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, April 20, 2019

Listen to this truth....



Julian Assange has been indicted for the crimes of hacking and conspiracy.

Part of the indictment focuses on the measures Assange took to conceal US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning as the source of the leaks, which should frighten any news outlet that makes use of anonymous sources.

RT’s Caleb Maupin reports.

Then former journalism professor Lyle Slack joins Rick Sanchez to share his insights.

U.S. Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Militarizing the African continent


Fruits of US-NATO Regime Change

By Tony Cartalucci (Reprinted in part from an article here)

The ongoing Libyan conflict - flush with weapons pouring in from foreign sponsors - has also fueled regional terrorism impacting neighboring Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, and Chad, as far west as Mali and Nigeria, and southeast as far as Kenya. The war has been a boon for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) which has used the resulting chaos as a pretext to expand Washington's military footprint on the continent.

In a 2018 Intercept article titled, "U.S. Military Says it has a "Light Footprint" in Africa. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases," it was reported that:

According to a 2018 briefing by AFRICOM science adviser Peter E. Teil, the military’s constellation of bases includes 34 sites scattered across the continent, with high concentrations in the north and west as well as the Horn of Africa. These regions, not surprisingly, have also seen numerous U.S. drone attacks and low-profile commando raids in recent years.

The article notes that much of AFRICOM's expansion in Africa has occurred over the past decade.

While the pretext for US military expansion in Africa has been "counter-terrorism," it is clear US military forces are there to protect US interests and project US power with "terrorism" a manufactured pretext to justify Washington's militarization of the continent.

Much of the terrorism the US claims it is fighting was only possible in the first place through the flood of weapons, equipment, and support provided to militants by the US and its partners amid regime change operations targeting nations like Libya.

The US-led NATO war in Libya is a perfect example of the US deliberately arming terrorist organizations - including those listed as foreign terrorist organizations by the US State Department itself - overthrowing a nation, predictably destabilizing the entire region, and using the resulting instability as a pretext to massively expand America's military footprint there.

The wider agenda at play is Washington's desire to displace current Russian and Chinese interests on the continent, granting the US free reign.

Fruits of US-NATO Regime Change

As NATO celebrates its 70th anniversary, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would claim:

Over seven decades, NATO has stepped up time and again to keep our people safe, and we will continue to stand together to prevent conflict and preserve peace.

This "peace" includes 8 years of heavy fighting in Libya following NATO's intervention there.

NATO's Secretary General proclaims NATO's mission as one to "prevent conflict and preserve peace," yet it paradoxically and very intentionally engineered the war in Libya, overthrew the government in Tripoli, and triggered regional chaos that not only plagues North Africa to this day - but also inundated Europe with refugees fleeing the conflict.

Europe is one of the few places NATO could conceivably claim any mandate to protect or operate in - yet its own wars of aggression abroad directly compromised European safety and security.

The media blackout that has shrouded the true impact of NATO's intervention in Libya for the past 8 years helps enable the US and its NATO partners to perpetrate additional proxy wars and political interventions elsewhere.

~ Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. 

This is what we have to do.....now



What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like? The Intercept presents a film narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple.

Set a couple of decades from now, the film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This film flips the script. It’s about how, in the nick of time, a critical mass of humanity in the largest economy on earth came to believe that we were actually worth saving. Because, as Ocasio-Cortez says in the film, our future has not been written yet and “we can be whatever we have the courage to see.”

Friday, April 19, 2019

Brainstorming the Venezuela take down in Washington



A hawkish US think tank has hosted a secretive meeting on Venezuela, bringing together American and South American officials to discuss the 'use of military force' in the country, investigative journalist Max Blumenthal told RT.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Int’l peace delegation to tour Russia on ‘bridge-building mission’



By Mike Kuhlenbeck
April 17, 2019
Workers World

The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (GN) is organizing a delegation to Russia to help “build a peace bridge between people of their nations” from April 25 to May 10.

Twenty-four peace activists from Canada, England, Nepal, Sweden and the U.S. will participate in a “bridge-building mission.” Most of the group will be members of GN and Veterans For Peace.

GN Coordinator Bruce K. Gagnon said, “Our primary goal is to stand against the constant demonization of Russia, which is being used to justify U.S.-NATO military expansion up to Russian borders.”

Members of the delegation are scheduled to arrive in Moscow April 25. They will fly to Crimea on April 30 and then to St. Petersburg on May 5. They will meet with experts to discuss such topics as culture, economics, foreign policy, military policy and more. 

Chair Dave Webb of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (U.K.) said in a statement, “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 ask questions, so we get unfiltered information.”

GN was founded in 1992 to “stop the militarization of space” and has around 150 affiliated organizations. The idea for the tour originated last spring in Oxford, England, at the GN annual meeting, which takes place in a different country each year.

Hostility to USSR and Russia

Hostility against the Soviet Union was a keystone in U.S. political life. As journalist Louise Bryant wrote in 1918, “We have here in America an all-too-obvious and objectionable prejudice against Russia,” one that was “born of fear.” U.S. hostility has now returned, despite the downfall of the USSR and the restoration of capitalism in Russia.

The U.S. government and its NATO allies have now ratcheted up tensions with Russia through sanctions, arming nations such as Ukraine (where a Russophobic regime was elevated into power by a U.S.-backed coup in 2014), saber-rattling rhetoric on the world stage and other means of intimidation.

According to an April 5 GN news release, “Not since the height of the Cold War in the 1980s have tensions been so great between Russia and the U.S. Washington now regularly blames Russia for nearly every ill in the world.”

Continuing down the dangerous path of his predecessors, the administration of Donald Trump has further endangered the world by pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Swedish Peace Council vice chair Agneta Norberg, another delegation member, said, “The U.S. has 1,000 military bases around the world and a dozen nuclear-armed Trident submarines patrolling. We are trapped in a very dangerous situation, and none of the presidents seem to understand the danger.”

Hostility to Russia and its people is widespread, not just in the West but also in Asian-Pacific NATO partner countries like Japan and Australia.

Norberg said the U.S. is “twisting the arms” of countries such as Sweden and Finland to join “an ever-expanding NATO and allow war games and bases aimed at Russia onto our lands.”

Gagnon dispels the myth of NATO being a defensive alliance. “The U.S. used NATO to attack Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and more. The U.S. wants to turn NATO into a ‘global alliance’ and is signing up ‘partner’ nations in South America and the Asia-Pacific.”

According to Gagnon, “The U.S. finds it difficult to get many of its regime-change wars supported at the United Nations and, thus, is attempting to have an expanding and aggressive NATO replace the U.N. as endless-war supporter.”

It should be noted that while U.S. military coffers continue to swell (with a budget of $716 billion for 2019), Russia’s military budget ($66.3 billion last year) has been reduced in the last couple of years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Gagnon said, “We should recognize that the corporate-dominated media has one intention — to justify the military encirclement of Russia and China. This obviously benefits the weapons production corporations and the politicians they control in Congress.”

The delegation will make its findings available to the public in the near future.

Gagnon said one of the hopes for the tour is to “make friends with the Russian people, who are not our enemies.”

Call it genocide of poor people of color



Flint Water Declared ‘Restored’ After Michigan’s Environmental Agency Broke EPA Testing Regulations.

“A Crime, Cheating” -Erin Brockovich

What really happened in NYC?




Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth released a new video: “Ilhan Omar Is Right: Some People Did Something on 9/11.”

A snippet from U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar’s recent speech at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in which she referred to 9/11 by saying that “some people did something,” went viral last week. It triggered a torrent of manufactured outrage — including a tweet by President Donald Trump — claiming that she was trying to downplay the horror of 9/11 and resulting in death threats against her.

The underlying truth, which has been completely missed throughout the controversy, is that the public still doesn’t know exactly “who” did something on 9/11 and “what” that something was.

This video features some of the many reporters and anchors who brought us the story of “what” really happened on 9/11, before that story was suppressed. In order of appearance:

N.J. Burkett (WABC); Aaron Brown (CNN); Ashleigh Banfield (MSNBC); David Lee Miller (Fox News); Peter Jennings (ABC); Minah Kathuria (NBC); Mark Haines (CNBC); Patty Sabga (CNN); Tom Flynn (CBS); Ron Insana (CNBC); John Bussey (The Wall Street Journal); Pat Dawson (NBC); Rick Sanchez (MSNBC); Brian Williams (MSNBC); Tom Brokaw (NBC); Jeffrey Beatty (CNN Contributor, Total Security International); Jack Kelley (USA Today).

We encourage everyone to share this video widely and inject some reality into the debate surrounding Representative Omar’s remarks.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Great space war event at MIT

Standing next to portrait of David Koch, net worth $45 billion, who is a lifetime board member at MIT

I took the train to Boston yesterday from Brunswick to speak at a forum entitled Dangerous Developments in Modern Weaponry: a forum on the military pursuit of global hegemony at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) in Cambridge.

The event had four speakers including Global Network advisory board member Subrata Ghoshroy .  We covered the topics of drones, Artificial intelligence (AI), nuclear weapons, Space Force, and the privatization and mining of space.

Organizers where not certain who would turn out for the forum but much to every one's surprise the hall was full with people having to sit and stand on each side of the outside aisles.  One of the organizers called it a historic event as MIT is heavily involved in all of these new high-tech weapons programs, thus debate and student activism on the campus is much needed.

All across the nation the Pentagon for many years has been funding and developing relationships with colleges and universities - essentially militarizing academia.  In recent times few students or faculty at these institutions have been willing to publicly speak out against this domination of higher education by the military industrial complex.

Back in the 1960's students at MIT were a driving force against the war in Vietnam.  

In the early 1980's, when Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), aka Star Wars, physics professors all across the nation signed petitions saying they would not work on the plan to put weapons into space.  A similar campaign is needed today that signs up faculty and students denouncing the development of AI, space weapons, drones and the like.

In 2018 many Google AI workers refused to work on software for the Pentagon's drone program.

MIT is often called the 'Pentagon on the Charles River'.  So it was good to water the seeds of discontent there.  Two small student groups from MIT co-sponsored the program last night and we hope these seeds will grow and blossom.

You can watch the entire forum from last night at this link https://vimeo.com/330390923
Just plug in the password: spacewar

It appears we will do this talk again at the Left Forum in New York City on the weekend of June 28-30.

Bruce

Webinar on nuclear disarmament



My bit during the recent Abolition 2000 webinar on nuclear disarmament.

You can see the rest of the speakers here

Who controls the drones?



UK and US personnel work together at Menwith Hill NSA spy base (in North Yorkshire) to pinpoint the locations of targeted people or groups so they can be captured or killed. But innocent people die - including children. 

These US drone strikes are unlawful. They allow the US to kill so-called targets without due process or accountability.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Left out: the partial Space Force story & and their agenda



Global Network Advisory Board member Lynda Williams (Physics teacher in California) writes about this pro-Space Force video:

Hey Global Network Friends - have you seen this? Talk about lying by omission. Please comment on what is missing. I see this: they skipped over Reagan-era SDI program & the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty. Nor do they mention the US also blew up a satellite with [its own] ASAT (Anti-satellite weapon)! And what about the [Space Command] Vision for 2020 report? Critical parts of the Story! Hard to believe Laura Grego approved this video. yikes.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies, a pro-war organization, produced this video and is run by these people below. Clearly their goals are maximum corporate profits, US global domination and the demonization of Russia and China as enemies that justify further military expansion.

Chairman Emeritus

  • Sam Nunn, Co-chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative

President & CEO

Trustees

*Honorary Trustee

Trustee Emeritus


Their $44 million budget comes primarily for corporate donations/foundations - likely from the aerospace industry. No wonder they left out so many key points in the video.

We are America's bitch!



The British, Australian, Ecuadorian and US Governments have made an ad about Julian Assange’s arrest and it’s surprisingly honest and informative!

Monday, April 15, 2019

On the street today in Brunswick


I was out on the sidewalk in downtown Brunswick today for an hour handing out 'Tax day' flyers.  Local PeaceWorks member Rosie Paul made a nice two-sided card with an attractive color illustration of the military chewing up our national budget.

It was wet and cold out and I had not worn enough layers.  But what made up for it were some interesting conversations.

Everyone declares that they know where their tax dollars are going.  One woman asked me, "Do you mind that you are preaching to the choir?"  I replied, "But some in the choir don't know this song and the choir needs to sing it - publicly."  She smiled.

Several people (from young to old) asked me this fundamental question:  "What can we do about it?"  Most of them (especially the older ones) have become cynical, hopeless, resigned to our lot in life, and one woman claimed that she was just waiting to meet Jesus in heaven.

The Jesus lady blew me off when I offered her a flyer before she walked into a shop.  Later she approached me and said she was sorry for being rude.  I guess Christian conscience is still alive in some.  We had a long talk and at the end she wanted to shake my hand.

One well-to-do man, told me he was an investor, talked about how the national debt was a bigger problem than military spending.  I asked him if a strong percentage of the debt was due to our endless war$.  He thought for a moment and said - yes.

So in the end this sampling of people I spoke too (I handed out 46 flyers while other PeaceWorks members stood in front of the post office doing the same) convinced me that our biggest problem in the US is not so much the lack of education or awareness about the cost of war - but is instead that so many people have given up.  They don't believe anything is going to change.  They see nothing or no one in sight that is going to make things better.  Thus they are choosing to live a life of relative isolation and hopelessness.

One man asked me why I keep doing this.  He's seen me over the years on the street and follows local politics.  He also asked if my time in the military (I was wearing a VFP hat) had put me on this direction of lifelong opposition to the war machine.

I told him I have to do it - even if I am the only one (which I am not) - but that I can't live with myself if I surrender.  It's not in my makeup.  The tide comes in and the tide goes out.  Sometimes the people are with us and sometimes they are not.  But we should always keep doing the good work.

I told him my step-dad, from Rumford, Maine who married my mom when I was three years old, taught me by his rebellious and independent spirit.  He was in the Air Force and was known for telling generals what he thought of them when he saw fit.

There is no more important work for me to do on this wonderful planet.  I could never imagine giving up. My soul is connected to all life on Earth.  

Bruce

Carter's words on regime change wars



Soon after getting out of the Air Force in 1974 I was attending a community college in Orlando, Florida.  One day Jimmy Carter came to speak at our campus - very early on in his run for president in the 1976 election. I came away impressed and over time did some volunteer work in his campaign.

One thing he often said that resonated with me were these words: "The arms race is a disgrace to the human race."  After he became president he built the Kings Bay Submarine base in Georgia where the subs are loaded with Trident II nuclear missiles.

I saw Carter swing to the right trying to win reelection in 1980 - Ronald Reagan beat him.  During the campaign Carter called for dramatically increasing the military budget.  Russia was the big enemy then too.

Years later I'd learn how Carter was recruited to run for president by Zbigniew Brzezinski who was then executive director of David Rockefeller's 'Trilateral Commision'.  Carter made Brzezinski his national security adviser who went on to arm the Taliban in Afghanistan that has morphed into regime change wars throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.

Bruce

Jimmy Carter Took Call About China From Concerned Donald Trump: 'China Has Not Wasted a Single Penny on War'

Newsweek

Former President Jimmy Carter told a church congregation this weekend that he had spoken with President Donald Trump about China on Saturday, and said the commander in chief was worried that Beijing had outpaced its global rivals.

According to Emma Hurt, a reporter for NPR affiliate WABE, Carter spoke of the call during his regular Sunday School lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.
Carter, 94, said Trump was worried that “China is getting ahead of us,” and suggested the president was right to be concerned.

He told the congregation that Trump feared China's growing economic strength. Economic modeling indicated that China would overtake the U.S. as the world’s strongest economy by  2030, and many experts have said that we were already living in what has been dubbed the “Chinese Century.”

Carter said he did not “really fear that time, but it bothers President Trump and I don’t know why. I’m not criticizing him this morning,” he added, to laughs from fellow churchgoers.

Carter—who normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing in 1979—suggested that China’s breakneck growth had been facilitated by sensible investment and buoyed by peace.
“Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody?” Carter asked. “None. And we have stayed at war.” The U.S., he noted, has only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 242-year history, making the country “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” Carter said. This is, he said, because of America’s tendency to force other nations to “adopt our American principles.”

In China, meanwhile, the economic benefits of peace were clear to the eye. “How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?” he asked. While China has some 18,000 miles of high-speed rail, the U.S. has “wasted, I think, $3 trillion” on military spending. “It’s more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.”

“And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover. We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong,” Carter told the congregation.

Before he left the pulpit, Carter noted, “I wasn’t comparing my country adversely to China. I was just pointing that out because I happened to get a phone call last night.”

Meanwhile, military tensions remain over Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea and its continued insistence that the independent island nation of Taiwan will eventually fall back under Beijing’s control.

Tax Day: The Robber Barons



The following is a list of the country’s largest publicly-held profitable corporations that paid no federal income taxes in 2018 on billions in U.S. income, according to ITEP analysis of 560 companies. ITEP reports U.S. income before federal taxes, and takes into consideration paid state and local taxes, which could reduce or increase U.S. income.  The report does not look at total tax provision, a number that could include foreign taxes and deferred taxes. All figures, except for tax rate, are in millions.


CompanyU.S. Income Federal Tax Effective Tax Rate
Amazon.com$10,835–129–1%
Delta Air Lines$5,073–187–4%
Chevron$4,547–181–4%
General Motors$4,320–104–2%
EOG Resources$4,067–304–7%
Occidental Petroleum$3,379–23–1%
Honeywell International$2,830–21–1%
Deere$2,152–268–12%
American Electric Power$1,943–32–2%
Principal Financial$1,641–49–3%
FirstEnergy$1,495–16–1%
Prudential Financial$1,440–346–24%
Xcel Energy$1,434–34–2%
Devon Energy$1,297–14–1%
DTE Energy$1,215–17–1%
Halliburton$1,082–19–2%
Netflix$856–22–3%
Whirlpool$717–70–10%
Eli Lilly$598–54–9%
IBM$500–342–68%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber$440–15–3%
Penske Automotive Group$393–16–4%
Aramark$315–48–15%
AECOM Technology$238–122–51%
Tech Data$203–10–5%
Performance Food Group$192–9–4%
Arrow Electronics$167–12–7%
Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy






The controversial Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed by President Donald Trump in December 2017, lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, among other cuts. That’s partly to blame for giving corporations an easier way out of paying taxes, said Matthew Gardner, an ITEP senior fellow and lead author of the report. The new corporate tax rate “lowers the bar for the amount of tax avoidance it takes to get you down to zero,” he said.

“The specter of big corporations avoiding all income taxes on billions in profits sends a strong and corrosive signal to Americans: that the tax system is stacked against them, in favor of corporations and the wealthiest Americans,” Gardner wrote in the report.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Lenten vigil at BIW







Twenty-two folks gathered yesterday for the weekly Lenten vigil at Bath Iron Works (BIW).

We broke out a new banner that was made by Veterans For Peace members Tarak Kauff (Woodstock, NY) and Ellen Davidson (NYC) for the upcoming April 27 'christening' of the Zumwalt destroyer to be named after former president Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) who was driven from office by the anti-Vietnam war movement.

(The Vietnamese people called it the 'American war' which it truly was.  LBJ escalated the war and a favorite chant of the young people opposing the war was 'Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?'  LBJ sat in the White House from 1963-1969.  While there he represented the interests of the Texas oil industry and the military industrial complex.) 

The new banner acknowledges the labor union and desire of the workers at the shipyard to be paid fairly and treated with respect.  We want to pass on the message that we are not against the workers but just want to see a different product made at the shipyard.

Most workers want to believe in what they are doing at BIW.  They want to feel good about their warships.  But the growing reality of climate disruption is causing many of the workers to think more deeply about their jobs.

In the last 2-3 years there has been a huge generational shift at BIW.  Many skilled workers have retired and a new crop of younger workers are taking their places.  Alot of these younger workers learned about climate change and sustainability in their public schools.  So when we stand outside the gates with signs reflecting the climate issue many of them understand our point.

There is of course pressure inside the shipyard to 'man up' and declare that peace is only maintained by 'superior firepower'.  But during my 37-day hunger strike last year I spoke to quite a few workers at the shipyard and learned that there is a strong core of respect for our call for conversion of BIW to sustainable production.

It should be remembered that before the vote last year in the State Legislature on the General Dynamics Corp. request for a $60 million tax cut, the largest union (Machinist) at BIW took a vote on the bill at a general meeting and the vote count was 50-50.  They couldn't make an endorsement decision so the union sat it out.  This, a big local story, was never mentioned in the local newspaper.  But that was no surprise because the paper did everything they could to ignore or undermine our campaign.

In the end the legislature approved the bill but did cut it to $45 million.  So our collective effort helped save Maine taxpayers $15 million - something we should all feel proud about, especially in our very poor state.  We had 100 letters to the editor printed in more than 25 papers across the state.  So it was a great campaign.

Now our goal is to continue to build education and energy around the conversion of BIW issue.  How can we effectively deal with climate catastrophe unless and until we take this wasted money from the war machine and use it for life giving purposes?

Bruce

Photos by Peter Woodruff

Sunday song