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 23, 2008

B-2 CRASHES ON GUAM AS U.S. MILITARY EXPANDS IN PACIFIC

A U.S. B-2 bomber crashed in Guam today as it was taking off. The B-2's cost taxpayers $1.2 billion each - 21 have been built. In recent years runways on Guam have been lengthened and widened to handle the B-2 as the U.S. military is doubling it's presence in the Asian-Pacific region. An encirclement of China is underway. The Pentagon has also increased the deployment of cruise missiles at Anderson AFB on Guam. A naval build-up is also expected there in coming years.

Activists on Guam have long been organizing to oppose the U.S. military buildup on their island. The best land on Guam is now controlled by the military and indigenous residents are packed into the remaining areas.

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We had a fundraising party at our house in Bath last night for the Iraq Veterans Against the War and their up-coming mid-March Winter Soldier investigation hearings. In spite of a snow storm we still got enough folks there to raise $1,000 with more donations expected to arrive in the mail from those unable to make the slippery drive to our house.

One person that came last night was Herb Hoffman from southern Maine who is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Susan Collins (R-ME). Herb will run as an Independent as many of us in the state cannot imagine supporting the Democratic Party candidate Rep. Tom Allen. Tom Allen says he is against the war in Iraq but keeps voting for the money for the occupation. We call the mainstream choices Tom Collins.

I spent two hours this morning co-hosting a radio program on the Bowdoin College station in Brunswick. A friend, Peter Woodruff, got us a weekly show and it is at a time that no one else wanted - 8-10 am on Saturday morning. But in spite of the fact that I had to get up earlier than I like, we had fun playing political protest music and chatting off and on during the show. Peter calls the show TRUE - Truth Radio Underground Experience.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

PENTAGON CLAIMS SUCCESS

The Pentagon claims they hit the sinking military satellite with their Navy Aegis destroyer interceptor missiles.

You can be sure the military will now be asking Congress for a huge increase in research and development funding for Star Wars. And you can figure the Democrats now running the Congress will join with the Republicans to give the military virtually every penny they ask for.

Where will the money come from to expand these offensive space weapons testing programs? The aerospace industry has said they intend to defund the "entitlement programs" to pay for their space projects. Officially the entitlement programs are Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and what is left of the welfare programs. Social progress or an arms race in space? Which would you choose?

Russia and China know the score. They understand that the Pentagon is moving to "control and dominate" space. They understand that space control means control of the planet below. Here we go - off to a new arms race that we can't afford.

The only positive value of this anti-satellite weapons test is that it has put the issue in front of the people of the world. I've been doing radio interviews (from New York City to Seattle) non-stop the last two days and I can imagine that there are alot of people talking about this shoot down.

We are standing on the edge of a cliff watching the emergence of a new expensive and dangerous arms race right before our very eyes. Our best move would be to step back and take a deep breath.

There must be more active resistance to the weaponization of space.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

COORDINATOR TRIP REPORT - NEW MEXICO & COLORADO

This report covers the period of Feb 6-16 as I traveled to New Mexico and Colorado for a seven city speaking tour.

I flew into Albuquerque, N.M. on Feb 6 and Bob Anderson and his wife Jeanne Pahls picked me up at the airport. Much to my surprise Bob, who teaches political science at a local community college, was on crutches after severely hurting his back. Bob and Jeanne are the leaders of a local group called Stop the War Machine that focuses on military bases in their community like Kirtland AFB which now directs the research and testing of laser weapons for space.

Bob organized the trip that would take me all over New Mexico and into southern Colorado during the coming week. In the past he has driven me around on such speaking trips but he was in no condition to do so this time. Plus he had to try to teach as well, even while in terrible pain.

My first stop was down to Silver City where I spoke on Feb 7. Global Network member Vicki Johnson and her husband Mike drove me the five hours south.The ride was beautiful through the rugged Gila National Forest. The morning after my talk I appeared on a popular local cable access TV program called The Morning Show.

From there we drove southeast to Las Cruces which is where the White Sands Missile Test Range is located that is the place where many "missile defense" technologies are now tested. Vicki and Mike took us to the base and we visited their museum that tells the history of the U.S. space program. It was to White Sands that the Nazi rocket scientists under Operation Paperclip were first brought following WW II to create the Pentagon's space effort. That evening I spoke to a group of local citizens.

On Feb 9 we made our way back to Albuquerque and then Bob and Jeanne took me further north to Santa Fe where I spoke to an audience of people organized by the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. I noticed in the back of the audience a young man paying great attention to my talk. Afterwards he waited in the wings until almost everyone was gone before he approached me and told me he was an Iraq war veteran and was considering going to Washington DC for the Winter Soldier testimonies on March 13-16 where Iraq and Afghanistan vets will tell the stories about their role in the shock and awe invasions and resulting occupations of those countries. I urged him to go saying that while his life had already been dramatically changed by being in the war, participating in the Winter Solider events would likely change his life even more.

On Feb 10 I was treated to a wonderful Raging Grannies choir of more than twenty women who sang three songs about space at the Albuquerque Peace & Justice Center. One of the songs was called Take Me Out of the Bomb Game and went like this:

Take me out of the bomb game
take me out of the war
Buy me no missiles or Star Wars, Jack
I'll be glad if they never come back!
Oh it's BOO BOO BOO for the bomb team
If they should win we all lose
And it's ONE---ONE---ONE strike we're out
At the old bomb game.

You can imagine that after this great singing I was very energized to deliver my talk that was recorded and sent on to play on David Barsamian's Alternative Radio.

On Feb 11 many of these same Raging Grannies came to our protest on the sidewalk outside of the Hotel Albuquerque where the 25th Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion was underway. Inside the hotel were representatives from the military, the Department of Energy nuclear labs, nuclear academia, and the aerospace industry. They are making plans to put nuclear colonies on the Moon and Mars and are currently building nuclear rockets for expanded space exploration and colonization. These same nuclear reactors would ultimately be used to power space-based weapons as well. It is these people who are planning to mine the skies for precious minerals and hope to have the taxpayers fund all the research and development necessary to make it happen. On top of that the Space Command's job will be to control the "shipping lanes" between Earth and these planetary bodies with space weapons technologies. The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper noted our presence and quoted me on what was going on inside the space nukes confab.

My next stop was Las Vegas, N.M. where I spoke at the United World College. Students are brought there from all over the world in order to learn from each other in hopes they will return home and help foster peace among all nations. After my talk two young men from Africa and Asia approached me and were very interested in learning more about our work on space issues. I was hosted by Pat Lehan who runs the Peace & Justice Center and the next day she taped a one-hour interview with me on her local radio station for later broadcast.

On Feb 13 Pat drove me north to Taos where I spoke several times over the next two days. Beryl Schwartz from Peace Action had me scheduled to speak in two different high schools, I did two radio interviews, and then talked at an event for the local community.

My final talk was in Alamosa, Colorado at an event organized by a political science professor at Adams State College. My host, a local doctor by the name of Beth Kinney, took me to her home where I was met by Bill Sulzman and Loring Wirbel who drove down from Colorado Springs for the talk. Bill was one of the co-founders of the Global Network in 1992 and coordinates the local group called Citizens for Peace in Space. Both Bill and Loring serve on the Global Network board and drove me back to Colorado Springs where I was to fly home from the next day.

On Feb 16 Bill organized an informal breakfast meeting in Colorado Springs where we spent some time talking about plans for three days of protest by their group at the 24th National Space Symposium which will be held there on April 7-10. Several of us from the Global Network will come to these Colorado protests before heading to Omaha for the Global Network's international space organizing conference on April 11-13.

The Colorado Springs symposium is sponsored by a host of weapons corporations like Raytheon, Boeing, ATK, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and many more. It is the premier event of those planning to move the arms race into space. Their promotional literature says, "National security issues will broach on continuing to understand the central role of space and using the opportunities it has to offer for defense purposes. The partnerships that are being forged through the civil, commercial and national security sectors [will] help make space financially obtainable....."

So between our protest in Albuquerque at the space nuclear power convention and the April space weapons symposium in Colorado Springs we feel that we have identified the top two aerospace events that are integral to the nuclearization and weaponization of space. It is our role to shine a light on these events and to learn as much as possible about their latest plans so we can pass on that information to our members around the world.

As we are now seeing with the planned satellite shoot down of the wayward satellite, the Pentagon is escalating their efforts to move forward to achieve space control and domination. It is our job in the Global Network to build the resistance to this madness. Trips like I just made to New Mexico and Colorado help us to slowly but surely expand our grassroots base. I thank all who made the trip and our work possible.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SATELLITE SHOOT DOWN NOTHING MORE THAN ANTI-SATELLITE TEST

For Immediate Release

Contact: Bruce Gagnon 207-443-9502


The planned Pentagon shoot down of the wayward U.S. military satellite is nothing more than an opportunity to test new Star Wars anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) technology says the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

“The Bush administration is magnifying the risk to justify the testing of new dangerous and provocative offensive space warfare technologies,” says Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network, which is based in Maine.

“At the time when we need to be constraining space debris-creating ASAT testing, this test will throw open the door to a new arms race in space.”

The Strategic Command’s (StratCom) high-tech Global Operations Center, buried beneath Offutt AFB in Omaha, Nebraska, will play the lead role in coordinating the ASAT test. StratCom now heads all military space operations since merging with the U.S. Space Command in 2002.

"The decision to destroy the American satellite does not look harmless as they try to claim, especially at a time when the U.S. has been evading negotiations on the limitation of an arms race in outer space," a Russian Defense Ministry statement has concluded.

For many years Russia and China have gone to the United Nations General Assembly with a resolution calling for a treaty to ban all weapons in space. The U.S. and Israel have annually voted against the treaty while every other nation in the world supports such a new legal ban on space weapons. The U.S. aerospace industry says that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth.

Global Network board member Stacey Fritz, Coordinator of No Nukes North in Alaska where so-called missile defense interceptors have been deployed says, “A culmination of events this month reveals the true direction of space weapons technology. China and Russia have formally proposed a new ban on space weapons on the heels of polls showing widespread public support for such a treaty in both the U.S. and Russia. Not only does the U.S. refuse to consider the ban, but also after denying for years that these systems have offensive capabilities, the rogue Bush administration proposes to demonstrate missile defense's anti-satellite technology. The doors of the Trojan horse are spilling open and the new arms race is on."

Three U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with missile interceptors, will fire at the satellite as it falls back to Earth from positions just off Hawaii. These same Aegis ships are now being home ported by the Navy throughout the Asian-Pacific region giving the U.S. the ability to encircle China’s coast. These Aegis ships could give the U.S. the ability to intercept China’s twenty nuclear missiles that today are capable of reaching the west coast of the continental U.S. The Pentagon has been war-gaming a U.S. first-strike attack on China, set in 2016, for the past several years. In that attack the Aegis ships would negate China’s nuclear retaliatory force by intercepting their missiles in the boost phase.

The Global Network is made up of more than 140-affiliated peace groups around the world working to halt the nuclearization and weaponization of space.

For more information see www.space4peace.org

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

VISITING IN BOSTON

I am sitting around the fire in Boston at the home of MB's brother. I got in late last night and we came here. This morning I slept in a bit and then we went to see my son Julian at the high school debate tourney at Harvard. It was fun meeting the high school kids from Dallas, Texas that he coaches. When we left late this afternoon his team was 5-2 so far. We'll go back in the morning to visit with him again in between the debate rounds. The high schoolers from around the country are debating U.S. policy in Africa all year. There are over 1,000 kids at the tourney. The place is packed with kids all dressed up and laying down in the halls of classroom buildings. They get up early and stay up late preparing for the next day of debates. They look tired. It's good though to see them engaged in meaninging thinking about the condition of the world.

The photo above is from Bob Anderson in Albuquerque. Don't you just love those southwestern colors in the kitchen?

Op-ed colums in major U.S. newspapers are hitting the planned anti-satellite test against the wayward satellite pretty hard. This whole phony plan to protect us, while in reality being a Star Wars test, is starting to look like a global public relations disaster for the Pentagon. They are getting their just desserts.......

Have I mentioned on the blog that a Jacksonville, Florida radio talk show host recently gave the Global Network $4,000 worth of free radio ads on his station? I wrote an advert calling for the conversion of the military industrial complex and had one of our local members in Jacksonville record it for the show. Apparently the ad is causing some stir in the community. Jacksonville is one of the most militarized communities in the nation.