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, February 18, 2006

PROTESTING FROM THE MOON


Well I made it to the moon! Bang! Zoom!

I'm pulling out my protest signs and banners and setting up our Global Network anti-nuclear presence here....

NASA was not very happy when they realized I had arrived but since they can't claim they own the moon they can't kick me out. Look for me the next time there is a full moon. I'll be the guy waving the Earth flag.

I can report that NASA has nuclear materials scattered all over this place. I think the cheese is getting contaminated already. They have nuclear rocket landing zones, nuclear powered generating stations and more. I'm worried that my spacesuit might be contaminated already. I read one story in the daily on-line publication, The Moon News, that they were going to do strip mining here with nuclear blasts. Look out below! Or above! Just lookout!

The word is out that the U.S. wants to keep other countries from putting bases here. I think I will try to grab a moon buggy and see what is beyond the horizon. I heard there might be new U.S. military bases going up there that would be used to "deny" other countries access to the moon. If you don't hear from me soon send someone to look for me.

Our new slogan is "No Blood for Helium-3". Keep me in your prayers.

Bruce

Friday, February 17, 2006

TRIP REPORT - NEW MEXICO


This trip report covers the period of February 8-14, 2006 as I traveled to New Mexico on a speaking tour and to organize a protest outside the 23rd Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion in Albuquerque.

I began the trip by getting off the plane in Albuquerque and seeing three people with colorful protest signs standing in the middle of the airport waiting to pick me up. Bob Anderson, Jeanne Pahls, and Sally Alice Thompson held NO STAR WARS and NO NUKES IN SPACE signs. I loved the unusual welcome, although I was surprised that Homeland Security wasn't all over them. As I approached them, I heard a few other passengers saying "right on!"

On February 9, Bob drove me south to Silver City for a talk. It was my second time to visit this town and a good gathering of folks from the Grant County Peace Coalition turned out. The talk was videotaped for broadcast on the local cable TV. Marta Green and Rod Rees were the very impressive local organizers of the event.

The next day Bob drove me back to Albuquerque the long way, showing me the beautiful countryside. He said one county we passed through, very much loaded with cowboys, had once tried unsuccessfully to secede from the state.

Later that evening, Bob and I were invited to appear on an hour-long local cable TV show called "Connecting the Dots" hosted by Al Cooper. Al is a Vietnam veteran, and was at Wounded Knee in South Dakota with Bob in the early 1970's when they went to show support for the American Indian Movement (AIM). Al has always focused more on social justice issues. He kept remarking after the show that he finally understood how space technology will be used to become the military arm of corporate globalization.

On February 11, Al drove his wife Allison, Bob, Jeanne and me three hours north to Las Vegas, New Mexico. We had to leave early in the morning in order to arrive in time for an hour-long live interview on a popular local radio station. We were met by Las Vegas Peace & Justice Center coordinator Patricia Leahan who joined us on the show and helped the host of the show interview us. The mayor, running for reelection of Las Vegas, was on just before us; I made a point of listening to him a bit before we went on. He was talking about budget problems and the difficulties of providing all the services the community needed. When it was our turn, I began talking about how expensive the Pentagon's plan for Star Wars is, and how social spending cuts will be necessary to pay for it. This continuity of message was important to help the listeners see the connection between weapons in space and the struggle for local community needs.

Following a great lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant, we went to the home of a local supporter where 20 people came to watch our video, Arsenal of Hypocrisy. Then in the evening, 80 people turned out to hear my talk at the local college. I was impressed that all day long, as Patricia took us from place to place she was on the phone calling people, or stopping them on the street, insisting they come to my talk that evening.

I spoke at the Albuquerque Peace & Justice Center on February 12 and invited people to join us the next morning for our space nukes vigil.

On February 13, we began our two-day protest at the Hilton Hotel in Albuquerque outside the space nuclear power symposium. The Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of New Mexico (UMN) is host each year for the symposium. Bob and I have organized these protests for the past dozen years as NASA, Department of Energy, aerospace industry, and nuclear academia come together to plan to move nuclear "everything" into space. The only media coverage we got was a good article in the "Daily Lobo" student newspaper and an interview on the public radio station at UNM.

Later that evening I was invited to address the Albuquerque Chapter of Veterans for Peace. They were very responsive and we had quite an interesting discussion afterward. I talked about how Albuquerque was a key location for the nuclearization and weaponization of space. Besides UNM being a key research and development center for the space nuclear reactor, Kirtland AFB in their city is the directorate for the military space laser program. It is vital, I told them, to expand education and protest action on the space issue in their community. Bob Anderson and Jeanne Pahls, leading a group called Stop the War Machine, have been key leaders in bringing the space issue to Albuquerque for years and need the on-going support of all peace activists in town.

While In Albuquerque I met a woman whose father had been one of the Nazi rocket scientists brought to the U.S. in "Operation Paperclip" right after the end of World War II. Her father, Ernst Steinhoff, had been the guidance department chief at Hitler's V-1 and V-2 test facility at Peenemunde in northern Germany. Once brought to the U.S., the Nazi rocketeers test range moved to New Mexico and the White Sands Proving Ground. One hundred copies of Hitler's V-2 and over 100 former Nazi rocket scientists created the U.S. space program.

Sternhoff went on to work in the aerospace industry on the west coast and eventually returned to New Mexico when he was appointed to a high position at Holloman AFB. Sternhoff's daughter told me that she did not learn about the Nazi holocaust until she was 18 years old. When she approached her mother asking if it was true, her mother said it was necessary and retrieved an old Readers Digest article to explain her side of the story.

The Nazi rocket program in Germany killed tens of thousands of Jews, French resistance fighters, Communists, homosexuals, and prisoners of war, who were all used as slave labor to build Hitler's V-1 and V-2 rocket program. (For more information about this story read Secret Agenda by Linda Hunt.)

On my last day in New Mexico, Bob and I arrived early at the Hilton Hotel and went inside to get a look at the symposium display room. Inside we saw fancy and expensive nuclear power in space displays by NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Department of Energy, among others. We noticed that NASA was taking participants' pictures and putting them onto postcards with a nuclear-powered moon mining base in the background. We both had them take our photos there, on the moon, inside a space suit.

Since returning home I've told friends that NASA has offered me a job as coordinator of nuclear operations on the moon. The only problem, I tell them, is that NASA is only offering me a one-way ticket!

So thanks to Bob Anderson and Jeanne Pahls for hosting another great visit to New Mexico.

The state of New Mexico has been asked by private space "entrepreneurs" for a $250 million gift from the taxpayers of the state to build a "Spaceport" that they say would be used to launch millionaire tourists into space from the sands of New Mexico.....

And so the struggle goes.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

AMERICANS WHO TELL THE TRUTH


Maine artist Robert Shetterly recently painted me as part of a series of portraits he has done called "Americans Who Tell The Truth - A Collection of Portraits and Quotes." (Click on link above in the headline to go directly to Rob's web site so you can view all his portraits.)

I've come to know Rob through Veterans for Peace which made him an honorary member last year. Rob is very active in the Maine peace movement and we got arrested together last December 15 in Bangor at the office of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Rob is an artist who has learned to use his talents to help build the peace and social justice movements. It is truly an honor to have been painted by him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

MOONBASE NUCLEAR


I got home at midnight last night after flying in from Albuquerque, New Mexico. We held two days of protests outside the 23rd Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion held at the Hilton Hotel and sponsored by the University of New Mexico's Nuclear Engineering Department.

Bob Anderson and I went into the symposium display room yesterday before the protest began to see what the latest "stuff" was available. We both got our picture taken at the NASA booth and they inserted the photo inside a spacesuit on a postcard with a moon base in the background. Unlike the photo above, all the moon bases we saw in the conference display room had no solar panels. Everything was nuclear. Nuclear rockets took you to the moon and when you get there all power supplies were nuclear. Same with the Mars displays...nuclear rockets to Mars, nuclear powered rovers now driving around Mars, and eventually, nuclear powered mining colonies there too.

Besides NASA, Lockheed Martin and Boeing had big display areas. So did the Department of Energy and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama where the nuclear rocket is under development. The Idaho National Laboratory had a space nuclear battery display called "Reliable Energy for Space Exploration." NIAC (NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts) had a display called "Grand Visions for Colonization of Space." Included in their PowerPoint presentation were things like "Cyclical Visits to Mars via Astronaut Hotels" and "Redesigning Living Organisms to Survive on Mars".

While in Albuquerque a woman attended my talk, and joined us on the picket line outside the Hilton Hotel, whose father had been one of the Nazi space scientists smuggled into the U.S. after World War II under "Operation Paperclip." She told me that when she learned of the Holocaust at the age of 18 she asked her mother about it. Her mother replied that "It was necessary" and gave her a copy of Readers Digest that had an article explaining that position. Her father was a key member of the Nazi team that created the V-1 and V-2 rockets that Hitler used to terrorize cities like London, Paris, and Brussels with near the end of the war. When the U.S. Army brought the Nazi's to the U.S. they brought along 100 copies of the V-2 rocket that were used to create the U.S. Space Program.

The amount of money now being poured into plans to “colonize” space are staggering. The ultimate goal is to mine the planetary bodies for resources like helium-3, gold, magnesium, cobalt and uranium. The aerospace industry will pocket the profits after you, the taxpayer paid for all the research and development costs. Corporate welfare run amok.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

CONVERT THE WAR MACHINE


Been on the road across New Mexico last couple of days. Bob Anderson drove me south to Silver City the other day where I spoke and then we came back to Albuquerque to film an hour long local cable TV show hosted by veteran activist Al Cooper. Then yesterday Al drove us up north to Las Vegas, New Mexico where we did a live hour long radio program on a local station. Then in the afternoon our video, Arsenal of Hypocrisy, was shown to people in the home of a local supporter and following that I did an evening talk at the local university. So a busy day.

Got the day off today back in Albuquerque and have been catching up with e-mails and watching basketball on TV. Tonight I speak at the Albuquerque Peace & Justice Center and in the morning we begin our two days of protest at the annual space nuclear power symposium here in town. The symposium will be loaded with aerospace industry representatives who have their hands out looking for more taxpayer subsidy as they promote the nuclearization and weaponization of space.

We must end the corporate welfare for the aerospace industry if we ever end the arms race and prevent the war machine from moving its deadly and expensive bad seed into space. Our protests in Albuquerque during the next two days are helping to focus the attention of people in New Mexico on how bases like Kirtland AFB here in Albuquerque are central to the development of weapons in space. The University of New Mexico's Nuclear Engineering Department has for years been a central promoter of nukes in space.

My message here is the same as always. Convert the military industrial complex to peaceful production. Build solar power, windmills, and public mass transit systems instead of weapons of war. Use our tax dollars for production of sustainable technologies that provide a future for our children and their children. We must make this demand over and over again. This demand must resonate all over the country and around the world.