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, September 04, 2021

Movie time: Oliver Stone's film on George W. Bush

 


Oliver Stone's film W. about the life and failed presidency of George W. Bush.

In an unprecedented undertaking, acclaimed director Oliver Stone shines a bright light on Bush as only he can. 

W takes viewers through every step of Bush's disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Bush's time in office surely accelerated the current hard collapse of the US economic and military empire.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Driven out of the American consciousness

 


Richard David Wolff is an American Marxian economist, known for his work on economic methodology and class analysis. 

He is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School in New York. 

Wolff has also taught economics at Yale University, City University of New York, University of Utah, University of Paris I (Sorbonne), and The Brecht Forum in New York City.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Hell's Angels making big noise over Maine


The Navy Blue Angels (Hell's Angels) are screaming overhead in Midcoast Maine as I type these words. They fly the F/A-18F Super Hornets. 

Residents in this normally quiet part of the world (except of course for the building of Navy Aegis destroyers) are having to get the bad taste that people around the world living near US military bases have to swallow virtually every day. Imagine that Mainers....

I've been to US airbases in Germany, England, South Korea, Okinawa, and throughout the US and heard the ear-shattering noise and the complaints from local citizens. I've seen images of real bomb damage these planes have done in the multiple war zones the Pentagon is now involved in.

We will be holding a protest outside of the former naval air station in Brunswick (now a regional small aircraft airport) on Saturday morning (9:30 am) as thousands of citizens drive into the facility for what is called 'The Great State of Maine Airshow'. 

It's all rah-rah-rah and a big recruitment tool for the MIC.

We are highlighting the links between climate crisis and the Pentagon's endless war mongering.

Seeing the videos of subway flooding in New York City yesterday, as the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed north, I wondered how much it was going to cost to repair all the damage from this super-sized storm.

 


Any chance the money will come out of the hides of the war machine? 

Maybe airshows by the Navy Blue Angeles and Air Force Thunderbirds might be first on the chopping block? 

After all, what exactly do they do for national security - especially these days as Mother Earth's toxified body thrashes about in agony?

Bruce

Best G.I. war resistance film ever

 


The story about the anti-war effort within the military during the Vietnam War.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

History lesson: From baked beans to AI in Portland, Maine

 


Thomas Coreau, 72, has been working at B&M for nearly half a decade.

The B&M Baked Beans factory will stop production this year, bringing dramatic change to a building that has been a fixture of the Portland, Maine waterfront for more than a century.

B & M operations will be moved to the Midwest. Plans call for turning the 100-year-old waterfront factory site into an education and technology campus made of steel and glass.

Let's see, baked beans or artificial intelligence? I'll take the beans any day. 

AI to me indicates no jobs in the future. Robot world. Robots fighting wars. Robots don't need to be paid, they don't need health care or vacation pay. They also don't eat beans.

They call it progress....

See the Portland Press Herald story here

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?

Bruce

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!