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'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

What can be done about climate crisis?



Bruce Gagnon and Lisa Savage discuss climate crisis and what can be done about it.

This show ran in August of this year - a much warmer time in Maine than the present moment.

Lisa is now running for the US Senate seat in Maine currently held by right-wing Republican Susan Collins.  Lisa is running as a member of the Maine Green Independent Party (MGIP) in what will be a first in the nation for a US Senate seat - a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) race.  That means there will be no spoiler and that voters can rank their true preferences.

These kinds of RCV races tend to draw more people to the polls because now they feel they can for the first time vote their conscience and not fear they will 'split' the vote.

But first Lisa's team has to gather 2,000 registered Green Independent signatures between January 1 and March 15 which will be a challenge in the middle of a Maine winter.

I spent much of the day yesterday working with a friend in what might have been the coldest day of the year gathering signatures in neighborhoods throughout the southeast part of the town of Brunswick.  We got 13 signatures of Green Independent voters - like looking for a needle in a haystack.  This is our challenge in Maine.  Going back out with MB to do more of the same today.

You can learn more about Lisa here.

Bruce

Friday, January 17, 2020

Climate change report



The devastating bushfires in Australia have raged on for months, destroying 16 million acres of land and killing an estimated one billion animals.

Resident vet Dr Scott Miller is live from Australia, where he’s been lending a helping hand at the Koala Hospital in New South Wales.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

View out my office window


It has snowed all day today - really beautiful watching it from my office window as a couple of inches worth collected in the trees and on the ground.

I went outside midday and did some shoveling and cleaning off the car.  My plans to go to the grocery store were set aside as it made no sense to try to dig out the driveway before the plow truck came to do that job.

Days like this are why I wanted to move to Maine back in 2003.  The snow makes the whole world slow down.  The technological world has to surrender for a few minutes to nature.  That is good.

It makes doing door-to-door work hard for Lisa's campaign but that comes with the territory.

Bruce

I Was Treated by a Donetsk Doctor



Mum, I’m a prisoner, but you don’t cry.
I was darned, now like new.
I was treated by a Donetsk doctor,
Tired, dour, and harsh.

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

He treated me. Do you hear mother:
I hit the city from “Grad”,
And half the hospital was simply trashed
But he was treating me: “It is so necessary.”

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

Mum, I’m a monster, I’m sorry.
We got lost in the floods of lies.
All my life I have to bear this cross.
Now my eyes have opened.

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

We were taken to the places
Where the shells hit.
And we did not believe our eyes:
What have we done to Donbass!

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

The hospitals are full of the wounded.
Everyone curses Kiev here.
Father, whiter than the canvas,
Shakes the dead child

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

Mother, I am a monster and executioner.
And there is no terrorist here, mum.
There is only a human groan and cry,
And for them we are worse than the Nazis.

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

We, mum, were sent for slaughter,
The battalion commander had no pity for us.
The militia shouted at me: “Wait!
On the floor, milksop!”, and then foul language.

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

He did not want to shoot me.
He is a Man, and I am a killer.
He brought me out from the battle! Do you hear,
mother, me – the cruel blood drinker of Donbass!

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

Mum, I’m a prisoner, but you don’t cry.
I was darned, now like new.
I was treated by a Donetsk doctor,
Tired, dour, and harsh.

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

He was fulfilling a medical duty,
While I, burning from shame,
Was able to think for the first time:
Who needs a war like this?

God, have mercy on me; God, forgive me

Song performed by Yuliya Slavyanskaya

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

My latest show



Richard Rhames discusses the current crisis situation with Iran after the US assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Richard is from Biddeford, Maine and is a multi-generational vegetable farmer on land in family hands.  He is also a public access TV show host (maybe one the longest running hosts in Maine) and a rock and roll band member.

Richard and I have been trading doing interviews on each others shows for many years.  He's a very smart and direct person who is not afraid to say what he thinks.

He's also alot of fun to be around.

Bruce

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Blessing the 'Space Force' bible.....


"The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy," MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein wrote in a statement denouncing the Bible blessing. "The utilization of a Christian bible to 'swear in' commanders of the new Space Force or any other [Department of Defense] branch at ANY level is completely violative of the bedrock separation of church and state mandate of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

In a tweet on Sunday, the Washington National Cathedral posted a statement describing the Bible that was blessed during a morning service as a Space Force official Bible "which will be used to swear in all commanders of America's newest military branch."

See the full article from NPR here

Still protesting on Jeju Island

The daily protest outside the U.S. forced Navy base in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea continues.  It has now been over 12 and one-half years of unrelenting struggle.  Currently the activists there are additionally opposing the construction of a second airport and Air Force base near the naval base.

The Catholic mass continues each day just across from the navy base.

Sacred Mount Halla in the distance viewed from Gangjeong village

After the Catholic mass participants march to the front gate of the Navy base to hold signs/banners, sing and dance.  Some days just a few are there.  Other days many come to join in.  The determination to reject U.S. provocative use of Jeju Island as a military platform for domination of China, North Korea and Russia remains strong. 

Lisa Savage issues statement on BIW $45 million tax break


In response to reports last week that top Democratic lawmakers in Maine are questioning a $45 million tax break for Bath Iron Works (BIW), US Senate candidate Lisa Savage issued the following statement:

“Why would our state give BIW/General Dynamics Corporation a $45 million tax cut in the first place? Owner General Dynamics is one of the wealthiest weapons manufacturers in the world and does not need corporate welfare. I worked hard to block this bill in 2018 and was part of a group that succeeded in reducing the tax giveaway amount from the $60 million originally put in the bill sponsored by Democrats Rep. Jennifer DeChant and Sen. Eloise Vitelli. A bill that both House Speaker Gideon and Senate President Jackson voted for, incidentally.”

We have many urgent needs in Maine: crumbling infrastructure, underfunded public education, and many people struggling without adequate health care.

General Dynamics pays its top executives multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses, and uses its enormous profits to buy back its own stock. Meanwhile, BIW forces workers to accept multi-year contracts with no pay raises and with cuts to benefits.

BIW workers are understandably angry about the unkept promises to improve conditions for the existing workforce, and to create additional good union jobs, that this tax giveaway bill was based on.
Saddest of all is the fact that elected officials know that building weapons systems like warships is not actually a good job creation program. Do Democratic and Republican leaders in the Maine legislature realize that converting BIW to building clean energy systems would generate up to 50% more jobs according to research by leading economists? I know that Maine’s Congressional delegation knows about this research, because I have shared it and discussed it with them.

Maine could be leading the way to a sustainable, green economy by converting BIW using federal contracts under a Green New Deal. I am running for the U.S. Senate on a platform advocating just such a change, which would be a win for the climate and a win for both workers and taxpayers in Maine.

As long as a big part of our economy is dependent on endless war, these issues will not go away; as long we continue to hope that war-profiteering companies like General Dynamics are going to "do the right thing," these issues will not go away. We need to promote a local economy and a strong union workforce, and end once and for all our country's dependence on endless world conflict to fuel the endless desire for economic growth.”

Find information about Lisa’s background, her policy positions, and where to donate to her people-powered campaign at www.LisaforMaine.org

Julian Assange sighting & his punitive lockdown



  • The 48-year-old Australian-born activist made a brief appearance at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Monday, with his lawyers seeking to prevent his extradition to the United States. At the hearing, Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange’s next hearing would take place on January 23. Assange is to take part in that hearing by video linkup.

Assange's friends and fellow journalists have repeatedly expressed concerns over a 'rapid decline' in the WikiLeaks founder's health since his imprisonment. Assange's health is believed to have deteriorated steadily since his confinement to the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, getting worse after he was jailed.

Julian Assange might feel forgotten but he is not.  None of us should ever forget him.  He took a bullet for all of us.  It's a monumental crime that he is locked down - particularly in solitary confinement with little access to family, friends, legal assistance and the freedom to take in fresh air and materials to help prepare his case.

The US & UK corporate regimes are trying to destroy him as a clear warning to others who might dare to blow the whistle on the corrupt capitalist system that now rules much of the world.

I look for every opportunity to pass on news about Assange.  It is a small thing to do but we must all do more to keep his case in the public eye.

  • When I lived in Florida we used to visit the historic city of St. Augustine frequently.  Our dear friend Peg McIntire (one of the key leaders in the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice) lived there on the beach.  When I couldn't afford to take my son Julian on a 'traditional' summer vacation Peg would invite us to her place for a week at a time so we could swim in the Atlantic and visit the local sites. 

St. Augustine is one of the few places in Florida that has some historical character.  Most of the state is highways, traffic, strip-malls, and tourist traps.  But St. Augustine (the oldest city in the US, a former Spanish colony during the 16th century) also has something very important - a very old fort that should be remembered for one primary reason - it served as a prison for Native Americans who were fighting the US Army for their very survival.

The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest and largest masonry fort in the continental United States; it is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine. During the 1800's the fort was renamed Fort Marion.

The fort was used as a military prison to incarcerate Native American tribes starting with the Seminole—including the famous war chief, Osceola, in the Second Seminole War—and members of western tribes, including Geronimo and others of the Chiricahua Apache.

Apache prisoners at Fort Marion

In October 1837 Seminole chief Osceola was deceitfully taken prisoner by the Americans while attending a peace conference near Fort Peyton under a flag of truce. He was imprisoned in Fort Marion along with his followers, including Uchee Billy, King Philip and his son Coacoochee (Wild Cat).

The Native American art form known as Ledger Art had its origins at the fort during the imprisonment of members of the Plains tribes such as Howling Wolf of the southern Cheyenne.


In 1874, in what became known as the Red River War or Buffalo War, a group of Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, and Caddo warriors fought the US Army to protect the last free herd of buffalo and to assert their autonomy. In the harsh winter of 1874 to 1875, many tribal camps were forced to surrender to various Indian agencies, and the presumed leaders of the Red River War were rounded up and sent to Fort Marion. From 1875 to 1878, 71 native men and one woman were imprisoned there.

  • My point here is that the US government has been punitive toward those who rightly oppose its evil deeds even before the official founding of the nation in 1776.  Being locked up until death was the long-standing modus operandi of the 'Great White Father' in Washington.  It appears to be the current strategy when it comes to Julian Assange as well.  Destroy your worst critics and enemies.  Show no human kindness or mercy.  This is the tactic of a ruling elite that has long ago lost its connection to nature and the spirit world.  It reveals a deep sickness in this nation.
Bruce

Monday, January 13, 2020

Working the doors across Maine for Lisa

Lisa Savage going door-to-door in Portland asking people to sign her petition to get on the ballot.  She needs 2,000 signatures of registered Maine Green Independent party members.

  • Mary Beth and I went door-to-door in Brunswick over the weekend.  We had to dodge some rain and ice but managed to have a good experience.  Folks in other parts of the state were also out gathering signatures for Lisa Savage to get on the ballot for the US Senate race in November as we step up our efforts to get the required 2,000 signatures by March 15.  We hit over 100 doors on Saturday and Sunday in Brunswick and got 27 signatures of registered Maine Green Independent voters.  People who are more experienced than us at this kind of campaigning tell us we did quite well.
  • Along the way I had some interesting conversations with some folks. Here are a couple remarks to share: One woman said she was concerned about her children's future; A senior couple said constantly rising prices are making it hard for them to live; Another older woman said she "Changed from Green to Democrat when that woman from California (Jill Stein who is actually from Massachusetts) sat down with Putin at the table"; and quite a few said they don't like the Democrats.
  • It's interesting to see the different kinds of people and types of housing that Green members live in.  We went from trailer parks to quite wealthy neighborhoods to find registered Greens.  Actually we had the best luck getting signatures in the trailer parks.  Largely because of the density of these places, trailers are close to one another.  Wealthier neighborhoods have large forested lots so you have to drive from one house to the next while in trailer parks you can often just walk from one place to the next.
  • The trailer parks defy the stereotypes of the kind of people living in them.  While indeed there are certainly some poor and working class people living in trailers there are also some very middle class folks inside these trailer parks.  It becomes apparent that the housing market has gotten so damn expensive that many people, even apparently middle class, have chosen trailer living as the more affordable way to go.  Who can blame them when a standard, no frills, three-bedroom house in Brunswick is selling for $250,000 or more.  It's outrageous.
  • Last evening Regis Tremblay and I gave a presentation at the library in Brunswick about our recent trips to Russia.  We both were in the Donbass (the war zone in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border) at separate times.  Then we were in Crimea at the same time in November.  Eighteen people showed up (including the former editor of the local newspaper) and we had a great discussion after my PowerPoint presentation and Regis showing a short video from one neighborhood in Donetsk that has been repeatedly bombed since 2014 by the Ukrainian military and their Nazi allies.  See that video here.
  • Two people who attended the event last night at the library decided to switch from Democrat to Green after the meeting and one person in the audience came up to me and said he wants to help do door-knocking to get signatures here in town.  So all in all it was a very successful day for us here in Brunswick.
  • I should also say that fellow Green Party member Rosalie Paul here in Brunswick has also collected about 25 signatures as well.  So our town is stepping up and doing our bit for the cause. 
  • We have a long way to go and still need lots of help.
Bruce

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Battle damage at U.S. base in Iraq after Iran's missile attack



In an exclusive report from an airbase where the US soldiers are based in Iraq, CNN described the extent of the damage to the base from Iran's missiles as unimaginable.

The US claimed that no one was killed which is a bit hard to imagine considering the battle damage.

An Iranian military report suggested that nine planes were needed to transfer the dead and wounded to hospitals in Israel.  If this was true then it is clear that the Pentagon did not want to transport the dead and wounded back to the US.  I've seen a couple of reports indicating that 80 were killed and about 200 wounded.

Do we really expect the US military to tell us the truth?  

Who knows for sure - time will tell?  Eventually someone will talk and we will learn more about this whole tragic incident that was brought on by the needless and provocative US assassination of Iran's Gen. Qasem Soleimani who was sent to Iraq on a diplomatic mission.

Bruce

Sunday song