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.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Hearing from a real investigative journalist

Rhode Island journalist Alex Nunes spoke in Portland last Saturday and opened a few eyes about the profession these days.  Photo by Lisa Savage

Saturday evening 22 people from around the region went to the University of Southern Maine to hear a talk by Alex Nunes - an investigative journalist and adjunct professor from Rhode Island.

Nunes was instrumental in informing people across Maine (including workers at Bath Iron Works - BIW) about the process of General Dynamics (GD) stock buybacks in the billions at the same time they were demanding $60 million (cut to $45 million by the state legislature) from Maine.  Similarly Nunes recently covered GD's request for huge corporate welfare payments from Rhode Island and Connecticut which they easily secured.

Nunes reported that in Maine 88% of all federal contracts that come to our state are from the Department of War.  That means Maine is a colony of the military industrial complex.

He also shared that since 1997 GD has received nearly $250 million in corporate welfare subsidies from Maine and the City of Bath.

Nunes reported to us that the most recent Pentagon nuclear posture review declared the Navy was considering putting low yield nuclear weapons on the Zumwalt destroyers built at BIW.

After telling us that GD was going to be building 80% of the next generation of twelve nuclear submarines at their Rhode Island and Connecticut shipyards - at the cost of $104 billion - Nunes asked the appropriate question, "Does the Navy have sufficient budget for all of these new war ships?"

The answer is clearly no - unless the money is taken from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what is left of the welfare program in Washington.

Probably the most interesting part of his talk was when Nunes answered questions about the current state of journalism - as we see corporations now in virtual control of the mainstream media.  Fellow Maine activist Lisa Savage reported the response from Nunes to this question in her blog.

One audience member asked Nunes, who is also an adjunct professor, what journalism schools today are teaching when their graduates seem content to "regurgitate talking points" e.g. Rhode Island's governor calling an Electric Boat contract a win-win being reported widely as if the announcement in itself were news. His reply: "Communications degrees have become more cookie cutter, merging public relations and journalism" also noting that it's likely that "the general corporate brainwashing that has gone on in this country has seeped into news rooms."

"Pack journalism" also manifests; the competition is to be the first to print a story that other media outlets will also report, but "no one wants to be out on a limb with a story no one else is covering."
It's a rare thing these days to come across a real investigative journalist and even more rare to meet one willing to speak with 'activists'.  We in Maine have been very lucky to work with Alex Nunes.  

You can read his work at his web site called Nunes' Weekly.



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