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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Wood, garden, whales and Putin's military budget cuts


  • I started stacking wood yesterday - four hours virtually non-stop.  Got about half of the 2 1/2 cords of wood done.  My back was feeling it afterwards.  I love stacking wood - my chosen profession does not allow many 'victories' or 'solutions' to the complex reality of the US war machine.  But stacking wood gives me near instant results and it helps keep me reasonably fit.  Some of the wood that we get delivered cut into 14 inch pieces has to be additionally cut so I was swinging the ax some as well.


  • In addition I've been working in the garden and doing some early planting of peas, carrots, beets, parsley, garlic, and various kinds of lettuce.  In a couple more weeks the other veggies will go into the ground.  

  • Over the weekend MB and I went to Wells Beach in southern Maine.  We took long walks and during a beach walk on Sunday we saw an endangered right whale just off the shoreline.  We are told that it is a very rare experience to see these whales.  About 430 North Atlantic right whales remain, including just over 100 breeding females. In the past 11 months, 18 whales have been found dead. Scientists believe the right whale population will not be viable within 25 years unless something changes. For the first time on record, no right whale calves were born this winter. In past years, between 15 and 23 new calves have been reported.

A North Atlantic right whale swims along the surface Sunday near boaters off Long Sands Beach in York, Maine with Nubble Light in the distance. Right whales are one of the Earth’s most endangered marine mammals. Photo from Portland Press Herald.

  • While at Wells Beach we spent time with several of MB's cousins who have summer cottages on the beach.  They repeatedly expressed worry that global warming is causing the loss of shoreline as the water and sand advance on their beach homes.  Wells Beach is similar to a barrier island and it won't be long before it is covered with water.  Big changes are coming.
  • The Christian Science Monitor reports: With the tensions between Russia and the West so high – often being described as “a new cold war” – one might understandably assume that there is a corresponding arms race going on. But in fact, Russia's military spending is on the decline. In the first strategic program of his new and possibly final presidential term, Vladimir Putin announced plans for a relentless focus on domestic development, to be partially paid for by sharp cuts in defense spending.
  • Cuts to defense spending will go toward underwriting that agenda. But in fact, Russian defense spending has already started to decline. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russian military spending fell by 20 percent last year, the first major decrease in two decades. 
  • Wouldn't it be nice if Washington would similarly cut the Pentagon budget by 20% or more?  Which nation appears to be more responsive to public needs and demands?
Bruce

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