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, December 12, 2020

John Kerry’s 'Think Tank' calls for War with Russia over Arctic Control

 


By Alan Macleod

Recently-appointed Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry has announced his intention of dealing with the pressing issue of global warming as a national security concern. “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” the 76-year-old former Secretary of State wrote. “I am proud to partner with the President-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis.”

The announcement drew praise from many professional climate activists and groups, perhaps assuming that Kerry was taking his lead from Bernie Sanders, who has for years been saying the same thing. Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement, Varshini Prakash said his statement was an “encouraging move,” while 350.org’s Bill McKibben, predicted Kerry would be an excellent climate czar. Yet, as media critic Adam Johnson argued, Kerry’s proclamation should deeply concern progressive activists and will likely lead to expanding the already bloated military budget.

Kerry is a founding member of the Washington think tank, the American Security Project (ASP), whose board is a who’s who of retired generals, admirals and senators. The ASP also hailed the appointment of their man, explaining, in a little-read report, exactly what treating the climate as a national security threat entails. And it is nothing like what Sanders advocates.

For the ASP, climate change constitutes an “accelerant of instability” and a “threat multiplier” that will “affect the operating environment,” and notes that Kerry will have three priorities in his role as President Biden’s right-hand man. What were those three priorities? Making sure people in the Global South could eat and have access to safe drinking water? Reparations? Disaster relief or response teams? Cutting back on fossil fuel use? Indeed not. For the ASP, the primary objectives were:

  •     A huge rebuilding of the United States’ military bases,
  •     Countering China in the Pacific,
  •     Preparing for a war with Russia in the newly-melted Arctic.


The ASP notes that rising sea levels will neutralize or destroy dozens of American naval bases around the world, including the world’s largest such base in Norfolk, VA. The ASP recommends “prioritizing the measures that can protect readiness” of the military to strike at any time, also warning that rising sea levels will hurt the combat readiness of the Marine Expeditionary Force. Thus, a rebuilding of the U.S.’ worldwide network of military bases is in order.

The report notes that the nations most immediately affected by climate change are South Pacific island chains like Vanuatu or the Marshall Islands, claiming that these countries are “strategically important in the contest between the U.S. and China.” It recommends that the U.S. must use all tools available to remain in control of those islands, claiming that China is “showering cash” on them, building seawalls, ports, and clean energy stations that are a threat to U.S. dominance of the region.


 

The ASP also notes that the Arctic is the fastest-warming area of the world, and envisions a pitched battle with Russia to control the area, which is increasingly open to maritime traffic thanks to melting Arctic ice. “NATO faces a severe military challenge in the European Arctic area of operation,” it writes, advocating that, “the U.S. military should actively participate in Arctic joint exercises, and publicize U.S. military deployments to the region, with particular focus on the Russian border – perhaps by returning the U.S. Marine deployment to Norway.” “There is no time to waste,” it concludes, insisting that, “the region needs a concerted diplomatic, security, and economic push from the U.S. government.”

What will the designation of the climate crisis as a “national security threat” entail domestically? Last year, the ASP wrote that “Given that climate change will force more families to migrate, funding for border security should include improving facilities for holding and transporting migrants.” In other words, an expansion of the militarized border and network of detention centers, often condemned as “concentration camps.”

Michelle Flournoy, tipped by many for a top job in Biden’s team, also argued that the military as part of the solution to climate change, suggesting it could be turned into a force for environmentalism. Yet there is little chance of this happening. The Pentagon is the largest single polluter in the world, and the U.S. has historically insisted on exempting the military from any climate treaties. Just one B-52 bomber consumes as much fuel in an hour as an average car driver uses in seven years. As the Institute for Policy Studies wrote, “militarism and climate justice are fundamentally at odds” while “climate change and border militarization are inextricably linked.”

While many activists may have taken heart at Kerry’s tough words, it is doubtful whether occupying Norway or expanding the network of ICE camps was exactly what they had in mind when they said they wanted the government to act on climate change. 


~ Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Former CIA officer Phillip Agee - a true patriot & friend

 

 

I first came to know former CIA case officer Phillip Agee in the spring of 1991 when I organized a speaking event for him at a church in Orlando, Florida while I was coordinating the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice.  (I even found the link to the article advertising that event in the Orlando Sentinel - see it here.) Agee's talk was attended by a couple hundred people who came from across the state to hear his controversial reporting on the illegal and immoral deeds of the CIA.

Agee joined the CIA in 1957, and over the following decade had postings in Washington DC, Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico. After resigning from the Agency in 1968, he became a leading opponent of CIA practices. Long before the Internet and WikiLeaks, Agee used mainstream and alternative media to disclose Washington's corrupt dealings with Latin American and Caribbean military dictatorships. 

His first book 'Inside the Company' identified 250 CIA officers and agents. While written as a diary, it is actually a reconstruction of events based on Agee’s memory and his subsequent research. 

Inside the Company was published in 1975 in Britain, while Agee was living in London. In an issue of Playboy magazine after the book's publication, he said, "Millions of people all over the world had been killed or at least had their lives destroyed by the CIA ... I couldn't just sit by and do nothing."

Agee stated that President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica, President Luis Echeverría Álvarez (1970–1976) of Mexico and President Alfonso López Michelsen (1974–1978) of Colombia were CIA collaborators or agents. 

Agee was a co-founder of CovertAction Magazine which began publishing in 1978 as a newsletter, then called Covert Action Information Bulletin and later as CovertAction Quarterly. The magazine developed a following not as a conspiracy-theory-related publication, but as a source for reliable, consistent, and accurate investigative reporting.

I can't recall how I first came in contact with Agee but because he was from Tampa, Florida somehow I was able to invite him to speak in 1991.  After that event he told me he had a sister who lived very close to my office in Orlando and suggested I try to get her involved in my work.  So she became a regular volunteer in my office and once organized a classical music fundraiser for the Florida Coalition at her home along with a couple other excellent musicians.

 

Agee, as he vividly described in his remarkable book On the Run, was chased out of country after country following Washington's revocation of his US passport.  He eventually got passports from governments of Nicaragua and the Caribbean island of Grenada and in 1990 won one from Germany after a harrowing journey to get into that nation.

In 1995 I was going on a speaking tour of Germany to promote our opposition to the planned 1997 launch of NASA's Cassini space probe that was to carry 72 pounds of deadly plutonium-238 on-board.  Agee's sister suggested I make a tour stop in Hamburg where Phil was then living and she contacted him to make arrangements.   

I arrived in Hamburg and was welcomed by a friendly and kind Phil who quickly put me to work helping him and his wife fix up an apartment they appeared to be renting out.  Over the course of my two-day stay with him he took me for a walking tour of Hamburg and to an Italian restaurant for a meal that I'll never forget - one of the best spaghetti sauces I've ever had. When I left Hamburg he gave me a signed copy of On the Run.

For someone who was so infamous, and who had so many incredible experiences while running afoul of corporate-dominated governments around the world, I found Phil to be as genuine and humble as anyone I'd ever met.  I surely learned much during my visit with him.

I am now re-reading On the Run which is full of important lessons for anyone who presumes to understand and wishes to organize against our out-of-control capitalist government. It's written much like a mystery and the stories of his escape from one country to the next are certainly a late-night page turner.

In his later years Phil moved to Cuba where he created a travel company in order to help bring people to pick the  'forbidden fruit'.  He died in Cuba in 2008.

I'll always cherish the memory of Phillip Agee - I wish more people knew of him - his was the life of a real patriot who risked everything for truth, freedom and true democracy for all people.

Bruce


 

Externalizing our problems.....

 

Pulitzer-winning journalist Chris Hedges weighs in on the “ludicrous” finger-pointing as Republican leaders seek to blame President Trump’s failure to secure re-election on anyone but themselves and their candidate. 

He points out that this is a page from the Democrats' response to their loss in 2016. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

War$, war$ everywhere and not enough money to go around.....

 



  • Glenn Greenwald writes: Joe Biden’s pick to be the next Secretary of Defense is recently retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, III. The choice of Gen. Austin further erodes the once-sacred American norm that military officials will be barred from exercising control over the Pentagon until substantial time has passed after leaving active-duty military service.

Before Gen. Austin can be confirmed, Biden will need a special waiver from Congress under the National Security Act of 1947. That law, a cornerstone of the post-World War II national security state, provides that “a person who has within ten years been on active duty as a commissioned officer in a Regular component of the armed services shall not be eligible for appointment as Secretary of Defense.” Enactment of the law after the war, explained the Congressional Research Service, was imperative to “preserve the principle of civilian control of the military at a time when the United States was departing from its century-and-a-half long tradition of a small standing military.” A 2008 law reduced that waiting period to seven years, but Gen. Austin, who retired from the U.S. Army only four years ago, in 2016, still falls well within its prohibition. 

Biden’s choice to lead the Pentagon is also currently a member of the Board of Directors of Raytheon Technologies, the world’s third-largest defense contractor. That means that upon Austin’s confirmation, Raytheon will have a very good friend in charge of the bloated $750 billion annual U.S. defense budget.

  • The Pentagon's once limitless ability to raid the national treasure chest for its endless appetite for more wars and weapons is hitting the wall - especially during the virus pandemic. As working class and poor people are set adrift by Washington and Wall Street the cries for bailout for the people are growing like a massive chorus line.  

Evidence of current Pentagon budget problems centers around a Trump decision to unveil a 30-year shipbuilding blueprint calling for one less big-deck carrier but dozens more warships than previous fleet plans — a course critics say is unaffordable and would lead to massive cuts to the Air Force and Army.

Military officials are sounding alarm bells, warning that the plan could undermine the Pentagon’s efforts to keep ahead of 'technological advancements' by China and Russia.

Plans call for a framework that prioritizes not only shipbuilding, but also “tactical aircraft modernization, long range fires and hypersonics, missile defense, and space capabilities.” 

The problem is that the US treasury, already in massive debt, just can't afford it all anymore. Unless, of course, they just keep printing $$$$$ or completely get rid of Social Security, Medicare and what other little 'social safety net' is left.

  • Jonathan Cook writes: There is a reason that, as we rush lemming-like towards the cliff-edge, urged on by a capitalism that cannot operate at the level of sustainability or even of sanity, the push towards intensified war grows. Wars are the lifeblood of the corporate empire headquartered in the United States.

Whether public or covert, wars provide an opportunity to remake poorly defended, resistant societies – such as Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria – in ways that allow for resources to be seized, markets to be expanded and the reach of the corporate elite to be extended.

War is the ultimate growth industry, limited only by our ability to be persuaded of new enemies and new threats. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Never before had a steel framed building collapsed due to fire....

 

AE911Truth is thrilled to announce today’s release of the much-anticipated documentary SEVEN on multiple streaming platforms, including Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, and Microsoft.

This 45-minute film, directed by Dylan Avery and narrated by beloved actor Ed Asner, tells the story of World Trade Center Building 7 — from its jaw-dropping “collapse” on 9/11 to the government’s blatant cover-up to the intrepid study by Dr. Leroy Hulsey and his Ph.D. students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Thanks to donations from hundreds of supporters, a five-minute version of SEVEN aired 835 times during the summer and into the fall on 127 PBS stations across the country, reaching an estimated 4.1 million viewers.

The feature-length version of SEVEN is now set to be seen by millions more as it becomes available for purchase on multiple platforms — and later for free on Amazon Prime. Meanwhile, distributor 1091 Pictures is working to get the film on Netflix or Hulu, where subscribers will be able to watch it for free. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Remembering John Lennon

 


Today is the day 40 years ago when John Lennon was shot outside his home in New York City.  It is important for me to remember him for several reasons - one being his strong anti-war work and music during the Vietnam war.

Another reason is more personal.  My son was born just 5 days after Lennon's death and we named him Julian after John's son.

So each year since 1980 at this time I tend to recall John with a special fondness.

When I published the first-edition of my book in 2005 (2nd edition was 2008) I was struggling to come up with a name for it.  Early one morning I had to drive to the airport for an organizing trip and soon after starting from home I was thinking about the book title.  I had the radio on and right at that moment the Beatles song 'Come Together' came on and I knew right away that would be the book title.   I went with 'Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire'.

As it turns out I've also tried to keep up with the life of Julian Lennon over the years.  I am really impressed with the loving and kind person he has become.  So it is with great affection that I remember John & Julian Lennon on this day as well as Julian Gagnon who I of course love and adore as well.

Bruce 

Up to our eyeballs in bio-warfare

 

 

Francis Boyle says that COVID-19 is an offensive bioweapon. Boyle is an American human rights lawyer and professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law.

Boyle, who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act prohibiting U.S. development of biological warfare agents, explains how for decades the U.S. government and laboratories around the country have circumvented the law to illegally develop bioweapons; how Covid-19 was developed; and why the hastily produced vaccines will be illegal and most likely deadly.  


 See this amazing article in Vanity Fair about the vaccine production process at one laboratory.  The article is entitled The COVID Vaccines Are Approaching. Is the FDA Ready to Inspect the Plants Where They’re Made?: The agency’s Team Biologics inspects the facilities that make vaccines and blood products for U.S. patients. One whistleblower—and other insiders—paints a troubling picture of the daunting challenges the elite unit, made up of just 14 investigators, has faced in recent years. 

Click for the article here.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Here’s our future: hackers or slaves

 

No Escape From Our Techno-Feudal World

By Pepe Escobar 

 

The political economy of the Digital Age remains virtually terra incognita. In Techno-Feudalism , published three months ago in France (no English translation yet), Cedric Durand, an economist at the Sorbonne, provides a crucial, global public service as he sifts through the new Matrix that controls all our lives.

Durand places the Digital Age in the larger context of the historical evolution of capitalism to show how the Washington consensus ended up metastasized into the Silicon Valley consensus. In a delightful twist, he brands the new grove as the “Californian ideology”.

We’re far away from Jefferson Airplane and the Beach Boys; it’s more like Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” on steroids, complete with IMF-style “structural reforms” emphasizing “flexibilization” of work and outright marketization/financialization of everyday life.

The Digital Age was crucially associated with right-wing ideology from the very start. The incubation was provided by the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF), active from 1993 to 2010 and conveniently funded, among others, by Microsoft, At&T, Disney, Sony, Oracle, Google, and Yahoo.

In 1994, PFF held a ground-breaking conference in Atlanta that eventually led to a seminal Magna Carta: literally, Cyberspace and the American Dream: a Magna Carta for the Knowledge Era, published in 1996, during the first Clinton term.

Not by accident the magazine Wired was founded, just like PFF, in 1993, instantly becoming the house organ of the “Californian ideology”.

Among the authors of the Magna Carta we find futurist Alvin “Future Shock” Toffler and Reagan’s former scientific counselor George Keyworth. Before anyone else, they were already conceptualizing how “cyberspace is a bioelectronic environment which is literally universal”. Their Magna Carta was the privileged road map to explore the new frontier.

Those Randian heroes

Also not by accident the intellectual guru of the new frontier was Ayn Rand and her quite primitive dichotomy between “pioneers” and the mob. Rand declared that egotism is good, altruism is evil, and empathy is irrational.

When it comes to the new property rights of the new Eldorado, all power should be exercised by the Silicon Valley “pioneers”, a Narcissus bunch in love with their mirror image as superior Randian heroes. In the name of innovation they should be allowed to destroy any established rules, in a Schumpeterian “creative destruction” rampage.

That has led to our current environment, where Google, Facebook, Uber, and co. can overstep any legal framework, imposing their innovations like a fait accompli.

Durand goes to the heart of the matter when it comes to the true nature of “digital domination”: US leadership was never achieved because of spontaneous market forces.

On the contrary. The history of Silicon Valley is absolutely dependent on state intervention – especially via the industrial-military complex and the aero-spatial complex. The Ames Research Center, one of NASA’s top labs, is in Mountain View. Stanford was always awarded juicy military research contracts. During WWII, Hewlett Packard, for instance, was flourishing thanks to their electronics being used to manufacture radars. Throughout the 1960s, the US military bought the bulk of the still infant semiconductor production.

The Rise of Data Capital, a 2016 MIT Technological Review report produced “in partnership” with Oracle, showed how digital networks open access to a new, virgin underground brimming with resources: “Those that arrive first and take control obtain the resources they’re seeking” – in the form of data.

So everything from video-surveillance images and electronic banking to DNA samples and supermarket tickets implies some form of territorial appropriation. Here we see in all its glory the extractivist logic inbuilt in the development of Big Data.

Durand gives us the example of Android to illustrate the extractivist logic in action. Google made Android free for all smartphones so it would acquire a strategic market position, beating the Apple ecosystem and thus becoming the default internet entry point for virtually the whole planet. That’s how a de facto, immensely valuable, online real estate empire is built.

The key point is that whatever the original business – Google, Amazon, Uber – strategies of conquering cyberspace all point to the same target: take control of “spaces of observation and capture” of data.

About the Chinese credit system…


Durand offers a finely balanced analysis of the Chinese credit system – a public/private hybrid system launched in 2013 during the 3rd plenum of the 18th Congress of the CCP, under the motto “to value sincerity and punish insincerity”.

For the State Council, the supreme government authority in China, what really mattered was to encourage behavior deemed responsible in the financial, economic and socio-political spheres, and sanction what is not. It’s all about trust. Beijing defines it as “a method of perfecting the socialist market economy system that improves social governance”.

The Chinese term – shehui xinyong – is totally lost in translation in the West. Way more complex than “social credit”, it’s more about “trustworthiness”, in the sense of integrity. Instead of the pedestrian Western accusations of being an Orwellian system, priorities include the fight against fraud and corruption at the national, regional and local levels, violations of environmental rules, disrespect of food security norms.

Cybernetic management of social life is being seriously discussed in China since the 1980s. In fact, since the 1940s, as we see in Mao’s Little Red Book. It could be seen as inspired by the Maoist principle of “mass lines”, as in “start with the masses to come back to the masses: to amass the ideas of the masses (which are dispersed, non-systematic), concentrate them (in general ideas and systematic), then come back to the masses to diffuse and explain them, make sure the masses assimilate them and translate them into action, and verify in the action of the masses the pertinence of these ideas”.

Durand’s analysis goes one step beyond Soshana Zuboff’s

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism when he finally reaches the core of his thesis, showing how digital platforms become “fiefdoms”: they live out of, and profit from, their vast “digital territory” peopled with data even as they lock in power over their services, which are deemed indispensable.

And just as in feudalism, fiefdoms dominate territory by attaching serfs. Masters made their living profiting from the social power derived from the exploitation of their domain, and that implied unlimited power over the serfs.

It all spells out total concentration. Silicon Valley stalwart Peter Thiel has always stressed the target of the digital entrepreneur is exactly to bypass competition. As quoted in Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World, Thiel declared, “Capitalism and competition are antagonistic. Competition is for losers.”

So now we are facing not a mere clash between Silicon Valley capitalism and finance capital, but actually a new mode of production: a turbo-capitalist survival as rentier capitalism, where Silicon giants take the place of estates, and also the State. That is the “techno-feudal” option, as defined by Durand.

Blake meets Burroughs


Durand’s book is extremely relevant to show how the theoretical and political critique of the Digital Age is still rarified. There is no precise cartography of all those dodgy circuits of revenue extraction. No analysis of how do they profit from the financial casino – especially mega investment funds that facilitate hyper-concentration. Or how do they profit from the hardcore exploitation of workers in the gig economy.

The total concentration of the digital globe is leading to a scenario, as Durand recalls, already dreamed up by Stuart Mill, where every land in a country belonged to a single master. Our generalized dependency on the digital masters seems to be “the cannibal future of liberalism in the age of algorithms”.

Is there a possible way out? The temptation is to go radical – a Blake/Burroughs crossover. We have to expand our scope of comprehension – and stop confusing the map (as shown in the Magna Carta) with the territory (our perception).

William Blake, in his proto-psychedelic visions, was all about liberation and subordination – depicting an authoritarian deity imposing conformity via a sort of source code of mass influence. Looks like a proto-analysis of the Digital Age.

William Burroughs conceptualized Control – an array of manipulations including mass media (he would be horrified by social media). To break down Control, we must be able to hack into and disrupt its core programs. Burroughs showed how all forms of Control must be rejected – and defeated: “Authority figures are seen for what they are: dead empty masks manipulated by computers”.

Here’s our future: hackers or slaves.   

~ Pepe Escobar is a Brazilian journalist. He writes a column, The Roving Eye, for Asia Times Online, and works as an analyst for RT and Sputnik News, as well as Press TV. In addition, he previously worked for Al Jazeera. 

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Sunday song

 

Great lyrics here