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, May 18, 2019

Maddow urges Bolton to make more war$



It just gets crazier.....

The abortion debate.....


Friday, May 17, 2019

Hear the train coming.....



Despite the dramatic economic crisis and the constant political conflict in Venezuela, there still is a significant proportion of the population that consider themselves to be "Chavistas."

Ed Augustin examined some of the reasons for this in Caracas.

If the US would stop the sanctions and other economic disruptions of Venezuela then the 'crisis' would likely end.

The US creates the chaos and then says it has to go in and fix things - same story since Korea, Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and more.

Imagine the $$$ wasted and the lost lives.  These were all crimes against international law.  The US is an outlaw nation.  The only countries outside our borders that appear to have any influence on Washington appear to be Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Our government is controlled by, and in bed with, ugly fascists here at home and abroad.

What the US oligarchs do to the rest of the world is well known.  The chickens are now coming home to roost.

Put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming.

Bruce

Assange visit in prison



Actress Pamela Anderson spoke of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's innocence and the need to 'save his life' while speaking alongside WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson in London on Tuesday, moments after they were Assange's first social visitors since he was detained in London's Belmarsh prison for skipping bail.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Arrested for defending Venezuela embassy in Washington

 
  Click on the photo to see the whole thing
 
Ann Wright
1 min · 
This picture of Margaret, David and Adrienne being up against the wall with being handcuffed as they were taken out of the Embassy was sent from Argentina.
So apparently somebody from Argentina was up in the neighboring building and got a picture of this!!

  • Col. Ann Wright is a retired Army colonel and retired State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand people during the civil war in Sierra Leone. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. She's been a full-time peacenik since then and has been outside the Venezuela embassy with daily reports while the Embassy Protection Collective was inside.

No war with Iran


It's been my message for many years.

(In memory of my dear Iranian friend Saviz Shafie)


Jesse Jackson delivers food



Today marked a small victory for the "Embassy Protection Collective" in Washington DC as their allies - with the support of Rev Jesse Jackson - managed to deliver four bags of food, water, and batteries to the four remaining people inside the Venezuelan Embassy.

The coalition of activists including CODEPINK and ANSWER Coalition had previously been blocked by Juan Guaidó supporters and police in their efforts to make deliveries like this one.

It appears that Jackson's presence caused the police to stand down. One Guaidó supporter attempted to physically stop the delivery by trying to take the food and physically hold the rope, but activists including Ajamu Baraka managed to hold him back long enough to make the deliveries.

Filmed by Ford Fischer


Update:  This morning around 10:00 am the police raided the embassy and removed all those inside.  It is possible that the media attention brought by Jesse Jackson's appearance, and the coming large protest on Saturday at the embassy, made the government move now to remove the 'Embassy Protection Collective' problem. No doubt the 'Guaidó supporter' trying to grab the food bag in the video was working for the CIA,  a key part of the deep state. This is how the mob running the government does things.  The days of fun and games in America are over.  The corporate fascists are going for total control now.
Bruce

More photos from Russia study tour

Red Square was closed most of the time we were in Moscow, being readied for the May 9 Victory Day parade. (Click on photos for a better view)

Man & woman hold hammer and sickle in Moscow park to show unity of peasants and industrial workers during the Soviet period.

Moscow metro station remembering those who suffered and died during Nazi invasion and occupation of the Soviet Union during WW II. Every metro station has incredible art of a different theme.

Karl Marx in Moscow offering rest spot for pigeons. Many people told us they miss the sense of national purpose and unity they had during the Soviet Union.   A vote of the Soviet people was held prior to its disintegration and the public was asked if they wanted to dissolve their country or not.  60% voted to remain as the Soviet Union - the politicians moved to dismantle the vast nation anyway. Former presidents Gorbachev and Yeltsin and not well liked today.

On May Day in Simferopol, Crimea we marched in a huge celebratory parade and then were invited to listen and speak at a round-table event with local leaders.  Here GN chair Dave Webb (right) has just signed a cooperation agreement between our organization and Yan Epshtein the Director of an NGO called the Black Sea Association for International Cooperation.

Our group in Simferopol outside our hotel (on the left) before heading to the May Day parade.

The Livadia Palace garden in Yalta, Crimea.  This was a summer retreat of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and his family.  It was the historic meeting place in 1945 between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill.   Today the palace houses a museum, but it is sometimes used for international summits.

The famous portraits on the wall inside the Livadia Palace in Yalta.
 
Down inside the solid stone bowels of the 35th Battery just outside Sevastopol, Crimea was this small operating room.  Over 30,000 Soviet sailors and soldiers were killed here by the Nazis when they retreated to this place along the rocky coastline during the war.  The museum focuses on the humanity and spirits of those who died trying to defend their nation from the fascist attack.  All together about 28 million people died at the hands of the Nazis in the Soviet Union during WW II.
Underground Memorial at the 35 Battery Museum in Sevastopol.

Will Griffin (who took all these photos) over looking Artek outside of Yalta, Crimea.  Artek is an international kids camp (a former Young Pioneer camp) on the Black Sea. Thousands of kids attend the camp each summer.  In November of 1982 Samantha Smith, a 10-year-old girl from Manchester, Maine, wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov to ask if he was going to wage a nuclear war against the U.S. The following July she toured the USSR and the Artek camp at his invitation and as a result, became known as America's youngest goodwill ambassador. Sadly, Samantha died on a rainy August night in 1985 while returning from London when the commercial plane she was in crashed killing all aboard.

Will Griffin standing at the Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) where 500,000 victims of the Nazi two and one-half year siege of the city were buried.  Hundreds of thousands of people died in the city (mostly of cold and starvation) during the fascist attacks. About half a million of them, including 420,000 civilians, are buried in the cemetery's 186 mass graves. Not much of this history is known outside of Russia - especially in the west.  The fascists would rather we all just forget about it.

After the Russia study tour was over GN Board member Will Griffin went to Lapland in northern Finland to speak with a peace group that organizes against US-NATO war games along the Finland-Russia border.  They held this protest  while he was there.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Americans will pay....


Sign outside a restaurant in China informs the public that Americans must pay an extra 25 percent fee to dine. 
 
“If there is any inconvenience,” it says, “please consult the U.S. Embassy!” 

Good cop - bad cop



It's mostly a public relations show.  The fights between the Dems and Repubs are to a large extent orchestrated to distract the public as the corporate oligarchies (which control both parties) continue to destabilize this country and much of the world.  It's call chaos theory

They are fleecing the 99%.

In order to keep the public from noticing how corporate capitalism is robbing us all blind the two war parties take turns in power and attack each other mercilessly once the other party is in office.  The Democrats go from saying they want peace to pushing wars in Syria, Venezuela and Iran.  The Republicans say they want to fix the economy for working people and then give massive tax cuts to the rich.

At some point the public has to get off the roller coaster and realize that both parties are bought and sold by Wall Street and Madison Avenue.

Just this morning I learned that CNN is running a poll that says Joe Biden is leading Bernie Sanders by 18%.  But digging into the poll one finds that CNN only called people over 45 years old to ask their preferences.  So obviously CNN is just trying to shape public opinion in order to put another corporate hack into power.  This is how the system works.  But sadly far too many Democrats will take the bait and fall in line.

The justified anger of the public should instead be focused on overturning this run-a-way capitalist system that only cares about profit and power.  These corporate oligarchs don't care about country, the environment, the people or true democracy.  They talk a good line at election time but that is all you will get - big talk and no action.

The people must make clear demands that our resources be used to educate, offer safety and economic stability to all the people and protect our crumbling environment for the future generations.  This out-dated story of free markets and free enterprise are tricks.  It's only free for the 1% - the rest of us are paying for it and our children will get nothing in return except massive national debt and an unlivable world.

Bruce

No more weapons for Saudi war in Yemen!



A Saudi Arabian ship sent to pick up weapons in Europe has been hounded by protests along its journey.

In France, activists succeeded in preventing it from collecting its cargo claiming the arms could be used against civilians in Yemen.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

In the Shadow of Warships & the Climate Emergency: On Getting Arrested at Bath Iron Works


By Robert Shetterly
Common Dreams

A couple of weeks ago I chose to get arrested at a demonstration at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, Maine.  The day was cold, windy, and wet. A huge new battleship, the USS Lyndon Baines Johnson, was being launched. BIW is one of two shipyards in the US capable of building these mammoth, deadly ships. Maine’s Congresspeople and Senators were there along with the top executives of BIW and General Dynamics, the parent company of BIW—as well as hundreds of other guests—to extol our military might.

These launchings are a big deal. Such ships take years to build and are high tech marvels of stealth, surveillance, and... destruction. This one cost around $7 billion. Bath is a modest coastal Maine community dominated by the enormous shipyard, Maine’s biggest employer.

The 75 of us who chose to protest the launching lined up along the sidewalks of Washington St. at one of the entrances to the yard. We wore hats and gloves and raincoats. We carried signs that said "Convert!" The casual passerby, seeing signs like those, might have been taken us for a religious cult calling on the warmongers to get right with God before the endtimes. The conversion we demanded, however, was secular—more about economics, war-making, and militarism’s connection with climate change. The impending doom in the acceleration of climate change, however,  did lend our demand an aspect of threat: Act now on climate change,  or else! And any passerby would also notice that most of us were, as we say, of an age—a cheerful, motley assortment of activists who cut their yellowing teeth protesting the Vietnam War and marching for Civil Rights in the1960s.

The US military—with its nearly 1000 bases worldwide and insatiable reliance on fossil fuel to  keep all of its ships, planes, tanks, trucks, and jeeps running—is the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions (the gases causing climate change) in the world. The Pentagon’s carbon footprint is 70% of total US emissions. Our military uses more oil than 175 smaller countries combined. The US Navy’s firepower outmatches the next 20 countries combined. We spend more on our military than the next 7 countries—that includes China and Russia.

Those statistics are meant to identify a problem. The problem is that if we are serious about reversing the climate course we are on, we are not going to succeed by changing light bulbs. Nor will electric cars and local organic farms do it. Even legions of solar panels and wind turbines won’t cut it. We’ve got to cut the military, too. That’s why 25 people chose to get arrested protesting the launch of this incredibly expensive and militarily redundant ship on April 27th.

A person doesn’t oppose the US military in this country to win a popularity contest. The Pentagon has spent billions over the years successfully propagandizing about the greatest country in the world defended by the greatest army in the world, that our "way of life" is secured by our vast and far flung weaponry. Even politicians, who lament that we can’t seem to find enough money for education, health care, repairing infrastructure, fighting poverty, and protecting the environment, are afraid to mention that nearly 60% of our discretionary funds go to the military. And they are certainly afraid to point out the obvious: US militarism is more about business, about profit for the defense contractors, than defense. And a large portion of that profit  is recycled into donations to politicians to keep the game going.

The continuation of ongoing insecurity creates vast fortunes.  It has been said that for the $6 trillion the US has spent on war making since 2001, the entire planet could have been converted to clean energy. That $6 trillion didn’t explode in the deserts and mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan. It rained like gold dust into the pockets of General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Halliburton, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, etc. A taxpayer subsidy for the contractors. Can anyone tell me what good has come of all that war and suffering unless you happen to share in the war profits?

Since it would be very hard  for anyone to claim any good results for the US after nearly 30 years (dating from the first Gulf War in 1990) of criminal war making, one might assume that the people making decisions about our wars are very, very stupid—that is unless you were a defense contractor and now very, very rich. And then you might wonder if the people making decision to  go to war didn’t turn out to be the same people reaping the profits.

But I wasn’t there to be arrested because I have a gripe with the humongous size of the US military. I was there because the humongous size of the US military is endangering the survival of all plant and animal species on this planet. I wasn’t there to dispute whether maintaining this immense military was an acceptable risk considering how dangerous the world is no matter what the scientists say about climate change. I can’t imagine a more absurd—and why not say it, insane—proposition: that the imminent extinction of much of the earth’s life, including us, is secondary to US military domination. Hello?

I also wasn't there to shut down Bath Iron Works. Those signs we carried that said "Covert!" were demanding that BIW start making green infrastructure—wind turbines, solar panels, high speed rail cars, electric cars, fossil free cargo ships, all those things that create sustainable jobs—in fact, better paying jobs—than weapons.  Someone will point out that I said a few paragraphs earlier that all that green stuff isn't enough to stop climate change. That's right, except it does work if we stop making warships and shrink the bloated military. That's what conversion is.

We had hoped to block the limousines carrying the corporate and political dignitaries into the LBJ's "christening." But those privileged folks used a secret entrance to the yard. Instead we blocked a bus and a few cars carrying guests. We peacefully lay down on the wet road.

No one likes to get arrested. Handcuffs can be  uncomfortable and the hours of processing are tedious. The Bath police, though, were respectful and courteous to us. They didn't want to give us something else to complain about.  Our goal was not to get arrested. Our goal was to use the arrest to get a soapbox in the media to talk about the link between militarism and climate change. The real risk most often in getting arrested is not the danger or ignominy of arrest. The real risk is if you will get a chance to tell the world why.

Everywhere I go now I hear people—old people, young people, all people—despairing over what’s happening with the climate, with animal and plant extinctions, with powerful people at the top of our government ignoring this crisis. What are the powerful thinking? And very few people are connecting the dots between our gigantic military and climate. If we love our children, if we love the miracle of life and all our fellow species, shouldn't we say, as Mario Savio did in the 1960s: 

    "There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you  can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop."

As kids we laughed at the notion that early mariners feared the world was flat and that they might sail over the edge into the black abyss of a cold cosmos. The politicians, the fossil fuel execs,  and the war profiteers have indeed made the world flat and sailed us to the brink. The kids aren't laughing.

~ Robert Shetterly is a writer and artist who lives in Brooksville, Maine and the author of the book, "Americans Who Tell the Truth." Please visit the Americans Who Tell the Truth project's website, where posters of Howard Zinn, Rachel Carson, Edward Snowden, and scores of others are now available.

Pick the forbidden fruit.....


Crimean woman at Tatar restaurant
near Yalta
surprised to meet Americans
gave us much love, encouragement
and thanks
for picking the forbidden fruit

In Moscow
Dr. Elena Veduta
Head of Strategic Planning & Economic Policy Department
Moscow State University
tells us the American economy
is stupid.
All systems are centralized these days
The question is what are their aims and results?
People speak in slogans, but not the mechanism
to organize the economy.
The Soviet Economic plan
came into shape from 1927-1932
but it was a huge country
and they didn't have computers to
collect and categorize
needed economic data.

Leonid tells us
the Ukraine story,
once the most prosperous Soviet republic.
Birthplace of Christianity in Russia.
Turkey regularly invaded Russia via Crimea.
In 1768 Catherine the Great
consolidated Russian control of Crimea,
Navy base created there in city of
Sevastopol.
Since the fall of Soviet Union
Crimea was neglected by Kiev.
But the people of Crimea always
wanted to return to Russia.
After the 2014 US orchestrated coup
in Ukraine,
the people of Crimea practiced democracy
and voted 98% to rejoin Russia.
They picked
the forbidden fruit.

Former TV news personality
and band member
Constantin
says
that without mobilizing an
oppressed and exploited class,
there is no way we can defeat capitalism.
One of the most effective tools
of propaganda today
is irony and satire.

At the Simferopol, Crimea
round table discussion
one speaker says,
A bridge has two sides,
meaning both countries
US and Russia
need to approach dialogue
in good faith,
something lacking in
Washington.
There are 175 different ethnic cultures
living in Crimea today.
Global Network signed cooperation
agreement with NGO called
House of Friendship
that works to strengthen these ethnic groups
in order to preserve their culture.
It's a weaving together
rather than domination
of one over the other.
A lesson for all.

A Ukrainian-Russian's
take on MAGA....
MSGA
Make Socialism Great Again

Bruce

Monday, May 13, 2019

Report from Venezuelan embassy in Washington



Full footage of a press conference outside of the Venezuelan embassy. The opposition tried to disrupt, but the peace people were able to successfully complete it.

Notice that the police do virtually nothing to deescalate the situation which the White House hopes to turn into a blood fest.

 #HandsOffVenezuela 

Words from Russian VFP leader

Russian VFP President Alexander Pasechnik (center holding paper) had just signed an agreement of cooperation with Maine VFP chapter.  Russian VFP director Alexander Rassokhin is on the left (burgundy shirt).  Most of our group are in the photo. They really loved Alexander's talk.


While we were holding our Global Network Study Tour in Moscow we were lucky to have the president of Russian Veterans For Peace (VFP) Alexander Pasechnik speak to our group at the Aerostar Hotel.

Here are some of his words:

  • Russian VFP was created 25 years ago.  Russian veterans from Afghanistan war heard about US VFP.  We created the Russian VFP organization. 
  • In the early years we could attend the US VFP conventions but after the US-NATO Yugoslavia war we could not get Visa to the US anymore.
  • There are no differences between us on a human level.
  • We want to live in peace here in Russia but we won't be reduced to dust.
  • We want normal communication between our nations.
  • Having our intended larger international VFP conference in May in St Petersburg was made impossible by the growing tensions between our countries.  We hope to do it next year.
  • Sanctions on Russia are having minimal impact.  Sanctions forced us to do more domestic production.
  • Russian VFP is against war, but we have to respond when we are provoked or any country pushes us.
  • The War in Chechnya could not have happened without external involvement [Pentagon/CIA].
  • During the time of the Soviet Union there was balance in the world.  Now there is no balance.  Russia is trying to restore balance.  We'd be happy to stay in our country.  But bases are now being placed by our borders [Poland, Romania, Sweden, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, etc].
  • What would you do if you were in Putin's place when somebody pushes you and pushes you?
  • We have internal problems [18% poverty] here and would rather spend our money here.
  • The US openly supported the 2014 coup in Ukraine.


Alexander later signed a cooperation agreement with Maine VFP.  I carried the agreement that was first signed by Maine VFP President Doug Rawlings to Moscow and will deliver copies of the signed statement back to Maine on behalf of Russian VFP.  Along with the statement I was asked by Alexander to also carry the Russian version of the VFP flag to Doug which I will do.

Alexander repeatedly called himself a 'simple man' and folks in our group later stated how moved they were by those words.  He made a good impression on our study tour group.  He spoke from his heart.  He gave us direct and honest answers to our questions.  It was an excellent meeting.

This kind of open communication is how peace and trust are established.  Threats, deceit, badgering, intimidation and bravado (which the US routinely does with Russia and other nations) is not the way to build a peaceful relationship.

We were proud that our small group could have such an open and honest exchange.  More groups and individuals should travel to Russia and have such discussions with the people there.  Maybe if more of us did that we could break down the walls that the US-NATO are erecting on Russia's borders.

Bruce

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday Bonus film & songs: Malvina Reynolds



Love It Like a Fool is a 1977 American documentary film about the then 76 year old American folk songwriter musician Malvina Reynolds, directed by Susan Wengraf, featuring fellow folksinger Pete Seeger.

Malvina reportedly loved the way she looked in this final film appearance.

Best known for her songs, "Little Boxes," "Turn Around," "What Have They Done to the Rain" and "Morningtown Ride," Malvina successfully united her talents, insight and humanism into song.

We get to see and hear Malvina's attitudes towards aging and dying, her thoughts about romance, her ideas about social change. She was a woman rich with integrity, determination, courage and love.

Through the film, with some camera work by Les Blank, viewers can follow Malvina as she composes, records an album, performs in concert, rehearses with young musicians and manages her record and publishing companies.

Let's talk about normal....



When will the U.S. begin to act like a 'normal nation'?

Sunday song