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 02, 2011


MSNBC is believed by many to be the most liberal of all cable networks.

Most who watch would agree that many of the hosts are pro-Obama, pro-choice and pro-union. But it turns out they are also pro-war and there is a long history of evidence to prove it.


Like many leaders in the black community, Cornell West has been slow to take on Obama. But in recent months his direct attacks on Obama's economic and foreign policies are increasing. Let's hope this is a sign that many in the black community are beginning to acknowledge that even though Obama is black, his governing has been a steady series of decisions that support the white corporate oligarchy.

Outside of Wall Street, the corporate media, and the Pentagon Obama is fast running out of supporters.


Before dawn on Easter March 31, 1991 Phil Berrigan, Daniel Sicken, Barry Roth, Tom Lewis, and Kathy Boylan boarded the USS Gettysburg, an Aegis destroyer that was docked at Bath Iron Works in Maine. They hammered and poured blood on the missile hatches. It became a huge story in Maine. The charges were dropped the day before they were set to go to trial.

On Friday, April 1 the surviving members (Daniel, Barry and Kathy) of the Aegis Plowshares held a 20th anniversary reunion vigil at BIW and then a pot luck supper at the Addams-Melman House in Bath. A severe snow storm that same day though hampered the turnout but still twenty hearty souls turned up for the vigil at the shipyard and the pot luck that followed. Then again this morning another vigil was held at the shipyard as the Saturday shift was getting out of work.

It was a wonderful reunion for the Aegis plowshares and their supporters.

The ships are outfitted with "missile defense" (MD) systems and are key components in the U.S first-strike attack system. Their job would be to knock out a given country's nuclear retaliatory forces after the initial U.S. attack.

One of these Aegis MD systems was used by the Pentagon to hit a falling U.S. military satellite in 2008 proving they also had the capability to serve as an anti-satellite weapon. Obama is now deploying these Aegis destroyers with their MD systems around Russia and China.

A very fine article about the reunion vigil appeared in our local newspaper yesterday. See it here

Friday, April 01, 2011


Native American activist Dennis Banks at the Grafton (New York) Peace Pagoda speaking about his life story. From early childhood he was forced to attend military schools and upon completion joined the US Air Force. Stationed in Japan, Dennis witnessed mass non-violent protests against base expansion to accomodate the takeoff of the huge B-52 bomber.

Twenty years later during "The Longest Walk" Dennis met Nichidatsu Guruji Fuji, founder of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order.

Guruji became a spiritual teacher for Dennis and took him to Japan and India. From Guruji, Dennis became enlightened. Even with his violent upbringing, including the 1976 standoff with the FBI at Wounded Knee, Dennis, through Guruji learned to channel his energy into non-violent protest.


Thursday, March 31, 2011


has a new article about the military space plane - the successor to the shuttle at their web site. Written by Noah Shactman.

The U.S. military likes to be a little sneaky with its robotic space planes. Unlike typical spacecraft, these vehicles can shift their orbits, frustrating the global network of skywatchers who keep track of just about every man-made object rotating the planet.

But the sleuths have their tricks, too. They’ve tracked down the X-37B on its second secret mission. And the information the skywatchers are finding says quite a bit about the classified operations of this mysterious spacecraft.

It took the amateur sleuths nearly a month to hunt down the first X-37B after it launched on its inaugural mission. That’s an eternity in sky-spotting time.

The second time around was easier. The U.S. space plane was discovered just four days after it blasted into orbit, earlier this month. Cape Town, South Africa’s Greg Roberts — “a pioneer in using telescopic video cameras to track spacecraft, chalking up exceptional results over the years,” according to — spotted this second secret spacecraft, just like he found the first.

The X-37B has generated intense interest, long before it ever left the ground. Boeing originally developed the 29-foot unmanned craft — a kind of miniature Space Shuttle — for NASA. Then, the military took over in 2004, and the space plane went black. Its payloads were classified, its missions hush-hush.

Depending on who you talk to, the space plane could be a prototype commando transport, an orbiting bomber or (most likely) a spy-above-the-skies. It could launch, repair or reposition U.S. satellites in low orbit. It could sneak up and disable or steal enemy satellites. Its pickup-bed-sized payload bay is particularly enticing to observers.

And now, there are observers — plural. Ontario’s Kevin Fetterof filmed the X-37B “gliding past the binary star Eta Serpentis,” according to, which has video of the flyby. Skywatchers Brad Young, Bill Young, and Alberto Rango have all reported sightings, as well.

You can even see the space plane for yourself: The X-37B is traveling in a slightly elliptical orbit more than 200 miles up, swooping from 43 degrees north latitude to 43 degrees south. (Check the real-time map at

That orbit gives some indications about what the space plane is actually doing up there. The typical spy satellite has a polar orbit, which means “it can cover the whole earth, and it can fly over the same spot at the same sun angle each time it comes overhead,” explains Brian Weeden, a former Air Force Space Command officer, now with the Secure World Foundation.

The X-37B, on the other hand, is orbiting around the fat middle of the planet, traveling over the Middle East, Africa, and fair chunk of China. “It means they are giving up global coverage and predictable shadow lengths, but getting more frequent passes,” Weeden says. The orbit lends credence to the idea that the space plane is an orbiting spy.

So does the X-37B’s altitude. It’s flying pretty low — one of the rare orbiters traveling beneath the International Space Station. “The lower you are,” Weeden notes, “the higher resolution you can get in any imagery.”

And the easier you are to spot from the ground.


Dr. Michio Kaku, one of the founding board members of the Global Network, has an alarming analysis of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home has announced a news conference and rally inside the Hall of Flags at the capital in Augusta on Monday, April 4 at 11:00 am. The event will be held on the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. – killed exactly one year after his famous anti-Vietnam war speech was delivered.

The National Priorities Project reports that the total debt of all 50 state governments is now $130 billion. The U.S. will spend more than $170 billion on our wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Libya this year. Maine’s share of war spending since 2001 has been $3.4 billion.

“Governor LePage and President Obama have it all wrong. Cutting taxes as a job creator is a known dead end street. Studies show that jobs are best created by state investment in education and infrastructure. There won’t be much recovery for Maine or any other state though until we Bring Our War $$ Home. We need to stop endless war spending if we hope to continue to support social progress. Interestingly, 65% of the people across the nation now favor withdrawal from Afghanistan, but it’s only going to happen if the public repeatedly demands it,” said Bruce Gagnon of Veterans for Peace.

Speakers at the event will include:

* Michael Brennan – Former State Senator and social worker (Portland)
* Alexandra Valente and Nicole Moreau – Student activists (UM-Farmington)
* El Fadel Arbab – Immigrant advocate, Fur Cultural Revival (Portland)
* Dud Hendrick – President, Maine Veterans for Peace (Deer Isle)
* Lisa Savage – Public school teacher and CodePink Maine Coordinator (Solon)
* Matt Hight – Union member (Biddeford)
* Peter Woodruff – Union member (Arrowsic)
* Natasha Mayers – Union of Maine Visual Artists (Whitefield)
* Music by Raging Grannies

Members of the Union of Maine Visual Artists will be on hand after the rally to help the public create images of where they believe our war $$ should be spent in Maine.

“Nation-wide people are increasingly using the Bring Our War $$ Home message in their local organizing. Resolutions have passed in Deer Isle and Portland, Maine and also in Amherst and Northampton, Massachusetts and just this week in Hartford, Connecticut. Many other communities are considering resolutions right now and Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles has begun to help promote the message to mayors of other hard-hit U.S. cities,” said Lisa Savage coordinator of CodePink Maine.

See the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign web site here


Photo from the war in Libya

A sign – handwritten on cardboard fashioned from a discarded box of rations – hangs around the dead men’s necks. It reads: TALIBAN ARE DEAD. According to a source in Bravo Company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the men were killed by soldiers from another platoon, which has not yet been implicated in the scandal. “Those were some innocent farmers that got killed,” the source says. “Their standard operating procedure after killing dudes was to drag them up to the side of the highway.”

You've likely heard about the article in a recent Rolling Stone magazine called The Kill Team. The photo just above is one of those that were discovered when the military finally investigated and are now prosecuting an Army unit deployed in Afghanistan for killing innocent civilians for sport. It's sick stuff.

You'd think these disclosures would force Congress to reevaluate our multiple wars and the damage they are doing to everyone involved but things just roll along. In fact, we are now advancing this global war onto the African continent with the attacks on Libya. The U.S. and our NATO allies love to blow things up and hold ground.

If you listen closely to Hillary Clinton and the Pentagon brass in the last day or so you can hear the sounds of trial balloons being released and seeds being planted into the minds of the American people.

Corporate news bureaus are reporting that "world leaders say Qaddafi must be removed" and the "Obama administration is engaged in a fierce debate over whether to supply weapons to the rebels in Libya." The New York Times reports, "The French government, which has led the international charge against Colonel Qaddafi, has placed mounting pressure on the United States to provide greater assistance to the rebels."

Sending arms would also create the need to send military advisers. Already there can be no doubt that CIA and U.S. and allied "special forces" troops are working inside Libya to direct "the resistance fighters".

The Times continued, "In London, Mrs. Clinton and other Western leaders made it clear that the NATO-led operation would end only with the removal of Colonel Qaddafi, even if that was not the stated goal of the United Nations resolution."

The war-like Democrats will lie down alongside their war-mongering Republican colleagues in the Congress and will watch this play out and offer no resistance. The Congress is just the puppet show, there to give the public the illusion that democracy still exists in this blood-stained land. But in fact the oligarchy had this whole plan mapped out long ago. All the places on this planet that harbor oil, natural gas, water, and other abundant mineral resources are on the hit list.

It is the job of the U.S. to lead this assault on the remaining global resources for the benefit of the corporations. America has been turned into a killing culture and it is our job, with the help of any willing allies, to take control of these resource rich lands. Killing people does not matter. Their lives rate below that of the oil or other treasures.

Freedom, liberty, democracy are all part of the puppet show in order to humanize and legitimize these killing fields with the war weary public. Democrats like Obama help keep the peaceniks tamed and in their cages. Republican politicians keep their party faithful distracted by whipping up outlandish fears about the U.S. becoming "a secular atheist country" that is potentially dominated by "radical Islamists."

Few are then left to stand on street corners and protest these wars and call for our war $$ to be brought home. Others are either cowering in their homes or glued to the TV set watching the latest fireworks displays from Libya. All the while the soul of the American people shrivels up and we become accustomed to the killing and barbarity done in our name.

It's a roller-coaster ride for all of us as the biblical injunction "Thou shall not kill" flickers now and then in our consciousness, trying to stay alight against the winds of madness and war.

Update: Reuters is reporting that "President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday. Obama signed the order, known as a presidential 'finding', within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter."


Prediction: 20 Years of War in Libya

By David Swanson

Johan Galtung, sometimes called the father of peace studies, predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and the refusal of Egyptian soldiers to attack civilians.

His prediction of the collapse of the US empire in 2020 appears to be on schedule. So, it was noteworthy when he predicted on Tuesday at the University of Virginia that the war in Libya would last 20 years. If, however, NATO and the opposition were to kill Gadaffi, he said, the fighting could go on for more than 20 years. This prediction came the day after Obama gave one of those speeches, like his speeches on Gitmo or Iraq, where he persuades you that something is already over without actually making that claim. How can the war (excuse me, humanitarian intervention) in Libya be over and have 20 years left to go?

Galtung argues that predictions of quick success in Libya depend on an ignorance of history and a reduction of broad social forces to the caricature of a single person. There are five forces at work in the Arab Revolution, Galtung argues: opposition to dictatorship (demand for civil rights), opposition to inequality and poverty (demand for economic rights), opposition to the U.S. and Israeli empires, the revolt of the youth, and the revolt of women. When a government is on the wrong side of all five forces, Galtung claims, it is doomed.

Egypt scores a negative 5; its government imposed/imposes dictatorship and inequality, supports the rule of the two empires, and suppresses youth and women. Tunisia, because of advances in women's rights, scores a negative 4. To explain why Libya only scores a negative 3, Galtung goes back to 1915 when Arabs revolted against the Ottoman Empire with the aid of France, the UK, and Russia. France took over Lebanon and Syria. The UK took over Iraq and Palestine. The next revolt came in the 1950s and 1960s against the French and the British. This revolt was led by Gamal Abdel Nasser and then by Gadaffi. The United States became Israel's patron and developed the current empire. Gadaffi gained the reputation of an opponent of the U.S. and Israeli, as well as French and British and Italian empires. In Galtung's analysis, such a reputation lasts forever.

So, Gadaffi's government gains points for holding an aura of anti-imperialism and for relatively little inequality. Similarly, Galtung gives the governments of Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia negative fives but suggests that Syria and Iran score better on the basis of past resistance to empire.

The opposition in Libya, according to Galtung, stands for the West. France, Italy, the UK, and the US are likely to invest huge sums in that opposition. On Monday Obama promised to transfer $33 billion in seized Libyan assets to "the people" of Libya; that means the opposition. What's underway, Galtung says, is a civil war, not a no-fly zone protecting civilians. And killing Gadaffi would make him a martyr.

This analysis fits with some facts that aren't paid enough attention to, I believe. Nonviolent campaigns against tyranny succeed more often than violent ones. Nonviolent campaigns succeed more often when violence is used against them. Too much violence can destroy them, but it takes more than is commonly imagined. Gadaffi's military is not primarily foreign mercenaries. Prior to U.S. involvement, military forces were defecting to the rebel side; now one doesn't hear of that happening. The leader of the rebels is a CIA creation. Going back to the U.S. liberation of Cuba and the Philippines, the U.S. military has stepped in to "help" dozens of countries and overstayed its welcome every single time without exception.

Galtung doesn't predict that the United States will be at war in Libya for 20 years. He expects Western Europe to take over the poisonous role of empire from the current global power. China, he believes, even if it were powerful enough to step into that role, is not stupid enough to do so.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011



Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) has launched a petition calling on President Obama to oust General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt as the head of the White House’s jobs panel, if the executive doesn’t step down voluntarily. Feingold’s complaint stems from recent revelations that GE will pay no taxes this year, despite making more than $5 billion in the United States in 2010.

Get more info here


During March 20 protest at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia in support of Bradley Manning

  • The governator of Maine took down the mural from the Department of Labor office sometime over the weekend. Was probably during the dark of night. He has hidden it and won't disclose the location. Even the artist of the mural had no idea her work was being removed nor does she know what was done with it. The Union of Maine Visual Artists is planning a news conference on Friday in the state capital Hall of Flags to demand the return of the mural and have invited me to speak on behalf of the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign. Things will start at noon.

The latest faux pas from the governator was his statement about prisoners in the Maine jail system getting "health care and some education" while old ladies go without. “If it were up to me, I’d find a dungeon very cheaply and house them all," he grunted as his divide the public against one another strategy continues to play out.

  • The National Police Agency in Japan announced today:

It gave up transportation of a man’s body found in Okuma-town, Fukushima prefecture within 10km from Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. The body showed such a high level radioactive contamination that there is no way to carry it. There is possibility that more bodies are left in this 10km area. The agency says it has to plan “a measure to counter this”. The agency says the man's body was found by the Fukushima Prefectural Riot Police men and others who had been informed of it, in the open lot of a workshop 5 to 6 km from the nuclear plant.

The surface of the body counted radioactivity level of “over 100,000 CPM (count per minute) ” for which a whole body decontamination is required. There is possibility that while carrying it, the body will contaminate the men at work. The agency gave up moving the body because it will contaminate the recipients and the surroundings, too. The body is contained in a sack and laid in the nearby building for the time being.

The military intervention in Libya has cost the United States “about $550 million” in extra spending so far, a Defense Department spokeswoman said Tuesday, providing the first official estimate of the mission’s price tag. Almost 60 percent of the total cost has been for munitions — the most expensive of which are Tomahawk missiles, which cost more than $1 million each to replace.

Monday, March 28, 2011


The City of Hartford, Connecticut has just passed the Bring Our War $$ Home resolution. They join Deer Isle, Portland, and Solon (School Board) in Maine and the cities of Northampton and Amherst in Massachusetts in passing similar resolutions. Activists in Maryland had a meeting last weekend where more than 40 organizations (including labor) joined in to plan a statewide campaign around the Bring Our War $$ Home theme. Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles has also recently begun to help promote the message to mayors of other hard-hit U.S. cities. It's growing.


Why can't more labor leaders see it, and say it, so clearly?



Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent and much more is committed to the military mission in Libya. United States president Barack Obama has said it is in the country's national interest to have intervened in the north African state. But the massive cost of yet another military campaign has had some questioning whether it's worth it. Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett reports from Washington.

New data from the Pew Research Center published Monday afternoon show that just under half the public – 47 percent – thinks it was the right decision to conduct military air strikes in Libya. Another 36 percent say it was the wrong decision and 17 percent are unsure.


  • Stars & Stripes reports, "U.S. troops in Europe are now forbidden to wear their uniforms off post 'to the maximum extent possible,' including daily commutes to and from the office, as part of an effort to prevent service members from standing out in a crowd, according to U.S. European Command. The new policy, which comes three weeks after a deadly shooting outside Frankfurt Airport that left two Airmen dead and two badly wounded, takes effect immediately."

It appears that the "liberators" are wearing thin on the public in Europe as is the case with the rest of the world. I can't imagine though how dressing in civvies is going to make much of a difference. Still the expensive sneakers, flight sun glasses, cowboy belts, baseball caps, T-shirts with corporate logos, noticable paunch, and short haircuts just might be a dead give-away that these are still Yanks.

  • I watched corporate CEO's crying poor mouth last night on the CBS TV program 60 Minutes. The head of CISCO said they had to move their operations to Ireland because of the 35% corporate tax rate in the U.S. In Ireland he said they only pay about 12% and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been moved there. The threat was clear. Either Congress lowers the corporate tax rate to virtually zero or CEO's will keep moving the jobs overseas. It's a global bidding war to the bottom of the barrel. "My investors demand this" was the refrain heard again and again from the big boys. Nothing but greed. General Electric, the world's biggest corporation, paid no taxes in the U.S. last year. In fact they got a $3.2 billion "tax benefit" in 2010.

  • The big question on every one's mind now is will Obama send ground troops into Libya? I've seen Internet rumors flying around that 4,000 U.S. troops are already there but have not been able to confirm that. I can't imagine Obama and NATO just pulling out and leaving control of the oil fields to the Libyan people. Also another key issue right now is whether or not Depleted Uranium (DU) is being used by NATO. Again I've seen conflicting reports from good sources. I wouldn't doubt it though. You have to remember that the U.S. used DU weapons during the war against Yugoslavia and in Iraq and likely in Afghanistan as well. When you are trying to "clear out" a region so you can control their oil or lay pipelines the existence of people becomes a pesky problem. The use of DU allows over time a slow form of genocide that would ultimately clear the path for the oil corporations. Now I can hear you thinking - the U.S. would never do such a thing! Just remember though the U.S. Army handing out small pox laden blankets to the Native American people. It's called modus operandi - MO.

  • I'm really tired of war and corporate control. My whole life has been one war after the other. My adulthood has been one long protest against U.S. wars. Can there be any doubt that America is one sick GD country? Addicted to war - addicted to violence - a killing culture - like a drunk at the bar, always needing another swig. I think the public is beginning to open their eyes but they are weary from it all. They are tired and I wonder if they have it in them to stand up to another Anschluss (Hitler's annexation of Austria). Got to keep moving forward......all of us. Got to make some demands on this corporate dominated system. It's a matter of survival now. We owe it to ourselves, to our past relations, and to the future generations.

  • See an interesting new study called "The Partisan Dynamics of Contention: Demobilization of the Anti-War Movement in the U.S., 2007-2009" about how subservience to the Democratic party has drastically injured the peace movement.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Tens of thousands of Germans took to the streets Saturday to protest against nuclear power. Under the banner "Fukushima means: no more nuclear power stations," marches took place in Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and capital Berlin, ahead of the vote in wealthy Baden-Wuerttemberg Sunday, where the nuclear issue was set to play a key role. In Berlin alone, police said the "organisers' aim of getting 50,000 would be basically achieved."

On Sunday the Associated Press reported:

German chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have suffered a historic defeat in a state ballot after almost six decades in power there, preliminary results showed Sunday, in an election that amounted to a referendum on the party's stance on nuclear power.

The opposition anti-nuclear Greens doubled their voter share in Baden-Wuerttemberg state and seemed poised to win their first-ever state governorship, according to preliminary results released by the state electoral commission.

"We have secured what amounts to a historic electoral victory," the Greens' leader Winfried Kretschmann told party members in Stuttgart.

The Greens secured 24.2 percent of the vote, with the center-left Social Democrats down 2 percentage points at 23.1 percent. That secures them a narrow lead to form a coalition government with a combined 71 seats in the state legislature, the results showed.

See more video from Germany here