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, June 01, 2019

Fascinating news story...

President Trump issued an executive order imposing a state of emergency in the US because of the 'threat' of Chinese digital technologies and 5G network equipment getting into America.

As a result, the US Department of Commerce blacklisted the Chinese digital giant, the company Huawei, along with its 70 subsidiaries.

This week, the story continued.

Friday, May 31, 2019

U.S. playing with fire in the Balkans

What do you know about the current situation in Kosovo-Serbia? Could be a trigger for war....

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the alarming raids by Kosovo police in a Serb majority region in Kosovo.

The Kremlin has described the actions of the Kosovo police as part of  "provocations" indulged by US.

The police special forces of the unrecognized, self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo put 23 people into custody in the north, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday while addressing the country’s parliament. "The [police special forces’] raid began at 05:55 (06:55 Moscow time), with 73 armored vehicles involved in it, 50 are lying in wait in Kosovska Mitrovica. The arrest of 23 Serbs and Bosniaks has been confirmed. The issue at hand is primarily Kosovo police officers."

Vucic stressed that Serbian troops have been put on full combat alert and that the Serbian people in Kosovo would be protected. "Should the situation escalate, Serbia will emerge victorious," Vucic concluded.

Among those detained is a Russian national who is an employee of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).  Serbia's President noted, "Mikhail Krasnoshchenkov, a Russian citizen and an employee of the UNMIK mission, is among the detainees. We informed the relevant Russian agencies about that."

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Memorial day parade - what is the message?

Video by Peter Woodruff

On Monday morning members of our local peace group (PeaceWorks) and Veterans For Peace (VFP) were in the Memorial Day parade that was about 2 miles long from Topsham to Brunswick.

They close the roads fairly early so Mary Beth and I walked to the starting point in Topsham and then characteristically we all had to wait around for a long time for our spot near the tail end of the parade.

The parade organizers long ago objected to peaceniks being a part of the Memorial Day parade.  It's a parade that essentially and mindlessly glorifies war so our peace message is not popular with the pro-war forces.  One of the leaders of PeaceWorks years ago arranged for her lawyer son to threaten a law suit against the parade that likely would have cost the sponsoring towns alot of money.  So they relented.

We moved to Maine in 2003 and have been in the parade most years since then.  In those days, during the height of the Iraq war, we got alot more people to join us.  Some of them have passed on or just can't walk that far any more.

Like in so many communities across the nation local peace groups are hanging on by a thread.  While once vibrant, things took a real down turn following the election of Barak Obama.  Many liberals, opposing the George W. Bush Iraq war, left the peace movement thinking that Obama would take care of things.  He did that for sure....

I will always remember a Washington Post poll during Obama's administration that asked self-identified liberal Democrats if they 'supported Obama's drone war' in the Middle East.  Over 70% of them said YES.

If that poll had been asked during the Bush years that same 70% of Dems would have 'opposed Bush's war'.  This is how it works.  With many people 'political party' comes first.  Loyalty to the peace movement is ephemeral. Here today and gone tomorrow.  Ride the movement to get back into power and then lock it in the barn and throw away the key.

The same thing is happening to the environmental movement today.  The Dems are riding it since polls show the public is alarmed about climate catastrophe.  But when the Dems in Congress had the chance to pass the 'Green New Deal' with some real teeth in it, the leadership of the party watered it down.  The corporate funders of the Dems don't want any serious action to change industrial America.

Photo by Nancy Randolph (click on photo for a better view)

To hell if our Mother Earth dies - the game is all about whoever has the most toys at the end - wins.  It's America's greatest sickness - consumerism, materialism, capitalism and the aggressive, unforgiving foreign policy that comes out of this destructive system.

So we did our bit in the parade - no signs are allowed - just the flags and banners of the group.  One woman quietly winked to me as we walked past her along the parade route.  Many in the crowds are too timid to show support for peaceniks.  The DNA of America is about war and many people's identities are wrapped around the flag.

We did see some other support - during one long parade stoppage an older woman congratulated VFP and told me she is ashamed of the country.  So in a small way our presence in the parade might give people like her more confidence to speak out.

While walking I thought about the recent 'Victory Day' march in St. Petersburg, Russia that our study tour group joined on May 9.  There it was 1.2 million people in the 'Immortal Regiment' march - no trucks, motorcycles, Baptist churches promoting their version of god, high school marching bands, and retired vets marching in uniforms that showed their aging bulges.

In Russia it was about memory of the 500,000 who died just in St. Petersburg alone during the Nazi invasion and occupation from 1941-1945.  All together across the Soviet Union it was 28 million who died from the war.  It's a public mourning, carrying the photos of their relatives who died or survived the war.  Never again they say.

One old vet and his wife turned their backs on us as we walked by on Monday in Topsham.  He'd likely say the American wars make it possible for us to be in the parade although if he had his way we'd be banned.  It is a parade to underscore America's exceptionalism and domination of the world on behalf of corporate capital.  They call it freedom.  Yes, free to rape, pillage and plunder.

Mary Beth thought the crowds along the parade route were thinner and more subdued than in the past.  Maybe people have grown weary of all the wars and military spending.  Maybe like the woman I met, they are increasingly ashamed.  Maybe they find the parade unimaginative and boring.  Maybe it has no emotional appeal at a time when our government squanders our future on Mother Earth.

Happy memorial day - as they say here in the USA.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Russia Study Tour Report

Friday, June 14

7:00 pm

Curtis Memorial Library

Brunswick, Maine

You are invited to join PeaceWorks for a presentation by Rev. Bill Bliss, Mary Beth Sullivan and Bruce Gagnon on their recent study tour trip to Russia.  From April 25-May 9 they visited Moscow, Crimea and St Petersburg with a group of 24 people that was organized by the Global Network.

The presentation will include many photos from the trip along with stories from the three of them. There will be plenty of time available for questions.

The purpose of the Russia study tour was to listen, learn, and stand against the constant demonization of Russia by the media across the west.  The idea was to build people-to-people bridges between our nations rather than an escalating arms race which could bring us WW III.

During the WW II Nazi invasion of the former Soviet Union 28 million citizens lost their lives from the fascist attacks and occupation of the Soviet Union.  

The memory of that war is deep in the consciousness of the Russian people to this day.

For more information please call 607-4255.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Climate crisis update

Monday, May 27, 2019

Hold your children, America

An Army nurse remembers what she saw in Vietnam on this Memorial Day. 

Letter to the editor
Portland Press Herald
May 27, 2019

Dear America,

Remember me? I was the girl next door.

Remember when I was 13, America, and rode on top of the fire engine in the Memorial Day parade? I’d won an essay contest on what it meant to be a proud American.

And, it was always me, America, the cheerleader, the Girl Scout, who marched in front of the high school band, carrying our flag, the tallest and the proudest.

And remember, America, you gave me the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award for patriotism, when I was only 16.

And then, you sent me to war, America, along with thousands of other men and women who loved you.

It’s Memorial Day, America. Do you hear the flags snapping in the wind? There’s a big sale at Macy’s, and there’s a big parade in Washington for the veterans.

But it’s not the American flag or the sound of drums I hear – I hear a helicopter coming in. I smell the burning of human flesh. It’s Thomas, America, the young black kid from Atlanta, my patient, burned by an exploding gas tank. I remember how his courage kept him alive that day, America, and I clung to his only finger and whispered over and over again how proud you were of him, America – and he died.

And Pham… He was only eight, America, and you sprayed him with napalm and his skin fell off in my hands and he screamed as I tried to comfort him.

And America, what did you do with Robbie, the young kid I sat next to on the plane to Viet Nam? His friends told me a piece of shrapnel ripped through his young heart – he was only 17 – it was his first time away from home. What did you tell his mother and father, America?

Hold us, America …

Hold all your children, America. Allen will never hold anyone again. He left both his arms and legs back there. He left them for you, America.

America, you never told me that I’d have to put so many of your sons, the boys next door, in body bags. You never told me …

Peggy Akers
Vietnam Army Nurse Corps (1970-’71)
Veterans For Peace
Portland, Maine

Making climate catastophe real....

In 2018, the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific, hosted the Melanesian Arts & Cultural Festival, celebrating the country’s fortieth anniversary of independence. On neighboring island states, the struggle for freedom continues, as West Papua resists Indonesian occupation and the residents of New Caledonia still live under French rule.

In all Melanesian countries, residents face the common challenge of climate change, as rising sea levels threaten to swallow both land and tradition. In this charged context, captivating performers are using their talents to celebrate local culture and draw international attention to their islands’ plight, with the hope of spurring international solidarity and prompting collective action against the perils of a warming world.

Featuring striking footage from the South Pacific islands, WANTOKS: Dance of Resilience in Melanesia, profiles the artists and activists who are fighting for self-determination while trying to defend their homes against the rising sea.

The film will premiere in Helsinki, Finland in May 2019.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A great Russian anti-war film

The Cranes Are Flying (1957) - Ending from Clips do Zé on Vimeo.

"The Cranes Are Flying" (Russian: Летят журавли, translit. Letyat zhuravli) is a Soviet film about World War II. It depicts the cruelty of war and the damage suffered to the Soviet psyche as a result of World War II (known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War). 

It was directed at Mosfilm by the Georgian-born Soviet director Mikhail Kalatozov in 1957 and stars Aleksey Batalov and Tatiana Samoilova. 

It won the Palme d'Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, the only Soviet film to win that award. 

This video only shows the dramatic ending of this excellent film but you will understand what it is all about - war is hell.

Sunday song