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, May 14, 2005

BITS AND PIECES

* Tomorrow I go to Virginia to attend a two-day press briefing on space issues that Helen Caldicott's Nuclear Policy Research Institute is putting on. She has 45 journalists coming to the event and then another 40 or so people who will be presenting to the media. The event is called Full Spectrum Dominance and will feature retired Gen. Charles Horner, former commander of the U.S. Space Command during the Persian Gulf War. It was that war that the military says was the "first space war." I am to talk about the Global Network, who we are and what we do. GN board member Loring Wirbel will be there as well talking about how space technology coordinates all warfare today, thus making satellites space weapons.

* The Brevard County (space coast) ACLU has sent me a sampler of some of the documents they have obtained concerning the NASA infiltration and surveillance of the Global Network. For me the most telling item in the documents I've seen was the May 5, 2003 reference to the Kennedy Space Center as the "victim" and the Global Network as the "suspect." What does that tell you about the state of civil liberties in America?

* Today I am organizing a meeting here in Brunswick on behalf of Maine Veterans for Peace, of which I am a member, to plan a September 10 protest against the Navy's "Blue Angels" flight team that will come here that weekend to "perform." We will hold a protest march from our downtown out to the Naval Air Station gates. They expect about 40,000 people to come see the air show so we should have a good audience. I am calling the air show the "Gods of Metal." Notice how they time this military recruiting show on the 9-11 anniversary.

* Been getting a good response from around the country from folks who are passing around the appeal for support of Cynthia McKinney's effort to defund the nuclear rocket. Really appreciate the help folks, thanks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

ONE STRAND AT A TIME

I spent the entire day yesterday sending e-mails out to peace groups all over the U.S. about Rep. Cynthia McKinney's plan to lead the fight against funding the nuclear rocket. (See yesterday's entry below for details.)

I found two sources that listed the address for virtually every peace group in the country and copied and pasted, one by one, an e-mail to them. The nuclear rocket issue is not known to many people, even in the peace movement, so I figured it was worth my time to bring some awareness to folks.

This is the way I was able to make the Cancel Cassini Campaign, back in 1997, such a big issue. For three years before the launch of the space mission, that carried 72 pounds of plutonium-238 on-board, I day in and day out tried to do something to make people aware of Cassini. So now I am doing the same thing on Project Prometheus - the nuclear rocket.

Some months ago I was contacted by the Keystone Center in Colorado. They are a PR firm hired by NASA to determine what critics of the nuclear rocket intend to do to stop it. The Keystone Center intends to help NASA draft public relations strategies to blunt our efforts. They wrote, and then called, wanting a meeting so they could find out about our plans. Imagine that, they wanted me to sit down and tell them what we plan to do to stop Project Prometheus so they could then turn around and help NASA! Of course, I declined the meeting. Let them read the blog like everyone else who is spying on us from NASA and the military-industrial complex. Let them earn their $$$$ the hard way! Work for it!

I will say this. We do intend to run a global campaign to Park Project Prometheus. We want to park it in the annals of history alongside past nuclear rocket schemes like Orion, Rover, NERVA, and Timberwind. All previous generations of the nuclear rocket were cancelled because of enormous cost and fear of the environmental consequences of an accident. What makes anyone think that the reaction to Prometheus will be any different?

There is one difference. Today the media are under control of a handful of multi-national corporations that are owned by or connected to the military-industrial complex. It will be harder to get decent stories written about the dangers of the nuclear rocket. At the same time we have a Congress under the thumb of the aerospace industry's big money. The fight will be hard this time around but no less important.

It will be our strategy to bring attention to Project Prometheus in any way possible. It will take extraordinary effort to reach beyond the barriers erected by corporate money and power. That is why I spent the entire day yesterday e-mailing groups, one by one, around the nation. A spider spins its web one strand at a time.

REP. MCKINNEY TRIES TO DEFUND NUCLEAR ROCKET

On May 5, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to all members of Congress urging them to join her in an effort to defund Project Prometheus, the nuclear rocket. See her letters at this link: http://www.space4peace.org/articles/cynthis_mckinney.pdf

In the letter, Rep. McKinney says, "I write to invite you to join me as a co-signer on the two attached letters. They are intended to protect our citizens from the potential of a catastrophic nuclear accident posed by the Prometheus Project, a NASA/DoE/Pentagon program to develop and deploy a nuclear propulsion rocket."

"The first letter is directed to the office that will prepare the Preliminary Environmental Impact Statement for the Prometheus Program. The second letter is to express the support of Members of Congress for shifting Federal funding from the development of nuclear propulsion systems to research and development for solar and other alternative energy systems that can support our space program."

This effort by Rep. McKinney is a crucial step in the effort to ensure that we stop the nuclearization of space. In addition, it is the nuclear rocket that could be used to power weapons in space like the space-based laser so it is also a vital step in ensuring that we cut-off the power source for the weaponization of space. (In a study Commissioned by Congress called Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years, staffer John Collins reported that "Nuclear reactors thus remain the only known long-lived, compact source able to supply military space forces with electric power.... Larger versions could meet multimegawatt needs of space-based lasers..... Nuclear reactors must support major bases on the moon until better options, yet unidentified, become available.")

We urge all our affiliate members and supporters to immediately call your Congressperson in Washington DC and request that they contact Rep. McKinney's office to become a cosigner of her letter calling for the defunding of the nuclear rocket. Please call the Congressional switchboard right away at (202) 224-3121 and ask for the office of your Congressional representative.

Please help us by passing this e-mail on to your personal lists so that we can expand the numbers of people who see it. Call me if you have any questions.

It is not often that we get Congressional support to end the arms race in space. We don't want to let Rep. McKinney down! Please act today.

Thank you.

Monday, May 09, 2005

LOOK FOR THE SNAP!

I've been taking it kind of easy for the last week since returning from our Global Network space organizing conference in New York City. Our conference was exciting and well attended. Several people came up to me after the event and remarked that they felt welcomed and appreciated and that they were impressed with the spirit of the people at the conference. That is just what I want to hear. It has always been my belief that as hard as this work is, and it is hard taking on the world's leading military power, it is important that when we get together we should enjoy ourselves. Even if we have to talk about the war in Iraq and the reality of an expanding arms race into space, we should not lose our humanity in the middle of all the madness.

My strategy as an organizer has been to surround myself with good hearted people who have a spark of light in their eyes. An old friend described it as "snap." When you bring folks with snap together sparks fly and people are attracted to the positive and creative energy.

We all have our moments where we are dour and a bit depressed. Fill a room with that energy and look out! But find people who can work hard, have fierce determination, treat each other with respect, work cooperatively, and still find a reason to laugh and smile and you are on your way to creating an organization that can make it through the tough times. And there is no doubt we are in for some tough times ahead.


Global Network members getting ready to march in New York City on May 1.