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: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

U.S. Veterans jailed in Ireland after protesting Pentagon use of Shannon airport



U.S. War Machine out of Shannon Airport

Two US Veterans For Peace Refused Bail at Ennis District Court

Charged with Trespass and Causing Criminal Damage at Shannon airport in Ireland

A group of seven US Veterans for Peace took part in a protest against US Military Base at Shannon Airport on Sunday, March 17th.

WHY? Shannon used for refueling troop planes bound for Middle East wars in which up to one million [1,000,000] children have died since 1991.

Two US veterans were arrested at Shannon Airport on 17 March for entering the airfield to inspect and investigate an OMNI Air International plane on contract to the U.S. military.  The two, Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers, were refused bail at Ennis District Court.

The plane, tail number N351AX, arrived at Shannon Airport about 8.30 a.m. from Eielson US air force base in Faribanks Alaska, believed to be on its way to the Middle East with up to 300 armed US troops.

At about 10 am Mayers, a former Marine Corps Major and Kauff, a former Army paratrooper, both members of US Veterans For Peace, entered the airfield carrying a large banner that said:

U.S. Veterans say
Respect Irish Neutrality
U.S. War Machine out of Shannon Airport
Veterans For Peace

The two walked across the air field with the intent of inspecting the plane for weapons or munitions, but were apprehended by airport security and Gardai.  There were detained and interviewed at Shannon Garda station and held overnight for arraignment on charges of trespass and criminal damage.

At Ennis District Court this morning Mayers and Kauff were represented by solicitor Darragh Hassett. The prosecution outlined the charges against them and indicated that they were opposed to bail. Garda Sergeant Noel Carroll gave evidence of arrest on Taxiway 12 at Shannon airport. He also stated that there was a US military aircraft at the airport, most likely referring to OMNI Air N351AX. He also confirmed that the defendants were both veterans of the US military. The prosecutor, Inspector Thomas Kennedy, said there had been substantial damage to the airport perimeter fence.

When the bail issue was being discussed Solicitor Hassett initially stated that the defendants were prepared to agree to bail conditions that involved surrendering their passports, and remaining in Ireland for the duration of the legal processes. This was an unacceptable condition as it would mean that the defendants would have to remain in Ireland at their own expense for up to two years before the trial would occur, and this restriction amounts to punishment without trial.

The defendants then requested an adjournment to discuss matters with their solicitor.

After the court resumed, Hassett emphasized that the defendants needed to return home to the USA and would sign a sworn undertaking to return for trial. The prosecution opposed this and continued to oppose the granting of any bail.

Judge Maire Keane then ruled that she was denying bail to the accused and remanded them in custody to Limerick Prison, where they are to appear for a further court mention hearing by video from the prison on Wednesday 20 March.

Further discussions were then held with Solicitor Hassett. He raised the option of appealing the bail refusal to the High Court in Dublin and he was told to lodge such an appeal. He indicated that it would likely be Thursday 28 March before this High Court appeal would be heard.

Ed Horgan, coordinator of Irish Veterans For Peace, said, “This process is a clear attempt to punish the two VFP activists before any trial takes place. We are calling on all peace and human rights activists in Ireland and internationally to campaign not only on behalf of Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, but, more important, on behalf of all the innocent people being killed and injured by US illegal wars.”

Major Ken Mayers served 12 years in the US Marine Corps. He is a former National Board member of Veterans For Peace and participate in veterans peace team delegations to Palestine, Okinawa, Jeju Island, South Korea, and Standing Rock.

Tarak Kauff was a paratrooper in the US Army during the early sixties. He was a member of the VFP National Board of Directors for six years. He has organized veterans delegations to Palestine, Okinawa, South Korea and Standing Rock. He is currently the managing editor of Peace In Our Times, VFP’s quarterly 24-page newspaper.

Contact details:

Ellen Davidson Veterans For Peace USA, Phone +353863539911. USA: 845-297-8076
Ellen.davidson@verizon.net

Edward Horgan, Veterans For Peace Ireland, Phone +353858519623 aedwardhorgan45@gmail.com

Take Action:  Contact the Embassy of Ireland in your country and demand their release.  The Irish Embassy in the US (Washington DC) can be reached at 202-462-3939.

No Air base on Jeju Island!



 "This is the forest we love. Don't cut the trees!"

A woman activist stopped a chainsaw and she and her friends cried together.

March 23rd, Tree-cut in the Bijarim-ro cedar forest, a road which would be connected to the planned area for the 2nd Jeju airport (air force base) in Seongsan, South Korea.

Video by Lee Ki-cheol

Now that the US successfully forced the construction of the Navy base in Gangjeong village on Jeju they next want an air base nearby.

The air base would allow the high ranking Navy brass to be able to fly in and out at a location near the Gangjeong base.  And the Navy will want fighter jets near the Navy base to fly 'close air support' to protect the base in a war with China and Russia.

Jeju's regular airport is located on the opposite side of the island - about an hour drive away from the Navy base in Gangjeong village.

Who are the liars?

Beale AFB near Wheatland, California.  I lived on Beale from 1969-71 and graduated from Wheatland High School.  I love the regular creative protests at Beale by a dedicated bunch of northern California activists.

The Dems lie
and the Repubs lie too
they are all infested
with fleas

The Dems have been bought
Wall Street and Hollywood money
paid to protect the status quo
and to keep the 'liberal' base
in check
which they do
very effectively

The whole nation
built on lies from the start
talked equality, freedom,
justice, liberty
while they massacred
the Native Americans
and enslaved Africans
women could not vote
only white male
property owners
allowed

America was never great

America always aspired
to be an empire

The 'founding fathers'
learned how to be brutal
from their former
English masters

the nut didn't fall
far from the tree

Washington now
is desperate
watching the empire
collapse
while everything back home
falls apart

We're told to wait
for the next prez election,
get excited about the many choices
like so many brands
of sausage at the grocery,
while Congress goes after
Social Security, Medicare,
Medicaid
and what little is left of
the 'social safety net'

The safety net
is like the nation itself
tattered, worn, full of
holes and contradictions

Yes indeed
Jefferson was right
when he suggested
“a little rebellion now and then is a good thing"

and warned, "I hope we shall crush in its birth
the aristocracy of our monied corporations...."

Jefferson's democratic dream is gone
and 'we the people'
lost as well

Now is the time
to reclaim life
and liberty
if we can

Bruce

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Cold War Ides of March



US Cold Warriors escalate toward actual war with Russia.

By Stephen F. Cohen

Heedless of the consequences, or perhaps welcoming them, America’s Cold Warriors and their media platforms have recently escalated their rhetoric against Russia, especially in March. Anyone who has lived through or studied the preceding 40-year Cold War will recognize the ominous echoes of its most dangerous periods, when actual war was on the horizon or a policy option. Here are only a few random but representative examples:

  • In a March 8 Washington Post opinion article, two American professors, neither with any apparent substantive knowledge of Russia or Cold War history, warned that the Kremlin is trying “to undermine our trust in the institutions that sustain a strong nation and a strong democracy. The media, science, academia and the electoral process are all regular targets.” Decades ago, J. Edgar Hoover, the policeman of that Cold War, said the same, indeed made it an operational doctrine.

  • Nor is the purported threat to America only. According to (retired) Gen. David Petraeus and sitting Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, also in the Post on the following day, the “world is once again polarized between two competing visions for how to organize society.” For Putin’s Kremlin, “the existence of the United States’ rule-of-law world is intrinsically threatening.” This is an “intensifying worldwide struggle.” So much for those who dismissed post–Soviet Russia as merely a “regional” power, including former President Barack Obama, and for the myopic notion that a new Cold War was not possible.

  • But the preceding Cold War was driven by an intense ideological conflict between Soviet Communism and Western capitalism. Where is the ideological threat today, considering that post–Soviet Russia is also a capitalist country? In a perhaps unprecedented nearly 10,000-word manifesto from March 14 in the front news pages of (again) the Post, Robert Kagan provided the answer: “Today, authoritarianism has emerged as the great challenge facing the liberal democratic world—a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge.” That is, “authoritarianism” has replaced Soviet Communism in our times, with Russia again in the forefront.

The substance of Kagan’s “authoritarianism” as “an ideological force” is thin, barely enough for a short opinion article, often inconsistent and rarely empirical. It amounts to a batch of “strongman” leaders (prominently Putin, of course), despite their very different kinds of societies, political cultures, states, and histories, and despite their different nationalisms and ruling styles. Still, credit Kagan’s ambition to be the undisputed ideologist of the new American Cold War, though less the Post for taking the voluminous result so seriously.

The 40-year Cold War often flirted with hot war, and that, too, seems to be on the agenda. Words, as Russians say, are also deeds. They have consequences, especially when uttered by people of standing in influential outlets. Again, consider a few examples that might reasonably be considered warmongering:

  • The journal Foreign Policy found space for disgraced former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili to declare: “It is not a question of whether [Putin] will attack, but where.” (Saakashvili may be the most discredited “democratic” leader of recent times, having brought the West close to war with Russia in 2008 and since having had to flee his own country and then decamp even from US-backed Ukraine.)

  • NBC News, a reliable source of Cold War frenzy, reported, based on Estonian “intelligence,” an equally persistent source of the same mania, that “Russia is most likely to attack the Baltic States first, but a conflict between Russia and NATO would involve attacks on Western Europe.”

  • Also in March, in The Economist, another retired general, Ben Hodges, onetime commander of the US army in Europe, echoes that apocalyptic perspective: “This is not just about NATO’s eastern front.” (Readers may wish to note that “eastern front” is the designation given by Nazi Germany to its 1941 invasion of Soviet Russia. Russians certainly remember.)

  • Plenty of influential American Cold War zealots seem eager to respond to the bugle charge, among them John E. Herbst, a stalwart at the Atlantic Council (NATO’s agitprop “think tank” in Washington), and the Post’s deputy editorial-page editor, Jackson Diehl. Both want amply armed US and NATO warships sent to what Russians sometimes call their bordering “lakes,” the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. To do so would likely mean the “war” NBC envisages.

Lest readers think all this is merely the “chattering” of opinion-makers, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once termed it, consider a summary of legislation being prepared by a bipartisan US Senate committee, pointedly titled and with a fearsome acronym, DASKA (the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019). Again, Russia is ritualistically accused of “malign influence” and “aggression” around the world, the quality of the committee’s thinking succinctly expressed by one of the Republican senators: “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” There is no evidence for these allegations—Russian policy-makers are constantly citing international law, and the US “liberal global order,” if it ever existed, has done a fine job of undoing itself—but with “an outlaw regime,” there can be no diplomacy, nor do the senators propose any, only war.

A recurring theme of my recently published book War with Russia? is that the new Cold War is more dangerous, more fraught with hot war, than the one we survived. All of the above amply confirms that thesis, but there is more. Histories of the 40-year US-Soviet Cold War tell us that both sides came to understand their mutual responsibility for the conflict, a recognition that created political space for the constant peace-keeping negotiations, including nuclear arms control agreements, often known as détente. But as I also chronicle in the book, today’s American Cold Warriors blame only Russia, specifically “Putin’s Russia,” leaving no room or incentive for rethinking any US policy toward post-Soviet Russia since 1991. (See, for example, Nataliya Bugayova’s recent piece for the Institute for the Study of War.)

Still more, as I have also long pointed out, Moscow closely follows what is said and written in the United States about US-Russian relations. Here too words have consequences. On March 14, Russia’s National Security Council, headed by President Putin, officially raised its perception of American intentions toward Russia from “military dangers” (opasnosti) to direct “military threats” (ugrozy). In short, the Kremlin is preparing for war, however defensive its intention.

Finally, there continues to be no effective, organized American opposition to the new Cold War. This too is a major theme of my book and another reason why this Cold War is more dangerous than was its predecessor. In the 1970s and 1980s, advocates of détente were well-organized, well-funded, and well-represented, from grassroots politics and universities to think tanks, mainstream media, Congress, the State Department, and even the White House. Today there is no such opposition anywhere.

A major factor is, of course, “Russiagate.” As evidenced in the sources I cite above, much of the extreme American Cold War advocacy we witness today is a mindless response to President Trump’s pledge to find ways to “cooperate with Russia” and to the still-unproven allegations generated by it. Certainly, the Democratic Party is not an opposition party in regard to the new Cold War. Nancy Pelosi, the leader of its old guard, needlessly initiated an address to Congress by NATO’s secretary general, in April, which will be viewed in Moscow as a provocation. She also decried as “appalling” Trump’s diplomacy with Russian President Putin, whom she dismissed as a “thug.” Such is the state of statesmanship today in the Democratic Party.

Its shining new pennies seem little different. Beto O’Rourke, now a declared candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, promises to lead our “indispensable country,” an elite conceit that has inspired many US wars and cold wars. Another fledgling would-be Democratic leader, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seems to have bought into Russiagate’s iconic promotion of US intelligence agencies, tweeting on January 12, “The FBI had to open inquiry on whether the most powerful person in the United States is actually working for Russia.” Evidently, neither she nor O’Rourke understand that growing Cold War is incompatible with progressive policies at home, in America or in Russia.

Among Democrats, there is one exception, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who is also a declared candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Not surprisingly, for lamenting Russiagate’s contribution to the worsening new Cold War and calling for new approaches to Russia itself, Gabbard was shrilly and misleadingly slurred by NBC News. (For a defense of Gabbard, see Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept.) Herself a veteran of the US military forces, Representative Gabbard soldiers on, the only would-be Democratic president calling for an end to this most dangerous new Cold War.

This commentary is based on Stephen F. Cohen’s most recent weekly discussion with the host of The John Batchelor Show. Now in their fifth year, previous installments are at TheNation.com.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Troops for endle$$ war$



With the possible U.S. military withdrawal from Syria in the news on a daily basis, the mainstream media has been quick to parrot the DOD’s claim that 2,000 troops, mostly special operations forces, are to be withdrawn from the country. Although the total number of U.S. special operators deployed to Syria may have approached as many as 5,000, the current headlines have not mentioned that the United States has special operations units deployed not just in Syria, but in a majority of the nations of the world.

Over the past seventeen years, the forces at the disposal of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have grown exponentially, more than doubling in size in numbers, with a budget that has also expanded four fold in that same period of time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Don't thank me for my service....



End the war on Yemen


What's happening in Yemen right now should make everyone in this world stop, notice and speak out.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

More images from Lockheed Martin protest and the streets of San Francisco


Blocking the front gate on Monday morning of Lockheed Martin aerospace production facility in Sunnyvale, California where space tech weapons of war are being developed and produced.

Lockheed Martin sits on a very busy traffic intersection so many people saw the protest

The Musicians Action Group keep us dancing and singing throughout the protest playing famous union and organizing songs


Clancy (originally from Texas and now from the northwest) being arrested for holding the banner to block the entrance of Lock-Mart

Susan Crane played her saxophone while blocking the entrance and then got arrested
After the protest was over Global Network board member Lynda Williams took us to the mission district in San Francisco where we had a great lunch at a beautifully adorned Mexican restaurant.  I told everyone afterward how lucky we are to have the contributions in the US of the creative and loving Mexican culture.  We should remember that the US stole (annexed) most of California and the southwest from Mexico by war making.  Washington tried twice to do the same and take Canada but got beat and finally gave up.



These two murals above were among an entire street of artwork with walls on both sides painted with social and political content.  I asked the woman painting the BDS mural just above if anyone ever comes and trashes the art work.  She replied, "Yes, the Zionists come all the time and deface it and we have to repaint it."

  • It was a great weekend at the west coast Catholic Worker retreat.  About 50 people were there throughout the weekend and the sun was shining.  There was no ice everywhere like there was here in Maine.  MB and I had many wonderful moments with people who dedicate their lives to serving the poor and working hard to stop endless war - with a particular emphasis on nuclear disarmament.
  • After dinner at a local San Francisco Italian restaurant with my nephew, we took the red-eye flight back east at 10:00 pm on Monday night, getting home just after noon on Tuesday.  A nap was badly needed.  On the plane I watched two movies - the first about the life of Jane Fonda, actress and activist.  Then a film I'd seen before called '13 Years a Slave' which told the story of a free black man captured and sold into slavery in the south during the 1840's.  The brutality and mental sickness of the 'slave master class' has never really been resolved and healed in this country thus the terrorizing Washington does around the world in the name of God and democracy.  These days we are enslaved to a permanent war economy. It's evil.
  • I come back with a full plate.  Bath Iron Works (BIW) here in Maine has announced that they will hold a 'christening' ceremony for the next Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyer on Saturday, April 27.  A coalition of peace groups across Maine are organizing a non-violent direct action at BIW to protest the ‘christening’ The warship will be named the Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002) after the former Vietnam War president.  The ships today cost $7 billion each and will be ported in San Diego once commissioned.  (The problem is that the Navy can't afford to buy the expensive shells for the new high-tech guns onboard the Zumwalt.) Normally the public is invited to walk into the shipyard to attend such a ceremony but because the last two ‘'destroyers ‘christenings’ have drawn civil resistance actions, BIW is saying it will be a ‘closed event’ and is requiring that the public apply for tickets in advance.  Protesters will meet on Washington St. in Bath next to the post office at 8:30 am on April 27 to hold the protest.  
  • I will be in Russia during the BIW protest.  Our study tour to Moscow, Crimea and St. Petersburg will be from April 25 to May 10.  We've got 20 people going on the trip from the Global Network and Veterans For Peace.  Things are well in motion but there are still many details I must wrap up before we get there.
 Bruce

Impacts of sound on marine life



Democratic congressman Joe Cunningham (D-SC) interrupted a House committee hearing with a 120-decibel airhorn after a Trump administration official insisted air-gun testing to locate oil underwater would have no impact on whales, who rely on echolocation to hunt and communicate.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Protest at Lockheed Martin in California today



Mary Beth and I joined the Pacific Life Community protest this morning at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California (near San Francisco) after the weekend Catholic Worker west coast retreat where I spoke on Saturday morning and evening.


Lockheed Martin is one of the top space militarization/weaponization contractors in the world and their front gate sign reads 'Gateway to Space'.

We blocked the front entrance of the weapons production facility and ultimately about a dozen folks were arrested.  Even though I participated in the gate blockade with the huge banner, once the arrests began I had to withdraw in order not to miss our flight back to Maine this evening.


I'll write more about the great weekend retreat once I get home - but for now suffice to say it was a wonderful weekend with super fine folks.

Video by Veterans For Peace member Monisha Rios who I met on the VFP delegation trip to Okinawa I co-organized about two years ago.

The band you hear playing in the background is called the 'Musicians Action Group'.  Really added a wonderful touch to the protest.

Bruce 

'Change your course!': Pompeo threatens ICC over US war crimes probe



In an effort to threaten everyone into not investigating US or Israeli war crimes in the International Criminal Court, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says anyone involved in such probes will lose their visa and may be sanctioned.
The Washington war hawk said that action had to be taken because any investigation into alleged war crimes and torture committed by the United States would be a threat to US rule of law. Visas will be pulled or denied for anyone who has been involved in or even requested an ICC investigation of “any US personnel.

The arrogance of these war criminals is outrageous.  The passivity of corporate mainstream media is predictable but infuriating.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Message from Lapland


Dear friends!

We are standing by the most peaceful border [Sweden & Finland] in the world. Here people have lived everyday life in peace more than two hundred years. Finland has lived in peace with Russia almost 75 years.

Peace is achieved and preserved as a result of  determined cooperation and wise diplomacy. Today there are 10,000 soldiers at this border. Why?

They don't make the border more peaceful, they are bringing the war here. Parts of these soldiers come far away from USA and Great Britain.

To the US and British soldiers we want to say: We don't want Your wars. Go home to Your leaders and tell them that in Finland and Sweden the people want to go on living in peace. Peace is built by friendship between peoples, by cooperation and by finding solutions to conflicts by negotiation in a spirit of mutual respect.

You may be our friends, but if You bring war to us, You become our enemies. Take away Your tanks and Your projectiles from our territories! We don't want Your wars, we want our peace. We don't want Your noise, we want silence. We don't want Your pollution which Your tanks and fighters spit into our nature – we want to keep the nature clean and fresh. The war industry and the war exercises pollute massively, but Pentagon has demanded it is not taken into account in the climate agreements.

If we really want to stop the global warming, we must stop making wars and instead cooperate for the conditions of human life.

Today three of us from the Peace Committee in Lapland were in Haparanda, Sweden - because there is starting a war exercise (Northern Wind March 18th - March 27) with 10,000 soldiers on the ground plus a very large fighter exercise over both half of Sweden and a part of Finnish Lapland which will last until March 27th. I send you the text we both talked through megaphone and gave as flyers to people - in three languages - Swedish, Finnish and English. I send you the English one so you have some idea of what is happening here. All the time. More and more. Step by step.
Solidarity,
Kerstin Tuomala
Finland

Sunday song