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, May 01, 2009

OBAMA CONTINUES BUSH POLICY ON WEAPONS TO GEORGIA

Tens of thousands of Georgian protesters attend a rally near the parliament building in Tbilisi in early April


President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have announced that they intend to keep the promise of former president George W. Bush to send $242 million in military aid to Georgia in the 2010 budget.

This comes at the very time that NATO war games are being prepared in Georgia, right on Russia's southern border. Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev sounded the alarm about the NATO military operations saying, "“Military exercises can’t be conducted where the war has been recently unleashed. Those who took a decision to conduct them will bear responsibility for their negative consequences."

Russia vows to help South Ossetia and Abkhazia protect their borders against a new Georgian attack that could well come following the NATO war games and efforts by the US to rearm Georgia after their failed attack on Russia last summer. NATO is accusing Russia of destabilizing the Southern Caucasus region by building up its military stronghold on the Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The absurdity of NATO blaming Russia for securing their southern border, at the very time the US and NATO are surrounding them, indicates the real agenda underway.

Some countries in the region are refusing to participate in the NATO-Georgia war games, recognizing the dangers they are causing in the region. So far Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Serbia and Moldova have opted out.

Just last month more than 60,000 Georgians marched onto their capital in Tbilisi calling on their fanatical President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign. The protesters said he is ruining their country and that they want peace with Russia. But Saakashvili, educated in the US, is an agent of corporate globalization and his job is to turn Georgia over to US interests which he has done. He has essentially made his country into a US military base on the Russian border.

Although NATO leaders call the upcoming war games "staff training", they are nevertheless aimed at backing the puppet regime of Saakashvili.

I'm following this Georgia-Russia situation closely as I see it as one key trigger for real war between the US-NATO and Russia.

Just today I read that Czech Republic pilots are being sent on missions along the Russian border in a separate NATO operation. This is the first time that the Czech military's tactical air force has been deployed in a foreign operation since the end of World War II.

Another area of major US-NATO moves against Russia is over control of the Artic region. Due to global warming the extraction of oil will now be possible in the Artic and the US is saying that its growing effort to militarize this region is about "security". In a meeting in Reykjavik in January NATO General Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that “Here in the High North, climate change is not a fanciful idea – it is already a reality – a reality that brings with it a certain number of challenges, including for NATO."

The challenges the NATO General Secretary refers to is keeping Russia at bay. Take a look at a map of the Artic north and you will see it is Russia that has the biggest land mass in that region.

The US and NATO are out to rule the world - they have become the military arm of corporate globalization.

Obama and Hillary are doing their part to make it happen.

NEWS FLASH:
Georgian troops mutiny on May 5. See Washington Post story here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

ORIGINS OF SWINE FLU

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WATER WARS

I went to our state capitol in Augusta today for a news conference and a legislative hearing about water and limiting corporate control. The event was sponsored by three groups in Maine working on water issues - Save Our Water, POWWR and Defending Water for Life.

I was asked to speak at the news conference (which was attended by just one commercial TV news station and two public access cable stations). Then we went inside the state house building for the public hearing before the State and Local Government Committee of the state legislature.
We had to wait two hours before it was our turn to comment on the pending legislation we were there to support. There were enough supporters there on our side that we filled the meeting room.

A bill has been introduced called "An Act to Enhance Municipal Home Rule Status" that would guarantee local communities right to self-government to stop the corporate assault on local decision making authority.

This has become a big issue in Maine because the Nestle corporation (doing business as Poland Spring bottled water which they own) has been trying to come into Maine and take control of much of the ground water in the state. In several communities the local people have overwhelmingly organized opposition to Nestle control of their water supply and they have been told again and again that they have no right to legally stand against this corporate control.

So a couple small towns, using the town hall meeting style of decision making, have passed local ordinances denying constitutional protections to corporations. They've then been told these laws that they have passed are "unconstitutional" and that the state won't allow locals to put limits on corporations.

So this bill has been introduced in our state legislature to give a municipality the right to adopt and enforce an ordinance that denies a corporation sweeping powers.

I was the third person today to stand before the state legislative committee to offer testimony and while I was preparing to go up to the podium I found myself thinking of the Chipaya people in the Bolivian Andes that are featured in the short video I posted just below. I told the state legislators that the corporations know that water is a declining resource due to global warming and that there will be water wars coming soon for control of remaining supplies of water and these big corporations, like Nestle, are trying to line up their control of it now. In fact I said water wars are already happening right here in Maine in our local communities.

I said that the Maine Constitution recognizes that the people are the source of all governing authority. That being the case corporations should not be allowed to block our local democratic processes in order to take profits from our communities.

I said that conservatives have long maintained that the best government is that which is the most local and I thought this was a good point.

I concluded by saying that if local democracy was made irrelevant by corporate domination, then it was just a matter of time before the Maine State Legislature would be irrelevant as well.

Only one vote was needed from the committee to send the bill to the full legislature for debate. We won't know for some time what will happen as I understand they next go into a "work session" to study the bill before making their committee recommendation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MUST CHANGE THE WAY WE LIVE NOW

The weather hit 90 degrees here in Maine yesterday, the first time ever in recorded history for the month of April. The local newspaper this morning called it "bewildering" and never once mentioned the words global warming or climate change.

Instead they carried photos of Mainers pushing their strollers with no shirts on, people swimming, and stories about people thrilled by the high temps. The people of Maine seem to like the idea that our weather is changing. At least for now they do.

But the changes will come fast according to scientists and they will be severe. Food and water shortages, rising sea levels, and strange and violent weather disturbances are coming. By that time it will be too late to do much about it.

We have very little time left to make changes in how we live if we hope to reduce the severity of the coming crisis. But the US government seems immune to the reality of climate change. Instead we are nickle and dimeing it and pushing ahead with massive military expansion so the corporations can control the remaining natural resources in a coming world of disruption and disarray.

Those who are fasting to bring awareness about climate change are now in their second week and we hear nothing about their action from the corporate media.

Monday, April 27, 2009

TEA BAG THESE CORPORATE TAX HAVENS!

DEBATING EMPIRE - FIREMAN OR FLAME THROWER?

I "debated" Bobby Reynolds this morning at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. It was in a Sociology class of professor John Baugher. There were about 40 students in the class. Each of us spoke for 20 minutes and then we took questions from the students.

Reynolds introduced himself as the liaison staffer between Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins and military contractors in the state. He said he had been in the Navy and then was a fireman in Portland and got involved in politics and eventually went to work for Sen. Collins. He spoke at length about all the good the US military does around the world, protecting democracy and freedom, and likened our military to a fire department, stepping in when there was great need. At one point, while talking about the former Soviet Union, he said that the US had armed the Taliban in Afghanistan. At another point he suggested that I might be critical of US military spending, which he said is now at the level of $444 billion per year.

After introducing myself I said I found it interesting that Bobby, while working as the "defense liaison" for Sen. Collins, did not seem to know the current level of military spending. I indicated that Obama was raising it 4% in 2010 to a level of $663 billion. That figure, I added, did not count the $23.4 billion for the Department of Energy nuclear weapons work; $25.3 billion in the Department of State budget given to foreign countries to buy US weapons; the $1 billion for military recruitment; or the Veterans Administration which gets $75.7 billion, 50% of which goes for long-term care for the most seriously injured among our 30,000 troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another $46.4 billion goes to the Department of Homeland Security. On and on the story goes......... (These figures are from the 2008 federal budget.)

By the time you add it up we are spending about $1 trillion a year on the military.

We are spending more than the rest of the world combined does on the military. It's not about putting out fires, it's about creating fires - control of declining oil and natural gas in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. Our job under corporate globalization, I quoted a former Pentagon source as saying, is going to be "security export."

I told the students that when I arrived on campus I picked up the student newspaper and saw an article about staff and faculty lay-offs at the university due to the state's fiscal crisis. I said that tuition increases were likely in the near future.

I referred to the study called "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities" by the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst that was published in October 2007. I had passed around a one-page chart from the study that gave figures on the overall employment effects of spending $1 billion in 2005. The study shows that when $1 billion was spent on military 8,555 jobs were created. But if that same amount of money had gone into health care 12,883 jobs could have been created. Or if that $1 billion had gone into making mass transit systems 19,795 jobs could have been created. Home weatherization, something badly needed in Maine, would create 12,804 jobs per billion dollars. Which was the best path for dealing with global warming and our economy I asked?

After Bobby and I spoke we took questions from the students. One said she could not afford to get her teeth fixed. Another questioned why Bobby kept referring to "bad people" around the world....wasn't he just setting up the same old construct of the US being the good guys and everyone else the bad guys? One student said she was confused by Bobby's saying early on that we had funded the Taliban to fight the Soviet Union and now the Taliban were the bad guys in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

It was a good experience. I think the students learned some things today. Hopefully they come away with more questions in their minds about which direction our nation is heading. Hopefully they might pay more attention to these issues in the future.

My last words to the class were - you are going to pay for all this in the end.