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. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Monday, January 30, 2006


My mind turns to the legal system again today as Sam Alito is likely to be confirmed by the Senate early this week. This morning we hear that top Enron Corporation executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling begin their criminal trial for stealing Enron investors blind. In recent days we've seen George W. Bush squirm and lie trying to deny association with super-crook Jack Abramoff who earlier this month plead guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges. It has been reported that Abramoff donated $100,000 to Bush campaigns for president, but George W. Bush claims they have never met.

But don't despair friends. There is justice in America. If you have any doubts just turn to the case of the St. Patrick's Four. On March 17, 2003, just two days before U.S. bombs began raining down on Baghdad, 40 year-old Teresa Grady, her older sister Clare, Daniel Burns and Vietnam veteran Peter DeMott decided to take action against the impending illegal invasion (excuse me, liberation) of Iraq.

The group of Catholic Workers from Ithaca, N.Y. entered a military recruiting center and poured their blood on the walls, recruiting posters and an American flag in an act of non-violent civil resistance to what they knew would be countless violations of international law the Bush administration would commit with the coming "shock and awe" invasion.

"We are about caring for the poor, needy and disenfranchised," Teresa later said. "We do this while confronting the political and economic structures that cause poverty." They were ultimately found guilty for their act of conscience. Danny Burns got a 6 month jail sentence, Peter DeMott got 8 months, Clare Grady got 6 months, and Teresa Grady got four months.

Now that might seem fair to the average person. But let's put this all in some context. Let's look at Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, the highest-ranker officer charged in connection with prisoner abuse in the U.S. war in Iraq. During a five-day trial prosecutors displayed gruesome pictures of the body of Iraqi Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush. He was killed by Welshofer when the U.S. Army officer placed the Iraqi general head-first in a sleeping bag, covered his mouth and sat on his chest during a fatal interrogation in November 2003.

Mowhoush's death came two days after he was beaten with rubber hoses by Iraqi contractors working for the CIA. Chief Warrant Officer Welshofer was also present at that interrogation. The next day Welshofer held Mowhoush while water torture was administered.

At the trial Welshofer was found guilty of negligent homicide but found not guilty on the more serious charge of murder. Welshofer was sentenced to a reprimand and fine but escaped jail time. He will forfeit $6,000 in pay and be restricted to the barracks and his workplace for 60 days.

In May, 2005 a similar case resulted in acquittal. Army staff sergeant Shane Werst was found not guilty of premeditated murder for having killed suspected Iraqi insurgent Naser Ismail. Werst shot the Iraqi after a team of Americans had entered the home of Ismail. Werst claimed Ismail lunged for a gun. After shooting the Iraqi, Werst admitted that he fired a pistol into a couch and told another U.S. soldier to put the dead Iraqi man's fingerprints on it.

Can there be any doubt that there are two standards of justice in America today? If you protest for peace you go to jail. The St. Patrick’s Four is just one case in many where anti-war activists are going to jail in record numbers today. But if you murder people in Iraq you are likely to get a slap on the wrist and off you go – back to work.

Something is very wrong here. Who said there needs to be a revolution in America today?

Friday, January 27, 2006


For GOP voters, the 2004 presidential election was little short of miraculous: Behind in the Electoral College even on the afternoon of the vote, the Bush-Cheney ticket staged a stunning comeback. Usually reliable exit polls turned out to be wrong by an unprecedented 5 percent in swing states. Conservatives argued, and the media agreed, that "moral values" had made the difference.

In his latest book, Fooled Again: How The Right Stole The 2004 Election, And Why They'll Steal The Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them), Mark Crispin Miller argues that it wasn't moral values which swung the election -- it was theft.

TERRENCE McNALLY: You're a professor of media studies. According to your bio, you write about "film, television, propaganda, advertising and the culture industries …" Why did you write this book?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Out of a sense of civic emergency. I believe that "Fooled Again" makes the case quite persuasively that there is actually no convincing evidence that Bush and Cheney won re-election.

This is a civic story of the utmost importance. It has to do with the dire need for election reform in the United States. But it's also a story about the colossal failure of the American press to do precisely the kind of job that the framers had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment. What they had in mind was that the press would function as a reliable check on executive power. It would keep the people informed about what their government was up to, and it would keep them politically engaged in national debate.

The newspapers, as limited and defective as they were in the 18th century, did perform that function, and I believe they performed that function for much of our history. We now have a corporate media system that is not answerable to the people nor concerned about the people, but [is] in the service of its pay masters. And it is far too close to the government for the health of anything like a democratic system.

One of the points of "Fooled Again" is that this is a story of tremendous importance, as far as a democracy is concerned. Yet the press has for the most part ridiculed those who have come up with very solid evidence of fraud. They've been in the business less of talking about the situation than of preventing anybody else from talking about it. And this includes some of the progressive media as well. In fact, the most hostile reviews that I've received have been in Mother Jones and Salon.

TM: I read the transcript of you on Democracy Now! with Mark Hertsgaard, a progressive journalist who has been fairly dismissive of those questioning Bush's victory. By the end he seemed to be agreeing that everything should be more fully investigated.

I would think that the 2004 election story, if tracked and broken, would be huge for whoever breaks it. Any other thoughts about why it's so ignored?

MCM: We have to understand that for some decades the press has served basically an establishmentarian function. They have the reputation, and they certainly have the self-image, of being terribly skeptical, prone to disrespectful questions, probing dark matters that authority would just as soon have them leave alone. That's a very flattering view of the press but completely undeserved. The press will not deal with any story that goes beyond a particular scandal to cast doubt on the very viability of the entire system. The press in this country will studiously ignore any story that too violently rocks the boat, whose implications are too shattering.

This is not new. Watergate was a story that the press avoided for months and months. Only the Washington Post pursued that story; everybody else made fun of it. Now we look back on Watergate with tremendous nostalgia and self-congratulation, telling ourselves the press saved the system. But since Watergate the press has preferred to deal with meaningless and trivial scandals like the Clinton scandals. They will not talk about 9/11, they will not talk about the theft of the last three elections.

TM: You also include the 2002 congressional election. That one also broke too consistently against predictions?

MCM: That's exactly right. In Colorado, in Minnesota, in Georgia, and in a couple of other states -- there was what we might call "Diebold magic" everywhere. In all these states, you had far-right-wing politicians predicted to lose by pre-election newspaper polls and by exit polls, and all of them won.

TM: Why do you believe the two successive Democratic candidates have given in so easily?

MCM: I think basically Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry this last time are far too concerned with establishment opinion, far too worried that they'll seem to be sore losers, conspiracy theorists, etc. They have therefore refused to go public with what they actually believe. Kerry told me personally on October 28th at a fundraising party that he believes the election was probably stolen.

TM: He then disavowed that in the press, didn't he?

MCM: Exactly -- a few hours after the story broke. The Democratic Party is as much a part of the problem as the Republican Party.

TM: Are there exceptions among the ranks of mainstream politicians? I think of Barbara Boxer and John Conyers. Any others?

MCM: Tom Daschle has told me he thinks very highly of the book and has given me permission to quote him to that effect. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Rush Holt. There are growing numbers of Democratic politicians who are willing to take the risks of facing the truth on this issue.

Let's put it less dogmatically. All right, maybe I haven't proven that the election was stolen, but I am completely confident that I've provided ample grounds for a serious investigation of what went on last year. It seems to me that any Democrat who refuses to even go for that kind of inquiry is really failing his or her constituency.

TM: -- and failing the voters. As a citizen, it bothers me that we leave it to a Gore or a Kerry, who's thinking about his future reputation or his future career, to stage the protest. I don't care about their careers. I care about my vote getting counted or discounted.

What's the statement that you're willing to make in "Fooled Again" about the 2004 election: stolen? worthy of investigation? evidence clearly shows in six states …?

MCM: The evidence in Ohio, as anyone who followed the story knows, is copious. Bush allegedly won that state by 118,000 votes. As I point out -- and this part of the book is largely based on John Conyers' report to the House Judiciary Committee -- the various stratagems, tricks and tactics used to prevent people from registering, to prevent them from voting, to throw away provisional ballots -- all these add up to a number far greater than 118,000.

TM:: That's news to me. Many people have said, yes, there were long lines, yes, there was disproportionate distribution of voting machines, yes, there was trouble with provisional ballots, yes, there was intimidation -- but the margin was 120,000. You're saying that they add up to over 120,000?

MCM: Oh easily, easily. It was in the urban parts of Ohio that most of this stuff went down. All the urban centers in Ohio were Democratic. If people want to get a strong sense of what was happening at the grassroots level coast to coast last year, go to a website called the Election Incident Reporting System, EIRS. Then type in the name of a state or a county, and you'll get a transcript of all the complaints that were lodged that day by people who called 1-866-MY-VOTE.

Now a lot of them couldn't get through because it was understaffed, but those who did get through left messages. You can find copious firsthand evidence of what the average person had to go through to try to vote against Bush. This didn't happen only in Ohio. Electronic touchscreen machines flipped Kerry votes into Bush votes in at least 11 states.

TM: You say similar practices (and occasionally worse ones) were applied in several other key states -- Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and even New York?

MCM: In New Mexico, for example, we're told that Bush won by some 7,000 votes. We know of over 17,000 Democratic voters who were unable to cast a vote for president because the touchscreen machines in their districts refused to record a vote for president.

These 17,000-plus New Mexicans turned out to vote in Democratic areas, and they didn't record a vote for president. Seventeen thousand is 10,000 more than 7,000. That glitch alone can account for the ostensible victory margin of Bush over Kerry in New Mexico. Greg Palast's new book will have a whole chapter on New Mexico. It's hair-raising stuff, and we haven't heard a word about it. The same kind of thing happened in Iowa, where Bush supposedly won by under 10,000 votes.

Tom Daschle was supposedly beaten in South Dakota by 4,500 votes. There was so much chicanery going on there, that it's easy to argue that John Thunes should not have won. I know Daschle believes he was robbed.

This isn't only a matter of the White House, it's also a matter of the Congress. I don't believe that this government represents the people of this country. The people of this country, however frightened some of them may be by terrorism, are essentially not theocratically inclined. They don't want a Christian republic. They were not happy with the way the government dealt with the Terry Schiavo case. Americans basically believe in the American system of government. Checks and balances, the separation of church and state.

The press kept telling us after the election that a huge outpouring of religious voters account for Bush's miraculous victory. Well that's nothing more than a talking point that the religious right itself put out after the election. There is no statistical evidence whatsoever that there was any increase in the number of religious voters.

TM: The big thing that people seized on was one particular exit poll in which people, when given a choice of a few things, said moral values was the No. 1 reason for their vote. More people answered moral values in 1996 and in 2000 than in 2004. There was actually a drop in the number of people who attributed their vote to moral values in 2004, not a rise.

Let me check a couple of things with you. I've heard that exit polls were most inaccurate -- by a big margin -- in those areas that used electronic voting machines with no paper trail. True?

MCM: That's basically true, and it was particularly noticeable in five swing states. There's a lot of stuff floating around out there in cyberspace about the exit polls. The question of the exit polls has been very badly muddied by a lot of disingenuous argument. Now a lot of people think that it's not a reliable gauge, it doesn't tell us anything. That's actually the result of propaganda obfuscation. The exit polls' sudden divergence, sudden wrongness in these five states is really a remarkable deviation from the norm.

The guy doing the best work on that particular issue is a statistician at the University of Pennsylvania named Steve Freeman, who will have a book coming out in a few months primarily about the exit poll question.

Bogus reasons for why the exit polls were so wrong include the reluctant responder argument, which holds that Bush voters were strangely reluctant to tell exit pollsters how they voted. Well, Freeman has read the raw data at precinct level and has discovered that, as a matter of fact, if anyone showed a greater reluctance to come forward and say honestly who they voted for when confronted with an exit pollster, it was actually the Democrats. There's no evidence of any numerical kind that can support the view that somehow Republicans wouldn't fess up.

TM: I would assume that the very ones being referred to as reluctant are the ones who would be proud to say they voted for God's candidate.

MCM: One of the weirdest things about this whole election business is that one of the two parties has, for over the last year and longer, been vociferously complaining about the dangers of election fraud, and that's the Republican party.

TM: Thus the ID card in Georgia, right?

MCM: Exactly. They're the ones who are always screaming about Democratic fraud, but the Republicans in this last race were really the only ones engaging in election fraud.

This has to do with the peculiarly paranoid quality of the crusading mindset. I believe this theft was to a great extent carried out thanks to a kind of crusader mentality. I've got plenty of evidence in the book that the religious right played an enormously large role in the theft of the election last year.

TM: I think first of Diebold, I think of the Ken Blackwells or the Kathryn Harrises. How does the religious right itself play a role beyond mobilizing its own troops?

MCM: That mobilization is significant when you consider that a lot of those troops have actually become embedded inside the election system.

TM: Local polling officials, that sort of thing?

MCM: One Democratic election judge tried to observe the vote count in Pima County, Arizona. A roomful of polling personnel who all belonged to the same evangelical church in the area started to call him a liberal demon, a liberal scum.

TM: When you talk about a crusader mentality, you basically mean that if you do not support my candidate you are an infidel -- and the ends justify the means?

MCM: Precisely. See, all these crimes that I attest to in the book were committed with impunity by people who regard their political adversaries as demons. And that's not an exaggeration. You know, this government is to a great extent dominated by people who have that metaphysical view of the current political situation.

It is a very serious mistake I believe to think that all of this is happening only because of the excessive greed of certain corporate powers. That greed is decisive It played an enormous role. There is no question about it. But it could not have succeeded without the vigorous grassroots assistance of a lot of people who are religious true believers. And I think that they include the likes of Tom DeLay and others.

TM: I've heard that almost all irregularities worked in Bush's favor. True?

MCM: Absolutely true. I have not yet heard of a single example of a touchscreen voting machine flipping a Bush vote into a Kerry vote. This does not mean it never happened. I'm just saying I haven't heard about it if it has.

TM: I've read that in New Hampshire, Ralph Nader's Green Party campaign paid for an actual recount. They picked the precincts they thought were suspicious, and the hand recount confirmed the actual vote totals and showed that the exit polls were, in fact, wrong. What do you say to that?

MCM: Well, the recount that they paid for found no evidence of fraud in that particular case.

TM: It confirmed the hand recount, showing that the exit polls were in fact wrong. So how does that fit your analysis of the whole scheme?

MCM: The only thing one can say about that with any scientific certainty is that the particular hand count that they carried out did not reveal any evidence of fraud. That does not mean that no fraud was committed. This is a very fine point, but when we're dealing with questions of electoral honesty and accuracy, I think we have the right to make fine points. The distinction must be made -- that particular hand count involved a sample, that sample revealed no fraud, but that does not mean that we can then sit back and say, well, OK, so the exit polls were wrong.

TM: To the question "What is the point of revisiting the last election?" you point out that there has never been a great reform that was not driven by a major scandal. Do you believe that true election reform is not going to happen until the people and the media finally wake up to this?

MCM: I think it's going to depend on the people. It's going to depend on the people simply and irresistibly insisting that the media finally deal with this subject. That's why I wrote the book.

Interviewer Terrence McNally hosts Free Forum on KPFK 90.7FM, Los Angeles (streaming at

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


George W. Bush is on a campaign to justify his war on the American people. He and his team are now appearing everywhere to convince us that spying on us is "good for us." They are saying that intercepting domestic communications is legal. The big lie, repeated often enough, becomes the truth. And it wears the opposition down. Bush is big time into showing all of us that he "won't give up." He wants to protect us.

I believe this is the first-step in conditioning the American people to get used to martial law. We are soon to have a Supreme Court that will give the "president" maximum authority. They will make Bush the king and put the "law of the land" ribbon on top for good measure.

This must be done because of the coming economic turndown that is bound to happen when you are spending $500 billion on a war in Iraq and jobs are leaving the country the way they are. In the past 10 years over $1.3 trillion of American companies have been bought by foreign investors. The U.S. economy is hanging by a thread.

Add to that the reality of peak oil and you can see we are in the sights of the loaded gun. Peak oil means that the world is running out of fossil fuels and experts predict that prices are going to rise for oil, and oil based products, dramatically in the next few years. When that happens food production becomes overwhelmingly expensive, home heating oil becomes overwhelmingly expensive, driving cars or flying becomes overwhelmingly expensive. The economy hits the wall. The people begin to yell and scream and hit the streets. By that time Bush has set in motion the shutdown of freedom of speech in the USA.

Saudi Arabia is reported to be pumping 70% water out of its oil wells these days. When that happens you know we are in trouble.

The way out won't be biofuels - the growing of corn and turning it to fuel. We are going to need all available arable land for food production, which will suddenly be very labor intensive, as oil for tractors and fertilizers becomes cost prohibitive.

We are going to need massive installation of solar but right now Japan is the world's primary producer of solar panels and Germany is buying them all up. There are waiting lists to purchase solar panels. We need to expand solar production and windmill production in the U.S. right now!

When gas hits $7, $8, $10 per gallon we will need an alternative. Hell, we need one now. It is called public mass transit. We need local, state, and national rail systems to go under production today. Forget trying to power your car with vegetable oil. We need trains. We need to get on our bicycles.

Conservation will become a major source of energy. What we don't use won't have to be replaced. This is something that the energy wasting U.S. economy will have to learn and learn fast.

The corporate and political world will suggest we go nuclear so we can continue the mass produced, centralized power system. And when electrical power costs hit the wall, many people will want to go for that quick and "easy" solution. Already we are seeing the early stages of a campaign by the nuclear power industry to prepare the people for this "solution." But nuclear power is not a solution. The massive amount of nuclear waste will remain a huge problem. And we need to move away from "centralized" power. We need to decentralize power creation and distribution. The way to do that is with solar and wind. The problem with solar and wind is that the big corporations can't hook up the meter to it and make you pay them every month the way they now do with coal, oil and nuclear.

The next ten years are going to be very difficult times for us. That is why we all must begin to talk today about where we must go before it is too late. We must talk to each other daily about solar, wind power, and public transportation. We must turn our front and back yards, now heavy fertilized useless green lawns, into healthy organic gardens producing our food. Local food production will literally mean survival.

The sooner we begin to turn this ship the better our future will be. Discount these warnings as ravings of a mad man at your own peril.

Fight for free speech, the right to peacefully assemble, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures now before it is too late. Bush, and his right-wing Extreme Court, are coming with the clamp down.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Ford Motor Company announced today that it will be cutting as many as 30,000 jobs and will shut down 14 factories as a result of continuing losses.

Ford, now hires about 123,000 workers in North America and lost $5.5 billion in those operations in 2005.

General Motors Corporation last year decided to close all or part of 12 plants and 30,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2008.

With China's recent introduction of a car selling for $10,000 in the U.S., Ford and GM have hit the wall. They have been building big SUV's in recent years and now that gas prices are rising dramatically their sales are dropping significantly. The workers on the China car are making $3.50 an hour compared to the good wages and benefits at the unionized auto plants in the U.S.

Television manufacturing in China pays workers there about 50 cents an hour. Thus TV manufacturing is virtually non-existent in the U.S. any more. On and on the story goes......

Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld has a "strategy guy" by the name of Thomas Barnett. Barnett's job is to teach "military transformation" to high level Pentagon officers and CIA operatives. I've seen Barnett on C-SPAN several times during the past year saying that we are not going to have industrial jobs in the U.S. anymore. The big corporations will move overseas where production costs can be significantly lowered.

America's role in corporate globalization will be "security export" says Barnett. We will build the weapons systems and send our children into endless war in order to protect the profits of the corporate elite. Under corporate globalization, Barnett says, there are places called "the non-integrating gap" that have not yet submitted to the authority of the new world order. The job of the U.S. will be to go into the "non-integrating gap" and make sure these countries comply with the dictates of corporate globalization.

Barnett has identified the gap as the Middle East (where we fight in Iraq today), Central Asia (where we are now building six permanent bases in Afghanistan), Africa (where Barnett says the U.S. will be fighting for oil 20 years from now), and Latin America (where you have Venezuela and others not carrying the water for big business).

Barnett says that the U.S. won't do international treaties anymore because they would limit the ability of the Pentagon to do preemptive first-strike attack on any country that is not complying with corporate globalization.

What does this mean for social spending back home? As the job base dries up in the U.S. so will the tax base at the local-state-federal levels. There will increasingly be cuts in social programs. Education will be cut and privatized so that only the children of the rich can afford, without incurring massive debt, a college education. Thus the only real job prospects for many young people will be in the military - endless warriors. Thus the Pentagon's statement that there will be no need for a draft. When the military is the only job around legions of poor and working class kids will have few other options.

This is the not-so-bright picture that the corporate dominated government of the U.S. is creating for us. It will become a reality if we don't begin to protest now against this re-introduction of feudalism. We must fight to have a fair tax system in the U.S. that does not let the rich, powerful, and corporate elite get away with not paying taxes. We must fight for public education and affordable college options for our kids. We must fight to create new jobs in manufacturing sustainable technologies like solar, wind power and public mass transit systems. We must fight for health care for all. And we must escalate our educational work and action now, before it becomes too late.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Friday, January 20, 2006


The snow is gone from the ground outside. The high temperature today was 50 degrees, very sunny, didn’t need a coat on at all. Many say it is the reality of global warming. I believe it.

Yesterday the New Horizons nuclear mission to Pluto lifted off safety from Cape Canaveral. Right afterwards Fox Radio News called to ask my thoughts. Last night, at 1:00 am, CNN International TV news called and interviewed me for five minutes. They put my picture on the TV screen while we talked. I said in both interviews that NASA and the Department of Energy are doing a $300 million expansion of the laboratory in Idaho so that they can process the growing demand for space nuclear missions. The Idaho DoE lab will be busy processing deadly plutonium for NASA’s nuclear-powered bases on the Moon, nuclear rockets for Mars, and reactors for the Pentagon’s weapons in space that would be fired by nuclear power. The plan is to launch more of these radioactive payloads in the coming years. I said that NASA is playing nuclear Russian roulette with our lives. Sooner or later there will be another accident.

The Atlas rocket that carried the New Horizons probe into space punched a bigger hole in the ozone layer above the Earth. The toxic exhaust cloud from the rocket also fell onto the Cape Canaveral national seashore “wildlife preserve” where it contaminated the water and fish died as they do after each launch. Birds eat the contaminated fish and die. On through the food chain the killing goes even without a launch pad accident. No one notices and even “space coast environmental groups” don’t talk about it because the space center is the local job creation machine. We learn to look away.

Many space enthusiasts this week emailed me saying that the Global Network was holding civilization back from this historic journey to find our new home because Earth is a rotting, stinking, dieing planet. Surely, the contamination from the space program has helped make it so. But alas, I am old fashioned. I love this Mother Earth of mine and want to keep it clean and alive. That makes me an anti-technology bum my critics say. One person who wrote in called me “the enemy.”

But in two days time we had well over 8,000 hits on our web site. Not all of them thought badly of us. In fact many have just learned about the nuclearization and weaponization of space. A local weekly newspaper called The Coastal Journal asked me yesterday to come in for an interview. They want to do a feature on what makes an activist like me tick. I went in this morning.

I remarked about the spring weather we are having to the reporter. I talked about how we need now to make a dramatic transition away from polluting technologies and that we must move to sustainable technologies like wind power, solar and public mass transportation. The interview took place in Bath, just blocks away from Bath Iron Works (BIW) where the Navy’s Aegis destroyer is built. I told the story about how a shipyard in Copenhagen, Denmark has been converted to build windmills. Denmark is now the world’s leading producer of wind power. In northern Maine, at a place called Mars Hill, a large windmill farm has been approved by the state for construction. The windmills will be brought in from Denmark. At nearby BIW they announced more layoffs last week.

I asked the reporter, why can’t we make a political demand that our tax dollars be used to create jobs at BIW building windmills, solar and rail cars for a world-class rail system instead of more weapons of mass destruction?

Instead of creating more pollution with toxic rocket fuel, why can’t we citizens demand that our tax dollars be used to develop alternative technologies for space flight that don’t help kill our Mother Earth with each launch? If we don’t make these demands, then who will? If we don’t fight for our children’s future now, it won’t matter if we find a new “home” in space some day. It will have been too late.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Our Global Network web site has had well over 5,000 hits today as people learn about our opposition to the launch of the controversial New Horizons mission to Pluto that will carry 24 pounds of plutonium onboard.

The media has begun to cover the danger of the plutonium launch in the last couple of days. I've done interviews on CNN and CBS radio. Newspapers have been calling and the Associated Press story was placed on most internet search sites which brought a lot of people to us. CBS evening news last night made mention of the opposition to launching nuclear power into space and today CNN TV news ran a nice interview with Karl Grossman who gave some background and context to our concerns. Karl has also had a string of op-ed pieces printed in papers across the nation. Our local Global Network leader, Maria Telesca who lives near Cape Canaveral, has been doing media interviews for the last couple of weeks.

Some media folks focus on the fact that only 40 people protested at the space center on January 7. They ask why so few were there after we had 1,000 people at the space center in 1997 protesting the Cassini launch that carried 72 pounds of plutonium onboard?

I also organized large protests at the space center in 1989 against the nuclear Galileo mission and then again in 1990 when Ulysses lifted off with plutonium onboard. After three large protests since 1989 we learned something. Large protests don't mean that you are going to stop the launching of nuclear power into space. Big protests might mean you get more media coverage for a day or two but after that it is all gone and you are back to square one.

In 1998 I left working full time at the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice so that I could work full-time on space issues with the Global Network. Since that time I have been non-stop on the road, traveling all across the U.S. and all over the world. This effort has enabled the Global Network to dramatically expand the numbers of people who now deeply understand the nuclearization and weaponization of space. We've made two documentary videos. One in particular called Arsenal of Hypocrisy: The Space Program and the Military Industrial Complex, has been a huge seller and has played around the world in homes, churches, on movie screens, at colleges, on cable TV and on Deep Dish satellite TV.

In December, 2005 the Global Network bought three 1/4 page advertisements in the Florida Today newspaper, the paper of record for the space center community. In those ads we laid out our concerns and gave readers information that will never make it into any article that gets published during the New Horizons launch window.

We've learned something over the years. We've learned to be more strategic with our meager resources and we've learned where to put our energies and where not to. The media and NASA would like the public to believe that there is not much opposition to the New Horizons plutonium launch just because we did not organize a big rally at the space center. We know though that NASA is reading this very blog and that they have hired public relations firms to find out what our plans are to oppose the launching of nuclear power into space. NASA has routinely tried to infiltrate our organization. NASA is spending $700 million to fly New Horizons and untold millions dollars more to sell it to the public because their polling data says that the American people are less supportive now than ever of their space program. The public says, “Yes these pictures from space are nice but I’d rather have my tax dollars spent on health care, education, child care, or cleaning up our planet Earth.”

In the end we can say that people around the world are learning that the New Horizons space probe is another controversial space shot with deadly plutonium onboard. With each launch NASA loses more credibility with a skeptical public who understands that space technology can and does fail. After the Hurricane Katrina fiasco the public also has learned an important lesson - don't trust the government when they tell you that they will take care of things after a disaster. When NASA told people in Central Florida this week to just stay inside their homes and turn off the air conditioners, if there was a nuclear accident, that really told the people something very important. In their heart of hearts, most people don't believe the official spin.

In 1997, right before the launch of Cassini, we got a call from Alan Kohn. He told us he had recently retired from NASA and had been the emergency preparedness officer for the past two nuclear launches (Galileo and Ulysses). He told us NASA had no emergency evacuation and clean-up plan. He said it was all a lie. Alan told us that NASA could do nothing if there ever was a nuclear space accident and he believed that eventually there would be one. Alan told this story to the New York Times and CBS 60 Minutes just before Cassini went up. He had the courage to stand up and say what the people fear - if there is a nuclear space accident you are on your own. Home owners insurance won’t cover a space nuclear accident. The federal government has no money to clean up a radioactive Central Florida.

NASA has big plans for nuclear powered colonies on the Moon and nuclear rockets to Mars with nuclear reactors for engines. New Horizons won't be the last launch. Our opposition will not go away either.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


The photo above is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), a pilot less plane that can fly for hours over the battle space and is equipped with cameras and weapons. UAV's allow the military to see the ground in "real time" because they feed back pictures via satellites in split second time to people sitting at computer screens back in the U.S. at bases like Nellis AFB in Nevada.

The U.S. is using UAV's in Afghanistan and Iraq and just two days ago a similar UAV, called the Predator, was used by the CIA over Pakistan to hit a small village where an al-Qaida leader was suspected to have been. As it turns out the missile from the UAV instead killed 17 people, including six women and six children.

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis held a protest following this incident near the remote village that was hit. Of course U.S. officials defended the strike, as they always do, and promised an investigation. As usual the investigation will show that all "normal procedures" were followed and no one will be held responsible.

A Pakistani senior minister was quoted as saying that "those who were killed were all innocent permanent residents of the village."

This kind of accidental UAV bombing is becoming a regular occurrence in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you have the people far removed from the battlefield, essentially playing with lives like a video game, there are going to be many tragic accidents like this.

One thing I can't help but wonder is why does the CIA now have its own air force of UAV's that they routinely use to attack people with? The CIA, because it is a secret outfit, is even less accountable than the Pentagon is. How will Congress, that has very little information about what the top secret CIA actually does, be able to monitor their bombings or any "investigation" that they will or will not undertake?

It is becoming ever more clear that the implementation of foreign policy today in the U.S. is totally removed from the grasp of the people. The citizens are paying for all these new generations of weapons and our Congress keeps appropriating the money for anything the Pentagon wants. But the citizenry falls further and further behind in actually having any influence with what is done in our name. How can we let that stand?

Our local peace group held a frigid vigil this morning as the local Catholic and Episcopal churches let out. In the wind and snow 12 of us stood and held our signs trying to tug on the heart-strings of those leaving their weekly worship of the prince of peace. Some of them just passed us by as if we were the devil himself. Following the vigil we gathered inside the nearby Unitarian Church basement to watch a 15-minute film about the U.S. total destruction of Falleujah, Iraq. A city the size of Cincinnati, Ohio destroyed and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes. Untold thousands killed, the refugees now still living in tent cities with the children suffering from severe illnesses due to lack of clean water, medical care or decent food. Think of the suffering this population will go through after their exposure to Depleted Uranium dust that they have inhaled following the destruction of their city.

In November the media in Italy released the story that the U.S. had used white phosphorous on the civilian populace there. A U.S. veteran of the Iraq war told Italian correspondent Sigfrido Ranucci this: "I received the order to use caution because we had used white phosphorus on Falleujah. In military slag it is called 'Willy Pete'. Phosphorus burns the human body on contact--it even melts it right down to the bone."

As we approach the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. what comes to mind is his famous speech "Beyond Vietnam" in April, 1967. In it Dr. King said, "They must see Americans as strange liberators.....Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.....Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call "fortified hamlets." The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers."

King continued, "Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.....As we counsel young men concerning military service, we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection.....We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.....The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.....I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin, we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

As we think of Dr. King let us remember Iraq and those we've just killed in Pakistan. What is the state of the soul of America today? What are we each to do about it?

Friday, January 13, 2006


I’ve been watching the C-SPAN hearings on TV this week about the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito.

My first reaction to the guy is that he is a liar. When asked to explain his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University, which challenged the admission of women and minorities to the institution, Alito told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Well, Senator, I have wracked my memory about this issue, and I really have no specific recollection of that organization.”

The truth was when he applied to work in the Reagan Administration in 1985 Alito listed the organization on his resume. Why did he do that? Alito obviously thought that showing he was a reactionary would HELP him to get a job with the ultra-conservative Reagan team.

It’s amazing to watch Alito, over the course of several days, have tremendous ability to recall facts, names, legal theory, caseload history, and the like but then when it came to his membership in a bigoted organization – he could not remember a thing! Remarkable.

But my biggest concern about Alito goes beyond that. Alito should not be allowed to be on the Supreme Court because he wants to make Bush a king. It is clear, by studying his 15 year record as a federal court judge, Alito believes in giving the president unlimited police-state powers. His record as a judge shows time and again how he has sided with AUTHORITY to limit the rights of citizens. Alito wants to give corporations greater ability to limit the rights of workers and allow corporations to pollute the environment, screw workers on the job, and limit the ability of Congress to control the excesses of big business. As a federal judge Alito voted against individual rights 84% of the time. Alito is a corporate hack.

Law professor Francis Boyle (Chicago) says about Alito, "Consistent with standard Federalist Society propaganda, Judge Alito preaches the theory of 'unitary powers' for the American Presidency: i.e., that the President is above and beyond any accountability under the U.S. Constitution, to Congress and the Courts, or to the Rule of Law, whether domestic or international. This perverse ideology has been directly responsible for the Bush Jr. administration's torture scandal, kangaroo
courts, the Gulag in Guantanamo and elsewhere ,'extraordinary renditions,'
criminal NSA spying on American citizens, the bogus categorization of 'enemy
combatants,' massive religious and racial profiling against Muslims/Arabs/Asians of Color,wholesale violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture, a criminal war of aggression against Iraq, assassinations, gutting the Bill of Rights, etc."

Alito, as everyone knows, also in 1985 wrote a memo saying there were no constitutional grounds for a woman’s right to an abortion. He has taken the position that a woman must have the “permission” of her husband to seek an abortion. He has voted to allow the strip searching of a 10 year old girl. What is the difference between Alito’s position and the Taliban in Afghanistan?

When Clarence Thomas came before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his Supreme Court confirmation hearings he told them that he would honor legal precedents. But since being on the court Thomas has voted consistently to overturn established law. Alito will likely do the same when it comes to civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, rights to privacy, and much more.

Unfortunately, with all that said, it appears at this time that enough Democrats are going to support Alito to confirm him without a real fight. There are no signs that the Dems will filibuster his nomination as they very well should.

I will be calling my two “moderate” Republican senators to urge them to vote no. They say they are pro-choice. But I would venture to guess they will vote for Alito. They will put a man on the Supreme Court who wants to make Bush a king and the citizens the serfs to the multi-national corporate agenda.

Hang on folks, it’s going to be a rough ride.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I spent six hours sitting in the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) today in Portland. During that time, as we again read the names of American GI’s and innocent civilians in Iraq who have been killed, we had about 40 people join us. Just two blocks away, in the office of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) another 25-30 people were doing the same thing in her office. The two protests were organized by Karen Wainberg, the president of Peace Action Maine.

This was the eighth such action held in Maine. As in the past, we called for a town hall meeting so the citizens can have a public opportunity to speak to our two “moderate” senators about this war. They both keep voting for more money for the war and they keep refusing to hold a public meeting. They say they are willing to meet with us individually in the private confines of their office. Sen. Collins has told several of our folks that she does not like “crowds.”

We got a bit of TV coverage and Maine Public Radio gave us a tiny bit on their 5:30 pm news. As usual, the largest newspaper in the state, the Portland Press Herald ignored the action. They rarely, if ever, are willing to report on local peace activity. They have taken the editorial position that they “know” there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The papers says that the U.S. had to invade Iraq because Saddam was a “destabilizing” force in the region. And the paper, amazingly enough, has editorialized that the U.S. had to grab their oil to continue our way of life here at home. Now that is what you call “liberal” bullshit for sure.

So on we go. We know that we have to continue to hold these events, which are now taking 6 ½ hours to finish. When we first began doing the readings 13 months ago it took four hours. But each day the roster of dead grows.

One thing that is happening though is that this group of office occupiers is growing. More and more new people are joining us each time. Today we saw many new faces amongst the people sitting on the office floor reading the names and marking the X’s on the Iraq War Cloth that took up much of the office floor. It won’t be long that we will have to stay all night to finish reading the names.

The politicians think that if they ignore us long enough we will give up and go home. But they underestimate our peace movement here in Maine. We are in it until the end. The sooner our senators get their act together the less headaches they will have over this war.

If you are from Maine, give us a hand and call this toll-free number and ask Snowe and Collins to hold a town hall meeting. If you are from another state, call your own Congressional delegation. 1-888-355-3588

Bring the troops home now! Stop funding the war now! Fund human needs back here at home.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


My friend Maria Telesca from Rockledge, Florida led the protest on behalf of the Global Network at the gates of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last Saturday. Maria, the mother of two children, has been by our side at space center protests for almost 20 years. She lives in the launch danger zone and is clear what would happen if there was an accident and plutonium release from a NASA mission like New Horizons. The launch will carry 24 pounds of radioactive plutonium and is set for lift-off on January 17.

Maria reported extensive media coverage of the protest and told me that the striking Boeing workers, who normally would prepare the Atlas launch rocket, are still on their picket line near Cape Canaveral's gates. Maria, and the other protestors, walked over after their rally to talk with the striking union workers. She told me the Boeing workers are still warning that the management strike breakers, now doing the rocket preparations, are not qualified to carry out the task. Rumors persist about fuel-tank leaks and further delays in the launch date.

The pro-space web site ran part of our news release on their web site announcing our protest and since then I've had about 25 (mostly nasty) e-mails from folks. Here is a sample from one of them:

"First I just want to say, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. So
here's mine... Ok Your organization is to protect the environment, animals,
people, and the planet. Well one day the earth might not be here, we have
all heard about comets, and asteroids, black holes, supernovae, and such.
Putting earth in harms way, it is in man kinds future that that we leave this
planet behind, being its destroyed, or plain uninhabitable, seeing as how
we’ve damn near used every mineral this planet has to offer, but it is with
nuclear power, and ion drive that we can achieve space travel beyond our
moon, beyond our solar system, to find a new home. NASA is here to help...
let them do their work, help man kind survive, and understand this complex
universe we live in..."

This was one of the milder ones.

I do understand the desire to explore space. But if in doing so we endanger life on this planet after a space nuclear accident then what have we accomplished? For those who say it won't ever happen - that NASA has taken all the safety precautions necessary - well it has happened! Here is a list of past space nuclear accidents.

NOVEMBER 1996: Russian Mars ’96 space vehicle disintegrates over Chile and Bolivia, likely spreading its payload of nearly half a pound of plutonium. Searchers found no remains of the spacecraft which was believed to have burned up. Eyewitnesses saw the flaming reentry over the mountains in the region.

FEBRUARY 1983: Soviet Cosmos 1402 crashes into South Atlantic ocean carrying 68 pounds of Uranium-235.

JANUARY 1978: Cosmos 954 blows up over Canada with 68 pounds of Uranium-235 and other nuclear poisons, much of which is thought to have vaporized and spread worldwide.

APRIL 1973: Soviet Rorsat lands in the Pacific Ocean north of Japan. Radiation released from the reactor was detected.

APRIL 1970: Apollo 13 lands near New Zealand with the 8.3 pounds of Plutonium-238 believed to be still in the spacecraft at the bottom of the ocean floor.

1969: Two Cosmos lunar missions fail. Radiation detected as crafts burn up in the atmosphere.

MAY 1968: U.S. Nimbus B-1 lands in the Santa Barbara channel off California with 4.2 pounds of Uranium-238 but was recovered by NASA.

APRIL 1964: U.S. Transit 5BN-3 hits the Indian Ocean with its 2.1 pounds of Plutonium-238 vaporizing in the atmosphere and spreading worldwide. Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology in the University of California at Berkeley studied the 1964 accident and believes it is a major contributor to the increase in cancers around the world today. Gofman co-discovered protactinium-232, uranium-232, protactinium-233, and uranium-233.

So this is what motivates our protest against the launching of plutonium on rockets that blow up from time to time. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that space technology can and does fail. Mix deadly plutonium into the equation and you are asking for trouble.

Help us by calling NASA and tell them to cancel the New Horizons mission. Contact:

Michael Griffin
NASA Administrator
300 E. Street SW
Washington DC 20546
(202) 358-0000

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Mary Beth and I went to Waterville, Maine today to see the new film Sir! No Sir! which was being shown at the annual film festival there. It is a documentary telling the largely unknown story about the GI resistance movement against the Vietnam war from the mid-to-late 60's through the early 70's. Using interviews, archival footage, and news clips the film does a great job of showing just how big and powerful the movement of GI opposition to the war was.

One story was about the 1,000 person detention camp in Vietnam where largely black GI resisters were imprisoned due to their opposition to the war. The troops, severely mistreated in the jail, went on a rampage and burned the place down.

Sailors assigned to the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier in San Diego, soon to be shipped out to Vietnam, started a campaign to have their fellow sailors and citizens in the community at large publicly vote (outside shopping malls, movie theaters, bars, etc) on whether the Kitty Hawk should go back to the war or not. The vote was overwhelming NO and forced the Naval commander and politicians to hold news conferences saying the Kitty Hawk would sail back to the war. The debate the GI’s created was inspiring.

Untold stories like this run throughout the film and reveal just how powerful the GI resistance movement was. At my own base in California, Travis AFB, which was the key airlift base for the Vietnam war it was there that I was exposed to the GI resistance movement which helped turn me from a Young Republican for Nixon in 1968 to an anti-war activist by mid-1971. Regular protests outside the gates of Travis created a powerful dynamic inside the base that forced the 15,000 permanently stationed troops on our base to constantly debate the merits of the war. This is why today I am such a believer in protests at military bases and weapons production installations.

Another event the film features are the “Fuck the Army” tours that went to bases around the country and overseas featuring popular entertainers like Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, and Country Joe and the Fish. Fonda is interviewed in Sir! NO Sir! and has pledged to help promote it as a tool to build opposition to the war in Iraq.

In a recent interview about the film, filmmaker David Zeiger said, “As you see in the film, there were CBS Nightly News stories about the GI Movement. There is a segment in the film of Walter Cronkite talking about the GI underground press. In the state of Texas, where there was a very large anti-war movement in Austin and Houston, and the center of the Texas movement for a time was at Fort Hood. The armed forces demonstrations were major events for the whole state. I think people knew generally that there was opposition in the military, but they didn’t know the details or how widespread it was. But it was certainly more prominent than people remember it. It has been thoroughly wiped out of any histories of the war.”

Do yourself a favor. Make arrangements to show this new documentary film in your community. Try to help spread the word around any military installations so that GI’s, now on their way to Iraq, get to see it as well.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I was drawn to the TV much of yesterday like a moth is drawn to a flame. I watched the broken hearted families of West Virginia coal miners react to the news that 12 of their loved ones had died deep in the Sago mine in Tallmansville, West Virginia. I was touched by the intense emotion recorded by the cameras as people learned of the deaths, three hours after they had been told that their prayers had been answered and a "miracle" had saved the trapped miners.

One woman screamed "they don't care about us," referring to the International Coal Group, Inc. who owns the mine. Another woman wailed that they had been abandoned by God.

I heard one man, whose father was killed in the mine, say that his dad did not like the working conditions but had to do the job so he could "put food on the table." Then just moments later, I saw one journalist say that the miners loved the work so much that "they'd work for half the pay" if they had to in order to stay in the mines. (Do they think we are that stupid - really!)

The Sago mine is a non-union operation that had 200 fines in 2005 for violations of the Mine Health and Safety Act. The Bush administration has cut 170 jobs from the mine safety program in recent years making enforcement of the act more difficult to administer. The man now in charge of the program is a former coal company manager who Bush appointed to monitor the very industry he worked for. The highest fine received in 2005 by the Sago mine was for $800, indicating that the mine safety program was quite lenient on their industry pals.

This was for me something personal. When I was a kid, living in England, we heated with coal. It was delivered to our home and we saw the blackened faced chimney sweeps go door to door in the neighborhood looking for work. It was my job to bring in the coal each day from the outdoor bin. I had tasted coal dust. For me the coal miners strike had some point of context. I've paid attention to the issue over the years.

In 1989 I went to Carbo, Virginia during the year-long Pittston coal strike by the United Mineworkers Union. Nestled in the mountain hollows (pronounced "hollars" by the locals), I sat on the picket line for two full days with the striking workers. At first they were a bit suspicious of me, but after I explained that I worked in the peace movement and had been an organizer for the United Farmworkers Union, they made me feel at home. The men displayed great dignity and fierce determination to protect what little gains they had made after many years of struggle. In that particular instance, they were striking because the Pittston coal company was planning to discontinue medical benefits for pensioners, widows and the disabled. Remembering that many miners suffer from black lung disease, the cut-off of medical benefits at the very time they most needed them would be devastating. I will never forget the sadness I felt when I left the picket line.

So America's eyes and many hearts turned to the coal miners in West Virginia the last couple of days. There are now calls for an investigation from the politicians in Washington. But until we deal with the fact that the coal corporations have unlimited power, and the workers have virtually none, then nothing much changes. Even with a mine safety program, as long as the industry runs the show the law is nothing but a cruel hoax.

Working people in America are being screwed left and right. The Sago coal tragedy is one more warning sign that we are returning to a feudal society. The haves are getting richer and the have-nots are getting poorer -- and dieing. We need more than prayers for the dead. We need to mourn for them, and in their memory, we need to organize like hell.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


George W. Bush now admits that he was spying on the American people. It has also become public that he was doing so, in some circumstances, without obtaining court authorization. This is a violation of the law. I'd say, and I am no constitutional scholar, that such a legal violation is bigger than lying about oral sex in the White House. This is a real challenge for the Republican Party. Can they honor the Constitution by seriously investigating this case? Why do I doubt it?

The Republicans hold all the cards today. They control Congress and are now ensuring that they will control the Supreme Court for years to come. The court will surely make decisions to restrict civil liberties even more as well as give big business greater power to exploit workers and to destroy the environment. Democracy will be redefined even further to basically mean "freedom for big business."

I saw Bush last Sunday doing his impromptu news conference from an Army medical center in Texas. He was very weak, appeared frightened, and had very little conviction in his voice. I would be willing to bet my life that this whole spying scandal is much bigger than has yet been revealed.

Once again though the problem is that the Democrats are not making much noise about this spy case. Sure they are calling for a Senate investigation, but there is no indignation there. It is a pretty bad situation when we have to rely on the Dems to defend our right to be left alone from Bush's "unreasonable searches and seizures."

The Washington DC newspaper, Capital Hill Blue, ran a story a week or two ago saying they had several witnesses that reported hearing Bush say the Constitution "was just a piece of paper." Now this is coming from the man who wants to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. Shouldn't we be just a little bit worried about our own fragile rights here in the good ole USA?

This whole story is just one more classic example of why it so important that we be out in the streets these days. Use it or lose it!