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, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, March 12, 2005


I've started writing a book. Folks keep telling me I should take all my trip reports and use them in a book plus I've got a bunch of stories from 30 years of organizing. So I have taken the plunge. I've been at the computer for the last three days, nearly nonstop, and have gone back through newsletters to pick out some items from years past. It's bringing back alot of memories and we'll see how it turns out. My dear friend Bill Park, who has done art work for my stuff for the last 20 years, has agreed to give his illustrations to the book and has already scanned them and sent them to me. So now I have no excuses and have to finish the job. Working title is "From the front lines of life."

Went to see Hotel Rawanda at the movies today with Mary Beth. Everyone should go see it. An amazing story of heartbreak and courage. The fact is that America turned our collective back on genocide there and we are doing it again today in Darfur. Is it because they are black? What other reason could it be?

I leave tomorrow for New York City to do some advance work for the Global Network's April 30 international space organizing conference that comes one day before the big May 1 international demo for nuclear disarmament in Central Park. We will have folks coming from around the U.S. and around the world for our conference and one of our founders, Dr. Michio Kaku, will be our keynote speaker. Michio, a professor of physics at CUNY, is one of my top 3 favorite speakers in the world. I've been working with Michio since the 1980's and despite the fact that he has become very big internationally in the physics field, he always has time for the Global Network.

It has been snowing all day here in Maine. We have so much snow now on either side of our roads and sidewalks that we have tunnels. It is quite a site. People here have about had enough of the winter but being that it is only my second winter here I am still loving it. My sister, who lives in northwest Iowa, reports temperatures in the 70's with no snow on the ground. Everywhere I go people say their weather is really messed up and likey is a result of the the consequences of global warming which the U.S. does not want to acknowledge. People still drive around in the gigantic SUV's and I wonder how much it costs to fill one up these days as gas is now well over $2 per gallon. At what point do these macho Americans begin to say we need to down scale? Have they heard that we are running out of oil in the world? Blind, death and dumb to what is going on I guess. Do we ever think of the future generations and what we are leaving them? Hello, anyone home!!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2005



BBC radio ran a half hour story (click on link above to hear it) on NASA's plan to launch nuclear power into space. Called Project Prometheus, BBC investigated (mostly from NASA's point of view) the prospects for nuclear propulsion in space. Project Prometheus is the name that the Bush administration has given to the planned nuclear rocket now under development by NASA and the Department of Energy (DoE). The BBC story interviewed Global Network Coordinator Bruce Gagnon about the organizations opposition to space nuclear power.

In order to meet the growing demand for plutonium for future space nuclear missions, NASA is now planning to expand plutonium production facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory. In addition to the nuclear rocket, NASA also plans a growing list of nuclear missions to outer planets in the coming years. The next plutonium mission set for launch is the New Horizons mission to Pluto. New Horizons will carry a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) that transforms heat from decaying plutonium-238 into electricity to power the spacecraft's instruments. The New Horizons mission is set to launch from the space center in Florida in January or February, 2006. The Global Network will be organizing opposition to this launch and your help will be needed.

NASA has just released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the New Horizons Mission. Public comments are due before April 11, 2005. We urge concerned citizens to write NASA and state your opposition to nuclear power in space. Send your comments to:

The nuclear industry views space as a new market and are feverishly working to convince the global public that launching nuclear power into space will be safe. What we know is that rocket technology can and does fail. Launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida have a 10-20% failure rate. In 1996 a Russian Mars mission, carrying plutonium on-board, failed to achieve proper orbit and burned up as it reentered Earth orbit spreading deadly plutonium over the mountains of Chile and Bolivia. The plutonium production process is also dangerous. Between 1994-1996, while fabricating the plutonium RTG's for the 1997 Cassini mission at Los Alamos Labs in New Mexico, the DoE reported 244 cases of worker contamination.

The U.S. military has long stated that they need nuclear reactors in space to power weapons technologies in the future. NASA's past director, Sean O'Keefe (former Secretary of the nuclear Navy) has stated that every mission at NASA from now on will be "dual use," meaning that each mission will be testing civilian and military technologies at the same time. So then what is the military application of the nuclear rocket?

Space News, an industry publication, ran a story on March 7, 2005 called NASA Asks Public To Comment on RTG-Powered Pluto Probe. In the article Bruce Gagnon was quoted as saying, "NASA is controlled by two entities today, the Pentagon and the nuclear industry. NASA just doesn't give a damn about the public's input."

With that said, the danger of the planned dramatic increase in launches of nuclear devices in coming years should concern all of us. It will only take one accident, and a release of plutonium into the Earth atmosphere, to unleash severe health consequences globally. This is not some theoretical possibility, since the beginning of the space age, there have already been eight accidents with space nuclear power, some quite severe. (See the Global Network web site for a list of those accidents.)

Please help us by sending your comments to NASA by April 11 opposing the launch of nuclear power on the New Horizons mission. Even though NASA does not want to listen to the public, let's make sure they hear from us anyway. (People from outside the U.S. are also encourage to write. This is a global issue!) Send your comments to:

Thanks for your support.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 729-0517

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


The United Press Int'l (UPI) reported today that a former U.S. Marine, who participated in capturing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

The ex-Marine stated that he was part of a 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days near Tikrit, and that they found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a rat hole as previously announced by the Pentagon.

Saddam was captured after fierce resistance during which one Marine was killed. The ex-Marine said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from a window but surrendered once he saw that there was no point in resisting. Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well, the ex-Marine said. (This story was found on the web site of TV 13 WHAM in Rochester, New York.)

Also in the news today, on the very LAST page of my local newspaper (Times Record), in a very tiny story hidden at the bottom of the page, was this headline: Nation's Infrastructure is crumbling

A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers assessed the four-year trend in the condition of 12 categories of infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, drinking water systems, public parks, railroads and the power grid. The engineers gave the nation's infrastructure the grade of D. As in downhill. Heading downhill very fast. Should have been on the front page, top of the page in place of the article called Kicking Up Her Heels about the local girl who does Irish step-dancing. Huge color picture of the dancer came with the story on the front page and two more big pictures on page 4 for the rest of the story. No wonder the American people don't know a damn thing about what is going on. The American people are not stupid, the media is. Of course crumbling infrastructure stories don't sell newspapers and money is what comes first. But does an Irish step-dancing story sell that many more papers? Except for her family, who else rushes out to buy it?

There was a tiny bit of good news today from the otherwise corrupt and disfunctional U. S. Senate. It seems that Bush's new "Clear Skies" legislation, that is really a polluters paradise bill, got hung up in committee when Republican moderate senator Lincoln Chaffee from Rhode Island voted to oppose it. The bill, while claiming to clean up air pollution, really is a give-away to the big polluting industries. The entire northeast of the U.S. is where the prevailing winds blow much of the nation's bad air and even Republican senators in this region are giving Bush some level of trouble on this bill. Hope for the best and give your senator a call if you are so moved.

My last item for tonight is the e-mail I got today from Global Network board member Helen John in England. She is going to run against Prime Minister Tony Blair in the next national election there. Blair has to run for a local seat in Parliament so Helen will contest him in the local race. Helen says Blair's slogan is "Don't Look Back, Look Forward." Now I wonder why he picked that one? Helen said her slogan will be "Back to the Beginning." Should be alot of fun to watch.

It reminds me what a good idea it would be if local activists all over the U.S. were to jump into House and Senate races in the coming elections. Run and say you want to cut the military budget by 50%, you want to convert the weapons industry to peaceful production, want to fully fund day care, health care for all, raise taxes on the rich, clean up the environment and send corporate criminals like Enron to jail. I mean if Martha Stewart can do time, how come Enron big wigs never spent time behind bars? We've got to get bold. Take the plunge, dive into a local campaign. Stop the corporate takeover and destruction of America! Give people a reason to go vote.

Monday, March 07, 2005


I subscribe to a right-wing organization's e-mail list so I can keep an eye on what they are doing. Usually I get one e-mail a week on a particular issue and they ask folks to send a letter to Congress. The last message I got was about the Republican effort to kill the Senate tradition of the filabuster that allows the minority party to hold up all business by talking for as long as they can. The Republican's are calling their effort to kill the filibuster the "nuclear option." So the right-wing group sends me this e-mail on the nuclear option, not once, not twice, but three times in recent days. So putting on my organizer hat what do I think of this? Maybe they are not getting a very good response from their base on this request for action and they have to keep pushing it. A whole bunch of Republicans remember, not so long ago, that they used the filibuster when they were a minority in the Senate.

I am beginning to think the right-wing fundamentalist base is crumbling. The whole recent Gannon/Guckert porno/gay/prostitute episode at the White House appears to be driving the Christian fundamentalist base crazy. Here we have George W. Bush, who some believed was sent by God, and now we have stories coming out of the White House that the guy named Gannon/Guckert was "servicing" top level operatives in the Bush White House. Then "on top," excuse me, of all that you have Gannon/Guckert smuggled into the White House press room asking softball questions to the White House press spokesman and even Bush during his news conferences. The Christians are calling the White House wondering what is going on! There are growing rumors that high-level Bush operatives who are gay might soon be outed. Imagine the nuclear fallout from that!

I was in a restaurant in Portland last Friday night and at the table next to me were two Christian men talking about religious matters. One of them said, "At my bible study the other night we were studying revelations (the rapture) and I asked the others in the group, do you think Bush is the anti-Christ?" I was quite surprised to hear this.

But if you think about it you can begin to see where this is going. Real conservatives are beginning to wonder about Bush and his sales pitch that he is one of them -- a real moral man. How can Bush be a moral man when he is killing innocent people in Iraq? How can Bush be a real conservative when he is giving us the biggest budget deficit in history? How can Bush be a real holy man when he has a male whore getting access to the White House? In these times of high-level homeland security doesn't the FBI do background checks anymore? Do they use the internet?

Then finally, I watched Bush's former EPA administrator Whitman on C-SPAN last night talking about her new book. Basically the conservatives chased her out of the administration because she was too "moderate." She went on and on about how the super conservatives are ruining the Republican party and how they are creating policy that is out of the mainstream of America. She talked about how moderate Republicans are no longer welcome in the party of Lincoln and that they had better start to fight to take back their party -- and soon.

Bush's social security privatization plan could be his Waterloo (for those who don't know Waterloo was the place in Belgium where Napoleon was decisively defeated in 1815). Bush is bound to face a Waterloo because he has created so much negative karma, it is bound to haunt him in the end. Even my mother, a life long loyal Republican, has turned on Bush because she relies totally on social security in her retirement years and fears her economic future. She voted against Bush in the last election.

The cloth of the Bush team is coming apart. He has created his own monster and now will have to face the reality of it. Let the day come soon.