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

Friday, July 31, 2009


The military being used to spy on local peace groups.....violation of law. Some years ago a Kennedy Space Center security man told me that the military has a national database of protesters that is continually updated by security teams at the various bases around the country where protests are held.


I arrived in Hiroshima about 1:00 pm today and went to my hotel. The Mayor of Hiroshima is hosting an International Symposium for Peace tomorrow and I was invited to be the keynote speaker. It is more than an honor. My 45-minute speech is entitled Nuclear Weapons Abolition: The Road to Renewed Momentum.

Yes, I am excited. No, I'm not nervous but would describe the energy I feel more like a lion in a cage, pacing back and forth.

Today just after 3:00 pm a small group of conference guests from outside the country were taken to the Peace Memorial Park where we saw the A-Bomb Dome and were taken for a tour of the Memorial Museum. I was interviewed by some media outlets about what my message will be at the conference.

I first visited the museum when I came to Hiroshima in 1984 but it has been greatly expanded since that time. There was a big crowd of people inside it as we made the tour. Just as in 1984, I thought the most gripping photo display showed the piles of bodies of the tens of thousands of people who had to be cremated or buried in mass graves. It makes it all very real.

Hiroshima was never conventionally bombed (unlike most of the rest of the country) before the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945 because the US wanted to have a pure statistical sampling of the damage potential of one atom bomb. I'll write more about the controversy surrounding the US bombing in the days to come.

This evening a dinner was held for the guests and and hosted by several key people from the Asahi Shimbun (one of Japan's largest national newspapers). The newspaper is co-sponsoring the international conference and covering much of the costs from what I have heard. Several people from the editorial board attended the dinner.

My room is on the 31st floor of the hotel with an incredible view of the city which is surrounded by mountains. Just out my window is the ancient Hiroshima Castle with a huge moat all around it. According to Wikipedia, "Originally constructed in the 1590s, the castle was destroyed in the atomic bombing in 1945. It was rebuilt in 1958, a replica of the original which now serves as a museum of Hiroshima's history prior to World War II." I will do my best to take a walk over to the castle for a tour. It looks fascinating.

At dinner tonight there was some discussion about right-wingers in the Japanese government now pressuring the Obama administration not to agree to any reductions of nuclear weapons. The Japanese hardliners want the US to maintain a vigorous nuclear "umbrella". The implied threat is that if the US does cut back on its nukes then Japan might be forced to build their own.

The basic premise of my speech tomorrow will be that if a new arms race in space is allowed to go forward then we can all forget about the dream of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. So this is an important moment to be engaged in these discussions.

More later.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I take the train in the morning from Kyoto to Hiroshima. It is a two-hour trip. In the afternoon I will join the other speakers from the International Symposium for Peace for a tour of the Peace Memorial Museum and the famous A-bomb Dome. I will speak on August 1 at the conference.

Today I spent several hours walking the back streets of Kyoto, just wandering through the neighborhoods. I ran into one temple that had the biggest carp I've ever seen swimming around in the fountain pool. It is fascinating to watch all the bicycles, walkers, and cars navigate their way through the narrow streets that were not built with the automobile in mind. One of my favorite sites was the people riding along with one hand on the handle bars and the other holding an umbrella over their head. Kind of like a circus act.

Tonight Atsushi Fujioka took me out to dinner again, the fourth night in a row. I'm sampling my way around Kyoto trying out the various types of Japanese cuisine. I'd say about 10 different dishes are brought to the table, each very delicate and finely decorated. Raw tuna, eel, octopus, river fish, salmon, sea snake and the like. I eat all of it. A small bowl of rice always come last, just before the dessert. A big mug of beer washes it all down.

Last night I was told that I was to be interviewed today at 2:30 pm and to wait at my hotel room. A nice young man showed up with four large cases of video equipment and set it all up in my small room. He is a lecturer at a nearby university and was interviewing me for a progressive community media TV program. He said that public access TV is rare in Japan and wanted me to emphasize the importance of developing alternative outlets during this time of corporate dominated media. I gladly did as he asked.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Interesting interview with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) who talks about how Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel ,while in the House of Representatives, recruited many of the conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats who are now holding up the health care process. In several cases Emanuel did all he could to keep progressive Democrats from running and instead pushed the conservatives into the House seats.

In the interview Rep. Waters is asked about the rumor that the Senate might drop the "public option" from their version of the health care bill. It seems as though the process is now unraveling and the insurance corporation lobby is clearly in control of the process. As a result, as Glen Ford says in the Health Care Update interview below, don't expect much from here on out.


Always good coverage from The Real we get the Canadian perspective. Paul Jay does his usual excellent job of getting right to the heart of the matter in this interview with journalist Eric Margolis.


Interview with one of my favorite journalists Glen Ford from the Black Agenda Report


It's hot, it's muggy, it's been raining, and folks are treating me wonderfully. I've been in Kyoto for two days with little Internet connection. The first two nights I stayed in a traditional wooden Japanese home where I slept on a futon on the floor - Japanese style. But sadly their wireless connection didn't work so I've had to move to a hotel where I will spend the next two nights. I get hundreds of emails each day and find it impossible to be without Internet for long. A friend in California calls my laptop my "altar."

I've been taken to a couple local wonderful spots including the Kiyomizu Dera Temple that overlooks the city from the base of a surrounding mountain. Just a spectacular place. Kyoto is famous for many temples and the city is crawling with tourists from all over the world.

Last night I spoke to 70 people and after I talked a 3rd generation Japanese-born man of Korean ancestry spoke. I was surprised to learn that even when Koreans are born in Japan they do not automatically get citizenship. There is still discrimination here against Koreans, many of whom were brought to Japan during imperial times as virtual slave labor. Lee Tong Il spoke out in favor of North Korea's right to defend themselves from an aggressive US and Japan. He said, "For 60 years the US has brought nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula so North Korea has to have nuclear weapons to defend themselves."

While I am opposed to all countries having nukes I must agree with his basic point that the US position is hypocritical because our nation has more nuclear weapons than any other country and we continually test them. (August 23 is the next planned US Minuteman nuclear missile test fired from Vandenberg AFB in California that will land at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.) North Korea sees Iraq and Afghanistan get invaded, Iran threatened, and they figure their only chance for survival as a nation is to arm themselves as well.

The big issue in Japan right now is whether or not the government should get rid of Article 9 of their Constitution that says they will not have an offensive military. Prior to WW II Japan invaded Manchuria and occupied Korea. Their colonial empire spread throughout the Pacific Region. The right-wing in Japan wants to get rid of Article 9 and is even calling for preemptive attack on North Korea. This stirs fears in the region about a resuscitated imperial Japan, coupled with a massively armed imperial US, a clear prescription for disaster.

A key part of all this current trouble is the US "missile defense" program which is now being deployed in Japan, South Korea, Australia, and on Navy Aegis destroyers surrounding China. After my talk last night several people thanked me for my clear explanation how the US "missile defense" program is really part of a broader offensive first-strike attack program - the sword and the shield together.

Bottom line is that the region is a trip wire for war. Thank goodness that there is an active and strong peace movement here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Everywhere I have been so far in Japan people come up to me and tell me that they were friends of Satomi Oba. Satomi died suddenly a couple of years ago and was a huge loss to the peace movement in Japan. She was also on the Global Network's board and was our key link to Japan. She translated one of our space videos into Japanese and spread it around the country. Several times she translated our space week posters and distributed them far and wide. When I spoke the other night in Tokyo I saw her translated videos are still being sold.

We have now established a strong core of people in Japan who are working on the space issue and we must give much credit to Satomi for that. She, working along with Atsushi Fujioka who is our other long-time GN board member from Japan, are the peaceful space pioneers in Japan. (Today I head to Kyoto where Atsushi lives and will be there for three days.)

Satomi once told me how hard it was for women to have strong voices in her culture and sometimes she paid a bitter price for that. But she was a strong and gentle soul who is still revered by her fellow activists.

She lived in Hiroshima and helped Atsushi organize a speaking tour for me around Japan in 2002.

At the Global Network annual conference that followed her death our chairperson Dave Webb from the UK put the above picture up on a huge screen and played a song from The Kinks (he is also a fan) called Days.

I put it here in her memory.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Now what does Admiral Timothy Keating, head of the US Pacific Command (PacCom) mean by this statement: "I can tell you that we have plans with the United States Forces Korea and others in place if the president tells us to execute those plans, in the event of some uncertain succession in the North [Korea]. We are prepared to execute a wide range of options in concert with allies in South Korea and in discussions through [the Department of] State, which would have the lead, with countries in the region and internationally if necessary."

His over use of the word "execute" is troubling. See the whole story here

I am heading from Tokyo to Nagoya today for a 1:30 pm talk. Last night I spoke to 60 folks in Tokyo after spending the day seeing the Yokosuka Naval Base about an hour from Tokyo. The new Navy Aegis destroyer named after John McCain was there.

It is hot and sticky here in Japan.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I am in the office of the People's Plan Study Group where our Global Network board member Hibiki Yamaguchi works. He picked me up at the airport yesterday and took me to my hotel.

This morning Hibiki brought me to his office in downtown Tokyo where I will do three interviews today. I just finished the first with a reporter from the Mainichi Daily News (the 3rd largest paper in the country). Next I will do the Kyodo News Agency and then an interview with the Global Children's Newsletter which has been described to me as a "wallpaper-type newspaper for kids in elementary schools."

Tonight I will attend a public gathering regarding a lawsuit on noise pollution by US military forces in Japan. A film has been made about the problem and will be shown this evening.

In the morning I will be taken to Yokosuka naval base which is shared by the US and Japanese Navy. It is here that both countries have their Aegis destroyers that are outfitted with "missile defense" systems on-board. I understand I will be taken on a boat around the harbor for a tour. I will do a formal talk here in Tokyo tomorrow night after my trip to Yokosuka.

This morning I got an email from Bill Sulzman in Colorado Springs. I've written about Bill on the blog before, he was a co-founder of the Global Network in 1992. He said he heard my interview on KPFK's Uprising Radio show out of Los Angeles. Bill is a L.A. Dodgers baseball fan so he must listen on-line to radio there often. The radio show had me on the other day to offer my reflections about the 40th anniversary of the US astronauts landing on the Moon. You can listen to the interview by clicking here


I made it to Tokyo after a 13-hour flight from Detroit. Not much sleep on the plane but went to bed about 6pm last night. Woke up at 2am and checking emails, wide awake. My bio-clock is just a bit off I'd say.

The piece above shows how the military is using video games for recruiting. We are teaching our kids that killing can be fun.....and has no moral/ethical dimension. Look out world, here we come. The era of drones, robotic, hands-off killing is here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The run-away-train called Georgia is at it again poking a stick at Russia. V-P Joseph Biden will visit there this week and the New York Times is reporting that Georgia intends to invite the US to send troops to help patrol the borders near the conflicted breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. You might remember that last summer Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers in those two republics and a hot war ensued. (South Osseti and Abkhazia want to be autonomous - Russia long ago has recognized them and Georgia has not.)

A member of the Georgian National Security Council told the Times, that US troops in the conflict zone would make it “politically very costly to Russia to do anything on the ground.”

The newspaper went on to report, "Mr. Biden intends to make it clear, on this trip, that the United States will not abandon its allies in deference to Russia, said one of his senior advisers."

If you are thinking - "Gee, would this be the equivalent of Canada inviting Russian troops to set up shop right along the border with the US?" - then you are indeed right on the money. It's a chess move but an extremely dangerous one at that. During the Cold War this would have been the spark that would have ignited nuclear war between the two superpowers. Today the US arrogantly thinks it can get away with such moves without a hitch.

This all could be a trial balloon. But it appears the US is determined to use the Georgia-Russia border to continue to sow seeds of disharmony in the region. Please remember that I've previously written that the Rand Corporation a couple of years ago suggested that Russia should be broken up into three separate countries so the US-British oil corporations would have an easier time getting their hands on Russia's supplies of natural gas - the most in the world by the way. The US and NATO "balkanized" the former Yugoslavia and while in the Senate, Joseph Biden, suggested we break Iraq up into three countries for the same purpose of easier control of their oil. There is a dangerous pattern at work here.

So what will happen to the US-Russia nuclear negotiations if Obama first moves to put US troops on the Georgia-Russian border? Fa-get-about-it!

By the way, did you happen to notice that pesky little Caspian Sea popping up again in the map above? What could be going on here?

Monday, July 20, 2009


I was up early this morning because I needed to catch a ride with a housemate to nearby Brunswick. I had breakfast at a little local joint and then met Lisa Savage from Solon, Maine who is the coordinator of CodePink in our state. She drove me out to Harpswell where we taped the 71st edition of my cable access TV show This Issue. (The show is now in its 6th year of broadcasting.) Lisa is leading our emerging statewide coalition on Afghanistan organizing so we talked about "the good war." Lisa did a nice job. She's a 9th grade history teacher by trade and a near full-time peace activist on the side.

After the show I was out with our old-fashioned muscle-powered rotator lawn mower to cut the grass before I go on my trip. I am trying to catch up with all my chores before I leave.

I wrote two letters to the editor today in response to pieces in two papers that were giving rare coverage to the "missile defense" issue. The Portland Press Herald ran an op-ed in today's edition written by George W. Bush's former director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, now retired, likely is finding it difficult to enjoy all his free time so he was back at this old habit of wildly exaggerating the nuclear threat from Iran and North Korea. He wondered why Russia was so upset about proposed US deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic. The usual stuff.

The second letter I wrote was to the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. The Alaskan Congressional delegation (Republican and Democrat alike) are complaining about the Obama team's desire to cut $1.4 billion from the MDA's budget in 2010 which means that Bush's proposed deployment of 40 "missile defense" interceptors in Alaska will now be scaled down to about half that amount. They are screaming jobs so I concentrated on the fact that diverting Pentagon funds to build rail, solar, and wind systems would create many times more jobs and help deal with climate change. Not certain they will print my letter but it was worth a try.

I got a call this afternoon from KPFK radio in Los Angeles about doing an interview tomorrow. They want me to reflect on the moon landing anniversary and discuss where the space program is heading these days.

I did two other radio interviews on Saturday, one a 20-minute spot on a Vancouver, Canada station and the other was a two-hour show out of Austin, Texas. I love doing radio interviews because you have to use your imagination to keep the listeners involved.

Last week I heard that plans are now being made to "deorbit" the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016. The ISS was originally going to cost tax payers $10 billion, but like most high-tech space technology programs, the cost kept rising. We've now spent $100 billion on it and just as it finally gets finished it will be dropped back toward Earth where it will burn up on reentry and scatter into the Pacific Ocean. The Washington Post reports, "The rap on the space station has always been that it was built primarily to give the space shuttle somewhere to go. Now, with the shuttle being retired at the end of 2010, the station is on the spot. U.S. astronauts will be able to reach the station only by getting rides on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft."

The ISS was always fundamentally a jobs program for the Central Florida "space coast" and what an expensive one it was. When you begin to track other space projects - things like launch vehicles, military satellites, various space weapons programs - you find similar kinds of massive cost overruns. The space program is a huge boondoggle.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Obama wants 400,000 trained and equipped Afghanistan military forces before the US can leave. They now have 8,000. It could take ten more years to reach that number. Are we ready for this-$$$$-?


This map is where the action is in the world today. Former National Security advisor for President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, spelled it out in his book The Grand Chess Board, when he wrote, "For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia... and America's global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained…. The primary interest is to gain geostrategic depth through political influence in Afghanistan…and to benefit eventually from any pipeline construction linking Central Asia with the Arabian Sea."

Brzezinski also states in the book that the US will have to maintain a massive military presence in the region for a long time that will be extremely expensive. Brzezinski says that the American people are unlikely to appreciate such an expense and sustained military occupation unless a "Pearl Harbor like incident" happens that will galvanize their support. Brzezinski's book was published in 1998.

It should be remembered that Brzezinski was a chief foreign policy adviser to President Obama during his recent presidential campaign. Brzezinski first met Obama when he was a student at Columbia University in 1981 and helped nurture his career ever since.

If you click on the map, and enlarge it, find Afghanistan and Pakistan. Just north of those two countries is oil rich Turkmenistan bordering the Caspian Sea. The reason for much of the global conflict today is over who will control the pipeline routes from that resource laden Caspian Sea region.

If the Caspian Sea resources were moved westward to Europe they'd have to go through Iran or Russia. Or pipelines could head due east into China which is a huge energy market. The US-British oil corporations don't want those countries to get a piece of the action.

Thus control of Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US-British corporate oligarchy would allow resources from Turkmenistan to head directly south to the Arabian Sea where it could be then loaded onto tankers and shipped to fuel-hungry countries.

The US, telling the American people it's all about securing democracy and defeating the Taliban, is using our tax dollars and the lives of our young soldiers, to make a power grab in the region - essentially bypassing those who live there like Iran or Russia.

Russia has the world’s largest deposits of natural gas and significant supplies of oil. The US has recently built military bases in Romania and Bulgaria and will soon be adding more in Albania. NATO has been expanding eastward into Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, right on Russia’s border. Georgia and the Ukraine are next on the list to become members of what is quickly becoming a global NATO military alliance.

The NATO Treaty’s Article 5 is quite clear that if one NATO member country is attacked, it is the responsibility, the obligation, of all NATO members to join in defense of that country. That means that if Georgia, which the US is now vigorously promoting for full membership in the alliance, got into another hot conflict with neighboring Russia, NATO would be called upon to go to war with Russia.

Since fossil fuels are a declining resource and global demand for energy is dramatically growing, this region will be even more in danger of eruption into shooting wars in the coming years. Get to know it intimately. Your hard earned tax dollars, and maybe your children or grandchildren, will be flowing into this part of the world for some time to come.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Watch out for the promises from Flash.......


Pentagon Looks to Use Drones For Missile Defense

The United States' top missile-defense official said Tuesday that within two years the military could deploy drone aircraft to monitor ballistic missiles shortly after launch, Aviation Week reported (see GSN, June 18, 2007).

By studying the missile in its early stage of flight, the drones could provide data that would allow the incoming weapon to be destroyed, said Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the Missile Defense Agency.

The agency illustrated this advantage in April when it used a MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle to "observe" a target. Its sensor technology, which has drawn fire from some critics for being too narrowly focused, appears to be particularly effective for stalking launch sites and studying missiles as they begin their trajectories, so long as the drones are told where to look.
The Reaper's electro-optical/infrared sensor "has proven to be extremely accurate and extremely sensitive," O'Reilly said. "So, there is very little modification we see that will be necessary to the [drones] themselves."

He added: "It gives you a great capability from hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away to be able to view a missile launch and actually track it and provide data to our shooters to intercept."
The Reaper is one of several projects aimed at monitoring enemy missiles just after launch (Amy Butler, Aviation Week, July 15).

Thursday, July 16, 2009


* I am starting to get packed for my trip. Because I am an organizer I always start by making my list of things to take, begin setting things aside, and even getting my clothes ready to be put into my bag. The only big decision is two bags or three? Dragging three bags around for a month is not something that I am excited about so I think I will go easy on myself and just take two. My back will appreciate it.

* We've had a string of just wonderful Maine weather during recent days. Sunny, in the 70's, with a cool breeze blowing. The smell of grass and the bounty of flowers all over. I've been walking everyday lately through town, down to the river, and then up heartbreak hill that leads back to our house. I've got to build stamina for this journey.

* Friend Peter Woodruff and I did our radio show last night at Bowdoin College. He just returned from a holiday trip to Quebec and while he was there he bought some French-separatist music from the province, so we played it on the air. Nice tunes.

* While I am gone Peter and Mary Beth will be going to Woodstock, New York to speak at an economic conversion conference being planned there by a longtime Global Network member who lives in that community. Apparently a military corporation has opened up a production plant in Woodstock so the peace community has quickly responded with a conversion campaign. The signs of a militarized economy and culture are popping up all around us. Peter works at Bath Iron Works (BIW) where the Aegis destroyers are made and has been a leading voice in Maine for the idea of building wind turbines at BIW.

* It's mid-season break time for baseball so the Orioles have four days off. They are holding steady in last place, just in case you were wondering. So I've had to be creative in the evenings this week not having a game to watch via the computer.

* I've got Skype set up on my computer now so I can talk over the Internet. Yesterday I had a nice chat with our GN chairperson Dave Webb in the UK. It's free and other than him looking various shades of blue on the screen it worked well. I promise though that I will never Twitter....don't even like the sound of it.

* I've learned that while in Korea I will visit one of the six Korean reunification activists who was recently jailed under the "National Security Law". This particular woman was on the organizing committee that hosted our space organizing conference there last April. You might recall that we gathered hundreds of signatures in support of the six who were arrested. I will be sure to write about them more in the future. Their trials begin on July 17. See story here

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


UAV preparing for flight in Afghanistan
This photo is of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) pilot likely sitting inside a trailer in Nevada, New Mexico, or Arizona where they "fly" these drones that are firing missiles at folks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are linked to the the UAV's by military satellites. Often times it is innocent civilians that are killed.

We've learned that Maine's Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, John Richardson, is trying to get the closing Brunswick Naval Air Station (set to shut down in 2011) to be turned into the Brunswick Unmanned Flight Center. At presentations before the redevelopment agency it's been stated that the drones would take off from Brunswick and would be flying up and down the Maine coast peering at boats and people for "homeland security" reasons.

Yesterday our local group PeaceWorks had a letter to the editor in the paper that was signed by a bunch of us alerting the community to the possibility of this UAV training base. Then today we got a call from the statewide public radio station wanting more information so things are coming out into the open a bit.

The folks who are promoting this have asked our Congresswoman to get them $12,750,000 so they could do a feasibility study. So there are some serious hands stirring this stew.

It is now up to the peace community in our state to create awareness about this plan and to build opposition against this crazy idea while there is still time.

We must insist that our local community does not become a training base for the maddening US war in Central Asia. It just goes to show once again that the industrial base the government is trying to build in the US is primarily to make weapons for endless war. We've got to keep pushing back hard against this drift to militarization of our culture.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Illinois State Sen. Obama in 2003, back when he supported single-payer healthcare. Note in the video he says first the Democrats must take back the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House then single-payer can be done.

Somewhere between 2003 and 2008 Obama changed his mind. Guess why?


I am very aware that some might not like all the videos I've been putting on my blog in recent months. I've not really had any complaints, one person though did tell me that they miss me not writing as much. So I'm trying to strike a balance. But some of these videos, in their images, can tell more than I ever could with words.

Take for example the one here today from Afghanistan. It's a story about the US bombing one of their own bases rather than losing it to the Taliban who had driven them from the outpost. There is remarkable imagery in the short video, the mountains, the river, the people forlornly watching as US military choppers zoom by one after the other. The man sitting on the ground serving tea to the US soldier.

One thing that grabbed me was the US Lieutenant pointing to the nearby mountains and saying, "This is Indian country." It's a revealing statement. The US cavalry's job was to exterminate the Indians. Their slogan was "A good Indian is a dead Indian." A Native American would likely warn the people of Afghanistan, "Watch out, they are coming to steal your land."

We don't know enough about the war in Afghanistan, and know very little about the people. These folks have experienced endless war for the last 30-some years and some day the US will be forced to leave the same way the former Soviet Union's huge military was - with their tail between their legs. But how many will die in the meantime? How much more national debt will be piled up here in the US paying for this bad war?

In Maine the peace movement is trying to get meetings with our two Democratic Congress persons and our two Republican Senators to talk about Afghanistan. So far they are all stone-walling. There will be a statewide meeting here at the Addams-Melman House on August 1 to deepen our organizing on Afghanistan. The meeting will follow a protest at the next "Christening" of another Navy Aegis destroyer at Bath Iron Works.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I went to the world premiere of the new film called "Tapped" yesterday in Waterville, Maine. The packed house cheered like crazy as the film ended. Many people featured in the film were in attendance as Maine's "water wars" are a vital part of the story in the documentary.

This is a must watch film. It tells the story about corporations like Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi trying to grab up the water resources around the world for their control and profit. The film clearly lays out the deadly connections between the manufacturing of plastic bottles and the people who live near these chemical production plants suffering from cancers and other deadly ailments. The scenes about plastic bottles leaching chemicals into the drinking water inside them is chilling. But most troubling of all is the horrific story about the disposal of plastic bottles that end up in the world's oceans for generations to come and that are now killing marine life.

This excellent film clearly reveals how effective the bottled water industry has been at making their product appear to be "pure" and "natural" and "safe" as a way to get the public to fear water from their own public drinking systems. But as we are all now learning, quite often the bottled war comes from the same sources that our tap water flows from.

They handed out stainless steel water bottles to everyone who attended the film opening yesterday. We've all got to become users of these reusable bottles and teach people about the negative consequences of buying plastic bottled water.

If you love your children, if you love this planet, then you will boycott plastic. You must get ahold of this excellent film and show it in your community. The future generations depend on you doing so.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


A sadly compelling short report on the near total decline of Detroit.....a ghost town in the making.


I watched this interview in full this morning. It is a fascinating inside view of how the health insurance corporations ensure that there is no challenge to their profit making business.

This former high-level executive from Cigna has quit his job and is now blowing the whistle on the ways the insurance industry intimidates, lies, and bribes their way into the halls of Congress to block any reform.

The bit above is just a teaser, see the full Bill Moyers interview here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


* No, this is not a photo from Hiroshima, it is from Afghanistan. The "good" war.

Today's Washington Post carries an article saying that Gen. Stanley McChrysal, Obama's new top commander in Afghanistan, wants even more troops. That's on top of Obama's recent surge of 21,000 soldiers which will bring the US total to 68,000. And don't forget to add in all the NATO troops now there as well....and some number of corporate mercenaries that we are paying for too.....

I got an email from a friend in California this morning who quoted a friend of his who is now in Afghanistan as a member of an international fact-finding commission. His friend wrote:

What we are seeing in Afghanistan is horrific. What I feel are the most egregious humanitarian sins involve the displacement of entire communities. There is a certain resignation to the deaths that occur in times of warfare, but when an entire social network disappears overnight, a network that took generations of cherishing to build, hone and develop, one has to ask what the eff we are doing? The net effect is little less than what happened during the Armenian and Nazi holocausts of the last century, but I doubt I would be permitted to say so explicitly in my reporting, given that Petraeus and Holbrook will almost certainly see it before it becomes public. To me the tragedy of Afghanistan is less about deaths under bombing than it is about destruction of a society.

* Early this morning I drove an hour northwest to Winthrop, Maine to join Veterans for Peace member Tom Sturtevant in speaking to his local peace group about our recent trip to South Korea for the Global Network annual space organizing conference. The Winthrop-Wayne People for Peace had a strawberry breakfast at a local church (it's strawberry season in Maine). Tom is a retired school teacher and was in the Navy during the Korean War. He worked on the flight deck of aircraft carriers just off the Korean coast and witnessed a never ending bombing campaign that destroyed virtually every building in North Korea during that war. His heart still suffers today from the experience. He is a genuine top-notch peace worker.

* I am reading a book now called "Unbroken Spirits" by Suh Sung, a Korean activist who lives in Japan and spent nineteen years in South Korean jails from 1971-1990. Suh Sung came to our Global Network conference last April and gave me the book and I've just now had a chance to read it. It is a remarkable story of a courageous man who survived endless physical torture and mental abuse as a penalty for just wanting to see his country reunified. He recounts how the South Korean government and security forces were led by Koreans who had collaborated with the fascist Japanese occupation of their country. Suh Sung today lives in Kyoto, Japan where he teaches and I hope to be able to see him when I visit there at the end of this month.

Friday, July 10, 2009


See the Italian police in action as they beat back protesters in Vicenza on July 4. These activists don't want an expanded US military base in their community and have adopted the Obama slogan - Yes we can!

Suddenly, those protesting for their democratic rights of self determination, are not so noble (or useful) to US officials when the source of their consternation is the US military empire.

Say No to the global war machine. Convert it to peaceful and sustainable production.


Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan wars tell their stories. They need to be heard.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


So while we fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan the US has also put "Taliban light" into power in the Afghanistan government. The peace movement must begin to understand more about the layers of deception now underway in US policy in this part of the world.

I remain convinced that the war in Afghanistan has virtually nothing to do with the Taliban or democracy. It should be remembered that the Taliban where brought to Texas to meet with UnoCal oil executives a couple years before 9-11 happened. They were basically told: Let us build pipelines through Afghanistan and we will provide you with a carpet of gold, if you don't allow us to do this you will get instead a carpet of bombs. They turned the deal down and 9-11 happens and we begin bombing Afghanistan and eight years later Obama expands the war. After Afghanistan was invaded, a new leader was put up: Hamid Karzai. He was former adviser to UnoCal.

Some years ago I went to the Congressional Record web site and found testimony of oil executives pleading with Congress to help put a more compliant government into Afghanistan that would work with the oil corporations. "A commercial corridor, a 'new' Silk Road, can link the Central Asia supply with the demand -- once again making Central Asia the crossroads between Europe and Asia," UnoCal told Congress.

Acclaimed British journalist George Monbiot wrote in 2001 about Afghanistan:

Afghanistan has some oil and gas of its own, but not enough to qualify as a major strategic concern. Its northern neighbours, by contrast, contain reserves which could be critical to future global supply. In 1998, Dick Cheney, now US vice-president but then chief executive of a major oil services company, remarked, “I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian.” But the oil and gas there is worthless until it is moved. The only route which makes both political and economic sense is through Afghanistan.

Transporting all the Caspian basin’s fossil fuel through Russia or Azerbaijan would greatly enhance Russia’s political and economic control over the Central Asian Republics, which is precisely what the West has spent ten years trying to prevent. Piping it through Iran would enrich a regime which the US has been seeking to isolate. Sending it the long way round through China, quite aside from the strategic considerations, would be prohibitively expensive. But pipelines through Afghanistan would allow the US both to pursue its aim of “diversifying energy supply” and to penetrate the world’s most lucrative markets. Growth in European oil consumption is slow and competition is intense. In South Asia, by contrast, demand is booming and competitors are scarce. Pumping oil south and selling it in Pakistan and India, in other words, is far more profitable than pumping it west and selling it in Europe.

As the author Ahmed Rashid has documented, the US oil company Unocal has been seeking since 1995 to build oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and into Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea. The company’s scheme required a single administration in Afghanistan, which would guarantee safe passage for its goods.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Joe Biden is the man who went to Georgia, immediately after their hot war last summer with Russia, to pledge the US's unyielding loyalty to them. This was even before he became Obama's pick for VP.

Biden has always been a hard-liner and this kind of talk about not objecting to Israel bombing Iran is just beyond dangerous. I ask this simple question: What is the difference between Biden giving this green light to bomb Iran and John McCain famously singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"?


* It's still raining outside. In truth we had three fairly lovely days in a row so I can't complain too much. The garden appreciated the sunny interlude.

The entrance to our driveway has partially washed out though and I had to order some gravel today to fill it in. We had two more cords of wood delivered yesterday, for next year, so it will just sit in a big pile until next spring when I will stack it. It's not cheap living in this world.

* I've finished my speeches for Japan after four solid weeks of work on them. Several friends gave good advice and I did about four drafts before the final versions. The schedule for the trip is filling up with stops planned for Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukuoka, and Seoul, South Korea. I will be in Japan for three weeks and Korea for one week. Should be a wonderful trip.

* The reviews from the Obama-Medvedev summit are still coming in and virtually all are saying the same thing - a disappointment with no serious disarmament planned.

* Tonight I drive south for an appearance on a public access cable TV program called Out in Left Field produced by my friend Richard Rhames. Richard is a vegetable farmer in Biddeford and a long-time activist in Maine and one of my favorite people in the state. He is a real character who tells it just like he sees it with no frosting on top of the cake. He is always fun to be around, even when we are discussing the most depressing subjects. He's got a fine intellect and an even better sense of humor - that real dry Maine variety. Richard runs the camera and two wonderful guys, Tom Kircher and Matt Hight, do the interviewing and always make it a special experience. These guys get the best out of me and I love them all.

* I'll miss our weekly radio show tonight at the Bowdoin College station that I co-host with friend Peter Woodruff. The show is called TRUE - Truth Radio Underground Experience and we do it every Wednesday night from 6-8 pm (EST). I'll be back on next week with Peter but will then miss a month of shows due to my upcoming trip. We play political music and talk about what is in the news. You can listen to the show via the Internet by clicking here and then hitting the yellow button at the top.

* I take the call to "create our own media" seriously. I also have my regular cable TV show which is now in the sixth year of production. You can see past shows by clicking on the TV just below on this page. I try to do a new show twice a month but sometimes that is not possible with all the traveling. I've just scheduled another edition of the show, called This Issue, for July 20 and will interview Lisa Savage from CodePink in Maine. We are going to talk about Afghanistan war organizing in our state. Lisa has taken leadership of our efforts to get the peace movement working together across the state on Afghanistan and she is doing a great job.

* The cartoons above are by another CodePink friend, Anne Gibbons from New York City. She is very good and I love how she regularly weaves good politics into her syndicated cartoon. There are some good voices being heard out there!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Last night I turned on CBS TV news to see what they were saying about the Obama-Medvedev summit on reducing nuclear weapons. The first ten-minutes of the show was about the coming funeral and memorial service for Michael Jackson and the legions of people who tried to get tickets to the memorial that will be held inside a basketball arena.

Finally the story came and went about the nuclear negotiations. Not much to it.

The current START-1 treaty between the US and Russia expires on December 5. Obama and Medvedev agreed in principal to cut deployed nuclear warheads from current levels to somewhere around 1,500-1,675 each. Still more than enough to bounce the rubble after a nuclear exchange.

According to an analysis piece posted by the Reuters news agency, the cuts announced on Monday only take the US and Russia 25 operationally deployed warheads below a range of 1,700-2,200, which both sides had previously committed to reach by 2012.

So modest is indeed the watch word here to describe this new deal.

Both sides are still working out what exactly constitutes a nuclear weapon and the whole "missile defense" ghost still remains in the room. The two leaders were also unable to resolve the contentious issue over reductions in missile launchers and bombers.

The Washington Post reported that "The Russian military is worried that the launchers and bombers could be used to quickly rebuild the US nuclear arsenal and would pose a threat to Russian forces even if armed with non-nuclear warheads [the prompt global strike system that the Pentagon has been talking about lately]."

I listened to the whole news conference yesterday that Obama and Medvedev held to outline their agreements. In the end this deal does not show the world that the US and Russia have made a serious commitment to get rid of their nuclear weapons thus setting an example for others to follow. If they think that states like Iran, India, Pakistan, Israel, or North Korea are going to be moved to shut down their nuclear programs, while the US and Russia maintain 1,500 or more nuclear warheads then they are indeed wrong.

There doesn't appear to be an understanding on either side that "Global Zero" does not mean a couple thousand nukes.

Sadly the military industrial complex in both countries still can't bear to give up their nuclear security blanket. They will though likely continue to press others to do what they are so far unwilling to do - and that is to honor the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which calls on all nuclear powers to disarm now.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Bob Anderson from Albuquerque, NM sent me this story this morning. So the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) are not only being flown from Nevada but New Mexico as well.

There is talk of trying to establish a UAV test range here in Brunswick, Maine when the Naval air station closes down next year.

This drone killing machine is the Pentagon's answer to escalating war costs and difficulty with recruiting.

Britain's newspaper, The Independent, has an article today that begins:

The use of unmanned drones as weapons of war in conflicts around the world has been called into question by one of Britain's most senior judges. Lord Bingham, until last year the senior law lord, said that some weapons were so "cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance".

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Latest report from Cynthia McKinney and others who were put in jail by Israel for trying to bring humitarian aid into the demolished Gaza strip.


Here we are preparing to start yesterday's parade in Bath.

It was a joy and we all were still talking about the experience last night.

It's pretty empowering when you consider the impact you can have in front of 10,000 people if you just put in some effort to be creative and coordinate your message.

The reports from people behind the puppet, who were holding signs, is that people in the crowd were saying, "Yeah, we want to build wind turbines in Bath."

Six years of talking about conversion is beginning to turn the ship.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


* We were in our town's July 4 parade today walking behind the local PeaceWorks group banner. The parade drew a huge crowd (about 10,000) from all over as people love to come to Bath for the festivities that follow the parade each year. Our signs heavily featured the conversion of the military industrial complex to peaceful and sustainable technology development issue. Build wind turbines and rail in Bath instead of destroyers.....things like that. We had a huge puppet that took three of us to carry which was a smash hit. I held up one of the long arms and kept waving it to the crowd. People would say, "Wow." I've got to find a photo of it for the blog. Afterwards many of us went out to the home of a local peace group member, who lives along an estuary that feeds into the ocean, for a picnic. It's a beautiful spot.

* Last night we had a strong thunder and lightening storm for the second night in a row. Since moving to Maine over six years ago I can only recall a handful of such storms. They were routine when we lived in Florida. In June we had more rain in Maine than ever before recorded. Climate change has sent our Mother Earth into convulsions.

* The political world this morning is all a-buzz with Sarah Palin's announcement that she is leaving her job as governor of Alaska. She will now likely run for president so we can all get used to daily news stories about her travels around the US to begin drumming up support for her campaign. We are going to have to live with this for the next three years so hang onto your hats.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Thursday, July 02, 2009


This phone call is from former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney from inside prison in Israel after the humanitarian aid boat called the "Spirit of Humanity" was captured while in international waters by Israel. The 21 people on-board, including McKinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, were trying to bring a shipment of humanitarian supplies to the besieged territory of Gaza.

Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip has continued unabated for over two years and badly needed reconstruction aid has been prevented from entering the Strip after the 22-day war on Gaza this past winter. Recently, President Obama called for humanitarian supplies to be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip and a number of members of Congress have traveled to the Strip and remarked on the dire circumstances facing the impoverished civilian population.

So far the White House and Congress has been silent about this Israeli abduction of the 21 peace and humanitarian activists. The mainstream media in the US is ignoring the story.

You can send a message to Obama and to your Congressional delegation about this situation by going this this web site.

Please send a message now.


NASA is preparing to bomb the moon. That's right, bomb the moon from space.

On June 18 NASA launched the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) from Cape Canaveral in Florida on its journey to the moon.

When the space craft arrives near the moon it will fire a missile, at twice the speed of a bullet, from the spacecraft into the moon's surface. NASA maintains that the "test" will displace several miles of lunar material in order to find out if water is present on the moon's surface.

NASA will then have the $511 million mission's mother satellite circle the moon for at least a year creating a detailed map of the moon's surface. NASA says the new maps will be crucial for identifying possible landing sites for astronauts in future years as permanent bases are built on the moon for the eventual mining of helium-3. Scientists have long suggested that helium-3 could be used for fusion power back here on Earth and would make the profits of the oil industries pale in comparison.

NASA has publicly maintained in recent years that all of their space missions are now "dual use" - meaning that each mission they launch is both civilian and military at the same time. Thus one must consider that this LCROSS moon bombing mission is likely testing the capability of Pentagon technologies to launch missiles from space that could hit targets on Earth.

As the US and Russia enter negotiations to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons in their stockpiles I can assure you that Russia will be thinking about this LCROSS test. They know that the US is developing "first-strike" capability from space and from Earth. Add "missile defense" into the equation, which would give the US the shield after the first-strike sword has been thrust, and one can see that these new technologies will only "complicate" hopes for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


President Obama will be meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on July 6-8 in Moscow in hopes to "reset" relations between the two nations. One primary goal will be to explore negotiations for reduction of nuclear missiles.

Reuters reports, "Both leaders see further arms cuts as a key to maintaining global strategic stability. However, Moscow views U.S. plans to create an anti-missile system and deploy elements in Eastern Europe as a threat to its security... Medvedev has expressed hopes Obama will be less committed to the missile defence plan than Bush. Russian media have quoted U.S. officials as rejecting any linkage between the new arms deal and the missile defence."

The Chinese will be watching this summit closely as they too are deeply concerned about US "missile defense" systems being deployed near their borders in Japan, South Korea and on Naval ships just off their coast.

The new American military strategy of surrounding Russia (via NATO) and China will be put to a test in these new negotiations.

The US and Russia do recognize the need, and want to reduce, nuclear weapons because they are getting "out of control." Both leaders also realize they must take the lead if they hope to have others put down their nukes. Nukes are a huge waste of resources that both countries would rather be spending on other conventional military technologies - like space technology.

But at the same time Russia (and China) understand that if they reduce their nukes without the US backing off on "missile defense" deployments in their neighborhoods, then the US gains strategic first-strike advantage. They are very reluctant to give up their retaliatory nuclear capability under those circumstances.

The 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev nuclear negotiations broke down because of US insistence on Star Wars. The same thing happened when Clinton-Putin had similar negotiations and reached a similar impasse.

This will be a huge reality check for the global peace movement as we find out just how far Obama is willing to go when it comes to reaching his proposed "global zero."

News Flash:
For an early sign of how these meetings will go check out this CBS News story that indicates the US is likely to tell Russia that it is not going to compromise on deployment of "missile defense" systems in Europe or on NATO expansion. See it here