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....
- Name: Bruce K. Gagnon
- Location: Bath, Maine, United States
Friday, November 01, 2013
WE HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.
None of this is really possible without global military disarmament. We can't afford militarism and poverty eradication. We have a choice to make.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
PULLING A 9-11
Snowden's revelations about the NSA has seen US intelligence bosses go to great lengths to justify their activities. Officially they've been told to use 9/11 as their main argument, according to a document leaked in the media. And some politicians are happy to follow that advice. Pepe Escobar joins RT to discuss this issue.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
DEVELOPING STRATEGIES FOR THE PIVOT
I head to Washington DC in the morning for three days of meetings about the Obama "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific.
The meetings will assemble a couple dozen key activists from around the country to create an on-going strategy to bring greater peace movement activity around this important issue. At this point there is not yet enough understanding and organizing going on around the surge of 60% of US military forces into the region in order to control China and Russia.
Congress and the military industrial complex are certainly far ahead of us. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee stated just yesterday:
"Although it is often said, it is worth repeating: U.S. policy towards the Asia-Pacific remains a truly bipartisan effort. I understand there are a variety of perspectives on the region and the long-term security role our Nation should play there. I can say with confidence there is a broad consensus at a strategic level to continue the now seven-decade old project to maintain a stable balance of power in the region. What this series [hearings, closed briefings, and other committee engagements] will explore are some of the operational and tactical-level questions that concern our future posture in the region. What shape should our naval posture and presence look like? What role will the Army and Marine Corps play? How should our allies contribute and what are the limitations to cooperation? I look forward to exploring these questions and more as we begin this process."
“The Obama administration has recognized that strategically, economically, and diplomatically, the Asia-Pacific region will provide our greatest challenges [China & Russia] and opportunities [more money for military industrial complex] going forward. It is time for Congress to devote more of our resources and energy to providing leadership in this arena. All of us, particularly those on the Armed Services Committees, have a responsibility to consider the long-term demands on our military power. This series aims to enhance the understanding of Asia-Pacific Security issues for both our colleagues in Congress and the general public.”
IN THE WATER AT BIW
The new Zumwalt class "stealth" destroyer being built by General Dynamics at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Maine was moved to dry dock and then into the Kennebec River over the weekend.
Coming out of dry dock at BIW does not mean the ship is ready to put to sea. BIW will keep finishing their work on the ship before installing a considerable arsenal of weapons, including two Advanced Gun Systems (AGS), which can fire rocket powered, computer-guided shells that can destroy targets 63 miles away. That's three times farther than ordinary destroyer guns can fire. In addition cruise missiles (the weapons that were first to be fired from destroyers to start Bush's "shock and awe" in 2003) will be installed. The Zumwalt will ultimately be equipped with 80 missiles, including Tomahawk cruise missiles and Seasparrow surface to air missiles.
The $4 billion warship will be one of three Zumwalt class destroyers the Navy builds. Originally the Navy intended to build as many as 20 of these ships but the Pentagon scuttled the program due to excessive cost. (Previous destroyers were costing about $1.5 billion each.) But Obama rescued the Zumwalt with a compromise that will fund the construction of three of this ships - all to be built at BIW.
Navy Capt. Jim Downey, the Zumwalt program manager, told the media that the ship was the "most complex surface combatants the US Navy has ever developed.....[and] make it a 100% globally deployable asset to the fleet."
Translation: This "stealth" destroyer will be a key element in the US military encirclement of China.
The blessing from Jesus Christ will have to wait until the spring. You can be sure that a protest will be scheduled when that big event is held. In the meantime activists in Maine will hold their annual weekly peace vigils at BIW during the entire Advent season (from Nov 30 thru Christmas eve). They will be done each Saturday from 11:30 am until 12:30 as the weekend shift leaves the shipyard.
URBAN FARM TO PROTECT ALL LIFE
From Miami, Florida.....trying to go to organic farming conference in Cuba but US government won't let them sail their boat to Havana.
We, in the US, are the "freedom" folks except when it applies to things like having access to the people of Cuba.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
IMPORTANT: SIGN-ON FUKUSHIMA LETTER
Please Sign-On to this Important Letter:
Here is the final version of the International Sign-on letter regarding Fukushima. Please send this to individuals and organizations you know who would be willing to sign on.
We will deliver this letter to the UN on Nov. 7 so we will need the signers before then. It looks like removal of the rods will start on the 8th. And the 7th coincides with the showing of a pro-nuclear movie on CNN called "Pandora's Promise."
Please ask signers to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also encourage people to plan actions on the weekend of Nov. 9 and 10. We have our first action being organized at Grinnell. We will post the actions on www.popularresistance.org
Margaret Flowers M.D.
A Global Call for International Assistance with the Crises at Fukushima
The crisis situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan is deteriorating and threatens not only the survival of the population of Japan but could also become a significant global disaster. We express our deepest sympathies to the people of Japan for the tragic loss of life, habitat and infrastructure they are continuing to suffer as a result of the triple disasters – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear, that began on March 11, 2011. The potential for additional massive radiation releases now is cause for grave international concern. The attention and resources of the international community must be focused on Fukushima to resolve this crisis in the safest and most transparent way.
Decommissioning of the entire Fukushima nuclear power plant will take many decades; however, there are two urgent situations that require international intervention. First is contaminated water at the site and second, and more dangerous, is the spent fuel rods, particularly those in Building Four. TEPCO has not demonstrated the capacity to manage these problems nor has it been forthcoming in a timely way about the magnitude of the problems at Fukushima.
TEPCO delayed public admission about the problems with groundwater that is flowing from the surrounding hills into the site. The water presents two dilemmas: it undermines the structural integrity of the damaged reactor buildings and it must be contained because it becomes contaminated when it flows through the site. TEPCO is pumping the contaminated water into temporary storage tanks, some of which are already leaking. Each day, contaminated water leaks into the Pacific Ocean. The capacity to physically hold this contaminated water on site is diminishing. TEPCO lacks an effective long-term solution to this problem.
In November, 2013, TEPCO plans to begin removal of more than 1,300 spent fuel rods located in the heavily-damaged Building 4. The rods are in a pool that is 100 feet above the ground. The roof over this pool was destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami two years ago and debris litters the pool which further complicates removal of the rods. Under normal operation, these rods were moved by computer-assisted cranes that knew their exact location, but that equipment was destroyed. The rods must be removed under manual control because of the debris and damage that has displaced them.
This is a task that requires great skill and precision. If a spent fuel rod breaks, gets too close to another rod or is exposed to the air, there could be a massive release of radiation into the air. According to Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, "If you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool, the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs." This could badly contaminate the Northern Hemisphere.
Removal of the spent fuel rods is urgent because another earthquake could also lead to the release of radiation. However, it is imperative that this task be performed with the greatest accuracy and transparency. TEPCO vice president, Zengo Aizawa, admitted in August, 2013 that "we need support, not only from the Japanese government but from the international community to do this job."
The risks of these tasks are global and require assistance from the planet’s best experts. Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the following actions to be taken immediately.
- That the government of Japan transfer responsibility for the Fukushima reactor site to an international engineering firm overseen by a civil society panel and an international group of nuclear experts independent from TEPCO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as outlined in this open letter to the United Nations.
- That the decommissioning process be done safely so that workers at the Fukushima site are protected from exposure to hazardous materials, are compensated fairly and are provided with all necessary support given the tremendous risks that they are taking in this disastrous situation.
- That the Japanese and global media be permitted around-the-clock access to accurate information throughout the entire process of removal of the spent fuel rods so that the Japanese people and the international community can be informed of any risks to their health.
In addition, we call for three days of global action focused on the crises at Fukushima on November 9 through 11 to coincide with Armistice Day and the 32 month anniversary of the disaster.
Green Shadow Cabinet Sub-committee on Fukushima:
Jackie Cabasso, Secretary for Nuclear Affairs
Dr. Margaret Flowers, Green Shadow Cabinet, Secretary of Health
Bruce Gagnon, Green Shadow Cabinet, Secretary of Space
Steven Leeper, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, adviser to the sub-committee
Dr. Jill Stein, Green Shadow Cabinet, President
Harvey Wasserman, Green Shadow Cabinet, Secretary of Energy
Monday, October 28, 2013
REPORT FROM UK CND CONFAB
Recent Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) annual conference in Liverpool. Mayor Kang from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island was a guest speaker (and singer).
ASSORTED UNVARNISHED NEWS
|NSA data collection center in Utah|
- The Utah Data Center, also known as the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center, is a storage facility for the US Intelligence Community that is designed to store extremely large amounts of data. The megaproject was recently completed at a cost of $1.5 billion despite ongoing controversy over the NSA's involvement in the practice of mass surveillance in the United States. The data center is able to process all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Internet searches, as well as all types of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital 'pocket litter'.
- James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, said the public had yet to grasp the significance of Utah's data-mining. "It's basically a hard-drive. It's also a cloud, a warehouse. It'll be storing not just text and audio but pictures and video. There's a lackadaisical attitude to this. People pay no attention until it's too late." Bamford wrote a cover story about the centre for Wired last year.
- It's fascinating to watch the politicians in Washington try to scurry as the spotlight gets brighter on the NSA global surveillance program. To deny or make excuses as they are exposed for spying on hundreds of millions of people worldwide just reveals the contempt that "our leaders" have for the truth, civil liberties, and real democracy. This is a huge story and mainstream media should be digging like hell to learn more about this but they appear to be content to read the headlines as Edward Snowden's leaks are bouncing around the globe.
- There is growing evidence that Libertarians are seeking common ground on these civil liberties issues with people on the left. This will become a powerful alliance and we should all welcome such a conjunction of interests with open arms. We don't have to agree on every issue in order to stand together to protect our fundamental rights to privacy, free speech, free assembly and more.
- I taped another edition of This Issue this morning and my guest this time was Dr. Julie Pease from Brunswick. We talked about the controversy around Obamacare and the need for a single-payer health care program - Medicare for all. She was a good guest and did a great job explaining how that law is a corporate insurance industry program. The massive administrative duplication that comes from the thousands of insurance companies, over $450 billion a year, is enough in itself to make one object to the present system. That wasted money alone could cover the bill to pay for health care for the whole nation.
- I was contacted early this morning by Voice of Russia wanting my comment on the groundbreaking ceremony for the Aegis Ashore "missile defense" (MD) system at Deveselu military base in southern Romania. The base will be operational in 2015 giving the Pentagon one more dramatic military tool in their quiver against Russia. They are taking the successful Aegis Destroyer based MD system (known as SM-3) and putting it on ground-based launchers as well. The program is being tested on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Sold to the public as protection against Iran and North Korea, the MD system is actually being used to surround Russia and China giving the US military the ability to take out their retaliatory capability after a first-strike attack. Very destabilizing stuff.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
BAN TAR SANDS IN MAINE
I went down to South Portland yesterday to support the exciting campaign in that city to pass a referendum outlawing a Tar Sands pipeline scheduled to carry that dirty fossil fuel product into their port. The election will be held on November 5.
About 200 folks turned out to work the major intersections in South Portland....if you want to reach the American people then stand on a busy street and they will drive by.
This campaign has effectively taken the raging national issue and found a way to bring it home to the local community. That is good organizing.
Brandon Bryant, a former sensor operator for the U.S. Air Force Predator program. He manned the camera on the unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. After he left the active-duty Air Force in 2011, he was presented with a certificate that credited his squadron for 1,626 kills. In total, he says he was involved in seven missions in which his Predator fired a missile at a target.