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, November 14, 2015

Visiting the U.S. Base in Niscemi

Dave Webb and I viewing the MUOS system this morning near Niscemi, Sicily

At the front gate of the US space warfare base.  In the distance US Navy military stand after we asked to speak with the base commander.  They refused our request.



The latest news about Sicilian activist Turi, who scaled the satellite dish at the US Navy space communications war base in Niscemi, is that his trial will happen in February.  In the meantime the US is claiming that Turi did 800,000 Euros worth of damage to the dish during his 30 hours of striking it with his carpenter hammer.  Turi is banned from coming to Niscemi by the court but those who know him say that ruling is unlikely to keep him away from further protests.

Dave and I spoke in Ragusa last night to about 50 people. Yosi did the translating and we had a vigorous discussion afterward. People in the audience clearly are tired of the constant US military presence in several parts of Sicily including the US naval base located in Catania.  They don’t trust the US any further than they can spit and expressed deep concern about Pentagon weather modification programs that they believe are having severe impacts on the soil quality and weather patterns throughout Sicily.

One woman asked if the Global Network has had any ‘victories’ over the years and I answered that getting people to know about, and begin to understand, the US military space domination program was our primary mission.  Until the people of the world understand what the US Space Command is doing we won’t have much of a chance to stop anything.  As Noam Chomsky often says, “How can you expect people to stop something they don’t know anything about?”  It is the work of the Global Network to change that dynamic and over the years I’d say we’ve had some success in helping to create this international awareness and some level of public protest.

Dave did a very good job with his PowerPoint presentation showing how the MUOS base in Niscemi fits into the larger Pentagon space warfare program.  Few of the folks in the audience had seen this larger picture before and now more clearly understand how this one military installation in Sicily is another key link in the expanding and provocative military program of ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’.

This morning we made the one-hour drive from Ragusa to Niscemi and took a tour of the MUOS base where Turi just days ago climbed the giant satellite dish. As you look at the photo above it is the satellite dish on the left that he climbed onto.  Right after we arrived at the base three local Sicilian police and national military police cars drove up and seven officers got out and demanded our identification.  After they took our names and did background checks on us we were allowed to hike through the beautiful surrounding countryside to the fence for a good look at the satellite dishes.

Following the base tour we went to the local library in Niscemi to do our talks to a second audience of 25 people.

In the morning Dave and I leave Sicily and fly to England where for the next week I will do a speaking tour taking me to Bradford, NSA listening post at Menwith Hill, Leeds, London, US early-warning radar at Fylingdales and the US space communications base at Croughton. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The View from Scicli




We were lucky yesterday that Yosi (on the right in photo above) has a dear friend living in Scicli.  His friend (on the left in the photo) and his wife (sitting next to him) were for many years ballet dancers.  They now teach ballet.  They prepared a wonderful meal.  Their friend (sitting in the middle) from Bulgaria made the best eggplant (pictured above) I've had in years.

The view from their terrazzo of the surrounding hills was magnifico!

The empty seat belongs to Dave who was taking the pictures.

Still Atop US Navy Sat Dish in Sicily



Update on Satellite Dish Climber:  Last we heard Sicilian activist Turi was still on top of the US military war fighting satellite dish surrounded by police standing at the bottom pleading with him to come down.  Turi is well known for having previously entered the base numerous times by cutting holes in the fence.  I’ve seen videos of him trying to plant seeds inside the base which was illegally built upon a oak nature preserve.

We spent yesterday touring two more ancient towns in southern Modica and Scicli.  We had lunch in a home with a great view of the town (which also had Wifi access which is so far hard to come by) and then our walking tour of Scicli was quite amazing – this is a place where people lived inside caves in the mountain sides right up until the 1960’s.  Once relatively unknown, a popular film about the cave dwellers brought the tourists to Scicli.

Our evening was spent at the home of a young man who recently won an award for his own film making which was his final project as he graduated college.  He cooked a lovely pasta meal for Dave, Yosi and I along with one of his lifelong friends.  Beginning supper at 8:00 pm, which has been normal for us so far, we sat around talking about the politics behind Italian wine and olive oil as well as US war mongering around the world.  We also discussed the growing military confrontation between the US and Russia-China as the later challenge Washington’s desire for unipolar global control.  By 11:15 we were still going strong and finally wrapped it up at 11:30 pm as we still needed to get a ride back to our digs in Ragusa 20 miles away.  So the three of us made it into bed just at midnight – another night on the political circuit in Sicily – with bellies full of wine, cheese and pasta.

Today we have a day off in Ragusa - we have come to the square by the cathedral where Wifi is available.  This evening a community supper is being organized for us.  We are learning much while here and eating well, drinking abundantly, and loving the passion of the Sicilian people. Our first talk is Friday night in Ragusa and then on Saturday we visit the US MUOS satellite warfare base.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Big Story from No MUOS Campaign in Sicily

No MUOS activist armed with his hammer before climbing the US military satellite dish



Dave Webb, Josi McIntire and I arrived in Sicily just after noon yesterday.  We landed at the Comiso airport that during the 1980’s was a US military base and a deployment site for more than 100 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles when Ronald Reagan made the move in October 1983 to position these nuclear-capable weapons in England and in Sicily.  He also deployed the Pershing II nuclear missile in Mutlangen, Germany all aimed at the former Soviet Union.  (The Pershing II was built in Orlando, Florida where I was living at the time and I organized a statewide demonstration there in October of that year as part of an international day of protest against these provocative deployments.)

Currently the Comiso base is an airport but you can see the remains of the nuclear bunkers just across the street from the main airport terminal.

After being picked up at the airport by our hosts they took us to nearby city of Ragusa near the southern coast where the owners of a lovely Bed & Breakfast have offered their place for the three of us to stay during our time here.

In the late afternoon just as the sun set two of the men from the local No MUOS (Mobile User Objective System) committee in Ragusa took us for a walk down the hill into the ancient part of the town called Ibla that was built in the 1400’s, devastated by an earthquake in the late 1600’s, and was rebuilt by the Spanish who occupied these lands at the time.  These days we heard speculators from the US, Germany, England and China are buying up many of these very old homes.

At 8:00 pm we were taken to the home of one of the local activists in Ragusa who hosted a dinner for 14 people and the several courses revealed the great hospitality of these wonderful new Sicilian friends. 

During the coming days here we will be shown the sites, treated to more such dinners, and we will speak twice in different towns.  We’ll also visit the military space communications relay base on Saturday being constructed by the US.  The No MUOS campaign has been fighting against this expansion of an existing US space communications base and they have successfully got a Sicilian regional court to temporarily stop construction of the base.  The US government though has demanded that the Italian government ignore its own judicial process in order to force the finalization of the MUOS installation.  In response to pressure from Washington a five-person committee was formed by the Italian government to make the final decision about the base expansion taking the case away from the Supreme Court which was supposed to rule on whether the US base expansion had followed all legal steps.

So organizing and protests will continue and things are expected to heat up in the coming month as the five-person appointed committee is set to meet in Palermo this December.  I’ll write in more detail on all of this in the coming days.

Update:  As we were taken on a drive today to visit the historic town of Modica our host received a call saying that one of the key No MUOS activists had climbed onto one of the US military satellite dishes and took a hammer to it.  Above you can see photos of him on the dish.  No word yet as to what will happen to him.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Day Trip to Lake Como


I made the long walk from my hotel to the central train station in Milan this morning.  It's quite easy to follow the city map as the streets are well marked and I enjoy the challenge of finding shortcuts along the way.  After some tea and a well deserved sandwich at the station I took the train to Lake Como - about a 45 minute ride.  From there it was at most a 10-minute walk from the station to the edge of the lake and what a site it is.  A huge lake with incredible homes along the edge and mountains in the near distance.  I spent several hours following the walking path around the lake - stopping for a lunch of seafood pasta and another cup of tea...and a gelato as my treat afterwards. It was a warm day and much of the time I had no use for my fall jacket.

The air in Milan and Lake Como is sadly quite smoggy likely due to the presence of mountains that trap the human made toxic exhausts.  I found myself often sneezing as I walk not being used to so much pollution in the air.  The cars are indeed smaller here and many people ride scooters but I'm certain the mountains keep the smog present.  The pollution though is not as bad as I have experienced in New Delhi or in Athens - the two worst air pollution places I have ever visited.

I caught the 6:00 pm train back to Milan just as the sun had set and then walked to my favorite mom and pop restaurant where I've been eating my evening meals - the pasta good and the prices relatively cheap.

In the morning I head to the airport where I meet Global Network board convener Dave Webb who will fly to Milan from the UK - then we are on the same plane to Sicily.  We'll spend several days there being hosted by our new friend Vincenzo who came to our annual meeting in Kyoto late last summer and has arranged our speaking trip to Sicily.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Sunday Song

 
 
In honor of the Canadian overthrow of the reactionary Harper government.