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 27, 2020

Beautiful gesture of solidarity

Artist cleans up the painting after someone put a big X over the beautiful painting of George Floyd.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Bob Dale Presente!

Bob Dale, in the black VFP vest, was loved by all across Maine

Earlier this week our dear friend, and mentor to many, Bob Dale calmly passed away at 95 years old after a long and fulfilling life.

Bob was known in Maine as a dedicated member of Veterans For Peace and the Maine Green party.  For many years he lived on a small island in the Midcoast along with his wife Jean.  They had to haul their food in on foot - they had no electric - only solar and wood fired heat and cooking.

Earlier in his life Bob was a Navy pilot just after WW II and often told the story how he was assigned to fly a nuclear bomber over China on a regular basis.  He was given one Chinese city as his target and each mission was to fly over the city and wait for the order to release his atomic payload.  Fortunately the order never came.

Bob went on to became known for flying Navy and exploratory personnel in and out of Antarctica and he became an expert on the region.

Bob and his wife Jean traveled the word several times visiting places like Africa, Russia and beyond.  In each place they went they were true ambassadors for peace.

Bob was arrested with us at Bath Iron Works just a couple years ago - helping to call for the conversion of the shipyard to help deal with our real problem today - climate crisis.

Some years ago Bob and Jean moved off the island where they were living into downtown Brunswick.  They became known for walking virtually everywhere - only using their car in the later years when walking became a problem.  They've inspired Mary Beth and me to walk as much in town as possible and we always say we are carrying on the tradition of Bob and Jean.

I am sad about his passing.  Fortunately a month or so ago I went for a walk to his house and spent some time with him on his back porch talking.  He always made everyone feel so welcome and loved - in the days before the virus Bob would always greet us with a big hug and a smile.

His passing was on his own terms - he was administered a drug that put him to sleep.  In bed next to him was his devoted wife Jean and his daughter.



Thursday, June 25, 2020

Zoom meeting with Maine Poor People's Campaign

Last night I was invited to join the Maine Poor People's Campaign meeting about connecting the dots between US foreign militarization, domestic militarization and poverty.

They were very clear that they needed to branch out and work more directly with the peace movement (as well as other movements) if any of us hoped to be successful in dealing with police violence, growing poverty and climate crisis.
I look forward to further connection with the PPC.

Masters of Space: Deep Space Strategy in the Age of Trump

By Karl Grossman

The United States “must be capable of winning wars that extend into space,” asserts a just-released “Defense Space Strategy” report. It is the first space strategy document issued by the U.S. since President Donald Trump, after declaring that the U.S. must achieve “dominance in space,” signed a measure this past December authorizing establishment of a Space Force.

The U.S. space strategy is highly aggressive.

“The Department of Defense is embarking on the most significant transformation in the history of the U.S. national security space program,” the report says. “Space is now a distinct warfighting domain, demanding enterprise-wide-changes to polices, strategies, operations, investments, capabilities, and expertise for a new strategic environment.”

“The Department,” it continues, “is taking innovative and bold actions to ensure space superiority and to secure the Nation’s vital interests in space now and in the future. Establishing the U.S. Space Force as the newest branch of our Armed force and the U.S. Space Command as a unified combatant command, as well as undertaking significant space acquisition reform across the DoD, has set a strategic path to expand space power for the Nation. It is a path that embraces space as a unique domain of national military power that, together with the other domains, underpins multi-domain joint and combined military operations to advance national security.”

A rationale for the strategy is the claim in the report that “China and Russia each have weaponized space as a means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness and challenge our freedom of operation in space.”

However, China and Russia, for decades now, have sought to expand the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, put together by the U.S., the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union and now signed on to by most nations on Earth, declaring space a global commons to be used for “peaceful purposes” and outlawing weapons of mass destruction in space. China and Russia along with U.S. neighbor Canada have been seeking to widen that to ban all weapons in space under a Prevention of an Arms Race in Space (PAROS) treaty. But the U.S. has voted no to the proposed PAROS treaty, affectively vetoing its enactment at the United Nations.

The new U.S. Defense Space Strategy is “aggressive,” said the Russian foreign ministry in a statement following the report’s release on June 17th. “This document confirms the aggressive course by Washington in the space sphere,” it said.

“Space is seen by the U.S. side as an arena of war,” it continued, calling this a “destructive” approach which “provokes an arms race in space.”

“Russia holds the diametrically opposing position, giving priority to using and study space only for peaceful purposes,” said the Russian foreign ministry statement.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space  commented that “this ‘new’ Pentagon Space Strategy is really nothing new. At least since the 1997 U.S. Space Command’s ‘Vision for 2020’ report, Washington has been declaring that it will ‘control and dominate space’ and ‘deny other nations access to space.’ The big difference is that in 1997 there were actually no real competitors to U.S. in space as the former Soviet Union had recently collapsed and China had not fully grown into the economic and military rival it is today.”

As for the PAROS treaty, “the idea” has been “to close the door to the barn before the horse gets out.” But the U.S. during “both Republican and Democrat administrations” have taken the position: “There are no weapons in space—we don’t need a new treaty.”

“Of course, this is disingenuous and this blocking posture is largely motivated by the aerospace industry which views space as a vast new market for profit,” said Gagnon. “The nuclear industry similarly views space as we see the current drive to ‘privatize’ space so wealthy resource extraction corporations can ‘mine the sky.’ They are planning nuclear-powered mining colonies on celestial bodies and nuclear-powered rocket engines providing heavy lift capability to get to Mars and beyond.”

He said, “The aerospace industry has long maintained that an arms race in space, ‘Star Wars,’ would be the largest industrial project in human history. Some years back the aerospace publication, ‘Space News,’ ran an editorial stating that the industry needed to come up with a ‘dedicated funding source’ to pay for all its desired projects in space.” It said, Gagnon related, that the aerospace corporations were “sending their vast team of lobbyists to Washington to defund the ‘entitlement programs’ that officially are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what is left of the social safety net.  The industry is like a pirate—grabbing the national treasure chest so they can be the ‘Masters of Space.’”

“So what are Russia and China to do? We know that whomever controls space will control the planet below and also be able to control the pathway on and off the planet. Moscow and Beijing have requested new treaties, asked for stability, and warned that they cannot allow the US to ‘control and dominate’ space,” said Gagnon. “So today we hear the Pentagon screaming that Russia and China are now trying to dominate space and that the Pentagon needs even more of our tax dollars to ‘defend’ the heavens from these ‘existential enemies.’ The plan is in motion, the U.S. is leading the pack to weaponize space, and ever so ‘innocently’ accuses its primary competitors of doing what Washington itself is doing. Thus, we are on the edge of a cliff and the aerospace industry is pushing the whole planet into a chaotic abyss.”

To challenge this, “to beat this insane and provocative plan,” said Gagnon, “we must starve the beast. We can do that by fighting for social progress—programs like health care for all and funding to deal with our real problem today called climate crisis.”

The “Defense Space Strategy” report also declares: “Great power competition defines the strategic environment. Space is both a source of and conduit for national power, prosperity, and prestige. As a result, space is a domain that has reemerged as a central arena of great power competition, primarily with China and Russia. More than any other nation, the United States relies on space-based capabilities to project and employ power on a global scale. Today, U.S. reliance on space has increased to the point where space capabilities not only enhance, but enable our way of life and war of war.”

It says: “The creation of new space-focused organizations in DoD offers an historic opportunity to reform every aspect of our defense space enterprise. The USSF [U.S. Space Force], the newest branch of the Armed Forces, will bring unity, focus, and advocacy to organizing, training, and equipping space forces.”

Under a heading “Strategic Approach,” the report says the Pentagon will “pursue the following prioritized lines of effort….1) Build a comprehensive military advantage in space. 2) Integrate military spacepower into national, joint, and combined operations. 3) Shape the strategic environment. 4) Cooperate with allies, partners, industry, and other U.S. Government departments and agencies.”

“Specific objectives,” the report continues, “include: Build out the U.S. Space Force. Develop and document doctrinal foundations of military spacepower. Develop and expand warfighting expertise and culture.”

In its “Conclusion,” the report says: “Successful implementation of this strategy requires embracing space activities as a unique source of national and military power and incorporating the principles of joint warfare into space operations.”

~ Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Bannering Downeast Maine

Rob Shetterly and Dud Hendrick on the Union River bridge in Ellsworth on Sunday. We got a pretty good response considering most folks still are just learning about Lisa Savage's campaign.

Akemi Wray, Connie Jenkins and I on the other side of the bridge in Ellsworth. 

Russell Wray, Adam Thiesen, me, and Dud in downtown Bangor

Me, Meredith Bruskin and Dud in downtown Belfast reaching out to voters

On Sunday I joined other volunteers from the Lisa for Maine campaign bannering on the bridge over the Union River in Ellsworth, Maine.  We were there for an hour at noon and then moved to the busy highway intersection that leads to Bar Harbor.  We were introducing the public to Lisa Savage.

The next day a couple of us did the same thing in Blue Hill for an hour in the morning and then moved to two spots in Bangor during mid-day.

Then yesterday three of us did 90 minutes in downtown Belfast.

We found that people were open to Lisa as November's election will be a Ranked Choice Voting contest so folks can vote their real favorites without fear of 'spoiling' the election.  It's a very liberating deal.

Volunteers will keep doing this across Maine in the coming months.  I'm certain the process will help the voters begin to learn more about Lisa Savage.

One Lisa supporter in Biddeford has hung one of these banners on her barn which faces a primary road in that town.  It was her initiative that got this banner effort going.

While the leading Republican and Democrat candidates for the US Senate seat in Maine have each raised tens of millions of dollars (largely from corporate sources) so far Lisa has raised about $75,000.  The presumptive Republican and Democrat are each trading attacks ads on TV and on social media and the public is already getting tired of hearing it.

So Lisa must find another way to reach the public.  This bannering process is just one way - using volunteers in order to reach the people.

Lisa is running on the ballot as an Independent - and there are more registered Independents in Maine than Republicans or Democrats.

See the coverage in the local paper we got in Belfast here

On it goes......


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Who writes the stories we read?

Monday, June 22, 2020

Solidarity with striking BIW workers!

Independent candidate for US Senate in Maine (Ranked Choice Voting election) Lisa Savage wrote early this  morning:

I was at Bath Iron Works this morning to show solidarity with workers from BIW's biggest union, S6, who voted 87 percent to strike for a fair contract. BIW is owned by General Dynamics whose CEO made $17,828,591 in 2019. Think they can afford to take care of the workers, too?

As a former teachers union negotiator, I say give BIW workers a fair contract now!

Solidarity forever, for the union makes us strong!

See Lisa's media statement on the strike here.

Standing up to racism in conservative western Maine

When Travis Verrill and Jason Gordon saw signs in a resident's window in Norway, Maine that were racist, they talked to the man and asked him to take them down. He did, and their video afterward caught the attention of two million people online. 
See news article here

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Wedding day photos

Our two legal witnesses - Rosie Paul (left) and Marian Stanton (right).  All the photos except this one are by Marian, MB's life long friend from Boston-area

Cheering the wedding watchers on Zoom - Rev. Bill Bliss on the right did the service.  He is a long-time friend and co-pastor of the church MB attends

Some of the folks on the call

After being together for the past 20 years Mary Beth Sullivan (MB) and I decided it was time to get married. Due to the virus pandemic we had to do the wedding yesterday on Zoom.

My son Julian and his wife Emily were on (at 2:00 am their time) from Taipei, Taiwan.  Friends from England, Crimea and Malaysia were also on the call in addition to many family and friends from all over the country.

There were a few technical issues as you can imagine with more than 65 different callers trying to get onto Zoom but we muddled our way through it all.

We are grateful to our dear friend, Rev. Bill Bliss who is co-pastor of the Neighborhood UCC church in Bath.  He did a great job.  And we thank MB's lifelong friend Marian for the great photos.

It was a wonderful time for us as we loved seeing so many dear ones again after such a long time of  'social distancing'.

Our next step is a return to Bath, Maine after we sign the papers to purchase a house in that nearby city on June 30.  There are some things that need to be done to the house before we can move in though - it's a 100 year old house that needs a new furnace and changes to some wiring and a bit of paint - move in date for us is July 17.

Thanks to all for the love and warm wishes.


Sunday song