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, August 31, 2013

NO SYRIA ATTACK

The war team meets to plan strategy


Contact Congress Now - No Syria Attack

Prevent an Attack on Syria

The terrible and widespread killing in Syria will become even more terrible and more widespread if the U.S. military (or a coalition of allies) launches an attack.

We can't idly sit by and watch the already suffering Syrian people suffer even more at the hands of the US-NATO war machine.  We must act for peace now.

Contact your House and Senate members immediately.  Get others in your community to do it as well.  Growing numbers of Republicans agree with us so reach out beyond your normal circles.

This Syria attack would be illegal, immoral, dangerous, destabilizing and expensive.  Just because there is a Democrat in the White House does not make a violent attack acceptable.  If Bush or Romney were president and tried to pull this nonsense the outcry would be even greater than at present.  We can't give any president a pass on this madness.



  • Click here to send a message to Congress.
  • Read this article by renowned journalist Robert Fisk from the UK here 

  • Write a Letter to Editor immediately.

  • Get out on the street and hold a sign - even if you are alone.

  • Keep calling the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 to be put on hold until operator is available.

  • Keep praying for and demanding peace.  We must abolish war.  In the age of high-tech warfare it is the civilians who mostly die.

Friday, August 30, 2013

FREEDOM OF O-PRESS-ION ON PALESTINIAN LANDS



Israeli military tries to prevent Palestinian TV reporter from doing a story at the weekly Bilin demonstration in their village.

Now Israel wants to help Obama "liberate" the people of Syria just like they've "liberated" the Palestinian people - onto refugee camps where they can be smothered.

WE ARE DESTROYERS: RUMORS OF WAR MONGERING



  • Dave Webb, Chair of the UK's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament wrote me this morning with these words, "We are so relieved about the vote in parliament last night. People are realising at last that war is not the answer. There is no public backing for military intervention! All those protests, actions and all the lobbying have been worth it after all! Keep up the good work - it is so important."  Dave also serves as the board convener of the Global Network and runs our web site.
  • Because of revelations made possible by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Washington Post yesterday ran a story about the Black Budget, the secret budget that Congress is not even allowed to know about.  They reported it is up to $52.6 billion per year and gets dished out to 16 different military/spy agencies that collectively employ 107,035 people.  Yes, call that a secret government, unaccountable to anyone other than the profit-driven military industrial complex.  Tops among recipients of this black budget are the CIA at $14.7 billion, the NSA at $10.8 billion and the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) at $10.3 billion.  And remember, this is in addition to all the other money that Congress does knowingly appropriate for them!  Can there be any doubt that this secret, private government now running foreign and military policy is nothing more than a corporate criminal syndicate?  And what will be the response of Congress now that this information is public?  Nothing, because they don't have the guts to take it on....they are happy to remain part of the decorations on the tree of "democracy" - fancy lights and bulbs that look nice but have no real power. 
  • I went to our Maine Veterans for Peace meeting last night held in nearby Brunswick.  We had a presentation by an Iraq war veteran who flew drones for the Army in those war zones.  He briefed us on all he knew about drones.  It was quite good.  The young man is now out of the military and going to college.  During the meeting I gave a report on organizing progress for the upcoming October 10-19 Maine Drone Peace Walk that VFP is co-sponsoring along with the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home.  
  • The Maine Drone Peace Walk will end at the Hall of Flags inside the state capital in Augusta on Friday, October 18.  At 3:00 pm we will gather there for a closing ceremony with words and songs.  That evening we will have a pot luck supper at the Mediation & Facilitation Resources Center located at 11 King St in Augusta at 6:00 pm. 
  • We are looking for a seven-passenger van to use on the drone peace walk to shuttle people and carry our food.  So far we've not been able to find one.  If anyone knows someone who might loan us such a vehicle please let me know ASAP.
  • VFP also decided to call for a protest in Bath on Saturday, October 19 at 10:00 am when BIW does a "christening" of the new "stealth" Zumwalt class destroyer.  Originally 32 of these ships were planned for the class, but this was progressively cut down because of the cost so for now only three will be built. The Navy expects each ship to cost at least $3.3 billion, although I've seen some estimates of more than $4 billion each. The standard Arleigh Burke class of guided missile destroyers were costing about $1.5 billion apiece. The Navy was not really excited about doubling the cost of these destroyers but Obama insisted they build them anyway.  I believe he was repaying the Crown family from Chicago (majority stockholders in General Dynamics that owns Bath Iron Works.)  The Crown family early on promoted Obama for president and raised $$$ for him nationally within the military industrial complex and the Jewish community.
  • Early the morning of October 19 we'll shuttle the drone peace walkers to Bath to join in the protest at the shipyard against the new destroyer.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

BRITISH PARLIAMENT SAYS NO!



Stung deeply by George W. Bush and Tony Blair's deception leading up to the 2003 Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) the Brits step up to the plate and say NO this time.  Very nice.

Now let's see France say NO to the Obomber.

And let's hear the US Congress, especially the rest of the Democrats, take on their war-mongering president for once like Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) does in the video just below.

HARD TO IMAGINE THIS FROM ORLANDO - BUT SO GLAD TO SEE IT



I lived in Orlando, Florida for 20 years from 1974-1994.  The entire time I lived there the Central Florida region was ruled by right-wingers.

Somehow that community now has a Congressman named Alan Grayson representing them.  He stands his ground remarkably well in opposition to Obama's attack on Syria in this interview on CNN.  Good to see that Orlando is coming to its senses.

Action: Here in Maine there will be a protest against military intervention in Syria at noon on Saturday, August 31, at Monument Square in Portland.

ALERT: TIME FOR PRODUCT RECALL



Hello,

I have an important public service announcement from The National Institute.

Please pay close attention.

There is a recall of a pharmaceutical drug that has been on the market since 2007. In preliminary studies, Obama was found to alleviate symptoms of major depression and anxiety disorders that were pandemic during the Bush/Cheney Administration.

This is a Class One Recall, a situation where there is a reasonable probability that use of or exposure to this product will cause serious adverse health consequences or even death. Obama was given to the nation in large doses to consume. Serious side effects from taking Obama have been found to include but are not limited to:

Significant memory loss both of short and long term memory
Delusional fantasies
Feelings of exceptionalism
Detachment from reality
Short term feelings of euphoria
Chronic feelings of betrayal
Monotonous speech patterns, characterized by droning on
Confusion
Feelings of rage
Frustration
Fits of despair
Paranoia
Fear of bugs
Sudden increase in alcohol consumption
Unemployment
Loss of appetite
Nausea
Loss of vision
Loss of judgement
Willingness to compromise everything
Dystopia
No concern for the future

Once again we are seeing severe depression and anxiety disorders nationwide. An official recall is in effect. If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, remember you are not alone. Do not delay. Stop taking Obama.

Thank you.

THE SOUL OF OUR NATION - WAR


This is how it works.

The US has been providing Egypt with nearly $2 billion a year in "aid" since 1979.  Most of this is military aid.  That "aid" is then used to buy weapons from American corporations.  So in reality most of US foreign aid becomes more welfare programs for the military industrial complex.

Because of current civil war conditions in Egypt the Obama team is having to hold off on providing more aid to that embattled nation.  A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 51% of respondents said it's better to cut off military assistance to Egypt, while 26% backed continued aid.

The "aid" now on temporary hold would include: F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin; M1A1 tanks from General Dynamics; and Apache attack helicopters made by Boeing Co.

CBS News reported on August 20:  "The billion dollars in aid Congress approved for Egypt does not go directly to Cairo, it goes to places such as Archbald, Pennsylvania.  The General Dynamics factory there makes parts for the M1A1 tank.  General Dynamics is filling an order for 125 tank kits for the Egyptian Army.  One-hundred-thirty people work at the Archbald facility."

You can imagine the workers at the Archbald facility want this "aid" to continue.  Archbald Mayor Ed Fairbrother says the jobs are "extremely important" to the community.  "They are some of the best jobs we have in the community," he says.  "Those are the kinds of jobs that sustain communities and families."

There are 44 companies in Pennsylvania involved in production of the M1A1.  The interesting thing is that Egypt does not need the tanks and many of the "kits" are still in crates after being delivered to their military.

American communities have become addicted to war spending and military production.  As most traditional manufacturing industry has moved overseas seeking cheaper labor the best jobs in most parts of the nation are building weapons.  It's thus no coincidence that the #1 industrial export product of our nation is weapons.   And what is our global marketing strategy for that product line?  Hello Syria!

An attack on Syria will at the least expend lots of Tomahawk cruise missiles.  When daddy Bush launched a cruise missile attack on Iraq in the early 1990's these missiles cost $1 million each.  The Pentagon used 100 of them in the initial attack.  McDonnell Douglas (now owned by Boeing Co.) had their factory in Titusville, Florida working round-the-clock to replace them.  At the start of George W. Bush's Iraq attack in 2003 it was the Tomahawk cruise missile that fired the first shots from the USS Cowpens. The ship is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser. The ship is named after the Battle of Cowpens, a major American victory near Cowpens, South Carolina, in the American Revolution. It was built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine.

Years ago I spoke to a peace group here in Maine and I noticed a young woman in the audience with a look in her eyes that I immediately recognized.  After my talk she hung around near my literature table but waited until everyone was gone before she approached Mary Beth and me.  She told us she was an Iraq War veteran.  We had not had dinner yet so invited her to come along with us.  Over the years we became like family with this wonderful former Navy Lieutenant who was the Officer on the Deck responsible for positioning the USS Cowpens when it launched the very first Tomahawk cruise missile during "shock and awe" in 2003.


Today this young woman suffers from severe war trauma.  She told us the story of seeing the series of missiles launch right before her eyes.  After her shift was over she went below to see the crew watching a TV with images of a burning Baghdad.  The crew was cheering.  She was in a daze and stumbled to her bunk.  At her first opportunity she got out of the Navy and today has a tough time functioning in the "real world".

Today these same missiles now cost up to $3 million each.  So a similar attack on Syria will keep the factories humming back home.  We've become a killer nation.  We have to have endless war, like a drunk needs a drink at the bar, in order for American workers to put food on the tables for their families.

What does this say about the soul of our nation?



The USS Cowpens launching cruise missiles at Iraq at the start of Bush's "shock and awe". This ship is credited with being first to strike and launched 11 of the missiles.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MANIPULATING THE MEDIA STILL CONTINUES





Video on the CIA funding and manipulation of the U.S. news media.  Operation Mockingbird was a secret Central Intelligence Agency campaign to influence domestic and foreign media beginning in the 1950s.

According to the Congress report published in 1976:

“The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.”

Senator Frank Church argued that misinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year.

In 1948, Frank Wisner was appointed director of the Office of Special Projects (OSP). Soon afterwards OSP was renamed the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on “propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”

Later that year Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence the domestic and foreign media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham from The Washington Post to run the project within the industry. According to Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great; “By the early 1950s, Wisner ‘owned’ respected members of The New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles.”

In 1951, Allen W. Dulles persuaded Cord Meyer to join the CIA. However, there is evidence that he was recruited several years earlier and had been spying on the liberal organizations he had been a member of in the later 1940s. According to Deborah Davis, Meyer became Mockingbird’s “principal operative.”

In 1977, Rolling Stone alleged that one of the most important journalists under the control of Operation Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop, whose articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists alleged by Rolling Stone Magazine to have been willing to promote the views of the CIA included Stewart Alsop (New York Herald Tribune), Ben Bradlee (Newsweek), James Reston (New York Times), Charles Douglas Jackson (Time Magazine), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), William C. Baggs (The Miami News), Herb Gold (The Miami News) and Charles Bartlett (Chattanooga Times). According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman), these journalists sometimes wrote articles that were commissioned by Frank Wisner. The CIA also provided them with classified information to help them with their work.

After 1953, the network was overseen by Allen W. Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. By this time Operation Mockingbird had a major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies. These organizations were run by people with well-known right-wing views such as William Paley (CBS), Henry Luce (Time and Life Magazine), Arthur Hays Sulzberger (New York Times), Alfred Friendly (managing editor of the Washington Post), Jerry O’Leary (Washington Star), Hal Hendrix (Miami News), Barry Bingham, Sr., (Louisville Courier-Journal), James Copley (Copley News Services) and Joseph Harrison (Christian Science Monitor).

The Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was funded by siphoning of funds intended for the Marshall Plan. Some of this money was used to bribe journalists and publishers. Frank Wisner was constantly looking for ways to help convince the public of the dangers of communism. In 1954, Wisner arranged for the funding of the Hollywood production of Animal Farm, the animated allegory based on the book written by George Orwell.

According to Alex Constantine (Mockingbird: The Subversion Of The Free Press By The CIA), in the 1950s, “some 3,000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts”. Wisner was also able to restrict newspapers from reporting about certain events. For example, the CIA plots to overthrow the governments of Iran (See: Operation Ajax) and Guatemala (See: Operation PBSUCCESS). 

GIVING HYPOCRISY A BAD NAME



According to declassified CIA documents, US intelligence officials disclosed the location of Iranian troops to Iraq knowing that Saddam Hussein would use chemical weapons against them back in the 1980s. According to the new revelation from Foreign Policy Magazine, not only did they the US provide the location, but were aware of the scale of nerve gas attacks. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern weighs in on the report and explains how America's intervention changed history.

SPEAK OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN


This is what an US attack on Syria will look like.  Tomahawk cruise missiles will be fired from Navy destroyers just like in 2003 when Bush's "shock and awe" attack on Iraq began with the firing of cruise missiles from these same ships.

Many innocent people, likely many hundreds, will be killed in Syria as Obama "punishes" the already suffering Syrian people even more.  For those liberal Democrats out there that still apologize for Obama, who acts more like Bush every day, this attack should be hard to swallow.  But swallow it they will.

We worked the polls yesterday (in a special State Senate election) here in Bath, Maine with our petition opposing more tax breaks for Bath Iron Works (BIW) where these Navy destroyers are built.  So this attack on Syria cuts deep into my heart as the shipyard sits just blocks from our house.  We got 369 signatures during the 12-hours at the polls.  Reports indicate that 1,786 people passed through the voting booth here in Bath yesterday.  That means we got 20% of the voters to sign the petition.  Not bad considering we were only allowed to have one person staffing the table at a time so when we were speaking with someone many others would pass us by.  I was deeply touched by the number of BIW workers that stopped to sign the petition.  One man said to me, "I've been working at BIW for 31 years, you don't have to convince me to sign this."  A woman worker said to me, "I'm now doing the job of three people and we won't get a pay raise for a long time to come."

I strongly believe that the US and NATO have set up the pretext to bomb Syria just as they have been arming the so-called "rebels" who are tied directly with Al-Qaeda. The rebels have been armed and secretly directed by the US-NATO war machine all along.

Respected journalist Gareth Porter wrote yesterday that, "After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation."  The US is not seeking truth and justice.  The US wants more war, more instability in the region, and wants to cross off Syria on its list of nations it has toppled on behalf of corporate interests.  Next on the list is Iran.

Near the closing of the polls last night one former BIW worker came up to the table and quickly signed the petition.  Talking about the impending attack on Syria he said, "The Indians said the white man was crazy."

That pretty much sums it up for me.  The US-NATO white man's capitalist empire is out to take over the world.  They use the language of international law, justice, peace, democracy, freedom and the like.  But these are dirty players and they will go to any lengths to accomplish their evil deeds.  Republican or Democrat does not matter, they are in this one together.

I might be just one person but I will continue to stand against this insanity until the day I drop.  Nothing is more important to me than protecting the Mother Earth and all of its inhabitants against this dark corruption of the soul that we witness inside Washington and NATO today.

I urge you to make a call to Washington DC and leave a message for Obama.  (Recent polls show that only 9% of the American people support an attack on Syria.) Call the White House comment line now at 202-456-1111 or  202-456-1414 to be put on hold until operator is available.  Stand on the street corner with a sign.  Do something.

I am so tired of war.  Speak out while you still can.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

TAXI DRIVER ON THE QUEEN


PETITIONING AT THE POLLS

I spent two hours this morning gathering petition signatures at the voting polls here in Bath.  We have a petition calling on the City of Bath to reject the upcoming request from Bath Iron Works (BIW) for another round of tax breaks for their shipyard expansion. (BIW builds Navy Aegis destroyers which are outfitted with 'missile defense' systems and are being used to surround Russia and China.)  BIW is owned by General Dynamics whose top Chief Executive Officer (CEO) last year made $18 million in compensation.  The municipal budget of our city is less than $15 million a year.

Since 1999 BIW has received $197 million in state and local tax breaks for their expansion and mechanization of operations.  During that same period of time BIW has laid off 2,000 workers.  Since 1999 property taxes in Bath have risen by 25%.  So it's more than obvious that the tax payers of Bath are subsidizing BIW's ability to reduce their work force.  On top of all that only 500 of the current 5,500 workers at BIW live in Bath.

During my time at the polls this morning I got about 70 signatures from local residents.  I asked the City Clerk how many voters she expected today and she said if we are lucky we will get about 300.  She told me that prior to today 450 people had voted absentee ballot.  So if that holds true that only 300 or so show up at the polls then we are going to get a sizeable percentage of those voters signing our petition.

I was pleasantly surprised how open people were.  I didn't have to use the words "corporate welfare" to describe the BIW tax break request.  Several voters used the words before I could open my mouth.  One man signed the petition and told me, "I work at BIW but oppose this tax break." 

We have seven different people staffing our petition table today which indicates that there is growing concern in the community about this issue.  One of our volunteers told me this morning that he had sent an email to all city councilors and one of them had responded to him with these words:  "I am getting more calls about this issue than practically any other thing before."  Bingo.

I go back to do the last hour tonight from 7-8 pm.  It will be exciting to see how many signatures we get.  Even many of those who refuse to sign the petition are taking our information leaflet.  Our day of working the polls in Bath is going to ensure that this corporate tax break issue will be reverberating across the community.

Monday, August 26, 2013

THESE WORDS STIR MY BLOOD



Bill Moyers says the parody and satire of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert pay Washington the disrespect it deserves, but in the end it’s the city’s predatory mercenaries who have the last laugh.

Them there is fighting words for sure...... who has any fight left in them?  Enough of being nice and polite, we are in big trouble folks.

See the deeper story about bi-partisan greed and corruption in the Moyers interview with Mark Leibovich of The New York Times.  He has written about the city’s bipartisan lust for power, cash and notoriety in a book that everyone who’s anyone in the nation’s capital is talking about.

This Democrat-Republican corporate collusion is clear evidence that we must have a revolution.

DRONES, SURVEILLANCE, AND CENSORSHIP



This latest edition of This Issue features Shenna Bellows from the Maine ACLU.  She talks with me about the drone surveillance bill that passed the Maine legislature this spring but was vetoed by Gov. LePage.  The bill would have required the police to obtain warrants before using drones for surveillance.  The bill also would have allowed for "weaponized" drone testing in the state.  Shenna also speaks about the NSA surveillance program and the recent revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

I learned just last night that the public access TV channel in Brunswick, where my show has been running for the past 10 years, has cut my show times in half.  I've had a set schedule that ran the show four times each week but a recent staff change by the town of Brunswick has also brought political changes.  In addition to my show times being cut by 50% they did the same thing to shows produced by the local Brunswick-based PeaceWorks.  They went from two shows per week to only one.  (Just to illustrate the point a non-political show called Train Times, produced some place else, is running nine times per week.)

My show, This Issue, is the second longest running locally produced TV show on public access in Brunswick.  The whole idea of public access TV is to encourage local people to bring their ideas, creativity, and issues to the airwaves.  It's becoming clear that in the midcoast of Maine political commentary "outside the box" is being pushed off the air. (Brunswick residents may reach TV 3 at 725-0614.)

I often hear veterans say to people like me, "If it wasn't for us fighting overseas you'd have no right to free speech."  Of course this is nonsense as GI's "fighting" overseas are not fighting for my free speech but for corporate interests.  But never the less, I'm still waiting for the day when these same vets come to the aid of those of us who daily are losing our "freedoms" to assemble, to speak, and to be free from government surveillance.

I won't hold my breath while waiting.....it's like waiting for Godot.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

JUST A REMINDER



I've run this short video before but with the coming US attack on Syria it's worth playing again.  Can there be any doubt who Obama works for?

In an interview with Amy Goodman on March 2, 2007, U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.), explained that the Bush Administration planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
 
So, with the pending illegal action against Syria, is the Obama Administration following Bush’s mid-east plan?

SUNDAY SONG