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, January 27, 2018

U.S. heads for total war




In the video Ben Norton says:

In December, President Donald Trump released a new national security strategy, which reveals that the top priority for U.S. national security is not countering "terrorism," but rather countering the influence of competing foreign states, namely China and Russia.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said openly, "great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security."

There has of course long been skepticism of the notion that the "war on terror" was ever even about stopping terror in the first place.

But the Trump administration's new national security strategy stands out as one of the most frank admissions yet that U.S. foreign policy is principally about undermining foreign states that challenge U.S. economic and political interests, not about stopping extremist groups that threaten civilians.

The Open Secret


Friday, January 26, 2018

Hacked and lost email connection



My Earthlink email account has been hacked and shut down as of about 1:00 pm today. Any emails you get from me after that time today via my globalnet@mindspring.com won't be coming from me.

Consider that the case until told otherwise.

Bruce....

at 5:00 pm back.  Called Earthlink and they said someone tried to hack into my email account so they shut it down.  Got new password and hope things return to normal....

On Friday evening the saga continued as my desktop computer had to be taken to my repair person due to it freezing up on me.  Then on Saturday my laptop went haywire and froze up.  So now I am using MB's computer. 

Is it just a coincidence that both of my computers are hacked and shut down just days before the Public hearing at the State Legislature in Augusta on the General Dynamics (GD) $60 million corporate welfare request and our trial on Feb 1-2 for civil disobedience at the GD owned shipyard here in Bath?

Sure makes one wonder.....

Update on General Dynamics corporate welfare campaign (LD 1781)


Here are some updates from the current General Dynamics $60 million corporate welfare campaign here in Maine:

  • The Taxation Committee Public Hearing in Augusta will be held on Tuesday, January 30 at 1:00 pm inside the State House Room 127.  One other bill is also on the agenda.  We hope for a strong turnout – speakers sign up at the hearing and are given three minutes each to talk.

  • Then on Tuesday, February 6 the Taxation Committee will have a Work Session at 1:00 pm.  The public is allowed to attend though not able to speak.  We want again a solid turnout for this meeting as they will begin their sausage making process.

  • Our media campaign to alert the public about the General Dynamics (GD) request for $60 million is going well.  So far we have had at least 30 Op-Eds and Letters in a dozen newspapers across the state.  Please keep writing them and get others to do so.  This is our primary way to alert the public to this GD bill.

  • I have boosted (at the cost of $200) Orlando Delogu’s recent excellent column in The Forecaster.  So far over 700 people have read the article and 42 have shared it.  This is allowing us to reach well beyond our normal circles in Maine.  One biker from Fryeburg shared the article.  Some BIW workers have also shared and commented – one of them complaining about the ‘give backs’ the union was forced to do in the last contract negotiations at BIW.  The post boost is for 18 days on Facebook.

  • Peggy Akers (VFP) spoke at the Women’s march last weekend in Augusta and included the opposition to LD 1781 in her talk.  Thanks Peggy. Jason Rawn handed out flyers about LD 1781 at the rally as well.

  • We just learned today that GD is hitting up Connecticut for $150 million as well.  GD tells legislators in Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut that they need ‘more money for training new workers’ but their federal contract with the Navy already includes funds for training. In fact a lot of the money Maine has given to GD since 1997 ($200 million) has gone for mechanization of the shipyard which has actually reduced jobs.

  • The leadership of the Democratic Party in Maine appears to be mostly behind LD 1781.  They should be reminded how their party recently criticized Sen. Susan Collins for supporting Trump’s federal tax cut for corporations like GD that reduced the tax rate from 35 to 20 percent.


  • Fortune magazine ran a puff-piece recently about the CEO of GD - Phebe Novakovic - who was paid $21 million last year.  One quote stands out: “Boeing makes planes; Raytheon  makes missiles; General Dynamics makes money,” says Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute and a consultant to GD and other defense companies. See the article at http://fortune.com/2015/09/11/phebe-novakovic-general-dynamics/

Please do what you can to help spread this citizens revolt against corporate welfare.  Every dollar that is wasted on making GD richer could have gone a long way to help the poor and repaired our broken infrastructure across Maine.  You can reach the Maine legislature at https://mainelegislature.org/

Bruce


This campaign is supported by:

Americans Who Tell the Truth (Brooksville)
COAST (Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats, Hancock)
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (Bath)
Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks
Green Horizon Magazine (Topsham)
Island Peace & Justice (Deer Isle)
Maine Green Independent Party
Maine Natural Guard (Solon)
Maine Veterans For Peace
Maine War Tax Resistance Resource Center (Portland)
Maine Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (Brunswick)
Peace Action Maine (Portland)
Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine (Bangor)
Peace & Justice Group of Waldo County
Peninsula Peace & Justice Center (Blue Hill)
Resources for Organizing & Social Change (Augusta)

Pushing for regime change in Iran


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Remember Congo



I remember when we lived in England my dad came home talking about things were getting hot in the Congo.  He seemed a bit scared - he was in photo reconnaissance loading the spy cameras on planes at the US air force base.

The Congo story always stuck with me as I grew up and lately I've wanted to show greater solidarity with the people on the African continent as the Pentagon's Africa Command (AFRICOM) moves to expand US military operations there.  Washington is going full bore to create chaos as the west tries to desperately hang on to control of Africa.  China is finding many welcoming arms as they help invest in things the local African community badly needs.  The US only offers war - weapons are now our #1 national industrial export product.

Patrice Lumumba was killed in a CIA-directed operation at the age of 36 in 1961.  The US was even then making its moves on the grand chessboard cut deeply into the heart of the African continent.

Jacobin shares the bigger story:

The Belgians reluctantly conceded political independence to the Congolese, and two years later, following a decisive win for the Congolese National Movement in the first democratic elections, Lumumba found himself elected to prime minister and with the right to form a government. A more moderate leader, Joseph Kasavubu, occupied the mostly ceremonial position of Congolese president.

On June 30, 1960, Independence Day, Lumumba gave what is now considered a timeless speech. The Belgian king, Boudewijn, opened proceedings by praising the murderous regime of his great-great uncle, Leopold II (eight million Congolese died during his reign from 1885 to 1908), as benevolent, highlighted the supposed benefits of colonialism, and warned the Congolese: “Don’t compromise the future with hasty reforms.” Kasavubu, predictably, thanked the king.

Then Lumumba, unscheduled, took the podium. What happened next has become one of the most recognizable statements of anticolonial defiance and a postcolonial political program. As the Belgian writer and literary critic Joris Note later pointed out, the original French text consisted of no more than 1,167 words. But it covered a lot of ground.

The first half of the speech traced an arc from past to future: the oppression Congolese had to endure together, the end of suffering and colonialism. The second half mapped out a broad vision and called on Congolese to unite at the task ahead.

Most importantly, Congo’s natural resources would benefit its people first: “We shall see to it that the lands of our native country truly benefit its children,” said Lumumba, adding that the challenge was “creating a national economy and ensuring our economic independence.” Political rights would be reconceived: “We shall revise all the old laws and make them into new ones that will be just and noble.”

The oil, precious minerals, water, and other resources in Congo could not be left under the control of someone like Lumumba.  That would be dangerous and the idea of declaring independence from the west would spread like wildfire across the continent. That would harm the corporate plan to control and sever from Africa virtually everything of value.  Only the people were in the way.

It was during those days that the mafia, the mega-resource extraction companies, Wall Street and the military industrial complex merged their interests into the CIA as the 'deep state' to run America.  An extraordinary effort would be put into place to sell 'democracy and freedom' as the goals of the nation.  But in the shadows America was wielding its dark axe. The CIA had at its disposal the always expanding military organ called NATO.  Together they formed the military fist of corporate capital.

They've been taking down leaders and countries since the end of WW II but Congo should be remembered as one of history's great tragedies.  The people had a vision and if they had been left alone to run their own lives the world would be better for it.  With AFRICOM in place the signal is that the US-NATO is willing to fight to hang onto the continent.  Colonialism dies hard.

Bruce

The spark that changed South Korea



South Korea was a US controlled military dictatorship until 1987.Then students sparked a revolution.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Another day under corporate control


  • I spent much of yesterday working on the next Global Network Space Alert newsletter.  I hope to get it to our layout person by the end of the week.  We've got some great articles in this coming edition but as I was pulling things together it is clearer than ever to me just how massive the US effort is to encircle Russia and China in a desperate attempt to hang onto the fading empire.  Washington is rolling the nuclear-loaded dice and appears to think that bluster, threats, destabilization and chaos creation will somehow ensure its hold on the global economic system.  With each passing day more of the world's people come to realize that the once invincible America has run aground on the rocky coast.

  • The demonization of China and Russia on western media is non-stop.  Just to illustrate this point I am right now listening to a corporate talking head being interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) who is blaming China for 'taking American jobs'.  He didn't bother to mention that US corporations chose to move their production operations to places like China in order to increase their profits.  But all that really counts is what seed is put into the minds of the public. The strategy is to prepare the American people to fear and want revenge against China (and Russia) which means more military spending and more aggressive US operations. This strategy - fear the Indians out west and send more troops - is deeply ingrained in the American psyche. 

  • I also spent several hours yesterday preparing for our upcoming Aegis 9 trial in Bath on February 1-2.  I worked on my testimony and got some advice on how to navigate the complexities of the trial process.  Now that jury selection has been done we will move right into the state prosecutor making his case on Feb 1 and the nine of us responding the following day.  We hope to reach the hearts and minds of the jurors, the court staff and those who sit and watch the trial.  Last time we did this in Bath we heard multiple stories from people who felt changed by sitting through the Zumwalt 12 trial.  In the end we've got to defend our right to step outside of the protest zones that are increasingly feeling like cages in this country.  If we are going to tell the world that America is the epitome of democracy then the people here will need to deal with the realities of the limits that surround us and our certain reactions.

  • In recent days Bath Iron Works is stepping up their public relations campaign to sell their request for $60 million in corporate welfare from Maine.  Their new line is that with the retirement of skilled workers BIW has to train a new generation of workers.  They want money to cover that training.  Of course General Dynamics, when it signs a contract with the Navy to build destroyers, is fully paid by the federal government to train workers.  All of their projected costs are factored into their contract.  Still General Dynamics goes to Rhode Island, Connecticut, Kentucky and Maine and extracts subsidies from fiscally desperate states. This is nothing other than corporate piracy.  Few are willing to fight this in our state and sadly the corporate welfare bill is being sponsored by two elected Democrats in our local community.  I heard last night from a friend in Belfast, Maine who attended a meeting of her state representative (a Democrat) and brought up this issue of the $60 million.  One of the lines from the representative was that 'Republicans get mad when I don't support business'.  There we are....

Bruce

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Opposing General Dynamics $60 million Tax Subsidy



Letter to Editor 

I wish to alert the public that the State Legislative Taxation Committee Public Hearing in Augusta for LD 1781 – the bill to give General Dynamics $60 million in corporate welfare - will be held on Tuesday, January 30 at 1:00 pm inside Room 127 at the State House.

It is important that the public attend and let our state legislators know how we feel about the proposal to give a fat subsidy to the 5th largest weapons corporation on the planet just a month after Congress dramatically reduced corporate taxes.

General Dynamics had $31.3 billion in revenues in 2016 and gave a healthy 9.4 percent return to investors.  They’ve had so much cash on hand that between 2009-2016 the corporation bought back $12.9 billion of its own stock. Stock buybacks are bad for workers and average shareholders because the real beneficiaries are slick traders who can time their sales and corporate execs with pay packages tied to stock performance.

Contrast that with Maine’s current fiscal problems.  The state can’t properly fund education, health care is still not available for thousands of our fellow citizens, roads, bridges, water and sewer systems need repairing.  Maine can’t afford to be duped into giving General Dynamics $60 million – that money is needed here in our state.

Please make an effort to come to Augusta on January 30 for the public hearing on LD 1781.  If you can’t come please let your local State Representative and Senator know your thoughts on this corporate welfare bill.  Haven’t the rich taken enough of the nation’s wealth already?
 
Bruce K. Gagnon
Bath

Monday, January 22, 2018

Your $$$ for War and Corporate Profits



The gap between the super rich and the rest of the world widened last year as wealth continued to be owned by a small minority, Oxfam has claimed. Some 82% of money generated last year went to the richest 1% of the global population while the poorest half saw no increase at all, the charity said. Oxfam said its figures - which critics have queried - showed a failing system. In 2017 it calculated that the world's eight richest individuals had as much wealth as the poorest half of the world. This year, it said 42 people now had as much wealth as the poorest half, but it revised last year's figure to 61. Oxfam said the revision was due to improved data and said the trend of "widening inequality" remained.
  • The U.S. military is preparing for a changing climate, but not in order to protect the Earth’s environment. The Pentagon’s first and foremost concern is to respond to global warming only in so far as that response enhances the military’s “operational effectiveness” – its ability to fight. Jim Mattis, Secretary of War, has spoken out about the dangers of climate change, running contrary to the commander-in-chief whose National Security Strategy omitted it as a threat. Analysts expect the military to continue with its climate change adaptation and preparedness programs, despite the President’s denialism. However, even as the U.S. military takes steps to make itself more fuel and energy efficient, the Department of Defense remains the world’s largest institutional fossil fuel guzzler. Big increases in the military’s size, pushed by Trump and Congress, are only going to make the Pentagon’s and the world’s carbon emissions worse – which could ultimately impact national security and “operational effectiveness.”

The title of the 2018 National Defense Strategy — “Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge” — pretty much sums up the tone that has been set by Secretary of War Jim Mattis. The plan is straightforward: compete, deter and win. And that applies to outer space, too. “Space is like any other domain of war,” Mattis said following a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he laid out the broad themes of the new strategy. Asked by a member of the audience to elaborate on how the U.S. military would fight enemies in space, Mattis delivered one of his trademark one-liners: “Don’t try it.” In space, the US has to become so strong to make it obvious to adversaries that they would have “no benefit to be gained” from attacking U.S. systems, Mattis said. Capabilities in this case are not traditional military weapons but space systems that are resilient to attack. “It’s not about what you might think, guns in space shooting at each other,” Mattis said. To deter enemies, the military has to make it hard, if not impossible, for them to interfere with U.S. satellites. “For every satellite up, we’ll have a hundred more that could launch as fast as they’re taken out,” he said.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

U.S. Militarization of African Continent



Maurice Carney (Friends of the Congo) speaking at the No Base conference organized by the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases​ last weekend in Baltimore.

He was one of my favorite speakers - I'd previously seen his talks and I always learn so much from him.

The US military expansion on the African continent is massive and will continue to grow.  Public knowledge about this needs to also increase quickly.

Bruce

Sunday Song