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: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A great Russian anti-war film

The Cranes Are Flying (1957) - Ending from Clips do Zé on Vimeo.

"The Cranes Are Flying" (Russian: Летят журавли, translit. Letyat zhuravli) is a Soviet film about World War II. It depicts the cruelty of war and the damage suffered to the Soviet psyche as a result of World War II (known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War). 

It was directed at Mosfilm by the Georgian-born Soviet director Mikhail Kalatozov in 1957 and stars Aleksey Batalov and Tatiana Samoilova. 

It won the Palme d'Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, the only Soviet film to win that award. 

This video only shows the dramatic ending of this excellent film but you will understand what it is all about - war is hell.

Sunday song

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Army: It's not just a job - it's an adventure.....

After posting a video of a young recruit talking to the camera about how service allows him to better himself “as a man and a warrior”, the US Army tweeted, “How has serving impacted you?”

As of this writing, the post has over 5,300 responses. Most of them are heartbreaking.

  • “My daughter was raped while in the army,” said one responder. “They took her to the hospital where an all male staff tried to convince her to give the guy a break because it would ruin his life. She persisted. Wouldn’t back down. Did a tour in Iraq. Now suffers from PTSD.”
  • “I’ve had the same nightmare almost every night for the past 15 years,” said another.
  • “Someone I loved joined right out of high school even though I begged him not to. Few months after his deployment ended, we reconnected. One night, he told me he loved me and then shot himself in the head. If you’re gonna prey on kids for imperialism, at least treat their PTSD.”
  • “The dad of my best friend when I was in high school had served in the army. He struggled with untreated PTSD & severe depression for 30 years, never told his family. Christmas eve of 2010, he went to their shed to grab the presents & shot himself in the head. That was the first funeral I attended where I was actually told the cause of death & the reasons surrounding it. I went home from the service, did some asking around, & found that most of the funerals I’ve attended before have been caused by untreated health issues from serving.”
  • “Chronic pain with a 0% disability rating (despite medical discharge) so no benefits, and anger issues that I cope with by picking fistfights with strangers.”

  • “My parents both served in the US Army and what they got was PTSD for both of them along with anxiety issues. Whenever we go out in public and sit down somewhere my dad has to have his back up against the wall just to feel a measure of comfort that no one is going to sneak up on him and kill him and and walking up behind either of them without announcing that you’re there is most likely going to either get you punch in the face or choked out.”
  • “Left my talented and young brother a broken and disabled man who barely leaves the house. Left my mother hypervigilant & terrified due to the amount of sexual assault & rape covered up and looked over by COs. Friend joined right out if HS, bullet left him paralyzed neck down.”
  •  “My cousin went to war twice and came back with a drug addiction that killed him.”
  • “It’s given me a fractured spine, TBI, combat PTSD, burn pit exposure, and a broken body with no hope of getting better. Not even medically retired for a fractured spine. WTF.”
  •  “Y’all killed my father by failing to provide proper treatments after multiple tours.”
  • “Everyone I know got free PTSD and chemical exposure and a long engagement in their efforts to have the US pay up for college tuition. Several lives ruined. No one came out better. Thank god my recruiter got a DUI on his way to get me or I would be dead or worse right now.”
  • “I have ptsd and still wake up crying at night. Also have a messed up leg that I probably will have to deal with the rest of my life. Depression. Anger issues.”
  • “My grandfather came back from Vietnam with severe PTSD, tried to drown it in alcohol, beat my father so badly and so often he still flinches when touched 50 years later. And I grew up with an emotionally scarred father with PTSD issues of his own because of it. Good times.”
  • “Hmmm. Let’s see. I lost friends, have 38 inches of scars, PTSD and a janky arm and hand that don’t work.”
  • “my grandpa served in vietnam from when he was 18-25. he’s 70 now and every night he still has nightmares where he stands up tugging at the curtains or banging on the walls screaming at the top of his lungs for someone to help him. he refuses to talk about his time and when you mention anything about the war to him his face goes white and he has a panic attack. he cries almost every day and night and had to spend 10 years in a psychiatric facility for suicidal ideations from what he saw there.”

  • “My best friend joined the Army straight out of high school because his family was poor & he wanted a college education. He served his time & then some. Just as he was ready to retire he was sent to Iraq. You guys sent him back in a box. It destroyed his children.”
  • “Well, my father got deployed to Iraq and came back a completely different person. Couldn’t even work the same job he had been working 20 years before that because of his anxiety and PTSD. He had nightmares, got easily violent and has terrible depression. But the army just handed him pills, now he is 100% disabled and is on a shit ton of medication. He has nightmares every night, paces the house barely sleeping, checking every room just to make sure everyone’s safe. He’s had multiple friends commit suicide.”
  • “I was #USNavy, my husband was #USArmy, he served in Bosnia and Iraq and that nice, shy, funny guy was gone, replaced with a withdrawn, angry man…he committed suicide a few years later…when I’m thanked for my service, I just nod.”
  • “I’m permanently disabled because I trained through severe pain after being rejected from the clinic for ‘malingering.’ Turns out my pelvis was cracked and I ended up having to have hip surgery when I was 20 years old.”
  • “My brother went into the Army a fairly normal person, became a Ranger (Ft. Ord) & came out a sociopath. He spent the 1st 3 wks home in his room in the dark, only coming out at night when he thought we were asleep. He started doing crazy stuff. Haven’t seen him since 1993.”
  • “Recently attended the funeral for a west point grad with a 4yr old and a 7yr old daughter because he blew his face off to escape his ptsd but thats nothing new.”
  • “I don’t know anyone in my family who doesn’t suffer from ptsd due to serving. One is signed off sick due to it & thinks violence is ok. Another (navy) turned into a psycho & thought domestic violence was the answer to his wife disobeying his orders.”
  • “My dad served during vietnam, but after losing close friends and witnessing the killing of innocents by the U.S., he refused to redeploy. He has suffered from PTSD ever since. The bravest thing he did in the army was refuse to fight any longer, and I’m so proud of him for that.”
  • “My best friend from high school was denied his mental health treatment and forced to return to a third tour in Iraq, despite having such deep trauma that he could barely function. He took a handful of sleeping pills and shot himself in the head two weeks before deploying.”
  • “My son died 10 months ago. He did 3 overseas tours. He came back with severe mental illness."
  • “My dad served two tours in middle east and his personality changes have affected my family forever. VA ‘counseling’ has a session limit and doesn’t send you to actual psychologists. Military service creates a mental health epidemic it is then woefully unequipped to deal with.”
  • “My best childhood friend lost his mind after his time in the marines and now he lives in a closet in his mons house and can barely hold a conversation with anyone. He only smokes weed and drinks cough syrup that he steals since he can’t hold a job.”
  • “My cousin served and came back only to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and ptsd. There were nights that he would lock himself in the bathroom and stay in the corner because he saw bodies in the bathtub. While driving down the highway, he had another episode and drove himself into a cement barrier, engulfing his Jeep in flames and burning alive. My father served as well and would never once speak of what he witnessed and had to do. He said it’s not something that any one person should ever be proud of.”
  • “I was sexually assaulted by a service member at 17 when I visited my sister on her base, then again at 18. My friend got hooked on k2 and died after the va turned him away for mental health help. Another friend serving was exploited sexually by her co and she was blamed for it.”
  • “I spent ten years in the military. I worked 15 hour days to make sure my troops were taken care of. In return for my hard work I was rewarded with three military members raping me. I was never promoted to a rank that made a difference. And I have an attempt at suicide. Fuck you!”
  • “My father’s successful military career taught him that he’s allowed to use violence to make people do what he wants because America gave him that power.”
  • “While I was busy framing ‘soliders and families first’ (lol) propaganda posters, my best friend went to ‘Iraqistan’ but he didn’t come back. He returned alive, to be sure, but he was no longer the fun, carefree, upbeat person he’d previously been.”
  • “My husband is a paraplegic and can’t control 3/4 of his body now. Me, I’ve got PTSD, an anxiety disorder, two messed up knees, depression, a bad back, tinnitus, and chronic insomnia. I wish both had never served.”
  • “I am so sorry. The way we fail our service members hurts my heart. My grandfather served in the Korean War and had nightmares until his death at 91 years old. We must do better.”
  • “My Army story is that when I was in high school, recruiters were there ALL the time- at lunch, clubs, etc.- targeting the poor kids at school. I didn’t understand it until now. You chew people who have nothing at home up and spit them out.”
  • “I hope to god that the Army has enough guts to read these and realize how badly our servicepeople are being treated. Thank you and god bless you to all of you in this thread, and your loved ones who are suffering too.”

Poking Iran - looking for trouble....

"We need to get nasty...", one of the warmongers says.

Friday, May 24, 2019

What we are fighting for - all my relations

Trying to catch up

  • I wrongly thought that after I got home from Russia things would slow down for me.  NOT!  I'm feeling like a one-armed wallpaper hanger.  So many potential war hot spots that the U.S. is pursuing.  So much work to do.
  • There is the next issue of the GN's Space Alert newspaper deadline of June 10.  Also the Keep Space for Peace Week (October 5-12) poster with a No to NATO theme that awaits me.
  • I was doing some research this morning on behalf of friends in India who are organizing a Space Law conference at a university in Visakhapatnam during space week.  I'll be attending and offered to help find some space law experts who could possibly be invited to speak.  The corporate forces are lining up trying to dismantle United Nations space law to allow for privatization and corporate domination of space resource extraction.
  • Also this morning I sent out an email invitation to Mainers to attend a June 14 Russia Study Tour report by Rev. Bill Bliss, Mary Beth Sullivan and me.  The event will be held at the Brunswick public library at 7:00 pm.  
  • I've been invited to speak at the University of Florida on June 6 at an interesting conference called Disrupting the status quo: Reconstruction, recovery and resisting disaster risk creation.  Apparently there is an international network that is working on this at the academic level and they wanted some activist feedback so they invited me.  I will talk about conversion of the war machine to help deal with climate catastrophe and also the concept of turning the Pentagon into the 'Natural Guard' for work on rescue, recovery, etc.  Should be an interesting experience.
  • One other big event coming soon - another 'christening' of an Aegis destroyer at BIW on June 22.  I am part of a great team of Mainers working on that protest action as well as a news conference in Portland the day before.
  • So lots to do.  I'm not complaining - I'm lucky to be able to spend my life doing this important work.  Sometimes though, since we are underfunded and short handed (unlike the military industrial complex), it can feel like a tsunami is hitting.  I guess in a way it already has. We do the best we can and push on....thanks for checking in now and then. Best of luck your way.

Gabor Maté: 'Don't be so quick to believe them'

Physician, mental health expert, and best-selling author Dr. Gabor Maté sits down with The Grayzone's Aaron Maté (his son) to analyze how Russiagate was able to take hold of U.S. society following Donald Trump's election.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Excellent interview

Chris Hedges talks with reporter, Matt Taibbi, about the deep rot in American journalism.

Russian view of Trump's push for Iran war

The situation in Iran is like a powder keg with sparks raining on it. It's extremely dangerous for the entire world.

The United States started this conflict when last year it withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran for no reason. After that, President Trump imposed illegitimate sanctions against Iran and earlier in May, banned every country on our planet from purchasing oil, steel, copper, and aluminum from Iran.

In response, Iran threatened to cancel the restrictions on its nuclear industry that it voluntarily adopted before.

This Russian TV report on possible war between the U.S. and Iran is instructive.  You learn much more from it than one normally gets on corporate owned TV in the west.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

BIW schedules another destroyer 'christening' - Convert the shipyard

Next BIW Civil Resistance List for June 22

  • Ashley Bahlkow North Yarmouth, Maine
  • Meredith Bruskin Swanville, Maine
  • Dan Ellis Brunswick, Maine
  • Jim Freeman Verona Island, Maine
  • Ridgeley Fuller Belfast, Maine
  • Bruce Gagnon Brunswick, Maine
  • Suzanne Hedrick Nobleboro, Maine
  • Dud Hendrick Deer Isle, Maine
  • Cynthia Howard Biddeford Pool, Maine
  • Connie Jenkins Orono, Maine
  • Ken Jones Asheville, NC
  • Tarak Kauff Woodstock, New York
  • Brown Lethem Brunswick, Maine
  • Natasha Mayers Whitefield, Maine
  • Jane Newton Georgetown, Maine
  • Rosie Paul Brunswick, Maine
  • Doug Rawlings Chesterville, Maine
  • Jason Rawn Hope, Maine
  • Mark Roman Solon, Maine
  • Lisa Savage Solon, Maine
  • Dixie Searway Vermont
  • Robert Shetterly Brooksville, Maine
  • Mary Beth Sullivan Brunswick, Maine
  • Russell Wray Hancock, Maine

Above is the current list of those seriously considering joining the next civil resistance action at Bath Iron Works in Maine during the Aegis destroyer ‘christening’ that is scheduled to happen on Saturday, June 22.

Just weeks ago 25 people from Maine and beyond were arrested at BIW during the ceremony to bless the third Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer at BIW – named the LBJ.  The recently elected District Attorney for the Midcoast, Natasha Irving, decided that prosecuting the LBJ 25 would be a waste of time.  The LBJ action drew extraordinary amounts of media coverage which repeatedly reported that the protest was all about converting BIW to deal with our real problem today – climate catastrophe.

In May 16 BDN article entitled Government report criticizes Bath Iron Works and Navy for ‘serious deficiencies’ in Zumwalt program (see it here) an amazing revelation was disclosed.  The Navy has decided to use the LBJ (costing $7 billion) for parts to keep the first two Zumwalt ships running.

So in the midst of growing climate disruption, with our government doing little to nothing to protect the future generations, the Navy has created a $7 billion ‘parts store’ for their boondoggle Zumwalt program.

Converting facilities like BIW would create more jobs, because producing sustainable technologies is a better driver of employment than building warships -- see Brown University's definitive study from 2017, “Job Opportunity Cost of War”

The destroyers at BIW cost billion$ each, are provocative as they are deployed to encircle China and Russia with first-strike cruise missiles, and contribute significantly to the massive US military carbon boot print.

Instead of building these warships we could be building commuter rail systems, tidal power systems, offshore wind turbines and disaster-relief ships to help us deal with climate change.

Please stay tuned and join us in Bath (on Washington Street across from the Post Office) on June 22 at 8:00 am for our next protest. 

Help us call for a conversion of our hearts and the military industrial complex.

For more information contact

A beautiful view of Crimea

Comprehensive TV news report from our visit to Artek in Crimea – including Bill Bliss reciting Pushkin in Russian & Will Griffin training for cosmonaut duty.

A taste of Crimea at the famous kids camp on the Black Sea where Maine resident Samantha Smith visited during the middle of the cold war on a peace mission.

Latest This Issue show

"This Issue" host Bruce Gagnon interviews Bill Clark and Wendy Flaschner from Maine AllCare about their campaign in our state to ensure that all Mainers are covered with health care.