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, July 06, 2013

A CRUDE OIL - WE ARE TOLD IT IS SAFE TO TRANSPORT ON TRAINS



Balls of flames shot several metres into the air after a train carrying crude oil derailed in the Quebec (Canada) town of Lac-Megantic early Saturday, sparking several explosions.

Hundreds of people were evacuated in the community about 250 kilometres east of Montreal.


"It's dreadful," said Lac-Megantic resident Claude Bedard. "It's terrible. We've never seen anything like it.

Some of the train's 73 cars exploded and a fire that that could be seen for several kilometres spread to a number of homes.

A large but undetermined amount of fuel also reportedly spilled into the Chaudière River.

SUNDAY SONG (A DAY EARLY)

REPORT ON US WAR ON AFRICA FROM INSIDE GERMANY



At the 5:12 point in the video they have a really good illustration of how US drones flying over Africa are linked to satellites that connect AfriCom in Germany and US drone pilots back home.  Really reenforces how satellites are ultimately the "triggers" that make drones work.

Friday, July 05, 2013

JULY 4 BATH PARADE PROTEST



A video by Regis Tremblay covering our drone and NSA surveillance protest during the July 4 parade in Bath, Maine.

End of video has a great quote from S. Brian Wilson, member of Veterans For Peace.

TALKING EMPIRE OF ARROGANCE, SURVEILLANCE, AND CORPORATE WAR


  • About 25 of us were in the Bath, Maine July 4 parade yesterday with a theme of drone and NSA surveillance.  It was alot of fun and at our pot luck picnic afterward folks felt real good about the response we got from the approximately 10,000 along the parade route.  I was inside the big puppet near the back so it was hard to gauge the reactions.  In spite of the fact that it was hotter than hell and I was dripping wet with sweat (yes it felt like Florida) I had alot of fun.  Thanks to all who joined with us.
  • In recent days I can't get over the outrageous move by the US and some of its European allies to "hijack" the presidential air flight of Evo Morales from Bolivia.  Journalist John Pilger has a great piece in the UK Guardian about it which I highly recommend.  He writes, "Germany's Der Spiegel has described the Obama administration as 'soft totalitarianism'. If the penny is falling, we might all look closer to home."  See the piece here
  • Edward Snowden might be on his way to Iceland if he can get there.  They way things are going the Obama team just might shoot any plane carrying him out of the sky....."for the greater good" they'd say afterward.  Nothing surprises me any more from Obama.  A bigger sellout in US history has never sullied the halls of our government.
  • My next trip comes soon.  On July 10 I head to Kauai, Hawaii to meet with the peace group on that island.  On Kauai the naval version of the Pentagon's "missile defense" (MD) system launches dummy 'nuclear weapons' and Aegis destroyers outfitted with interceptors are parked offshore.  They then try to intercept the dummy missiles.  These Navy Aegis MD systems are the ones Obama is using to help surround Russia (by sending them into Mediterranean, Baltic, Black, Bering, and Barents Seas) and China (East China and Yellow Seas).  From Kauai I'll then head to the Philippines for an international conference called A Conference on U.S. Strategic Pivot to Asia Pacific, U.S. Militarism, Intervention and War.  I'll stay for a couple days afterwards and do some speaking around Manila.  From there I head to Australia where Global Network board member Dr. Hannah Middleton and others have organized a three-city speaking tour for me.  I'll go to Darwin in the north where Obama has announced the basing of more than 1,500 Marines.  (We've got to protect Australia from something, not sure what?).  Then I go to Sydney and Melbourne.  It will be a three-week trip altogether.  I hope to show and distribute The Ghosts of Jeju at each stop.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

THE KIRUNA CONFERENCE STATEMENT



PROTECTING THE HIGH NORTH, DEMILITARISING OUTER SPACE AND REMOVING THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION

The International Conference on the High North and International Security was held in the city of Kiruna, Sweden, on 28-30th June 2013. Representatives from a wide spectrum of civil societies and public movements from a number of Scandinavian, European, Asian and Latin American countries, Russia and the United States of America attended and agreed the following:

Conference members recognize:

that we are facing major threats to our survival through the continued pretence that security can be obtained through aggressive foreign policies and military action;

that the ultimate consequences of these policies is the continued development and threatened use of nuclear weapons and the exploitation and militarization of environments that should be protected for the benefit of all humankind - such as the Arctic and outer space;

that the High North is being used by an expanding NATO as a military practice ground in which to rehearse future war fighting strategies and to test and develop new killing technologies;

that the US has established a satellite ground station in the Svalbard islands in Norway which is used by the military and therefore violates the Svalbard or Spitzbergen Treaty that requires that the archipelago is not used for military purposes;

the rapidly increasing deployment of space based military systems and the global network of ground based stations (including radars, downlink and surveillance facilities) that support and supplement them;

that the uncontrolled and irresponsible use of outer space has resulted in that environment being littered with debris that could eventually render it impenetrable;

the destabilizing effects that the deployment of space based, ground based and sea based missile defense systems have on undermining international stability and that they are risking the possibility of reaching further agreements on nuclear disarmament;

that all states who have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should honour its Article VI and “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”;

the negative consequences stemming from the stationing of US tactical nuclear weapons in a number of European nations;

that US President Obama’s focus on his “pivot to Asia”, the sending of missiles and warships to the region and the encouragement of the construction of support bases in the region (such as the one threatening the lives of the Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island, South Korea), is aimed at containing China and is increasing international tension.

We therefore call on all governments, political parties, members of civil societies and public movements all over the world to share these concerns and urgently request them to call upon:

the leaders of the Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to arrange an urgent meeting on the revival of stalled arms control processes and to embrace all key areas, including nuclear weapons, missile defense and conventional weapons stationed on the ground, at sea, in the air and in outer space;

the members of the United Nations to firmly work towards the adoption of a Nuclear Weapons Convention, leading to nuclear disarmament,  and we call upon the nuclear weapon states not to obstruct the discussion of the Nuclear Weapons Convention in the General Assembly of the UN;

all nations possessing or about to possess missile defense components should recognize their destabilizing nature and seek instead, through diplomatic processes, to reduce international tensions and work towards a situation where cooperation, mutual trust and understanding;

all space-faring nations should engage immediately in high level talks on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and the adoption of outer space as a de-militarized zone;

all states to respect and renew their commitment to protect the unique and vitally important regions of the Earth, such as the Arctic and Antarctic, and reconfirm that they are not the property of any one nation, and never should be, but are to be protected as a common heritage for all humankind and never used for military purposes.

The money and material assets that will be gained from the above steps and other arms control and disarmament measures should not then be redirected to other military projects but used instead to help convert our militarized societies to peaceful ones that work for the betterment of the social and economic well being of all people – for human rather than state security – and for dealing with our common problem of climate change.

As declared at the conference in Kiruna, Sweden, 29th June 2013.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

EGYPT: WHEN THE PEOPLE REALLY GET FED UP



Who says non-violent protest can't win?

Who ever becomes the new leader will know that he is on a short leash.  And the people are starting to take control of the other end of the leash.  To make things happen in a good way you've got to stay on the case in a situation like this.  Once the change is made the people have to stay involved and keep building more pressure or everything will slip through our hands.

The mistake that was made in the US after the election of Obama was that the liberals who put him into power then went to sleep and were afraid to hold their new "leader" accountable for his lies and his double-dealing. 

The arrogance of the Obama administration was manifested at an all-time high with the 13-hour kidnapping yesterday of Bolivia's President Evo Morales.  Thinking that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden might be on the plane carrying Morales back home from a meeting in Moscow, the US had France, Portugal, and Spain deny free air passage to the plane.   The presidential plane was forced to divert to Austria where it was thoroughly searched by Austrian officials to see if Snowden was on board.  The Bolivian foreign minister charges the US with threatening the life of the Morales because the plane was running low on fuel. 

It is quite likely that the Obama administration was doing to Morales what it has been doing to whistleblowers, journalists, and international opponents of neo-liberalism: intimidating them.

In essence, the White House and the military-industrial complex-surveillance state apparatus were putting world leaders who might be contemplating granting asylum to Snowden on notice: "We can reach you anywhere: don't mess with us by giving Snowden a refuge from our prosecution of him."

The US has reached a new low in the world.  Why anyone, in any country, would trust the US corporate controlled government now is beyond me.

REMEMBERING HOMER



While I was away to Sweden our dog Homer was killed by a car in the street in front of our house.

We only had Homer for one year but he and I became very close.  He was a coon hound and his sniffer worked overtime.  He took us all on walks - dragged us actually.

He had an amazing internal clock....he knew his eating times and was good at reminding us.  About 2:00 pm everyday he would begin working me hard to get away from the computer and take him for a walk.  I owe him alot for helping improve my mental health.

We got Home-dee from the dog pound.  They said he had been on death row in Jacksonville, Florida.  We gave him a good year of love and affection.

For a Florida dog he learned to love tromping in the snow.

He was the only dog I ever saw that did not lick.  He would sniff your face though.  He loved to be brushed and would get very playful.... one of the few times that he really let out his emotions.

Homer gave us so much joy.  I miss him.


THE CRUELTY BY ISRAEL CONTINUES



Theodore Bikel: "It Hurts that the Descendents of Anatevka Wish to Expell 40,000 Israeli Negev Bedouin"

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

BLOCKING OIL TRAIN IN MAINE


FORCING CHANGE IN EGYPT




Monday, July 01, 2013

REPORT FROM 'HIGH NORTH' SPACE CONFERENCE

Activists from Finland point out drone test range just 30 kilometers from the Russian border (click on image for larger view)

Swedish Peace Council V-P Agneta Norberg and Norwegian journalist Bard Wormdal point out the locations of the satellite downlink stations at the two poles where Norway shares images with the US military

I am writing this from the Frankfurt, Germany airport where I have a three-hour layover on the way back to Boston.  I flew early this morning from Kiruna to Stockholm.

One of our new Global Network Advisory Board members, Luis-Gutierrez-Esparza (President of Latin-American Circle of International Studies) from Mexico was met with a big surprise after he left Kiruna.  Early this morning our board convener Dave Webb from the UK received an email from Luis saying that prior to boarding his flight in Stockholm he was pulled aside by United Airlines security and interrogated for 45 minutes about our Global Network conference.  He was asked who paid for his trip to Sweden, who organized the conference, how the conference was funded, and for a list of all conference participants.  Luis did tell them how his own trip was funded (by sources inside Mexico) but he refused to give any names of anyone else involved in the event.

This unusual interrogation of Luis indicates just how closely the military industrial complex is watching the work of the Global Network.  They do fear the spreading of knowledge and resistance to US-NATO efforts to use the “High North” of Sweden, Norway, and Finland for space radars, satellite downlink stations, and testing areas for drones and other high-tech weapons.  This incident should give us all full confidence that we are on the right track and the determination to continue, and to expand, our efforts.

I want to offer some observations from my conference notes that I think were particularly interesting and important.  They are not in any particular order but all equally valuable. 

The event was attended by people from the following nations:  Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, England, Russia, US, Mexico and Japan.

  • The conference began with singing by a Sami (indigenous people from the High North) man.  Sami are best known for their reindeer herding.  He sang prayers to his mother, grandfather, his friend, and the wind.
  • Kiruna is a city of about 20,000 people in the High North and while we were there we never saw the sun set – it is the land of the midnight sun.
  • Kiruna is a mining town and has the largest underground iron ore mine in the world.  Because they essentially mine underneath the city the ground just below is expected to eventually give way so the city is being moved away from the mine and the process will take the next 30 years to complete.  The mining company, owned by the state, will pay for the moving of the city.
  • During WW II the Nazi’s never occupied Sweden but instead they took the iron ore from Kiruna to Germany to build their war machine.
  • Just outside of Kiruna is the Esrange Space Center where they download images from satellites in polar orbits.  The information from the satellites is used for both civilian and military purposes.
  • Expanding mining operations and the growing space testing range are having negative impacts on the Sami people’s culture and ability to herd reindeer.
  • One Sami woman speaker told us that we’ve all had our minds colonized by the western dominant culture and that we each have a responsibility to de-colonize our minds.
  • Norwegian journalist Bard Wormdal (author of The Satellite War) told us that Norway practices a “double standard” as they violate the Svalbard and Antarctic Treaties which strictly forbid military operations of any kind from happening at these north and south polar locations.  In both cases Norway has downlink satellite stations at these two points and provide the US military with imagery that is used for war making.  The Norwegian government still denies this even after the publishing of the book, which provides conclusive evidence of these treaty violations.
  • When the conference participants took a bus trip to the Esrange Space Center we got a briefing from a public relations team representing the Swedish Space Corporation.  At first they told us that only civilian use satellite imagery are being downloaded at the center but after many knowledgeable persons in our group objected and offered the truth they reluctantly admitted that indeed satellite imagery is in fact provided for US and NATO military operations.
  • Russian conference participant Vladimir Kozin told us that when Obama recently spoke in Berlin about the need for cuts in nuclear weapons the Pentagon at the very same moment was releasing a new plan to upgrade existing US nuclear weapons based in Europe.  The US is the only nuclear power that bases its nukes outside of its own country.
  • Kozin stated that the Russian government feels strongly that the US “missile defense” program (now being expanded with NATO to surround Russia) undercuts their strategic defense capability and makes hopes for nuclear disarmament virtually impossible.
  • In Obama’s Berlin speech he did not mention “one single word” about missile defense Kozin told the conference.
  • Kozin also reported that in recent times the US Navy has been sending nuclear submarines toward Russian submarine bases. (Imagine the outrage if the reverse was being done!)
  • The new European Union “Galileo” military/civilian satellite system (like the US GPS) will be used to explore for oil and natural gas drilling in the melting Arctic Ocean.
  • Activists from Finland showed the conference a map of the large drone testing area that has been established in their country.  The 11,000 square kilometer test area is only 30 kilometers from the Russian border.  In 2005 drones that were used in Afghanistan were tested at the range.
  • Finnish corporate controlled media, like in Sweden and Norway, are doing major anti-Russian propaganda that is pumping up conflict in the region.
  • We need to draft international anti-drone agreements at the NGO level and it was decided to begin that process right away.
  • It was also decided that the Global Network should pursue the idea of making a documentary video about the dangers of expanding “missile defense”.
  • Over and over during the conference links were made between climate change and expanding militarism.  There was total agreement that we should all be demanding the conversion of the military industrial complex so that our resources can be used to deal with climate change.
  • We must turn the Arctic region into an International Nature Park in order to prevent the drilling for oil and natural gas and the militarization of the Arctic.
  • The development of robotic warfare technology may be the biggest military advancement since the making of the atomic bomb.
  • We must all talk more about how Techno-Fascism, and the worshipping of military technology, is a deep spiritual sickness.
  • A US military radar for “missile defense” is planned for deployment in the Kyoto prefecture in Japan.  Resistance plans are now underway.
  • RAF Waddington in the UK is now piloting drones from that base.  Protests were recently held there.
  • In Darmstadt, Germany US military downlink radars were removed some years ago but it was only recently learned that below the ground at that same location still exists a military war fighting computer center.
  • Following the recent disclosures about the NSA by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, the UK government told their media that they are not allowed to mention the NSA surveillance program and the Menwith Hill (US NSA spy base) in Yorkshire in the same breath.
  • There was a tentative decision made by the Global Network membership to hold our 22nd annual space organizing conference in 2014 near Vandenberg AFB in California. 
  • It was also resolved to create a Nordic network to work on drone and space issues that would work to organize local actions during Keep Space for Peace Week - October 5-12.
  • The new documentary called The Ghosts of Jeju was shown to the conference and people loved the film about resistance to a Navy base on Jeju Island, South Korea that will port US warships as Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific further surrounds China.  People cried, clapped with the music at the end, and asked for how to get the film.  You can order it here
  • Everyone expressed their deep appreciation to all those in the Swedish peace movement for doing a wonderful job hosting our conference.  Particular thanks go to Women for Peace and especially those in Kiruna who worked so hard to take such good care of us.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

WE ENVISION SOMETHING BETTER



Anne Braden: Southern Patriot provides an in-depth portrait of the legendary Southern organizer and journalist whose life long activism exemplified what progressive white people can do to fight racism. She was labeled a "race traitor" by white supremacists and praised by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

SUNDAY SONG