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. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, January 05, 2019

StratCom blows it.....

U.S. Strategic Command (or “Stratcom” if you’re trying to make a nuclear-capable arm of the U.S. Defense Department sound cool) has issued an apology for a poorly received New Year’s Eve tweet which has since been deleted.

StratCom is headquartered at Offut AFB in Nebraska and is these days in charge of almost all of the Pentagon's offensive military operations - including the Space Command.

One must question who is running the show these days at StratCom?  Do they think it is cute to threaten to end the world on New Years Day?  Just what are their values anyway?

Talk about a sick arrogant crew there in Nebraska.  You wonder why most of the world hates the United States?  This tweet just might give a clue....

Do you think Twitter will shut down StratCom's account for having violated 'community standards and advocating violence'?  Somehow I doubt it....


Military deception on Jeju Island

South Korean navy on Jeju Island throw trash around at Gangjeong village, in order to later film themselves as responsible community partners cleaning up litter.

This is about the most cynical and reprehensible thing I've ever watched.  If the leaders of South Korea had any sense of justice at all they'd fire the commander of the navy base and shut it down.

The people of Gangjeong village have been non-violently protesting this base (and the destruction of their 500-year old fishing and farming community) for more than 4,250 straight days.

This base (really for American warships and the Pentagon's effort to control China) was built on a lie from the beginning and obviously is being maintained by the same strategy - selling a pack of lies.

This is shameful.


Friday, January 04, 2019

More from the streets of Asheville

 Yemen’s Ministry of Education, based in Sanaa, estimates that the Saudi-led coalition (which includes the U.S.) has destroyed  at  least 3,000 schools and partially damaged 1,300 others. Yemen once boasted 9,517 primary schools and 2,811 high schools.  Today, the  inability to pay teachers and staff combined with the systematic destruction of  Yemen’s civilian infrastructure may lead to the shutdown of the country’s remaining schools.

My friend Ken Jones again reporting during his two-week fast and vigil on the streets of Asheville trying to expand consciousness and concern about the war in Yemen.

I am standing on the corner with my sign and up comes a beautiful young man with sparkling eyes and a bright smile. He is holding pamphlets about Lord Krishna and is working the downtown area to pass the peace to the crowds of tourists.

“So what is going on with Yemen?” he asks. I don’t know a thing about it.”
I start with my usual spiel, citing the genocide facts: 57,000 killed so far from the war, 85,000 children under five years of age starved to death, 14 million at risk of famine (in a country of 28 million, that’s half the population), the largest cholera epidemic in the world. Especially horrific was the bombing of a school bus that killed 40 kids. The UN calls it the worst humanitarian crisis on earth.
“But why is all this happening?” he asks, showing real concern. This is the first time in my vigil that someone has truly wanted to learn about all this and I pause in gratitude.

I try to keep it simple. I say there is a kind of complicated civil war going on between tribal rebels and an illegitimate government and that the “internationally recognized” government is basically a puppet of Saudi Arabia. There is a colonial relationship between rich Saudi Arabia and poor Yemen that goes back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. There is also oil and a pipeline at stake, religious differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims are exploited, and the manufactured pretext of an evil and and expansionist Iran is given as a public rationale.

I say that the U.S. is the force behind the Saudi bombings, supplying weapons, logistical support and intelligence. That this is our war, we keep it going, and we urgently need to end it.

All the while, my friend in Krishna is nodding his head and making the kindest eye contact. He quietly comments, “The world is a place of suffering and we have to seek a spiritual solution. Mine is the love of Krishna.” He tells me it makes him happy that I am here with my message and that my presence exudes light in more ways than one. He thanks me for my explanation. Then off he goes, with no proselytizing, just a loving smile. I feel blessed.

As he continued with his calling, I thought about the healing power of spiritual consciousness. I understand the importance of finding the Great Spirit within ourselves and in the world at large. And also living a life of love and compassion for others. But I also believe that we all need to move beyond our own personal salvation to work on healing the world. We can’t be satisfied with just being happy, we have to care enough for others to work for their happiness as well.

For me, that means political action, in the streets, on the side of the oppressed and the victims of racism, capitalism, militarism, and environmental destruction. Yes, it’s hard to keep a balance between the pain that comes from knowing and caring about all the world’s injustices and my own emotional well-being. But I can’t not look and I can’t not care. Can’t be silent or just go about my own privileged business.

Someone passing by last night asked me, “Why Yemen? Why not all the wars?”

“Right on,” I said. “Yemen is just one among many. But such a terrible one. And so ignored.”
And I thought of the story about the child tossing a beached starfish back into the ocean. An adult comes by and says, “Why are you wasting your energy on that? You can’t save all the starfish in the world.”And the child says, “Yes, but I saved that one.”

Jesus said we have to be like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. Amen.

~ Ken Jones
Asheville, North Carolina

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Kicked out of hotel for being black....

A guest at a DoubleTree Hotel in Portland, Oregon was harassed by staff when he was asked to leave the property after taking a phone call from his mother in the hotel lobby on Saturday night.

Jermaine Massey tells Don Lemon CNN that the incident was "hurtful" and "humiliating".

Due to the publicity two workers at the hotel were fired as they should have been. 

I sent DoubleTree Hotels a message today in protest of the treatment of this clearly innocent black man.  

A dog whistle has been blown in Washington calling forward all racists, bigots and Nazis - letting them know that it is 'acceptable' to practice such ugly behavior in public.

While at the Brunswick library yesterday I ran into a Cuban woman friend who shared with me a story of local people harassing her and saying, 'We speak English in this country' when she was heard speaking Spanish with one of her students.

It appears we are back to the age of the 'Know Nothing Party' in American politics.


Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Fast & vigil in North Carolina

Friend and former Mainer Ken Jones is fasting and vigiling for two weeks in Asheville, North Carolina to protest US complicity in the war in Yemen.  I asked him to share some reflections.  Here is the first installment:

I'm getting ready to head out to my corner now. Here's a quick first take, three short paragraphs. I can stew more if you like...
Standing on a corner of a tourist town during the holidays with a sign that says “No War in Yemen,” I sometimes feel like a Grinch. People are running around with friends and families trying to have a little fun and then there’s this guy shining a light on organized murder in some far away country.

I am fasting as I do this two-week vigil, so I am more in touch with my perceptions and feelings than usual. I see lots of well-dressed white people, briskly walking to the next place, posing for pictures, looking at phones for directions, laughing, and bantering. It all seems like fun, but I can also feel an emptiness. And I think about the starving, sick children in Yemen, and the hell they and their parents are living through.

I think of my vigil as a spiritual practice. I am a medium, bringing one reality to another. I am a witness, a call to conscience, a question mark. I don’t worry about the effects of my being here. I’m just standing for peace, hoping to bring some light into the darkness. Trying not to be a Grinch.

- Ken Jones

Yes, get out of Afghanistan!

There are obviously several key reasons why the US is still in Afghanistan after 18 deadly and expensive years.

Here are a few that immediately come to mind:

  • The heroin crops that have flourished since the US invaded the country after 9-11 are a cash cow for the CIA-directed international drug trade.
  • The enormous profits made by the weapons industry from endless war.
  • Afghanistan borders Iran (as does Iraq) which means the Iranian nation is essentially surrounded as US-NATO pursues regime change there.
  • Afghanistan's proximity to Russia which is of course also on Washington's regime change list.  From that location the US-NATO can create much chaos on Moscow's southern borders.
  • The huge deposits of precious minerals in Afghanistan as explained in the video above.
  • There are vast fossil fuel resources in the Caspian Sea region and thus US control of the area could be easier by having military bases in Afghanistan. Zbigniew Brzezinski (Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor who got the US into Afghanistan as an anti-Soviet strategy) first wrote about the plan for US domination of Central Asia in his book The Grand Chessborad: American  Primacy and Its - Geostrategic  Imperatives. Brzezinski said that the US must have permanent military bases to control the fossil fuels available in the region. But Brzezinski suggested, US taxpayers would never allow such an expensive military commitment without a Pearl Harbor like incident that captured the imagination of the citizens.  The Bush II-era neocon Project for a New American Century also used the same phrase (Pearl Harbor like event) in their foreign policy designs.  This indicated bi-partisan support for the rolling of the dice by Mr. Big to go for the global oil pot of gold in Central Asia.  I've never believed the official story about 9-11 because of this evidence.  9-11 was a US, Israeli and Saudi Arabia staged attack to create fear and justify this provocative strategy - 'full spectrum dominance'. Washington also knew this could mean war with Russia.
  • With US forces permanently stationed in Afghanistan the US has more leverage over what is happening in Pakistan, India, and China.

I must acknowledge that I do support Trump's call for getting out of Syria and cutting US troop levels in Afghanistan.  I am not so sure he really means it but one can hope.

We must increase our demands for US out of Afghanistan!

We must also demand No War with Russia!


Tuesday, January 01, 2019

House is officially sold

Mary Beth, Karen and I outside of the Addams-Melman House in Bath some years ago

MB and I finished up the last of our work to move out of the house in Bath on Sunday.  It's been a daily process for at least the past month.  Going from a 15-room house (where we lived with friend Karen and others for the past 12 years) to a small apartment will be a big change for us.

The movers came on Saturday in the snow (which turned to rain) and they expertly stuffed our worldly possessions into a 10 X 10 foot UHAUL storage container in Brunswick.

We are presently staying with a friend in Brunswick until the renovations on our rental apartment are complete - hopefully soon.  The new place is an old farmhouse which was added onto in typical Maine style over the years as the original family grew in size.  Now the farmhouse has several apartments in it with ours being on the 2nd floor.  The landlady, who we like alot, is having the bathroom and kitchen redone after discovering a bad leak in the plumbing.  So we wait for the work to get finished before we move in.

We signed the final house sale papers on New Year's eve and the new owner, a young mother with a young son, handed us gifts.  She had previously brought a lovely card to our house saying that she will try to carry on the spirit of the Addams-Melman House (AMH).  The woman had been living in an off-the-grid house in northern Vermont woods with her son but wanted him to be exposed to more people as he grew up.  So lucky for us she landed in Bath.

She was the first of five people who came to look at the house soon after we put it up for sale.  She has a day care provider license and is considering doing home child care from the house - exactly what was happening before we bought it 12 years ago.  So she has a vision and we are happy that it all worked out for everyone.

I already asked her if she'd mind if I came over in the spring and helped stack firewood.  She kindly said yes.  I will miss all things connected to the wood and the fireplace.

Knowing how much I will miss the two wood stoves in our (now former) house MB found an 11-hour video on the Internet of a crackling fire that I can watch online when I feel the need.

It's an end of an era but the heart of the AMH will live on in all of us.

Our phone number will be changing but we won't know the new number until we move into the apartment.


Monday, December 31, 2018

Will Griffin is so talented

Will Griffin (The Peace Report) liked my post below and made this short video.  He is so amazing.

We are lucky to have him on the board of the Global Network helping us expand our reach on social media.

Will is an Iraq and Afghanistan war vet who is turning his outrage from those experiences into positive transformative action.

Best to you Will always.


New Year's resolution....

Parents and grandparents could explain to the children:

  • I'm sorry I had to play tennis when there were protests.
  • I don't like to get involved in controversial politics.
  • You can't beat city hall - why bother?
  • I might lose my job if I got involved with those groups.
  • I might get my name on some FBI list if I went to those meetings.
  • What would my friends and family think of me if I worked with people like you?
  • I've got better things to do with my money than donate to one of those causes.
  • We are all going to die anyway so why bother?
  • Don't worry - be happy.
  • I'm not that smart and those in government seem to know what they are doing anyway.
  • I heard on NPR that everything was going to be OK.
  • Think of all the jobs we get from these industries. You people just want to shut everything down!
  • I wanted to help but had to put three kids through college.
  • My spouse threatened to leave me if I went to one of those meetings.
  • These things didn't directly impact me or my family.
  •  I'm sorry but I am a capitalist and support this system.  Look what it has done for me.  This system is about freedom first and foremost.
  • Should we all just live in caves?
  • I read the New York Times every day so I know what is going on.

In one way or the other I've heard just about all of these excuses during my time as a full-time social justice, peace and environmental organizer - since 1978.

Most people find one or more reasons from the list above to justify spending their lives in denial of apparent reality.  The techno world and capitalism have transformed many people into automatons.  It's very sad but a fact of our time.

The goal would be that people would rediscover their spiritual connection to our Mother Earth and one another before it is too late.

It might be a bit romantic on my part but I often think about all those in my long family lineage who got our relations through the ice ages, droughts, famines, plagues, wars and the like. Now during this moment on Earth some are giving up the ghost.  I can't understand why anyone would surrender when our #1 job as a human being is to protect our children and the planet - both are the future.

It's a broken spiritual connection that we all suffer from that keeps us locked in our prison.

Best wishes in the New Year.  


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday song