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. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Climate change update: Is it time yet to have a real talk about this?



Claims that 'We are going to rebuild stronger than ever' in Louisiana are just way off the mark.

Why rebuild on barrier islands that are getting pounded in the worst way with each successive hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico?

Why not bury powerlines under the ground so that each time we have a hurricane or an ice-storm (in the north) we don't have a power shut down for weeks at a time?

Can we begin to understand that switching to electric vehicles is not a real solution? Where do you get the electricity to charge cars? Does building more and wider roads with oil-based products really take us in the proper direction?

Why is there no major national move to increase public mass transit to get us out of our cars?

Why do we not connect the Pentagon's massive carbon bootprint to climate crisis? 

Why do mainstream environmental groups virtually ignore the military connection to climate? 

Instead of pissing away more than $1 trillion a year on war mongering, why don't the Democrats (who control the House and Senate) move that money to building solar, wind & tidal power systems, commuter rail, home weatherization and much more?


Should be no harm in having an open discussion.....


Over a hundred doctors and health professionals have signed an open letter to the UK Prime Minister calling for an "open and proper scientific debate" about the pandemic policy arguing covid restrictions are based on flawed assumptions. 

Growing protest throughout Europe and general fear and mistrust in other places about the official covid story and 'early treatment plans' (or lack there of) makes it quite apparent that some forces in our societies are 'reluctant' to have an open public discussion and debate. Why?

What could be the harm about having more information and discussion

It appears that 80% of doctors in the US work for medical corporations and are generally required to follow corporate mandated treatment plans. The early treatment calls are mostly coming from more independent doctors (in the US and beyond). 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Out on the street....


With US Federal Eviction Ban Overturned, Nearly 1 Million Renters Likely to Lose Home By End of Year


RT reports: 

In addition to tenants, homeowners with federally-backed mortgages were also protected from eviction during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the foreclosure ban having expired in July, 1.75 million homeowners behind on payments are at risk of losing their homes alongside millions of renters.

According to estimates by Goldman Sachs, some 750,000 Americans are likely to be evicted from their homes before the end of the year, due to the US Supreme Court striking down the federal eviction moratorium last week.

    The financial services giant estimates that between 2.5 and 3.5 million households are considerably behind on paying rent, owing between $12 billion and $17 billion in total, CNN reported on Monday.

However, that’s not all of the people likely to face eviction: the Aspen Institute reported at the end of July, as the first eviction moratorium put in place by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drew to a close, that 6.7 million renters, or a total of 15 million people, were “on the precipice of eviction.”

Aspen estimated they collectively owed $20 billion to their landlords, but the National Apartment Association, a group representing landlords, claimed at the time that the real number was $73 billion.

    Other estimates are far higher: the US Census Bureau reported that a survey conducted in mid-August found that 1.3 million Americans believed themselves likely to be evicted in the next two months.

“The strength of the housing and rental market suggests landlords will try to evict tenants who are delinquent on rent unless they obtain federal assistance,” the analysts said. “And evictions could be particularly pronounced in cities hardest hit by the [pandemic crisis], since apartment markets are actually tighter in those cities.”

    Goldman Sachs’ estimate is so much lower than the total number of renters behind on rent because several states have their own separate eviction bans put in place on top of the CDC’s ban, many of which extend into late 2021 and even into next year. Landlords have also attempted to challenge those bans or parts of those bans and had some successes, as in New York, but have also been turned back, as in Los Angeles.

Just six US states and Washington, DC, still have eviction bans in place going into September, although another 10 states have some form of tenant protections connected to their distribution of rental assistance.

    As the CDC’s original eviction ban expired at the end of July, the White House initially declined to renew it, citing a Supreme Court ruling the prior month rejecting the legal underpinning of the CDC mandate. However, while Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh advised the administration that only a legislative extension was likely to pass legal muster, Congress went into a seven-week recess without attempting to implement one.

Round-the-clock protests outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, turned the glaring omission into a national spectacle, and on August 3, the CDC implemented a new ban with slightly different standards, claiming it wasn’t an extension of the old ban. However, on August 27, the Supreme Court ruled it was legally the same ban as before and struck it down.

    Even during the moratorium, evictions didn’t totally stop, and the revised ban implemented during most of August gave even less protection than before. However, as the latest outbreak of the Delta variant spread nationwide, the number of counties protected by the ban, as measured by the pace of community spread of COVID-19, grew dramatically to include almost the entire country anyway.

On Friday, the CDC counted more than 176,000 reported COVID-19 cases nationwide -  the most since late January and more than twice the number of daily cases seen a month ago.

Compounding the tragedy of the situation is the fact that Congress has appropriated more than $46 billion for emergency rental assistance, for which both tenants and landlords may apply. However, the pace of distribution has been so slow that even though the funds were authorized in March, by the end of August just 11% of the money - $5 billion - has been paid out, despite the law mandating that at least 90% of the funds be paid out by government agencies.

According to the Census survey cited above, 2.2 million people reported applying for rental assistance through either state or local governments and had either not heard back or been denied aid.

    In other words, many of the people likely to be evicted could have had their rent debt erased if not for bureaucratic bungles.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) denounced the court decision in a letter to her colleagues on Friday, saying they were “assessing possible legislative remedies.” However, she only mentioned ways to expedite paying out rental assistance and gave no indication the Democrats, who control both houses of Congress and the White House, would make any attempt to pass their own eviction moratorium.

    Throughout the crisis, Pelosi has looked to the White House for solutions, despite Biden calling on Congress to fix it, as the Supreme Court made abundantly clear in both its June 27 and August 27 rulings.

Blowback: Taliban target US intel's shadow army


The Kabul Airport bombing shows there are shadowy forces in Afghanistan, willing to disrupt a peaceful transition after US troops leave. But what about US intel's own 'shadow army,' amassed over two decades of occupation? Who are they, and what is their agenda?

By Pepe Escobar  

So we have the CIA Director William Burns deploying in haste to Kabul to solicit an audience with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, the new potential ruler of a former satrapy. And he literally begs him to extend a deadline on the evacuation of US assets.

The answer is a resounding “no.” After all, the 31 August deadline was established by Washington itself. Extending it would only mean the extension of an already defeated occupation.

The ‘Mr. Burns goes to Kabul’ caper is by now part of cemetery of empires folklore. The CIA does not confirm or deny Burns met Mullah Baradar; a Taliban spokesman, delightfully diversionist, said he was “not aware” of such a meeting.

We’ll probably never know the exact terms discussed by the two unlikely participants –  assuming the meeting ever took place and is not crass intel disinformation.

Meanwhile, Western public hysteria is, of all things, focused on the imperative necessity of extracting all ‘translators’ and other functionaries (who were de facto NATO collaborators) out of Kabul airport. Yet thundering silence envelops what is in fact the real deal: the CIA shadow army left behind.

The shadow army are Afghan militias set up back in the early 2000s to engage in ‘counter-insurgency’ – that lovely euphemism for search and destroy ops against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Along the way, these militias practiced, in droves, that proverbial semantic combo normalizing murder: ‘extrajudicial killings,’ usually a sequel to ‘enhanced interrogations.’ These ops were always secret as per the classic CIA playbook, thus ensuring there was never any accountability.

Now Langley has a problem. The Taliban have kept sleeper cells in Kabul since May, and much earlier than that in selected Afghan government bodies. A source close to the Ministry of Interior has confirmed the Taliban actually managed to get their hands on the full list of operatives of the two top CIA schemes: the Khost Protection Force (KPF) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS). These operatives are the prime Taliban targets in checkpoints leading to Kabul airport, not random, helpless ‘Afghan civilians’ trying to escape.

The Taliban have set up quite a complex, targeted operation in Kabul, with plenty of nuance – allowing, for instance, free passage for selected NATO members’ Special Forces, who went into town in search of their nationals.

But access to the airport is now blocked for all Afghan nationals. Yesterday’s double tap suicide-car bombing has introduced an even more complex variable: the Taliban will need to pool all their intel resources, fast, to fight whatever elements are seeking to introduce domestic terror attacks into the country.

The RHIPTO Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses has shown how the Taliban have a “more advanced intelligence system” applied to urban Afghanistan, especially Kabul. The “knocking on people’s doors” fueling Western hysteria means they know exactly where to knock when it comes to finding collaborationist intel networks.

It is no wonder Western think tanks are in tears about how undermined their intel services will be in the intersection of Central and South Asia. Yet the muted official reaction boiled down to G7 Foreign Ministers issuing a mere statement announcing they were “deeply concerned by reports of violent reprisals in parts of Afghanistan.”

Blowback is indeed a bitch. Especially when you cannot fully acknowledge it.

From Phoenix to Omega

The latest chapter of CIA ops in Afghanistan started when the 2001 bombing campaign was not even finished. I saw it for myself in Tora Bora, in December 2001, when Special Forces came out of nowhere equipped with Thuraya satellite phones and suitcases full of cash. Later, the role of ‘irregular’ militias in defeating the Taliban and dismembering al-Qaeda was feted in the US as a huge success.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was, to his credit, initially against US Special Forces setting up local militias, an essential plank of the counter-insurgency strategy. But in the end that cash cow was irresistible.

A central profiteer was the Afghan Ministry of Interior, with the initial scheme coalescing under the auspices of the Afghan Local Police. Yet some key militias were not under the Ministry, but answered directly to the CIA and the US Special Forces Command, later renamed as the infamous Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

Inevitably, CIA and JSOC got into a catfight over controlling the top militias. That was solved by the Pentagon lending Special Forces to the CIA under the Omega Program. Under Omega, the CIA was tasked with targeting intel, and Special Ops took control of the muscle on the ground. Omega made steady progress under the reign of former US President Barack Obama: it was eerily similar to the Vietnam-era Operation Phoenix.

Ten years ago, the CIA army, dubbed Counter-terrorist Pursuit Teams (CTPT), was already 3,000 strong, paid and weaponized by the CIA-JSOC combo. There was nothing ‘counter-insurgency’ about it: These were death squads, much like their earlier counterparts in Latin America in the 1970s.

In 2015, the CIA got its Afghan sister unit, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), to establish new paramilitary outfits to, in theory, fight ISIS, which later became locally identified as ISIS-Khorasan. In 2017, then-CIA Chief Mike Pompeo set Langley on an Afghan overdrive, targeting the Taliban but also al-Qaeda, which at the time had dwindled to a few dozen operatives. Pompeo promised the new gig would be “aggressive,” “unforgiving,” and “relentless.”


Those shadowy ‘military actors’

Arguably, the most precise and concise report on the American paramilitaries in Afghanistan is by Antonio de Lauri, Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, and Astrid Suhrke, Senior Researcher Emerita also at the Institute.

The report shows how the CIA army was a two-headed hydra. The older units harked back to 2001 and were very close to the CIA. The most powerful was the Khost Protection Force (KPF), based at the CIA’s Camp Chapman in Khost. KPF operated totally outside Afghan law, not to mention budget. Following an investigation by Seymour Hersh, I have also shown how the CIA financed its black ops via a heroin rat line, which the Taliban have now promised to destroy.

The other head of the hydra were the NDS’s own Afghan Special Forces: four main units, each operating in its own regional area. And that’s about all that was known about them. The NDS was funded by none other than the CIA. For all practical purposes, operatives were trained and weaponized by the CIA.

So, it’s no wonder that no one in Afghanistan or in the region knew anything definitive about their operations and command structure. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in trademark infuriating bureaucratese, defined the operations of the KPF and the NDS as appearing “to be coordinated with international military actors (emphasis mine); that is, outside the normal government chain of command.”

By 2018, the KPF was estimated to harbor between 3,000 to over 10,000 operatives. What few Afghans really knew is that they were properly weaponized; well paid; worked with people speaking American English, using American vocabulary; engaged in night operations in residential areas; and crucially, were capable of calling air strikes, executed by the US military.

A 2019 UNAMA report stressed that there were “continuing reports of the KPF carrying out human rights abuses, intentionally killing civilians, illegally detaining individuals, and intentionally damaging and burning civilian property during search operations and night raids.”

Call it the Pompeo effect: “aggressive, unforgiving, and relentless” – whether by kill-or-capture raids, or drones with Hellfire missiles.

Woke Westerners, now losing sleep over the ‘loss of civil liberties’ in Afghanistan, may not even be vaguely aware that their NATO-commanded ‘coalition forces’ excelled in preparing their own kill-or-capture lists, known by the semantically-demented denomination: Joint Prioritized Effects List.

The CIA, for its part, couldn’t care less. After all, the agency was always totally outside the jurisdiction of Afghan laws regulating the operations of ‘coalition forces.’

The dronification of violence

In these past few years, the CIA shadow army coalesced into what Ian Shaw and Majed Akhter memorably described as The Dronification of State Violence, a seminal paper published in the Critical Asian Studies journal in 2014 (downloadable here).

Shaw and Akhter define the alarming, ongoing process of dronification as: “the relocation of sovereign power from the uniformed military to the CIA and Special Forces; techno-political transformations performed by the Predator drone; the bureaucratization of the kill chain; and the individualization of the target.”

This amounts to, the authors argue, what Hannah Arendt defined as “rule by nobody.” Or, actually by somebody acting beyond any rules.

The toxic end result in Afghanistan was the marriage between the CIA shadow army and dronification. The Taliban may be willing to extend a general amnesty and not exact revenge. But to forgive those who went on a killing rampage as part of the marriage arrangement may be a step too far for the Pashtunwali code.

The February 2020 Doha agreement between Washington and the Taliban says absolutely nothing about the CIA shadow army.

So, the question now is how the defeated Americans will be able to keep intel assets in Afghanistan for its proverbial ‘counter-terrorism’ ops. A Taliban-led government will inevitably take over the NDS. What happens to the militias is an open question. They could be completely taken over by the Taliban. They could break away and eventually find new sponsors (Saudis, Turks). They could become autonomous and serve the best-positioned warlord paymaster.

The Taliban may be essentially a collection of warlords (jang salar, in Dari). But what’s certain is that a new government will simply not allow a militia wasteland scenario similar to Libya. Thousands of mercenaries of sorts with the potential of becoming an ersatz ISIS-Khorasan, threatening Afghanistan’s entry into the Eurasian integration process, need to be tamed. Burns knows it, Baradar knows it – while Western public opinion knows nothing.

Matt Hoh on the Afghan drug trade


80% of the world's opiate use is by Americans.

Matthew Hoh had nearly twelve years experience with America’s wars overseas with the United States Marine Corps, Department of Defense and State Department. 

He has been a Senior Fellow with the Center For International Policy since 2010. 

In 2009, Matthew resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan with the State Department over the American escalation of the war. Prior to his assignment in Afghanistan, Matthew took part in the American occupation of Iraq.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

U.S. nuke tests on humans

We dance, sing, and speak out for nuclear and climate justice.

Sunday song



P. S. - Yankee go home!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

History lesson: The hard fall



The events of 1991 brought about the dissolution of the USSR. Why did it happen and who was to blame? A new documentary, USSR Collapse: A Crash Course, looks at the historic moments and central figures that are key to understanding the perfect storm that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the 1980s, the USSR’s first and last president, Mikhail Gorbachev, launched Perestroika (restructuring), an economic policy intended to pull the superpower out of stagnation. But Gorbachev’s attempt to jump start the Soviet economy only worsened product deficits. Alongside Perestroika, another Gorbachev reform, Glasnost (openness), eased restrictions on freedom of speech, consequently unleashing a wave of criticism. While Mikhail Gorbachev was a hit with his Western counterparts, he was viewed differently at home.

In 1991, a group of Communist hardliners, including the Soviet Union's Vice President, Defence Minister, and KGB head, decided to derail Gorbachev’s reforms. The dramatic events that unfolded from August 18 to 21 of that year became known as a coup and marked the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union.

The conspirators isolated Gorbachev in his summer house in Crimea, formed the State Committee for the State of Emergency (GKChP) and announced a new Soviet leader. Tanks rolled into the capital, as anti-coup protesters gathered on Moscow streets. Russian President Boris Yeltsin denounced the coup, ending the drama and securing his own position as Gorbachev’s main rival.

In the meantime, nationalist movements gained steam in the Soviet republics. The three Baltic States declared independence, while ethnic conflicts flared up in Transdniester, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

On December 8, 1991, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus signed the Belovezha Accords.

On December 25, 1991, the Russian tricolour replaced the hammer and sickle flying above the Kremlin.

Was it possible to stop the Soviet Union’s dissolution? Might the USSR still exist if it were not for Gorbachev’s reforms? Do you regret the collapse of the Soviet Union? Participants of the events, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Leonid Kravchuk, and Stanislav Shushkevich, recollect the final years of the USSR, while ordinary witnesses describe how the collapse affected their lives.

0:00 - Intro
2:41 - The USSR’s first and last president
4:33 - What was ‘Perestroika’?
7:40 - Gorbachev's image in the West
8:20 - Anti-alcohol campaign
11:22 - Boris Yeltsin arrives on the political scene
16:18 – Rising Nationalists
20:43 - Demands for Independence
24:36 - 1991 Referendum on USSR
26:30 - Moldova-Transdniester Conflict
29:35 - Soviet Union’s Swan Song
32:04 - August Coup
37:04 – Where’s Gorbi?
41:31 - Belovezha Accords   

What are the lessons for Americans as they too now increasingly face the collapse of the U.S. military & economic empire?

America & China: Life, Death & the Long Game



Comparing Strategic Philosophies

(This is just part of a larger article - click on the link just above for the whole deal) 

By Michael Wong

China historically has always been the largest nation in East Asia, and due to its size and central location has generally been the dominant nation.  During roughly 5,000 years of history, China has had a cycle of strong periods such as the Han and Tang dynasties, followed by a gradual decline and collapse, a period of chaos and warring states, and finally a new dynasty and a return to a strong period.  During China’s strong periods, it usually expanded to what Han Chinese considered China’s natural borders.  During weak periods, other nations or peoples often conquered parts or all of China, diminishing its size and borders.  

China today is more or less at it’s strong size borders now, thus based on history no major expansion beyond this would be expected, with the sole exception of Taiwan. Taiwan rejoining the rest of China would augment China’s power but would not diminish the territory of any other Asian nations.  There is a border dispute with India, issues with Vietnam and several other nations around the South China Sea, and island disputes with Japan and the Philippines, but regardless of who might prevail in these disputes there likely would be no major change in any nations’ relative size or power.  Historically, China has sometimes fought wars with neighbors on it’s immediate borders, but never pursued world conquest in the manner of the Mongols, the Romans, the Western powers during the colonial period, or other major imperial powers of history.

This lack of global imperial ambition was not due to a lack of means.  China invented gunpowder over a thousand years ago, during the Song dynasty, a powerful period. This was over 400 years before anyone else, and the Chinese fully understood how to use it in war.  Yet, unlike the European powers from about the 16th Century onward, China never set out to conquer the rest of the world.  Consider that England, a small island nation, once truthfully said, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”  Indeed, little England had conquered large parts of the world through the use of gunpowder, military skill, and organizational discipline.  Yet China had all of these four centuries before the West, plus a large land mass, an advanced culture and technology, good natural resources, a quarter of the world’s population, and the 400 year monopoly on gunpowder.  Why is it that China never had a period of world conquest?  

The reason is simple but central to Chinese civilization – it’s strategic philosophy.  While it is impossible to fully cover all of China’s 5,000 years of philosophical thought in one short article, there are two elementary concepts which are absolutely essential to understand if America is to survive and thrive as China has.  These are very simple concepts, but they will provide at least a starting point for a journey of 5,000 years.  From earliest times the Chinese have always had a fundamental philosophy of (1) a long term view of life, and (2) a balance of aspects in society and in life.  They viewed expanding beyond China’s natural borders as a critical overreach that would stretch Chinese supply lines, require endless wars and constant trouble with people native to other regions, create internal and external imbalance, and would in the long term result in the exhaustion, decline, and collapse of China.  China was physically and emotionally self-sufficient; it had no need — material or psychological — to be a world empire.  It was enough to be the central nation in Asia.  

Indeed, true world history bears out the wisdom of the Chinese philosophy.  In the 5,000 years that China has existed, the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and various European empires have come and gone.  China remains.  Why?  The reasons are many and complex, but China’s basic strategic philosophy remains central and premised on the same concepts: a long term view, and a balance of aspects.  The Chinese did not overextend themselves by far flung wars of foreign conquest.  Given their history and their observation of the West’s fate, the Chinese have no reason to change that now.  

What the Chinese are likely to do is develop their cultural, political, and economic connections to the rest of the world. As they did with the ancient Silk Road, they will seek trade and prosperity, and political influence sufficient to promote stability and safety for Chinese commerce and security.  The West is not in any military danger from China, but there may be a steady influx of Tai Chi teachers advocating health, calm, balance, and relaxation.   

~ Michael Wong is the Vice President of Veterans For Peace, Chapter 69, San Francisco, and a retired social worker with a Master of Social Work degree. He appeared in the documentary "Sir! No Sir!" about the GI resistance to the Vietnam War. 

Friday, August 27, 2021

US-NATO militarizing the 'High North'


Our latest Global Network podcast with Agneta Norberg & Eva Jonsson from Sweden talking about the growing militarization of the North country (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark) aimed at Russia.

Agneta is a Global Network board member and lives in Stockholm.

Eva is a leader of Women for Peace and lives in Kiruna - in the far north of Sweden. Her group hosted our Global Network annual meeting in 2013. 

Thanks to GN board member Will Griffin (Philadelphia) for doing the tech work on the show.

Rich getting richer


A new report shows that today in the US, the CEO-to-worker pay gap stands at 351 to one, an increase from 15 to one in 1965. 

How does this massive wealth transfer continue and are consecutive leaders' pledges to tackle the issue just empty rhetoric? 

Elites are taking over! Our only hope is to fight back while we still can.

First step - abandon the two-party system in the US - a form of good cop-bad cop.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Vandana Shiva Exposes the Digital Dictators


In this short animation Vandana Shiva exposes the Digital Dictators who think they can play God with genetic engineering, synthetic biology, surveillance capitalism, and pandemic profiteering to magnify and consolidate their already out-of-control power and greed. 

Back at the Navy gate


Yesterday at the Navy compound gate at Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard in Maine. Art work by Russell Wray (Hancock) held by Peter Morgan (right) and John Morris. Bill Rixon has the VFP banner. Photo by Lisa Savage.

We got a few double takes from sailors, shipyard workers and car drivers passing by on Wednesday. This amazing work of art by Russell Wray was the theme of one of our peace walks through Maine a couple of years ago. We then hung the banner on the side of a 15-passendar van, along with Russell's sculpture of a dolphin (Maka) on top of the vehicle. That two-week trek through our state got lots of looks as you could imagine.

I handed out about 10 flyers yesterday and would guess that since we began these twice-a-month vigils at BIW we've handed out more than 100 of them - about 70% to shipyard workers and 30% to navy personnel.

The navy compound in Bath is called Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA): The Force Behind the Fleet. 

Below NAVSEA at the worker-bee level in Bath is what they call 'Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair (SUPSHIPS)'. (I'd like to hear the navy definition of 'conversion'.)

SUPSHIPS is co-located with major shipbuilders and are the Navy's on-site technical, contractual and business authority. 

SUPSHIP Bath oversees the design and construction of five Navy ship classes at three private shipyards in Bath, Maine, Marinette, Wis., and San Diego, Calif. SUPSHIP Bath’s product line includes Arleigh Burke Destroyers (DDG 51), Zumwalt Destroyers (DDG 1000), Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) Ships, and John Lewis Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO). Once these ships sail away from their respective building yard, SUPSHIP Bath oversees the post shakedown availabilities in their homeports.


For many years our vigils at BIW were at gates where the civilian shipyard workers come and go. It's good to reach out to them with our messages. But the navy personnel level right now in Bath is in the hundreds and many of them daily pass through the compound gate. Our vigils since May greet the sailors as they come in and out of NAVSEA.

Some of the shipyard workers who pass by during lunch are very kind, interested, and even a bit supportive. Others are afraid, angry and want to protect their job, or express what they might say are 'patriotic slogans' like one a shipyard worker yelled at me as he drove by yesterday, "Nuke 'em, all and let god sort 'em out!"

A few shipyard personnel say they are protecting our right to protest with the destroyers they build. But then when you try to use those 'freedoms' some of them would prefer you didn't.

The only other hassle I had yesterday was from a graying NAVSEA senior-executive type who told me I ought to move to the other side of the street. I was holding a sign that said 'Navy toxics kill oceans'. I reminded him that the side walk he and I were on is public.

Actually we got more honks, waves and smiles than the hard stuff. 

I actually love going there. Having grown up on military bases, joined the Air Force during the Vietnam war, and protested in Bath for about 17 years, I feel quite comfortable around all of the folks we come in contact with. 

They are not my enemy. The war system is.

We try to have a different message (along with the constant VFP flags) at each vigil. But because of the profound beauty of this banner we are going to take it back with us at our next vigil on September 8 at 11:00 am.

We'll keep coming back and back....its good for our souls.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

No lessons from the Afghan catastrophe


By Manlio Dinucci (Il manifesto, Italy)

In his August 16 speech to the White House, President Biden made a succinct statement: "Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy". 

The message of the President of the United States put a tombstone on the official narrative that accompanied the "mission in Afghanistan" for twenty years, in which Italy too spent human lives and billions of euros public money. "Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on the American homeland", Biden explained. But the Washington Post cast a shadow over his words, trying to cover the fake news spread for twenty years, headlined: "The United States Presidents and military leaders have deliberately misled the public about the longest American war, waged in Afghanistan for two decades.”  

The public has been "deliberately misled" since October 2001, when the United States, flanked by Britain, attacked and invaded Afghanistan with the motive of hunting down Osama bin Laden, who was being prosecuted of the September 11 terrorist attack (the official version was leaking from all sides). 



The real purpose of the war was the occupation of this primary geo-strategic importance territory, bordering the three former Soviet Central Asian republics (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan), Iran, Pakistan, and China (the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region). 

In this period there were already strong signs of a rapprochement between China and Russia: on 17 July 2001, Presidents Jang Zemin and Vladimir Putin had signed the "Treaty of good neighborliness and friendly cooperation", defined as a "milestone" in the relations between the two countries. Washington saw the nascent alliance between China and Russia as a threat to US interests in Asia, at a critical time when the US was trying to fill, before others, the void that the breakup of the USSR had left in Central Asia. "The possibility exists that a military rival with a formidable resource base will emerge in Asia" the Pentagon warned in a September 30, 2001 report.   

What was at stake was shown by the fact that, in August 2003, NATO under US command took on "the leadership role of the ISAF", the "International Security Assistance Force" created by the United Nations in December 2001, without having any authorization to do so at that time. Since then, over 50 countries, NATO members and partners have participated under US command in the war in Afghanistan.


The political-military toll of this war, which shed rivers of blood and burned enormous resources, is catastrophic: hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths caused by war operations, plus an un-quantifiable number of "indirect deaths" for poverty and disease caused by the war. 

The United States alone the New York Times documented - has spent over 2,500 billion dollars on it. About $90 billion have been spent by the US to train and arm 300,000 government soldiers, who disbanded in a few days in front of the Taliban advance. About $55 billion for "reconstruction" was largely wasted due to corruption and inefficiency. Over $10 billion invested in anti-drug operations resulted in opium acreage quadrupling, so much so that Afghanistan now supplies 80% of opium illegally produced in the world.



Emblematic is the story of Ashraf Ghani, the President who ran away to a golden exile



Trained at the American University in Beirut, he made a career at Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins US universities, and at the World Bank in Washington. In 2004, as Minister of Finance, he obtained from "donor" countries, including Italy, an "assistance package" of 27.5 billion dollars. In 2014, in a country at war under US-NATO occupation, he was officially appointed President with 55% of the votes. In 2015, Italian President Mattarella received him at the Quirinale with full honors, together with Italian Defense Minister Pinotti who had met him a year earlier in Kabul.

This catastrophic experience adds to those that Italy already experienced for having participated in the NATO wars from the Balkans to the Middle East and North Africa in violation of its own Constitution. However, no lessons are drawn from it by the political forces that sit in Parliament. 

While in Washington the President himself demolished the castle of lies about "high humanitarian purposes", which motivated Italy's participation in the war in Afghanistan. 

In Rome, as in Orwell's 1984 novel,  history is erased.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

‘Forever war’ benefiting Afghans? Follow the money


IMF-NATO as brothers in arms

Whoever bought Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and other US defense stocks made a literal killing

By Pepe Escobar

I asked Michael Hudson, an economics professor at the University of Missouri Kansas City and Peking University, how he would recommend the new government to act. He answered, “For one thing, embarrass the hell out of the IMF for acting as an arm of NATO.”

Hudson referred to a Wall Street Journal article written by a former IMF advisor now with the Atlantic Council as saying that “now, since recognition is frozen, banks all over the world will hesitate to do business with Kabul. This move provides the US with leverage to negotiate with the Taliban.”

So this may be going the Venezuela way – with the IMF not “recognizing” a new government for months and even years. And on the seizure of Afghan gold by the New York Fed – actually a collection of private banks – we see echoes of the looting of Libya’s and seizure of Venezuela’s gold.

Hudson sees all of the above as “an abuse of the international monetary system – which is supposed to be a public utility – as an arm of NATO run by the US. IMF behavior, especially regarding the new drawing rights, should be presented as a litmus test” for the viability of a Taliban-led Afghanistan.

Hudson is now working on a book about the collapse of antiquity. His research led him to find Cicero, in In Favor of the Manilian Law (Pro Lege Manilia), writing about Pompeus’s military campaign in Asia and its effects on the provinces in a passage that perfectly applies to the “forever war” in Afghanistan:

    “Words cannot express, gentlemen, how bitterly hated we are among foreign nations because of the wanton and outrageous conduct of the men whom in recent years we have sent to govern them. For, in those countries, what temple do you suppose had been held sacred by our officers, what state inviolable, what home sufficiently guarded by its closed doors? Why, they look about for rich and flourishing cities that they may find an occasion for a war against them to satisfy their lust for plunder.”

Switching from the classics to a more pedestrian level, WikiLeaks has been replaying a sort of Afghanistan Greatest Hits , reminding public opinion, for instance, that as far back as 2008 there was already “no pre-defined end date” for the “forever war.”

Yet the most concise assessment may have come from Julian Assange himself:

    “The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war.”

The “forever war” may have been a disaster for the bombed, invaded and impoverished “Afghan people,” but it was an unmitigated success for what Ray McGovern so memorably defines as the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Counter-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think Tank) complex. Anyone who bought stocks of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and the rest of that crowd made – literally – a killing.

Facts are indeed dire. Barack Obama – who presided over a hefty Afghan “kill list” – throws a birthday party and invites the woke nouveaux riches. Julian Assange suffers psychological torture imprisoned in Belmarsh. And Ashraf Ghani mulls how to spend $169 million in the Dubai rackets, funds some say were duly stolen from the “Afghan people.”

~ Extracted in part from a larger article in Asia Times

Keep Space for Peace Week (October 2-9)


Art design by Brandon Marx & Nancy Randolph

A gold rush into space is now underway
There are tens of thousands of mini-satellites expected to be launched in coming years, mostly for 5G which will have military application for greater surveillance and targeting.
We can expect growing deterioration of the Earth’s ozone layer due to toxic rocket exhaust. More spaceports (often in environmentally sensitive areas) are being constructed to handle the glut in launches.
Astronomers are angry as they witness the dark night sky covered in satellite trails.
The privatization of space for profit puts the United Nations’ Moon and Outer Space Treaties in jeopardy. The Pentagon’s ‘Space Force’ is issuing statements about the U.S. determination to control the pathway ‘on and off’ the planet.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Now is the time for us to gather internationally and call for protection of the space environment from greed, pollution and war.
Join us by organizing a local public event in your community during Keep Space for Peace Week.

Jeju Island, South Korea

Action steps:

  • Organize a local event at military bases, space tech production facilities, launch sites, outside government buildings and more.
  • Be sure to let us know about any event planned in your local community during space week. Click here
  • Check out & share our many space videos. Click here

Monday, August 23, 2021

Like a snowball heading down hill....



The Afghanistan collapse is challenging the American people to admit to themselves (and each other) that the nation is 'like a snowball heading downhill'. That phrase was good writing by country singer Merle Haggard many years ago.

White working class fans of Haggard (and poor people of color) are generally the ones who did the recent killing and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they paid for it with their tax dollars - at a much higher rate of their income than the rich oligarchs who run the show.

My step-father Wes (married my mom when I was three) was career Air Force and hailed from Rumford, Maine. He came out of the paper mill and logging and was a country boy at heart. He was very sharp, and similar to many Mainers, could take on any task like fixing cars, electronics, carpentry, plumbing, and analyzing bullshit. Alcohol was his demon though - along with self-hatred that he was taught by his hard-times family. He loved country music because it shared the pain - made it public. The culture when Wes was young didn't allow much talk about feelings. You were weak if you did that. He was a sensitive guy though and found solace in drink.

Haggard wrote this song in 1982. He touched the yearning of the average citizens who pay their taxes and want to believe that the US is a good country and everyone is working together. Normal patriotic stuff from my youth.

But Haggard's ability to see the issues in a clear way allowed him give voice to that collective yearning across the country. He forecasted the collapse that is well underway today. 

At the end of the song Haggard tried to give the people back their hope for the future. People want hope and spiritual connection. They need the feeling of unity. Without it they feel at drift or like a runaway snowball heading for hell.

Sadly the leadership we have in the US today has hit the bottom of the barrel.


California Courts allow San Quentin to steal prisoners property

Last June I wrote on this blog about the situation of San Quentin (California) death row inmate James P. Anderson. I’ve been friends with Anderson for the past 2 ½ years and we regularly speak on the phone about his situation inside the prison as well as things going on in the wider world. I recently asked him how we first made contact and he told me he'd seen an article I wrote in 2005 that made the connections between growing Pentagon budget and cutbacks in social spending. So he tracked me down and called from San Quentin and I accepted the call.  The rest is history.

I wanted to write more about Anderson who has been on San Quentin’s death row since 1979.

On March 13, 2021 Anderson was charged with possession of a ‘deadly weapon’ found in his cell. He was put in the ‘hole’ (called ‘Little Gitmo’) for more than 90 days for what was actually a small part from an electrical plug (one inch prong) that he has used for years to etch many dozens of domino pendants which he personalizes and gives away free to people and community organizations. 

At the time of Anderson’s placement in ‘Administrative Segregation’ one of the guards was shown 20 of the pendants hanging by their necklaces in his cell.


An electric prong (male part) that Anderson was accused of having as a weapon

The prison authorities have long known about this art tool, with more than a dozen guards witnessing him using the prong for his creations. Some guards have even requested Anderson make them a pendant. (One of his pendants sold for $1,000 at an auction in the Bay area with the money given to a Palestinian solidarity group that he supports.)


In a California Supreme Court opinion filed on December 27, 2018 the court defined a weapon in the following manner: “For an object to qualify as a deadly weapon based on how it was used, the defendant must have used the object in a manner not only capable of producing but also likely to produce death or great bodily injury.”


Where is my property?

It is abundantly obvious that Anderson’s art tool was not a ‘deadly weapon’ and was never used in any threatening way. It was a trumped-up charge.

Louis Wolf (Co-founder of CovertAction Magazine) has known James P. Anderson, and has been a committed advocate for his innocence, for more than 25 years. Wolf believes Anderson is ‘provably innocent’ of his charges.

Wolf (from Washington DC) wrote prison authorities in June of 2021 asking if this recent claim of a weapon (and resulting time in the hole) was “another retaliatory action stemming from James P. Anderson’s filing of a civil suit over the theft of his property in 2019?”

Since being recently released from ‘Little Gitmo’ after his detention there, Anderson has repeatedly requested that his personal property be returned to him. So far nothing has happened. He has followed all available internal procedures to get his personal items returned, including asking his court appointed attorneys to help him, which bore no fruit.

Anderson reports that without his property, he has no access to “my legal materials related to my death sentence and appeals, legal notes, etc. Thus, I am unable to work on my appeal as a result of my property being withheld.”

Anderson faced the same situation in 2019. At that time the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) rejected his attempts to recover his possessions by saying, “…if the Office of Appeals is not able to respond to a claim in 60 calendar days, as in this case, then the claim must be answered ‘time-expired’. As a result, the answer provided by the Office of Grievances remains unchanged and this appeal is now closed.”

Anderson calls this ruling, “Another back door rule (excuse) which allows CDCR to avoid responsibility and not respond to complaints by prisoners.” Clearly, he says, this is a “systematic means of denial for prisoners’ appeals”.

This recent time in the hole, and confiscation of his property (including his eye glasses and a dictionary he's had for 25 years), appears to violate state prison guidelines that require that once an inmate returns from the ‘hole’ they are to have their property returned to them. At one point Anderson even took the step to write to the prison mental health department noting that his collective property helps to keep him sane. Still no positive response.


'Destiny' by James P. Anderson


History of property theft in San Quentin

There is a history at San Quentin of guards stealing inmates’ property – not just from Anderson. Anderson sees his recent time in the hole as punishment for attempts to hold guards accountable for property thefts. He says, “They will retaliate, they want you to know ‘this is our house’. It’s because they can get away with it.”

One of the tricks used by prison authorities to deny the return of property is to request that the inmate produce a ‘receipt’ for a particular item. In one letter to a Department of Corrections representative Anderson wrote, “You can’t realistically expect a prisoner to retain the receipt for an item that was purchased ten years ago, or longer, not to mention that corrections officers will discard paperwork they ‘perceive’ as being trash, when it actually has a purpose. You won’t be surprised to know that entire envelopes of receipts have been trashed.”

In one case in January 2021 two San Quentin East Block ‘property officers’ were caught stealing an inmates’ possessions and were ‘Terminated’ but then just two weeks later were ‘Reassigned’ to another part of the prison without any reprimand. So this is how things appear to swing inside San Quentin.

Anderson writes, “For those that care to know, these ‘missing-stolen-lost’ property items often and ‘mysteriously’ find their way into the hands of informants. Radios, CD players, equalizers, TV’s, CD’s, beard trimmers, hot pots, tennis shoes, sweat suits, canteen and quarterly package items are often taken from one prisoner and given to an informant for ‘services rendered’, all very clandestinely.”

The legal consequences

These false accusations against a prisoner (and resulting punishments with time in the hole) are recorded and placed in a prisoner’s file and when rare opportunities for appeal hearings arise these so-called ‘disciplinary actions’ are used by the state prosecutors to influence judges and/or juries to reject the appeals, thus the prisons stay full and justice remains denied.

Anderson’s Federal Public Defender (Central District of California) lawyers have not been helpful to him during these troubles. As it turns out the system regularly transfers lawyers and for inmates (who have spent years bringing new lawyers up-to-date on their legal appeals) it means they must start all over again. A vicious cycle where nothing gets done and inmates have little chance to prove their innocence.

Anderson understands this routine quite well so he fights each time one of these unfair charges are made against him. He works hard to document the truth about each situation in hopes that someday he will have a chance for an appeal against his original sentence without these ‘internal prison entanglements' weighing him down. He relies on friends and supporters (like Louis Wolf) on the outside to help him correct the record.

Wouldn’t any person demanding real dignity and real justice do the same thing? I know that I would. But inside San Quentin they figure that no one on the outside knows or cares about these cases and these inmates. 


A T-shirt design by Anderson entitled 'I didn't have to die' that lists the names of many citizens killed by cops in recent years. One of his supporters is printing the shirts and distributing them


Out here in the ‘land of the free’, people are increasingly re-evaluating the entire ‘criminal justice system’ – from the cops to the courts to the prisons. We don’t like much of what we see and hear. And what I am learning from James P. Anderson does not make me feel any better.

After all these years, since his imprisonment on death row in late 1979, Anderson still wants to make his mark on life, for the better. And he wants to be treated with due respect, as called for under California law. I am impressed by his drive for fair treatment and his stick-to-it-ive-ness.  

Just imagine how you’d feel if you were in his cell on death row?


James P. Anderson with his granddaughter


For further information about Anderson, and life in San Quentin, see his article entitled A Rebuttal to: ‘A Day on San Quentin’s Death Row’ dated January 17, 2016.

See more of his art work here