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: Bath, Maine, 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.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

We have much to learn from Cuba

 


Cuba has one of Latin America's oldest populations, which means more people at risk of COVID-19. 

'Corona Voluntarios Cuba' is a group of young people dedicated to supporting Havana's elderly by delivering food.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Bill Gates' Global Agenda & How We Can Resist His War on Life

 

By Vandana Shiva

In March 2015, Bill Gates showed an image of the coronavirus during a TED Talk and told the audience that it was what the greatest catastrophe of our time would look like. The real threat to life, he said, is "not missiles, but microbes."

When the coronavirus pandemic swept over the earth like a tsunami five years later, he revived the war language, describing the pandemic as "a world war."

"The coronavirus pandemic pits all of humanity against the virus," he said.

In fact, the pandemic is not a war. The pandemic is a consequence of war. A war against life. The mechanical mind connected to the money machine of extraction has created the illusion of humans as separate from nature, and nature as dead, inert raw material to be exploited. But, in fact, we are part of the biome. And we are part of the virome. The biome and the virome are us. When we wage war on the biodiversity of our forests, our farms, and in our guts, we wage war on ourselves.

The health emergency of the coronavirus is inseparable from the health emergency of extinction, the health emergency of biodiversity loss, and the health emergency of the climate crisis. All of these emergencies are rooted in a mechanistic, militaristic, anthropocentric worldview that considers humans separate from—and superior to—other beings. Beings we can own, manipulate, and control. All of these emergencies are rooted in an economic model based on the illusion of limitless growth and limitless greed, which violate planetary boundaries, and destroy the integrity of ecosystems and individual species.

New diseases arise because a globalized, industrialized, inefficient agriculture invades habitats, destroys ecosystems, and manipulates animals, plants, and other organisms with no respect for their integrity or their health. We are linked worldwide through the spread of diseases like the coronavirus because we have invaded the homes of other species, manipulated plants and animals for commercial profits and greed, and cultivated monocultures.

As we clear-cut forests, as we turn farms into industrial monocultures that produce toxic, nutritionally empty commodities, as our diets become degraded through industrial processing with synthetic chemicals and genetic engineering, and as we perpetuate the illusion that earth and life are raw materials to be exploited for profits, we are indeed connecting. But instead of connecting on a continuum of health by protecting biodiversity, integrity, and self-organization of all living beings, including humans, we are connected through disease.

According to the International Labour Organization, "1.6 billion informal economy workers (representing the most vulnerable in the labour market), out of a worldwide total of two billion and a global workforce of 3.3 billion, have suffered massive damage to their capacity to earn a living. This is due to lockdown measures and/or because they work in the hardest-hit sectors." According to the World Food Programme, a quarter of a billion additional people will be pushed to hunger and 300,000 could die every day.

These, too, are pandemics that are killing people. Killing cannot be a prescription for saving lives.

Health is about life and living systems. There is no "life" in the paradigm of health that Bill Gates and his ilk are promoting and imposing on the entire world. Gates has created global alliances to impose top-down analysis and prescriptions for health problems. He gives money to define the problems, and then he uses his influence and money to impose the solutions. And in the process, he gets richer. His "funding" results in an erasure of democracy and biodiversity, of nature and culture. His "philanthropy" is not just philanthrocapitalism. It is philanthroimperialism.

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown have revealed even more clearly how we are being reduced to objects to be controlled, with our bodies and minds as the new colonies to be invaded. Empires create colonies, colonies enclose the commons of the indigenous living communities and turn them into sources of raw material to be extracted for profits. This linear, extractive logic is unable to see the intimate relations that sustain life in the natural world. It is blind to diversity, cycles of renewal, values of giving and sharing, and the power and potential of self-organising and mutuality. It is blind to the waste it creates and to the violence it unleashes. The extended coronavirus lockdown has been a lab experiment for a future without humanity.

On March 26, 2020, at a peak of the coronavirus pandemic and in the midst of the lockdown, Microsoft was granted a patent by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Patent WO 060606 declares that "Human Body Activity associated with a task provided to a user may be used in a mining process of a cryptocurrency system…."

The "body activity" that Microsoft wants to mine includes radiation emitted from the human body, brain activities, body fluid flow, blood flow, organ activity, body movement such as eye movement, facial movement, and muscle movement, as well as any other activities that can be sensed and represented by images, waves, signals, texts, numbers, degrees, or any other information or data.

The patent is an intellectual property claim over our bodies and minds. In colonialism, colonisers assign themselves the right to take the land and resources of indigenous people, extinguish their cultures and sovereignty, and in extreme cases exterminate them. Patent WO 060606 is a declaration by Microsoft that our bodies and minds are its new colonies. We are mines of "raw material"—the data extracted from our bodies. Rather than sovereign, spiritual, conscious, intelligent beings making decisions and choices with wisdom and ethical values about the impacts of our actions on the natural and social world of which we are a part, and to which we are inextricably related, we are "users." A "user" is a consumer without choice in the digital empire.

But that’s not the totality of Gates’ vision. In fact, it is even more sinister—to colonise the minds, bodies, and spirits of our children before they even have the opportunity to understand what freedom and sovereignty look and feel like, beginning with the most vulnerable.

In May 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced a partnership with the Gates Foundation to "reinvent education." Cuomo called Gates a visionary and argued that the pandemic has created "a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’] ideas…all these buildings, all these physical classrooms—why with all the technology you have?"

In fact, Gates has been trying to dismantle the public education system of the United States for two decades. For him students are mines for data. That is why the indicators he promotes are attendance, college enrollment, and scores on a math and reading test, because these can be easily quantified and mined. In reimagining education, children will be monitored through surveillance systems to check if they are attentive while they are forced to take classes remotely, alone at home. The dystopia is one where children never return to schools, do not have a chance to play, do not have friends. It is a world without society, without relationships, without love and friendship.

As I look to the future in a world of Gates and Tech Barons, I see a humanity that is further polarized into large numbers of ‘throw away’ people who have no place in the new Empire. Those who are included in the new Empire will be little more than digital slaves.

Or, we can resist. We can seed another future, deepen our democracies, reclaim our commons, regenerate the earth as living members of a One Earth Family, rich in our diversity and freedom, one in our unity and interconnectedness. It is a healthier future. It is one we must fight for. It is one we must claim.

We stand at a precipice of extinction. Will we allow our humanity as living, conscious, intelligent, autonomous beings to be extinguished by a greed machine that does not know limits and is unable to put a break on its colonisation and destruction? Or will we stop the machine and defend our humanity, freedom, and autonomy to protect life on earth?

The above is excerpted from Vandana Shiva’s book Oneness vs. the 1%: Shattering Illusions, Seeding Freedom (Chelsea Green Publishing, August 2020).

~ Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental thinker and activist, a leader in the International Forum on Globalisation, and of the Slow Food Movement. Director of Navdanya and of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and a tireless crusader for farmers’, peasants’, and women’s rights, she is the author and editor of a score of influential books, among them Making Peace with the Earth; Soil Not Oil; Globalisation’s New Wars; Seed Sovereignty, Food Security: Women in the Vanguard; and Who Really Feeds the World?. Her latest book is Oneness vs the 1% (Chelsea Green Publishing, August 2020).  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Imperial updates

 


  •  Responsible Statecraft reports: Think tanks shape discourse and policy through testimony and media coverage, and employ experts who claim to be unbiased — simply putting forth ideas to win out in the free market. This market, however, is rigged.

It’s well known that Pentagon contractors spend hundreds of millions each year on lobbying, but the other powerful weapon contractors wield to influence U.S. national security priorities — think tanks — is often ignored. A report released from the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative, or FITI, at the Center for International Policy reveals more than $1 billion in defense contractor and U.S. government funds flowing to the top 50 most influential U.S. think tanks from 2014-2019.

It is part of a think tank’s role to recommend policy, and putting ideas forth into debate can be a public good. However, when these ideas are linked to specific defense companies who stand to gain billions of dollars by promoting their systems — and play into the Pentagon’s narrative — think tanks have an obligation to let consumers of their work know if it is funded by those who will profit from their recommendations. Instead, in far too many cases, these funding links are obscured.  

 


Award notices indicate that SpaceX could receive more than $149 million and L3Harris could receive more than $193 million to produce capabilities for the Tracking Layer Program.

Through the broader program, SDA aims to implement a robust architecture made up of multiple layers of nearly 1,000 satellites that can provide unique military insights and capabilities such as spotting hypersonic weapons or potentially deterring potentially aggressive actions in cislunar space, or the area within the Moon’s orbit—by 2026.

  • J Sandy Davies (in Common Dreams)  provides an excellent summary of the violent conflict that has recently broken out between Armenia and Azerbaijan and what should be the stance of the U.S. in seeking peace for the region: 

As for the destructive and destabilizing role the United States habitually plays in the greater Middle East, Americans should beware of any U.S. effort to exploit this conflict for self-serving U.S. ends. That could include fueling the conflict to undermine Armenia’s confidence in its alliance with Russia, to draw Armenia into a more Western, pro-NATO alignment. Or the U.S. could exacerbate and exploit unrest in Iran’s Azeri community as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. 

At any suggestion that the U.S. is exploiting or planning to exploit this conflict for its own ends, Americans should remember the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan whose lives are being lost or destroyed every day that this war rages on, and should condemn and oppose any effort to prolong or worsen their pain and suffering for U.S. geopolitical advantage.

 Instead the U.S. should fully cooperate with its partners in the OSCE’s Minsk Group to support a ceasefire and a lasting and stable negotiated peace that respects the human rights and self-determination of all the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Standing in the rain

 

  • Yesterday Vera King and I were joined by three other volunteers for a two-hour bannering in the steady cold rain along US 1 in Wiscasset at the foot of the bridge just past one of Maine's iconic tourist traps called Red's Eats that has long been owned by a family named Gagnon.  No relation - except in the way distant past.

This is our second visit to this particular spot as US Hwy 1 is one of just a few direct north-south roads in Maine - this one hugs the Atlantic coastline.  So the traffic is always steady - even after summer is gone.  The leaf-peepers are here now visiting from 'away' as folks like to say in Maine.  But in no time flat the leaves will be gone and many of the tourists will be as well.

  • We are frequently hearing these days though that loads of people from big cities like New York and other such places who have the money or relatives in Maine are moving here because of the virus pandemic.  Maine has generally handled the situation well and with only 1.3 million people living here people from out-of-state see this place as a safer bet.
  • The US Senate candidates in Maine will have their third debate on October 15 (Thursday) at 8:00 pm and will be hosted by Maine Public Radio & TV.  Should be as interesting as the past two have been.
  • One of my favorite publications in Maine (called The Mainer, formerly The Bollard) has endorsed Lisa.  You can see it here. The Mainer is a popular monthly arts, cultural, politics magazine that is distributed in the greater Portland area and along the mid-coast where I live.  
  • Campaign donations have been coming in quite strong lately so there is enough money to do some TV, radio and newspaper advertising.  Lisa's donations are not at the level of the $63.6 million the Democrat candidate Sara Gideon has pulled in from many corporate sources. The incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins has received $25.2 million from her corporate donors.  As I like to say, the corporate oligarchies are running two horses in this race.  
  • Lisa is on the outside track with her $170,000 in non-corporate donations - setting a new record for Maine Green Party fundraising during a statewide campaign.  It's enough to get the word out to a public that always complains about big money taking over our elections.  I find it ironic that most Democrats routinely grouse about corporations and the rich buying our elections but in this case their Senate candidate is leading the $$$$$$ pack and the party faithful don't seem to mind a bit.

Such is life in American politics.  

On we go.....

Bruce 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

End the blockade of Cuba

 


Belly of The Beast is a Havana-based project made up of Cubans and foreigners. It is unique in countering parachute journalism and providing stories directly from the island for a Western audience. 

The documentary series, The War on Cuba, gives an inside look on the effects of U.S. sanctions on Cuban people.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The drums are calling ....We need to do something

 

GATHER is the story of the rebuilding of Native food systems. This feature film is an intimate portrait tracing the intentional destruction of Native American foodways and our renaissance and resilience, our inherit right, to reclaim it. 

www.gather.film

Sunday, October 11, 2020

People want to vote for a real person

 

 Portland Press Herald 

Senate candidate Lisa Savage hopes ranked-choice will boost progressive campaign

The teacher and activist from Solon faces a steep challenge from the major party candidates, but is hoping ranked-choice voting will help pave the way for independents.

Read the full article here....  

Below are the last few paragraphs from the story that make the case for Lisa quite well.


“I think a lot of people are in the mode of, ‘We need to get Trump or maybe we need to get Susan Collins out,’ so you have to vote for whoever you think is going to beat them, but with ranked-choice voting that kind of changes everything and I think that’s really exciting,” said Tamara Hunt, a 24-year-old volunteer who wore a “Lisa for Maine” mask as she handed out campaign literature at the farmers market.

A student at the University of Southern Maine, Hunt first met Savage at a candidates’ forum hosted by USM students last spring. She said she was struck by her authenticity and ended up getting a paid internship with Savage’s campaign over the summer. Her partner works at a car dealership “with a lot of Trumpers and Libertarians,” and many of them are also voting for Savage, Hunt said.

“Even though they might not agree with her on some policy, she’s a real person and they want to vote for a real person,” she said.

Sunday Song