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, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Money Game: Going Digital for Social Control

When I was leaving the Newark, New Jersey airport for India on November 15 I tried to exchange American money for Indian rupees.  I was told by the money changing station that they were not at the present handling any Indian rupees.  This was when I first heard about the Indian governments controversial 'demonetization' campaign.

When I arrived at the Delhi international airport I got in the long line at the money changing station and discovered that foreigners could only exchange $100 worth of currency for rupees.  Indian cash is in short supply.  ATM machines were out of cash.  One tourist from England had brought no cash with him and intended to use his credit card to get Indian rupees once in country.  Now he had arrived and didn't have the funds to get a taxi to his hotel.

In early November the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes were banned overnight. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended the decision saying it was an anti-corruption measure. I have my doubts.

On my flight from Delhi to Visakhapatnam I was reading two Indian newspapers and one of them carried a photo of Modi and Bill Gates.  The caption under the photo declared that Gates was supporting Modi's demonetization effort and the Microsoft mogul had urged India to go digital - essentially get rid of paper money and make all transactions computer based.

As I read the newspapers my mind flashed back to a recent radio interview I heard on National Public Radio back home.  An author of a new book was urging American to go 'digital' and become a cashless society.  It's obvious that the Modi government demonetization effort, supposedly to fight corruption and 'black money', is little more than an effort to create a global monetary system under the control of corporate banking computer systems.

Traveling across India for nearly two weeks was interesting as daily there were stories about problems - especially for the rural poor - as cash was becoming scarce.  The government was offering the poor free pocket devices so they could make financial transactions online.  But with 25% of India's population living in dire poverty this is indeed a hollow gesture.

Modi is an instrument of corporate power.  He is turning his nation's hard won independence and sovereignty over to the international banking industry and to the military industrial complex.  The poor, as always, will be left in the lurch.

All people should beware of this global corporate effort to merge all financial transactions into the hands of big banksters.  Think of the social control the banks will have when they control your access to your own money.  Think of the power the banks will have to 'turn off' your bank account should they determine that you might be a 'threat' to corporate control because of your political beliefs or activities.

Beware of the power of the global elite.  They are now consolidating power for their own benefit - not on behalf of the world's marginalized people.

Space Command Propaganda Piece

CNN last night aired a major propaganda piece promoting the US military industrial complex goal of frightening the American people so they will hand over even more $$$$ to pay for this massive space war machine.

As the US routinely does the Pentagon plays 'poor me' claiming that Russia and China are out to get us. They make it sound like the US is under threat and thus we need to pump even more money into our already massively expensive military space program.

The fact is that the US is way out in front of the space warfare arms race.  Russia and China have for more than 20 years been annually going to the United Nations pleading with the US to join them in serious negotiations for a new treaty called Prevention of an Arms Race in Space (PAROS).  Each year the US blocks treaty negotiations claiming there is 'no problem' and thus no need to create a treaty to prevent war in space.

The US-based aerospace industry (led by Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon) has long known that if the US refused to negotiate the treaty, Russia and China would be forced to respond to the US Space Command's Vision for 2020 that states the Pentagon will 'control and dominate' space and will 'deny' other nations 'access to space'.  Thus a new arms race is guaranteed and the profits to be made from such a new round in military conflict would bear unimaginable profits for the aerospace industry.

The history of America is replete with exaggerations of 'enemy' power while the poor old USA is dragging along behind.  This strategy was used to over sell the American Indian 'threat' during the late 1800's, over hype the Russian missile capability during the Cold War, and claim that Iraq had 'weapons of mass destruction' before the US 'shock and awe' attack in 2003.

At the end of the CNN propaganda piece Space Command officials make the outrageous claim that the US has no offensive assets in space while 'our adversaries' have weaponized space.

There should be no doubt that the corporate dominated media today is essentially nothing more than the mouth piece for the US military empire.  The fact that this puff piece on a major news network interviewed not a single critic of the US's claim to be the 'Master of Space' speaks volumes.

If you are interested in seeing the other side of this issue just click here


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Standing Rock: Do Something to Help

The police in North Dakota are now threatening to go in and destroy the water protectors camp at Standing Rock. 

Large numbers of veterans from around the country are presently making their way to Standing Rock to stand alongside the people.  It will be interesting to see how the police deal with that.

In the meantime you can make a phone call to defend the native people.  See below by Penobscot nation (Maine) member Sherri Mitchell.

Sherri Mitchell - Wena'gamu'gwasit

Custer’s Ghost Rides again- This time he’s riding in on the back of a big black snake. On December 5th, which is Custer’s birthday, the U.S. Army Corps is threatening to forcibly remove thousands of Native people and their allies from Sioux Treaty lands.

These lands were granted to the Sioux Tribe in the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. The treaty was signed two years after Custer was sent in to kill all the Cheyenne and Dakota Sioux, so the U.S. could steal their lands. Custer failed, so the U.S. begrudgingly signed the Treaty.

Treaty law is one of the supreme laws of the land, second only to constitutional law. Treaties are signed agreements made by two or more parties. Legally, signed agreements cannot be changed without the written consent of all parties. Unfortunately, the U.S. has never been very keen on following their own laws, especially where Indians are concerned. In fact, the first U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the tribes was in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. In that decision, the SCOTUS used religious law, specifically the Roman Catholic Rules of Conquest under the Christian Law of Nations to justify the taking of Indian lands (see Doctrine of Discovery). So, it should be no surprise that they have summarily violated all treaties with the Indigenous nations of this land. The U.S. breached the Treaty of Ft. Laramie in 1944, under the guise of the “Flood Control Act,” which was simply cover for the further taking of Indian lands for gold mining.

Now, nearly 150 years later, the U.S is back in Sioux territory with bigger weapons trying to complete Custer’s mission. And, they have chosen Custer’s birthday to make their stand. You get to watch as history repeats itself. The question is whether you will watch quietly or if you will stand up and do something about it.
On December 5th, the U.S. is going to honor their long tradition of stealing Indian lands and killing Indian people, by celebrating their most beloved Indian killer Col. George Armstrong Custer on his birthday.
They will do so by attacking Indian people on lands that the U.S. has taken illegally, using illegal amounts of force, to protect the interests of an oil company that is attempting to poison the drinking water of the Tribe. The term for this is ecological genocide, and it is being carried out through industrial and environmental terrorism at the hands of a U.S. corporation, and with the full backing of the U.S. government and police forces in violation of the U.S. Constitution and Treaty Law.
This is not only a stand for Standing Rock, it is a stand for life, and it is a stand for the Constitution and rule of law in this country.
If you are able, please go to Standing Rock and stand with the people. If you can’t go, then call ALL the numbers listed below.  
Call: Lee Hanse
Executive Vice President
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
800 E Sonterra Blvd #400
San Antonio, Texas 78258
Telephone: (210) 403-6455
Call: B. Glenn Emery
Vice President
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
800 E Sonterra Blvd #400
San Antonio, Texas 78258
Telephone: (210) 403-6762
Call North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple at (701) 328-2200 to demand protections for protestors and an end to hostilities against them.
Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414. Tell President Obama to STOP the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that they remove DAPL from their lands: (202) 761-5903

South Korea: Resign or Impeach?

South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye said she will resign if the parliament devises a plan for a smooth transition of power.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hedges at Standing Rock

On a special edition of On Contact, Chris Hedges travels to the Standing Rock encampment in North Dakota to listen to the frontline voices of those fighting to block the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Nepal: We Must Gather the Good Minded People Everywhere

Students and faculty at women's college in Kathmandu this morning - just three hours after an earthquake woke us from our deep sleep

We arrived in Nepal yesterday afternoon via a flight from Delhi.  Up early in the morning we flew from Nagpur to Delhi national airport and then took a bus to Delhi international.  As we approached Delhi international airport we saw a massive billboard with a military helicopter on it and the Boeing logo alongside.  Words on the billboard were "This is our future".

The people of India are being enticed, lead, directed, forced (you pick the appropriate word) into the waiting arms of the US military industrial complex that is now salivating over the market potential of India. India is led today by the nationalist corporate dominated Modi government in Delhi.  The US plan for 'full spectrum dominace' via space control and domination carries a massive cost that even Washington (even after years of austerity cuts in our country) can't afford to pay for on its own.  Thus the Pentagon's #1 job these days is to take a silver cup in hand and secure commitments from allied governments around the globe to help the US become the 'Master of Space'. (Note the patch on the arm of the woman below at the US Space Command - click on the photo for a better view.)

We have received a very warm welcome here in the land-locked nation of Nepal that sits on the border of both India and China.  As the US attempts to bring India 'onside' in its plans for war with China the people of Nepal are in a precarious position.

This morning we were taken to speak at a women's college just a block or so from our hotel.  About fifty students and faculty listened to our talks and afterward they took us to the meager campus cafeteria for tea.  There was much interest in what we had to say.  One of the women professors told me, "It is ironic for me that America wants to be the Master of Space and that I learn about it from an American.  Everything is American."

Following that event we were taken to Nepal's oldest college called Patan Multiple Campus which has several locations serving 7,000 students.  We met with a dozen people, mostly faculty from various departments, and had the most moving discussion of our trip.  In addition to talking about the realities of the Pentagon's mission of 'security export' on behalf of corporate interests the discussion lead to the spiritual disconnection of the planet's people.  One professor began his comments by first greeting us with the word Namaste which is the recognition of the divine spirit (or soul) in another by the divine spirit in you.

The professor asked how the Global Network was integrating the need to heal the broken spirit in the collective mind and spirit of people around the world.  Peace of mind is necessary for the human being, he said.  "We must make people human beings is everywhere....we must gather the good people, good minded people....selfishness is an epidemic across the world.  This is the time. Let us accept all the people of the world."

With tears in my eyes I thanked the professor for his beautiful words and told him that this is indeed a message that is part of our work at the Global Network.  We agree with all our heart that we must heal the broken circle - we must heal our relationship to Mother Earth.

I suggested that the idea of the US Space Command becoming the 'Master of Space' is one sign of the current human sickness.  I told about Standing Rock in North Dakota where today Native Americans and their many supporters from around our country are rallying to stop the 'Black Snake' oil pipeline along the Missouri River.  The native people call themselves water protectors as they try to defend our sacred Mother Earth - water is life.  It is all the same struggle.

We were woken this morning about 5:00 am when our beds shook and as I bolted awake I thought of earthquakes remembering the terrible one that hit here last year that killed nearly 9,000 people and damaged nearly one million houses and buildings.  The quake this morning was a moderate one that hit about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Kathmandu.  It wasn't until we had breakfast here at the hotel that we learned the rumbling was indeed an earthquake.

We leave here on November 30 and head back to Delhi before flying home.  Before we leave Nepal we will do at least three more talks at various colleges in the area - going back again to Patan Multiple Campus where the Campus Chief ordered that all faculty and students be invited to hear our words again on Wednesday morning prior to our departure.  We were taken to his office this morning following the meeting with faculty and after hearing reports on that meeting he approved a campus wide invitation for another meeting.     

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Post-Election Politics

Sunday Song

Thursday, November 24, 2016

For the Children: Go Solar!

Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look

Programs to account for a significant share of defense budget boost 
Roll Call

Missile defense and military space programs are likely to get a substantial funding boost under the incoming Republican-dominated government, lawmakers and analysts say.

Coming soon are a greater number of more capable anti-missile interceptors and radars deployed around the globe — on land, at sea and possibly in space, say these legislators and experts, several of whom have consulted with President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers. More government money will be directed at protecting U.S. satellites from attack — potentially including systems that can ram into or otherwise disable another country’s satellites. And senior Republicans who oversee Pentagon spending said in interviews this week that they support considering all such systems.

“I believe we need lots of platforms for every eventuality, including those,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the New Jersey Republican who is expected to chair the House Appropriations Committee in the next Congress.

Trump’s thoughts on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals, such as growing the Army and building more warships. As a candidate, Trump said little on the subject. But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.

Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican on House Armed Services, said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space.

“It was a Democrat mindset that caused us to step back from space-based defense assets to ostensibly not ‘weaponize space,’ while our enemies proceeded to do just that, and now, we find ourselves in a grave deficit,” Franks said. “In every area of warfare, within the Geneva Conventions, America should be second to none. That includes satellite warfare, if it’s necessary. We cannot be victims of our own decency here.”

See the rest of the article here

Arriving in Vijayawada

Global Network board member and organizer of our trip to India J. Narayana Rao (on right).  Dave Webb from the UK on left.  One Indian woman wrote Rao after the conference in Visakhapatnam and told him even though she had never met Gandhi she felt that meeting Rao was a close second.  I fully agree.

We took more than a six-hour train ride south early this morning from Visakhapatnam to our next speaking spot - a community named Vijayawada.  We speak here tomorrow and then head further north to Nagpur in central India before moving on to Nepal via Delhi for our final stop before heading home.

Yesterday we spoke three times in a very rural poor region.  It took two hours car drive to get there from Visakhapatnam.  We left at 8:00 am in the morning and got back to our guest house at 9:00 pm.  So it was a long day.

The last of the three spots was at a private school of about 1,400 kids in what was described to us as one of the poorest places in the country.  Come to find out the 'Call center' corporate entities that have sprung up around India like to draw on some of these kids since they are likely to work real cheap - like about $100 a month.  So learning English is a big deal for these kids and the school embraced our visit with open arms.

The kids were bright eyed and the light of life was shining at us as we sat down in panel form to take questions from the teachers.  Initial questions were 'Do you like India' and 'What food do you like'?  But these were followed by questions about Gov. Bobby Jindall (R-LA) who is of Indian heritage.  I answered that he is bad news but then went on to give glowing remarks about Seattle, Washington's new city council member Kshama Sawant who got elected as a Socialist after leading the local fight to raise the minimum wage for working people.

The final question at the school was 'What is the mission of the Global Network'?  Between Dave, Will, Rao and I we did a good job of sharing our views with the kids and school staff.

On the ride back in the dark, through the tangling traffic and ever honking horns, I looked through the car window into the night sky but could not see any stars - even when we were far from the city lights.  The air pollution is so bad here that the smog prevents the heavens from being visible.

Earlier in the day at our first talk in Vizianagaram at a specially organized event called 'Ecological Balance and Global Peace' the concluding speaker (always a highly acclaimed person in the community) commented on how when he was a kid people did not have to purchase bottled water.  Soon he said only the rich will be able to afford to purchase fresh air masks due to the growing pollution that comes with India's massive growth index.

Everywhere you turn in India are signs that the mega-global-corporations have stuck a pin into the India map and are calculating how many cars, TV's, cell phones, refrigerators, washing machines, fashionable clothes and the like can be sold to the 1.3 billion people in this country.  The corporations are salivating at the thought of the profits to be made.

You can't blame the people - 25% of whom are living in dire poverty - for wanting a better life.  But add in China and the many other nations in the developing world and you get the picture.  Our Mother Earth is in trouble - she just can't sustain this ecological pressure.

Now in all fairness it must be remembered that in the US we are only 5% of the global population yet we consume 25% of the resources on our failing planet.  So things have to change there too and quickly if we hope to have any chance for survival on this spaceship Earth.

In many of my talks to students here I've been mentioning the Native American belief that we must look at how each decision we make impacts the next seven generations.  It's obvious that much of the world is not following this advice as we head full bore into the face of climate change.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Weed Killer in Cheerios

A complete US media blackout continues on this breaking information... Monsanto’s bestselling weedkiller has been found in alarming levels in Cheerios, Stacy’s Pita Chips, Oreos, Goldfish, Ritz crackers, Doritos and a whole lot more. It's made the front page in Europe but what about here?

Levels found in these product are well above the levels found by independent peer-reviewed studies which show that ultra-low levels of glyphosate can cause organ damage starting at 0.1 parts per billion (ppb). This is 1,750 times lower than what the EPA currently claims is safe. The highest levels detected were found in General Mills' Cheerios, which were simply off the charts, at 1,125.3 ppb or nearly twice the level considered potentially harmful according to the latest scientific research in a single serving for young children.

As a result, we’re calling on the EPA Inspector General to investigate the agency’s failure to properly test and regulate glyphosate, end the practice of pre-harvest spraying of Roundup as a drying agent and release ALL of the industry data submitted to federal agencies, but kept hidden from the American public as "trade secrets."

Intrigue in Seoul Grows

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has agreed to a bill that would allow a special prosecutor to probe the corruption scandal that’s crippled her presidency.

Good Coverage in Visak

The largest English language national newspaper in India is The Hindu.  During the weekend conference at Gitam University several of us were interviewed by the paper and this article was published as a result.  The journalist did a good job of writing about the dangers from the Pentagon's 'missile defense' system that is now being used to encircle China and Russia.

This morning on our way to our first speaking event at a private school, where we spoke to 150 middle school students, Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao showed us one of the local papers that also ran a story on the conference.  He said that a couple other local papers had also covered the event quite well.

After our talk at the private school (Mary Beth and I had also spoken there on our first trip to India in 2011) we were taken to a government run technical school where we spoke to another group of about 150 students who were high school age.

In both places we got a good reception with students wanting to get selfies taken with us afterward.

After the tech school talk we had a fantastic lunch at the home of JV Prabakar (a retired engineering school administrator and leader of the Visakhapatnam chapter of the Global Network).  Prabakar works closely with J. Narayana Rao and has traveled to several of our past GN conferences in other countries.  It is obvious to us that Prabakar is widely respected in this community as at each of the five school talks we have done here in this city so far (which he appears to have set up) he has usually been the one to speak first setting the stage for Dave Webb, Will Griffin and myself.

This afternoon at 6:00 pm we went back to the Andhra University where we spoke with about 50 students in the foreign language department. It was quite amazing how on top of various issues these students were commenting on US military operations, our banking system, Trump and more.

Because Global Network advisory board member Koohan Paik (from Hawaii) got sick and could not make the trip, I've been including some of her research about US-India military agreements into my talks.

Koohan learned that US-India had signed the Defense Technology & Trade Initiative (DTTI) which will pump large sums of American $$$$ into India's largest industrial corporations for the development and manufacturing of weapons of war.  DTTI will effectively shift India's power from the people to a domestic elite who will be complicit with US corporate interests.  Koohan wrote that this will be India's 'Colonization 2.0' and their participation in expanding US militarism will be part of the US 'pivot' to control China.

India will lose its independence and sovereignty and the elite in India from Tata, Reliance Industries, Mahindra and other corporations will join with global war industrialists like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing to bring down India's democracy and help make the world a more dangerous place.

This is largely new to most Indian students (and faculty) and they seem to be quite appreciative to get this information and feel glad knowing that there is a growing international movement standing up against the globalization of corporate power.

In the morning we will be out early to drive about 30 miles from the city to speak to another group of college students - we are told there will be about 200 of them. 


Monday, November 21, 2016

Reaching More Students in Visakhapatnam

We are still in Visakhapatnam and today spoke in three schools.  Dave Webb (UK), Will Griffin (VFP) and I were taken first to a government college where youth from the poor and working classes attend.  More than 100 students heard our talks there.

After that we were taken to a private school where you could see the difference in educational opportunities for the children of parents of higher income.  Again more than 100 students listened to each of us speak.  I asked for a show of hands of those who were familiar with the Star Wars movies and every hand went up into the air.  Then I asked for a show of hands of those who believe that war in space was inevitable - about one-quarter of the hands went up.  I asked for a show of hands of those who have looked for the moon on a dark night.  All hands went up - then I told the story of Coca Cola wanting to put a massive sign on the moon advertising their addictive sugar filled drink.  Luckily they were deterred from carrying out such a barbarous plan.

Our final talk was at another university where we were invited to address about 30 students from the Psychology Department.  Several of the students were from Ethiopia and Somalia, now in India working on their advanced degrees.  The head of the department spoke movingly about the 'deadly connections' between growing militarism in the US and India and cutbacks being made in programs to help those who suffer from poverty and mental illness.  Dave and William made their best presentations yet.

Tomorrow we again will make three more talks at various schools here in Visakhapatnam before moving on to another city the following day.  Our dear Indian friends who have a Global Network chapter here in this city are working hard to expose our message to as many people as possible while we are their community.  Below we hold a banner used during the recent Keep Space for Peace Week here in Visakhapatnam - the college soccer team helped us hold the banner.


Stand Up and Live

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Goodbye, American Neoliberalism. A New Neo-Fascist Era Is Here

By Cornel West

Guardian UK

Trump’s election was enabled by the policies that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. We gird ourselves for a frightening future

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians.

The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness.

White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process.

This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future.

What is to be done? First we must try to tell the truth and a condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and working people and obsessed with the spectacle of success. Second we must bear witness to justice. We must ground our truth-telling in a willingness to suffer and sacrifice as we resist domination. Third we must remember courageous exemplars like Martin Luther King Jr, who provide moral and spiritual inspiration as we build multiracial alliances to combat poverty and xenophobia, Wall Street crimes and war crimes, global warming and police abuse – and to protect precious rights and liberties.

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Rightwing attacks on Obama – and Trump-inspired racist hatred of him – have made it nearly impossible to hear the progressive critiques of Obama. The president has been reluctant to target black suffering – be it in overcrowded prisons, decrepit schools or declining workplaces. Yet, despite that, we get celebrations of the neoliberal status quo couched in racial symbolism and personal legacy. Meanwhile, poor and working class citizens of all colors have continued to suffer in relative silence.

In this sense, Trump’s election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome!

In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.

We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen’s civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.

As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump’s neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.

For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

What Do the Democrats Really Stand For?

Big Picture Interview: Ralph Nader, Breaking Through Power: It's Easier Than We Think, has a plan for progressives that could really shake things up.

Sunday Song

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Explore But Don't Exploit

Big sign welcoming the conference at the gate of Gitam University in Visakhapatnam, India

We are entering our third and final day in Visakhapatnam, India conference at the Gitam University School of Law.  I cannot say enough times how impressed we have been with the total commitment to this conference from the law school administration, faculty and students.

From the first day's formal opening that included the founding chancellor's excellent presentation (he acknowledged that he doesn't come out to many of these kind of events but asked to speak at the opening) it has been a remarkable event.

Will Griffin before the start of the opening ceremony

The most exciting thing for all of us is the incredible student participation - not only from Gitam University but law students have come from Chennai and faculty have come from other educational institutions throughout India as have members of the public as well.  Five people came from Nepal to be at the event - one of the men from Kathmandu will host us when we go there at the end of this month.

Each of our six Global Network leaders at this event have all been given the opportunity to speak and our talks have been eagerly received.  Topics we covered have included US plans for control and domination of space, Pentagon 'missile defense' deployments in eastern Europe and Asia, as well as testimony about being in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by William Griffin from Veterans for Peace.  (Our GN Advisory Board member Koohan Paik had to cancel at the last minute as she came down with illness and has been sorely missed.)

One of the biggest thrills for me as been to meet three young men from Chennai who are law students.  Somehow they got interested in space law and have studied the subject for the past year and decided to draft a space law for India which has been given to the government.

There is presently international space law at the United Nations - the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty (which the US never signed because it has wanted since the early 1950's to put military bases on the moon and to control it for mining, etc).  Both of those UN treaties say that all outer space bodies are the 'common heritage' of all humankind and that no country, corporation nor individual can claim ownership of them.

Sung-Hee Choi (from Jeju Island, South Korea on the left) spoke about the anti-Navy base struggle and the plans for US deployment of 'missile defense' in Korea

Anyway these three young guys are brilliant and have asked how they could become involved in the Global Network and told me they have ideas for how we can expand our reach to foster global debate on these issues.  So as a first step I asked them to write an article for our next Space Alert! newspaper and share their story.

The three law students from Chennai, India who captured my imagination and heart

Some of the students at the conference have made the case that space development is something that we should embrace (in fact satellites enable GPS, cell phones, cable TV, ATM machines and more) but others have been more skeptical about corporate intentions in space.

An excellent talk by Sai Tajuna the granddaughter of GN board member J. Narayana Rao

Ms. Aruna Kammila, Gitam School of Law Assistant Professor yesterday began her talk with the words "Explore but don't exploit" and went on to make a profound presentation that underscored how we should be skeptical about corporate intentions to control space for their own profits.  This is the very same point I made during my own presentations.  So there as been a rich and vibrant discussion that has made sparks fly at the event.

This is just what the Global Network has always been wanting to create around the world - debate about the kind of 'seed' humanity should carry with us as we inevitably reach into space.  I asked during my opening talk, "Will we carry the bad seed of war, greed, and environmental degradation with us when we leave our planet?"  I told the conference that humans are immature and before we go careening off into space we need a global discussion about what kind of seed we carry with us.  So that debate is happening here in Visakhapatnam and I am confident will be carried across India.

My words during the opening ceremony of the conference

Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao from Nagpur is the guiding light of the event.  He is the one who for the last dozen or so years has been traveling around India speaking to students about space and for the past several years has organized an annual conference in a different city.  The event this year is his crowning achievement and was capped when his own granddaughter rose to make a wonderful speech about the need to continue the work for peace in space at Gitam University where she is a student.

J. Narayana Rao speaking at the conference - he is the father of the growing Indian peace in space movement

Rao is a retired national railroad worker in his 80's who lives on a very humble pension.  For many years before we met him he was quietly receiving Global Network space emails and printing them in a booklet and sharing them across his country.  He has become one of our best advocates and this year it appears that his dream of strong student participation has come true.


Holiday Gathering in Brunswick

Friday, November 18, 2016

Corporate Consolidation

Economist Michael Hudson explains how economic terms like capital gains are deployed to mislead the public about who is benefiting from economic policy and where wealth is going.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Update on Ukraine Situation

Trump's phone call with Putin adds a whole new twist to the Ukraine story.  Will Trump back the US off from its war on Russia's border?  Will Trump stop funding the Ukrainian military operation against their own citizens in eastern Ukraine (Donbass)?

Time will tell on this one but it will be something to keep our eyes on.

I made it to India in one piece.  Spent the night in Delhi and now head south today to the conference.  Have been joined by Dave Webb from the UK who arrived here late last night.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Heading to India for Peace Conference

I am heading today to Visakhapatnam, India for a peace and human development conference that the Global Network is co-sponsoring.  Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao, who lives in Nagpur, India, in recent years has been organizing an annual peace conference in order to introduce Indian students, academics and peace workers to the issues surrounding the militarization of space.

The US has been working hard to bring India into the space warfare program in order to tilt the power in the region away from China.  So as corporate globalization has moved low-paying jobs to India in order to exploit cheap labor, the US has decided to try to push some of that new Indian wealth into the coffers of the military industrial complex by signing up Delhi to help pay for the Pentagon's expensive space program.

India has created a 'Space Command' mimicking the US Space Command even down to duplicating much of the aggressive language in the so-called Vision for 2020 that calls for US 'control and domination' of space.

Along with me at the conference will be other leaders from the Global Network coming from England, Japan, US and South Korea.

Following the conference we will be taken to some other Indian cities in order to speak at local colleges and then we'll make a side trip to the border country of Nepal that sits between India and China.  Rao has been working for some time to develop contact between our organization and activists in Nepal so this trip will be ground breaking of sorts.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Turning the Tide

Mass anti-government protests in South Korea, along with a change of rhetoric by some other US allies in the region, including the Philippines, have upset the apple cart for the US and its Asia pivot.

South Korea: Resign Park Geun-hye!

Gangjeong villagers from Jeju Island carry their distinct 'No Navy Base' flags during protest in Seoul, South Korea on November 12 calling for the resignation of right-wing president Park Geun-Hye.  Up to one million Koreans marched to the compound of the president (Blue House).

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye now has an approval rating of 5%.  Last Saturday reportedly one million citizens marched to the gates of the Blue House demanding her immediate resignation.  The momentum is building across the nation for a change in government.

This was the largest protest South Korea has seen since the democratic uprising of June 1987. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon refused to supply water from the city’s fire hydrants to the police, which had threatened to use water cannons to block protesters.

The US-backed President Park (daughter of former dictator) has been unpopular all along but recent public disclosures that Park allowed her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to access government documents without clearance has created a massive scandal. Ms Choi is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies and is under arrest on charges of fraud and abuse of power. She was detained last week on suspicion of using her friendship with President Park to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.

Washington fears that the resignation of President Park would disrupt the Pentagon's plan to continue major military escalations on the Korean peninsula as part of its 'pivot' of significant portions of US military operations into the Asia-Pacific to encircle China and Russia.

Included in this Pentagon expansion would be the deployment of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense (MD) system.  While the Pentagon maintains that THAAD is aimed at North Korea experts have indicated that its true military mission would be to help intercept Chinese and Russian retaliatory responses after a US first-strike attack.

The residents of the melon farming community of Seongju, where THAAD was first announced to be deployed, have been in daily resistance against the provocative MD system and this issue has galvanized the peace movement throughout South Korea in recent months.  The US has hurriedly announced that they plan to deploy the system sometime in the next eight months but the growing opposition to President Park has complicated this controversial decision.

THAAD is manufactured by Lockheed Martin at a facility in Troy, Alabama while the Army's Missile Defense Directorate is located at the Redstone Arsenal in nearby Huntsville.  THAAD is tested at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

In order to build opposition to any THAAD deployment in South Korea a 'Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific' has been created and groups from around the globe have signed on as endorsers.  The call is for peace groups everywhere to learn more about the role of THAAD and other US MD systems (such as PAC-3 and Navy Aegis destroyer-based SM-3 interceptors) and to build opposition to these destabilizing programs that are being used by the Pentagon to surround China and Russia.  You can see the call and endorsers of the Task Force here.

US MD systems on-board Aegis destroyers will be also ported at the new Navy base on Jeju Island and residents of Gangjeong village are now in their ninth year of daily non-violent resistance against the base.

How a new Trump administration will deal with the Pentagon 'pivot' and deployment of MD systems around the world is unknown.  But the South Korean peace movement is not waiting to find out as they continue to expand their opposition to these US military moves.  The current campaign demanding the resignation of President Park Geun-Hye adds an additional complication for the already over extended US military empire.

Close all US bases overseas!
No MD!
Convert the military industrial complex to peaceful and sustainable production!
Use our resources to deal with climate change and growing poverty!


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Time for Reflection, Unity, Movement & Mobilization

Sunday Song

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Trump's Foreign Policy?

Millions of Americans are tired of being ignored and want radical change.

Regarded as an outsider in his own party – will Trump be able to implement his foreign policy approach? RT asks professor emeritus at Princeton University, contributing editor at The Nation magazine, Stephen Cohen.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

BIW Advent Vigil Schedule

Standing together in hope of peace through a joyous revolution we hold the Advent Vigil for Disarmament at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Maine.
We will stand across from the BIW administration building on Washington Street in Bath from 11:30 am til 12:30 on the four Saturdays of Advent: November 26, December 3, 10 & 17.
We will hold signs calling for the end of the building of weapons of mass destruction by General Dynamics here in Maine.
We stand in opposition to the continued production of the Arleigh Burke class of Aegis Destroyers and the new [highly expensive] Zumwalt Destroyers.  These are guided missile warships that are nuclear capable.
We stand for hope that mandates that the madness of Theatre Missile Defense and other military offensive operations will end.  We stand so the conversion of BIW to peaceful purposes becomes a reality.
If you can, please stand with us as we vigil in hope for peace through disarmament on these four Saturdays anticipating this season of joy!
Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm

The Corporate Media Made Trump

Afshin Rattansi goes underground on the US election results. Author and documentary filmmaker John Pilger tells us what has been revealed by Trump winning the US election, plus what does a Donald Trump presidency mean for the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump: Who Really Knows?

It was a late night at our house.  It would be an understatement to say I was surprised that Trump pulled off a massive victory in the election.  I surely didn't see this coming.

I figured that with the mainstream media support for Clinton and the support from the banksters, the neo-cons, the military industrial complex and the oil companies it was a certainty that Trump would go down to defeat. 

Obviously the white working class is angry and feels betrayed by the elites who run the country.  I heard that half of the union workers in Michigan (traditionally 'loyal' Democrats) voted for Trump.  But normal is gone now.  Many of these voters who picked Trump told the exit polls that they didn't necessarily like him - but they just saw voting for him as the only way to shake things up.  How much patience will they have for Trump in the White House?  That will be an interesting thing to watch.

Trump has named corrupt New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as his transition manager.  Christie is a mobster and the rumors have long tied Trump to the mob.  Clinton is corrupt as well and I see her as a key spokesperson for the corporate mafia.  So this election was really the mob verses the mafia.

Studying the situation in Ukraine during the last couple of years has taught me a lot about how competing criminal oligarchies can control and tear down a nation.  That is basically what I see we had in this election.  There was division among ruling oligarchies here in the US - again the mob verses the mafia.

The Democrats blew their chance for power when they threw Bernie Sanders under the bus during the primary season where the Clinton campaign repeatedly cheated in order to take the nomination.  Those 'loyal' Dems who refused to see the folly of this strategy are now in funeral mourning mode as they witness a damn near complete collapse of their party across the nation as the much hated Clinton ran them into the ground.

Democrats can blame others all they want for this loss but until they face up to the reality that the voters have rejected their corporate dominated Clinton machine their party stands little chance of a real future.

The Trump strategy was to go hard after voters in the 'rust belt' of the nation. Those living in the decaying former industrial heartland that is now virtually jobless had nothing to lose.  Trump promised jobs and strongly opposed the disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA and TPP that the Clinton machine has long endorsed.

The truth is that for eight years the Obama administration did little to help create jobs in devastated regions like the rust belt and in impoverished communities across the country.  He, along with the Republican party, kept the Bush endless war cycle going which drained the treasury of resources that could have been used for rebuilding our nation.  Dems don’t want to talk about this but it is a major reason for the eventual rejection of Clinton who is an avowed war monger.

This was a 'populist' victory. Last night on the right-wing Fox News TV we saw conservatives saying that this was not a victory for the Republican Party but was indeed a 'populist' wave.  The Democrats had a chance to match and beat Trump with the populism coming from Bernie Sanders but after the Clinton machine dispatched the Vermont senator that opportunity was out the window.

This morning we listened closely to some of Trump's words on the radio where he said he wanted to bring the nation together after his divisive 'wrestling match' campaign.  We'll see how that goes.  He also said he wanted to get along with all countries around the world.  During his campaign Trump did repeatedly say he wanted to talk with Russia and he questioned whether the US should be spending so much on NATO.  It will be instructive to see how he handles the war mongers inside the Congress from both the Republican and Democrat parties.

Will Trump continue the major US-NATO mobilization along the Russian border?  Will he continue to build Poland as the key US power projection hub in eastern Europe - just as Israel is the US base of operations in the Middle East and Japan serves that role in the Asia-Pacific?  Will Trump continue to destabilize Ukraine and use it as a bludgeon against Russia?  These are the things to closely watch.

Trump has no real experience as an office holder to prepare him for this task.  He notoriously has a short attention span.  Those who have his ear will be directing US domestic and foreign policy.

We in the progressive community had best spend some time reaching out to allies and building a unified coalition to stand against the coming reactionary wave.  We would be wise not to demonize those who voted for Trump - especially considering that many of them are working class union members who were primarily voting for jobs and against corporate elites.

We need to be offering a positive transformative vision for the future - ending our wars, closing our nearly 1,000 foreign military bases and bringing the troops home to rebuild America with sustainable technologies that help us deal with the coming reality of climate change.

No matter how you might have voted yesterday we should all recognize that we have a common enemy - corrupt corporate elites who don't give a damn about working people in the US or around the world.  This election is a call for everyone to get engaged in order to take our nation back from those on Wall Street who only live for their own power and enrichment.

Will Trump change the spots on his skin and become a real advocate for the working class and the poor (many of whom are his beloved 'veterans')?  Hard to imagine.  But by now we should all know that only when the people get organized can we really protect our own interests against those who wish to rape and pillage our Mother Earth for their private gain.

It's kind of ironic that the biggest issue drawing progressive support across the nation these days is the Native American protests against the oil pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota.  Hopefully we'll all learn something from the people who have been under attack by the Great White Father in Washington for the past couple hundred years.

The indigenous people understand that no politician will bail us out as our compromised nation collapses.  Only a good relationship with our Mother Earth will allow the future generations to survive.