Notes from Bruce Gagnon
Held online, 9/10 July 2022
Dave Webb (UK), Koohan Paik-Mander (Hawaii), Bob Anderson (New Mexico), Mary Beth Sullivan (Maine), Aruna Kammila (India) Agneta Norberg (Sweden), Sung-Hee Choi (South Korea), Denis Apel (California), Atsushi Fujioka (Japan), Tamara Lorincz (Canada), Sandeepa Bhat (India), Bruce Gagnon (Maine).
We received regrets from five board members who either could not attend because of the time in their particular community or just forgot about the meeting.
We began with a check-in, each person talking a bit about what was happening these days in their community/country or in their heart. Generally nearly everyone expressed deep concern about the direction things were taking – from growing poverty/homelessness, bad politics at the national level in their nation, divided peace movement (although slowly changing as more people and groups get better info and see the bigger picture), economic troubles, worsening environment, media deception and RIMPAC war games aimed at China and North Korea now underway in the Pacific.
Bruce reported that there is presently just at $30,000 in our bank account and he reminded that the GN is now paying two part-time social media/video staff – Will Griffin (Pennsylvania and a new dad) and Lisa Savage (Maine) $500 a month each. Will produces the new Space Alert podcast each month and Lisa is also taking the lead in Maine on the recently passed law to create a space launch authority/facility in Maine.
Several expressed how grateful they are for the GN and our ability to see that all over the wold there are good, dedicated people doing their very best to make changes. One of the positives we heard was from Tamara – she and others recently organized more than a dozen local actions against NATO from coast-to-coast in Canada.
Most board members wish to remain but there were a couple requests to make changes. Regina Hagen (Germany) asked to come off the board – she will be missed. Atsushi and Agneta asked to move from the directors to the advisors. All the rest will stay the same.
Bruce reminded that the difference between the directors and advisers is just a legal construct. The GN must have a formal BOD by law. But in the real world of GN operations since 1992 we’ve believed that there is no real separation between the directors and advisers. Thus we always invite everyone to speak out and share what is in their heart and help to guide us.
We had an excellent discussion about Ukraine. Atsushi asked why we have not done an official GN statement on the war in Ukraine. Dave and Bruce responded that the board members are far too divided on the issue and we’d rather not put ourselves thru the difficult process of trying to come to some kind of difficult consensus. We respect all views on this tragic and difficult situation and know that people are doing the best in their communities to work for peace in their own way.
Agneta told about being kicked off two organizations in Sweden because she dared show some understanding about how Russia feels it is being surrounded and embattled by the west. She said the Russia demonization in Sweden was outrageous. Swedish government would not allow a proper national debate or referendum on joining NATO and forced the decision.
Several members spoke about the historical context that has led to Russia’s military action (the US orchestrated coup in 2014, the constant Kiev government shelling of the Donbass since 2014 with more than 14,000 dead and more than 34,000 wounded), constant NATO expansion, US deployment of missile launch facilities in Romania and Poland that can fire nuclear-capable cruise missiles and more.
It was also mentioned how NATO is going global – including the US now saying that Russia and China are ‘existential threats’ to the west – largely because Russia and China are promoting the idea of a ‘multi-polar’ world.
So in the end it was decided that we won’t produce a GN statement but we will continue to do our best to share relevant and important information concerning the war in Ukraine – especially when it connects to the space issue.
Space Week theme:
Several members offered good suggestions that sort of fit together into a good theme. Space Week would basically concentrate on ‘Space, NATO, Cyber and Nuclear war’. The positive side of the message would be ‘Protect and survive – Common security for all’. Space is the engine that drives all war today on the planet. Bruce and Dave volunteered to put together a draft for the boards to look at in the weeks ahead. Anyone else wishing to help on this please let us know. Space week will be October 1-8.
Dr. Aruna Kammila reported that she is organizing another national conference (J. Narayana Rao would be proud of her) at her law school in Hyderabad (south central India). The date will be October 14-16 (she wanted to do it during space week but students/faculty would not be available then). The GN would be a co-sponsor.
Aruna made the request that GN board members please come to the event. For those wishing to attend the GN could pay your airfare and Aruna will provide lodging and food while we are at the conference. She will be inviting students from across India (like she did in 2019 when 200 students/professors came from 20 law schools). Bruce will be attending (he has heard from 2 others that would like to attend as well). Dave said he can’t come but would be willing to make a speech via Internet – Aruna said that technology will be available. Aruna wants this next conference to broaden out the space issue (beyond just law) to talk about the key points similar to our space week theme.
Around that same time in October, Prof. (Dr.) Sandeepa Bhat (Professor of Law and Director of Centre for Aviation and Space Laws at National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata) reported that he would be organizing another Zoom-type international conference on space issues. Last year he organized a similar event that was very successful – Dave, Bruce and Karl Grossman spoke via Internet.