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 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, April 13, 2019

What was the book Assange was holding?



Wikileaks released Chelsea Manning’s leaked documents and exposed multiple crimes committed by the U.S. government and armed forces.

Paul Jay says this is getting lost in the corporate media coverage of Assange’s arrest.  When he was arrested, Assange carried a copy of TRNN’s book “Gore Vidal on the History of the National Security State” which was based on a series of interviews conducted by Paul Jay between 2005 to 2007.

The premise of the book is the American state and its loyal media use patriotism to lie to the American people about U.S. foreign policy and militarism.

Where do your tax $$$ go?


It's a black hole of waste and corruption - I'm talking about the Pentagon budget.

When you add up all the various pots of gold where military money is hidden the total US military budget tops $1 trillion per year.

And what goes for wanting?

Health care, education, infrastructure repair, mental health programs, housing, environmental care, sustainable technology development and much more.

It's your money.

We've become a militarized economy where the only real government job creation in our local communities is weapons production and endless war.  American is addicted to war like a drunk sitting at the bar.

The Pentagon calls it 'security export'.  They mean that the US's role under corporate globalization will be endless war and regime change operations that only benefit Wall Street and the resource extraction corporations.

In Brunswick, Maine we will gather at the downtown post office between 11:00 - 1:00 pm on Monday (April 15) to hand out the above flyers to people as they drop their tax returns in the mail.

We've got to do all we can to get the public to think about where their hard-earned $$$$ is going and to encourage organizing to make life possible for the future generations.

It's not the poor and immigrants who are causing our national fiscal crisis.  It is war, greed and corporate domination of our political system and economy.

Bruce

Friday, April 12, 2019

John Pilger on Assange arrest


The Assange arrest is a warning from history

By John Pilger

The glimpse of Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London is an emblem of the times. Might against right. Muscle against the law. Indecency against courage. Six policemen manhandled a sick journalist, his eyes wincing against his first natural light in almost seven years.

That this outrage happened in the heart of London, in the land of Magna Carta, ought to shame and anger all who fear for "democratic" societies. Assange is a political refugee protected by international law, the recipient of asylum under a strict covenant to which Britain is a signatory. The United Nations made this clear in the legal ruling of its Working Party on Arbitrary Detention.

But to hell with that. Let the thugs go in. Directed by the quasi fascists in Trump's Washington, in league with Ecuador's Lenin Moreno, a Latin American Judas and liar seeking to disguise his rancid regime, the British elite abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and justice.

Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair's "paramount crime" is the deaths of a million Iraqis. Assange's crime is journalism: holding the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all over the world with truth.

The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, "sew the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilisation". The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast.

Assange's principal media tormentor, the Guardian, a collaborator with the secret state, displayed its nervousness this week with an editorial that scaled new weasel heights. The Guardian has exploited the work of Assange and WikiLeaks in what its previous editor called "the greatest scoop of the last 30 years". The paper creamed off WikiLeaks' revelations and claimed the accolades and riches that came with them.

With not a penny going to Julian Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book's authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, turned on their source, abused him and disclosed the secret password Assange had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing leaked US embassy cables.

With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding joined the police outside and gloated on his blog that "Scotland Yard may get the last laugh". The Guardian has since published a series of falsehoods about Assange, not least a discredited claim that a group of Russians and Trump's man, Paul Manafort, had visited Assange in the embassy. The meetings never happened; it was fake.

But the tone has now changed. "The Assange case is a morally tangled web," the paper opined. "He (Assange) believes in publishing things that should not be published .... But he has always shone a light on things that should never have been hidden."

These "things" are the truth about the homicidal way America conducts its colonial wars, the lies of the British Foreign Office in its denial of rights to vulnerable people, such as the Chagos Islanders, the expose of Hillary Clinton as a backer and beneficiary of jihadism in the Middle East, the detailed description of American ambassadors of how the governments in Syria and Venezuela might be overthrown, and much more. It all available on the WikiLeaks site.

The Guardian is understandably nervous. Secret policemen have already visited the newspaper and demanded and got the ritual destruction of a hard drive.  On this, the paper has form. In 1983, a Foreign Office clerk, Sarah Tisdall, leaked British Government documents showing when American cruise nuclear weapons would arrive in Europe. The Guardian was showered with praise.

When a court order demanded to know the source, instead of the editor going to prison on a fundamental principle of protecting a source, Tisdall was betrayed, prosecuted and served six months.

If Assange is extradited to America for publishing what the Guardian calls truthful "things", what is to stop the current editor, Katherine Viner, following him, or the previous editor, Alan Rusbridger, or the prolific propagandist Luke Harding?

What is to stop the editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post, who also published morsels of the truth that originated with WikiLeaks, and the editor of El Pais in Spain, and Der Spiegel in Germany and the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. The list is long.

David McCraw, lead lawyer of the New York Times, wrote: "I think the prosecution [of Assange] would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers ... from everything I know, he's sort of in a classic publisher's position and the law would have a very hard time distinguishing between the New York Times and WilLeaks."

Even if journalists who published WikiLeaks' leaks are not summoned by an American grand jury, the intimidation of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning will be enough. Real journalism is being criminalised by thugs in plain sight. Dissent has become an indulgence.

In Australia, the current America-besotted government is prosecuting two whistle-blowers who revealed that Canberra's spooks bugged the cabinet meetings of the new government of East Timor for the express purpose of cheating the tiny, impoverished nation out of its proper share of the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea. Their trial will be held in secret. The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, is infamous for his part in setting up concentration camps for refugees on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, where children self harm and suicide. In 2014, Morrison proposed mass detention camps for 30,000 people.

Real journalism is the enemy of these disgraces. A decade ago, the Ministry of Defence in London produced a secret document which described the "principal threats" to public order as threefold: terrorists, Russian spies and investigative journalists. The latter was designated the major threat.

The document was duly leaked to WikiLeaks, which published it. "We had no choice," Assange told me. "It's very simple. People have a right to know and a right to question and challenge power. That's true democracy."

What if Assange and Manning and others in their wake -- if there are others -- are silenced and "the right to know and question and challenge" is taken away?

In the 1970s, I met Leni Reifenstahl, close friend of Adolf Hitler, whose films helped cast the Nazi spell over Germany.

She told me that the message in her films, the propaganda, was dependent not on "orders from above" but on what she called the "submissive void" of the public.

"Did this submissive void include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?" I asked her.

"Of course," she said, "especially the intelligentsia .... When people no longer ask serious questions, they are submissive and malleable. Anything can happen."

And did.

The rest, she might have added, is history.

www.johnpilger.com 

On the way to Jeju Island....



What Went Wrong in the Sewol Ferry Disaster?

Political backlash ensued after the tragic sinking of MV Sewol, which claimed the lives of over three-hundred passengers, most of whom were students, five years ago on its journey to Jeju Island, South Korea.

Sung-Hee Choi writes from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island:

It was 2016 when there was a new finding that there was about 405 tons of steel rods for the Jeju navy base construction. It added to the overweight of the Sewol ferry.... http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=5180. The investigation on the Sewol ferry accident has not been brought with a clear result yet. One thing: the ship was owned by the NIS (National Intelligence Service). Why was the captain rescued early? It is told that he and his crews were forced not to talk something after their being rescued. We do not really know what happened on the day. Still there are many suspicions.

This Issue on next Zumwalt destroyer at BIW



On my latest public access TV show I interview John Morris from New Gloucester, Maine.

John is a member of Veterans For Peace and discusses the next boondoggle Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer that will be ‘christened’ in Bath on April 27.

The warship cost $7 billion to build.

A protest will be held on Washington Street in Bath starting at 8:30 am.

John is a retired math teacher and a member of Veterans For Peace.

He's also one hell of a country singer.  See him in action here....



And one more of John's country compositions here

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Handing out flyers at BIW today

Peter Morgan and I during a recent Lenten vigil at BIW

Peter Morgan (VFP) and I went to Bath Iron Works today and from 11:00 am to noon handed out 50 of the new conversion flyers made by folks up in Blue Hill peninsula.

We ran out after one hour.  We didn’t bring enough.

I stood along Washington St. with a sign that said ‘Build Wind Turbines’ and handed out maybe a half-dozen flyers.  I had a great conversation with a union official who said he agreed with us and understood they’d get more jobs by building something other than weapons.

Peter went along the northern most part of the shipyard where workers head into downtown Bath for lunch.  He was handing out flyers like they were free cheeseburgers.

We are going back again next Thursday, April 18 at 11:00 am.  Let us know if you’d like to join us.

Bruce

More on Assange snatching.....



Shortly before Assange’s arrest in London Thursday morning, TRNN speaks to former National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn about Manning’s refusal to testify against Assange and the precarious situation Assange is in.

Outrageous!


Sputnik reports:

WikiLeaks Founder Assange Arrested in London as Ecuador Withdraws Political Asylum

The arrest comes some 24 hours after WikiLeaks claimed that Assange had been subject to a sophisticated spying operation, with the obtained data presumably being transferred to US authorities.

The US Department of Justice vowed to soon announce official charges against the WikiLeaks' founder, arrested earlier in the day in London, and request his extradition.

Julian Assange has reportedly been taken from the central police station and brought to the Westminster Magistrates court. WikiLeaks Twitter earlier reported that Assange, who was arrested in the Ecuadorian embassy in London today, will be brought to Westminster Magistrates court "this afternoon".



It stated that his detention under the US extradition request comes in light of the case about "conspiracy with Chelsea Manning" to publish Iraq War logs, State Department cables and Afghan War logs. The country's interior ministry has accused Assange and WikiLeaks of interfering in Ecuador's affairs.

As Assange arrived at the Westminster Magistrates court, UK Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the arrest of the WikiLeaks' founder and expressed hope that the House of Commons would do the same. She added that in the UK "no one is above the law".

Ecuador's foreign minister announced the suspension of Julian Assange's citizenship, citing "various irregularities found in his paperwork". The country's interior ministry has accused Assange and WikiLeaks of interfering in Ecuador's affairs. The ministry also claims that it suspects two Russian hackers, allegedly linked to Assange, of the same misconduct.

At the same time, Australia vowed to continue providing consular support to the arrested whistleblower and stated that its diplomats will seek to visit him in custody. The country approved releasing a new passport for Assange in September 2018, after halting the process for some time due to his issues with British authorities.

Protest at BIW - NO LBJ destroyer - convert the shipyard


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    CONTACT: Lisa Savage
    207-399-7623
    lsavage3@gmail.com   

BATH IRON WORKS WARSHIP LAUNCH TO HEAR, “LBJ, LBJ, HOW MANY KIDS DID YOU KILL TODAY?”

Statewide peace groups will gather to protest the “christening”[sic] of a Zumwalt class warship at General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard on the morning of Saturday, April 27 at 8:30 am. The ship will be named for President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was driven from office by anti-war protesters over his bombing of civilians during the Vietnam War.

Naming the warship after LBJ supports the Pentagon’s attempt at revisionist history around America’s most unpopular war. Veterans for Peace (VFP), which was founded in Maine by Vietnam War veterans, maintains a website called Vietnam Full Disclosure    (https://www.vietnamfulldisclosure.org) to counter the Pentagon’s efforts to whitewash that war. Several VFP members from around the U.S. are expected at the April 27 protest.


Bruce Gagnon of Brunswick, a member of VFP who became an activist while in the Air Force during the Vietnam era, said, “Our real security needs as a nation are to urgently address climate change and plan for sea level rise that is already underway. How will this affect BIW’s shipyard in Bath? Continuing to build expensive, provocative and polluting weapon systems like Zumwalt destroyers ignores climate change as the biggest threat to our collective safety.” Gagnon has helped organize protests at BIW for the past several years. In 2018 he fasted for 37 days to oppose a tax giveaway by the state of Maine to General Dynamics.

“Making warships at BIW is not even a good jobs policy. Researchers have consistently found that investment of the same resources in sustainable energy solutions like commuter rail or wind turbines would produce many more jobs,” said Mary Beth Sullivan of PeaceWorks of greater Brunswick. “We need conversion of the BIW shipyard now.” Sullivan referenced the UMass Amherst study in 2011, “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update” by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier (https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update).

 

Another PeaceWorks member has spent the past year gathering names of people willing to engage in civil resistance on April 27. Karen Wainberg of Brunswick says she had more than 50 names on her list at this time.

Mark Roman of Solon plans to be there representing the Maine Natural Guard, an organization dedicated to pointing out the Pentagon’s enormous carbon footprint. “I cannot stand by and watch lawmakers waste our tax dollars on warships that are huge polluters when that money could be spent on climate change solutions, or on housing and food for the 43,000 children in Maine living in poverty,” he said. Roman has been active in the Bring Our War Dollars Home campaign at BIW
since 2009.

Organizations sponsoring the April 27 protests and resistance include Americans Who Tell the Truth, Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST), Durham Quaker Meeting, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Island Peace & Justice, Maine Natural Guard, Maine Veterans for Peace, Midcoast Peace & Justice Group, Pax Christi Maine, Peace Action Maine, Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Peace & Justice Group of Waldo County, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, and Peninsula Peace & Justice.

    ## 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Understanding the Trump Iran policy



Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization on Monday, upping the economic war against Iran, the rift with Europe and China, and preparing conditions for a “military option”

Col. Larry Wilkerson joins Paul Jay to untangle the Trump moves that are intended to force regime change in Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Israel. 

Yes Trump has become an agent of a foreign government - but it is not Russia.  It's Israel and the Saudis. 

Meet the plowshares



A group of peace activists have been jailed for over a year before trial for entering the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia last April to protest U.S. nuclear weapons. The action took place on April 4, 2018—the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. 

Armed with hammers, crime scene tape and baby bottles containing their own blood, seven anti-nuclear activists secretly entered Kings Bay—one of the largest nuclear submarine bases in the world—under the cover of night. Their goal was to symbolically disarm the six nuclear ballistic missile submarines kept there. 


Each submarine carries 20 Trident thermonuclear weapons. 


One year after this historic action, three of the Plowshares activists remain jailed in Georgia. The other four are out on $50,000 bond with electronic ankle monitors. All seven face up to 25 years in prison for their actions. 


On Thursday, global leaders, activists and scholars, including Nobel Peace Prize-winning South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky, released a petition addressed to U.S. Attorney General William Barr demanding all charges against the Kings Bay 7 be dropped immediately. 


Democracy Now! recently spoke with the four Plowshares activists who are out on bond: Martha Hennessy, Carmen Trotta, Patrick O’Neill and Clare Grady.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

News Release: Peace Building trip to Russia




Peace Activists to Visit Russia on Bridge Building Mission

More than 20 peace activists from Sweden, England, Nepal, Canada and the US will journey to Russia on April 25-May 10 for a study tour intended to build a peace bridge between the people of their nations.

The trip is being organized by the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (GN).

Dave Webb, chair of the UK’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (and also board convener of the GN) said, “We are deeply concerned about NATO expansion and US ‘missile defense’ deployments ringing Russian borders.  We feel that citizen diplomacy is needed now more than ever between Russia and the west.

“We want to see and hear for ourselves what Russia is really like.  We want to meet with Russian citizens, teachers, students, political leaders, journalists and others in order to listen and to ask questions so we can get unfiltered information.”

This Russia study tour will have three components.

  • Moscow: Arrive on April 25
  • Crimea:  On April 30 the group will fly to Crimea
  • St Petersburg:  On May 5 the group will fly to St Petersburg

Members of the GN and Veterans For Peace will make up the bulk of those going on the trip.

“As tensions grow between the US and Russia and Washington pulls out of the ABM Treaty, the INF Treaty and the Iran Nuclear Deal, we believe it is time for more contact and greater understanding between all our nations. The demonization of Russia has been non-stop in recent years all across the west.  US is twisting the arms of Sweden and Finland to get us to join an ever expanding NATO and allow war games and bases aimed at Russia onto our lands,” said GN board member Agneta Norberg (Swedish Peace Council).

Not since the height of the Cold War in the 1980’s have tensions been so great between Russia and the US.  Washington now regularly blames Russia for nearly every ill in the world.

The US military budget is $1 trillion per year (when you add up all the various military pots of gold) while Russia spends about $66 billion per year on their military.  (Moscow has cut their military budget the last two years claiming they wanted to invest more in national development projects and dealing with poverty.)

“When Trump made his recent announcement calling for the ‘Space Force’ he indicated that the US must ‘control and dominate’ space and deny Russia and China access to space during times of hostility.  That is a provocative declaration that will drive a new expensive and destabilizing arms race,” said Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network.

“The US refuses to renounce its first-strike policy. We are in more danger of nuclear war than ever as recent US construction of ‘missile defense’ launch bases in Romania and Poland reduce the flight times to reach Moscow to 10-12 minutes.  We’ve got to do all we can to break down these walls being erected between the west and Moscow. Instead we need to build peace bridges between our countries.”

Monday, April 08, 2019

Five years of attacks on Donbass



Today is the fifth anniversary of the Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. The young state appeared in response to the coup in Kiev, Ukraine and the military aggression by the unbridled nationalists (Nazi) supported by US-NATO.

Donbass paid a terrible price for its freedom and the right to speak its native Russian language: 10,000 civilians dead, ruined cities, destroyed infrastructure.

The claim is that Russia invaded Ukraine but that did not happen.  You can hear one old woman in the video (with subtitles) saying she wished Moscow had invaded.

But it is the reverse which has happened.  The Nazi death squads, sent from western Ukraine, invade the eastern part of the country where they shell schools, hospitals, churches, day care centers, airports, rail stations, water supply and electrical stations, shops, apartment blocks and rural farm homes.

The US-NATO arms, trains and directs these Nazis and sends them eastward to the Donbass to do their killing work.

If you don't believe it just watch this video of Obama's Ambassador of Ukraine going to a US Army Special Forces training base in western Ukraine where the Nazis were brought into a newly created 'National Guard', dressed up in new uniforms, trained and dispatched to the east.  See the video here.

Bruce

Russia demonization good for weapons industry profits



Chris Hedges, host of “On Contact,” joins Rick Sanchez to discuss the role of the Democratic establishment in the “Russiagate” media frenzy.

He argues that it was an unsustainable narrative given the actions of the White House but that the Democratic elite are unable to face their own role in the economic and social crises for which they are in large part to blame.

They also discuss NATO’s expansionary tendencies and how profitable it is for US defense contractors.

Some important historical and current moves to sell war$



This is a very important show by Jimmy Dore.

He shares the lies and deception by the George H. W. Bush administration (Daddy Bush) in order to sell the Persian Gulf War in 1991.  Compares those lies to the current deceptive campaign to sell the CIA directed coup in Venezuela today.

Worth a watch.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

More space issues coverage

Listen to "War in space could create so much “junk” that exploration becomes impossible" on Spreaker.

A regular Thursday segment deals with the ongoing militarization of space. As the US continues to withdraw from international arms treaties, will the weaponization and militarization of space bring the world closer to catastrophe?

Sputnik speaks with Prof. Karl Grossman, a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York, College at Old Westbury and the host of a nationally-aired television program focused on environmental, energy, and space issues, and with Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.

Sunday song