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, May 29, 2010


Friday, May 28, 2010


Fylingdales in North Yorkshire
Menwith Hill in Yorkshire

Yorkshire in England is where the U.S. has built the Menwith Hill satellite spy base. Our friends there have been protesting for years to stop the expansion of the base and its upgrading to participate in the U.S. Star Wars program.

Not far from Menwith Hill is a second U.S. Star Wars facility called Fylingdales which sits in the middle of the moors, the national park surrounded by fields of beautiful heather. Fylingdales is a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radar. On June 6 the Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) will hold a protest at Fylingdales.

The people in this part of the world don't want these U.S. bases on their lands. They don't want their countryside to be used to help the U.S. "control and dominate" space and the planet below on behalf of corporate globalization. They don't want to be targets in U.S. created global instability.

We could save lots of money if we shut these bases down and brought our war $$ home.


The Democrats control the Senate but yesterday they joined the Republicans in a big way to pass the $33.5 billion war supplemental bill for the remainder of 2010. The vote was 67-28. (Only two Democrats in the Senate voted no - Russ Feingold and Ron Wyden.) Doesn't say much for the party that got into power by running against Bush's wars.

Next it goes to the House for a vote sometime in early June.

Our local Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (under severe pressure throughout the 1st District in Maine to vote against more war $$) sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asking her to allow a clean vote on the war spending bill instead of fattening it with Haiti aid funds and other pork. Pelosi is not likely to respond. So the question is what will Pingree do next? Her letter to Pelosi did not say that she was going to vote against war $$ no matter what Pelosi does.

My guess is that Pingree sent the letter to cover her back side here in Maine and will then turn around and vote for the war supplemental telling us that she had to because it was loaded with all this other good stuff that she had to support.

I notice that she has not posted her letter to Pelosi on her web site homepage. Instead she has a link to a bunch of stories about her fighting to get funding for Pratt-Whitney in Maine to make the jet engines for the F-35 fighter plane. She's in a dog fight with General Electric and Rolls Royce who are trying to keep an “alternative engine” program alive. What about scrapping the whole damn F-35 fighter program anyway? What do we need them for? Jobs in Maine, Pingree responds. Why not convert the weapons plant and make mass transit systems instead? Not on Pingree's agenda - far too controversial for her kind of "go along-get along" brand of politics.

I was told by a mayor of a major Maine city that Pingree would never stand and fight on the war $$ issue and I'm afraid the mayor was right.

But I could be reading this all wrong - we shall she which way she goes in the next week or so. But first the House will come home for the holiday and Pingree will be in Maine raising funds for her reelection bid in November. Rumor has it that a write-in candidate will be running against her on the war $$ issue.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Helen Thomas is one of the few White House reporters with any guts!


* Like most of you, I can't stop thinking about the sea life in the Gulf of Mexico. It is just a matter of time before massive amounts of fish and mammals begin washing up on the oily shore. What happens if they can't plug this oil hole for another week, or month, or several months? Why isn't the government suspending its global military operations and putting every researcher, every government scientist, and the rest of their brain power to work on this case?

* Peter Woodruff and I did half of our weekly radio show at Bowdoin College's WBOR station last night on the oil disaster. We played one of Mumia Abu-Jamal's Prison Radio news bits on the subject as well as one from Jim Hightower. The second half of our show was dedicated to war spending and Obama's call for a commission to take down the "entitlement programs" - Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

* Most activists in South Korea have been, and remain, suspicious about the official story surrounding the sinking of their Navy ship. At the time of the incident the U.S. and South Korea were having one of their annual provocative war games where they practice an invasion of North Korea. One has to remember that the U.S. has a modus operandi when it comes to using sunk boats to justify war - "Remember the Maine" that was the prelude to the Spanish-American War and the more contemporary Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that was the kick-off to the Vietnam War. Some are already speculating that the South Korean sinking was timed before their June 2 elections and/or timed to ensure that Japan's new government reneges on its promise to close a U.S. military base in Okinawa. I'm sure there are other good theories on this as well.

Latest News: It appears the ship sunk due to grounding in rough waters. A South Korean maritime expert seems to have solved the case and is trying to get Hillary Clinton and Obama to pay attention. See the whole story here

* Hillary Clinton is proving to be a real war hawk as she runs around beating the war drum against North Korea and Iran. One activist living in Japan wrote last night that most non-Americans are not listening to her but instead are focused on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and thinking that the U.S. is a "failed state."

* Maybe some country needs to do a humanitarian intervention of the U.S. and help us get rid of the "corporate pirates" who have taken control of our democracy. Maybe they could stuff a bunch of the corporate executives into the oil blow hole in the Gulf. God knows there are enough of the fat cats on Wall Street and in Washington DC to plug up the hole good and tight.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I had an email from a Global Network board member in Japan this morning responding to my recent blog about the need to build mass transit systems in the U.S. since we don't make them here anymore.

Here is Makiko Sato's reply:

Japan's national railway system, which is now called JR, was privatized many years ago by the then Prime Minister Nakasone (maybe complying to the U.S. demand).

The old system and management were divided into 4 JR (private)companies, and maybe additionally (I didn't know till recently), two private companies were established for managing its technologies.

Those two are U.S.-Japan High Speed Rail (currently led by Richard Lawless) and U.S.-Japan MAGLEV.LLC (currently led by Torkel Patterson, the former CEO of Raytheon International before taking the current post).

So, the technologies developed during long time by our tax money are now completely under control of these U.S.-Japan companies with American CEOs, thanks to Nakasone.

By the way, it is known to citizens here that many former PMs of Japan were under the clout of CIA.

Now, JR Central wants to sell its technology of bullet train (N700-1 Bullet) along with its SCMAGLEV (super conduction Magnetic levitation transport system) technology to the USA.

JRC expects there are several candidate cities in the U.S. for introduction of the former, and
for the latter, from Baltimore to Washington DC, and other areas.

The head of JRC says that the percentage of technology fee in the sale it expects should be 2-3%, and JRC would invest money in the U.S. projects if Japan's technologies are to be adopted.

And this man, Torkel Patterson, the former CEO Raytheon, has some interest in the planned new base development now designated in Henoko, Okinawa. And also Raytheon as well. (This info was brought to us by a famous editor and analyst.)

Both are among the less-than-20 contractors in that development plan. That is why I assume Henoko is probably going to be used for the new deployment of land-based SM3 [interceptor missiles].

The total cost of development of the planned new base in Okinawa, which is thoroughly by our tax, is $4.4 billion. We will pay $6 billion for the Guam base as well, while the rest of $4 billion for the Guam base is from the U.S. tax money.

So all in all, it is beyond our imagination how much money Patterson (and Raytheon) will get from these two big projects ―a military base construction in Okinawa (and in Guam, maybe)
and the new rail way construction in the U.S.

I circulated this info. Some were surprised, but others showed little interest. Maybe they think that it is good for JR technologies to be sold to the U.S. But is Japan really selling the technologies at their proper values, even irrespective of the sacrifice of Okinawans? I don't know. These two should not be bartered, in our sense.

One sure thing is that Japanese citizens have been robbed of our tax-invested rail technologies, by a U.S. weapons company and its top sales agent through the process of privatization.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Sunday, May 23, 2010









Vote for best new Uncle Sam. Place a vote for the best, and your second choice, by leaving a comment here or sending me an email at (Only one vote person - you know the democratic way.)

I'll give it a couple days and will announce two winners - first and second prize. Both of them will get a copy of my book Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire.

Got some good choices here so let me know what you think.


We had about 25 people from around Maine (along with two organizers from the Boston area) meet at the Addams-Melman House yesterday to discuss our campaign to bring our war $$ home. (After the meeting we held a birthday party for Mary Beth Sullivan.)

We started with a review and evaluation of the campaign that began on Martin Luther King holiday last January and officially ran up until Tax day in mid-April. In truth though, the campaign has been humming right along since then.

One of the comments that stayed with me the most was from a woman from Belfast, Maine who said their local group really appreciated having an on-going campaign that they could tap into and that connected them with the peace movement across the state. I think this was a very significant statement as it reflects the desire of most local groups that they want to be a part of something larger and with a focus rather than just plodding along from one activity to another without connection or clear purpose.

A whole calendar of new events related to the war $$ issue are emerging in Maine during the coming months including several more town hall meetings in various communities where our resolution will be presented.

Our friends from Boston talked about how the war $$ home message will be spreading nationally via workshops at the coming U.S. Social Forum in late June in Detroit and the planned national anti-war conference on July 23-25 in Albany, New York. Nationally librarians are picking up on the war $$ home theme as well.

Much was said about the war $$ home message and how it seems to really stick with folks. Our banner has been in such demand that we decided to make two more - one of them will be paid for by CodePink Maine and the other by a person who was at yesterday's meeting. This would give us the ability to move three banners around different regions of the state with much greater ease.

The expected votes in coming days on the $33 billion war supplemental for 2010 and the 2011 Pentagon appropriation of $159 billion for more war were extensively discussed and it was agreed that we must urge everyone to contact our congressional delegations ASAP to express our outrage over these continual war funding bills.

Beyond that though it was also eloquently expressed that we must recognize that in the end the politicians are not going to end the wars - that it must come from the public so our greatest work must be to diversify and expand our movement. One meeting participant asked the question: Are we expanding our leadership base on this campaign? Another responded that we must go to where other people are rather than to wait for them to come to us.

In the end we also recognized that we are facing the reality of corporate domination of politics in the U.S. today. Our members of Congress ultimately do not represent the people - in fact they represent the corporate interests. In this case they represent the interests of the military industrial complex. In order to break their hold on American politics we must do more to help the public connect all the dots to the real sources of power. Once we do that, and begin to take those sources of power on, we will have begun a real new American revolution.