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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


By Chris Hedges

The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.

“We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.

The unraveling of America mirrors the unraveling of Yugoslavia. The Balkan war was not caused by ancient ethnic hatreds. It was caused by the economic collapse of Yugoslavia. The petty criminals and goons who took power harnessed the anger and despair of the unemployed and the desperate. They singled out convenient scapegoats from ethnic Croats to Muslims to Albanians to Gypsies. They set in motion movements that unleashed a feeding frenzy leading to war and self-immolation. There is little difference between the ludicrous would-be poet Radovan Karadzic, who was a figure of ridicule in Sarajevo before the war, and the moronic Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. There is little difference between the Oath Keepers and the Serbian militias. We can laugh at these people, but they are not the fools. We are.

The longer we appeal to the Democrats, who are servants of corporate interests, the more stupid and ineffectual we become. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe the country is in decline, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and they are right. Only 25 percent of those polled said the government can be trusted to protect the interests of the American people. If we do not embrace this outrage and distrust as our own it will be expressed through a terrifying right-wing backlash.

“It is time for us to stop talking about right and left,” McKinney told me. “The old political paradigm that serves the interests of the people who put us in this predicament will not be the paradigm that gets us out of this. I am a child of the South. Janet Napolitano tells me I need to be afraid of people who are labeled white supremacists but I was raised around white supremacists. I am not afraid of white supremacists. I am concerned about my own government. The Patriot Act did not come from the white supremacists, it came from the White House and Congress. Citizens United did not come from white supremacists, it came from the Supreme Court. Our problem is a problem of governance. I am willing to reach across traditional barriers that have been skillfully constructed by people who benefit from the way the system is organized.”

We are bound to a party that has betrayed every principle we claim to espouse, from universal health care to an end to our permanent war economy, to a demand for quality and affordable public education, to a concern for the jobs of the working class. And the hatred expressed within right-wing movements for the college-educated elite, who created or at least did nothing to halt the financial debacle, is not misplaced. Our educated elite, wallowing in self-righteousness, wasted its time in the boutique activism of political correctness as tens of millions of workers lost their jobs. The shouting of racist and bigoted words at black and gay members of Congress, the spitting on a black member of the House, the tossing of bricks through the windows of legislators’ offices, are part of the language of rebellion. It is as much a revolt against the educated elite as it is against the government. The blame lies with us. We created the monster.

When someone like Palin posts a map with cross hairs on the districts of Democrats, when she says “Don’t Retreat, Instead—RELOAD!” there are desperate people cleaning their weapons who listen. When Christian fascists stand in the pulpits of megachurches and denounce Barack Obama as the Antichrist, there are messianic believers who listen. When a Republican lawmaker shouts “baby killer” at Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, there are violent extremists who see the mission of saving the unborn as a sacred duty. They have little left to lose. We made sure of that. And the violence they inflict is an expression of the violence they endure.

These movements are not yet full-blown fascist movements. They do not openly call for the extermination of ethnic or religious groups. They do not openly advocate violence. But, as I was told by Fritz Stern, a scholar of fascism who has written about the origins of Nazism, “In Germany there was a yearning for fascism before fascism was invented.” It is the yearning that we now see, and it is dangerous. If we do not immediately reincorporate the unemployed and the poor back into the economy, giving them jobs and relief from crippling debt, then the nascent racism and violence that are leaping up around the edges of American society will become a full-blown conflagration.

Left unchecked, the hatred for radical Islam will transform itself into a hatred for Muslims. The hatred for undocumented workers will become a hatred for Mexicans and Central Americans. The hatred for those not defined by this largely white movement as American patriots will become a hatred for African-Americans. The hatred for liberals will morph into a hatred for all democratic institutions, from universities to government agencies to the press. Our continued impotence and cowardice, our refusal to articulate this anger and stand up in open defiance to the Democrats and the Republicans, will see us swept aside for an age of terror and blood.



Walk arrives in Freeport
From Brunswick to Freeport, Maggie Finch (third person) walking more than half way each day

Bath to Brunswick

Today I have a day off from the peace walk. I think we all needed it, my feet had become so sore that when I stopped walking I got stiff within minutes and could barely move. We walked six days in a row from Bethel to Portland and pick it up again in the morning when we move from Portland to Saco. From there we finish in Kennebunk and the walk will continue without us Mainers south to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

There is so much to write about. The walking community, usually about 10-15 at a time, swells and shrinks each day as people come and go. On Saturday we had 35 walk from Bath to Brunswick and we got kicked out of a gas station parking lot by the state police after the owner of the station complained about us taking a rest break there. He didn't like our politics.

On Sunday, Brunswick to Freeport, we had about 20 folks and needed a place to take a break from the cold. One of our folks stopped at a country bed and breakfast Inn and knocked on the door and asked if we could rest there. They said yes and a 10-year old girl lives there who had a peace sign on her t-shirt. She asked her mother if she could walk with us and her mom ended up joining as well so they both walked more than five miles to our final destination that day.

Yesterday we walked 17 miles through a hard rain and wind to Portland. We were down to about 13 folks. By the time we got to Portland I was soaked from my waist to the insides of my shoes. Once we got to the pot luck supper I took off my socks and had to wring the water out of them.

I write this while laying in bed with my laptop on my knees. I feel like staying in bed all day.

I'm not complaining though. It is such a great experience and the people are wonderful. And the human connections we are making along the way are just very magical.

Maggie Finch, 89 years old next week, keeps telling everyone that all along the way the dogs are showing their support for the walk. She says they keep barking and pulling on their chains in order to try to join with us. Maggie is walking more than half of the mileage each day. And we all have fallen totally in love with her. She read two of her poems the other night at our pot luck supper in Brunswick. One of them, written just after the bombing of Hiroshima, has a line about the dragon with its fire lighting the way to hell.

While walking in that rain yesterday I got a call on my cell phone from John Richardson who is a candidate for governor in Maine. He is a Democrat and the former Speaker of the House in the state legislature. He is one of many in a crowded field of candidates competing for the Democratic party nomination.

In Maine we have public financing of elections so candidates are required to secure $5 donations from some number of citizens (I am not sure how many but something like 1,000 or so) in order to "qualify" for the state campaign funds.

So anyway, Richardson calls me and asks for a $5 donation. I told him I am not a Democrat and don't support the party because they won't demand that their president stop these wars. He told me I don't have to be a Dem in order to give him $5, plus he insisted that I remember that in 2003 he was one of those in the Maine legislature that voted in favor of a resolution opposing the war.

I responded by saying that was great in 2003, but that was when the Republican Bush was in power, and we are now in 2010 and the Democrats are not willing to speak out against their own president who is expanding wars.

Richardson was working real hard to convince me to send him $5 (I figured he must be pretty desperate to call me in the first place - I had to fight hard just to get a word in during the phone call....)

I finally told him, look I am out here walking in the rain, my feet hurt and my shoes are wet, and I am trying to stop these wars and want our war $$ home. I'll tell you this, I told him, let me hear you on TV or the radio or read a quote from you in the newspaper calling on Obama to end these wars and bring our war $$ home. Once I hear such a statement from you I will be happy to send you $5. That was the end of the conversation.

I doubt I will ever have to write the check. I'll let you know if I do.

In the meantime, I notice Obama has gone to Afghanistan to pump up the war. My guess is that he is trying to take the "goodwill" he is feeling inside his party after passage of the corporate health care bill and wants to translate that into more support for the soon to be requested $33 billion war spending supplemental. I note that Obama trotted out the Bush talking points of 9-11 to justify the continuation of the Afghanistan war. He also wore the leather bomber jacket Bush always wore in similar situations. Why would anyone believe any of this?

The other thing in the news has been the agreement between Russia and Obama to cut nuclear weapons to about 1,500 each. The Russians wanted to add an agreement on "missile defense" systems but the U.S. refused. It is always good to reduce nukes by any amount but this agreement obviously fails to achieve the demands of the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that calls on all nuclear powers to get rid of all their nukes if they expect other nations like Iran or North Korea not to build any.

So the hypocrisy continues and that is why in the morning I will drag my tired feet back out onto the road to continue in the Walk for a Nuclear-Free Future.


Message from peace activists in Vicenza, Italy who have long been protesting the expansion of U.S. military base in their community. The base will be used to give the Pentagon greater ability to intervene in the African continent.

"Good afternoon, from a sunny Vicenza.

Here is the latest news with the work done today to clear the riverbank from the recent fence built by the constructors of the base, without any permission from the Local Authorities.

The workers of the 'Independent Municipality No Dal Molin' have brought a state of free transit on the public land by the river."

Saturday, March 27, 2010


A French documentary about the right-wing Christian fundamentalists who are preparing to wage war on behalf of Jesus.

The difference between these folks and the Taliban? Not much as I see it. Where I come from they call this brainwashing.

Watch it and tell me what you think.

Friday, March 26, 2010


We arrived in Bath tonight after a 19 mile day from Lewiston. Very cold and windy but dry. Yesterday (Norway to Lewiston) was warm and sunny the entire day. The weather is bouncing back and forth from one extreme to the other. Our first day (Bethel to Norway in the photos above) was snow the first half of the day.

Not only did we experience the weather fluctuations but we also got a good look at rural and urban Maine the last three days. The roads are falling apart, there are legions of people without work, and many of the homes and buildings along the way are in disrepair. The cost of paying for war is hitting home.

Each day we've had different people come and go from the walk but we've maintained a steady group of about 15 throughout. Maggie Finch, our oldest walker who turns 89 next week, is doing very well and is a joy to have along with us.

Folks in Norway turned out in big numbers and gave us a feast the first night. Last night we stayed at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Lewiston and the mayor, Laurent Gilbert, joined us for supper after spending one and a half hours meeting with our group of walkers at City Hall. I'll write more another time about some of the great stories he told us. He is a member of Mayors for Peace.

Today fellow Maine Veterans for Peace member Doug Rawlings, who teaches at University of Maine-Farmington, brought eight of his students and they spent the day with us. They walked the whole way and helped carry the banners and really helped make it a special day for all of us.

Because it was so cold we needed a place to eat our lunch inside so we asked an Italian restaurant in Lisbon called Graziano's if we could sit in-doors. They were so nice to us that we ordered a bunch of pizzas rather than eat our leftover food and when we were leaving our waitress come outside with her coat on and told us she asked the owner of the restaurant if it was OK if she walked with us for awhile. He told her go ahead so she walked for three-miles and then we had our blister van drive her back to work. She said she wants to walk with us on Monday as well.

These walks are special like that - magical things just keep happening. One of the walkers said tonight at supper that an energy flows out of the walk and gets inside people along the way. I think he is exactly right. These walks are more spiritual than most peace "marches" and create a different dynamic.

We have a brunch at our house in the morning and then we will join the weekly Lenten peace vigil at Bath Iron Works where the Aegis destroyers are built. Then we'll walk on to Brunswick with a stop along the way at the Naval Air Station that is closing next year. We want to send some good vibes toward the base in hopes of ensuring that the "redevelopment" process does not turn it into a drone flight test center.

My knee is holding up very well, one of my ankles hurts and is stiff as a board, I need a bath very badly and am going to go sit and soak in the tub.

I'm having a great time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Activists draw attention to nuclear disarmament treaty
Lewiston Sun Journal
March 25, 2010

NORWAY — Hoping their long trek will help raise support and awareness for nuclear disarmament, a group of peace activists made their way from Bethel to Norway on Wednesday.

The walk, which is put on by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order of Leverett, Mass., aims to arrive in New York City on the eve of a United Nations session on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its next stop will be the Trinity Episcopal Church in Lewiston, where a supper and program will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday.

“This walk is about how to get people in New England to join us in the march for nuclear disarmament,” said Tim Bullock, coordinator of the walk and a member of the Nipponzan Myohoji order.

Sister Claire Carter, a Buddhist nun with the order since 1981, said the order was founded in 1917 by Japanese monk Nichidatsu Fujii. While it has always had a strong focus on peace, it began to target nuclear weapons after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The “Walk For a Nuclear-Free Future” aims to promote the goal of ridding the world of such armaments.

“Nuclear weapons are so horrific that it's unimaginable by anyone to use one, yet there are over 23,000 in existence,” Carter said.

She said organizers hope to inspire some residents in the communities the walk passes through to make the trip to New York City, where an international conference on nuclear disarmament will begin April 30. Three days later, the United Nations is scheduled to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

First established in 1970, the goal of the agreement is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the world. It has been signed by about 190 nations, including the United States and four other nuclear powers. The United Nations has held a review conference of the treaty every five years.

Carter said the Nipponzan Myohoji also hopes to eliminate the use of nuclear technology as well as stockpiles of nuclear weapons. She said nuclear technology presents several problems, such as the disposal of radioactive waste and the use of depleted uranium in conventional weapons.

“We believe the whole nuclear cycle should be put to rest, because there's just too much danger in it,” she said.

The walkers have made significant progress in their six days on the road, assisted in some places by vehicle shuttles. The walk began in Burlington, Vt., and progressed across that state and New Hampshire before entering Maine. Along the way, participants have met U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Danish Ambassador Friis Arne Petersen, and three Burmese monks living in exile.

Wednesday saw a late-season snowfall, but marchers did not find the weather an issue. Bullock said the snow proved more agreeable than Tuesday's rain, and spirits were further buoyed by scenic views along the way.

“Actually, it was quite pleasant,” he said. “We felt yesterday it was rougher.”

Some of the participants are no strangers to long walks. Carter took part in a trek retracing a portion of the transatlantic slave trade that included the United States, the Caribbean, and western Africa. It lasted more than a year.

Maggie Finch, an 86-year-old Bath resident, said she thought that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have convinced the world to move in the direction of peace, but that they seemed to have the opposite effect. She said she took part in a peace march aiming to make it across the country in 1986, but she and most of the other activists had to drop out after some key sponsors pulled out. She intends to stay with the march throughout the Maine stops.

“I always had the feeling of unfinished business, and I think that's probably why I'm here now,” Finch said.

The route is one of three walks initiated by the Nipponzan Myohoji order that will converge on New York City. Another walk began in Steamburg, N.Y., with the route passing a nuclear waste disposal site in Springville, a nuclear power plant in Highland Falls, and several Indian nations. The third march began at Oak Ridge, Tenn., where a research laboratory was instrumental in the creation of an atomic bomb during World War II. Bullock said a fourth walk, organized by the Washington Peace Center, will also go to New York City from the nation's capital.

The Bethel-to-Norway leg of the journey was capped by a supper and service at the First Universalist Church of Norway. Along with chants and music, participants discussed the walk and other efforts they are involved in. Bruce Gagnon, a coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, said federal money spent on the military could be put to better use addressing domestic needs.

“Unless we deal with military spending in America, there will be no recovery in America,” he said.

MY COMMENT: Lucky to find a computer this morning at the church. Fifteen of us walked yesterday about 13 miles from Bethel to Norway. Today on to Lewiston. Nice coverage in the local paper as we walk into their community. Great potluck here last night attended by about 60 folks who brought great food. During first half of the day we walked through snow yesterday, with mountains in the distance, and Brother Kato (in photo above) says these walks are about unraveling the tight knot of militarism. Very well said. Slept on the floor last night, not the most comfortable bed in the world but did sleep well considering. Our oldest walker is 89 year old Maggie Finch, also lives in Bath, who is a poet, good spirit, and a strong walker.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Proposed Navy base on Jeju Island - note the Aegis destroyers that are outfitted with "missile defense" systems
Jeju is the island inside the red circle above. To the left is mainland China. To the right is Japan. China imports 80% of its oil along the seaway beside Jeju Island. The U.S. Navy obviously relishes the idea of one more Navy base in the region that would enable it to choke off China's importation of oil thus giving the U.S. the "keys" to China's economic engine. You can see that this Navy base will dramatically widen already dangerous tensions in the region.

Since my earlier email this morning asking people to call the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC I've already heard from two different people who both told me the person they spoke to at the embassy said it was the U.S. Navy that wants the base.

One of our supporters emailed me the following message after her call to the embassy:

I just spoke with the aide to the attaché at the Korean Embassy (202-939-5600) and she asked that we contact the U.S. Navy to complain. She understood our motivation is to support the resistance of the people on Jeju but she said "you have to talk to your government because they are the ones who want to do this." She asked me to relay this message to others.

This is very important information and confirms the worst suspicions of many of us that the U.S. has been pushing the South Korean government to build the Navy base on Jeju Island in order for the U.S. Navy to deploy Aegis destroyers at the base. But we never had confirmation of that theory until now!

We need to keep calling the South Korean Embassy and tell them not to do what the U.S. Pentagon tells them. South Korea is a sovereign nation and should not allow the U.S. to push them into building a provocative Navy base on what is known as the "Peace Island".

This proposed Navy base, and other U.S. military deployments in the Asian-Pacific region, will contribute to a new and wider arms race in that part of the world. We must act now to do all we can to create a global call to stop this dangerous military escalation.

So if you have not yet called or emailed please do so right away. Call the South Korean Embassy at 202-939-5692 (Admiral Choi) or 202-939-5600 or email at

And please be sure to let me know if they tell you anything else about the U.S. pressuring South Korea to build this Navy base. This information will be vitally important to the villagers on Jeju Island as they can now alert their media and inform them that this base is indeed going to be a key part of the aggressive U.S. military strategy to surround and provoke China.

Our next steps will be to organize pressure on the U.S. government. But first let's continue building pressure on South Korea - especially now that we see them giving us vital information as a result of your calls!

Thanks for your help.


The latest word from Jeju Island in South Korea is that things are coming to a head very soon. The photos above and video below is from a sudden protest that was organized on March 20 when the Gangjeong villagers learned that the South Korean Minister of Defense was going to come to the village for an "inspection".

The villagers turned out with their yellow flags that say "We Death Defiantly Oppose the Naval Base!” It appears that the Defense Minister, Kim Tae-Young, did not stay long.

Apparently later that same day the Defense Minister met with five representatives from the village including the Mayor Kang Dong-Kyun. A transcript of some of the meeting has been released by the village committee against the base. Here are some bits from the meeting:

Mayor Kang told the Defense Minister Kim, "So-called national business can make both the nation and villagers cooperate and co-live only when it makes both healthy. The site selection process of changing the site from Hwasoon and Weeme to Gangjeong was a problem. Kim Tae-Hwan, the Jeju Island governor and the Island Congress, who said that they would not drive for [the naval base] without villagers’ agreement, have just driven for it. By the result of the villagers own vote, 94% were against the drive for the naval base."

Defense Minister Kim, listened but requested that the people "not point out the problems of the past but to think with an open mind, of the future of Gangjeon, Jeju, and the nation."

Minister Kim emphasized the importance of the naval base construction, saying, "The naval base construction would be a big help for the defense of the southern area of the Jeju Island" and claimed that the "Naval base is different from the general factories that contaminate the environment. If it is constructed, it would help the economic development of the Jeju."

[This statement by Minister Kim that the navy base would protect the southern area of the nation is very interesting. When you study a map you find Japan on one side of Jeju and China on the other. The fact that Aegis destroyers, outfitted with "missile defense" systems would be deployed at this proposed navy base indicate that China is the target.]

Kim also said that, "I think, in the case of Hawaii, the naval base has given much help for the Hawaii development."

The two hour meeting did nothing to reassure the Gangjeong villagers. The villagers lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in Seoul on March 25 and rumors abound that the Navy will make an attempt to quickly hold their ground-breaking ceremony that same day while some of the village leaders are off the island attending the court hearing on the mainland.

Just days ago an activist in Maine told me she had called the South Korean embassy in Washington DC to complain about the proposed Navy base on Jeju Island. The activist was told that many people have been calling to protest the base. It would be helpful if you would call as well. The phone is 202-939-5692 (Admiral Choi) or email at

Remind the South Korean embassy that Jeju Island is now called the Island of Peace and that building a navy base that will be used to help the U.S. militarily encircle China will create a new arms race and increase instability in the Asian-Pacific region.

If you live outside the U.S. please call the South Korean embassy in your country and lodge a similar complaint.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: One of the folks on our email list said she called the phone number above at the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC and this is what she wrote back to me:

I just spoke with the aide to the attache at the Korean Embassy and she asked that we contact the U.S. Navy to complain. She understood our motivation is to support the resistance of the people on Jeju but she said "you have to talk to your government because they are the ones who want to do this." She asked me to relay this message to others.

This is a very important statement because I have long maintained that the South Korean Navy was only building this Navy base because the U.S. Navy wanted to use it as a homeport for Aegis destroyers that would allow them to be even closer to mainland China. This statement by the South Korean embassy staffer appears to give credence to that claim.

We need to keep calling the South Korean embassy and tell them not to do what the U.S. Pentagon tells them. South Korea is a sovereign nation and should not allow the U.S. to push them into building a provocative Navy base.


The Walk for a Nuclear Free Future and Conversion to a Peaceful Economy enters Maine early Wednesday morning in the town of Bethel at the New Hampshire border. Seven of us from Maine will join the walk at that time. We'll spend our first night at a church in Norway, Maine and then move on to Lewiston, Bath, Brunswick, Freeport, Portland, Saco, and Kennebunk. Each night at 6:00 pm a pot luck supper and program will be held to honor the walk and hear about its purpose.

Many others plan to join the walk as it passes through their community. In all the walk will be a wonderful experience for lots of Mainers.

I plan to do the whole walk through Maine so I will have limited access to my computer - basically no access except for the two nights we are in the Bath-Brunswick area and I will be sleeping in my own bed. So the posts here will be few and far between. I am looking at the walk as a bit of a vacation - I haven't had a real vacation in years. I hope my aging knees hold up.

This morning we got the call that a close friend passed away from cancer last night. Dennis Stanton, married to MB's best childhood friend, was a dear man who we loved to argue politics with when ever we visited with them. On our most recent visit, knowing he had terminal cancer, he told us that he had come to the conclusion that both political parties were corrupt and under the control of corporations. This was a big deal for him as prior to that he had usually vigorously defended the Democrats. I think Dennis began to think of his two children and the future they face. So as I walk each step during these coming days I want to carry Dennis in my heart. We will miss him very much.

During the walk I will also be carrying in my heart the images of the children in Iraq who are suffering from the exposure to depleted uranium. I will carry with me the cries of all those who are dieing and being wounded in these unnecessary wars my government is waging. I will be thinking of how all those wasted dollars could be used here at home and around the world to relieve the suffering from needless poverty and environmental degradation.

I will hope that those in the public who see us pass by might open their hearts just a tiny bit and think more about the waste that growing militarism is in our world today. I will hope that people can find the courage to speak out so that their own children might have a better future.

See you along the road my friends. Please wish us well.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Cancer – The Deadly Legacy of the Invasion of Iraq

By Jalal Ghazi

Forget about oil, occupation, terrorism or even Al Qaeda. The real hazard for Iraqis these days is cancer. Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq. Thousands of infants are being born with deformities. Doctors say they are struggling to cope with the rise of cancer and birth defects, especially in cities subjected to heavy American and British bombardment.

Here are a few examples. In Falluja, which was heavily bombarded by the US in 2004, as many as 25% of new- born infants have serious abnormalities, including congenital anomalies, brain tumors, and neural tube defects in the spinal cord.

The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009 according to Al Jazeera English.

In Basra there were 1,885 diagnosed cases of cancer in 2005. According to Dr. Jawad al Ali, director of the Oncology Center, the number increased to 2,302 in 2006 and 3,071 in 2007. Dr. Ali told Al Jazeera English that about 1,250-1,500 patients visit the Oncology Center every month now.

Not everyone is ready to draw a direct correlation between allied bombing of these areas and tumors, and the Pentagon has been skeptical of any attempts to link the two. But Iraqi doctors and some Western scholars say the massive quantities of depleted uranium used in U.S. and British bombs, and the sharp increase in cancer rates are not unconnected.

Dr. Ahmad Hardan, who served as a special scientific adviser to the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Iraqi Ministry of Health, says that there is scientific evidence linking depleted uranium to cancer and birth defects. He told Al Jazeera English, "Children with congenital anomalies are subjected to karyotyping and chromosomal studies with complete genetic back-grounding and clinical assessment. Family and obstetrical histories are taken too. These international studies have produced ample evidence to show that depleted uranium has disastrous consequences."

Iraqi doctors say cancer cases increased after both the 1991 war and the 2003 invasion.
Abdulhaq Al-Ani, author of “Uranium in Iraq” told Al Jazeera English that the incubation period for depleted uranium is five to six years, which is consistent with the spike in cancer rates in 1996-1997 and 2008-2009.

There are also similar patterns of birth defects among Iraqi and Afghan infants who were also born in areas that were subjected to depleted uranium bombardment.

Dr. Daud Miraki, director of the Afghan Depleted Uranium and Recovery Fund, told Al Jazeera English he found evidence of the effect of depleted uranium in infants in eastern and south- eastern Afghanistan. “Many children are born with no eyes, no limbs, or tumors protruding from their mouths and eyes,” said Dr. Miraki.

It’s not just Iraqis and Afghans. Babies born to American soldiers deployed in Iraq during the 1991 war are also showing similar defects. In 2000, Iraqi biologist Huda saleh Mahadi pointed out that the hands of deformed American infants were directly linked to their shoulders, a deformity seen in Iraqi infants.

Many US soldiers are now referring to Gulf War Syndrome #2 and alleging they have developed cancer because of exposure to depleted uranium in Iraq.

But soldiers can end their exposure to depleted uranium when their service in Iraq ends. Iraqi civilians have nowhere else to go. The water, soil and air in large areas of Iraq, including Baghdad, are contaminated with depleted uranium that has a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years.

Dr. Doug Rokke, former director of the U.S. Army’s Depleted Uranium Project during the first Gulf War, was in charge of a project of decontaminating American tanks. He told Al Jazeera English that “it took the U.S. Department of Defense in a multi-million dollar facility with trained physicists and engineers, three years to decontaminate the 24 tanks that I sent back to the U.S.”
And he added, “What can the average Iraqi do with thousands and thousands of trash and destroyed vehicles spread across the desert and other areas?”

According to Al Jazeera, the Pentagon used more than 300 tons of depleted uranium in 1991. In 2003, the United States used more than 1,000 tons.

The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group


Democracy Now speaks with acclaimed Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy on President Obama, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, India and Kashmir.

Roy also talks about her journey deep into the forests of central India to report on the Maoist insurgency that is fighting to hold onto their lands against the mining corporations and their government who wish to throw them out.


It would be an understatement if I said I was disappointed with Rep. Dennis Kucinich for caving in on the health insurance corporate give-away bill that passed last night. But I should not have been surprised.

Just days ago I posted a video on this blog where Kucinich called Obama's insurance corporation bailout bill weak and built on quicksand. But he has done this kind of thing before. Kucinich pulled an about face when he declared he would support Sen. John Kerry's presidential nomination in 2004. Then again this last year, after justly criticizing Obama endlessly during the primary campaigns, Kucinich supported him and urged his left-leaning anti-war and anti-corporate supporters to vote for the right-leaning party presidential nominee.

I've heard some say over the years that Kucinich eagerly plays the role of the guy whose job it is to corral the leftists and herd them into the party. He might not be doing that consciously but in effect that is just what is happening.

For me it is four times now that I've seen Kucinich pull such antics and as they say in baseball - four strikes and you are out.......I'm done with the guy.

In the end it is not so much that he joined the rest of his party in voting for the bill. After all he is a Democrat. It is more the way he wound us all up and we were hanging on his every fundamentally correct criticism of this corporate dream bill and then he gets us to the edge of the cliff and just gives us a shove and over we go. I'm just not going to follow him to the edge of the cliff anymore - I now get the picture.

I was reading some entries today on Facebook and one liberal woman was saying that if anyone wanted to criticize this Obama health insurance bill they should just "go away"....... it reminded me of the old right-wing mantra - "American love it or leave it".

I read a quote from another liberal yesterday talking about Obama's Afghanistan war and her comment was essentially this - "Obama didn't start this war and anyway our troops are over there now trying to help those people and we have to support the president." I almost fell out of my chair. But why do I still get surprised by such mindless drivel?

There are these kinds of people - Republican or Democrat - who are just intellectually lazy and they want to live in a nice tight little box where everything is easy and the world makes sense. As long as "their party" is in power they are quite content to follow the "leader" and they do their level best to swallow the pill handed to them. Put the "other party" back in power and suddenly their critical thinking seems to reawaken, but as soon as their party regains control their minds switch back to "operate only upon instruction."

It's all very sad. This is why I could never be a politician. I could not handle the sausage making process. This nonsense also makes it hard for me to feel like I could ever be a loyal party person of any kind. That kind of mindless "party first" thinking just doesn't sit well with me.

Thank goodness there are many of you out there who are also critical thinkers. In times like this we need each other more than ever.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Over 100 turned out in Bangor, Maine for a Community Teach-In that called to Bring Our War $$ Home
Mark Roman and Lisa Savage of Solon, Maine took our Maine campaign banner to the White House in Washington yesterday to deliver our message directly to Obama

This protest of 150 folks was held in Northampton, MA. yesterday. Good to see the war $$ message spreading

Mary Beth and I drove two hours north to Bangor yesterday where we participated in an afternoon long community Teach-In called Bring Our War $$ Home. The well attended event was organized by the Eastern Maine Peace & Justice Center.

The keynote speaker was Mariam Atifa Raquib, a woman of Afghanistan origins, who now coordinates a non-profit Reforestation Project based in Boston called Afghanistan Samsortya.

Mary Beth was a plenary panel speaker and did a fine job. Other speakers on the panel included a Gold Star mother from Bangor who lost her son in Iraq in 2005 just 10 days before he was to come home. A representative of U.S. Labor Against the War was the other panel speaker.

I facilitated a workshop that carried the same title as did the conference.

It was good to see that many protests were held throughout the country yesterday. We need more of them.

CNN coverage here

Below is one from Germany as well.

Friday, March 19, 2010


* Today marks the seventh anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. It should be called the "forgotten occupation". We now have "continuity of government" in Washington as the Obama-team has embraced the Bush war machine and successfully neutralized a significant part of the left. Obama has done what Bush could never dreamed of doing - expand the war in Afghanistan and quieted the anti-war fervor across the country. Whether it is war or corporate health care plans, Obama has shown that he works for the rich in this country. Normally the left fights those who champion the interests of the rich and powerful, but the magician in the White House has changed that. The Democrats have now become appendages of corporate power and significant segments of the "progressive" community have become apologists for Obama and their weak-willed party.

Jane Hamsher writes about all this on her blog at Fire Dog Lake, "Whatever Barack Obama wants to do will be the farthest left any piece of legislation gets, and if anyone should try to challenge from the left, the unions and the liberal organizations and party blogs would rise up to condemn them and whip them into line — even if it means completely reversing themselves and devolving into total incoherence. And they’ll be rewarded with carve-outs and corporate money and expensive advertising and personal sinecures for playing their role in facilitating the corporate cash pipeline. Because that’s the job of the ever-expanding veal pen: cover Obama’s left flank and shut down progressive opposition."

I would call it corruption - and spiritual decay.

* Some of us though remain obstinate and continue to make demands on the corporate Democrats who now run the country as Republican-lites. Just this past Wednesday 25 of us gathered in downtown Portland to hand out 400 leaflets for our Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home. We spread out to several busy lunch time street corners and held signs and talked with the public about endless war spending. Then we took letters up to the office of our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and told her staff that we are working hard across the state to organize the public to demand that she, and Maine's other member of Congress (Rep. Mike Michaud), become leaders in the House of Representatives against any more war funding. They both voted last December in favor of another $137 billion for Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan war funding as part of the 2010 Pentagon appropriation bill.

* Last night I was asked by the local group PeaceWorks to moderate a wind power forum that drew 125 people. Wind power has become a hugely controversial issue in Maine as big industrial corporations want to build wind farms on the tops of some of Maine's most spectacular mountains. Local folks are organizing in communities across the state to slow down the push to build these industrial wind farms that would export the energy via the grid to other New England states. Opponents of these big corporate wind farms instead suggest that we must let communities decide for themselves if they want to host wind turbines and allow them to benefit from the profits rather than have corporations take control of everything.

* I will be on two conference calls today. The first one is to help plan the International Conference for a Nuclear Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World that will be held in New York City on April 30-May 1 just prior to the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. Activists by the thousands will be coming from all over the world for the events. I, along with Global Network Chairperson Dave Webb from the UK, am coordinating one of the workshop tracks for the conference. We are being overwhelmed with requests for workshops.

The second conference call today will be of the national No Bases Campaign committee. Last year we organized a national conference in Washington DC and have not done much since. The call today is to try to reenergize the effort and I have suggested that we might consider holding an annual meeting in a different part of the country near a key U.S. military base as a way to highlight the particular role of that base and as a way to begin to broaden out the No Bases movement.


Yang Dong-Kyu, a filmmaker from Jeju Island, South Korea took this video last year.

It is on the soft coral reefs and creatures living under the Gangjeong sea where the Jeju naval base is planned to be set up. How on earth the Navy is attempting to build the naval base that would kill all these precious creatures?
For more info. Please see here.

2010 is the UN-designated bio-diversity year. It is totally wrong that the South Korean Navy and Jeju politicians are driving for the naval base that will be used for the U.S. missile defense system for her domination strategy in Asia, especially to control Chinese sea-lane for oil passage.

The South Korean government wants to start the naval base construction, at least within the first half year of 2010. If no action against it is done, as Bruce Gagnon said, Who will speak for the fish, who will speak for the coral, who will speak for the water, if the people don't do it?" And who will console the suffering of the people in Life and Peace Village, Gangjeong, if we don't fight with them?

Who will keep the Jeju Island as Island of Peace if we don't pay attention to all the strategy by the U.S. government and arms corporations who are now driving to swallow all the precious Islands of Jeju, Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii, Diego Garcia and many more, by building the bases despite the peoples fierce struggle and tremendous environmental damage on the earth?

- Sung-Hee Choi (Inchon, South Korea)

Thursday, March 18, 2010


My latest cable TV show with friend Richard Rhames who is a vegetable farmer in Biddeford, Maine and a long-time activist in the state.


For further study on this topic read "A Plague Upon Humanity: The Hidden History of Japan's Biological Warfare Program" by Daniel Barenblatt.

The book details how the U.S. imported Japanese biological warfare technologies and scientists into the country after the end of WW II and used their expertise to develop biological weapons that the Pentagon used during the Korean War.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


The U.S. imperial empire - bases, bases and more bases. Money, money and more money.

Control and domination.....extraction of declining supplies of oil and natural gas....resource rich African continent....the creation of Africa Command (AfriCom).....endless export as America's role under corporate technology coordinating all U.S. warfare.....your tax dollars at work.....shutting down social U.S. bases in Colombia right along the border of oil-rich Venezuela......NATO expansion surrounding natural gas-rich Russia......bases surrounding China......empire....empire....more empire....Democrats and Republicans together, working in harmony, to fund empire of bases.....Democrats and Republicans, working in harmony, together destroy social progress in America because we can't afford guns and butter anymore......

Imperial America.

Imperial Japan......fascist Germany.......blitzkrieg....invasion and occupation of other countries who had done nothing to provoke Japan or Germany......deja vu all over again

Good Germans....compliant Japanese......Americans busy with consumerism and distracted by TV......Americans look the other way...turn our heads....maybe it will all go away....maybe our imperial Army will just vanish and we won't have to react......if we react someone might think poorly of us....go along to get along.....Obama will fix it....that's life in America.

MLK told us our soul was dead.

He was right and we killed him.


Obama's ploy to hold a rally in Rep. Dennis Kucinich's home district in Cleveland, Ohio proved to be too much for the Congressman to stand. He flips his vote to yes on the corporate insurance health care bill after winding us all up about how the bill was no good.

In the end the "call from the party" trumps the truth and good government.

We citizens are left remembering that the only ones we can trust are each other out here in the grassroots. In the end the politicians do what they have to do to save their own seats. Re-election comes before anything else.

The only folks who are going to save us ...... is us.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010



I've had lots of responses to my post the other day about the Marines being used to clear out southwest Afghanistan. One friend here in Maine sent me the above map that was in a Canadian newspaper in 2008. This map lays out a similar pipeline route from Turkmenistan that would deliver natural gas through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and then into India.

The June, 2008 Globe and Mail story was entitled "Pipeline opens new front in Afghan war."

Here are a few tidbits from it:

"Afghanistan and three of its neighbouring countries have agreed to build a $7.6-billion (U.S.) pipeline that would deliver natural gas from Turkmenistan to energy-starved Pakistan and India – a project running right through the volatile Kandahar province – raising questions about what role Canadian Forces may play in defending the project.

"To prepare for proposed construction in 2010, the Afghan government has reportedly given assurances it will clear the route of land mines, and make the path free of Taliban influence.

"The so-called Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India [TAPI] pipeline has strong support from Washington because the U.S. government is eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran.

"Afghanistan's national government could reap $160-million (U.S.) a year in transit fees, an amount equivalent to half the government's current revenue.

"The pipeline proposal goes back to the 1990s, when the Taliban government held talks with California-based Unocal Corp. – and its U.S. government backer – while considering a competing bid by Argentina's Bridas Corp. Those U.S.-Taliban talks broke down in August, 2001. India, which desperately needs natural gas imports to fuel its growth, later joined the revived project."

So the picture gets clearer still. It is likely that the plan in the end would call for parallel pipelines carrying oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea region - one turning east into Pakistan and then India and the second continuing south into Pakistan and ending at ports along the Arabian Sea.

But everyone acknowledges now that the "success" of these proposals is conditioned on stabilizing Afghanistan - what the U.S. and Canadian governments call dealing with "security concerns."

One of the chief concerns of the U.S. and their NATO allies is certainly making sure that Iran does not succeed in their efforts to have the pipelines run through their country. So in a sense the U.S.-NATO war on Iran has already begun.


Monday, March 15, 2010


Went to see the new movie called Green Zone last night and I would highly recommend it. It is a good "Hollywood" story (starring Matt Damon) about the U.S. government's deception about the WMD's being in Iraq as justification for the attack and occupation that still continues to this day.

As I was coming out of the theater I tried to pick up what others were saying. One young woman was telling another that the film was "too political."

I won't give away the story line but do think it is an important film. Even though I know the WMD deception story I still came away feeling pretty angry about the whole thing.

While it is a war movie the violence is not gratuitous.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This is the U.S. Futenma Marine base on Okinawa, Japan. The people of Okinawa have been organizing for years to close U.S. bases there. Today Okinawa hosts about three dozen U.S. bases and 75% of American forces that are based in Japan which are spread out amongst 90 bases across the country.

Imagine living with these helicopters and planes flying virtually every day over your home - day and night.

There are almost 1,000 U.S. military bases around the world as part of the empire. People want them closed.

Think of the huge amount of funds that are wasted maintaining these imperial bases. What could we do with those funds back here at home?

Don't the people in all these places around the world have a right to be free of our military bases?


The Washington Post today introduces us to a controversy over Afghanistan war strategy. The Post reports that operations in Delaram (in the southwest) are "far from a strategic priority for senior officers at the international military headquarters in Kabul. One calls Delaram, a day's drive from the nearest city, 'the end of the Earth.' Another deems the area 'unrelated to our core mission' of defeating the Taliban by protecting Afghans in their cities and towns."

Why then are the Marines fighting in this part of the country?

The Post continues, "The Marines are constructing a vast base on the outskirts of town that will have two airstrips, an advanced combat hospital, a post office, a large convenience store and rows of housing trailers stretching as far as the eye can see. By this summer, more than 3,000 Marines -- one-tenth of the additional troops authorized by President Obama in December -- will be based here."

Again the Post adds, "They [some officials] question whether a large operation that began last month to flush the Taliban out of Marja, a poor farming community in central Helmand, is the best use of Marine resources. Although it has unfolded with fewer than expected casualties and helped to generate a perception of momentum in the U.S.-led military campaign, the mission probably will tie up two Marine battalions and hundreds of Afghan security forces until the summer."

And finally the Post reports, "Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the top Marine commander in Afghanistan now wants Marine units to push through miles of uninhabited desert to establish control of a crossing point for insurgents, drugs and weapons on the border with Pakistan. And he wants to use the new base in Delaram to mount more operations in Nimruz, a part of far southwestern Afghanistan deemed so unimportant that it is one of the only provinces where there is no U.S. or NATO reconstruction team."

When you check the maps above a clearer picture emerges. The bottom map is the proposed pipeline route to move Caspian Sea oil through Turkmenistan into Afghanistan and then finally through Pakistan to ports along the Arabian Sea where U.S. and British tankers would gorge themselves with the black gold.

The whole reason the U.S. is in Afghanistan and Pakistan today is to deny those pipelines from being routed through Russia, China, or Iran.

Then look at the top map where the U.S. Marines are operating inside Afghanistan and causing some controversy within the military. They are building big bases in desolate southwestern Afghanistan and wanting to extend control in that region near the border of Pakistan - all of which are areas that must "be controlled" if pipelines are to be successfully built and maintained.

It seems quite obvious to me what is going on. I'd like to hear what you think.

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.