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, June 15, 2019

Still the same story.....



Presentation given by Bruce Gagnon, the coordinator  Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

This presentation was given at the Global Network annual conference in Huntsville, Alabama in 2017. Every year a conference is held in a different country since the Global Network was founded in 1992.

The goal of the Global Network is to prevent an arms race in space and to organize an international citizens movement to cut the military budget and deal with climate change instead of space wars.

Last night's Russia report & understanding the demonization of Moscow


Forty-two folks turned out in Brunswick last night for our report on the Global Network's recent study tour to Russia.  There were even some new faces in attendance which does not always happen.

Mary Beth Sullivan, Rev. Bill Bliss and myself each spoke and then we answered questions from the audience.  We put many photos up on the screen which made it all the more real for people.

When it was my turn I talked about NATO expansion that ramped up during the Clinton administration despite promises that had been made to Russia when they agreed to the consolidation of East & West Germany.  Then US Secretary of State Jim Baker pledged to Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand 'one inch' toward Russia.



I also spoke about the regular and growing US-NATO war games along the Russian border.  I mentioned how after each war game in Poland the US military leaves their hardware at a new base that has been established there as a regional operations hub.  These war games are provocative and are pressuring Russia to respond. When Moscow holds its own military exercises inside its own country the western media accuses Russia of attempting to recreate the former Soviet Union - which is total BS.



This recent war game in northern Sweden, Norway and Finland - right along the Russia border is just one example of the pressure the US-NATO are putting on Russia.  Recently the west has been doing more military maneuvers up in the Arctic Region aimed at Russia.  Last night I asked the audience why they think this is happening?

I suggested that because of climate change, and the melting of the Arctic ice, the western oil corporations want to be able to 'drill baby drill' up in that region.  But Russia has the worlds largest border with the Arctic giving Moscow the clear advantage in having access to these once untouchable resources.  



Thus it is becoming quite clear that the US-NATO have the intention to expand their military capability into the Arctic region in order to attempt to wrest control of this once completely frozen zone from Russia.  But in order to have the people living in the west support such a dangerous and very expensive program of military escalation, the public must first be convinced that Russia is a dangerous threat to 'our way of life'.

So along comes Russiagate and the constant demonization of Putin and Russia in the western media.  The RAND Corporation, headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, has released a new plan entitled: “Overextend and Unbalance Russia: Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options".  This calculated regime change plan lays out a systematic program to overwhelm and break Russia into smaller nations (similar to what was done to Yugoslavia during the Clinton administration) to make it possible for the western oil corporations to take control of the region.  You can see the study here



In the end last night I compared the US and Russian military spending figures, concluding that the numbers don't lie.  When you add up all the various military pots of gold the Pentagon annual budget is over $1 trillion per year.  Compare that to Russia's annual military budget that at most is $66 billion per year - and was cut by Putin the last two years as he said that 18% poverty in their country was unacceptable and needed to be addressed.  (How I wish we had a president who would say the same thing in the US.)

I have made a personal pledge not to allow myself to fall victim to the endless demonization of Russia and Putin.  Ask yourself, what do you really know about Russia besides what you hear on corporate owned media?  The truth is that most people get what little they know from National Public Radio, MSNBC or the New York Times.  Hardly fair sources on most any subject that relates to corporate power.

But don't take my word for any of this.  Go find out for yourself.  Learn to find the truth, but please do actually search for what is going on so that you can decolonize your own mind from the corporate narrative that has been effectively planted in our western brains since birth.

Bruce

Friday, June 14, 2019

Iran has no interest in war


Iran has no incentive to start a war with the west.

Like we've seen in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Venezuela in recent times it is standard operating procedure to fabricate pretext to start wars.

The mainstream media is happy to go along to spread lies in order to build support for these regime change operations.

So if Iran didn't attack these ships in the Gulf of Oman, who did?

Several answers immediately come to mind.  Thirty-five years of experience requires me to ask which nations have been pushing regime change in Iran.  So my list of likely suspects begins with the CIA (remember that Pompeo who was quick to blame Iran, is the former CIA director), Israel (who itches for war with Iran), Saudi Arabia (who is led by a trigger happy madman who also wants to take down Iran), Britain (who is a US lap dog), and France (led by another western lap dog).

I listened to an excellent discussion on this incident at The Duran and highly recommend these excellent commentators.  Listen to them here

It is important to remember that the western military industrial complex must have continual instability and war in order to maintain their stranglehold on the national budgets in the US and NATO countries.  So when thinking about who is pushing combat with Iran one must ask the question - who stands to gain the most from such a provocative war?

Finally, just look at a map and see how Iran is entirely encircled by US-NATO forces in 14 Middle Eastern and North African countries: Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain.

So again Iran would be crazy to start a war, and Tehran is not crazy.

Bruce

Weekly space issues interview with Grossman & Gagnon

Listen to "Key Senate committee votes in favor of space militarization" 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?

Brian Becker and John Kiriakou speak 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.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

'Applied optimism' in the face of disaster


  • I taped my public access TV show yesterday and my guest was Rev. Bill Bliss from Bath, Maine.  He's been the pastor at the Neighborhood UCC in Bath for the past 20 years.  Bill brought his two sons along on our recent Russia study tour so we talked about that experience.  This particular edition of This Issue was my 150th show during the 16 years it has been airing across Maine.
  • Friday evening (June 14) at 7:00 pm Mary Beth Sullivan, Bill Bliss and myself will be doing a presentation at the Brunswick public library about our Russia study tour.  The public is invited to attend.
  • On Wednesday, June 19 I will head to Boston to join a protest at the JFK Library from 4:00 6:30 pm.  The JFK Presidential Library and Museum is hosting a 'celebration' in advance of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The primary sponsor is one of the largest war profiteers in the world today. Speakers include former NASA astronauts, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Caroline Kennedy, and CNN host S.E. Cupp. Sponsor Raytheon (headquartered in Massachusetts) is playing a major role in militarizing space and turning space into still another base from which the Pentagon can launch war. Meanwhile here on Earth:
* Raytheon and Boeing are selling bombs and other weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Saudis and UAE are using these weapons to turn Yemen into a living hell, the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world today.
* The Trump Administration and the Saudis are threatening war against Iran. If there is war, Raytheon and Boeing weapons will play a major role. Raytheon’s Tomahawk missiles will be used to initiate it.
* Draper Labs and Raytheon are major contractors for nuclear weapons. They will play a major role in the President’s $1.7 billion plan for new and upgraded nuclear weapons.

  • Bath Iron Works has announced another destroyer 'christening' at their Maine shipyard on Saturday, June 22.  Once again a civil resistance action will be held in order to call for the immediate conversion of the shipyard to help us deal with climate crisis that deeply endangers the lives of the coming generations.  It is disgusting that the political leadership is this country is doing little to nothing to deal with the reality that human, plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction. There can be no doubt that US militarism is having a massive impact on planetary life.  We must demand conversion of the war machine - something that World Ocean Radio has just called 'applied optimism'.  The June 22 protest at BIW will begin at 8:00 am along Washington Street, just across from the post office.

Bruce

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A great Russian film.....



I highly recommend you watch this excellent Russian film.  Everyone that I know who has watched it agrees. It tells a complex story but one we should all know.

A historical film by Vladimir Khotinenko, unveils a page of the Second World War history that is little known of - the Russian Pskov Orthodox mission, that had to survive in Pskov region after it had been occupied by German fascists.

Times long gone, but there are still wars, and each of us still faces the same daily choice - remain a human or become a beast and a traitor.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Remember Haiti



Massive protests in Haiti are still going on.... Thousands of people took to the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding that the US puppet, corrupt Jovenel Moise resign from office.

You have not likely seen anything about this in the mainstream corporate media.

Cynthia McKinney writes:

We might be witnessing the Third Haitian Revolution: Haitians take to the streets demanding to know what happened to the billions [in aid money]? Haitians also need to Kick Out the do-nothing NGOs as the money class flees the country.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Report from disaster conference at University of Florida



Much to my surprise, and good fortune, I was invited to be one of three keynote speakers at the 2019 i-Rec conference (information and research for post disaster reconstruction) held at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville.  The event ran from June 5-7.

I was not quite sure what I was getting into or why I had been invited.  What do I know about academic disaster research?  But I studied the web site program and came up with my allotted 20-minute talk.  You can listen to my speech on Fazebook here.

My talk seemed to go over well and I got a good response.  I connected climate change to the Pentagon's enormous carbon boot print and called for the conversion of the military industrial complex to useable production - offshore wind turbines, commuter rail, solar power, tidal power and the like.  I also called for the conversion of the Pentagon into the 'Natural Guard' to help with disaster rescue, relief and reconstruction.

As it turned out I was impressed with the organizers of the event that drew 50 people, primarily academic researchers, from around the world including Africa, Brazil, India, China, UK, France, Italy, Ecuador, US and more.

I went to several of the breakout sessions during the conference, took lots of notes, and learned quite a bit.  The best part was clearly recognizing that the conference theme of ‘Disrupting the status quo: Reconstruction, recovery and resisting disaster risk creation’ was followed up with strong anti-capitalist critiques.


This was especially surprising since I had attended the University of Florida during the late 1970’s and I always found it to be quite a conservative place.   

I began my talk telling the assembled that I was just ready for graduation in 1978 when I got recruited by the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) during a campus campaign to get the lettuce out of the cafeterias in support of striking farm workers in California.  I was offered a job as a UFW organizer and never graduated.  I was sent to UFW headquarters at La Paz in California where Cesar Chavez and others trained the four of us who had been recruited from the UF. After our training we were sent back to Florida to work with fruit pickers across the state who were under contract with Minute Maid Orange juice (owned the Coca Cola). I was assigned to run a field office in Apopka, Florida and put on the contract negotiations team as the note taker.

I’ve been an organizer ever since.

So it was a moving experience to return to UF and sit inside the ‘hallowed halls’ and listen to academics talk about how disasters are in large part created by our global materialistic, consumerist and capitalistic system.  They repeatedly underscored that most victims of disasters are those in poverty who live in homes that are least able to withstand the forces of disaster and the vast majority of the time receive the least support from governing structures.


Here are some of the words from the program and from the various sessions I attended.  I think you will be as impressed as I was.

  • The i-Rec conference series [this was the 9th] is a long-standing forum for discourse among the disaster reconstruction and recovery research, policy and practice community.
  • Status quo practices, policies and solutions are not getting us where we need to go.
  • The accepted [conference] proposals tend to examine disasters with a root cause lens and to embed them in a nuanced understanding of a global productive system and capitalist society.  In all of this, our critical concern lies with the underrepresented, the marginalized and the oppressed who are disproportionately affected by disasters.
  • More critical discussion inside and outside academia is needed on how and why the resilience of (neo) colonial capital and, largely White, consumers effaces the resilience of local populations.
  • The main theme of the conference is to ‘disrupt the status quo’ – a status quo exemplified by the typically emotive imagery used in the media that focused on disaster as “events” and the resulting impacts.
  • Every researcher in our globalized system struggles with complicity and contradiction.
  • Mechanisms for funding tend to favour research proposals that serve a neoliberal status quo, promote interests outside of the local (studied) contexts and ultimately fall short scientifically and ethically.
  • We want our field to reaffirm that disaster research carries a political agenda that is to address the root causes of vulnerability and recognize the capacities of local people.
  • Challenges: Collecting data after disaster; Make ourselves heard; Translating research into action in the political system; Measurements are ways for those in power to avoid dealing with the problems; Language is a clear indication of disaster vulnerability. It is a basic lie that our studies will inform those in power to make changes.
  • Poverty is caused. Need a class analysis.
  • What we have is the neo-liberal capture of our language.
  • Hurricane Maria “desenmascaro” (“unmasked”) the poverty and deep challenges of Puerto Rico.
  • Our job is to promote honesty.
  • The words ‘food security’ help ensure that we no longer talk about hunger.
  • Radical interpretations of disasters: If the problems we are dealing with are a result of how systems of power operate, then we cannot have an effect to reduce the problem without understanding the root causes and changing them.
  • Funding distorts our analysis.
  • Neo-liberalism is continually dismantling indigenous adaptations to natural environments.
  • In a Neo-liberal world everyone is obliged to be a profit maximizer, downgrading social cohesion, altruism, solidarity, identity and the natural environment constituting a hegemonic cultural construct that dictates how human and environmental relations are organized and continued by corruption and privilege.
  • “Nothing can be changed until it is faced….we are called to speak the unspeakable….we must turn toward the storm and face the truth.”  ~ Keynote speaker Heidi Harmon, Mayor of San Luis Obispo, CA
"Clutter is the language of the Pentagon throwing dust in the eyes of the populace by calling an invasion a 'reinforced protective reaction strike' and by justifying its vast budgets on the need for 'counterforce deterrence.' How can we grasp such vaporous double-talk?" ~ William Zinsser

Bruce 

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Sunday song