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....

My Photo
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

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I went to our state capitol in Augusta today for a news conference and a legislative hearing about water and limiting corporate control. The event was sponsored by three groups in Maine working on water issues - Save Our Water, POWWR and Defending Water for Life.

I was asked to speak at the news conference (which was attended by just one commercial TV news station and two public access cable stations). Then we went inside the state house building for the public hearing before the State and Local Government Committee of the state legislature.
We had to wait two hours before it was our turn to comment on the pending legislation we were there to support. There were enough supporters there on our side that we filled the meeting room.

A bill has been introduced called "An Act to Enhance Municipal Home Rule Status" that would guarantee local communities right to self-government to stop the corporate assault on local decision making authority.

This has become a big issue in Maine because the Nestle corporation (doing business as Poland Spring bottled water which they own) has been trying to come into Maine and take control of much of the ground water in the state. In several communities the local people have overwhelmingly organized opposition to Nestle control of their water supply and they have been told again and again that they have no right to legally stand against this corporate control.

So a couple small towns, using the town hall meeting style of decision making, have passed local ordinances denying constitutional protections to corporations. They've then been told these laws that they have passed are "unconstitutional" and that the state won't allow locals to put limits on corporations.

So this bill has been introduced in our state legislature to give a municipality the right to adopt and enforce an ordinance that denies a corporation sweeping powers.

I was the third person today to stand before the state legislative committee to offer testimony and while I was preparing to go up to the podium I found myself thinking of the Chipaya people in the Bolivian Andes that are featured in the short video I posted just below. I told the state legislators that the corporations know that water is a declining resource due to global warming and that there will be water wars coming soon for control of remaining supplies of water and these big corporations, like Nestle, are trying to line up their control of it now. In fact I said water wars are already happening right here in Maine in our local communities.

I said that the Maine Constitution recognizes that the people are the source of all governing authority. That being the case corporations should not be allowed to block our local democratic processes in order to take profits from our communities.

I said that conservatives have long maintained that the best government is that which is the most local and I thought this was a good point.

I concluded by saying that if local democracy was made irrelevant by corporate domination, then it was just a matter of time before the Maine State Legislature would be irrelevant as well.

Only one vote was needed from the committee to send the bill to the full legislature for debate. We won't know for some time what will happen as I understand they next go into a "work session" to study the bill before making their committee recommendation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The weather hit 90 degrees here in Maine yesterday, the first time ever in recorded history for the month of April. The local newspaper this morning called it "bewildering" and never once mentioned the words global warming or climate change.

Instead they carried photos of Mainers pushing their strollers with no shirts on, people swimming, and stories about people thrilled by the high temps. The people of Maine seem to like the idea that our weather is changing. At least for now they do.

But the changes will come fast according to scientists and they will be severe. Food and water shortages, rising sea levels, and strange and violent weather disturbances are coming. By that time it will be too late to do much about it.

We have very little time left to make changes in how we live if we hope to reduce the severity of the coming crisis. But the US government seems immune to the reality of climate change. Instead we are nickle and dimeing it and pushing ahead with massive military expansion so the corporations can control the remaining natural resources in a coming world of disruption and disarray.

Those who are fasting to bring awareness about climate change are now in their second week and we hear nothing about their action from the corporate media.

Monday, April 27, 2009



I "debated" Bobby Reynolds this morning at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. It was in a Sociology class of professor John Baugher. There were about 40 students in the class. Each of us spoke for 20 minutes and then we took questions from the students.

Reynolds introduced himself as the liaison staffer between Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins and military contractors in the state. He said he had been in the Navy and then was a fireman in Portland and got involved in politics and eventually went to work for Sen. Collins. He spoke at length about all the good the US military does around the world, protecting democracy and freedom, and likened our military to a fire department, stepping in when there was great need. At one point, while talking about the former Soviet Union, he said that the US had armed the Taliban in Afghanistan. At another point he suggested that I might be critical of US military spending, which he said is now at the level of $444 billion per year.

After introducing myself I said I found it interesting that Bobby, while working as the "defense liaison" for Sen. Collins, did not seem to know the current level of military spending. I indicated that Obama was raising it 4% in 2010 to a level of $663 billion. That figure, I added, did not count the $23.4 billion for the Department of Energy nuclear weapons work; $25.3 billion in the Department of State budget given to foreign countries to buy US weapons; the $1 billion for military recruitment; or the Veterans Administration which gets $75.7 billion, 50% of which goes for long-term care for the most seriously injured among our 30,000 troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another $46.4 billion goes to the Department of Homeland Security. On and on the story goes......... (These figures are from the 2008 federal budget.)

By the time you add it up we are spending about $1 trillion a year on the military.

We are spending more than the rest of the world combined does on the military. It's not about putting out fires, it's about creating fires - control of declining oil and natural gas in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. Our job under corporate globalization, I quoted a former Pentagon source as saying, is going to be "security export."

I told the students that when I arrived on campus I picked up the student newspaper and saw an article about staff and faculty lay-offs at the university due to the state's fiscal crisis. I said that tuition increases were likely in the near future.

I referred to the study called "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities" by the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst that was published in October 2007. I had passed around a one-page chart from the study that gave figures on the overall employment effects of spending $1 billion in 2005. The study shows that when $1 billion was spent on military 8,555 jobs were created. But if that same amount of money had gone into health care 12,883 jobs could have been created. Or if that $1 billion had gone into making mass transit systems 19,795 jobs could have been created. Home weatherization, something badly needed in Maine, would create 12,804 jobs per billion dollars. Which was the best path for dealing with global warming and our economy I asked?

After Bobby and I spoke we took questions from the students. One said she could not afford to get her teeth fixed. Another questioned why Bobby kept referring to "bad people" around the world....wasn't he just setting up the same old construct of the US being the good guys and everyone else the bad guys? One student said she was confused by Bobby's saying early on that we had funded the Taliban to fight the Soviet Union and now the Taliban were the bad guys in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

It was a good experience. I think the students learned some things today. Hopefully they come away with more questions in their minds about which direction our nation is heading. Hopefully they might pay more attention to these issues in the future.

My last words to the class were - you are going to pay for all this in the end.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


You'd think that with NATO already tied up in Afghanistan-Pakistan they would not be eager for more war. But surprise, surprise they are now going to stoke the fires of war with Russia.

Approximately 2,000 soldiers from more than 10 NATO member and partner countries will partake in war games in Georgia from May 6 - June 1. The exercise is supposedly to improve "interoperability" between NATO and its partner countries. Count on them to leave a boat load of weapons after their "exercises" in Georgia that will then be used to prepare for another war with Russia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev cited the war games as an "erroneous and dangerous" plan.

"Decisions of this kind are aimed at muscle-flexing. Such decisions are disappointing and do not facilitate resumption of full-scale contact between Russia and NATO. We shall be following everything in the most attentive way and, if need be, will take this or that decision.”

I've said many times on this blog, and it bears frequent repeating, that the US is out to take control of Russia's natural gas (the worlds largest supply) and their oil. A Rand Corp. study some time ago called for balkanizing Russia into four separate countries so we could grab their resources. Who should be surprised that Russia is getting a bit paranoid?

In a related development the US is sounding the alarm about Pakistan in a way that makes me very suspicious. I can just see the case being made very soon that Pakistan is a totally failed state and because they have nuclear weapons the US must take them over to ensure security in the region.

In today's Washington Post Gen. David H. Petraeus calls on Congress and President Obama to provide $400 million to his Central Command for a "Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, a new, more-flexible spending stream that would permit more rapid and targeted U.S. training and provide more equipment to Pakistani forces that combat insurgents inside the country's lawless tribal regions."

Tell me we are not fully at war in Pakistan now as well.

The next steps very well might be for the US to take over the Pakistan government, using the Central Command and ultimately NATO to run the country.

It's the NATO New World Odor at work. Can you smell it?


Friday, April 24, 2009


Global Network board member Loring Wirbel (Citizens for Peace in Space in Colorado Springs) has posted a whole series of photos and short videos from our conference and field trips in South Korea. You can see them at his blog here.

He captured a bit of my talk above.

Just below is an excellent talk by Korean activist Francis Daehoon Lee that I referred to in my report. It is worth listening to.

And then a short song from our friend Tim Rinne who coordinates Nebraskans for Peace. His group hosted our GN annual space conference last year in Omaha. This performance took place in a local restaurant rented for the night by our Korean hosts. We had a sort of an international talent show that was quite fun.

And finally a song from dear Agneta Norberg in Sweden. She's quite a good singer....this one about missiles.

You can see we had a good time in Seoul.......

Thursday, April 23, 2009


This trip report covers the period of April 13-20 as I traveled to Seoul, South Korea to attend the Global Network’s (GN) 17th annual space organizing conference. Traveling with me was Mary Beth Sullivan and Tom Sturtevant, a leader from Maine Veterans for Peace.

A Korean Organizing Committee, comprised of 10 groups, organized the GN conference and they collectively did a wonderful job of hosting the large international delegation that came from about 25 countries. In addition to our GN international delegation the conference was also supported and attended by many international activists from the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC).

Our first day was a field trip by bus to visit the DMZ along the border between North and South Korea. Our timing for the conference could not have been better as we arrived on the heels of the intense controversy surrounding North Korea’s launch of a rocket into space. The U.S. and Japan used the launch to justify their own deployments of “missile defense” systems in the region, which are ultimately aimed both at China and North Korea. The militarist rhetoric was flying as evidenced by one right-wing commentator from the U.S. who said, “The lesson of North Korea’s rogue launch is that America needs more missile defense not less. Militarily and technologically, our adversaries can catch up with us only if we chose to stand still.”

Our trip to the DMZ was led by well-known photographer Si-Woo Lee who spent two months in a South Korean jail accused of “taking pictures” of the DMZ. He fasted for two months in protest of his arrest. His case generated a great deal of national and international support, and he was ultimately acquitted. At the DMZ, we had a group photo taken with North Korea just behind us, and at one point I watched a bird fly back and forth between the two countries. It reminded me that humans build walls between each other while nature knows nothing about boundaries and lines of separation. The next day the group color photo was published at the top of page one in a leading national newspaper.

One of out of four families in South Korea has relatives in the North. Thus the drive for peaceful reunification of the country is deep in the hearts of the people. Unfortunately, the U.S. is expanding its military presence in South Korea and trying to drive the two nations further apart, while 60% of South Koreans want American bases closed and the troops to leave the country.

Our April 17 space organizing conference, attended by about 100 people, was without a doubt the most professionally organized event we’ve had during the GN’s 17 years of operation. The meeting facilities at the Seoul Women’s Plaza were first rate, we had simultaneous translation from Korean into English, and the food and sleeping accommodations at this same location were excellent.

Wooksik Cheong from the Korean Peace Network, a key conference organizer, in his speech called U.S. missile defense deployments [Aegis destroyers, PAC-3, and THAAD] in South Korea and Japan the “iron curtain of the 21st century.”

Global Network board member Atsushi Fujioka from Japan, a professor of Economics in Kyoto, told the assembled “Not to trust missile defense. It is like trusting a key of the henhouse to a wolf.” Atsushi, who helped bring 20 fellow Japanese to the conference reported that, “In Japan the U.S. Navy and Marine bases are shifting to Okinawa, the closest point to China. I think the major target of missile defense will not be North Korea, but China and Russia.”

Similarly, Koji Sugihara, representing the Japanese peace group called No to Nukes & Missile Defense Campaign, recently wrote “Under Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounces war and prohibits the maintenance of armed forces, Japan is not supposed to have a war industry….Japan’s cooperation with the U.S. in missile defense development is unusually intense. In fact, Japan’s islands have been turned into a huge missile defense-testing site. North Korea’s missile tests in July 2006, and its nuclear test in October 2006, served as a pretext for the acceleration of the U.S.-Japan missile defense plan.”

Physical evidence of this Asian-Pacific acceleration of U.S. missile defense deployments were witnessed by conference participants when we took a second field trip on April 18 to Pyeongtaek where the U.S. military is dramatically expanding an existing base. There we saw multiple launch vehicles for the PAC-3 – the latest version of the Patriot missile system that is now being deployed in South Korea and throughout Japan.

We were given a tour of the surrounding area, much of it farm land, that is being gobbled up by the U.S. base that will grow from 8,999 to more than 23,000 American soldiers. The U.S. is moving troops away from the DMZ onto this giant Air Force and Army “hub” base where they will be out-of-range of North Korean weapons fire. Farmers and local activists from the Pyeongtaek Peace Center have been vigorously protesting against this expansion for several years but the U.S. will not be denied.

Earlier in the day on April 18 we held the annual membership business meeting of the Global Network where we had a stimulating strategy discussion and approved new board members from South Korea, Japan, Poland, U.S., and the Czech Republic. It was also agreed to pursue the proposal by board member J. Narayana Rao to hold our 2010 GN space conference in Nagpur, India. The U.S. is now dragging India into the space weapons race in an already unstable part of the world.

Our annual Peace in Space Award, for extraordinary work on the issue, was presented during the conference to Sung-Hee Choi (South Korea), Atsushi Fujioka (Japan), and J. Narayana Rao (India). Sung-Hee had been the primary force behind our decision to meet in South Korea this year and showed her dedication to the organization by being a tireless organizer before and all during the event.

Our third and final field trip was on April 19 as we headed north to Mugeon-ri where the U.S. is expanding another military area – this time for tank and Bradley fighting vehicle training. Since 1980 local rice farmers have been organizing to resist the taking of their beautiful lands for warfare preparation. Mugeon-ri is just a short distance from the North Korean border. The U.S. has already taken a huge area and now wants 30 square kilometers of additional land that will displace hundreds more farmers.

In 2002 two 15-year-old local schoolgirls, walking to a friend’s birthday party, were run over and killed on a narrow street in the town by U.S. tanks. To this day no one has been held responsible for their killing.

Because Mugeon-ri is near to the North Korean border, and has similar terrain, the military training that goes on there is viewed by the Korean peace movement as a preparation for an attack by the U.S. So not only do the farmers face losing their lands but they also face the sad reality that their lands are being used to train to kill their relatives in nearby North Korea.

The roads around Mugeon-ri are lined with yellow banners proclaiming their message - "We want to live in our hometown." The people have lived on this land for more than 400 years.

That evening, after feeding us a fine traditional Korean meal, we joined the struggling farmers for a candlelight vigil under a make-shift shelter where they have been holding nightly vigil for the past year. During that time we shared heartfelt words and sang to each other. The people pleaded with us to share their story when we returned home to our various countries. They urged that people go to Republic of Korea and U.S. embassies and consulates around the world in protest of the taking of their farm lands.

The reality of deadly U.S. militarism has a human face. It is seen today in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in places like Pyeongtaek and Mugeon-ri in South Korea.

It is clear that we must all become more focused on preventing war in the Asian-Pacific as the U.S. now doubles its military presence in that part of the world. At a time when we should be dealing with the coming harsh reality of climate change we have a new president and Congress, controlled by the Democrats, who are planning to increase military spending in 2010.

Closing the conference on April 17 Francis Daehoon Lee, from the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy in Seoul, said, “We are not just dealing with bad policies. Security politics is not about the safety of the people but is about the monopolizing of information, decision making, finance, and capitalist economy. Security politics is a closed circuit. In order to stop it we have to cut something inside.”

These are important words. One must ask the question: what would we cut? How do we get out from under the corporate dominated security system that feeds on fear and endless war? I would suggest the first thing we must cut is our allegiance to and faith and trust in the global war machine. Then we must stop giving them our precious tax monies. We must stop being slaves to the global war economy.

We thank our wonderful hosts in South Korea for their kind and warm hospitality. We thank them for their generous and courageous spirits and we vow to them that the Global Network will do all it can to work with groups in the region to roll back U.S. militarism before another deadly war begins.


Watch this incredible interview with a young soldier who refuses to go to Iraq and renounces his participation in the Afghanistan war. The news man interviewing him could not hide his utter disdain for the brave young man - a real hero in my book.

His point that most soldiers share his opinion but don't have the ability to act as he has done is a telling comment. This kid is a real leader, very smart, and fast on his feet. The talking heads on the news tried to trap him but he kept his focus and did us all right proud!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I learned this morning that Global Network board member Lindis Percy was arrested yesterday in England and has been jailed for 45 days. Lindis has just returned to the UK from Seoul, South Korea where she spoke at the 17th annual space organizing conference.

Lindis is a leader of the group called Campaign for Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) in England that works hard to educate the public about and resist the presence of two US Star Wars bases at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in Yorkshire.

According to the BBC, "A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said the 67-year-old had been arrested for a breach of bail conditions. "

According to supporters in England, "Lindis Percy was remanded in custody for 45 days by the Harrogate Magistrates Court yesterday. This was for some minor fines Lindis refuse to pay for so-called aggravated trespass at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales. Lindis has constantly refused to pay these fines and yesterday there was a Warrant out for her arrest just after she returned from Seoul."

Lindis is being held in the Low Newton Women's Prison.

To send a message to Lindis contact Elizabeth Barclay at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


At the end of the formal conference

One of our meals

Speaking with Sung-Hee Choi at the DMZ

On one of our three field trips

We got home last night at midnight from a more than 24-hour return trip. It's a long slog back. We slept for 12 hours and I am still in bed with my laptop. Its cold and raining outside, I might not get up at all today.

I'm fasting today in solidarity with the climate change movement's call for Congressional action. Some folks, like friend Ted Glick, are going to fast for a couple of weeks.

I've already had two emails from Japan this morning. The largest delegation at our conference in Seoul was the twenty people from Japan. Our long-time board member Atsushi Fujioka, from Kyoto, organized them to come. We added three new Japanese folks to our Global Network advisory committee. There is some interest in having me come to Japan in August for the annual conferences in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then a tour around the country. Will have to see if it all works out or not.

We must thank our dear friend Sung-Hee Choi from Inchon, South Korea for having put out this whole idea of the Global Network conference in her country. She pressed for this last year when we met in Nebraska and was instrumental in pushing it through. She had major help from Haeng-Woo Lee who lives in New Jersey and was the founder of the National Association of Korean-Americans. Haeng-Woo wanted so badly for more people around the world to deeply understand the current dangers on the Korean peninsula and to help advocate for a peaceful reunification of Korea. His support was vital to the success of the conference.

I don't think I will do much today. I need a day off to just be lazy. It's good to be home again but part of my heart remains in Korea. As it turns out my birthday, July 27, was the day the ceasefire was signed to end the shooting in the Korean war. But the war still remains on as the US digs militarily deeper into the divided country. We should all remember this important fact and help press for true peace which can only come when US bases there close down. Once more we have to say - bring the troops home now.

You can listen to an interview with me in Seoul by Yumi Kukuchi from Japan here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Citizens of Mugeonri fight to save their farm land

Yesterday 20 of the remaining GN's international delegation took a two-hour bus ride to Mugeonri which is just 36 kilometers from the North Korean border. At this place the US Army has been displacing this rice growing community from their lands since 1980. But they want still more land. High-tech weapons systems demand larger areas to practice.

The remaining two hundred people in this beautiful place, surrounded by hills, are fighting hard to hang on to the last of their lands. But the Army will not be denied as they want to expand their existing military training area (mostly for tank and Bradley fighting vehicle training) by some 30 square kilometers more. So they are saying the people most go.

The roads for miles are lined with yellow banners proclaiming their message - "We want to live in our hometown." The people have lived on this land for more than 400 years.

We were taken to a place near their village which is a nesting area for white cranes, the symbol of their resistance. Over 1,000 cranes used to nest there but now their numbers have dropped to about 100 as the Army destroys the land.

We also visited the site where two 15-year old girls, walking to a friends birthday party, were run over and killed by US tanks on the narrow country road in 2002. No one was ever held responsible for their deaths which further outraged the nation.

The US Army is practicing for an invasion of North Korea. The villagers, because they are so close to the border, have many relatives in the nearby north. One of their leaders told us that the US is "Threatening not only our livelihood but also peace on the Korean peninsula and in the Asian-Pacific region."

The Pentagon's OPLAN-5027 spells out the strategy of military action against and control of North Korea.

So the people have a doubly hard task at hand. They have to save their farms and their homes but also try to stop the US from invading the north and killing their relatives. The thought that the US is training to kill their relatives on their own farm lands is just too heartbreaking for them to believe.

I am writing from the Seoul airport as we prepare to head home. We fly first to Tokyo, then to Chicago, and finally to Portland, Maine. We got out of bed at 4:30 am this morning to make the two-hour trip to the airport. Mary Beth has been sick in bed for the past three days and missed two of our three field trips. Luckily she was still able to deliver her speech at the conference. Tom Sturtevant is doing well and having a grand time.

It was an incredible experience, and the three field trips we took were bonding experiences for all of us. We produced an excellent statement coming out of the conference and you can see it here.

The memory of the people of Mugeonri is now branded on our hearts.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Vigil at the gate of US's Osan AFB in Pyeongtaek
This photo, from our visit to the DMZ, was published on the top of the front page in a national newspaper the other day. That's North Korea behind us.

The conference went extremely well all day on Friday, we had just about 100 people from more than 20 countries represented. The presentations were all tremendous and our hosts have organized by far the most professional event we've ever had in all of our 17 years of Global Network conferences.

Yesterday we had our annual business meeting where we had a vigorous strategy discussion and then decided to accept the invitation from our friends in India who have offered to host our 18th annual conference next year in their country. More work will need to be done to settle on the right date. Following that event we loaded up the bus to travel to the city of Pyeongtaek where the US has the Osan Air Force Base. The base is now doubling in size by swallowing up small farm villages around it. The citizens have held huge protests during recent years and have been beaten and arrested but they continue to resist in spite of all odds. The base is a clear indication that US military expansion in the Asian-Pacific is intended to further surround China and Russia.

I saw an article yesterday about recent comments by Mikhail Gorbachev where he said that Obama's talk about nuclear disarmament would be "just rhetorical" if other nations were asked to give up their nukes while the US maintains an overwhelming conventional military force. "Military superiority would be an insurmountable obstacle to ridding the world of nuclear weapons," the ex-Soviet president said. "Unless we discuss demilitarization of international politics, the reduction of military budgets, preventing militarization of outer space, talking about a nuclear-free world will be just rhetorical."

The US base expansion in Pyeongtaek is a perfect illustration of Gorbachev's point. More than 60% of the people of South Korea want the US bases to close. When will the American people begin to listen to the cries of the people of the world who want the US military empire to end?

Friday, April 17, 2009


Keith Oberman on Obama's torture waffle-ation.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


It was about a 28 hour trip to South Korea for us - with virtually no sleep. Then once we got here the 12 hour difference has thrown our sleep patterns to the four-winds. Needless to say, many of us at this conference are dragging.

Yesterday we took a bus full of folks for an incredible trip to the DMZ. What a waste of money, human energy and good land this line between north and south Korea is. The US created this line and keeps it going today as an excuse to continue its massive military build-up in the Asian-Pacific region - largely pointed at Russia and China. The North Korea threat is a joke.

We had about 20 countries represented yesterday on our field trip to the DMZ......I'll write more about that later.

Right now my head hurts from a night laying in bed where I sleep for half an hour and then toss and turn for one hour.....Mary Beth is miserable, having caught a cold. We both have to deliver our talks today. Should be a sight to see.

The food is quite good, we are developing a taste for kimchee.

Monday, April 13, 2009


By Jeremy Scahill

I have still yet to see a Somali person interviewed by any major US media outlet regarding the “pirate” situation. The story is being told entirely through the lens of US military analysts and pundits. While there are certainly many Somalis who could explain the context for this activity by their countrymen, the networks can’t seem to locate any—even though there is a sizable Somali community in the US and Canada. One source I would recommend is the Somali-Canadian Hip Hop artist K’naan. Here is part of a recent essay, “Why We Don’t Condemn Our Pirates,” K’naan wrote not long before the current incident that is grabbing the headlines:

Can anyone ever really be for piracy? Outside of sea bandits, and young girls fantasizing of Johnny Depp, would anyone with an honest regard for good human conduct really say that they are in support of Sea Robbery?

Well, in Somalia, the answer is: it’s complicated.

K’naan details some of the toxic dumping by Western nations following the collapse of the Somali government:

A Swiss firm called Achair Parterns, and an Italian waste company called Achair Parterns, made a deal with Ali Mahdi, that they were to dump containers of waste material in Somali waters. These European companies were said to be paying Warlords about $3 a ton, whereas to properly dispose of waste in Europe costs about $1000 a ton.

In 2004, after a tsunami washed ashore several leaking containers, thousand of locals in the Puntland region of Somalia started to complain of severe and previously unreported ailments, such as abdominal bleeding, skin melting off and a lot of immediate cancer-like symptoms. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environmental Program, says that the containers had many different kinds of waste, including “Uranium, radioactive waste, lead, Cadmium, Mercury and chemical waste.” But this wasn’t just a passing evil from one or two groups taking advantage of our unprotected waters. The UN envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, says that the practice still continues to this day. It was months after those initial reports that local fishermen mobilized themselves, along with street militias, to go into the waters and deter the Westerners from having a free pass at completely destroying Somalia’s aquatic life. Now years later, the deterring has become less noble, and the ex-fishermen with their militias have begun to develop a taste for ransom at sea. This form of piracy is now a major contributor to the Somali economy, especially in the very region that private toxic waste companies first began to burry our nation’s death trap.

Now Somalia has upped the world’s pirate attacks by over 21 percent in one year, and while NATO and the EU are both sending forces to the Somali coast to try and slow down the attacks, Blackwater and all kinds of private security firms are intent on cashing in. But while Europeans are well in their right to protect their trade interest in the region, our pirates were the only deterrent we had from an externally imposed environmental disaster.

No one can say for sure that some of the ships they are now holding for ransom were not involved in illegal activity in our waters. The truth is, if you ask any Somali, if getting rid of the pirates only means the continuous rape of our coast by unmonitored Western Vessels, and the producing of a new cancerous generation, we would all fly our pirate flags high.

It is time that the world gave the Somali people some assurance that these Western illegal activities will end, if our pirates are to seize their operations. We do not want the EU and NATO serving as a shield for these nuclear waste-dumping hoodlums. It seems to me that this new modern crisis is truly a question of justice, but also a question of whose justice.

As is apparent these days, one man’s pirate is another man’s coast guard.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Reaction by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on the Obama administrations request to Congress for $83.4 billion for our two crazy wars. Also questions NATO's role.......

Recent Obama Advisor and former Council on Foreign Relations Vice-President Lawrence Korb said last month that 100,000 troops and 10 more years of occupation will be necessary in Afghanistan.

Is this the change we were looking for?

Saturday, April 11, 2009


We begin our journey to South Korea tomorrow to attend the Global Network's 17th annual space organizing conference that will be held in Seoul. Mary Beth, and fellow Maine Veterans for Peace member Tom Sturtevant (who was in the Korean war), will be attending the confab as well and both will also be speaking at the event.

When we arrive in South Korea we will be met by friend Sung-Hee Choi who has come to the past four GN conferences that we held in Nebraska, Germany, New York City, and Maine. If it was not for the extraordinary efforts of Sung-Hee (who was an art teacher in New York City for many years until her Visa ran out) we'd not be meeting in Korea. Also instrumental in making it possible for us to meet in Korea is Lee Haeng-Woo who is the President of the National Association of Korean Americans and lives in New Jersey.

Things will get started on April 16 with a field trip to the DMZ which will be led by Lee Si-Woo, an internationally known photographer who is famous for documenting the scene along the heavily militarized border between the north and south.

April 17 will be our day-long conference with speakers from all over the world, most of whom are involved in local struggles against US space related facilities and "missile defense" systems.

On the morning of April 18 we will hold the GN's internal business portion of the conference where I give my reports and we have strategy discussions. Then that afternoon we all jump on a bus and visit Pyeongtaek which is the emerging hub of a major US military base now under construction. In order to build this base large tracts of land are being taken from local farmers. We will meet with local citizens and join a protest with them in front of Osan Air Force Base.

On April 19 we will take another trip to a community struggling against expansion of US military training areas. The Pan-Korean Committee against the Expansion of the Mugeon-ri Military Training Fields (pictured above) will host us for a look at the military expansion area, a dinner and shared words, and then a candlelight vigil.

All conference participants will be staying in the same location which will make it much easier for ongoing dialogue with everyone who has come from so far away for the event. Our Korean hosts have done a remarkable job putting this event together and we are very grateful for all their hard work.

I hope to be able to make a few blog posts from Korea so stay tuned.

Friday, April 10, 2009


The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Full Metal Budget
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


* Fourteen peace activists were arrested yesterday at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. The arrests occurred during a ten-day vigil which sought to raise public awareness of the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) drones in the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Air Force personnel based at Creech control the Predator and Reaper drones being used in Central Asia. Eight activists were also arrested this morning after fifty people involved with the Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Jonah House and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, had vigiled at the Pentagon.

In a related noontime action today at the White House during the "100 Days Campaign to Close Guantanamo" vigil, one activist, dressed in an orange jump suit and black hood, climbed up onto the White House sidewalk ledge and with his arms outstretched, was chained by two supporters to the White House fence. He was arrested by U.S. Park Police.

* Obama requested a special supplemental appropriation of $83.4 billion yesterday for Iraq and Afghanistan. In typical Bush-era nonsense Obama told Congress that, “The Taliban is resurgent and al Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border.” During Bush's reign-of-terror the peace movement would be howling about these massive war supplementals and many would be sitting in their Congress persons offices in protest of the funding. Now, except for the Catholic Worker community, things are pretty quiet out there.

Many "progressives" don't want to think about it - cognitive dissonance. Don't worry though, Obama has a secret plan to trick the military industrial complex and is just waiting to spring it on everyone - so relax and enjoy the show. We've got vegetable gardens on the White House lawn now which means something, right? It's sad how low our expectations have sunk.......

* The story out of Strasbourg, France is not encouraging. French and German police, by the tens of thousands, attacked anti-NATO protesters last weekend and the so-called black block anarchists were used as an excuse to smash up the protest. I am more convinced than ever that most of these "black blockers" are really paid government agents. One English friend who was at the protest wrote me today and said, "I saw clearly, in two different places carefully placed long rows of stones, local handy sized pebbles, along the side of the road. How could they have been there if not put there some time before? Why did the police not remove them or the obvious conclusion is that the police put them there?......The third matter was seeing a large group of police of whom about a third had blue jeans on instead of the black combat hard wearing trousers of police issue. This again seems like the only explanation is that they were protesters moments before and merely just put on there black police jackets."

Highly regarded journalist Diana Johnstone, reporting from the scene wrote, "In this cycle of provocation, there is no doubt who started it: NATO. The lavish celebration of NATO’s 60th anniversary, held in the Rhineland cities of Strasbourg, Kehl and Baden Baden over the weekend, was an insult to the citizens. After all, if President Obama and the other leaders of the self-proclaimed free world of democracies are so popular, why must their host cities be turned into heavily armed fortresses to receive them? If Europeans welcome NATO protection, why must they be held at gunpoint miles away from their benefactors?"

It's hard not to notice that the real message coming out of NATO's 60th anniversary "celebration" was no one should think for a moment about challenging the new offensive empire building strategy of the "alliance". Obama's new National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones, was the former commander of NATO. In 2006 he told the Associated Press the following: "NATO is developing a special plan to safeguard oil and gas fields [Caspian Sea, Central Asia, Africa]...Our strategic goal is to expand to Eastern Europe and Africa....NATO is ready to ensure the security of oil-producing and transporting regions."

NATO is setting up the military infrastructure for resource wars and Obama put the right man, Gen. Jones, into the position of making it happen. In a related story Reuters also reported in 2006, "NATO's top commander of operations, US General James Jones, has said he sees a potential role for the alliance in protecting key shipping lanes such as those around the Black Sea and oil supply routes from Africa to Europe."

Anyone who stands in protest of the "new robust NATO" is the enemy and will be smashed - whether they are peace activists, Russia, or China does not matter.

* So the operative question is - where are the Democrats in all of this? They were put into power of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 to end these wars......but instead we see more of the same Bush plan. What is the difference between the two war parties now? Vegetable gardens?

Thursday, April 09, 2009


By Jeremy Scahill - (Jeremy Scahill is a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine and a correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now! Scahill has won numerous awards for his reporting, including the prestigious George Polk Award, which he won twice. While a correspondent for Democracy Now!, Scahill reported extensively from Iraq through both the Clinton and Bush administrations.)

Over the past several weeks, independent journalists and anti-war activists have tried to shine a spotlight on how groups like the Center for American Progress and MoveOn, which portrayed themselves as anti-war during the Bush-era, are now supporting the escalation and continuation of wars because their guy is now commander-in-chief. CAP has been actively pounding the pavement in support of the escalation in Afghanistan, the rebranding of the Iraq occupation and, more recently, Obama’s bloated military budget, which the group said was “on target.” MoveOn has been silent on the escalation in Afghanistan and has devoted substantial resources to promoting a federal budget that includes a $21 billion increase in military spending from the Bush-era.

What is clear here is that CAP and MoveOn are now basically psuedo-official PR flaks targeting “liberals” to support the White House agenda. This, though, should not come as a shock to those who have closely monitored these groups. They were the primary force behind Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI), “a coalition that spent tens of millions of dollars using Iraq as a political bludgeon against Republican politicians, while refusing to pressure the Democratic Congress to actually cut off funding for the war.” Now, according to John Stauber, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the Center for American Progress is now running “Progressive Media which was begun by Tom Matzzie and David Brock in 2008 and now ‘represents a serious ratcheting up of efforts to present a united liberal front in the coming policy wars….’ [These groups] are working hard to push Obama’s policies, including rationalizlng or defending his escalation of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan as “sustainable security.”

On Wednesday, Ben Smith at Politico reported on the latest development in this White House-coordinated campaign to use these think-tankers to whip up support for its agenda. It is a newly formed coalition, the Common Purpose Project, which blogger Jane Hamsher describes as “one of the many groups Rahm Emanuel has set up to coordinate messaging among liberal interest groups.” This one includes the direct participation of White House officials, according to Smith:

The Common Purpose meeting every Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol Hilton brings together the top officials from a range of left-leaning organizations, from labor groups like Change to Win to activists like, all in support of the White House’s agenda. The group has an overlapping membership with a daily 8:45 a.m. call run by the Center for American Progress’ and Media Matters’ political arms; with the new field-oriented coalition Unity ‘09; and with the groups that allied to back the budget as the Campaign to Rebuild and Renew America Now.

Unlike those other groups, however, the Common Purpose meeting has involved a White House official, communications director Ellen Moran, two sources familiar with the meeting said. It’s aimed, said one, at “providing a way for the White House to manage its relationships with some of these independent groups.”

Common Purpose was founded by Erik Smith, a former aide to Dick Gephardt. The group’s political director is former Obama aide, Miti Sathe. “Common Purpose is formed as a 501(c)(4), which leaves it focused on policy, rather than electoral, work,” notes Smith. “Part of the group’s role is to enforce a kind of message discipline.” He tells the story of how last month “some of the more liberal members of the coalition” were launching a campaign against conservative Democrats under the banner “Dog the Blue Dogs.” The White House, Smith alleged, “was in the midst of discussions with members of the congressional Blue Dog caucus, and objected to the slogan, which was promptly changed, and the page describing the drive is gone from CAF [Campaign for America’s Future, a participant in the Common Purposes calls]’s website.”

Hamsher, who wrote an interesting response to the Politico report with a different spin on the above story, concluded:

There’s a big problem right now with the traditional liberal interest groups sitting on the sidelines around major issues because they don’t want to buck the White House for fear of getting cut out of the dialogue, or having their funding slashed. Someone picks up a phone, calls a big donor, and the next thing you know…the money is gone. It’s already happened. Because that’s the way Rahm plays.


Awakening the Dreamer Symposium Trailer from Pachamama Alliance .

Quite a nice video really. Shows that the people around the world are coming together with a new vision and a new hope.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Let me first say this picture is not quite right for what I want to say here but after spending alot of time looking for just the right image it is all I could find that came close to fitting my message. Bear with me please.

Obama's proposed military budget for 2010 is getting lots of copy and most of it is headlined as "cut backs in military spending." Of course this is not at all correct as he is really seeking at least a 4% increase in Pentagon spending for next year. Some Democrats in Congress want to make it even more.

What Obama is doing is shifting some monies around. Delay or cut one program and move those funds into things like $2 billion more for Afghanistan war intelligence and surveillance and $500 million more for helicopters in that war zone. He also wants more special operations troops (trained killer teams) for Afghanistan and more unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drones.

Just one local example is Bath Iron Works here in Maine. They presently are building Navy Aegis destroyers called the DDG-51 which cost $1.2 billion each. The politicians (Republican and Democrat alike) are pushing a new generation destroyer called the DDG-1000 which would cost $3 billion each. Secretary of War Robert Gates didn't want them because of the increased cost and their vulnerability to cruise missiles but they are now in Obama's new Pentagon budget. It should be remembered that Bath Iron Works is owned by General Dynamics and one of the major owners of this weapons corporation is the Crown family out of Chicago who were early big time funders of the Obama campaign. Is there a connection there? You decide.

So some things like the F-22 will be cut, but then the F-35 will be added in at a lifetime cost of about $1 trillion. They want to slow down on the airborne laser program at the Missile Defense Agency and are even going to cut just over $1 billion from that budget but the money won't be going into building rail cars or wind turbines. It will go into other Pentagon programs.

What breaks my heart is to see some so-called peace groups cheering for "Obama's military cuts" and misleading their memberships into thinking that the president is actually calling for cuts when overall we are talking about hefty increases.

One group, True Majority, sent around a message saying, "At last! Some of us wondered if this day would ever come. Today the Secretary of Defense explained to Congress exactly the points True Majority members have been making for years: wasting taxes on weapons which don't work and have no conceivable use against real-world enemies makes us LESS strong as a nation. Show Congress we're ready to invest in True Security -- sign the petition."

So their message seems to be: don't waste money on weapons that don't work but it is just fine to increase military spending for weapons "that do work." And here I thought the peace movement was trying to get rid of all these weapons systems that are killing innocent people by the legions in Iraq and Afghanistan and planning for wars in Africa and more.

My friend David Swanson sent around an email that I forwarded to my list this morning. In it he had this to say about True Majority's cheer leading: "But this is an activist group that drives giant displays of Oreo cookies around the country to illustrate the relative sizes of the military budget and budgets for schools and health care. An Oreo got added to the military stack, and 'True' Majority wants us to cheer instead of vomiting."

Graphic point but my sentiments exactly.

So here is how I see the connection to Indian reservations. Throughout my life I have read endlessly about US policy toward Native American people - the genocide and the policy to put the Indian people on reservations as one strategy to destroy their culture and take their lands.

Now and then there were some Indian leaders who grew weary of fighting the white man and who agreed to sign the "treaties" that gave their land to the government. There were Indians who collaborated with the US Army as spies and scouts to find and kill other "hostile" Indians. Often, after the successful "apprehension" of the Indians who refused to go onto the reservation, the collaborators themselves were arrested and jailed or even killed.

My point is that today there are some "leaders" in the peace movement who are so anxious for a "victory" that they are allowing themselves to be used to create the impression that military spending increases are some how victories for the peace movement. This is what I see as the grave danger of the Obama administration. If George W. Bush came out and said he was going to cut some military systems but still increase overall Pentagon spending, groups like True Majority would be all over that lie just like flies on a Sunday picnic. But when the Democrats do the same kind of shell game some groups become accomplices to this dangerous illusion.

So in a way I see some peace movement folks helping to bring us all onto the reservation as increases in military spending right now, during this fiscal crisis, mean less money for social and environmental programs that create more jobs than military production does.

I am not questioning motives of these folks but I am seriously questioning their strategy, their judgement, and their basic common sense. They are hurting the cause by becoming agents of a corporate dominated political program - in this case the Democratic Party.

I once again insist that the job of the peace activist, no matter which party is in power, is to challenge all moves to increase military spending and prepare for more war. To do otherwise only serves the interests of the military industrial complex.

Our job is to non-violently resist the cavalry - not to saddle their horses for battle.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


I am only writing this because I know you all care so much about how my Orioles (O's in the future) did in the season opener yesterday.

Yes, it is true, they whupped them bad evil empire New York Yankees by the score of 10-5. The Jankees (not a typo) bought a new pitcher over the winter for $161 million and he couldn't handle them young spry O's. He didn't last long in the game. The Jankees don't listen to the Beatles - money can't buy me love.......or championships, but since when do the uber-capitalists listen to logic?

The big story of the game was light-hitting shortstop Cesar Izturis, best known for his glove, but he hit a home run over the left field fence that barely made it over to put the game out of reach. Izturis had only hit one home run the last two years but the collective breath of the O's fans, after 10 straight years of losing seasons, had to have helped carry the ball over the wall.

Next game is on Wednesday. I'm sure you can't wait!

Today is my media day. This morning I tape my cable TV show, called This Issue, which airs on eight stations across Maine. My guest will be Amy Dowley who works for Food & Water Watch and we'll be talking about water issues which are hot here these days in Maine. Nestle (via Poland Springs water which they own) is trying to take control of much of Maine's water supply. You can watch my TV show on-line by clicking on the TV screen that you see just below here on the blog.

Then tonight I do our weekly radio show at WBOR at Bowdoin College. You can listen via the Internet, show starts at 6:30-8:00 pm (EST). Just click on the link above and then hit the yellow "Listen Now" button at the top. Peter Woodruff, who I co-host the show with, and I will be doing our usual talking politics and playing political music. Tonight's show will be titled In the field of opportunity it’s plowing time again. Peter tells me he got that from Neil Young and I'm sure we'll play some of his stuff tonight as well as alot of other good music. Our show is called TRUE - Truth Radio Underground Experience.

See ya later and go O's!!!!!!!

Monday, April 06, 2009


Baseball season officially begins today. My Orioles play at 4:00 pm and I'll be watching the game via the Internet - one of my few extravagances in life.

But what is Exxon doing in the middle of the ball park in Washington DC?

The hardest part of being a fan these days is the incursion of corporate messaging into sports. But as you will see in this short video, the corporate link is also an organizing opportunity for folks who are willing to spend some time at the ball park.

So lets play ball!

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

The night before King was killed he made this speech - it was as if he knew he would soon die.

Never backing down MLK knew that only by standing firm for civil rights and peace could the people ever be free from the tyranny that surrounds us today. Let that be a lesson for all of us.

Get off your knees and rattle your chains - while you still can.


Prague, Czech Republic

A friend wrote this morning, "The headline should read - Obama talks peace and plans for war."

At the 60th anniversary NATO celebrations President Obama begged for more troops in Afghanistan from alliance member nations. They urged him forward but few countries offered help.

Then in Prague Obama called for the world to get rid of its nuclear weapons. Very commendable.

The Washington Post reported this morning that, "For those worried about a unilateral American disarmament, Obama promised that the country would keep enough nuclear weapons to defend itself and its allies as long as the weapons existed in other nations....He also reiterated his pledge to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe as long as Iran poses a possible nuclear threat to the region."

Iran? We know Iran is no threat and scientists have long been telling us that Star Wars bases in Poland and the Czech Republic would not be capable of intercepting missiles from Iran....but they could intercept missiles from Russia.......

So the crucial message was delivered.....Star Wars technology will still likely be developed and put into Poland and the Czech Republic, using Iran as the excuse to cover larger US ambitions of surrounding Russia with the technology.

Here is the deal....

* Some years ago Gen. Charles Horner (the former commander of the US Space Command) became an advocate for getting rid of US nuclear weapons. His rationale was that they were an "outdated military technology" that would never be used thus wasting alot of money that could be put into other kinds of useable new weapons systems like Star Wars.

* The US has a public relations problem as we lecture Iran and North Korea about the evils of nukes but we have plenty of our own. So to regain some semblance of credibility around the globe the US has to show some movement. This is why Henry Kissinger became a proponent of getting rid of nukes.

* US strategy to surround Russia and China with "missile defense" systems only works if you first get those countries to get rid of a bunch of their nukes thus lessening their ability to have a "robust deterrent capability" after they are hit with the US first-strike system now under development. And it is obvious from Obama's words in Prague that he intends to continue developing the "missile defense" system that Bush proposed to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic. According to French media, " U.S. President Barack Obama reassured Warsaw over concerns that Washington might scrap a planned missile base in Poland which has angered Russia, Polish President Lech Kaczynski said Saturday."

* I worked on Jimmy Carter's successful campaign in 1976 largely because he said over and over again that "the nuclear arms race was a disgrace to the human race." Also very commendable. Then as president Mr. Carter proceeded to build the Kings Bay Naval submarine base in St. Marys, Georgia for the Trident II nuclear system.

* So I've been somewhat tempered by promises from politicians over the years. I now listen for the nuances in their language.....things like this from Obama in Prague, "This goal will not be reached quickly -- perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence." And it certainly won't be reached in President Obama's lifetime if he insists on moving forward with Star Wars and "missile defense" systems - especially deployed upon Russia and China's doorstep. Let's face the facts here, Obama is not a stupid man. He understands that these space technology systems very well could be show stoppers. With that in mind, then why would he still pursue them?

In the end the question remains how much will really change? Obama is doing an effective job of "changing the tone" and showing "humility" on the world stage as a way of atoning for Bush's more hard-edged bad cowboy talk. But at the same time Obama is skillfully revealing that he has the ability to repackage US empire building policies in a new kinder and gentler way, but still achieving the same results. One Brookings Institution analyst told the Washington Post, "the 'hard edge of policy' in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where unlike some European allies Obama has not signaled a willingness to talk to the armed Islamist group Hamas, the president's policy and goals have not changed much from those of his predecessor."

So for me this is what I am watching and trying to interpret - yes I see the rebranding of the product going on, but I am also watching the actions that follow the nice talk.

In words that Mr. Obama would understand, I am keeping my eyes on the bouncing basketball.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Jan Tamas, one of the hunger strikers in the Czech Republic last summer, has a message for Obama who arrived in Prague today.

The folks in the Czech Republic are not allowing themselves to be swept up in the Obama euphoria. Instead they are staying steady and maintaining their public protest against the US Star Wars radar base in their country.


Lisa Savage, a teacher from Solon, Maine and member of Code Pink, talks about military recruiters in schools during the Town Hall Meeting

We had 200
people at our Town Hall Meeting last night in Portland. Despite a bad rain storm that surely kept some away the event was a smashing success as 51 people from 35 Maine towns got up to the microphones to speak for three-minutes to the assembled group of elected officials who were there. We had our two Congresspersons and our two Senators represented. We had the Governor represented and the leadership of the State legislature there as well as a representative for the Maine Municipal Association which serves the interests of the towns and cities across the state.

At the end of the three hour event the elected officials were given five minutes each to make comments after listening to the people all evening. One of them, Senator Phil Bartlett who is the State Senate Majority Leader, impressed me very much when he basically said, "What I heard is that our foreign policy is about wars for energy and oil. We need to change the way Maine uses energy and the state needs to take a lead on this." He said even more but I wasn't taking notes. I really felt like he was deeply listening to us.

When it came my time to speak I started out with a story about the great Sioux Indian Sitting Bull who once took a trip to New York City and while sitting on a door stoop was shocked at the number of little street urchins who came begging to him. He then realized that the white man's world had a spiritual "disconnect" as he could not imagine anyone would let their children go hungry and be homeless.

I then went on to make the following statement:

Major demonstrations will be held this weekend in Strausbourg, France with activists from all over the world protesting NATO’s 60th anniversary celebrations. NATO is becoming an offensive global military alliance, controlled by the US, and is being used not only in Afghanistan but also to surround Russia as NATO tries to expand bases into Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – all right on Russia’s border. Why? Because Russia has the world’s largest supply of natural gas and significant supplies of oil.

The US government is still controlled by corporate interests that are preparing for resource wars in the coming years. Right now the US military empire has more than 800 bases worldwide and our 2010 military budget will be over $663 billion. We are spending more than $12 billion a month in Iraq & Afghanistan. The Pentagon has created a new command called AfriCom. Some time ago I was watching C-SPAN and heard a Pentagon representative say we will be fighting in Africa 20 years from now for their oil.

We need a single-payer health care system but we are told no. We need massive infrastructure repairs, new sustainable technologies developed, in order to deal with climate change but we are nickel and diming it. Until we deal with the military budget there will be no real change in America.

Local, state, and federal politicians all avoid talking about the military budget. President Obama has recommended a 4% increase in Pentagon spending in 2010 after George W. Bush doubled the military budget during his 8 years. When does it all end?
It ends when the progressive community puts military spending on the table… ends when we support Congressman Barney Frank’s call for a 25% cut in military spending. It ends when we say we can’t afford guns and butter anymore……

The people want jobs and the evidence is abundant that building rail systems, building and installing solar, building wind turbines, weatherizing homes, and hiring teachers and nurses all create more jobs per billion dollars than military production does.

But our elected officials from both parties in this state, and around the country, support virtually every high-priced weapon system the military industrial complex comes up with.

The number one industrial export product of America today is what? And when weapons are your number one industrial export product, what is your global marketing strategy for that product line?

What does it say about the soul of our nation that we have to have endless war for oil to create jobs for our workers here at home?

Thank you.