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, July 17, 2009

SOUND FAMILIAR?

Watch out for the promises from Flash.......

DRONING ON

Pentagon Looks to Use Drones For Missile Defense

The United States' top missile-defense official said Tuesday that within two years the military could deploy drone aircraft to monitor ballistic missiles shortly after launch, Aviation Week reported (see GSN, June 18, 2007).

By studying the missile in its early stage of flight, the drones could provide data that would allow the incoming weapon to be destroyed, said Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the Missile Defense Agency.

The agency illustrated this advantage in April when it used a MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle to "observe" a target. Its sensor technology, which has drawn fire from some critics for being too narrowly focused, appears to be particularly effective for stalking launch sites and studying missiles as they begin their trajectories, so long as the drones are told where to look.
The Reaper's electro-optical/infrared sensor "has proven to be extremely accurate and extremely sensitive," O'Reilly said. "So, there is very little modification we see that will be necessary to the [drones] themselves."

He added: "It gives you a great capability from hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away to be able to view a missile launch and actually track it and provide data to our shooters to intercept."
The Reaper is one of several projects aimed at monitoring enemy missiles just after launch (Amy Butler, Aviation Week, July 15).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

WALKING, PACKING AND MORE

* I am starting to get packed for my trip. Because I am an organizer I always start by making my list of things to take, begin setting things aside, and even getting my clothes ready to be put into my bag. The only big decision is two bags or three? Dragging three bags around for a month is not something that I am excited about so I think I will go easy on myself and just take two. My back will appreciate it.

* We've had a string of just wonderful Maine weather during recent days. Sunny, in the 70's, with a cool breeze blowing. The smell of grass and the bounty of flowers all over. I've been walking everyday lately through town, down to the river, and then up heartbreak hill that leads back to our house. I've got to build stamina for this journey.

* Friend Peter Woodruff and I did our radio show last night at Bowdoin College. He just returned from a holiday trip to Quebec and while he was there he bought some French-separatist music from the province, so we played it on the air. Nice tunes.

* While I am gone Peter and Mary Beth will be going to Woodstock, New York to speak at an economic conversion conference being planned there by a longtime Global Network member who lives in that community. Apparently a military corporation has opened up a production plant in Woodstock so the peace community has quickly responded with a conversion campaign. The signs of a militarized economy and culture are popping up all around us. Peter works at Bath Iron Works (BIW) where the Aegis destroyers are made and has been a leading voice in Maine for the idea of building wind turbines at BIW.

* It's mid-season break time for baseball so the Orioles have four days off. They are holding steady in last place, just in case you were wondering. So I've had to be creative in the evenings this week not having a game to watch via the computer.

* I've got Skype set up on my computer now so I can talk over the Internet. Yesterday I had a nice chat with our GN chairperson Dave Webb in the UK. It's free and other than him looking various shades of blue on the screen it worked well. I promise though that I will never Twitter....don't even like the sound of it.

* I've learned that while in Korea I will visit one of the six Korean reunification activists who was recently jailed under the "National Security Law". This particular woman was on the organizing committee that hosted our space organizing conference there last April. You might recall that we gathered hundreds of signatures in support of the six who were arrested. I will be sure to write about them more in the future. Their trials begin on July 17. See story here

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

UAV TEST BASE IN MAINE?

UAV preparing for flight in Afghanistan
This photo is of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) pilot likely sitting inside a trailer in Nevada, New Mexico, or Arizona where they "fly" these drones that are firing missiles at folks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are linked to the the UAV's by military satellites. Often times it is innocent civilians that are killed.

We've learned that Maine's Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, John Richardson, is trying to get the closing Brunswick Naval Air Station (set to shut down in 2011) to be turned into the Brunswick Unmanned Flight Center. At presentations before the redevelopment agency it's been stated that the drones would take off from Brunswick and would be flying up and down the Maine coast peering at boats and people for "homeland security" reasons.

Yesterday our local group PeaceWorks had a letter to the editor in the paper that was signed by a bunch of us alerting the community to the possibility of this UAV training base. Then today we got a call from the statewide public radio station wanting more information so things are coming out into the open a bit.

The folks who are promoting this have asked our Congresswoman to get them $12,750,000 so they could do a feasibility study. So there are some serious hands stirring this stew.

It is now up to the peace community in our state to create awareness about this plan and to build opposition against this crazy idea while there is still time.

We must insist that our local community does not become a training base for the maddening US war in Central Asia. It just goes to show once again that the industrial base the government is trying to build in the US is primarily to make weapons for endless war. We've got to keep pushing back hard against this drift to militarization of our culture.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

OBAMA ONCE SUPPORTED SINGLE-PAYER



Illinois State Sen. Obama in 2003, back when he supported single-payer healthcare. Note in the video he says first the Democrats must take back the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House then single-payer can be done.

Somewhere between 2003 and 2008 Obama changed his mind. Guess why?

THE IMAGES TELL THE STORY



I am very aware that some might not like all the videos I've been putting on my blog in recent months. I've not really had any complaints, one person though did tell me that they miss me not writing as much. So I'm trying to strike a balance. But some of these videos, in their images, can tell more than I ever could with words.

Take for example the one here today from Afghanistan. It's a story about the US bombing one of their own bases rather than losing it to the Taliban who had driven them from the outpost. There is remarkable imagery in the short video, the mountains, the river, the people forlornly watching as US military choppers zoom by one after the other. The man sitting on the ground serving tea to the US soldier.

One thing that grabbed me was the US Lieutenant pointing to the nearby mountains and saying, "This is Indian country." It's a revealing statement. The US cavalry's job was to exterminate the Indians. Their slogan was "A good Indian is a dead Indian." A Native American would likely warn the people of Afghanistan, "Watch out, they are coming to steal your land."

We don't know enough about the war in Afghanistan, and know very little about the people. These folks have experienced endless war for the last 30-some years and some day the US will be forced to leave the same way the former Soviet Union's huge military was - with their tail between their legs. But how many will die in the meantime? How much more national debt will be piled up here in the US paying for this bad war?

In Maine the peace movement is trying to get meetings with our two Democratic Congress persons and our two Republican Senators to talk about Afghanistan. So far they are all stone-walling. There will be a statewide meeting here at the Addams-Melman House on August 1 to deepen our organizing on Afghanistan. The meeting will follow a protest at the next "Christening" of another Navy Aegis destroyer at Bath Iron Works.

Monday, July 13, 2009

NO MORE BOTTLED WATER

I went to the world premiere of the new film called "Tapped" yesterday in Waterville, Maine. The packed house cheered like crazy as the film ended. Many people featured in the film were in attendance as Maine's "water wars" are a vital part of the story in the documentary.

This is a must watch film. It tells the story about corporations like Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi trying to grab up the water resources around the world for their control and profit. The film clearly lays out the deadly connections between the manufacturing of plastic bottles and the people who live near these chemical production plants suffering from cancers and other deadly ailments. The scenes about plastic bottles leaching chemicals into the drinking water inside them is chilling. But most troubling of all is the horrific story about the disposal of plastic bottles that end up in the world's oceans for generations to come and that are now killing marine life.

This excellent film clearly reveals how effective the bottled water industry has been at making their product appear to be "pure" and "natural" and "safe" as a way to get the public to fear water from their own public drinking systems. But as we are all now learning, quite often the bottled war comes from the same sources that our tap water flows from.

They handed out stainless steel water bottles to everyone who attended the film opening yesterday. We've all got to become users of these reusable bottles and teach people about the negative consequences of buying plastic bottled water.

If you love your children, if you love this planet, then you will boycott plastic. You must get ahold of this excellent film and show it in your community. The future generations depend on you doing so.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

DEAD IN DETROIT

A sadly compelling short report on the near total decline of Detroit.....a ghost town in the making.

THE INSIDE SCOOP



I watched this interview in full this morning. It is a fascinating inside view of how the health insurance corporations ensure that there is no challenge to their profit making business.

This former high-level executive from Cigna has quit his job and is now blowing the whistle on the ways the insurance industry intimidates, lies, and bribes their way into the halls of Congress to block any reform.

The bit above is just a teaser, see the full Bill Moyers interview here.