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 19, 2016

Explore But Don't Exploit

Big sign welcoming the conference at the gate of Gitam University in Visakhapatnam, India


We are entering our third and final day in Visakhapatnam, India conference at the Gitam University School of Law.  I cannot say enough times how impressed we have been with the total commitment to this conference from the law school administration, faculty and students.

From the first day's formal opening that included the founding chancellor's excellent presentation (he acknowledged that he doesn't come out to many of these kind of events but asked to speak at the opening) it has been a remarkable event.

Will Griffin before the start of the opening ceremony

The most exciting thing for all of us is the incredible student participation - not only from Gitam University but law students have come from Chennai and faculty have come from other educational institutions throughout India as have members of the public as well.  Five people came from Nepal to be at the event - one of the men from Kathmandu will host us when we go there at the end of this month.

Each of our six Global Network leaders at this event have all been given the opportunity to speak and our talks have been eagerly received.  Topics we covered have included US plans for control and domination of space, Pentagon 'missile defense' deployments in eastern Europe and Asia, as well as testimony about being in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by William Griffin from Veterans for Peace.  (Our GN Advisory Board member Koohan Paik had to cancel at the last minute as she came down with illness and has been sorely missed.)

One of the biggest thrills for me as been to meet three young men from Chennai who are law students.  Somehow they got interested in space law and have studied the subject for the past year and decided to draft a space law for India which has been given to the government.

There is presently international space law at the United Nations - the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty (which the US never signed because it has wanted since the early 1950's to put military bases on the moon and to control it for mining, etc).  Both of those UN treaties say that all outer space bodies are the 'common heritage' of all humankind and that no country, corporation nor individual can claim ownership of them.

Sung-Hee Choi (from Jeju Island, South Korea on the left) spoke about the anti-Navy base struggle and the plans for US deployment of 'missile defense' in Korea

Anyway these three young guys are brilliant and have asked how they could become involved in the Global Network and told me they have ideas for how we can expand our reach to foster global debate on these issues.  So as a first step I asked them to write an article for our next Space Alert! newspaper and share their story.

The three law students from Chennai, India who captured my imagination and heart

Some of the students at the conference have made the case that space development is something that we should embrace (in fact satellites enable GPS, cell phones, cable TV, ATM machines and more) but others have been more skeptical about corporate intentions in space.

An excellent talk by Sai Tajuna the granddaughter of GN board member J. Narayana Rao

Ms. Aruna Kammila, Gitam School of Law Assistant Professor yesterday began her talk with the words "Explore but don't exploit" and went on to make a profound presentation that underscored how we should be skeptical about corporate intentions to control space for their own profits.  This is the very same point I made during my own presentations.  So there as been a rich and vibrant discussion that has made sparks fly at the event.

This is just what the Global Network has always been wanting to create around the world - debate about the kind of 'seed' humanity should carry with us as we inevitably reach into space.  I asked during my opening talk, "Will we carry the bad seed of war, greed, and environmental degradation with us when we leave our planet?"  I told the conference that humans are immature and before we go careening off into space we need a global discussion about what kind of seed we carry with us.  So that debate is happening here in Visakhapatnam and I am confident will be carried across India.

My words during the opening ceremony of the conference

Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao from Nagpur is the guiding light of the event.  He is the one who for the last dozen or so years has been traveling around India speaking to students about space and for the past several years has organized an annual conference in a different city.  The event this year is his crowning achievement and was capped when his own granddaughter rose to make a wonderful speech about the need to continue the work for peace in space at Gitam University where she is a student.

J. Narayana Rao speaking at the conference - he is the father of the growing Indian peace in space movement

Rao is a retired national railroad worker in his 80's who lives on a very humble pension.  For many years before we met him he was quietly receiving Global Network space emails and printing them in a booklet and sharing them across his country.  He has become one of our best advocates and this year it appears that his dream of strong student participation has come true.

Bruce

Holiday Gathering in Brunswick


Friday, November 18, 2016

Corporate Consolidation



Economist Michael Hudson explains how economic terms like capital gains are deployed to mislead the public about who is benefiting from economic policy and where wealth is going.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Update on Ukraine Situation



Trump's phone call with Putin adds a whole new twist to the Ukraine story.  Will Trump back the US off from its war on Russia's border?  Will Trump stop funding the Ukrainian military operation against their own citizens in eastern Ukraine (Donbass)?

Time will tell on this one but it will be something to keep our eyes on.

I made it to India in one piece.  Spent the night in Delhi and now head south today to the conference.  Have been joined by Dave Webb from the UK who arrived here late last night.

Bruce

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Heading to India for Peace Conference


I am heading today to Visakhapatnam, India for a peace and human development conference that the Global Network is co-sponsoring.  Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao, who lives in Nagpur, India, in recent years has been organizing an annual peace conference in order to introduce Indian students, academics and peace workers to the issues surrounding the militarization of space.

The US has been working hard to bring India into the space warfare program in order to tilt the power in the region away from China.  So as corporate globalization has moved low-paying jobs to India in order to exploit cheap labor, the US has decided to try to push some of that new Indian wealth into the coffers of the military industrial complex by signing up Delhi to help pay for the Pentagon's expensive space program.

India has created a 'Space Command' mimicking the US Space Command even down to duplicating much of the aggressive language in the so-called Vision for 2020 that calls for US 'control and domination' of space.

Along with me at the conference will be other leaders from the Global Network coming from England, Japan, US and South Korea.

Following the conference we will be taken to some other Indian cities in order to speak at local colleges and then we'll make a side trip to the border country of Nepal that sits between India and China.  Rao has been working for some time to develop contact between our organization and activists in Nepal so this trip will be ground breaking of sorts.

Bruce

Monday, November 14, 2016

Turning the Tide



Mass anti-government protests in South Korea, along with a change of rhetoric by some other US allies in the region, including the Philippines, have upset the apple cart for the US and its Asia pivot.

South Korea: Resign Park Geun-hye!

Gangjeong villagers from Jeju Island carry their distinct 'No Navy Base' flags during protest in Seoul, South Korea on November 12 calling for the resignation of right-wing president Park Geun-Hye.  Up to one million Koreans marched to the compound of the president (Blue House).



South Korean President Park Geun-Hye now has an approval rating of 5%.  Last Saturday reportedly one million citizens marched to the gates of the Blue House demanding her immediate resignation.  The momentum is building across the nation for a change in government.

This was the largest protest South Korea has seen since the democratic uprising of June 1987. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon refused to supply water from the city’s fire hydrants to the police, which had threatened to use water cannons to block protesters.

The US-backed President Park (daughter of former dictator) has been unpopular all along but recent public disclosures that Park allowed her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to access government documents without clearance has created a massive scandal. Ms Choi is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies and is under arrest on charges of fraud and abuse of power. She was detained last week on suspicion of using her friendship with President Park to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.


Washington fears that the resignation of President Park would disrupt the Pentagon's plan to continue major military escalations on the Korean peninsula as part of its 'pivot' of significant portions of US military operations into the Asia-Pacific to encircle China and Russia.

Included in this Pentagon expansion would be the deployment of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense (MD) system.  While the Pentagon maintains that THAAD is aimed at North Korea experts have indicated that its true military mission would be to help intercept Chinese and Russian retaliatory responses after a US first-strike attack.

The residents of the melon farming community of Seongju, where THAAD was first announced to be deployed, have been in daily resistance against the provocative MD system and this issue has galvanized the peace movement throughout South Korea in recent months.  The US has hurriedly announced that they plan to deploy the system sometime in the next eight months but the growing opposition to President Park has complicated this controversial decision.



THAAD is manufactured by Lockheed Martin at a facility in Troy, Alabama while the Army's Missile Defense Directorate is located at the Redstone Arsenal in nearby Huntsville.  THAAD is tested at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

In order to build opposition to any THAAD deployment in South Korea a 'Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific' has been created and groups from around the globe have signed on as endorsers.  The call is for peace groups everywhere to learn more about the role of THAAD and other US MD systems (such as PAC-3 and Navy Aegis destroyer-based SM-3 interceptors) and to build opposition to these destabilizing programs that are being used by the Pentagon to surround China and Russia.  You can see the call and endorsers of the Task Force here.

US MD systems on-board Aegis destroyers will be also ported at the new Navy base on Jeju Island and residents of Gangjeong village are now in their ninth year of daily non-violent resistance against the base.

How a new Trump administration will deal with the Pentagon 'pivot' and deployment of MD systems around the world is unknown.  But the South Korean peace movement is not waiting to find out as they continue to expand their opposition to these US military moves.  The current campaign demanding the resignation of President Park Geun-Hye adds an additional complication for the already over extended US military empire.

Close all US bases overseas!
No MD!
Convert the military industrial complex to peaceful and sustainable production!
Use our resources to deal with climate change and growing poverty!

Bruce 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Time for Reflection, Unity, Movement & Mobilization




Sunday Song