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

Friday, January 20, 2017

America: It's Going to Be a Wild Ride

I watched Donald Trump's inaugural speech today with three other housemates and none of us were impressed.  He's living in another age - I see Trump trying to hang on to the long passed time of American military supremacy and economic domination.  One last gasp before the US empire crashes under the weight of its own hypocrisy and contradictions.

He said a few things that were decent but one must question them as pure political rhetoric as just a quick review of his cabinet appointments (full of corporate operatives) strongly undercuts his claims that he will return the power to the people that the 'elites in Washington' have unfairly taken from them.

Trump blames other nations (especially China) for 'stealing our jobs' but we all know that it was the absolute greed of the corporations that drove them to close production plants across America and move jobs to places overseas where labor was cheaper and environmental regulations were virtually non-existent. Just look at the air quality in India and China for example.  Now in order to 'bring those jobs home' Trump, and the right-wing dominated Congress, want to finish turning the US into a third-world dictatorship where 'regulations on the job creators' are a thing of the past.

Trump will likely finish off what little good will might still exist toward America around the globe.  The inevitable collapse of the US imperial project will now accelerate.

Obama often fooled many people overseas (and at home) with his slick talk and friendly demeanor - even while he was dropping bombs on Libya as he did just the day before Trump took his oath of office. Donald Trump won't be able to pull off that magic trick so easily.

I believe the key organizing strategy in the coming four years on an international level will be to utterly reject US leadership on virtually every issue - from climate change to NATO and beyond.  The world must isolate the US as a reactionary and undemocratic rogue state.  Protests around the world should not just focus on Trump but on the US imperial project that is now totally committed to global domination for the benefit of corporate interests.  Concern for the people of the world or the environment is off the table in Washington.  Democracy is a meaningless word now.

The people of the world must demand that their leaders completely reject the US as a role model or a voice of reason.

This corporate take over of the US government runs far deeper than Trump.  He is not an aberration from the norm - Trump represents the norm in Washington.  We are now ruled by Christian fundamentalism (the American Taliban), an economic expansion ideology that has no concern for the planet, and a military ethic that carries with it strong Puritan evangelical strains.  Greatness only means domination - of everything.

For those of us living here in America we must not restrict our protests to calling out Trump.  We must recognize how the Democrats regularly collaborate with the right-wing reactionary corporate forces.  Just days ago in the US Senate 12 Democrats joined with Republicans to kill a bill that would have allowed American citizens to purchase cheaper medicines from Canada.  The Democrats support swung the vote to satisfy the interests of big pharma.  In the US we must see that we don't have a legislative solution to our problems as the corporations have the government under lock down and they have the key$.

Public protest and non-violent civil resistance in the tradition of Gandhi, ML King, and Dorothy Day are where we must move now - collectively as a nation.

In Washington we now have the classic definition of fascism - the wedding of government and corporations.  It would have been the same story if Hillary Clinton had been elected.  She would have been more 'sophisticated' and not come across quite as brash and impolite as Trump does. That would have been enough for many Americans - to them it is no problem that we rule the world just as long as we do it with a reassuring smile.  Trump has broken that mold.

Folks had better hang on because this is going to be a wild ride.  Victory will not come to those who think that building support for their single-issue agenda is the way out of this dark moment.  The old business model of every organization fending for itself won't work any more.

Only by connecting all the dots and working to build a broad and unified movement across the nation - linked with our friends internationally - can we put the brakes on this fall over the cliff that the new corporate government in Washington is pushing us toward.

We need to create a unified positive vision such as converting the military industrial complex to build solar, wind turbines, commuter rail systems and more.  This would serve the interests of labor, environmental groups, the unemployed, and the peace movement.  A win-win for all.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Former Newspaper Editor Who Exposed CIA Found Dead

Dr Udo Ulfkotte, the former German newspaper editor whose bestselling book exposed how the CIA controls German media, has been found dead. He was 56.

Ulfkotte was an editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest newspapers in Germany, when he published Bought Journalists, the bestselling book that cost him his job and perhaps his life.

German media, who were banned from reporting on his work in recent years, are reporting he died of “heart failure”.

Acknowledging that his life was under threat, Ulfkotte explained that he was in a better position than most journalists to expose the truth because he didn’t have any children who could be threatened.

Speaking to the Russian newspaper Russian Insider, Ulkfotte said: “When I told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Ulfkotte’s newspaper) that I would publish the book, their lawyers sent me a letter threatening with all legal consequences if I would publish any names or secrets – but I don’t mind. You see, I don’t have children to take care of.“

His fears for a war in Europe, lead him to his decision to tell the truth about corporate media being controlled by intelligence services on behalf of the financial class.

“I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I’ve been educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public,” Ulfkotte told Russia Today. “I was supported by the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA. Why? Because I am pro-American.”

“The German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia. This is a point of no return, and I am going to stand up and say… it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia.”

Ulfkotte said most corporate media journalists in the United States and Europe are “so-called non-official cover,” meaning that they work for an intelligence agency. “I think it is especially the case with British journalists, because they have a much closer relationship. It is especially the case with Israeli journalists. Of course with French journalists. … It is the case for Australians, [with] journalists from New Zealand, from Taiwan, well, there is many countries,” he said.

Ulfkotte’s book Bought Journalists became a bestseller in Germany but, in a bizarre twist which Ulfkotte says characterizes the disconnect caused by CIA control of the western media, the book cannot be reported on by the German press.

Ulfkotte said: “No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about [my] book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about.”

Among the stories Ulfkotte says he was ordered by the CIA to plant in his newspaper was a fake story that Libyan President Moammar Gaddafi was building poison gas factories in 2011.

“The German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia,” he told RT.

“This is a point of no return, and I am going to stand up and say … it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do, and have done in the past, because they are bribed to betray the people not only in Germany, all over Europe. … I am very fearful of a new war in Europe, and I don’t like to have this situation again, because war is never coming from itself, there is always people who push for war, and this is not only politicians, it is journalists too. … We have betrayed our readers, just to push for war. … I don’t want this anymore; I’m fed up with this propaganda. We live in a banana republic, and not in a democratic country where we have press freedom.”

No 'Missile Offense' in Korea!

Seongju and Gimcheon Residents Occupy The Minjoo Headquarters to Stop THAAD Deployment

Residents of Seongju and Gimcheon [South Korea] as well as Won Buddhists have pitched tents outside the Minjoo Party headquarters in Seoul and vow to stay until the main opposition party agrees to oppose the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile [defense] system.

They have been there since January 11 to demand the party officially adopt opposition to the THAAD deployment as its party platform. They also demand the formation of a special committee in the National Assembly to pressure the South Korean government to reverse its agreement with the U.S. to deploy the THAAD missile system.

With [President] Park Geun-hye’s impeachment under review by the Constitutional Court, the anti-THAAD movement is thinking ahead to the next administration. Currently, the Minjoo Party’s Moon Jae-in is a front-runner for the upcoming presidential election, which could be held as soon as April of this year. Should Moon become the next president, he and his Minjoo Party cabinet members will be responsible for answering to the U.S., which has historically imposed its military agenda on the Korean Peninsula, including plans for the THAAD deployment.

The Minjoo Party, however, has yet to adopt an official party platform on the THAAD issue. While certain individual representatives, like the Minjoo Party’s chief Choo Mi-ae, have expressed their concerns about the potential threat to peace posed by the THAAD deployment and have questioned the necessity for such a missile system, the party as a whole has failed to offer a definitive position on the issue. A recent Newsis interview with presidential candidate Moon Jae-in further muddled the Minjoo Party’s position on the issue.

On January 15, Moon said to Newsis that he does not think it is possible for the South Korean government to renege on its THAAD deployment decision with the U.S.. Despite being critical of the Park administration’s hasty and unilateral decision on the THAAD deployment, Moon expressed no intent to block the deployment. He is simply calling for the deployment to be paused while the constitutional court deliberates Park’s impeachment and until the next administration takes office.

People in the fight to oppose the THAAD deployment expressed their outrage against Moon’s comments. A lawyer from Minbyun (Lawyers for a Democratic Society, of which Moon was once a member) questioned Moon’s view of the issue — “Are you saying that a promise made with the U.S. is unbreakable while a promise made with [South Korean] citizens is unimportant?”

On January 16, the sixth consecutive day of the protest directed at the Minjoo Party lawmakers, Won Buddhists, Seongju and Gimcheon residents demanded a meeting with the Minjoo Party chief, Choo Mi-ae. A staff person of Choo’s office informed the residents that Choo would meet with them on Thursday, January 19. “How much longer must we wait?” the residents demanded to know, “Are you saying that six days [of waiting] is not enough so we have to wait another three days?” They added, “We need this meeting immediately so that we can hear Representative Choo’s position on the THAAD deployment issue.”

The persistence of the residents paid off, and Choo Mi-ae met with the residents on January 17. According to the residents who met with Choo, although she agreed that the THAAD system would be ineffective against North Korean missiles and expressed her opposition to the deployment, she did not confirm that her party will adopt an official platform on this issue. She did, however, promise to discuss with fellow lawmakers in the Minjoo Party the formation of a special committee in the National Assembly to address the THAAD deployment issue.

Meanwhile, due to pressures from China, Lotte [corporation], which owns the golf course where the US Forces in Korea (USFK) wants to deploy the THAAD system, is hesitant to finalize its deal with South Korea’s Defense Ministry to give up the golf course in a land swap. The Defense Ministry is awaiting a final approval from Lotte’s board of directors to acquire Lotte’s land and hand it over to the USFK. However, Lotte, feeling pressure from China, which has been strongly opposed to THAAD deployment in Korea and recently ordered an audit of Lotte’s businesses in China, has chosen to delay the decision. With significant investments in China, Lotte cannot ignore the neighboring country’s economic leverage. The deal may not be finalized until early February, later than expected by the Defense Ministry.

By ZoominKorea staff

Setting Up for War with Russia

Generals from US and NATO discuss at a news conference how they are war gaming in eastern Europe along the Russian border including Poland, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria.

So it is really a triple-edged strategy at work here. At the least the US-NATO are putting a loaded gun to Moscow's head saying get on your knees and submit to the west or else.

Secondly this is a major influx of profit for the military industrial complex.

Lastly, and most likely, the US-NATO are determined to take down Russia while they believe they still can before the growing Russia-China alliance (economic and military) makes it impossible to do so.

The arrogance of the US will ultimately lead to disaster because once these war mongers get going they are very hard to pull back.  It will be more than interesting to see how Trump deals with all of this.

The Obama administration is the one that is setting all of this in motion just as Trump enters office.  So while there are huge worries about Trump (and major protests planned against him) there has been very little concern and protest against Obama during his two terms in office as he over and over again escalated tensions along the Russian border.

It goes to show the utter hypocrisy of liberal Democrats.  When their party is in control of the White House they don't mind this kind of provocative and aggressive escalation tactics.  But as Trump comes into power those same liberals are holding meetings all over the nation to stop the 'new fascist dictator'.

Sadly they miss the clear reality that it was the old boss that created this mess - not the new boss.

I stand against both bosses - I continue to call both mainstream political parties in the US fascist.  The classic definition of fascism is the wedding of corporations and government.  We have that in the US no matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in power.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Getting Caught Up with Odds & Ends

New CIA disclosures reveal that Vladimir Putin used dolphins to help sneak up on the Democrat National Committee (DNC) in order to steal their secrets on behalf of Trump.

  • Since getting home from Okinawa I've been as busy as a one-armed wall paper hanger.  I had lots of lovely mail to get caught up with - including many gifts coming in for the Global Network as we hit our 25th year of operation.  Thanks to all of you who have been donating.  These donations give us confidence that our supporters appreciate our hard work and think we are heading in the right direction - especially as we face a new president who no one knows for sure what he will actually do once in office.

  • I'm also working on my statements and testimony for our coming Zumwalt 12 trial here in Bath Superior Court on February 1-2.  The group is taking this trial very seriously and putting great effort into making our statements to the judge and jury as clear as possible about why we risked arrest at Bath Iron Works in June 18, 2016 during the 'christening' ceremony of the latest Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyer.

  • I am also increasing my efforts on the Global Network's 25th annual space organizing conference that will be held in Huntsville, Alabama on April 7-9.  Our brochure is printed and will be in the mail on January 20 - inauguration day.  We've had our first registration come in from a Veterans For Peace member in Tennessee - someone we don't even know.  I've heard from GN board members in India, Sweden, Norway, England and the US that are going to be at the event.  It's very exciting.  You can see the conference brochure here

  • I've been enjoying the healthy debate on the No to NATO email list serve during the past couple of weeks.  The discussion, mostly from those in Europe, has gone back and forth on whether peace groups there should focus their upcoming inauguration protests on Trump or keep them directed at the US military empire and the expanding NATO war machine.  Several European peace group leaders have made the point that Trump isn't even in office yet but that is has been Obama who has been directing the massive US expansion of NATO up to Russia's borders including the current movement of hundreds of tanks and other military vehicles to new US military outposts in Poland and beyond.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trial of Zumwalt 12 Starts Feb. 1 in Bath

Trial of the Zumwalt 12 is scheduled to begin February 1st at 9:00 a.m. in Sagadahoc Superior Court in Bath (752 High Street) and is expected to last 2 days. 

Members of the group were arrested on June 18th of last year for blocking the road in front of Bath Iron Works during the ‘christening’ of the USS Michael Mansour, a $4 billion ‘stealth’ destroyer.   They are charged with “obstructing a public way”, a class E. misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of $2000 fine and 6 months in county jail.  

Arrested and charged were: Bruce Gagnon (Bath); Cynthia Howard (Biddeford); Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle); Connie Jenkins (Orono); Tarak Kauff (Woodstock, NY); Richard Lethem (Bath); John Morris (New Gloucester); George Ostensen (Hope); Joan Peck (Brunswick); John Peck (Brunswick); Jason Rawn (Lincolnville); and Russell Wray (Hancock). 

Bar Harbor attorney Lynne Williams has provided legal counsel to the group throughout the case and is attorney-of-record for Joan Peck.  The remaining defendants will represent themselves. 

Members of the Zumwalt 12 stress how important the support from people in the peace and justice community has been over the past few months and hope that many folks will be able to come out for the trial.

Lynne Williams reminds everyone that leafletting at the court house is not permitted, to avoid any appearance of attempting to influence jurors.  However, signs and banners are allowed on public property.

By Connie Jenkins

Fomenting Radical Discontent

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges is joined by journalists Abby Martin and Ben Norton to discuss the declassified U.S. intelligence report on Russia’s alleged “influence campaign” on the U.S. presidential election. They explore the allegations and why a large portion of the report is dedicated to RT America’s programming. RT correspondent Anya Parampil details the charges made in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report.

Protest in Italy

Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK on Vietnam