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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

BIG HIT IN SWEDEN


We showed the film at Global Network conference today in Sweden...... It was a smashing hit....people were crying and they were clapping to the music at the end.....I handed out the DVD's strategically to key leaders in various Swedish cities, and from Finland, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Germany, Japan and Mexico.....people passed the hat to send money to the village but I insisted they keep the money towards sending someone to the village ASAP......they loved the music, the story, and the resistance.....many people sent congrats to Regis Tremblay....it's was a European opening night showing......5 stars

Folks should order this film and show it locally.  People are moved when they watch it and then they want to do something.....

SHORT REPORT FROM SWEDEN SPACE CONFERENCE


Our high north space organizing conference in Kiruna, Sweden is now in its third day. 

My suitcase didn't arrive with me on the plane and I had to borrow some clothes from my host family.  Finally it was delivered to me last evening and we learned that the bag had made a trip to Hawaii instead of being sent to Sweden.  One woman at the conference remarked that "Americans don't know much about Europe so that explains why the bag was sent to Hawaii."

Yesterday we loaded on a bus and made the one hour trip to the Esrange Space Center where they launch rockets and serve as a downlink ground station for images from satellites.  The public relations person told us that they only do civilian space operations there but our group of 50 people from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, Japan, Mexico and the US had earlier listened to a presentation by Norwegian journalist Bard Wormdal provide conclusive evidence that in fact Esrange downloads many images for military operations.  It was a real pleasure to witness the strong response from the conference participants to the evasiveness of the Esrange public relations officer.

Just listened to an excellent visual presentation by Global Network board convener Dave Webb from England who showed how  the Pentagon's "missile defense" system works and is being used to surround Russia and China today.  He also had some great photos from the many years of Global Network meetings in various countries during our 21 years of organizing.

HOLDING ON TO CULTURE



Rumored to be the descendants of Alexander the Great, the Kalash people have in fact inhabited northern Pakistan's Chitral valley since long before the legendary conqueror came to the region. They uphold a rich cultural heritage, with polytheistic beliefs, seasonal festivals, and a variety of other traditions that are at odds with Pakistan's dominant Islam. Today, even as the the majestic peaks of the Hindu Kush mountains shield the Kalasha from the region's worst violence, their culture faces a variety of pressures: poverty, tourism, and Islamism are all contributing to the erosion of Kalash identity. Still, a dedicated group of Kalash advocates are fighting to keep their culture alive.

In May 2013, director Iara Lee traveled to the Chitral valley to document the Kalash spring festival, Joshi. The Kalasha and the Crescent uses the festival as an entry point into this vibrant community and the tough questions facing it. What does conversion to Islam—whether forced or spontaneous—mean for Kalash identity? Can Kalash traditions withstand the challenges brought by globalization on the one hand and by religious tensions on the other? Join members of the Kalash community and observers from around the world as they reckon with these questions.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

OVER THE FENCE



Diane Wilson, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, like a Guantanamo detainee, managed to scale the White House Fence, in an effort to draw attention to the plight of the 104 hunger striking Guantanamo detainees, most held without charges. She was immediately surrounded and arrested by a Secret Service swat team armed with automatic weapons and a German shepherd.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

MORNING FUNNIES.....




I am off early this morning to Boston to catch my plane to Sweden for the Global Network annual space conference.  Hope all my connecting flights work out.....and hope I can get some sleep on the plane.  Love this cartoon sent by a friend this morning.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

REVIEWING THE SNOWDEN CHASE



Washington has revoked Edward Snowden's passport and said that he should be prevented from traveling any further. That's as officials demand that he be returned to the jurisdiction of the United States. Some lawmakers are urging Washington to spare no effort to put him on trial in the US, even going so far as to threaten Russia over its involvement. RT's Gayane Chichakyan reports.

CLIMATE CHANGE UPDATE



On March 2nd, 2013, warriors across 14 Pacific island nations answered a call, brought on by the threat of climate change. The warrior spirit of the Pacific Islands rose to show the world "We are not drowning. We are fighting." The Warrior Spirit of the Pacific Islands has now awoken to fight climate change.

We're not giving up. We're going to fight for what is ours - our island homes and cultures.

COUNTING THE VOTES


  • Good news came to us today from Jackie Cabasso (Mayors for Peace) who reports the following:  Yesterday the US Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted the Mayors for Peace resolution Calling for US Leadership in Global Abolition of Nuclear Weapons and Redirection of Military Spending to Domestic Needs at their annual meeting in Las Vegas! Don't let what happened in Vegas stay in Vegas!! Read the final resolution with the list of 30 sponsors here
  • It's refreshing to see that big city mayors understand the current massive imbalance in our federal spending.  They feel the pain as social programs are cut and all the nation's problems are dumped in their laps.   Hopefully their resolution will begin to have some impact on the way Congress looks at the federal budget priorities. Up to this point it is clear that Congress has become virtual captives of the military industrial complex.
  • One example is the June 14 vote in the House of Representatives on the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act which approved $638 billion for the Pentagon. The vote was 315-108 in favor of passage.  Democrats voted 103-90 for the huge military spending bill with about half of the members of the "Progressive Caucus" voting yes.  These same "progressive" Dems complain about cuts in social spending, they grumble about war spending but when it comes time to stand with the forces for peace they run into the arms of the weapons corporations who give generously to their campaigns. 
  • All of this massive military spending should be put in the context of new reports indicating that nearly 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,021 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families. Most of these children have parents who work, but low wages and unstable employment leave their families struggling to make ends meet. Poverty can impede children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty also can contribute to poor health and mental health. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty.

IT GETS DEEPER YET.....

 

NRO: The "Other" Intelligence Agency 

By Loring Wirbel (Citizens for Peace in Space, Colorado Springs)


Now that every member of Congress and the White House staff is avoiding learning anything about the National Security Agency, in favor of calling for the head of Edward Snowden (with the exception of admirable efforts by Mark Udall and Ron Wyden), it is time to remind everyone that NSA is not the largest U.S. technical intelligence agency by budget.  That honor goes to the even lesser-known National Reconnaissance Office, or NRO.  The NRO, which spends in the neighborhood of between $15 and $16 billion per year, is the largest of any U.S. intelligence agency, at least in budget authority.  Its staff is small, because its business is flying spy satellites, using partial budget authority of the Air Force.

For the first 15 or 20 years following establishment of the NRO in 1960, the agency had an even more benign reputation among arms-control liberals than did the NSA, and for a very concrete reason.  The early imaging satellites launched by NRO disproved Soviet bomber gaps and missile gaps, thereby making the case for smaller strategic nuclear budgets (admittedly, they did not seem very small in the height of the Cold War, but could have been even larger).  This tendency to rely on "national technical means of verification" led to a knee-jerk assumption by many liberals that the NRO was benign-by-design.  How could a spy-satellite agency be a subject of Constitutional debate?

Those that ask this question do not realize how profoundly the NRO changed during the 1980s, and particularly in the aftermath of the Cold War.  The NSA was on a mission during the Reagan years to limit the exposure of ground-based listening posts in sensitive locations like Iran and Turkey.  The NRO could claim new frontiers in chip integration and RF antenna design that would allow the fielding of massive geosynchronous satellites with unfurlable antennas as large as two football fields, and "close-listen" satellites in low-Earth and Molniya orbits that would allow particular conversations (voice or email) to be picked up in specific regions of the planet.  During the 1980s and 1990s, a vast array of NSA capabilities moved to space, courtesy of the NRO.

In my earlier post on NSA, I pointed out that this move made it easy for NSA to expand to full broadband intercept of all communications.  It is much harder to make a satellite turn itself off for one specific region, than for the same satellite to pick up everything globally, but make much of its intercepted content deniable except when other agencies of government specifically needed that information.  Thanks to NRO, the NSA was scooping up everything from the Clinton era on - not just from the post-9/11 era.  Bush's FISA Bypass flap was about making collected NSA information usable and only partially deniable - prior to 2002, the information was collected but was denied to exist.  The constellation of NRO satellites also made it easier for signals intelligence to update itself for the TCP/IP packet-switching era of the Internet.  Many ground-based NSA resources of the past were designed for circuit-switched, nailed-up connections between sender and receiver.  NRO satellites could function just as well in the packet-switched anything-to-anything world, as in the circuit-switched telco world of the past.

During the 1980s, huge new ground stations were built at locations such as Menwith Hill in England and Buckley Field in Colorado, specifically to download, analyze, and store this massive treasure-trove of data.  The rationale for these satellite-downlink stations is similar to that for the NSA's new Utah Data Center opening this summer in Bluffdale, Utah -- the stations wouldn't be built if the agencies didn't have the data to fill them up.

In the 1990s, organizations like Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, submitted testimony to Congress on the potential problems of new classes of spy satellites.  We were privately told by Air Force officials that the protests were appreciated, because no member of Congress ever raised these issues.  Most members wouldn't know the difference between imaging and signals satellites in the first place, and virtually all members of Congress did not want to learn more about the NRO or NSA - rubber-stamping any new project was preferred.  This led to huge scandals in the mid-1990s -- at one point, NRO Director Jeff Harris was removed from the agency because he could not account for $2.5 billion of the agency's annual budget.

The NRO influence and budget continued to grow following Sept. 11, and continues to grow today.  Its classified budget is believed to exceed $15 billion.  The NRO launched six satellites in the course of 2012, of which citizens were allowed to learn virtually nothing, and the agency expanded staff at its Chantilly, VA headquarters and at Buckley AFB in Aurora, CO.  What happens if a contractor is upset about satellite capabilities and decides to reveal information a la Edward Snowden?  Do American citizens need to know each orbital plane and each frequency band of all of NRO's spy satellites?  Perhaps not.  But does the public deserve to know about the general class of advanced spy satellites like Advanced Orion and Advanced Jumpseat, and their possible role in violating civil liberties?  Of course they do.  But the attitude of the Obama administration, and 90 percent of the members of Congress, is that the public has no right to be asking about technical intelligence agencies in the first place, let alone the right to deserve honest answers.

Monday, June 24, 2013

THE TIDE IS TURNING



Real revolutions find a role for everyone to play in creating the change.  Do what you do best but do it with intention so that it helps bring the changes we need. 

These yoga folks took their spiritual practice right into the heart of the fight in Turkey and added something important.  It's the same way that the Catholic priests and nuns bring themselves into the Navy base struggle on Jeju Island.

How can you add something to the coming non-violent liberation of the people and the Mother Earth from the corporate control and domination?

A GOOD DAY



A Third Way

By Noba from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island

The number of protesters has gradually increased throughout the week. On Friday, June 21 it hit its peak with the incorporation of more Catholic priests and nuns (and those of various churches). As seen in the video, everyone gathered around the naval base in a single file which eventually broke out into singing/dancing. However, there were no police nor construction to oppose throughout the day.

An interesting occurrence happened today between activists and the police. The SOS team (Save Our Seas) went out to sea today for its weekly, Wednesday act of kayak protesting and monitoring around the naval base construction. It was quite possibly my favorite time with SOS, not only from the joy of cruising through the huge waves (a lot of wind and rain throughout the day) but from what happened afterwards. Once we brought our kayaks in from the sea we were treated with warm potato pancakes. The SOS set aside half its serving for the police and coast guards. As a result, they enjoyed the food and immediately offered us all coffee to drink together. Although such an event may not seem significant, it represented in it’s nature the truth of humanity. Regardless of our differences or which side we decide to stand on, we can still uphold the law of nonviolence. We all tread different paths but at the end of the day, our paths converge to the same goal: love.

In other news regarding SOS, , it has been decided to monitor the construction base in kayaks everyday in addition to the much larger weekly, Wednesday gatherings. 1 or 2 kayaks will go out to sea to investigate the construction’s mismanagement and record its findings. I volunteered to be one of the few to do so on a daily basis. I will post any important information regarding this in the near future.

HISTORY LESSON


DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE: WE ARE THE ENEMY NOW



  • The FBI confirmed last week that drones are carrying out surveillance within the United States. FBI Director Robert Mueller called the drone use "very seldom," while acknowledging regulations to address privacy concerns have yet to be completed. Meanwhile, in the latest leak of classified National Security Agency material, The Guardian reported Thursday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has signed off on rules that appear to grant wide latitude to the NSA in retaining and making use of Americans’ private data, rather than "minimizing" its usage. 

Democracy Now discusses the latest issues of domestic surveillance with Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild and author of the forthcoming book, "Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance." Boghosian examines the increasing monitoring of ordinary citizens, and the corporations that work with the government to mine data collected from a wide range of electronic sources.

  • Just a reminder that on July 4 the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and PeaceWorks will do a drone/NSA surveillance bit in the Bath, Maine parade.  We will have puppets, bulging eye headbands, T-shirts, banners and signs to bring the domestic surveillance issue to the public.  Bring something creative on this theme if you can.  If you don't we'll have extras to share.  The parade beings at 11:30 am and we will gather just after 10:30 am by the cemetery (across from the pizza place) on Lincoln and Congress Ave.  (Or you can come to the Addams-Melman House at 212 Centre St and leave your car here.)  Following the parade we will have a pot luck picnic back at the Addams-Melman House in Bath.  All are invited.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

WHO IS THE REAL TRAITOR?



On 1 Year, Snowden, Manning and More

by Julian Assange

It has now been a year since I entered this embassy [Ecuador embassy in London] and sought refuge from persecution.

As a result of that decision, I have been able to work in relative safety from a US espionage investigation.

But today, Edward Snowden's ordeal is just beginning.

Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy.

Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale.

Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated.

A few weeks ago, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on an ongoing program - involving the Obama administration, the intelligence community and the internet services giants - to spy on everyone in the world.

As if by clockwork, he has been charged with espionage by the Obama administration.

The US government is spying on each and every one of us, but it is Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage for tipping us off.

It is getting to the point where the mark of international distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of Justice.

Edward Snowden is the eighth leaker to be charged with espionage under this president.

Bradley Manning's show trial enters its fourth week on Monday.

After a litany of wrongs done to him, the US government is trying to convict him of "aiding the enemy."

The word "traitor" has been thrown around a lot in recent days.

But who is really the traitor here?

Who was it who promised a generation "hope" and "change," only to betray those promises with dismal misery and stagnation?

Who took an oath to defend the US constitution, only to feed the invisible beast of secret law devouring it alive from the inside out?

Who is it that promised to preside over The Most Transparent Administration in history, only to crush whistleblower after whistleblower with the bootheel of espionage charges?

Who combined in his executive the powers of judge, jury and executioner, and claimed the jurisdiction of the entire earth on which to exercise those powers?

Who arrogates the power to spy on the entire earth - every single one of us - and when he is caught red handed, explains to us that "we're going to have to make a choice."

Who is that person?

Let's be very careful about who we call "traitor."

Edward Snowden is one of us.

Bradley Manning is one of us.

They are young, technically minded people from the generation that Barack Obama betrayed.

They are the generation that grew up on the internet, and were shaped by it.

The US government is always going to need intelligence analysts and systems administrators, and they are going to have to hire them from this generation and the ones that follow it.

One day, they will run the CIA and the FBI.

This isn't a phenomenon that is going away.

This is inevitable.

And by trying to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the US government is taking on a generation, and that is a battle it is going to lose.

This isn't how to fix things.

The only way to fix things is this:

Change the policies.

Stop spying on the world.

Eradicate secret law.

Cease indefinite detention without trial.

Stop assassinating people.

Stop invading other countries and sending young Americans off to kill and be killed.

Stop the occupations, and discontinue the secret wars.

Stop eating the young: Edward Snowden, Barrett Brown, Jeremy Hammond, Aaron Swartz, Gottfrid Svartholm, Jacob Appelbaum, and Bradley Manning.

The charging of Edward Snowden is intended to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights.

That tactic must not be allowed to work.

The effort to find asylum for Edward Snowden must be intensified.

What brave country will stand up for him, and recognize his service to humanity?

Tell your governments to step forward.

Step forward and stand with Snowden.

- Julian Assange is an Australian editor, activist, journalist, and founder of Wikileaks.

SUNDAY SONG