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Saturday, July 04, 2009
STORMS AND POLITICAL STORMS CREATE FIREWORKS
* We were in our town's July 4 parade today walking behind the local PeaceWorks group banner. The parade drew a huge crowd (about 10,000) from all over as people love to come to Bath for the festivities that follow the parade each year. Our signs heavily featured the conversion of the military industrial complex to peaceful and sustainable technology development issue. Build wind turbines and rail in Bath instead of destroyers.....things like that. We had a huge puppet that took three of us to carry which was a smash hit. I held up one of the long arms and kept waving it to the crowd. People would say, "Wow." I've got to find a photo of it for the blog. Afterwards many of us went out to the home of a local peace group member, who lives along an estuary that feeds into the ocean, for a picnic. It's a beautiful spot.
* Last night we had a strong thunder and lightening storm for the second night in a row. Since moving to Maine over six years ago I can only recall a handful of such storms. They were routine when we lived in Florida. In June we had more rain in Maine than ever before recorded. Climate change has sent our Mother Earth into convulsions.
* The political world this morning is all a-buzz with Sarah Palin's announcement that she is leaving her job as governor of Alaska. She will now likely run for president so we can all get used to daily news stories about her travels around the US to begin drumming up support for her campaign. We are going to have to live with this for the next three years so hang onto your hats.
This phone call is from former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney from inside prison in Israel after the humanitarian aid boat called the "Spirit of Humanity" was captured while in international waters by Israel. The 21 people on-board, including McKinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, were trying to bring a shipment of humanitarian supplies to the besieged territory of Gaza.
Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip has continued unabated for over two years and badly needed reconstruction aid has been prevented from entering the Strip after the 22-day war on Gaza this past winter. Recently, President Obama called for humanitarian supplies to be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip and a number of members of Congress have traveled to the Strip and remarked on the dire circumstances facing the impoverished civilian population.
So far the White House and Congress has been silent about this Israeli abduction of the 21 peace and humanitarian activists. The mainstream media in the US is ignoring the story.
You can send a message to Obama and to your Congressional delegation about this situation by going this this web site.
NASA is preparing to bomb the moon. That's right, bomb the moon from space.
On June 18 NASA launched the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) from Cape Canaveral in Florida on its journey to the moon.
When the space craft arrives near the moon it will fire a missile, at twice the speed of a bullet, from the spacecraft into the moon's surface. NASA maintains that the "test" will displace several miles of lunar material in order to find out if water is present on the moon's surface.
NASA will then have the $511 million mission's mother satellite circle the moon for at least a year creating a detailed map of the moon's surface. NASA says the new maps will be crucial for identifying possible landing sites for astronauts in future years as permanent bases are built on the moon for the eventual mining of helium-3. Scientists have long suggested that helium-3 could be used for fusion power back here on Earth and would make the profits of the oil industries pale in comparison.
NASA has publicly maintained in recent years that all of their space missions are now "dual use" - meaning that each mission they launch is both civilian and military at the same time. Thus one must consider that this LCROSS moon bombing mission is likely testing the capability of Pentagon technologies to launch missiles from space that could hit targets on Earth.
As the US and Russia enter negotiations to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons in their stockpiles I can assure you that Russia will be thinking about this LCROSS test. They know that the US is developing "first-strike" capability from space and from Earth. Add "missile defense" into the equation, which would give the US the shield after the first-strike sword has been thrust, and one can see that these new technologies will only "complicate" hopes for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
President Obama will be meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on July 6-8 in Moscow in hopes to "reset" relations between the two nations. One primary goal will be to explore negotiations for reduction of nuclear missiles.
Reuters reports, "Both leaders see further arms cuts as a key to maintaining global strategic stability. However, Moscow views U.S. plans to create an anti-missile system and deploy elements in Eastern Europe as a threat to its security... Medvedev has expressed hopes Obama will be less committed to the missile defence plan than Bush. Russian media have quoted U.S. officials as rejecting any linkage between the new arms deal and the missile defence."
The Chinese will be watching this summit closely as they too are deeply concerned about US "missile defense" systems being deployed near their borders in Japan, South Korea and on Naval ships just off their coast.
The new American military strategy of surrounding Russia (via NATO) and China will be put to a test in these new negotiations.
The US and Russia do recognize the need, and want to reduce, nuclear weapons because they are getting "out of control." Both leaders also realize they must take the lead if they hope to have others put down their nukes. Nukes are a huge waste of resources that both countries would rather be spending on other conventional military technologies - like space technology.
But at the same time Russia (and China) understand that if they reduce their nukes without the US backing off on "missile defense" deployments in their neighborhoods, then the US gains strategic first-strike advantage. They are very reluctant to give up their retaliatory nuclear capability under those circumstances.
The 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev nuclear negotiations broke down because of US insistence on Star Wars. The same thing happened when Clinton-Putin had similar negotiations and reached a similar impasse.
This will be a huge reality check for the global peace movement as we find out just how far Obama is willing to go when it comes to reaching his proposed "global zero."
News Flash: For an early sign of how these meetings will go check out this CBS News story that indicates the US is likely to tell Russia that it is not going to compromise on deployment of "missile defense" systems in Europe or on NATO expansion. See it here
July 4 in the US is hot dogs, parades, flag waving and baseball. Glory and the pride of empire. Not so around the world.
There are more than 800 US military bases worldwide and in most of these places there are local citizens movements organizing to shut the bases down and send them home.
As we approach the July 4th let's just focus on two of these bases, and communities, for a moment.
In Northern England, up in Yorkshire, is the US Menwith Hill spy base run by the National Security Agency (NSA). The golf ball looking radomes are used to cover huge satellite receiving devices that are intercepting all phone-fax-email traffic from Europe. The US does industrial espionage from this base. And in addition, upgrades are being made at this base to allow for its participation in the US Star Wars program.
The British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament says, "US Missile Defence bases at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in Yorkshire make Britain a front line target in future US wars. And they operate outside British law and Parliamentary scrutiny. By allowing these bases to be crucial components of the system the UK is complicit in the US military agenda and has put Britain in the front line in any future US war. It has already sparked controversy and provoked a new nuclear arms race, with an increased danger of nuclear weapons use. A potential aggressor could seek to destroy US Missile Defence facilities in Europe in the context of an imminent war with the US."
On July 4 our friends in North Yorkshire will hold their annual "Independence from America Day." We send them our best wishes.
I've written before about Vincenza, Italy where the US is expanding its military base to create a larger hub for expected American military actions in Africa in the coming years to control their resources. Residents in Vincenza have been organizing a vigorous campaign to oppose the base and on July 4 they too will be calling for independence from America.
According to an organization called US Citizens for Peace & Justice, based in Rome, Italy, "On July 4th, just days before Obama arrives in Italy for the G8 summit, Vicenza will celebrate its own 'Independence Day,' that is, independence from the U.S. military! After three years of determined opposition to the construction of a new base in their city, the people of Vicenza show no signs of letting up. They have called for a national demonstration with a protest march that will literally surround the site of the new base."
For years the citizens in many countries saw the US military as protectors. But now there is growing awareness that the US bases in their communities are part of the aggressive endless war plan of the US for control and domination of the resources and people of the world. There are few illusions about US troops being used to promote democracy and freedom.
I'm sure that similar events will be held at US bases in South Korea, Australia, Guam, Japan, Okinawa and other places on July 4.
When the people of the world stop believing in US empire it will collapse. Empire is unsustainable in the long-term and always falls.
Here in the US we must raise our voices in unity with our peaceful friends around the world. No more empire. No more war. Bring all the troops home and close the bases. Use our tax monies to fund human needs and to deal with climate change.
In the spirit of July 4, we all want independence from the military industrial complex!
This is a really important video by Bill Moyers from some years ago on the power of the CIA.
Last year I read a book called The Game Player by a former CIA agent Miles Copeland. He was pro-CIA and very enthusiastic about having worked for the oil corporations during the period of 1950-1970ish.
Copeland worked in the Middle East and with great affection told story after story about helping to kill or neutralize those who stood in the way of corporate control of the oil region.
In one section, where he talks extensively about Egypt, he tells the story about how former Nazi operatives were weaved into the CIA Middle East operation:
"The idea of planting on Middle Eastern governments Germans suspected of war crimes had a lot to say for it, because they were generally both anti-American and anti-Soviet, and presumed to be anti-Semitic and therefore anti-Israel. Most of them were also anti-Arab, although they had the wit to conceal that fact. Anyhow, all of them were opportunists, willing to work for anyone who paid them, and they happily passed on to their Middle Eastern employers any advice prescribed for them. Naturally, we had some trouble in getting clearance for projects involving the use of Nazis and ex-Nazis, but our difficulties disappeared when our friends in Israel's Mossad admitted that they, too, were using ex-Nazis for a number of nefarious purposes, and for the same reasons that they were attractive to us."
Copeland eventually leaves the CIA and goes to work directly for oil corporations but continues doing the same covert work. He described how often, when he would enter a particular Middle Eastern country to work on an operation, the US Embassy and the CIA assigned there did not know what he was doing. His orders were coming from a "higher authority". The secret government at work. It's even more so today.
Yesterday we had our monthly pot luck supper here at the Addams-Melman House. It was a pouring buckets-of-rain day, and I spent alot of time talking with one woman peace elder in our state. She voted for Obama and told me "I just don't want to believe" that he has been such a disappointment. The feeling of betrayal is beginning to creep into her soul. What is left to do she wondered? Take the money out of politics and instant run-off voting (IRV), she asked? Yes I told her, those are good but even if we had that the corporate dominated media would make sure their interests would win elections 9-times-out-of-10. In the end we have to take the whole system on I suggested.
Then this morning I got a call from a Global Network member in conservative Indiana. He had seen my new videoand wanted to put it on his cable TV show - his lifeline. He talked for some time about how their local peace group, before the elections drawing a couple hundred to events, was now down to six stubborn people. He too had voted for Obama but was glad to see my critical review of Obama's foreign policy on the video.
We all need permission at times to keep at it, especially when the slogging gets tough. As Pink Floyd says, "I've become comfortably numb."
I told my friend, he is a Veteran for Peace member too, that we've got to see the incoming and outgoing ocean tides in our minds. The rush of activism comes and it goes. The job of an organizer is to keep the fires burning during the out-tide so that when the people inevitably return there is a place for them to move into immediate action. In the lull period we have to stay visible in every possible way and to keep putting the pieces of the puzzle up on the wall so people can begin to interpret the whole picture.
The people though, in their hearts, know the true score. But everyone wants to be liked and they have long ago learned to "toe the line" as they taught us in the military. Take away all desire and will to step out when told by the oligarchy to sit down and shut up.
Eventually though people will be forced off the dime and back into action. The contradictions are catching up with the collapsing system and they are a bit hard to ignore these days.
But we have to go global. We seen people in Iran protesting as they become victims of the big power game now underway spelled - OIL. The only way to take down the global corporate power elite is to link our realities to this larger picture.
But at the same time the place to do that work is locally. We've got to help our fellow citizens to move from fear and lethargy into action. It's a lifetime gift.
The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act the other day by a slim 219-212 majority.
Was it a win or a loss for the Climate Change movement? Depends on who you listen to.
Almost immediately after the vote I got an email from the environmental coalition called 1Sky which said, "Thousands of activists across the country made a difference improving the bill and in securing this vote... We fought hard for and were pleased by the strengthening amendments that Chairman Waxman secured, which authorizes but does not confirm, more than $30 billion in additional funds and loans to ensure increased efficiency, investments in renewable energy, and research and development in regions with undiscovered renewable energy potential."
One of the few Democrats to vote against the bill was Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) who said about the bill, "It won’t address the problem. In fact, it might make the problem worse."
Kucinich maintained, "“It sets targets that are too weak, especially in the short term, and sets about meeting those targets through Enron-style accounting methods. It gives new life to one of the primary sources of the problem that should be on its way out– coal – by giving it record subsidies. And it is rounded out with massive corporate giveaways at taxpayer expense...Nuclear power is given a lifeline instead of phasing it out...The bill allows polluting industries to qualify as 'renewable energy'... I offered eight amendments and cosponsored two more that collectively would have turned the bill into an acceptable starting point. All amendments were not allowed to be offered to the full House [by the Democratic Party leadership]."
“Passing a weak bill today gives us weak environmental policy tomorrow,” said Kucinich.
Another source I respect is Ted Glick, the Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, who has been a key player in the last couple of years in the effort to get the environmental movement out on the streets for protests and civil disobedience against the coal industry power in Congress.
Ted is not happy with the bill and suggested that, "many groups have to be less willing to align so closely with the desires of the Democratic Party leadership, more willing to say 'no' when asked to support a really bad political compromise."
It is obvious that many environmental groups caved under pressure to support the corporate-dominated bill out of fear that their funders, tied to the Democrats, would punish them for going against the party. Many of these same organizations claim, mistakenly, that they have "access" to the Democrats, they will be listened to, and they can shape policy. It's obvious that their cozy-up-to-the-Democrats strategy does not work.
1Sky says they stood up to the "Big Oil and Coal" lobbies. It looks to me like they got bulldozed by them. As long as they hang onto the coattails of the Democratic Party nothing will change.
Dennis Kucinich says the bill "kicks the can down the road." Those who understand the reality of climate change know we don't have time to play kick the can.
Those organizations that support this kind of corporate dominated policy making don't deserve our support or our donations.