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, April 09, 2005

THE ART OF WAR

The local newspaper reported this morning that over 30,000 people lined up in downtown Portland yesterday afternoon to "welcome home" the Maine national guard units recently back from Iraq. Just to make sure they got a big turnout the power boys invited the Superbowl champs football team, New England Patriots, to be there as well.

Our Veterans for Peace (VfP) chapter lined up along the parade route with a large sign that had our name on it and the words "Join Us." We were dressed in our black VfP sweatshirts and got a good response from many in the parade. Some of the returning GI's waved to us and a few flashed peace signs. The biggest cheers of the day though were reserved for the football team and it had to have been noticed by the returning soldier "heroes." I am convinced most people came to see the football team.

The local media were the biggest promoters of the event. One of our senators, Olympia Snowe and our Congressman Tom Allen, marched in front of the parade and I yelled "Get out of Iraq" a couple times as they walked by our VfP delegation. The morning paper has a couple of good quotes from two VfP members in it so we did get a tiny bit of press.

Following the parade I attended the art show opening called War Flowers: Swords into Plowshares that was held at the University of Southern Maine art gallery. About 150 attended and they were not disappointed. The art work, depicting the idea of converting the military industrial complex into peaceful production, was extraordinary. One of the crowd favorites showed George W. Bush resigning from the presidency and moving to Bath, Maine where he became a swan boat driver as Bath Iron Works converted from building destroyers to swan boats. The art will be shown at the university gallery until August 19.

Friday, April 08, 2005

INT'L SPACE CONFERENCE IN NEW YORK CITY

The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space will be holding its 13th annual space organizing conference in New York City on April 30. The group is made up of over 175 peace groups around the world who are working to oppose the introduction of nuclear power and weapons into space. The group will gather at the Musicians Union Hall (322 W. 48th St) for its annual meeting called Full Spectrum Resistance: An International Space Organizing Conference.

The keynote speaker for April 30 will be Dr. Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the CUNY. Dr. Kaku was a founding member of the Global Network when it was created in 1992. Other speakers at the event will include Jenny Jones (former Deputy Mayor of London) and key space activists from around the world. Included will be several Canadian activists who were important leaders in the recent successful campaign in Canada to get their government to opt out of the Bush Star Wars program.

The Global Network chose to meet in New York city in order to underscore the connections between the U.S. Star Wars program and difficulties for global disarmament. The United Nations 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference begins the first week of May and concerned citizens from around the world will be coming to the city to participate in those events urging the nuclear powers to honor their disarmament promises under the NPT.

Global Network Coordinator Bruce Gagnon stated, “One key obstacle to international disarmament is U.S. determination to move the arms race into space. With U.S. efforts to create ‘full spectrum dominance’ other nations are saying that they must maintain their existing nuclear forces, or develop new nuclear arsenals, as a deterrent to U.S. plans for ‘control and domination’ via space technology.”

The Global Network contends that the administration of George W. Bush has taken nuclear disarmament off their foreign policy agenda. “Current U.S. nuclear forces have essentially become an arsenal of hypocrisy as Bush lectures the rest of the world about the evils of weapons of mass destruction,” Gagnon said.

The annual space conference will be cosponsored by Abolition 2000, the same organization that is coordinating the mass disarmament rally in Central Park on May 1.

Full conference details are available at the Global Network’s website: http://www.space4peace.org/

- END -


Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 729-0517
(207) 319-2017 (Cell Phone)
http://www.space4peace.org
globalnet@mindspring.com





Thursday, April 07, 2005

WE MEET AGAIN.....

I saw the British wing commander, Chris Knapman, again today while standing outside the space symposium in Colorado Springs. First thing he said to me was that I work fast and said he saw his picture on the blog. I must admit I was a bit taken back....As he walked away he turned back with a wry smile and said "And I'm much more relaxed this time" in reference to my remark yesterday on the blog comparing his easy going manner to the more up tight one when I first met him at Fylingdales in the UK.

Later on as Bill Sulzman and I were heading through the parking lot to leave we ran into Chris again by his car. I asked him how he found out about the blog and he said that he routinely checks up on the web sites of those of us working on the space issues to see what we are doing and saying. I asked him if we were making any progress with him and he jokingly replied that we were probably making as much progress with turning him around as the military was with turning us toward their way of viewing the world.

But it really does confirm that in spite of how much people in the peace movement often think that the government is ignoring us, in fact they do watch us like a hawk. They do care what we do and what we say because they ultimately fear that the public might one day begin to respond to our appeals for sanity.

It's like the war in Iraq. In the end the peace movement was correct - there were no WMD in Iraq. Bush and Tony Blair insisted there were....we went to war...now Bush and Blair have been discredited. If we were right about that, might we not be right about not moving the arms race into space?

I liked Chris Knapman. He has a good sense of humor and seems like a nice sort. I like the English anyway, after having lived there as a kid for 3 years when my dad was stationed at an Air Force base in England. I always love to return to the UK, it's a bit like going home for me, a part of me is still there. It's nice to see the humanity of someone like Chris as we sit on opposite sides of this historic debate about moving modern warfare into the heavens. As we parted today I told him that all these meetings just might have been guided by the stars.

See you later Chris........Keep checking in....

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Here I am talking to the RAF wing commander at Fylingdales U.S. Star Wars base in northern England a couple of years ago. I ran into him again today at the Nat'l Space Symposium in Colorado Springs as we protested outside the event.

INTERESTING REUNION AT SPACE SYMPOSIUM

I was holding a sign in front of the National Space Symposium early this morning with Bill Sulzman and another member of Citizens for Peace in Space. We got there early as the 6,500 attendees began to arrive in time for a speech by the #2 man at the U.S. Strategic Command, Lt. Gen. Thomas Goslin. Bill's sign said WMD Boss speaking now and mine read WMD Arms Bazaar Inside. The general walked right past us and Bill gave him a ribbing.

I had alot of fun this morning outside the symposium. I especially like it when the military officers walk past. Years ago, while in the Air Force, I had to snap to attention and salute them. Now I can play with them. I kept saying, "Hey Colonel, want to hold my sign for awhile?" or "Hey General, want to relieve me on this sign?" They don't like being talked to like that. They are used to repremanding people like me. It is so nice being a civilian........

While I was there I noticed a British Royal Air Force officer that I had met a couple of years ago when I was on a speaking tour in the U.K. Friends had taken me up to Yorkshire to see the Fylingdales U.S. radar facility, set right in the middle of the Moors, the national park, amongst the fields of heather. The facility is now being upgraded for participation in Star Wars. When we got to the facility on that day my British activists friends went up to the gate and requested that the commander come out to speak with me. He did and we had a long discussion about the health effects of the radar facility. I told him how we knew that a similar radar on Cape Cod, MA. was being investigated by the state due to the increased cancers of residents on the Cape. He denied that there were any health related problems as two newspaper reporters took notes of our conversation.

Today as he walked by I called out "Commander" and he recognized me right away and came over to shake my hand. I asked him if he was still at Fylingdales and he told me he now was assigned to Northern Command in Omaha, Nebraska. I asked him what a Brit was doing there and he said "Keeping any eye on things." I replied to him, "Hey, you guys need to get out of all this. You know about empire and you've got yourself into a sticky wicket with this one." It was a nice connection, he was much more relaxed today than he was the last time we met on the windswept Moors.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

ON TOUR IN COLORADO

I am in Colorado Springs with our affiliate group Citizens for Peace in Space protesting the 21st annual Space Symposium at the fancy Broadmoor Hotel. Over 6,000 military personnel and aerospace industry types are gathering to plan for war in space. Yesterday afternoon about 20 of us vigiled outside the hotel entrance as they poured into the event. The theme of the protest was the symposium is a weapons of mass destruction arms bazar and that those attending practice "Group think." A street theatre group had made a replica of a satellite and four people with eye glasses covered in dollar signs, $$, went round and round the satellite chanting "Group think, group think" in a dull tone. They'd reach into the satellite and pretend they were filling their pockets with cash. It was quite good and the conference attendees had a good look at it. We held a news conference to begin the action and got covered by two TV stations, a radio station and the local newspaper. (See local newspaper coverage at this link)

http://daily.gazette.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VGhlR2F6ZXR0ZS8yMDA1LzA0LzA1I0FyMDEyMDI=&Mode=HTML&Locale=english-skin-custom

In the evening members of Citizens for Peace in Space gathered to hear Kelly Dougherty and myself speak. Kelly is recently returned from Iraq with the Colorado National Guard where she was a security guard for convoys. She spoke movingly of seeing children killed, towns destroyed and feared the impact of depleted uranium on the Iraqi people and even on her own body. One young man in the audience announced at the end of the meeting that he is AWOL from the military. He had been to Iraq once already and is now refusing to go back.

Today we go back to the symposium for more vigiling and then tonight I speak in Denver. On Wednesday I will be in Boulder to speak. Back home on Thursday.