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, February 03, 2018

One big win - need one more

 
 
We got a big win when Superior Court Justice Dan Billings dismissed the state’s case against the Aegis 9 on February 1 in Bath.  You can see the Judge make his ruling in the video above.
 
You can also see the brilliant Opening statement by our lawyer Logan Perkins (Belfast) which comes up at the 6:17 mark in this video below.
 
 
Both of those videos thanks to Regis Tremblay and Peter Woodruff.
 
Now that we have secured an unexpected victory our hearts and minds are fully engaged with the second seemingly insurmountable obstacle which is the $60 million corporate welfare bill (LD 1781) for General Dynamics.
 
Just yesterday we had positive front page coverage in The Forecaster http://www.theforecaster.net/opponents-urge-legislators-to-curb-bath-iron-works-tax-break/  and The Bollard – a popular arts and cultural magazine out of Portland.  The cover story on The Bollard is entitled:  Ship of Fools Tax Breaks for BIW, WW III for us.  This one is a masterpiece that covers the issue from A to Z and is written by Chris Busby.  It’s not online yet but we will send it around when possible.  Try to pick up a copy if it is available in your community.  You can imagine our utter delight to see it in restaurants and coffee shops here in Bath with its great cover artwork of a destroyer firing $$$$ into the air.
 
The Taxation Committee in Augusta has a Work Session on LD 1781 on Thursday, February 8 at 1:00 pm in the State House Room 127.  Hope some of you can join us there.
 
The Letters to Editor and Op-Eds also continue to flow into papers across the state – now been about 35 of them in 14 papers.  Please write one – even if you’ve already done one – do another.  We have the chance to save already beleaguered taxpayers in Maine $60 million and we have a few more weeks to keep building the heat.  Some folks think we are wasting our time but miracles are known to happen now and then.  Here is an example of a recent letter in the Lewiston Sun Journal  http://www.sunjournal.com/no-to-corporate-welfare/#.WnR4jFe7iZE.email 
 
Your calls and emails to your state legislators are indeed getting their attention.  Even the sponsor of the bill is now saying that she needs to amend it to require that BIW actually report how they spend Maine taxpayer funds and how many jobs are created.  In the Public Hearing last week BIW’s V-P John Fitzgerald refused to commit to those amendments – only saying they were willing to talk about it.  He likely has to check with GD’s corporate HQ first – they will not be happy with anyone putting strings on their welfare checks.  (The biggest thing to come out of the hearing was the information that GD rolls their Maine taxes into their contracts with the Navy and has federal taxpayers reimburse them for that line item. Simply amazing and disgusting.)
 
So we urge you to put a bit more energy into helping retire the notion that Mainers should help finance the compensation packages of GD’s top executives.  Let’s roll the dice and see if we can hit the jackpot twice.
 
Best your way.
 
Bruce

Friday, February 02, 2018

Conservative judge stands by constitution and dismisses civil resistance case


It was an amazing day yesterday that began at 7:30 am  as we vigiled in the cold and snow in front of the Sagadahoc County Courthouse in Bath for an hour before we had to go inside for the start of our Aegis 9 trial.

One of the defendants, Mike Tork from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, could not make it as he had medical issues which did not allow him to travel.  Mike is a Vietnam War veteran and and very active member of Veterans For Peace.

Pro bono attorney Logan Perkins, from Belfast, Maine, represented three in our group with the rest of us defending ourselves.  The state opened the trail by claiming to the jury that it was a simple case of the defendants illegally attempting to "enter the event" which was a 'christening' ceremony for a new Aegis destroyer built at Bath Iron Works, owned by General Dynamics.

After the state finished its opening I was the first to offer an opening statement.  It had been arranged that we'd show a short video made by local filmmaker Eric Herter (Vietnam veteran and former AP reporter).  The video clearly revealed to the court that the Aegis 9 did not attempt to enter the BIW shipyard but instead stopped about 12 feet before the gate, turned and held their signs facing the oncoming crowd who were entering the ceremony.

The trial ended when the judge dismissed the charges against all nine peaceful defendants after the state prosecutor finished his opening case.

Justice Dan Billings, Superior Court Judge, granted the defendants’ motion for judgment of acquittal saying, “The Bath Police Department was outsourced to Bath Iron Works [owned by General Dynamics].  This is not how it is supposed to work.  The city has to consider the bigger picture [of constitutional rights to assemble].”  Billings maintained that the Bath Police Department had used “unfettered discretion” in their arrests of the Aegis 9.

During the trial the head of BIW security testified the weapons corporation had the right to decide in advance who they will let into a public event. He stated that if one of their own workers walked past a peaceful protest and spoke to those assembled they would not allow that worker inside the ceremony. The judge remarked that by using that logic - if he “walked past a protest and shook Bruce Gagnon’s hand and had a friendly word with him”, that even he would be denied entry to a ‘christening’ ceremony.

The state's two key witnesses also could not conclusively identify the BIW property line.

John Branson, an activist attorney from Portland, commented on the dismissal saying: "I might also add that it is not uncommon for a conservative Republican judge to be protective of civil liberties in a case such as this.  (Judge Billings formerly chief counsel to Governor Paul LePage as you likely know).  With respect to lawsuits challenging the expanded surveillance program during the Obama administration – which were filed after Snowden’s revelations came to light – conservative judges were more likely than their liberal counterparts to find all or part of the programs to be unconstitutional."

Local activists in Bath have put out a call for volunteers to risk arrest at BIW during the next destroyer ‘christening’.  So far 47 people from Maine and several other states have put their names on the list.  The date of the next destroyer ‘christening’ at BIW is not yet known.

The Aegis destroyers built in Bath are outfitted with so-called ‘missile defense’ systems that are actually key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.  The ships are currently being used to help encircle China and Russia with sea-based and land-based MD systems.

The evening ended with a victory party at the Addams-Melman House in Bath including good food, music and speeches by those assembled.  Everyone was urged to go home and write letters to local newspapers challenging the request by General Dynamics for $60 million in corporate welfare from the poor state of Maine.

Bruce

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Breaking News: Judge dismisses Aegis destroyer protesters case in Bath


Judge dismisses Aegis 9 civil disobedience case in Bath!

Bruce Gagnon commented on Judge Billings' ruling to dismiss all charges against all eight defendants present in the court today: "The judge said the Bath Police Department was outsourced to BIW. That is not how it is supposed to work. The city has to consider the bigger picture."

He also said, "The police do not have unfettered discretion."

See the Bangor Daily News article covering this big story here

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Former BIW tax director on General Dynamics $60 mil subsidy



Must watch this..... Retired CPA and former Corporation Tax Director of Bath Iron Works on General Dynamics $60 million corporate subsidy request.

He takes the whole corporate welfare request apart.

Report: Maine Taxation Committee Public Hearing on Corporate Welfare bill


The hearing room in the state house was packed yesterday with the vast majority of the people there to oppose LD 1781 – the $60 million in corporate welfare for General Dynamics (GD).  The bill was introduced by the two sponsors, both Democrats, Rep. Jennifer DeChant (Bath) and Sen. Eloise Vitelli (Arrowsic). 

Following those preliminaries BIW V-P and lawyer John Fitzgerald took the podium and began a long-winded sorrowful testimony on the trials and tribulations of the shipyard staying competitive; securing contracts; and barely scraping by in this hard cruel world.  Once the Taxation Committee members began asking him questions he did his best to hem and haw without giving direct answers.

In particular he:

  • Refused to commit to reporting to the state how the money was spent if the bill is past
  • Refused to commit to job increases at the shipyard if the $60 million was granted
  • Refused to answer any question about GD stock buy backs ($12.9 billion since 2009)
  • Refused to give any information about GD’s real need for the requested corporate welfare

But LD 1781 was actually the second item on the Taxation Comm. agenda yesterday.  The first bill was requesting more money for the Department of Transportation to fix roads, bridges, rails and ports.  The state has a $60 million shortfall at the DOT.  Currently 33% of bridges in Maine are in deficient condition.  Even the Truckers Association supported an increase in gas taxes if the terrible roads in northern Maine could be repaired.  The testimony on this bill really set the mood for LD 1781 that followed.

Only one person from any BIW unions spoke (a V-P from Local 7, the smallest union at the shipyard).  Those in the know later commented that it appeared to all that the unions (there are several at the shipyard) had made their ‘required’ testimony in favor of the bill but had done it half-heartedly.  There is no love for GD by the workers at BIW who got screwed in their last contract.  One BIW worker wrote on the Facebook page post that I have recently been boosting, “We had to give back $15,000 in benefits in the last negotiations” with GD.

So that was it for the pro-LD 1781 forces.  A couple bill sponsors, the BIW lawyer, one Chamber of Commerce exec and one union V-P from the smallest union.  Everyone else who spoke was opposed.

The first speaker was a woman from Presque Isle who said, “The more profits the military industrial complex makes, the more unstable the world becomes.  GD does not need this subsidy.”

The person who stole the show was the second speaker.  He worked for BIW for seven years as the Director of Taxes at the shipyard.  He opposed the bill.  He made some very important points such as:

  • There needs to be a mechanism to audit BIW/GD’s claim of need and if passed there must be annual audits to see how they spent the funds
  • Maine currently does not audit any such ‘subsides’ to corporations given in the state
  • When BIW pays state taxes GD writes that off in their contracts with the Navy to build ships – (that raised some eyebrows on the committee and in the audience)
  • If passed the amount of years giving tax credits to GD should be reduced from 20 years to five
  • The credit should be eliminated in any year that employment drops below 4,000 workers.

Then a long string of other speakers (all opposed) made many excellent points.  Here are some of them:

  • There is no transparency currently from BIW/GD about their need
  • The state has no evaluation process written into LD 1781
  • We’ve heard for the last 20 years that BIW might have to leave if they don’t get support from Maine.  Why doesn’t the state have a Plan B to convert the shipyard if they did leave?
  • Companies get hooked on these corporate give-a-ways
  • GD should open their books and show their financial need
  • Corporate welfare is hurting our country
  • What is the cost to our souls to keep building warships in our state?
  • Corporate stock buy backs are a primary reason for reduced wages and US economic decline
  • Kill the bill – don’t amend it and don’t compromise
  • A recent Fortune Magazine article had a telling quote from a GD consultant that read:  “Boeing makes planes; Raytheon makes missiles; General Dynamics makes money.”
  • Currently we are hearing that GD is telling Maine state legislators that they need more money to train young workers.  It should be stated that the federal contract GD signs with the Navy to build ships at BIW covers all their costs: workers’ pay, materials, equipment, corporate profits and the training of the workforce
  • We keep hearing about competition from the Mississippi shipyard.  The Navy wants two shipyards – if a hurricane hit Mississippi they’d want BIW still working
  • Manufacturing sector in America will do very well in the new Trump federal tax bill.  GD does not need our support
  • Why should a poor state like Maine have to subsidize military production?
  • GD always plays the fear card
  • Our economy is a war economy

There were three newspapers represented in the hearing and MPBN listened to the live feed and gave limited coverage to the hearing.  See below for a couple of links to initial hearing coverage.

The next step will be a Taxation Committee Work Session (note date change) on Thursday, Feb 8 at 1:00 pm in State House Room 127.  The public is invited to attend but not allowed to speak unless called upon.
 

Our strategy on LD 1781 is to continue to alert the public to this corporate welfare bill so that Mainers can contact their state elected officials urging them to vote it down.  In order to do that we must keep the letters and Op-Eds flowing into daily and weekly papers across the state.  Even if you’ve already written a letter – please write another and get others to write one as well.  So far there have been at least 35 pieces printed in 14 papers.

One state representative from West Bath was in the hearing room yesterday to listen.  She told one person in our group that she has been getting a lot of calls and that ‘people are against this bill’. 

I think our collective efforts on LD 1781 has moved the lever from 'full speed ahead' to 'drop the anchor and hold position’....If we all do our bit we can defeat this bill or at the least dramatically reduce the amount of money that is put into it.  Don’t we all recognize the urgent human and infrastructure needs in Maine that would go unfunded if this bill is passed?

Bruce

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/01/30/proposed-60-million-tax-credits-for-biw-draws-supporters-and-critics/comments/

http://mainepublic.org/post/bath-iron-works-seeks-20-year-60-million-tax-break#stream/0


This campaign is supported by:

Americans Who Tell the Truth (Brooksville)
COAST (Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats, Hancock)
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (Bath)
Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks
Green Horizon Magazine (Topsham)
Island Peace & Justice (Deer Isle)
Maine Green Independent Party
Maine Natural Guard (Solon)
Maine Veterans For Peace
Maine War Tax Resistance Resource Center (Portland)
Maine Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (Brunswick)
Peace Action Maine (Portland)
Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine (Bangor)
Peace & Justice Group of Waldo County
Peninsula Peace & Justice Center (Blue Hill)
Resources for Organizing & Social Change (Augusta) 

Monday, January 29, 2018

U.S. pushing Ukraine back to war in Donbass



This video was shot during the Obama administration when his Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt joined Maj. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, Commander of US Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), on his trip to Khmelnytskyi (western Ukraine), where US Special Forces from Fort Carson, Colorado were training the then newly formed National Guard.  Many of these National Guard were made up of Nazi death squad members who were given a nice new uniform and taught to salute properly and then were prepared to attack their fellow citizens in eastern Ukraine (Donbass) along the Russian border.

The goal of the US has always been to create the justification to expand US-NATO military operations along the Russian border in order to create chaos near and inside Russia.  The US wants regime change in Moscow and is now playing with fire to try to achieve that dangerous goal.


In a new article entitled War in Donbass expected by time of Russian elections Eduard Popov (currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public and Information Cooperation) writes the following:

For four years already, the US and its NATO allies have intensively trained the Ukrainian army, regularly held military exercises involving NATO and UAF troops, and occupied Ukraine’s training grounds. These efforts have not been in vain. Without American and NATO help - be it financial, technical, or in terms of training or the involvement of NATO instructors and commandos in combat operations - the UAF would have faced utter defeat back in 2014.

In other words, Ukraine is not ready for war. Kiev is counting on aid from the West in exchange for its servitude as the “eastern shield” against the “Russian barbarians.” Ukraine pays for its confrontation with Russia in blood, while the West pays only in money. Such is the delegation of roles. The Ukrainian leadership is deeply indifferent to the fate of its wounded, so we can safely predict a very high death count in Ukrainian hospitals. 

All of this goes to show that Ukraine is objectively unprepared for war on its own. But, as our numerous analyses and Ukrainian actions have demonstrated, Western-dictated Kiev is evidently pushing towards war no matter the cost. As follows, the unpreparedness of the Ukrainian side testifies to the increasing possibility of the direct involvement of foreign forces.
I agree with Popov when he says that 'foreign forces' - meaning the US and NATO - are pushing this war.  Washington and Brussels do not care about the lives lost or the destruction of Ukraine.  All they care about is punching Russia (and particularly Putin) in the nose.  Putin's crime?  He has refused to surrender his nation, its economy and its resources to the west like Yeltsin before him did without so much as a whimper.  

The US can't control Putin so that means war - one way or the other.  Except in this case the US has picked a fight with a country that can actually fight back.  Russia is not Panama or Granada or Iraq, Libya or Syria.

Popov's informed speculation is that the US-NATO wants Kiev to attack the Donbass right before the Russian election on March 18.  The deep state in Washington is running this show.  If you doubt me just look at the short video of former V-P Joe Biden just a couple of posts below this one.

The US is an out-of-control arrogant and criminal state.  Either the people in the US wake up and move to stop this or we are going to WW III.  Maybe sooner than we ever thought.

Bruce

Determination & persistence wins for native Hawaiian people.....


Arrested for holding a sign at the public ‘christening’ ceremony gate


Aegis 9 arrested at Bath Iron Works in Maine on April 1, 2017 during the last christening’ of another Navy destroyer.  The group goes to trial in Bath on February 1-2.
 
 A call has been put out for another group of citizens willing to risk arrest at the next BIW destroyer ‘christening’.  Even though we don’t yet know the next ‘christening’ date, already 47 people have signed up to come to Bath and stand against another expensive and provocative Aegis destroyer – outfitted with destabilizing ‘missile defense’ systems that are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.

Our vision is that BIW be converted to build commuter rail systems, offshore wind turbines, solar and tidal power systems that would help us deal with our real problem – climate change.  We also call for the end to Maine taxpayer subsidies to the General Dynamics Corporation (5th largest weapons contractor in the world) as owner of BIW.  They’ve used past Maine subsidies ($200 million since 1997) to mechanize the operation which has led to job loss.  Additionally General Dynamics has used the money to buy back their own stocks driving market value higher.

The Aegis 9 go to trial on February 1-2 at the Sagadahoc County Courthouse in Bath (corner of Centre and High Streets) at 9:00 am.  We will hold a vigil in front of the courthouse at 7:30 am on Thursday, Feb 1 if you’d like to join us.

Also on Feb 1 we will hold a pot luck supper for the Aegis 9 at the Addams-Melman House in Bath (212 Centre St) starting about 5:30 pm.  All are welcome to attend.

Let us know if you need home hospitality during the trial.

For more info:  karenwainberg@gmail.com
   
Volunteers to Risk Arrest at BIW during next Destroyer ‘christening’ 

  • Peggy Akers Portland, ME
  • Peter Baldwin Brooks, ME
  • Ellen Barfield Baltimore, MD
  • Lynn Bradbury Lubec, ME
  • Meredith Bruskin Swanville, ME
  • Nancy Button Warren, ME
  • Kate Chipman Brunswick, ME
  • Anni Cooper Freeport, ME
  • Bob Dale Brunswick, ME
  • Christine DeTroy Brunswick, ME
  • Mike Donnelly Brunswick, ME
  • Mary Donnelly Brunswick, ME
  • Dan Ellis Brunswick, ME
  • Ridgely Fuller Belfast, ME
  • Michael Gibson Lewiston, ME
  • Nate Goldshlag Arlington, MA
  • Suzanne Hedrick Nobleboro, ME
  • Dud Hendrick Deer Isle, ME
  • Rev. Mair Honan Freeport, ME 
  • Cynthia Howard, Biddeford Pool, ME
  • Ken Jones Ashville, NC
  • Tarak Kauff Woodstock, NY
  • Bob Klotz Portland, ME
  • Carmen Lavertu Thomaston, ME
  • Brown Lethem Bath, ME
  • Rev. Leroy Lowell Casco, ME
  • Kenneth Mayers Santa Fe, NM 
  • Natasha Mayers Whitefield, ME
  • John Morris New Gloucester, ME
  • Jane Newton Bath, ME
  • Jules Orkin Bergenfield, NJ
  • Rosalie Paul Brunswick, ME
  • Roy Pingel Brooklyn, NY
  • Doug Rawlings Farmington, ME
  • Jason Rawn Bath, ME
  • Bill Rixon Freeport, ME
  • Lisa Savage Solon, ME
  • Ginny Schneider Portland, ME
  • Dixie Searway Vermont
  • Rob Shetterly Brooksville, ME
  • Lora Somlyo Portland, ME
  • Mary Beth Sullivan Bath, ME 
  • Will Thomas Auburn, NH
  • Karen Wainberg Bath, ME
  • Jay Wenk Woodstock, NY
  • Russell Wray Hancock, ME
  • Crystal Zevon Vermont 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The number$ tell the story......


Arrogant Biden spills the beans....



Notice too that his speech was at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which is one of the top 'deep state' ruling elite organizations.

Try to get a look some time at the membership list of the CFR. They've got virtually every party, every media outlet, every progressive movement infiltrated with their members. They steer much of everything.

After Biden and the US essentially took over the Ukrainian government after the US-NATO 2014 coup d'etat in Kiev, Biden's son was appointed to the board of directors of one of the top fossil fuel companies in Ukraine.  Corruption....

Sunday Song



Brief History of the Doomsday Clock from www.thebulletin.org on Vimeo.