Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

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

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Princeton professor Cornel West talks race, class, foreign policy, the global recession, and the current political pressure that is being put upon Barack Obama.


This guy is the new Joe McCarthy (1950's anti-commie, red-baiter) on steroids - and with a huge megaphone provided by Fox News.

His strategy - put the left on the defensive and running for cover. Demonize the ideas of social justice and peace. As the economy worsens and people cast about for answers Beck wants to ensure that they don't pay the slightest bit of attention to the left due to his campaign of demonizing "progressives".....he is working on a preemptive strategy.

Most interesting of all is the Beck has just discovered the Beatles!

His mistake - he is taking everything away from his listeners - their music, their church, social progress - pretty soon people will have to abandon him because they will begin to see that he is much too doctrinaire for their blood.

His ego is getting way out of control.

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Friday, March 12, 2010


March 24 - April 1
Bethel to Kennebunk, Maine

Walk Route Maps: We now have detailed walk route maps for each day of the Maine portion of the Walk for a Nuclear Free Future and conversion to a peaceful economy. If you let me know which days you want I will send them to you right away. Just email me at

The walk enters Maine on March 24 in Bethel and exits the state on April 1 from Kennebunk heading south to New York City. (See below for more details). A few of the days will require some shuttling ahead because of the distance between start and finish places.

See the walk web site at

Walkers: It's going to be an interesting walk. Maggie Finch, 89 years old from Bath, is planning to do the entire Maine portion of the walk. We've heard from people all along the route in addition to folks from Lubec, Blue Hill, Farmington and beyond. The Mayor of Lewiston, Laurent F. Gilbert, wants to meet with the walk when it comes to his city on March 25 and a town councilor Debbie Atwood in Brunswick will walk with us on March 27. Biddeford Mayor Joanne Twomey will welcome the walk to her city on March 31.

If you are planning to walk, even for just one day, please let us know in advance so organizers can have a better idea what to plan for.

What to bring: If you are planning to be on the walk more than one day we recommend bringing sleeping bag, water bottle, rain poncho, and day pack with you. Your gear will be stowed in a vehicle but you might want to carry a small pack with water bottle, rain gear, etc during walking hours.

Daily Schedule: The daily walk schedule will be as follows: 6-6:30 am optional prayer time; Breakfast; Walk begins at 8:30 am; Rest breaks every three miles (which takes about an hour); Lunch usually around 12:30; and Pot Luck suppers each night by host church at 6:00 pm. with programs to follow.

Blister Van: A seven passenger van will trail the walk and pick up anyone who needs a break.

Contact During Walk: I plan on being on the walk during the whole week in Maine. I will have limited email access but will have my cell phone with me. My cell number is 904-501-4494.

Car Shuttling: We urge people who join the walk to have someone drop them off and pick them up. Car pooling is also encouraged. But for those cars that we do have on the walk we will shuttle the vehicles ahead to the evening stop early each day and then use the van to return all drivers back to the walk.

Food: All of our suppers and most breakfasts will be provided to us by our hosts in each community. Some of our lunches will also be provided by local hosts. On a few days the walk organizers will provide lunch of sandwiches, fruit, etc....If you have special food needs you might consider bringing a few items with you.

Can't Walk But Wanna Help: Even if you can't walk there is much that needs to be done to make it a great walk. You could contact the local hosts listed below and help with food; help alert local media in your area about the walk; spread word to students about the walk; make a donation to the walk; provide home hospitality to walkers when they are in your community; and think about coming to New York City for the May 1-2 international conference and disarmament rally around the UN's NPT Review Conference. We want everyone to be involved in this life changing experience.

Detailed Walk Schedule:

- Bethel to Norway on March 24 (Supper and program at UU Church at 6:00 pm - Tom Whitney local contact)

- Norway to Lewiston on March 25 (Supper and program at Trinity Episcopal Church at 6:00 pm - Fr. Steve Crowson local contact)

- Lewiston to Bath on March 26 (Supper and program at UCC church at 6:00 pm - Bill Bliss local contact)

- Bath to Brunswick on March 27 (Supper and program at UU church at 6:00 pm - Selma Sternlieb local contact)

- Brunswick to Freeport on March 28 (Supper and program First Parish Congregational Church at 6:00 pm - Bob Lezer local contact)

- Freeport to Portland on March 29 (Supper and program Meg Perry Center at 6:00 pm - Wells Staley Mays local contact)

- Day off in Portland on March 30

- Portland to Saco on March 31 (Supper and program UCC church at 6:00 pm - Tom/Jane Kircher local contacts)

- Saco to Kennebunk on April 1 (Hana Maris local contact)

Please let me know if you have any questions that are not covered above.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


The House of Representatives voted yesterday to deny the resolution put forward by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) that called for Obama to bring the troops home from Afghanistan. The vote was 356 against the resolution, 65 in favor, with nine not voting.

It was clearly a vote that showed that there is one key issue in Washington where the Republicans and Democrats largely agree and that is on endless war. Out of the 356 votes to shoot down the resolution 189 of them were Democrats and 167 were Republican. Only five Republicans voted in favor of the Kucinich resolution.

I watched most of the three-hour debate via C-SPAN and it was quite interesting to see that the two leaders on the House floor managing the anti-Kucinich resolution effort were liberal Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and right-wing Cuban-American Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Miami, Florida.

Our two representatives from Maine (Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree) both voted to support the Kucinich resolution. Very good. Now we have to see if they vote against the next war funding supplemental of $33 billion expected to come up late next month and will they become leaders in the House to help bring others in their party around on this issue? It's nice to have their support on this resolution but by looking at the vote totals it is clear that unless the Democratic Party comes around on this issue soon we will have no $$$ back home for jobs, education, health care, bridge and road repair and a whole lot more!

Some of the language from those who spoke during yesterday's debate was of particular note. Rep. Berman called the recent U.S. attacks on the rural hamlet of Marjah in Afghanistan a great success, calling it a "city" and justified the surge in Afghanistan as revenge against "those who attacked us on 9-11".

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said we can't "pull out now" or we'd lose face around the world. This debate, she claimed, will "demoralize our troops."

Several Democrats expressed disappointment and outrage that the Kucinich resolution was even allowed to come to the House floor. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said House members "should not be allowed to waste three hours of our time on a resolution that should fail." Rep. Janet Harmon (D-CA) also spoke against the resolution and made the case that "We now have a better strategy from our president." Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) also called for defeat of the Kucinich resolution and said, "NATO is becoming a global military alliance that will help us fund and supply troops [for our wars] around the world."

Kucinich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) responded saying that this was really the first time since the war on Afghanistan began that the House was allowed to really debate the war.

Not one person I heard, including Rep. Kucinich, mentioned a mumbling word about oil/natural gas pipeline routes through Afghanistan and Pakistan. (I have since learned that Kucinich did in fact talk briefly about the pipeline routes. Good news)

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) called it "despicable" that only two members of the media were covering the debate. When I looked on the web site of the Washington Post I could find nothing about the Kucinich resolution.

As I said above five Republicans voted with Kucinich on his resolution. John Duncan (R-TN) said, "There is nothing conservative about the war in Afghanistan. Fiscal conservatives should be horrified about the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been wasted over there."

Former civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) made an emotional appeal for support for the anti-war resolution and asked the question, "How much more debt must we bear?"

Immediately after Lewis spoke, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) came to the podium. I recognized Johnson because he was the business community candidate put up to run against former Rep. Cynthia McKinney for her seat. Johnson called the resolution an "usurpation of the power of the Commander in Chief....our policy is bringing promising results....the resolution is ill-timed and ill-conceived....let the president implement his strategy." His corporate funders in Atlanta were likely pleased that their investment in his House seat was already paying dividends.

We must thank Rep. Kucinich but in the end the whole three-hour affair really showed just how bankrupt the Congress really is.

Here is the full list of those who voted in favor of the Kucinich resolution to bring our troops (and war $$) home from Afghanistan.

---- YEAS 65 ---

Campbell (Republican)
Davis (IL)
Duncan (Republican)
Edwards (MD)
Frank (MA)
Hastings (FL)
Jackson (IL)
Jackson Lee (TX)
Johnson (IL) (Republican)
Johnson, E. B.
Jones (Republican)
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Lewis (GA)
Markey (MA)
Michaud (Maine)
Miller, George
Nadler (NY)
Neal (MA)
Paul (Republican)
Pingree (Maine)
Polis (CO)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta

---- NOT VOTING 9 ---

Barrett (SC)
Davis (AL)
Deal (GA)
Diaz-Balart, L.
Wasserman Schultz
Young (FL)

Prediction: When the vote comes in late April on the next $33 billion war supplemental I would bet my bottom dollar that half those on the Democrat party list above will turn around and vote for the money. That vote will be the true test of who is for real on this issue.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Very interesting interview with former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura about his new book American Conspiracies.

Ventura tells some interesting stories here like the time just prior to the start of the Iraq war when MSNBC hired him with a three-year contract to do a show but then once they realized he was against the war they cut the show and payed him for the three-year period but he was not allowed to talk about it.

One of the more incredible stories was right after he got elected governor of Minnesota. The CIA called him and wanted to meet with him and find out how he got elected as an independent.

Worth a listen.


Pentagon is picking battles they can easily win in order to create the impression back here at home that all is going well in Afghanistan. Why would they do that?

Simple reason is because they are not planning to ever come home and they want the taxpayers to "feel good" about the war....picking up on yesterday's post about mental colonization....they are getting inside our heads.

The independent thinker thus wants to know when someone is running a game on them. Get it?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


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From Episode Two of the film series “The Century of the Self” by Adam Curtis. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays started his business life as a publicist. While still in his twenties, he was part of the propaganda effort that drove the United States into in World War I.

He personally advised several U.S. presidents starting with Woodrow Wilson and counseled numerous corporations and business associations. Hitler’s propaganda chief and Nazi henchman Joseph Goebbels was a reader and fan of Bernay’s writing in particular Bernay’s book “Crystalizing Public Opinion.”

In this short excerpt from Curtis’s film we see one example of Bernays at work.

Bernays was one of the engineers of the Cold War. He perfected the technique of manufacturing a distant but ever-threatening enemy and then creating a constant state of fear by generating false news reports that endlessly re-stated and exagerated the threat.

The stated purpose of Bernay’s methods was to give those in power greater control over what he called “the mass mind.” It worked well in the 1950s and sadly, it appears to be working quite well today… but maybe not forever.


In previous posts I have written about U.S. efforts to deploy the Patriot (PAC-3) missile defense systems in Japan and South Korea as part of the encirclement of China.

Poland has announced that they intend to allow similar U.S. deployment of PAC-3 interceptor missiles, and a contingent of American troops to operate them, in their country by April. In addition SM-3 interceptors, now only deployed on-board U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers, will also be sent to Poland. They will be stationed just 35 miles from the Russian border. Imagine if Russia was deploying similar systems in Canada or Mexico. Would you not call this a provocation?

The U.S. still claims they are to protect from non-existent nuclear missiles from far-away Iran but the truth is the PAC-3 systems will be aimed at Russian nuclear missiles.

UPI reports, "A revised plan by the current U.S. administration includes the deployment of a new anti-missile system in Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic in 2015. But last month Romania announced that it, too, would be the site of 20 missile interceptors and Bulgaria has expressed interest in hosting a base."

In addition the U.S. is using its NATO military arm to step-up war games aimed at Russia. In the coming weeks NATO warplanes will conduct exercises in the Baltic Sea region over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. All three nations border Russia's mainland or its Kaliningrad territory.

What message is the U.S. and NATO sending Russia?

Indian journalist M K Bhadrakumar has written that NATO's post-Cold War drive to the east began in the Balkans and has proceeded inexorably to the Black Sea, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan. It has also turned the Baltic Sea into a U.S. and Alliance lake, with Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden within the Western military phalanx - all have troops in Afghanistan under NATO command - and Russia is essentially surrounded.

Russia is being encircled because they have the world's largest supply of natural gas and because they insist on being part of the process that determines how Caspian Sea oil and natural gas are delivered via pipelines in their backyard. The U.S. though has its own agenda, largely written by the American and British oil corporations who ultimately direct U.S. foreign policy decision-making these days.

In response Russia is expanding their offensive military capability. They are also likely to pull back at some level from the nuclear weapons reduction talks with Obama. How could it be in their interest to reduce their retaliatory capability at a time when the U.S. surrounding them with so-called missile defense systems? We know that missile defense is actually an arm of the U.S. first-strike system - the shield to be used after the first-strike sword has been fired.

These aggressive moves by the Obama administration are consistent with the Bush imperial program of U.S. and NATO global military expansion to control the declining resources around the world. Sadly there are still some in the "peace movement" who give Obama a pass for doing the very same things, that just a couple of years ago, they vehemently criticized Bush for doing.

Monday, March 08, 2010



It has been raining on and off for more than a month in the Gangjeong village. Still the lights in the tents have never been put out in the nights. About 4-5 people in shifts make vigil every day and night. The tents are just off from the site for the planned ceremony for the naval base construction.

Flags cover the tent site. “We death-defiantly oppose the naval base!”

The Navy set up the board depicting how the naval base would be fantastic site for tourists with all the luxurious cruises, flowers and photo-taking tourists. “It’s just nonsensical. If the military base is set-up, who can freely take the pictures of the base? The Navy is insisting the logic that persuades nobody,” villagers say.

By Sung-Hee Choi
Inchon, South Korea

Why it was important to visit the village and hear the villagers’ voice itself? – "Navy’s media manipulation’ should be watched," the villagers say.

It has constantly been raining in the Gangjeong village for more than a month, except for the few hours off, each day. When I went to the village in the late night of March 5, it was such a raining night, too. Since the police raid on Jan. 18, the villagers have set up the tents and have been doing the tent vigils just near the site of the planned ceremony for the naval base.

A few South Korean newspapers have written that the tension had been high since Jan. 18. According to some articles, it was Feb. 24 that the joint chief of the Navy visited the current governor and Gangjeong village. According to another article, on the very same day, Kim Tae-Young, the Minister of the National Defense Department was announcing in Seoul that the Department wanted to have the ceremony for the naval base construction in March.

Furthermore, an article said that "according to the Navy, the land compensation for the planned area has been done by 51% while compensation for the fishing industry has been done by 80%."

I had to see myself what were really going on in Gangjeong and listen to the villagers who will now sit in the middle of a dangerous chess game as the U.S. makes a move to checkmate Russia and China in the region, by the naval base plan that the villagers have opposed for more than three years.

Have the villagers given up the struggle? To say conclusion first, the answer was clearly ‘no’. The villagers have never given up their struggle. Their will has seldom been changed. Furthermore, I found during this visit, that they have the confidence in their struggle to win.
It should be all Koreans’ concern that the planned Jeju naval base issue is not only the Island matter but also the matter that tests all South Koreans’ awareness and morality against the U.S. domination strategy to make the North East Asia as dangerous war base against China and Russia, for the interest of a few arms sales corporations.

What the villagers want is their voice to be heard despite Navy’s manipulation of the public opinion.

Even though the tent was not so cold inside as imagined, one can easily imagine all the inconvenience the villagers have had to endure and the desperate spirit that they are going through.

About 4-5 five men sleep in that inconvenient tent every night. They simply call it “Watchful situation” before the highest conflict with the Navy is foreseen in coming soon.

But to my interpretation of the news articles on the Navy plan and progress of land and fishing compensation, the villagers’ response was in a word - ‘a laugh’.

“The Navy and Defense Department are trying to make the naval base construction as if it is an established fact. They are manipulating the public opinion and most media is uncritically supporting them repeating only their words with half-truth. We need the press that really reflects our voice.”

A villager, Mr. Kim who was proud of 400 years history of the village naturally formed and was among the 23 villagers who started the struggle three years ago emphasized that.

“The Navy is simply attempting to enforce the construction, ignoring all the rational and persuasive procedures. They know they cannot but lose in the lawsuits that we have appealed. Regarding the lawsuits, it is almost likely we win. The Navy can hardly repel that. You know what? The lawyers of the Navy showed that they wanted to delay the trial because they, themselves know that they cannot win the trial. That is why they are anxious and trying to manipulate through the press as if all the preparations for the naval base construction are going well.”

“Why the Navy and police raided us in the dawn when there was little press on January 18? They did that because they did not want our voice to be heard.”

“They say it is a civilian-military complex beauty harbor for tourism. The Navy says that if the base is constructed in the Jeju, it would help the villagers with economic benefit of $5,000 each whenever a cruises come in the harbor. But I remember when Kang Chang-Soo, the high Navy officer was saying about the naval base plan years ago, he was not mentioning about cruise AT ALL. Further, the soil of Gangjeong is the best all over the Jeju Island. Gangjeong, as its name, Gang (means river) and Jeong (means water) implies, it is the blessed watery land. You will get water anywhere in Gangjeong. You can never find such land around this area. In the 1960-70s, Gangjeong was famous for the rich rice harvest until the crops were replaced mostly to tangerine. The area where the Navy wants to come in with the base has been once the rice fields that have once fed all the Island people. Whatever crops you raise here, whether it is, rice, garlic or tangerine, you would get the best harvest. Then why we have to give up this best farming land for the sake of naval base whose economic benefit is already clear to be treacherous.”

(His account of why the villagers cannot but oppose the naval base, in light of economic point of view, remind me the Pyeongtaek where the best rice fields in South Korea were forcefully taken away for the base expansion of the U.S. Forces in Korea in 2007, despite people’s strong opposition against it.)

“Look, even though the Navy says about 50 % of the land was compensated, it is exaggeration and lie. You should know why I emphasize the fact that the Gangjeong is the naturally formed village for 400 hundred years. Did you see any apartments in Gangjeong? No, unlike most villages, there is no apartment here. That is one aspect of what the naturally formed village is about. By rule, you cannot sell the land more than 5% inside the naturally formed land. You should know that the Navy bought most of it from the outsiders of the Gangjeong village, who had owned the lands in the village."

He also said that even though the Navy says in the media that 80% of fishing industry has been compensated, as he knows, no compensation has practically been done. Each of the sea diving women have not gotten money yet because of the complicated distributing issue.

In conclusion, most Gangjeong villagers who have opposed the base from the beginning with the 680 opposition ballots among 700 participants in the general village meeting on August 10, 2007, have still remained true to their original faith and the Navy has not been able to either show the responsible plan nor succeed to get peoples’ hearts.

What makes people angry is the institutional violence under the name of “national policies” that says the nation cannot consider villagers’ opinion such as the vote mentioned above because it is the ‘national policy'.

Yes. Their opinions are not only totally ignored but manipulated as opposite. That is what makes the villagers mad about it and here is the point that the people should really pay attention to.

How the Villagers see the prospect of the Struggle.

The mayor (Kang dong Kyun) whom I met on March 6 was confident that the villagers would have the high possibility to win all the lawsuits that they have appealed including the administrative lawsuit, last April 2009, in which they appealed against the Minister of the National Defense Department for the cancellation of the approval on the national defense/ military facility business realization plan. The procedures that the Navy claims to have gotten through and approved have been done in reality in the illegal and snatched way, totally nonsensical, supported by state power that totally ignore people’s opinion. The Navy knows it themselves and knows that it will lose in the lawsuits, the villagers say.

And the Island governing election is coming on June 2. The Jeju media is covered with all the election issues and the candidates in the opposition parties who know that the naval base issue would be the hot potato have been even saying that they would review all the plans on the naval base from the beginning despite the fact that one of them was mentioning simply to change the site of the base to Hwasoon that was the original candidate site but withdrawn because of people’s fierce struggle for five years there (another betrayal then!).

However, if the Navy still enforces the plan of the base in Gangjeong, then the villagers cannot but fight, at the risk of physical conflict, the mayor said in grave voice.

The mayor was foreseeing the Navy may want to have the ceremony around mid-April, not necessarily related to the lawsuit trial dates and results.

“What we can expect is if the construction begins, the Navy would want to avoid all the conflicts. They would make the police be in front of the struggle, instead of itself. Then, the right-wing thugs in the area will be employed, too, making the situation easily imaginable of dangerous violence against the villagers.”

Yes. It would be the frightening situation, then. The small village of about 600 households with 2,000 residents might turn into the tragically dangerous site. It was one of the reasons that the villagers could not lose their tension. And it may be one of the reasons why more people need to go to Gangjeong, to find the ways to support them.

One of the things I found in the village situation was that more cultural activists are needed in Gangjeong. Currently a movie critic has lived in the tent for more than six months in the cold and windy Joongduk coast. And there are two cartoonists who have done most of the cultural activities, there. But the village needs more artists to go there, to record, and to make their cultural activism to support the tent vigil and other activities.

The Gangjeong village people have fought hard. As a villager said, if the Navy base is set up, all the Jeju Island will be the military base, far different from the Island of Peace.

The South Korea and U.S. are making one of the biggest annual war exercises against North Korea, all over the area of South Korea. They are called "Key Resolve" from March 8-18 and the "Foal Eagle" from March 3 to April 30.

Thes military war games go against the current of negotiating the Peace Treaty in which the talks on the non-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula should be done at the same time. The US-SK alliance, and US-SK-Japan war alliance, whose first three party military exercise would be done this April, seems to be anxious to anchor in the Jeju Island with this naval base construction plan.

As a villager said, there is no need to set up the base in Jeju if it is against the North Korea. South Korea has already many naval base in Busan, Jinhae, etc.

The base is really against China and will be surely used by the United States, the villagers clearly say. It would be then my and our responsibility to share the struggle with the villagers against the naval base so that the Jeju Island remains as the true Island of Peace, not as the island of war base.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Protesting Youth Chant: “Arrest [Governor Martin] O’Malley!”

On Thursday morning, March 4, 2010, a spirited protest action was held in front of the “Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center,” on north Gay Street, not far from the City Hall, in Baltimore. The demonstrators demanded “$100 million [in Maryland’s state budget] be converted from youth jails to youth jobs and education,” according to their press release. Students, teachers and community activists joined in the social justice action. About 13 of the activists made their way into the lobby of the building, where they engaged in a civil disobedience-like protest. For any updates, go to Bail Out People Movement.

Lately we have been seeing black young people from coast to coast protesting the realities of cutbacks in education and job programs. They understand that the society is abandoning them and that they must begin to speak out for themselves.

History shows that when the black community comes alive that all other movements in the U.S. pick up steam. The patience in the black community is wearing thin. They expected more from Obama but appear to be the last ones on his list.


We took a neighbor girl to see the new Alice in Wonderland film yesterday. During the previews of coming attractions I noted that all of them, promoted as kids movies, had virtually identical themes. Dark stories of good vs evil with weapons and much violence.

Alice in Wonderland, a Walt Disney Production, was just more of the same, with swords and conflict between good vs evil and much dark violence.

I couldn't help but think of the Pentagon mantra that America's role under corporate globalization will be "security export". And when it has been decided by the oligarchy that endless war for resource control is to be our job does it not make sense that the future generations must be prepared for that reality? The kids are getting the message - this is all you can be......

Thus even stories like Alice in Wonderland seem to be turned into epics about total devastation by the evil queen who must be stopped by the young noble lass with her special sword.

It's more corporate mind colonization as far as I am concerned.

Below is a short bit by a rare Republican Congressman (Ron Paul) who is willing to raise some of these kind of questions. He is interrupting the dominant narrative. Shouldn't we all do more of the same?