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

Friday, November 04, 2005

NASA PLAYS NUCLEAR RUSSIAN ROULETTE AGAIN


NASA is now preparing to launch another plutonium-powered space probe from the space center in Florida.

Called New Horizons, the spacecraft is scheduled to be launched sometime between January 11 - February 14, 2006. The mission will carry a nuclear generator on-board that will provide power and heat for the instruments as it travels to Pluto.

Striking workers at Boeing were supposed to now be preparing the Atlas 5 rocket to carry the New Horizons probe into space, but replacement workers have taken over the job.

As usual, controversy surrounds the launching of deadly plutonium into space. NASA has in the past acknowledged that if there was a launch pad accident, and a release of the plutonium, winds could carry the highly-toxic substance for a 60 mile radius. Contamination would be found, NASA has admitted, as far west as Orlando and Disney World and as far north as Daytona Beach and south to Vero Beach. In past Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for plutonium missions, NASA has said that such an accident would require permanent evacuation of the population, removal of all buildings, vegetation, animals, and the top 1/2 inch of soil. A nuclear wasteland would have been created.

NASA plays with their accident probability numbers by creating computer programs that limit the possibilities of accidents. They do this as a way to reassure the public that there is no need for concern.

Before the 1997 launch of the controversial Cassini nuclear space mission, the Cape Canaveral City Council invited me to come speak to them about the launch. Cassini, which carried 72 pounds of plutonium-238 on-board, was going to the be "last nuclear launch" the city council had been told the week before by space center officials. So don't worry they were told. I handed city council members a list of NASA nuclear missions that they had on the agenda at that time and told them there were more coming. I suggested they might want to invite space center representatives back to go over the list with them.

NASA, working with the Department of Energy and the Pentagon, are eager to move nuclear power into space. Project Prometheus, the nuclear rocket, is one technology that the military is especially excited about as they will need nuclear reactors to power weapons in space like the space-based laser. NASA and the military are also anxious to put nuclear-powered bases on the moon in order to have the U.S. establish a permanent outpost there in hopes of controlling eventual mining operations for helium-3 and water.

The public must demand an end to the launching of nuclear power in space. Just one accident will make the damage from a hurricane look like nothing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A SIGN OF LIFE - A SLAP HAPPY DAY


Yesterday, for the first time in what seems like years, we saw a slight sign of life from the Senate Democrats. Led by their leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Dems invoked a rarely used tactic that allowed them to hold a closed-door session in the senate and for 3 1/2 hours they had at the Repubs, non-violently I presume, demanding a real investigation into the Bush administration's handling of pre-war intelligence.

The Republicans expressed outrage, as could be expected. They claimed to have been blind-sided by the tactic. Republican majority leader, Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) claimed that he would not trust Harry Reid for the "next year and one-half." Wow,
the truth is I won't trust the Repubs for the rest of my life.....

The Republicans are outraged that the Dems stood up for themselves and the country. Like any victim of domestic abuse, the Dems are supposed to just lie there and take the beating. Like any abuser, the Repubs are astonished when the abused stands up and says, "Hold it, stop this.!" Using the abuser/abused image himself, Sen. Harry Reid told the media that, "It's a slap in the face to the American people that this investigation has been stymied." In fact, the slappers even accused the slapees of doing the slapping. Sen. Frist, turning the tables, said he felt "slapped in the face" by Reid.

Truth is both parties need a good smack across their behinds by the American people. Both corrupt parties need a good whack, a shaking up, and a shaking down. But that might be just too much to expect from a populace distracted by the abortion buzz this week.

The Republicans want to ride the abortion issue as long as they can. By appointing Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, a clear "pro-life right-winger," George W. Bush was hoping he could knock the Iraq war and Scooter Libby legal indictments off the front page. There is nothing like a good abortion fight to distract the American people from a war, a massive budget crisis, growing job losses, and more. Now don't get me wrong, I think Judge Alito will be a disaster for all of us. Our constitutional privacy protections will be destroyed with him on the court. But can we get as outraged about the premature "abortion" of over 100,000 Iraqi lives (mostly innocent civilians) from this illegal and immoral war?

Now the question for me is, was yesterday's slap happy event just a one-slap deal or is this a sign the Dems are getting real. I have my doubts. I'd like to be wrong.

Monday, October 31, 2005

U.S. MOVING TO MANAGE CHINA


Japanese peace activists protest U.S. deployment of Aegis destroyers (outfitted with Theatre Missile Defense systems) the last Sunday of every month. The U.S. is now in the process of deploying 10 Aegis destroyers (built at Bath Iron Works in Maine) at the huge Yokosuka navy base. The ships will be used to surround and provoke China.

Because China's economic growth will challenge the U.S.'s status as world "big dog," the Pentagon is now moving to double military operations in the Asian-Pacific region. This military encirclement of China, with Aegis destroyers along the Chinese coast based in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan and new U.S. bases in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and others), will provoke a new arms race with China. China today has 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the U.S. The U.S. nuclear arsenal now has about 7,500 nuclear weapons. Is China likely to attack the U.S. with 20 nuclear missiles? Is China likely to want to go to war with the U.S. at the very time that virtually every product in U.S. stores is made in China?

Why then does the U.S. feel it necessary to militarily encircle China? Could it be about oil? Could it be that a growing economy in China will need more of the world's declining supplies of oil (peak oil)? Could it be that if the U.S. controls the oil in the Middle East (which is not used in great quantity by the U.S. but is relied on by the emerging markets in the Asian-Pacific) then it holds the keys to the Chinese economic engine? Roughly 80% of China's energy imports pass through the waters adjacent to Taiwan. Could it be that by dramatically expanding U.S. naval operations near Taiwan (supposed to protect them from China) that the U.S. is making a military move to check-mate China's ability to move oil to their expanding economy?

If a new arms race ensues with China who benefits? Would it be the military industrial complex? Would it be the oil corporations?

We've got to learn to watch the left hand as well as the right hand. The U.S. multi-national corporate shell game is underway. Watch what the U.S. is doing in the Asian-Pacific region. Our friends in the Japanese peace movement are trying to alert us to the dangers of the U.S. military build-up in their region. They are warning the U.S. not to drag the once fascist (and imperialist) Japan back into the great power game. Time to pay attention.