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, June 23, 2018

Why is the U.S. supporting Saudia Arabia's war on Yemen?



At the United Nations in New York City......

How about the kids in Palestine?


Friday, June 22, 2018

Warning: Don't follow America over the cliff.....


Last night Dave Webb took us to a Unitarian Church in downtown Leeds to conduct a taped interview that will be used at an upcoming conference that is being planned.  He wanted to get my thinking about weapons in space recorded for that event.  After interviewing me he put Will Griffin on the hot seat and had him talk about his experiences in the Army during the Iraq and Afghanistan war and also his reflections on why he got involved with the Global Network.

An invitation was extended to the community to come and listen to these interviews and a few people did show up.  One who came was Colin Archer, the recently retired Executive Director of the International Peace Bureau who has moved to Leeds after many years of leading that group from Switzerland.

After it was all over seven of us went 'round to a local pub for a pint' and some fun and stimulating discussions.  We resolved that we have to stay determined and keep our public non-violent resistance alive during times like these where fascism stares us in the face.

This morning we are packing up and preparing for the train ride to Oxford for this weekend's Global Network annual meeting.  Dave got an early call from four people from India who just got their entry Visa approved into England for the conference so we are in a bit of scramble mode to get housing lined up for them.  When you organize conferences there are always some last minute cancellations and last minute unexpected walk-ups.  No matter how well you plan there are usually these kind of late challenges.  Comes with the territory.  (A suggestion to the public:  register in advance for events like this and make life easier for the organizers.)

Our time here in Leeds, staying at the home of Dave and Leslie, has really been special.  Dave has arranged for a nightly talk each day we've been here (two different venues in Leeds, Otley, and Edinburgh).  But we've also had some lovely long walks and seen some really beautiful Yorkshire countryside and of course the trip to Scotland was very special.  And much to my liking the food part has been great - got my fish & chips with mushy peas yesterday.



We've witnessed the planning for a UK wide mobilization when Trump visits Prime Minister Theresa May here in the next month.  People of course are all talking about 'the Donald' and want to hear our take on him.  I keep saying that the only good thing about Trump is that he is escalating the decline and fall of the USA's military and economic empire as the world becomes clear that it is not wise to follow America over the cliff.  But the ultimate question is - as America collapses how hard will it fall?

The Global Network is really lucky to have Dave Webb's leadership as our board convener.  In addition he runs our web site and puts alot of effort into it.  He's a gentle soul and a loyal person who cares deeply about protecting space from the next arms race that the aerospace industry is determined to create.

In the last few days there have been several major articles published about Trump's 'space force' proposal. All of them kindly acknowledged the Global Network.  You can find them here, here, here, and here.

#nospaceforce

Bruce

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Flying into Leeds


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Talking space in Scotland



Last night Global Network board convener Dave Webb (also serves as chair of the UK's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) took Will Griffin, Mary Beth Sullivan, and me to Edinburgh, Scotland to speak to members of Scottish CND.

We spent a few hours walking around the beautiful city - admiring the architecture and visiting a fascinating museum called 'The People's Story'.


More than 25 people crammed into a tiny CND office space and we had a wonderful 90 minute discussion before we had to return to the rail station to take the train back to Leeds - arriving at 1:00 am.


During his opening remarks Will Griffin said, "I've never heard of a good empire."  A woman sitting in the front row responded to him, "Neither has Scotland."

At the end of the meeting one woman, with a very strong Scottish accent, stood up and said, "We know that Trump didn't get his nastiness from his Scottish mother, so he must have got it from his father."  The crowd roared.

Tonight we speak in Otley (next to Leeds up here in Yorkshire) to a group called the Menwith Hill Accountability Campaign that organizes around the U.S. NSA spy base called Menwith Hill also located in North Yorkshire.

On Friday we jump back on the train and head south to Oxford where the Global Network annual meeting will be held over the weekend.

RT reports today:

Washington’s plan to create a Space Force could lead to catastrophe, a Russian Senator has warned. Moscow’s ready to “strongly retaliate” if the US violates the outer space treaty by putting weapons of mass destruction into orbit. 

“Militarization of space is a way to disaster,” Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee told RIA news agency just day after the US President Donald Trump ordered the creation of a new branch of the US military that would be tasked with operating in what he called “forbidden skies.”

The senator warned that Washington could potentially violate international agreements regulating the demilitarization of space and thus put the international security in a grave danger. “There is a major risk that the Americans would commit grave violations in this field … if one takes into account what they do in other spheres,” Bondarev said.

“If the US withdraws from the 1967 agreement that bans deployment of nuclear weapons in space, [such a move] will be followed by a tough response not only from our state but from other states as well, which would be aimed at preserving international security,” he added.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, to which the US is a party, prohibits deployment of nuclear weapons as well as any other weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in the Earth’s orbit. It also bans states from testing any weapons in outer space, or establishing military bases on the Moon and other celestial bodies.
 #nospaceforce

Bruce

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trump: American dominance in space




The Air Force opposes Trump's call for a separate 'space force' which last session in Congress passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. Trump does not have the authority to make it happen without congressional approval and appropriation thus at this point it is only a suggestion. I think though his proposal indicates that the aerospace industry has taken full control of his White House and we can be sure that Trump will use all his 'twitter powers' to push this hard in the coming months.

The problem though is the US is broke and our national fiscal crisis is steadily mounting. Some years ago one aerospace industry publication editorialized that they needed a 'dedicated funding source' to pay for all of their space plans and indicated that they had come up with it - the entitlement programs.

That means the industry is now working to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what little is left of the welfare program. You want to help stop Star Wars and Trump's new space force? Fight for Social Security and social progress in America. Trump and the aerospace industry can't have it both ways - its going to be social progress or war in space.

 #nospaceforce

 Bruce

Monday, June 18, 2018

Trump's space force ain't affordable & is insane!


The US is already spending $1 trillion a year on our endless war empire.

Now Trump wants to create the 'Space Force' - how in the world can our bankrupt nation afford to pay for Star Wars which the aerospace industry has long claimed would be the largest industrial project in human history?!

The only way is to completely destroy social progress - cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what little is left of the welfare program.  Are you going to stand for that?

This is a crucial moment where the public must stand and say 'hell no'!

Star Wars ain't affordable, is an insane idea, and would very likely lead to WW III - the final war.

Speak out now - loudly - and repeatedly.

See the industry publication Space News article on Trump's announcement here

No Star Wars!
No war in the heavens!
No arms race in space!
Keep space for peace!

#nospaceforce 

Bruce

Bringing Julian Assange home



By John Pilger

The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy.

The Australian government and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull have an historic opportunity to decide which it will be.

They can remain silent, for which history will be unforgiving. Or they can act in the interests of justice and humanity and bring this remarkable Australian citizen home.

Assange does not ask for special treatment. The government has clear diplomatic and moral obligations to protect Australian citizens abroad from gross injustice: in Julian's case, from a gross miscarriage of justice and the extreme danger that await him should he walk out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London unprotected.

We know from the Chelsea Manning case what he can expect if a US extradition warrant is successful -- a United Nations Special Rapporteur called it torture.

I know Julian Assange well; I regard him as a close friend, a person of extraordinary resilience and courage. I have watched a tsunami of lies and smear engulf him, endlessly, vindictively, perfidiously; and I know why they smear him.

In 2008, a plan to destroy both WikiLeaks and Assange was laid out in a top secret document dated 8 March, 2008. The authors were the Cyber Counter-intelligence Assessments Branch of the US Defence Department. They described in detail how important it was to destroy the "feeling of trust" that is WikiLeaks' "centre of gravity".

This would be achieved, they wrote, with threats of "exposure [and] criminal prosecution" and a unrelenting assault on reputation. The aim was to silence and criminalise WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech.

Their main weapon would be personal smear. Their shock troops would be enlisted in the media -- those who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth.

The irony is that no one told these journalists what to do. I call them Vichy journalists -- after the Vichy government that served and enabled the German occupation of wartime France.

Last October, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist Sarah Ferguson interviewed Hillary Clinton, over whom she fawned as "the icon for your generation".

This was the same Clinton who threatened to "obliterate totally" Iran and, who, as US secretary of State in 2011, was one of the instigators of the invasion and destruction of Libya as a modern state, with the loss of 40,000 lives. Like the invasion of Iraq, it was based on lies.

When the Libyan President was murdered publicly and gruesomely with a knife, Clinton was filmed whooping and cheering. Thanks largely to her, Libya became a breeding ground for ISIS and other jihadists.  Thanks largely to her, tens of thousands of refugees fled in peril across the Mediterranean, and many drowned.

Leaked emails published by WikiLeaks revealed that Hillary Clinton's foundation - which she shares with her husband - received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the main backers of ISIS and terrorism across the Middle East.

As Secretary of State, Clinton approved the biggest arms sale ever -- worth $80 billion -- to Saudi Arabia, one of her foundation's principal benefactors. Today, Saudi Arabia is using these weapons to crush starving and stricken people in a genocidal assault on  Yemen.

Sarah Ferguson, a highly paid reporter, raised not a word of this with Hillary Clinton sitting in front of her.

Instead, she invited Clinton to describe the "damage" Julian Assange did "personally to you". In response, Clinton defamed Assange, an Australian citizen, as "very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence" and "a nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator".

She offered no evidence -- nor was asked for any -- to back her grave allegations.

At no time was Assange offered the right of reply to this shocking interview, which Australia's publicly-funded state broadcaster had a duty to give him.

 As if that wasn't enough, Ferguson's executive producer, Sally Neighour, followed the interview with a vicious re-tweet: "Assange is Putin's bitch. We all know it!"

There are many other examples of Vichy journalism. The Guardian, reputedly once a great liberal newspaper, conducted a vendetta against Julian Assange. Like a spurned lover, the Guardian aimed its personal, petty, inhuman and craven attacks at a man whose work it once published and profited from. 

The former editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published in 2010, "one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years". Awards were lavished and celebrated as if Julian Assange did not exist.

WikiLeaks' revelations became part of the Guardian's marketing plan to raise the paper's cover price. They made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks and Assange struggled to survive.


With not a penny going to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. The book's authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously abused Assange as a "damaged personality" and "callous".

They also revealed the secret password Julian had given the Guardian in confidence and which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables.

With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, who had enriched himself on the backs of both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, stood among the police outside the embassy and gloated on his blog that "Scotland Yard may get the last laugh".

The question is why.

Julian Assange has committed no crime. He has never been charged with a crime. The Swedish episode was bogus and farcical and he has been vindicated.

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape summed it up when they wrote, "The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction... The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will."

This truth was lost or buried in a media witch-hunt that disgracefully associated Assange with rape and misogyny. The witch-hunt included voices who described themselves as on the left and as feminist. They willfully ignored the evidence of extreme danger should Assange be extradited to the United States.

According to a document released by Edward Snowden, Assange is on a "Manhunt target list". One leaked official memo says: "Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist. He'll be eating cat food forever."

 In Alexandra, Virginia - the suburban home of America's war-making elite -- a secret grand jury, a throwback to the middle ages -- has spent seven years trying to concoct a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted.

This is not easy; the US Constitution protects publishers, journalists and whistleblowers. Assange's crime is to have broken a silence.

No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done in calling rapacious power to account. It is as if a one-way moral screen has been pushed back to expose the imperialism of liberal democracies: the commitment to endless warfare and the division and degradation of "unworthy" lives: from Grenfell Tower to Gaza.

When  Harold Pinter accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he referred to "a vast tapestry of lies up on which we feed". He asked why "the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought" of the Soviet Union were well known in the West while America's imperial crimes "never happened ... even while [they] were happening, they never happened.".

In its revelations of fraudulent wars (Afghanistan, Iraq) and the bald-faced lies of governments (the Chagos Islands), WikiLeaks has allowed us to glimpse how the imperial game is played in the 21st century. That is why Assange is in mortal danger.

Seven years ago, in Sydney, I arranged to meet a prominent Liberal Member of the Federal Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull.  

I wanted to ask him to deliver a letter from Gareth Peirce, Assange's lawyer, to the government. We talked about his famous victory -- in the 1980s when, as a young barrister, he had fought the British Government's attempts to suppress free speech and prevent the publication of the book Spycatcher -- in its way, a WikiLeaks of the time, for it revealed the crimes of state power.

The prime minister of Australia was then Julia Gillard, a Labor Party politician who had declared WikiLeaks "illegal" and wanted to cancel Assange's passport -- until she was told she could not do this: that Assange had committed no crime: that WikiLeaks was a publisher, whose work was protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Australia was one of the original signatories.

In abandoning Assange, an Australian citizen, and colluding in his persecution, Prime Minister Gillard's outrageous behaviour forced the issue of his recognition, under international law, as a political refugee whose life was at risk. Ecuador invoked the 1951 Convention and granted Assange refuge in its embassy in London.

Gillard has recently been appearing in a gig with Hillary Clinton; they are billed as pioneering feminists.

If there is anything to remember Gillard by, it a warmongering, sycophantic, embarrassing speech she made to the US Congress soon after she demanded the illegal cancellation of Julian's passport.

Malcolm Turnbull is now the Prime Minister of Australia. Julian Assange's father has written to Turnbull. It is a moving letter, in which he has appealed to the prime minister to bring his son home. He refers to the real possibility of a tragedy.

I have watched Assange's health deteriorate in his years of confinement without sunlight. He has had a relentless cough, but is not even allowed safe passage to and from a hospital for an X-ray .

Malcolm Turnbull can remain silent. Or he can seize this opportunity and use his government's diplomatic influence to defend the life of an Australian citizen, whose courageous public service is recognised by countless people across the world. He can bring Julian Assange home. 

~ This is an abridged version of an address by John Pilger to a rally in Sydney, Australia, to mark Julian Assange's six years' confinement in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. http://johnpilger.com/

Kiev continues shelling eastern Ukraine



The US-NATO puppet regime in Kiev continues shelling their own citizens who live in eastern Ukraine.  Their only crime is that they speak Russian and live near the border with Russia.

This has been going on virtually daily since 2014 - thousands killed and injured all so the US-NATO war project can poke and provoke Moscow in order to justify expansion of the unholy alliance up to the Russian borders.

When will the US-NATO stop funding and directing these war crimes?  When will the American people wake up and see what their 'exceptional' nation is doing.

It is a crime to attack innocent civilians in this way.  But US-NATO do it all the time - all over the world.

Bruce

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Song