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, August 03, 2012

ORBITAL SLOTS BECOMING SCARCE


  • There are more than 2,500 satellites currently in orbit (including both active and defunct satellites which continue to orbit the Earth).  A large number of them are "owned" by the Pentagon.  The parking lot is starting to run out of available space.  Conflict is growing over who controls the designation of remaining orbital slots.
  • Satellites have an operating lifespan between five and 20 years. As of 2008, the former Soviet Union and Russia had nearly 1,300 satellites in orbit, the US about 1,000, Japan more than 100, China about 80, France over 40, India more than 30, Germany almost 30, the UK and Canada 25, and at least ten each from Italy, Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, Sweden, Luxembourg, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. 
  •  Low Earth Orbit (LEO) - Geocentric orbits ranging in altitude from 160 kilometers to 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) above Earth. Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) - Geocentric orbits with altitudes ranging between 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) and that of the geosynchronous orbit at 35,786 kilometres (22,236 mi). Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO) - Geocentric circular orbit with an altitude of 35,786 kilometres (22,236 mi). The period of the orbit equals one sidereal day, coinciding with the rotation period of the Earth. High Earth Orbit (HEO) - Geocentric orbits with altitudes at apogee higher than that of the geosynchronous orbit. A special case of high Earth orbit is the highly elliptical orbit, where altitude at perigee is less than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi).
  • Different types of satellite orbits have different uses. The space shuttle avoided polar orbits, because flying through the aurora exposes astronauts to radiation and creates other problems. 
  • Space is an integral component of U.S. military planning. A sure sign of its essential nature can be found in the dozens of satellites from the U.S. and NATO partners that supported wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia.
  • Satellites don't attack directly, but rather they offer what the Pentagon calls "force enhancement" — surveillance, reconnaissance, communications, navigation, missile warning.  Essentially the satellites are the eyes, ears, and triggers for virtually all Pentagon combat operations whether they are on the land, sea or in the sky.
  • The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) operates satellites for the U.S. intelligence community. American reconnaissance spacecraft, including the NRO's major equipment, are launched to Earth orbit by the Air Force and are known by a variety of code names. 
  • My question?  Why do we earthlings need every country with a space program?  Every country with their own satellites?  Every country (and state) really need their own space launch complex?  Can we get over this nationalism bullshit and recognize that we all live on this tiny spinning beautiful orb called Earth?  Let's develop our Earth consciousness rather than around flags and boundary lines.

NEARING THE END


  • The people are nearing the end of the grand march on Jeju Island.  On August 4 the east and west teams will meet in Jeju City on the north side of the island.  They will hold a concluding rally and concert to celebrate a job well done. 
  •  Tomorrow in Brunswick, Maine will be the 8th annual Peace Fair on the town green.  It's an all-day event and I will be there staffing a table about the Global Network and the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home.  Last night we showed The Welcome film at a local cinema as a kick-off to the fair.
  • My next trip comes on August 8 as I head to Miami, Florida to attend the Veterans for Peace convention.  I'll be doing two workshops around the themes of Obama's "pivot" into the Aisa-Pacific and the Jeju Island Navy base fight.  My old friend Barbara Buck (who helped me do logistics on peace walks in Florida starting in 1987) will pick me up at the airport and I will stay at her home.  Will be great to see her again.
  • Then when I get home its full-bore toward organizing the protest at the Air Force Thunderbirds airshow in Brunswick on August 25. Maine Veterans for Peace is holding a march and vigil outside the former Navy airfield in town where the airshow will be held.  We have a chance to reach tens of thousands of people with our message:  Stop recruiting our children for war!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

READ TO THE OPPOSITION


Mexico: Student movement reading poetry last week to policemen in the 24 hours occupation of the biggest Mexican TV network, Televisa.

"Thousands of protesters have blockaded the studios of Televisa, Mexico's most popular TV network, accusing it of biased coverage of the 1 July presidential election.

Protests continue after claims TV network was biased and took money for coverage from eventual winner Enrique Peña Nieto."


This reminds me of the wonderful story about pre-revolutionary Cuba.  The cigar workers read the morning newspapers and novels to one another while they rolled Cuba's finest.  They became highly educated and were early leaders of the revolutionary movement against U.S. puppet Fulgencio Batista.  When I visited Cuba on trips we organized at the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice some years ago they were still doing it.

Help to educate the opposition rather than incite them.  A much better strategy for sure.

MILITARIZATION OF JEJU ISLAND


Regina Pyon reports from Jeju Island:

On the second day of grand march, I walked together with west team. I saw soldiers on military training on the coast. . .What a contradictory scene from the peace pilgrimage group! The peace of Jeju will be connected to the peace of the Korean Peninsula and the world. . your step by step on this pilgrimage will be the foundation for the peace of Jeju. I support you. . .Justice for Jeju! Peace for Gangjeong!"
East team on the fourth day. . .Heavy rain fall. . .sometimes break. Mayor Kang (above in yellow shirt) and his wife (white rain coat in the center). . .It is rare case to see them together...The two are walking in the rain. . .All of us are walking together as well.

LETTER TO ORGANIC COMMUNITY


  
An Open Letter to the Organic Community from Ronnie Cummins
After 45 years of hard work and grassroots struggle, the organic community has built up a $30 billion organic food and farming industry and community. But 10% annual growth isn't enough to avert the public health, environmental and climate crisis ahead - a crisis caused in large part by industrial agriculture. The first step toward an Organic Alternative is to pass truth-in-labeling laws. It's time to support the Nov. 6th California Ballot Initiative (Proposition 37) to require labels on genetically engineered foods and to ban the routine industry practice of marketing GMO-tainted foods as "natural" or "all natural." The outcome of this ballot initiative will determine whether GMO foods are labeled - not only in California, but across the entire United States and Canada as well.

Today I'm asking the organic community - in California and nationwide - to approach the managers of the retail stores, CSAs, restaurants, or farmers markets where you regularly buy your organic food and ask them to endorse Prop 37, educate their consumers and financially support Prop 37. We have thousands of volunteers, but we need more. Please be a part of this historic initiative!
Read Ronnie's full letter here

GUN VIOLENCE WORKS FOR OLIGARCHY



The drug biz, long known to be heavily run and financed by the CIA, is being militarized. 

Over the last 5 years, over 60,000 people have lost their lives in Mexico’s drug-related wave of violence. More than 70% of the weapons seized in Mexico in the last three years and submitted for tracing came from the U.S. (Source: ATF) 
The chickens have come home to roost as we see with the growing domestic violence across the US.  I believe the reason that Obama-Romney (and a corrupt Congress) do nothing about this is because the increase in random shootings help create fear in the minds of the American people.  Then the people demand to be protected.  So the public passively accepts the near complete militarization of supposedly independent local police agencies as they get armed to the teeth.  
The growing gun violence works in the interest of the oligarchy who is preparing the "clamp down" on the public as they figure out that the global economy is being taken back to the days of feudalism.  The evidence is now overwhelming when we view the violence thrown at protests in Cairo-Athens-London-New York-Anaheim and more.
You can sign a petition against gun smuggling to Mexico here  
 Connect the dots and survive.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

AMERICA - THE "EXCEPTIONAL" EMPIRE



A congressional investigation has revealed a top U.S. general in Afghanistan sought to stall an investigation into abuse at a U.S.-funded hospital in Kabul that kept patients in "Auschwitz-like" conditions. Army whistleblowers revealed photographs taken in 2010, which show severely neglected, starving patients at Dawood Hospital, considered the crown jewel of the Afghan medical system where the country’s military personnel are treated. The photos show severely emaciated patients, some suffering from gangrene and maggot-infested wounds.

The general accused of the cover-up is Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, one of the nation’s highest-ranking commanders in Afghanistan, who served as the commander of the $11.2-billion-a-year Afghan training program. Democracy Now speaks to Michael Hastings, contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine and a reporter for BuzzFeed, which has been following the story closely.

THIRD DAY OF GRAND MARCH



Sung-Hee Choi reports from Jeju Island:

Under the hot sunlight, march was continued with joyful songs.

Starting in the early morning, the West team walked about 30 km on the day from Hamo beach to the Hallim. Even under the hot sun, the march was being continued with joyful songs. Marchers who had endured hot sunlight and heating cement roads were cheered by the 119 emergency unit members who spread water to them, making all laughing.
 A villager elder says, “By this hard working, we can save the peace of our village. We so thank to all the people who came here upon the news." A boy says, “I am not tired. I am OK. I can even run at my best.” A man says, “The way we are hard-walking is not a [recreational] olle but it is a way of Peace.” 

Because of anticipated typhoon, Damrey, people slept at the floor of a big sports hall. Dinner after long walk is always welcome! A long day passed again.

MILITARIZED ANAHEIM IN CALIFORNIA

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

WE ARE DEATH


The logo from the Navy's drone commander's office.  Gives you an idea what kind of folks we are dealing with these days.

It is a sickness.

See more here if you can stomach it.

OUR PRIMARY EMPLOYMENT AGENCY

Senate panel OKs $604 billion defense bill

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A Senate panel has approved a $604 billion defense spending bill that reverses proposed Pentagon cuts in Air Force personnel and equipment.

The Appropriations defense subcommittee approved the bill by voice vote Tuesday. The measure would provide $511 billion for the base budget and $93.3 billion for the war in Afghanistan in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The bill is nearly $29 billion less than current spending.

The legislation provides $800 million to halt the Air Force's planned cuts.

In its budget proposal, the Pentagon called for a cut of 5,100 from the Air National Guard, 3,900 from active duty and 900 reservists as well as 134 aircraft. That proposal met stiff resistance from the nation's governors and members of Congress.

My Take:  The Pentagon is now our primary employment agency in America.  You want a job - then get on-board the killing train.  Yesterday I had a call from a "Small Business Association" staffer in California who heard me on KPFA radio.  He said he was interested in how the mega-aerospace corporations are getting the big bucks and what would the small business community need to do to get a piece of the action?

I told him they had the wrong strategy.  I took him to the UMASS-Amherst Economics Department study on the U.S. Employment Effects of Military & Domestic Spending Priorities. I wanted him to see that the real job creation his association seeks isn't going to come from corporations moving production oversees or from endless war contracts. It's got to come from domestic investment that is now being poured down the Pentagon rat hole.  I think he got my point.

My friend Andre Brochu from Sweden (who grew up in Maine and during Vietnam War went to Sweden as a war resister) writes today and closes with, "Take care!  Remember that the next mosquito could be a MAV (micro aerial vehicle).  A MAV swatter is like a fly swatter. I trust not too much damage would be done to the mosquito drone. Maybe none at all. Maybe I should put up some sticky fly strips instead. Less chance of hurting the darling.  If they track me down I might have to hide  in the embassy like Assange until they can find a diplomatic pouch big enough to get me out of  EU/NATO."

 Please remember that Keep Space for Peace Week will be October 6-13, 2012.

"Xe" STIRRING UP VIOLENCE IN SYRIA



The opposition fighters in Syria might be getting help from a different source - in the form of training from the US private security firm, formerly known as the notorious Blackwater group (now called Xe - could it stand for "execute"?).

Security circles reportedly confirmed the information which was released earlier by Wikileaks - that the company is sending mercenaries from Iraq into Syria. RT discusses this with Christoph R. Horstel - who's a government and business consultant. He joins RT from Germany.
 
In general, there is a power struggle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia for influence in the Arab world following the fall of Mubarak, with Qatar backing the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudis backing more extreme Salafi parties and forces. In a leaked transcript of Kofi Annan's latest meeting with Assad, they actually shared a joke and laughed at the notion of Qatar as the leader of the Arab world, but it's no joke that the kings of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are each backing and arming factions within the FSA that are not accepting Annan's peace plan and are determined to keep fighting - and that they also have communications and logistical support from the US and NATO.

It was Qatari special forces who led the assault on the Bab al-Azizia military headquarters in Tripoli that effectively won the war in Libya for the NATO rebels, and we must not underestimate the importance of the fact that the Ameer of Qatar owns Al-Jazeera. AJ provided an important counterpoint to the Western media during the Iraq War, going to places literally and politically that they did not dare to go. Since Qatar has launched its bid for power in the Arab world, Al Jazeera is playing a different role, presenting one-sided views of the wars in Libya and Syria and generally serving an interest-based propaganda function similar to that of the Western media - and doing so with greater credibility in the Arab world because it has worked hard in the past to establish itself as a trusted source.

Sandy Davies,
Author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq

SORE FEET AND SINGING HEARTS

  • The Jeju Island grand march is now in its second day.  Imagine the logistics involved in feeding hundreds of walkers in two different marches going opposite directions?  It is hot and humid there so imagine the water they are going through?  And where are they all sleeping at night?  This kind of event is what organizers dream about.  It is a massive undertaking but the kind of event that has huge impact as most of the population of the island will come in contact with the walk.  It's a brilliant strategy.  A wonderful video about the entire feeding operation can be seen here
  • The walk is being sustained by hope, a fierce spirit of non-violent resistance, and music.  You can listen to a new album produced by the Gangjeong village band called Shinzzakkot (meaning ‘the elating and spicy flower band’).  The album is called ‘We’re from Gangjeong!’and you can listen to the whole thing here
  • You can also imagine that the walkers are going to have some sore feet with lots of blisters.  But that just makes the experience memorable.  They are building a mass community.
  • This is the kind of political action that changes lives - both the walkers and those who see the walk.  The best organizing strategies are the ones that are the hardest.  This grand march is a winner.  You can follow the walk closely on Facebook.
  • This grand march is just more evidence that Korean activists are the best political organizers that I have seen during my long career.  I bow to them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

GRAND MARCH BEGINS


More than 400 people began marching from Gangjeong village on the southern side of Jeju Island today and will walk in two directions, east and west.

On the last day, August 4, the people will meet in Jeju City on the opposite side of the island from Gangjeong, and express their will to stop the Jeju Naval base project and to realize Jeju as a true Peace Island.  Events will culminate with a peace concert.

You can help by boycotting Samsung and by spreading the word.  

See video coverage of first day marching here

PEACES FROM THE LIVING

  • Citizens on Okinawa are very angry as the U.S. moves accident prone Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to their island home.  The Osprey deployment is flying straight into the sorest point of the American-Japanese alliance. In October, the aircraft is scheduled to begin full operations at the Futenma air base, which occupies 25% of crowded Ginowan city in Okinawa. Locals have long demanded its closure, but a plan to build Futenma’s replacement off the fishing village of Henoko is stalled, perhaps permanently. “We think it is discrimination against Okinawa to send this aircraft here,” said Henoko resident Takako Shinohara. Like many Okinawans, she recalls a 1994 incident in which an American military helicopter crashed into a local university campus. “We cannot understand why the Japanese government allows this, but we are determined to fight it.”
  • Journalist Karl Grossman has a new article on CounterPunch called Nukes on Mars: NASA's Dangerous Alliance With the Nuclear Industry.  He's been the top writer on the nukes in space issue since about 1989.  He also serves on the Global Network's Advisory Board.
  •  NBC has created a new entertainment show that promotes war. "Stars Earn Stripes" will be co-hosted by retired U.S. general Wesley Clark and will also feature Todd Palin.  NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event.  On "Stars Earn Stripes," celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including "long-range weapons fire." Only there won't be any of the killing or dying.  The message is that war is fun and games.  You can send a message to NBC opposing this corporate media brainwashing by going here
  • Just learned from friend Lynda Williams that Pacifica radio station KPFA in Berkeley will be replaying a speech of mine from my April west coast tour today at noon (Pacific time).  The station promo says, " Bruce Gagnon connects the dots between corporate capitalism and endless war." You can listen live by clicking on this link at noon (Pacific) or 3:00 pm EST.  I learned KPFA was giving away my book to people who made donations to the station today.  Quite nice of them to promote our work.
  • Maine Veterans for Peace will present a showing of the award winning film The Welcome: A Healing Journey for Veterans and their Families on Thursday, August 2.  The film will be shown at the Frontier Cafe in Brunswick. It is free although the hat will be passed to cover rental of the cinema.  It's a film not to be missed.


A STORY OF PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION



Dud Hendrick is a member of Veterans For Peace-Maine. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a Vietnam Veteran. (He was also coach of the Dartmouth College lacrosse team for many years.)  After a 1,200 mile bike ride by veterans from both sides of the Vietnam War, Dud experienced a change of heart and became an advocate for peace. His story of that experience is moving and inspirational.

Dud explains the origins of Veterans For Peace which began here in Maine. It is now in all 50 states with over 5,000 members.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

PROTECTING AMERICA'S MOST POPULAR SOCIAL PROGRAM

  • While on vacation MB and I attended a talk by Eric Laursen about his new book "The People's Pension" at the Damariscotta library.  It was an early morning program that drew about 25 people.  He told us that 20 million people across the U.S. are kept out of poverty by Social Security.  Today 1/3 of all elderly in the country live in or near the poverty line.  Attempts to "trim" Social Security began during the Carter administration (but didn't get beyond his cabinet) and have continued through every president since then including Obama.  
  • Last year Obama came close to making a deal with Republicans to cut Social Security - but the Tea Party, who didn't think the deal went far enough, helped kill it in Congress.  Democrat leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were on-board with the proposed cuts.  Laursen told us that as more and more workers get paid bare bones minimum wages, when they reach retirement age, they will only qualify for the minimum benefits which won't even keep up with the cost of living.  (I am in this category.) The best way to safeguard the program would be to remove the cap on Social Security payments on the wealthy.  They now only pay Social Security taxes on the first $107,000 they earn - everything after that is not taxed.  
  • During the Q & A I suggested that with corporations moving jobs overseas future generations won't be able to qualify for much in Social Security earnings unless the government gets involved in creating jobs by converting the military industrial complex to peaceful production.  Laursen got the point and agreed and went even further to explain how doing so would create more and better paying jobs, thus helping to protect Social Security.

SUNDAY SONG