Report from UK

From: Bruce Gagnon's Blog: Organizing Notes

November 21 - 21 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In the Wind and Rain at Menwith Hill U.S. NSA Spy Base

Yorks CND advertised the talk on 17th November at Bradford University 12.15 1.15PM

Global Network board convener Dave Webb (also chair of CND), arranged for me to speak this morning at Bradford University before an event sponsored by the Peace Studies Department. Students and local community people turned out for the hour-long discussion.

In the early evening we made the 45-minute drive through end of day traffic to the U.S. NSA space satellite spy base at Menwith Hill for the weekly protest organized by CAAB (Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases). 

The Menwith Hill Spy Base in the daytime

We were joined by 10 other people in the wind driven hard rain as American workers came out of the base - a woman in the first car to come out flipped us the bird.  The presence of up-side-down American flags signaling distress rankled many of the Americans but it is important that they learn that all over the world people want U.S. war fighting bases shuttered.

(Left) Lindis and I and (right) Dave and I in the driving wind and rain holding No MUOS flag given to us in Sicily
- we are united in the struggle against the over 800 U.S. bases around the world!

Lindis Percy has been leading the weekly protests at Menwith Hill for many years through all kinds of bad weather.  In addition to the NSA role of spying on the people of Europe the base is also a key station for the 'missile defense' (MD) program. Menwith links up with the SBIRS satellite system to help direct the growing and provocative Pentagon MD system that is now being used to encircle Russia and China.

Lindis leaves tomorrow for Cuba where she will join fellow Global Network board member Dennis Apel from California at an international No Bases conference in Guantanamo.  They both were chosen by our Global Network leadership to represent the organization at that important conference.

In the morning I speak to another group of students in Leeds before Dave and I take the train to London where we will be for the next two days.  More on all that later.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This morning Dave took me to Leeds Beckett University (he formally taught Peace Studies there before recently retiring) and I spoke to more than 30 students in a talk organized by the current department teacher Dr Rachel Julian as part of a Politics and Applied Global Ethics Festival of talks and events.  I got more questions from that assembled group of students than I'd ever had from any college audience which reflected well on the current Peace Studies staff at the school.


After lunch at the university we caught a train to London. The stormy weather had brought trees down on the train line and the train was diverted, causing us to arrive over an hour later than scheduled, so we went directly to our next appointment - the theatre!

We met with Dave's son Sam and Dave took us all to the Harold Pinter Theatre to see the award winning musical 'Sunny Afternoon' about the early years of my favourite band called The Kinks.  The three-hour show frequently brought tears to my eyes as I watched actors playing band leader brothers Ray and Dave Davies go through their many struggles to make music their way - having run up against the power of the music industry.

As the hits began to mount up for The Kinks during the early-1960's 'British pop Invasion' songwriter Ray Davies wanted to write more meaningful music about the world around him - not just the money producing 'boy meets girl' tunes that make it to the Top of the Pops.  The show used the band's music to bring these issues to the audience with Ray's character even once declaring "We are a Socialist band," as they ran up against the greedy corporate forces in the music industry.  They were banned from playing in the US for a period of four years during the crucial mid-60's for refusing to play along with the pay-to-play game then rampant in the American music scene.  This ban helped put the Kinks into relative obscurity as they were largely kept out of the vast American market.  On the good side though it made it possible for Ray to create the kind of music that he wanted to make despite the demands of the industry.

I didn't want the show to end and as we made our way to the London home of longtime peace legend Bruce Kent, where we were to spend the night, the songs kept playing in my head for hours.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

From The Kinks to Parliament in London

This morning we made our way from Bruce Kent's home on a bus and then the underground to the Parliament building in London where a room had been reserved for my talk by a member of the House of Commons. 

Twenty folks turned up for the meeting which featured a discussion about the Pentagon's military space program and how it is today being used to project global dominance on behalf of the interests of corporate capitalism.

A big issue in the UK right now is Trident nuclear submarine/missile replacement (upgrading) that is estimated to cost more than 137 billion pounds.  New Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has long been against Trident and is trying to advance a national debate about the costly and dangerous nuclear program - especially during this time of austerity budgets.  My question to the group inside Parliament today was: "Does Britain have the satellites in space, and the ground stations around the world, to direct the UK's Trident missiles to their targets?"  The answer was a clear NO.  My next question was then, "Who does the UK rely on to direct Trident nukes to their target?"  The answer of course is the Pentagon.  So in my mind that means that the UK is essentially subsidizing at the rate of 137 billion pounds a new US weapon system.  During these days of severe human needs cut across the UK do the citizens really want to hand the US military the gift of four new nuclear subs that the British government does not really control?

The meeting in Parliament

After a visit to a nearby cafe/bar for a refuel and wifi break, we moved on to the University of London School of Oriental and Asiatic Studies (SOAS) where I am biled to speak about the Navy base currently being built for US warships on Jeju Island, South Korea and the role that installation will play in the US military 'pivot' to provocatively control China.

We capped off our excellent visit to London with a nearly two-hour meeting with the largely Korean 'Save Jeju Island' student group at the University of London.  We had a wide ranging discussion that included the history of the Global Network's efforts to support the Gangjeong village eight year campaign to oppose construction of the Navy base for US warships on Jeju.

We also went wider and did an overview (with the help of Dave putting up various photos from the Internet onto the classroom screen as illustrations) of the Pentagon strategy to encircle and attempt to provocatively control both Russia and China.

One of the Korean students had come to my earlier talk at noon inside Parliament and returned last night saying that because she is just learning English she had only understood 30% of what I said the first time around.  So in hopes that she would develop a better understanding she came the second time!  That is dedication and I'm sure the pictures on the wall helped quite a lot.

Today we are heading off for a vigil at the US space warfare radar base called Fylingdales which is north of us here in Yorkshire.  The weather is likely to be harsh (more rain and wind) but I've noticed that the people here have webbed toes so it should 'not be a bother' as they say in these parts.  I will wear my long underwear just in case.


Video of talk at SOAS

On Saturday we head to Oxford for a visit to still yet another Pentagon space warfare communications base at Croughton - that makes three of them in England and we will have visited all of them on this trip.

At each stop we are sharing the stories about how the entire global space warfare apparatus fits together to ensure US 'Full Spectrum Dominance".  Our message though is that there is growing awareness of the role these bases around the world play in directing Pentagon endless warfare on behalf of corporate capitalism - and we are calling for "Full Spectrum Resistance" to close down these expensive and dangerous space control bases.

You pick - total military space control (what the weapons industry says will be the largest industrial project in Earth history) or social progress for the people of the planet.  We all live in 'democratic' societies don't we - we supposedly get to choose how our tax money should be spent? 

Tour of U.S. Space Warfare Bases: From Fylingdales to Croughton

Friday, November 20, 2015

US early warning radar and missile defense targeting base Fylingdales way up in the Yorkshire Moors (right) by day

Today Dave and I picked up Sylvia from Leeds railway station and the three of us drove from Leeds 90 minutes northeast to Fylingdales where we were joined by 10 others for a mile or so walk at 5:00 pm along the dark highway through the beautiful Moors to the US early warning radar and missile defense targeting base.

The half-moon lit sky, and a rare view of the stars, was a welcome sight as the rain did not fall on us and thankfully so because it was bitter cold and windy.  Three of the military police from inside the installation came out to hassle us a bit not wanting us to stand inside the entry road to the radar facility but there were no cars passing in or out so we insisted and after some debate with one of the long-time Quaker activists in our group they gave up and left us alone.

Fylingdales by cold windy night (thankfully no rain).
Ronald McDonald (on the right with the torch) joined this vigil telling us "I've come over to the other side."

I was asked to share some words and I reminded the brave-hearted folks that they are not alone in this effort to expose the global nature of the US space domination program that has set up these installations in many out-of-the-way places around our spinning planet.  We need one another to help shine a light on these bases that all put together enable the Pentagon to wage fierce endless war on people who have usually done nothing more than live on top of vital resources that the greedy corporations want to control.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Early this morning Dave and I drove three hours south to another US space communications base - this one called Croughton.  We met nine activists in a small pub called the Black Bird for lunch and folks shared what they knew about the expanding mission of the Croughton base.  The activists came from various towns and villages in the Oxforshire region and are the first group each year to register their annual Keep Space for Peace Week event (held in early October) with us at the Global Network.

After lunch we drove around the base stopping at several key spots for a better view of the golf ball looking satellite dishes that are covered up so that you can't tell which direction they are directing their signals.  At the third spot we paused at US Air Force military police came driving up to the gate and followed us to the next place we stopped.  While at the last stop I told the MP's that I had myself been in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and became a peacenik during those years.

In front of Croughton main gate showing solidarity with friends in Sicily
 - both places doing US space warfare communications operations

At one of the stops we made around Croughton I was taken to the place in 2008 where I had helped the Lord Mayor of Oxford plant two oak trees.  Much to my surprise there was a plaque honoring that occasion fixed to an old wooden fence.

Following our three-hour drive back to Leeds I treated Dave to a fish & chips dinner at a local restaurant.  He's been kindly feeding me right on schedule during the past week and I figured I owed him one.

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