents are not the same factions represented by the presidents former FBI director Comey served—the factions represented by Bush and Obama.   He understands that if he can install individuals in key positions at the FBI, CIA, DHS and other security and military agencies, he and his allies will be more than happy to use the power of these agencies against their opponents.  Indeed, he would most likely greatly enhance those agencies’ power, making a further mockery of the US Constitution.  If Trump is able to get the agencies of the deep state to work for the factions he represents—either by replacing those loyal to others not named Trump or by cajoling and coercing them to change their loyalty—he will think the deep state is a great thing.  In this way he is no different than every other US president.  He understands that whoever controls the deep state controls the US.  The struggle we are witnessing between the FBI and the Trump White House is part of a power struggle between US power elites.

When the ruling class is in crisis, as it is now, the job of the left is not to choose one side or the other.  Nor is it to accept the narrative provided by one or other faction of the rulers, especially when that narrative supports the police state.  Instead, it is the Left’s job to go to the root of the crisis and organize resistance to the ruling class itself.
Join the debate on Facebook

~ Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: 

Friday, May 26, 2017

NATO is a Terrorist Organization

Going Underground talks to the award-winning author and filmmaker John Pilger about Manchester concert attack and NATO.

'American Society Disintegrating'

Footage of Alger Hiss being interviewed in 1970 intercut with older footage from the 1950s when he was accused of being a Communist spy. Hiss denied being either a spy or a Communist.

His first trial resulted in a hung jury and the government tried him a second time and got a guity verdict.  Although he had been sentenced to five years' imprisonment, Hiss served only three years and eight months in Lewisburg Federal Prison. He was released from prison on November 27, 1954.

While in prison, Hiss acted as a voluntary attorney, adviser, and tutor for many of his fellow inmates.

Hiss recalls from the early 1950s that "Anti-Communism was the Anti-Semitism of America" during the McCarthy witch hunts in Congress.

One could say that today we have recycled red-baiting in Washington as the deep state again uses fear of the 'Russian bear' as political distraction to keep the people's eyes off the real problem of endless war and severe austerity budgets as the public is now being brought onto the reservation.

The only real difference appears to be that during the 1950s the Republicans led the red-baiting campaign and now it is largely the 'liberal' Democrats demonizing Russia. Otherwise the script appears to be much the same.

The script was likely written on Madison Avenue by the expensive public relations firms.


Why are You Shooting at Kids?

The US taxpayers send billions each year to Israel to pay for their illegal and immoral grab of land and water resources from the Palestinian people.

This young woman showed great courage to stand with the people who are experiencing genocide in the 21st century.  Gladly more and more people are waking up to these crimes that are supported by the US government - which has essentially become an agent of Israel.


A National Shame - End the Wars for Fossil Fuels

Video and words below by Will Griffin

Someone messaged me on The Peace Report Facebook page and requested that I make a video about suicides in the military. He told me that his brother was in the Navy and took his own life. Afterwords, the Navy tried to cover up the suicide. I’m not sure of the details, but I felt compelled to make a video about suicides.

After digging for weeks through all the reports and data collected over the past several years, I thought it would be best to make a two-part series. This first part will explain the numbers and rates on suicides of military members, veterans, and civilians. The second part will focus on what the military is doing in response to these numbers, which is quite frankly horrific, shocking, and sad. I hope for the second part to be finished in a week or so.

The data is a load of information, so I narrowed it down to what I thought was the most significant.

~ Will Griffin is an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran, a member of Veterans For Peace, and lives in Georgia.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Solidarity with Palestine

Israel, and their agents around the world, are trying to make the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement 'illegal' around the world.  Good luck - you can't lock us all up.

Keep resisting Israeli apartheid!

Solidarity forever with the tortured Palestinian people!

No more genocide in Palestine!

Over 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails are now on their 39th day of hunger strike.
Addameer reports that they're experiencing alarming deteriorating health conditions, including weight loss, weakness, difficulty speaking, standing & walking, high-blood pressure, kidney & chest pain, and vomiting of blood. Some have lost consciousness and have been transported to hospitals for immediate care.
Since the Israeli occupation began in 1967, Israeli forces have arrested more than 800,000 Palestinians, almost 20% of the total Palestinian population in the occupied territories.
More than one in three Palestinian men have been imprisoned by Israel. They are sentenced by a court system run by the Israeli military, and 99.74% of the cases heard there end in conviction. 
Some Palestinians are held indefinitely without charges or trial. Palestinians have even been jailed for posting about their own oppression on Facebook.

The hunger strikers have a range of basic demands, but Israel still refuses to negotiate with them and has inflicted various forms of punishment on those participating, including:
  • Subjecting them to dehumanizing strip searches
  • Confiscating salt supplements and forcing them to drink unsanitary tap water
  • Placing them in solitary confinement
  • Providing insufficient medical examinations
  • Forcing them to stand to be counted or face severe fines
  • Transferring them from prison to prison
  • Confiscating their personal items
  • Banning them from shaving their beards, cutting their nails, and washing their clothes
While American media is quick to report violence coming from the Palestinian resistance to Israel's occupation, they are astoundingly quiet when it comes to nonviolent resistance. The largest collective hunger strike in the world should be headline news.
These hunger strikers need us to act now to amplify their voices. Here are things you can do:
1) Call, write, and tweet your Congressional rep and ask them to: 
  • Pressure Israel to meet the prisoners' demands
  • Write a letter of support for the hunger strike 
2) Call the International Red Cross at 202-587-4600 and demand that it fulfill its obligation to examine the prisoners' cells
3) Call Amnesty International USA at 212-807-8400 and urge it to pressure Israel to meet the prisoners' demands
4) Post about the hunger strike on social media:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I'll Never Stop Digging

I had enough of all the mounting insanity and Washington bullshit this morning and couldn't stand another minute in front of the computer.  I went outside and began weeding the garden and before I knew it I'd spent more than three hours going thru every veggie and flower bed with a vengeance.

I transplanted a flowering bush that needed more light and room to spread its feeble branches.  I went to the hardware store and got some mulch to add to some bald spots near our doors.  I planted some more lettuce and peas in spots that were bare after previous plantings.

The work and the dirt were good for me.  I spend many hours each day reading some of the worst news out there always trying to better understand what the deep state is doing now and in the future.  I take seriously the fact that many others don't have the time or the stamina to do what I do.  I often hear from people how much they appreciate that I dig up information and post it on my blog and on Fazebook - otherwise they might not get to see it.

And normally I enjoy digging for information - it's a challenge and I am consumed by the desire to see the full picture - I have a super curious nature and a deep desire to not have the wool pulled over my eyes anymore.

Having grownup on Air Force bases and going to schools on those bases I was indoctrinated as a 'young patriot'.  It wasn't really until I joined the Air Force myself in 1971 that my eyes began to open and my heart quickly followed.

It was my first roommate and co-workers at Travis AFB, California that turned me toward the peace movement.  I became a voracious reader during the 3 1/2 years in the military and remain one now.  It was my reading of the Pentagon Papers (at my office desk at Wheeler AFB, Hawaii) which threw me over the edge and ended all my illusions about American democracy and exceptionalism. (My bosses weren't too pleased with me reading political books at my desk and kept a file on me detailing my many 'insubordinate' transgressions. A fellow GI found the file one day while going through the desk of our boss while he was out to lunch.)

One of my jobs at Wheeler was to service the administrative needs of Air Force officers assigned to US Embassies throughout the Pacific.  When I read their job descriptions they were all the same - they served as liaison between the host government and US weapons corporations.  They were serving as salesmen for the weapons corporations while on active duty.  The US taxpayers were paying for that and I was shocked.  I shouldn't have been.

During that time I made a pledge to myself that once I got out of the Air Farce (it felt like prison to me) I would never put myself in a position again where I was not a free man.  Finding a career (since 1978) as a full-time organizer was a gift and a blessing for which I am eternally grateful.

But now and then it all takes a heavy toll on me.  Yesterday I felt my insides churning as I read article after article about US deception around our expanding war in Syria.

So thanks for the garden to help me release this insanity - that and some music - gives me the peace of mind I need to keep digging.  I'll never stop.


Budgets are Moral Documents

A Catholic nun friend of mine said some years ago about the US, "We are a killer nation, we can kill them fast or we can kill them slow."

This budget represents perfectly those words.  We can kill people around the world fast with our obscene stock of deadly military machines and we can kill our own people slowly by calculated and cruel neglect as social programs are destroyed and life expectancy diminishes.

The soul of America is dark.


Deep State Turned Trump Back Toward Establishment Foreign Policy

President Donald Trump's first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel has focused on combating ISIS and extremism, which they claim is allegedly manufactured by Iran.

Former US diplomat Jim Jatras says "to talk in Saudi Arabia about cooperation against terrorism would be like going to Berlin in 1942 to talk about cooperation against genocide."

Jan Oberg in Sweden writes:

Donald Trump is the antithesis of leadership. Walking into the cauldron of the Middle East and denouncing Iran when it had just – almost at the same moment – re-elected as president a man who presided over the deal that de-fanged his country’s nuclear program and whose support is badly needed in fashioning an end to the Syrian war, stabilising Iraq and beheading ISIS was a show of how not to make friends and win people over.