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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What Happened in Libya?

 
On this day five years ago, a NATO-led coalition began its military intervention in Libya. French fighter jets were deployed over the African country on March 19th, 2011. The operation triggered a series of events that changed the face of Libya.
 
 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Art Can Make the Conversation Messy



In this episode of Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges sits down with political cartoonist Dwayne “Mr. Fish” Booth to discuss the use of art as a language to tell truth in an age of corporate domination of information.

With his cartoons, Mr. Fish confronts systems of power, exposing their brutality and folly in a way that words cannot.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Life of the Refugees


Thug life moment from Aunty Ji
Posted by Colonial Cousins on Wednesday, March 9, 2016



Fuck up all of these bastards! They are bunch of animals pretending to be human!2016 Holland , this is how people have...
Posted by No racism no war on Wednesday, March 16, 2016



This is disgusting - these people are refugees from a US-NATO war on Syria. The Dutch seem to have forgotten their own hunger during WW II when they were digging up tulip bulbs for food....

Western culture is very sick. 

Killing Qaddafi


Washington is the judge, jury and executioner.  Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Honduras, Venezuela, now Brazil....the list is endless.  Mr. Big takes what he wants.  Killing is incidental.

Killary Clinton has signed up for the next round - taking over from Obama who gave the corporate oligarchy virtually everything that George W. Bush had given the ruling elite.  Except Obama offered one key additional thing -  he could demobilize much of the left while ensuring more foreign intervention and growing austerity budgets at home were possible without a big fight.  Killary's job will be similar - keep the women, unions and the rest of the liberals quiet as the rich take down the final stubborn layers of social progress.

Killery will also keep the 'Smart power' game rolling - regime change and endless war with a 'Democratic Party' face.  (Why does the world hate us so much you ask?)

Killery boasted on national TV after the murder of Qaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died!"

One more 'evil dictator' taken down - American exceptionalism at work.  Forget that Libya has the largest supply of oil on the African continent and shares major water resources with surrounding nations.  Mr. Big was just itching to get his hands on all the loot.

The secret is the propaganda campaign - the victim must first be demonized and then tried before the jury of the American people via corporate controlled media - the circus sideshow.  Once that is done the sailing is smooth.  Next up Moscow and Beijing.

It's called 'control and domination' through maximized chaos.....

truthout has a good story on Killery and her connection to the Libya take down called Exposing the Libyan Agenda: A Closer Look at Hillary Clinton's Emails .  Here is just one bit:

US-NATO intervention was allegedly undertaken on humanitarian grounds, after reports of mass atrocities; but human rights organizations questioned the claims after finding a lack of evidence. Today, however, verifiable atrocities are occurring. As Dan Kovalik wrote in the Huffington Post, "the human rights situation in Libya is a disaster, as 'thousands of detainees [including children] languish in prisons without proper judicial review,' and 'kidnappings and targeted killings are rampant'."

Before 2011, Libya had achieved economic independence, with its own water, its own food, its own oil, its own money, and its own state-owned bank. It had arisen under Qaddafi from one of the poorest of countries to the richest in Africa. Education and medical treatment were free; having a home was considered a human right; and Libyans participated in an original system of local democracy. The country boasted the world's largest irrigation system, the Great Man-made River project, which brought water from the desert to the cities and coastal areas; and Qaddafi was embarking on a program to spread this model throughout Africa.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Preparing for War with Russia Over Arctic


US and Norwegian pilots boast about their helicopters during NATO war exercise Cold Response 2016 held in Norway near the Russian border.

The US-NATO military operation is preparing for war with Russia over control of the Arctic Ocean as climate change allows for oil corporation drilling due to melting ice. 

The US-NATO are routinely leaving many weapons systems in Norway after the war games thus building up stockpiles for later use.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It's Just Passion?


Samantha Bee sat down with a pack of young, college-educated Trump supporters to hear why they've so staunchly backed the candidate on 'Full Frontal.'

A Crisis of the Heart


On March 3 Peace Action Maine held an event in Portland linking peace and climate change.  Bill McKibben - author, educator, environmentalist, and co-founder of 350.org - was invited to speak via Skype. Following his talk I was asked to present a question to McKibben about the Pentagon which has the largest carbon footprint on the Earth and yet is excluded from the Kyoto Protocols.  His answer, let's say, was incomplete in my thinking.

Following McKibben was a panel discussion on Creating a Climate for Peace which included Sherri Mitchell, Indigenous Rights lawyer and Executive Director, Land Peace Foundation who is from the Penobscot Nation on Island Island here in Maine.

She spoke eloquently about some of the following things:

  •  We are uniting and rising up from all corners of the world to protect the planet
  • We have a spiritual and mental illness
  • We must look at the way we do activism
  • We must be love based - not conquest based activists
  • We are all part of one unified life system
  • We are all star dust and water
  • What ever we feed grows

Eric Herter from Brunswick did the camera work. 

Meeting with Sen. Angus King on US Syria Policy



A group of Maine peace activists met with Sen. Angus King (I-ME) on March 11 at the public library in Brunswick.  The 45 minute meeting to discuss Syria was attended by Rosalie Tyler Paul (Brunswick), Mary Donnelly (Brunswick), Joanne Hardy (Brunswick), Dud Hendrick (Deer Island) and Bruce Gagnon (Bath).

Sen. King sits on the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees in Washington and was a former governor in Maine.  King told us that he spends 60% of his time on these issues.  He is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.

Rosalie began the meeting saying, "I want to speak to the opportunity that awaits our country to move beyond this very adolescent period. We have all the power to lead, we have the money and the muscle but not yet the moral leadership. If there is ever to be a coming of age for our species, we must stop killing each other and begin to cooperate."

We handed Sen. King two recent important articles on Syria and urged him to take the time to read them.  The first one is written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. called Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria: They don’t hate ‘our freedoms.’ They hate that we’ve betrayed our ideals in their own countries — for oil. We briefly shared the findings from this excellent piece that ran in Politico with Sen. King - particularly this bit:

Our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo until recently prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad. Meanwhile, Qatar’s gas can reach European markets only if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs. The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey, which would pocket rich transit fees. The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would give the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mideast headquarters.

Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. It is important to note that this was well before the Arab Spring-engendered uprising against Assad.

The second article we handed Sen. King recently ran in the Boston Globe and was penned by Brown University senior fellow Stephan Kinzer entitled The media are misleading the public on Syria.
Kinzer writes:

Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.

I had the occasion about 18 months ago to have a brief word with Sen. King about Syria and at that time he was holding fast to the line that the US was supporting 'moderate' Syrians in their efforts to overthrow Assad.  This time he never brought up the word - by now alternative media in the US has largely dispelled that notion.  In this meeting I focused in on how ISIS is funded which includes generous contributions of money and weapons from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and the US.  I mentioned that when Russia first entered Syria to help defend that legitimate government they began bombing ISIS oil truck convoys that were carrying stolen Syrian oil and moving it into Turkey.  Once there President Erdogan's son, who runs an oil distribution company, sold the oil to Japan and Israel and then shared the profits with ISIS.

Sen. King did not dispute any of these points we made about who was funding and arming Syria although he did say that the US too had bombed ISIS oil convoys heading into Turkey with the stolen oil.  "I am not going to defend Turkey but they are a strategic ally," he said.

Mary Donnelly spoke passionately about the refugees in Syria and that greater effort must be made to ensure that supplies of humanitarian aid get through to them.  Due to the recent ceasefire (largely organized by Moscow) some of that aid was now reaching the most hard pressed people inside Syria.

Dud Hendrick shared bits from a letter he handed to Sen. King that called on the US to end its massive and aggressive military empire of more than 900 bases.  Dud graduated from the US Naval Academy and served a tour of duty in Vietnam during that ill-fated war.

Joanne Hardy, an ardent supporter of the Palestinian people, urged Sen. King to push Israel to end its illegal settlement building which continues to displace the people into ever expanding refugee camps.  Sen. King responded, "We've never done anything about Israeli settlements. I'm very sympathetic to the cause of the Palestinians.  One of the problems is that it is easy to say one side or the other is right.  But can you sign an agreement with the Palestinians?  Who do you negotiate with?"  Joanne pointed out that real negotiations have "to be between relatively equal partners.  In this situation there is no equality between the occupier (Israel) and the occupied (Palestinians)."

Sen. King did acknowledge that Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu does not appear willing to seriously negotiate a real peace agreement.  King was reluctant to acknowledge that the US has tremendous leverage over Israel when one considers the huge amount of aid given to it every year.

(The main expression of Congressional support for Israel has been foreign aid. Since 1985, it has provided nearly $3 billion in grants annually to Israel, with Israel being the largest annual recipient of American aid from 1976 to 2004 and the largest cumulative recipient of aid ($121 billion, not inflation-adjusted) since World War II. Seventy-four percent of these funds must be spent purchasing US goods and services. More recently, in fiscal year 2014, the US provided $3.9 billion in foreign military aid to Israel. Israel also benefits from about $8 billion of loan guarantees.)

Sen. King praised the Israeli 'missile defense' program called Iron Dome as something "that likely saved my son's life" when he was in Israel during the most recent exchange of Palestinian rockets and IDF counter-attack on Gaza.  While we didn't have time to discuss the merits of Iron Dome an analysis of the system's failures has been written by Subrata Ghoshroy who is a research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Program in Science, Technology, and Society.  His article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is called Iron Dome: Behind the hoopla, a familiar story of missile-defense hype.

After Sen. King left the Brunswick library meeting room our delegation remained to evaluate the meeting.  We agreed that unless fellow concerned citizens help by following up on these issues with Sen. King then we will not be able to move things forward.  One in our group remarked that, "Sen. King is still not willing to admit Israel's criminal behavior.  I was put off by his suggestion that the complicated history of the Middle East excuses US behavior in the region."

So we urge those Mainers who care about these complex but important issues in the Middle East to contact Sen. King and share with him your concerns.  You can send him a message at his web site here

Just yesterday Russian President Putin announced a pullout from Syria: "I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defense Ministry to be generally accomplished. That is why I order to start withdrawal of the main part of our military group from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic starting from tomorrow,” he said.

It will be more than interesting to see what the US and their partners (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel) will do next in their effort to topple Assad.  In an article today Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy, writes:

Jeffrey Goldberg’s newly published book-length article on Barack Obama and the Middle East includes a major revelation that brings US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Syrian diplomacy into sharper focus: it reports that Kerry has sought on several occasions without success over the past several months to get Obama’s approval for cruise missile strikes against the Syrian government. 

Goldberg reports that “on several occasions” Kerry requested that Obama approve missile strikes at “specific regime targets”, in order to “send a message” to Assad – and his international allies – to “negotiate peace”. Kerry suggested to Obama that the US wouldn’t have to acknowledge the attacks publicly, according to Goldberg, because Assad “would surely know the missiles’ return address”.
Now is indeed the right time for the peace movement around the world to call on the US to match the move by Russia to lower the military footprint on Syria.  If the world wants to bring peace to the region, and reduce the refugee crisis, then we must speak out now loudly and clearly demanding that the attempts to topple the elected Assad government must end.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Melting Arctic Ice - Future Conflict Zone


Many oil corporations and other business and military interests are excited about what 'opportunities' lie ahead as the Arctic ice rapidly melts due to climate change.

The Portland Maine Sunday Telegram ran a story yesterday entitled Diplomacy forum in Portland will spotlight Arctic, Maine about an international conference that will be held in that city this coming fall.  The newspaper reported:

A forum about Arctic diplomacy slated to take place in Maine’s largest city will focus on issues like climate change and shipping, and put a spotlight on its host, organizers said.

The Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials meeting will take place in Portland from Oct. 4-6. Officials from the council’s eight member nations, including the United States, and a host of non-governmental organizations will assemble for the midweek event.
Already the US and NATO have been ramping up war preparations for the coming conflict with Russia over control of the Arctic.  Russia has the world's largest land border with the Arctic Ocean and some in the western corporate oil-i-garchy have used this fact as a reason to push for regime change in Moscow - so that the oil companies could have a better chance at getting their drilling rigs into those areas once Russia has been broken into smaller constituent components that would be easier to control.

US-NATO have been stockpiling weapons in northern Norway and holding regular war games near the Russian border.  Moscow of course is aware of all this and is expanding its military operations in their large territory to protect their own interests.

Two years ago Maine's Sen. Angus King went on a submarine ride under the Arctic and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was along as well.  Friedman wrote a piece about the trip called Parallel Parking in the Arctic Circle in which he said:

But this wasn’t tourism. Climate scientists predict that if warming trends continue, the Arctic’s ice cap will melt enough that — in this century — it will become a navigable ocean for commercial shipping year round, and for mineral and oil exploration. Russia has already made extensive claims to the Arctic, based on the reach of its continental shelf, beyond the usual 12 miles from its coastline; these are in dispute. To prepare for whatever unfolds here, though, the U.S. Navy keeps honing its Arctic submarine skills, including, on our trip, test-firing a virtual torpedo at a virtual enemy sub, studying how differences in water temperatures and the mix of freshwater from melted ice and saltwater affect undersea weapons and the sounds a sub makes (vital for knowing how to hide), as well as mapping the Arctic’s seabed topography.

“In our lifetime, what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming an ocean, and we’d better understand it,” noted Admiral Jonathan Greenert [the chief of naval operations]. “We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain and get anywhere there.” Because if the Arctic does open up for shipping, it offers a much shorter route from the Atlantic to the Pacific than through the Panama Canal, saving huge amounts of time and fuel.

Sen. King has since that 2014 trip been a vocal supporter of the US building more ice breakers in order to help open the way for commercial operations in the Arctic region.  The fact that the Arctic Council will be meeting in Portland next October indicates Maine's growing influence due to its obvious proximity to the melting sea.

I plan to organize a protest during at least one day while the Arctic Council meeting is going on.  I want to help alert the public to the environmental and peace issues involved as the corporate interests push and shove their way into that region. 

Forest is Life





Stop the destruction of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Julian's Future


I remember
1989
the NASA Galileo launch
almost 50 pounds
of deadly toxic
plutonium-238 onboard
 
The Florida Coalition
for Peace & Justice
went to court
trying to
block the launch

What happens
if there is a launch
mishap?

What happens if
Galileo failed to
achieve proper
orbit like the
Russian Mars '96 mission
falling back to Earth
burning up on reentry
spreading radioactive plutonium
over Chile and Bolivia?

What happens when workers
at Los Alamos Labs
get contaminated as they
fabricate the plutonium
generators for these
space missions?

In 1989 we also protested
the Galileo launch
at the Kennedy Space Center
I came home
to be greeted at the door
by my son Julian
then 9 years old
wearing my gas mask
telling me,
trying to make me
feel better,
"Don't worry Dad,
if Galileo explodes
I could just wear
this for the rest
of my life."

Parents are supposed
to protect
their children
not the other way around
Julian was trying
to protect me
and in that moment
I promised myself
Nothing is more important
than me spending
the rest of my life
making sure
that Julian
and the coming generations
have a chance
at a real future.

Sunday Song