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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

U.S. Sending New Nukes to Germany


WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US deployment of atomic weapons in Germany could trigger an arms race while marking a stark policy shift from a few years ago when cries for nuclear nonproliferation rang across Western Europe, experts told Sputnik.

On Tuesday, German media reported that the United States would station 20 next-generation nuclear weapons at the Buechel military air base in western Germany, information obtained from a line item included in the 2015 US budget.

"These US nuclear weapons deployments will likely create the conditions for a new arms race throughout Europe," Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space Coordinator Bruce Gagnon told Sputnik. "It is a dangerous and provocative move on the ‘Grand Chess Board’ by Washington."

Russian officials have warned that if the US deploys B61-12 guided nuclear bombs to Germany it would violate the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT), and could force Moscow to exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Pentagon and State Department officials have claimed that the US nuclear posture in NATO ally countries is consistent with all treaty obligations.

Gagnon, however, claimed that the US nuclear upgrades aim to destabilize the region and prevent Europe from developing positive economic and political relations with Russia.

"Clearly, this new generation of US nuclear weapons are not needed in Europe," Gagnon explained. "In fact, these new weapons will only destabilize the region even more. Sadly, that is exactly what the US wants to do."

Washington, Gagnon argued, wants Moscow to react so the US government can [further] demonize Russia and justify greater American mobilization in Eastern Europe.

"What we need is for Moscow to make stronger direct appeals to the people of Europe and beyond to oppose the US attempts to control the world economically and militarily," Gagnon suggested.

St. John’s University Professor of Government David Kearn told Sputnik that the planned deployment will enhance US and NATO deterrent capabilities in response to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, but is unlikely to upset the "balance of forces" in Europe in any meaningful way.

Kearn argued that US nuclear activities in Europe are mostly symbolic in that Russian capabilities, including in the tactical nuclear realm, would still dwarf the opposition.

"What is striking is just how much things have changed," Kearn observed. "Consider this shift in policy in light of the widespread political pressure across Western Europe for the removal of all tactical nuclear weapons only five years ago."

The US move may be subjectively provocative in Russian eyes, Kearn elaborated, but this is unfortunately what happens in the "action-reaction dynamic unleashed when these type of insecurity spirals are initiated."

"Consider that Germany was planning on retiring all of its nuclear capable strike aircraft only a few years ago, but now have quietly decided to upgrade and maintain a small fleet," Kearn underlined.

The NPT Treaty has been ratified by some 191 states and entered into force in 1970. Moreover, the United States and Russia signed the INF Treaty in 1987 to eliminate the threat of nuclear missiles capable of striking targets on the European continent.

Asking the Right Questions?


Yes who in fact is arming, training and directing ISIS?  How did they go from their meager string of little white Toyota pick-up trucks to tanks and other heavy military hardware?  How did ISIS get so much money to pay their 'troops'?

News reports in the last year verify that ISIS has been armed and trained by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan among other Gulf state monarchies.  Does one begin to connect the dots to see the image on the wall of the US working in collaboration with the worst elements in the Middle East?

Why is the US so eager to take down Syria?  What caused the Syrian refugee crisis?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Speech to U.S. Congress



The Pope's choice of the four Americans to honor was impressive. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton are all great heroes in the long struggle for peace, justice, equality and true liberty in this country.

I saw a few of the politicians turning to one another when Francis mentioned Thomas Merton - it looked like they didn't know who he was. At the least his mentioning of these four will likely increase the interest in their lives and work which can only be a plus.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Putin on U.S. Withdrawal from the ABM Treaty


Putin answers questions from a UK journalist in relation to Russia's intentions of getting along with the US.

The treaty that he refers to in the conversation is the the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) between the United States and Russia on the limitation of the 'missile defense' systems used in defending areas against ballistic missile-delivered nuclear weapons.

George W. Bush unilaterally withdrew the US from the ABM Treaty in 2002.  Since that time the Pentagon has been encircling Russia and China with 'missile defense' systems that were once outlawed by the ABM Treaty.  Thus the US has unleashed these destabilizing systems that are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.  In addition NATO has expanded eastward right up to the Russian borders. Russia and China have repeatedly responded that they now can't afford to get rid of their nuclear weapons while the US-NATO surround them with the missile shield.

It can't be repeated often enough that the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute tracks the level of military spending around the world.  Global military expenditures in 2014 were an estimated $1,776 billion.  The top global spender was the US at 34% of the world total.  When you add in the numbers from NATO members (and the US's Asia-Pacific ‘partners’) the US-NATO share of global military spending is well over 50%.  

 In 2014 China spent 12% and Russia 4.8% of the global total.  It’s hard to imagine how Russia at 4.8% can be the military ‘threat’ that Washington-Brussels-London like to claim it is.

Pope Throws Native Americans Under the Bus



California Tribes Denounce Catholic Church’s “Fraud” and “Blatant Fabrication” on Serra Sainthood

By Peter Montgomery

Several representatives of California tribes held a press conference Tuesday at Washington D.C.’s Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ to proclaim the opposition of more than 50 tribes to the [Catholic] canonization of Junipero Serra, which is set to take place just down the road on Wednesday afternoon. One speaker called the canonization mass that Pope Francis will conduct “a disastrous celebration of slavery and cultural termination.” [Read: Why Serra Should Not Be a Saint, by scholar Jacqueline Hidalgo.]

At the heart of their objection is Serra’s role in creating and overseeing a system of missions that they say enslaved and brutalized Indians, forced religious conversions, and destroyed communities and culture in ways that continues to harm Native people today. Donna Schindler, a psychiatrist specializing in “historical trauma” said she is a lifelong practicing Catholic who has left the church due to the Serra canonization, the result of which will be the “re-wounding” of the descendants of mission Indians, who struggle with depression, domestic violence, substance abuse, and teen suicide rates that are triple the national average.

The Catholic Church, of course, has been telling a much different story in which Serra, a man of his time, was a protector of Indians who evidenced concern for both their physical and spiritual well-being. In June, the Wall Street Journal’s Allysia Finley quoted a church official claiming that the Vatican spent 72 years studying Serra’s writings, which reflect his love for the natives.

That official line on Serra was denounced as a “fraud” by Antonio Gonzales, Director and United Nations Liaison for American Indian Movement West. Another speaker called the Church’s claims about Serra “a blatant fabrication.”

The activists have essentially been ignored by the church. Gonzales read a statement by Valentin Lopzez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band recounting the multiple letters and petitions tribes have sent in the nine months since Francis announced the canonization plans. Deborah Miranda, an English professor at Washington and Lee University and author of Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir, said that California Indians had responded “with on-line petitions, prayers, moderated debates, a mock trial, art installations, press conferences, a 650-mile walk through all 21 missions, social media, radio shows, letters to the Pope himself.”

But Francis, she said, has not made a single public comment about Indians in California. “It is as if we, the very people whose lives and deaths make Serra, the priest, into Serra, the saint, are inconsequential footnotes in history,” she said. “It is as if we—California Indians and our Ancestors—are merely canonization fodder.”

Several of the speakers contrasted the pope’s push to make Serra a saint with his public concern for oppressed people, and particularly the apology he offered while in Bolivia for the abuses that took place during the so-called conquest of the Americas. A letter from activist Suzan Harjo called it “incomprehensible” that Francis could make that apology and then confer sainthood on “a leading perpetrator of those very crimes.”

“There is a yawning disconnect between what Pope Francis says about defending the poor and what he is actually doing to Indians in the United States by canonizing Junipero Serra,” said Christine Grabowski, an anthropologist and author of Serra-gate: The Fabrication of a Saint.

News reports suggest that Francis’s determination to make Serra a saint—requiring a waiver of the normally required two miracles attributed to him—reflects the Pope’s commitment to evangelization and his recognition of the importance of Hispanic Catholics to the future of the church in the U.S. In May, the pope said Serra ushered in “a new springtime of evangelization in those immense territories, extending from Florida to California.”

A recent Fernanda Santos story in the New York Times reported that the Spanish-speaking Serra has spiritual and cultural importance to some Latinos/as. In April, Vatican official Guzman Carriquiry, who is from Uruguay, said canonization would help overcome lingering anti-Catholic and anti-Hispanic sentiments in America.

But speakers at today’s press conference suggested the church has better options. “Surely Archbishop Oscar Romero is a more worthy candidate for the Hispanic peoples of the Americas,” said Norma Louise Flores, author of a MoveOn.org petition opposing the canonization.

Steven Newcomb, co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute and author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, connected Serra’s work to papal edicts going back to the 15th century calling for the subjugation of “barbarous nations” and the building of Christian empire. Newcomb is co-producer of a new documentary, The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code.

Also distributed at the press conference were excerpts from A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California Indians by the Spanish Missions, by Elias Castillo, which include Serra ordering whippings for Indians who fled the mission.

The statement by Amah Mutsun Tribal Band chairman Lopez concluded:

The Catholic Church will someday realize that canonization of Serra has seriously damaged their right to claim moral authority on issue of poverty, social justice, and indigenous rights. The Church’s treatment of California Indians clearly sends the message that they believe that evangelizing is saintly behavior even if it means the destruction, domination and the stealing of land of indigenous people.

Speakers had no expectation that the canonization mass would not go forward, but they suggested it would backfire on the church by stoking continued outrage among indigenous people and draw closer scrutiny to church doctrines and practices that amounted to a “violent evangelism.” Activists vowed to continue to push for the release of sealed church documents about Serra.

~ Peter Montgomery, a Washington, DC-based writer, is an associate editor for Religion Dispatches and a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way. His work focuses on religion, politics, and LGBT issues.  

Inside the 'Exceptional' Nation

The Empire holds by far the most prisoners than any other country on earth, in both absolute numbers and per capita. Abby Martin explores the dark reality of America's prisons: their conditions, who is warehoused in them, and the roots of mass incarceration.

Featuring interviews with Eddie Conway, former political prisoner unjustly incarcerated for 44 years, and Eugene Puryear, author of "Shackled and Chained, Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America." 

This report is the kind of story that drives revolutions.  African-Americans are being returned to a slave society via prisons.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Drone Protest in Upstate New York


On Monday five members of the grassroots human rights coalition, Upstate (NY) Drone Action [upstatedroneaction.org], were arrested as they held aloft three large banners together spanning the Hancock’s main entrance and exit driveways.

Those arrested: Bonny Mahoney, Ed Kinane & Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse and Dan Burgevin and James Ricks of Ithaca. All were detained but released by Onondaga County Sheriffs around noon with appearance tickets charging them with trespass and disorderly conduct. Their court date is 6 p.m., October 14, in the DeWitt (NY) Town Court.

A Mind of Our Own?


The more I learn the better I see how the collective American mind has been polluted beyond imagination.  I like to call it mind colonization.  Ever since we were young the ruling capitalist culture poured blind nationalism, consumerism, false idolatry, and addiction to endless entertainment into our open and eager brains.  Most of us don't have a mind of our own.  We like to think we do, but we actually don't.

It takes a life time of determined work to open the lid to our dusty brains and clean out the trash that has been put in there by others.  Most people don't bother with it. Folks get comfortable with what they know - even if it is wrong.

Our iconic Uncle Sam has two sides - one is authoritarian representing the ruling oligarchy as in the image above.  Then Sam also has the more sympathetic image that relates to the suffering American people long kept under the boots of our corporate masters as you see depicted below.


The American people are conflicted - they know things are a royal mess but they have been trained to stay loyal to the existing power structure.  People have been made to fear change ("The commies or the socialists will take things from you!").... so they become accustomed to going along to get along.

The ruling elite manipulate the social scales quite professionally as they inculcate the citizenry with the 'success' mythology, dreams of upward mobility ("You might win the lottery!") and quasi-religious notions like "Everyone has the responsibility to pull themselves up by the boot straps".  This stuff is hard for anyone to shake - especially people locked into a corporate job, a mortgage, and the fierce desire to be liked by everyone in town.  It's almost a death sentence.

These are the key obstacles to us making any real progress overturning the present hard rule of the corporate oligarchies across our nation.  It takes some courage, stubbornness, stick-to-it-ivness, and blind faith to keep pushing the rock up the hill.  Many give up along the way and many more never bother to try.

The story of real change is written by those few who jump in and give their life to the task.  They do it because they must - they can't stand the sight and sounds of oppression and destruction anywhere and find that great joy comes from being in active solidarity with our brothers and sisters who suffer at the hands of the brutal US corporate empire.  Blessings to all those who do that difficult and important work.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Navy Budget Out of Control Funding Dinosaur Warships



My interview today on PressTV about U.S. Navy budget and their increasingly at risk aircraft carriers now bumping up against China.

"Huge Problem with Perception about Russia in the U.S."

The world as we know is in trouble. The crisis in the Middle East has led to crisis in the Western world, and the threat of emerging radical Islamist groups - such as Islamic State - is now a problem that threatens the entire globe. Russia is offering help, but Washington prefers to play deaf. However, with the planet rapidly changing, maybe it’s time for the West, and especially the United States, to sit at the table with others and seek solutions.

Will Washington ever agree to that? Can Russia and the West put their differences aside in the face of imminent danger? Sophie talks with conservative Dana Rohrabacher - US Congressman, member of the Republican party, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Trump This


A Nurse During the Vietnam War

 
 Peggy Tuxen-Akers is a former Viet Nam nurse and member of the Maine Chapter of Veterans for Peace. This is her Warriors for Peace: Veterans Speak profile. Her perspective on the Viet Nam war is quite different from those of the guys who killed and were killed in the rice paddies and jungles of Viet Nam. Peggy’s poem at the very end is sure to bring a tear to one’s eye.

Video by Regis Tremblay.

I Could Barely Sit Thru It......

A Day Full of Arts & Analysis


  • MB and I just had a wonderful lunch with former Mainer Ken Jones and his wife Melody.  They lived in Portland for many years and Ken is a member of Veterans for Peace so we've been to many protests together.  They recently retired from the University of Southern Maine and moved to North Carolina - our loss, their gain.  Ken stays in touch online and we share many interests and political insights so it was a pleasure for the four of us to talk 'Deep State' politics while eating along the river today at the Kennebec Tavern.  A bit breezy but a beautiful bright day otherwise.
  • This banner above was kindly delivered to our house yesterday by Natasha Mayers and Suzanna Lasker from the Maine political artists group ARRT! (Artists Rapid Response Team) that regularly meets to make banners for various political causes across the state.  They made this one for our upcoming peace walk (Oct 9-24) that will focus on the Pentagon's impact on the oceans. Beautiful job as always.
  • I just emailed around the latest version of the Global Network's Keep Space for Peace Week list of local actions planned so far during October 3-10.  I'm sure we'll be adding some more before space week actually happens.  We are always grateful to those who support our efforts each year to highlight a different aspect of the Space Command's plan for 'Full Spectrum Dominance'.  
  • I sent all the pieces for the next edition of the Global Network's newsletter Space Alert to the woman who does the layout for us.  I always dread getting started on the newsletter but once I get in gear I just push on thru as the process of determining what goes into the publication is demanding and exciting.  I love to learn new things and its rewarding to try to find ways to show the connections between Washington's endless wars and how space warfare technology fits into that larger program.  The amount of $$$$ wasted on the Space Command's goal to 'control and dominate' space is staggering.  This particular edition will carry a cartoon created years ago while in Florida called 'Pyramids to the Heavens'.  Long-time Florida artist friend W. B. Park created 30 years worth of space-related art work for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice and the Global Network.  His work is timeless and I keep recycling it.  In fact the next issue of Space Alert will carry two of his political cartoons - both dripping in satire and deep truth.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Planning for the Maine Peace Walk (Impact on the Oceans)


We had our last planning meeting yesterday for the October 9-24 Maine Peace Walk – Militarization of the Seas: Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans.  We timed our meeting so we could attend the Boston-area Veterans for Peace (VFP) annual BBQ down in York Beach, Maine at the summer home of one of their chapter leaders.  More than 40 veterans and supporters were there from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Four of us drove down together to York Beach from Hancock, Hope, Lewiston and Bath.  A bunch more joined us for our planning meeting before the BBQ began that included the wonderful music by the Portsmouth-based 'Leftist Marching Band'.  While there we were able to extend an invitation to the band to join our walk on Oct 24 when we plan to march from downtown Portsmouth back over the bridge to Kittery where we will hold a protest at the Navy shipyard gate.  The shipyard repairs, overhauls, and maintains Navy war ships, including nuclear-powered ships. You can just imagine the toxic legacy of this place and the impact on ocean life.

One of the Boston-area VFP members there yesterday was a woman who was an officer in the Navy in the late 1990's.  She was assigned to a destroyer and was at one time in charge of overseeing the test firing of the weapons on board the ship.  One day it dawned on her that they were firing highly explosive shells into the sea and she wondered for the first time how animal life might be impacted.  This was one of the moments that changed her life thus she is very interested in our walk.

Many excellent outreach ideas surfaced during the meeting which we agreed to follow-up on.  The remaining days before the walk begins on October 9 in Ellsworth will be exciting and busy.  

The news from Russell Wray (artist from Hancock) is that he is redesigning his fiberglass dolphin Maka that will sit on top of our bus; his banner for the side of the bus will say 'Demilitarize the Oceans'; and he has secured two large whale windsocks that we will carry on poles as we walk.  

I can't wait to get started.

Sunday Song