Organizing Notes

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

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Friday, April 29, 2011


An old U.S. military propaganda film about turning Okinawa into a U.S. "possession" as a power projection hub.

These days the people of Okinawa are fed up with the presence of U.S. bases and want them gone. But the U.S. military still sees Okinawa as a key outpost in its goal of maintaining bases to enable control of the Asian-Pacific, particularly China.


"The Welcome" offers a fiercely intimate view of life after war: the fear, anger and isolation of post-traumatic stress that affects vets and family members alike. As we join them in a small room for an unusual five day healing retreat, we witness how the ruins of war can be transformed into the beauty of poetry. Here our perceptions are changed, our psyches strained, and our hearts broken. And at the end, when this poetry is shared with a large civilian audience, we begin to understand that all of us are a vital piece of the Welcome as Veterans try to find the way back home. Their examples of unflinching honesty, courage and love lift us up, inspiring all of us once again to feel our common humanity, always the first casualty of war.


  • Despite the campaign sign with the great message above, Obama as president has done just the opposite. He has continued and expanded the wars and occupations and increased military spending. Long-time political activist Ralph Nader writes that Obama will be reelected because he has delivered the goods to the oligarchy. Why would they change horses now when Obama has given them everything they want, plus he has effectively demobilized the left's opposition to corporate domination? It's a win-win for the corporate masters.

Nader says: "Obama is averse to conflict with corporate power and disarmingly expedient in compromising with Republicans, leaving the latter to argue largely among themselves. The political duopoly lets the tactical Obama use the Bully Pulpit to his political advantage, even if his principles perish. Obama can look forward to four more years in 2012."

  • I've been increasing my work on the Global Network's 19th annual Space Organizing Conference that will be held in Andover, Massachusetts on June 17-19. People are beginning to register, overseas participants are making their travel arrangements, and I've been tying up loose ends in the program. Yesterday I reserved a 15-passenger van for the weekend as I know that we are going to have to be transporting people around from place to place during the event. One thing I am most proud of is that more people from Maine have now registered than from anywhere else so far.

  • Word from Jeju Island is that Professor Yang, now is his 24th day of hunger strike against construction of the Navy base, has been admitted to the hospital due to failing health. He is a determined man. Former Jeju Governor Shin was strongly urged by the villagers to end his solidarity fast on the 10th day and he followed their direction but also issued a statement that included these words:

To all the Island people, I apologize to you that I have made you to be much anxious for my fast....However, through my fast this time, I became to know how the navy and Jeju Island have divided the Gangjeong villagers through betrayal, pacification and manipulation, and how the Gangjeong villagers have been living in great fury and suffering for last four years.....I, myself had been in the favoring position of naval base as well until I knew the truth of the Gangjeong village through my fast. As one of the Jeju Island citizens and a former Island governor who has once carried job for you, I feel so ashamed of myself and sorry to all of you. I make an apology to you and beg your pardon.

  • Last night was our monthly Veterans for Peace meeting and I was pleased that the group approved my request that we consider giving Peter Woodruff, who has worked at Bath Iron Works for 30 years building destroyers, an honorary membership in the organization. In addition I had a chance to detail the plans for the upcoming protest at Bath Iron Works on May 7 when another warship is "christened".

  • This will be a busy weekend for me. On Saturday I will head north to the University of Maine-Orono where the annual Hope Festival (organized by the Eastern Maine Peace & Justice Center from Bangor) will be held and I will staff a table to hand out information about the Global Network and the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign. Mark Roman from Solon will join me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011



The web site FireDogLake reports the following:

Last night, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill (111-42) to strip public-sector workers of their ability to bargain collectively for healthcare. The rhetoric surrounding the bill, proposed by Democratic State House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, is in many ways similar to what Wisconsinites recently heard as Gov. Walker pushed his infamous unionbusting bill.

The State of Massachusetts currently faces a budget deficit of $1.9 billion. House Democrats say that by limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees over healthcare they can save the state $100 million a year. Democrats in Massachusetts, much like Democrats in New York, have focused on cutting basic government services and workers’ wages instead of raising taxes on the richest. Thus, House Speaker DeLeo proposed the plan that would limit the rights of employees to collective bargain over healthcare. And many Democrats, who have been supported by labor unions in the state, passed it.

“We are going to fight this thing to the bitter end,” Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, told the Boston Globe last night. “Massachusetts is not the place that takes collective bargaining away from public employees.”


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, California is sponsoring a Bring Our War $$ Home resolution at the next meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors

Last night I spoke at an event in Windham, Maine organized by one of our Bring Our War $$ Home leaders Sally Breen. Windham is a small rural town just west of Portland and Sally has been working to bring the topic to her community.

About 20 people attended to hear four of us speak about the need to end war spending. Included in the audience was Sally's state representative, a reporter from the local newspaper, and a staff member of our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree who read a nice prepared statement encouraging our efforts. Rep. Pingree has voted against the last two war funding supplementals and just last week voted along with the progressive caucus in the House of Representatives for the alternative People's Budget. It failed to pass the right-wing dominated House (both Republicans, 239 of them, and Democrats, 108 of them, voted against it) but it got 77 yes votes.

One of the speakers on the panel last night was a former Cumberland County Commissioner, who lost in the last Republican-tide election. She spoke from her experience of seeing the federal government dump social needs onto the local and state governments who have no resources to deal with these problems. She spoke eloquently about the need to Bring Our War $$ Home - making the case that war spending is indeed a "local issue" that elected officials in Maine should take a position on.

In my comments I warned that there would be no "economic recovery" in Maine or the U.S. unless and until our government halts its spending on endless war. I illustrated this point by sharing that U.S. multi-national corporations have created 2.4 million jobs overseas in recent years while cutting 2.9 million jobs in this country. How can there be recovery when corporations are moving jobs overseas like rats off a sinking ship? If we hope for economic recovery we must call for the conversion of the military industrial complex and use our presently wasted tax dollars to invest in rail systems, education, health care, home weatherization and the like here at home.

Bring Our War $$ Home resolutions have now passed in the following local communities:

  • Maine - Solon School Board, Deer Isle town meeting and Portland City Council.
  • Massachusetts - Amherst and Northampton City Councils
  • Connecticut - Hartford City Council

Nationally CodePink has hired a full-time organizer to work on the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles will introduce and champion a Bring Our War $$ Home resolution at the next annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Baltimore. If you live in a city of 30,000 or more people please ask your mayor to sign on as a supporter of the resolution. You can get more information here

Tuesday, April 26, 2011



We've got to stop relying on the nuclear industry and their minions for information about their disasters. We've got to push back against any and all plans for more nuclear power plants. The future generations won't survive more of these accidents.

We'e got to shut the whole nuclear industry down now. Say it - over and over again.


Japanese peace activists protesting porting of Aegis destroyers outfitted with "missile defense" systems in their country

South Koreans, on Jeju Island, protest the construction of a Navy base on their environmentally sensitive island that will be used to port U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers

The Navy will "christen" another Aegis destroyer on Saturday, May 7 at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Maine. Peace groups plan to hold a protest at the event from 8:30 - 10:00 am. Following the protest people are invited to come to the Addams-Melman House (212 Centre St) in Bath for a pot luck lunch at noon.

The protest is being sponsored by the Smiling Trees Disarmament Farm, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Veterans for Peace and CodePink Maine.

These destroyers, with so-called "missile defense" systems on-board, are keys to the aggressive Pentagon military strategy that calls for Aegis deployments around Russian and Chinese borders in order to neutralize their nuclear retaliatory forces.

The hard fought struggle of villagers now going on at Jeju Island in South Korea against the construction of a Navy base is linked to these Aegis destroyers as the Navy needs more ports of call for the ever-expanding fleet of these ships.

The recent cruise missile attacks on Libya, costing $1.2 million each, were launched from Aegis warships.

Studies show that spending $1 billion on military production creates 8,555 jobs. But if that same $1 billion was invested in building rail systems at places like BIW we'd get 19,795 jobs.

The public is clamoring for jobs these days. Corporations, despite huge tax cuts, are not investing here in the U.S. because they are attracted to cheaper labor overseas. So if we want more jobs in this country we've got to take our federal tax dollars, that are presently being wasted on endless war, and invest them in building rail systems, wind turbines, and solar systems at facilities like BIW.

For more information please contact (207) 763-4062 or (207) 443-9502.


Now nine days into his solidarity fast, religious leaders meet with former Jeju Island governor Shin inside the tent of Professor Yang on the disputed coastline

Interview with Mr. Shin Ku-Bum, former Jeju Island governor
April 23, 2011
By Sung-Hee Choi
Since April 18, Shin Ku Bum (1942- ), a former Island governor has been doing the solidarity fast along with professor Yang Yoon-Mo, a movie critic who was violently arrested by the Seogwipo station policemen on April 6 and has been in hunger strike in jail since then. Along with his concern about Yang’s life, Shin has demanded stop of the illegal and violent naval base construction in the Gangjeong village and national investigation on the process of the naval base construction. Shin has done 9th day solidarity fast in Yang’s vigil tent on the Joongduk coast in the Gangjeong village as of April 26. The below is a short interview with Shin and was held on April 23, the sixth day of his fast. We hope that the below could be one of the reference materials for the people who are concerned with Shin and his solidarity fast.

Please tell about yourself and your life

I was born in the Jeju Island, attended the Korea Military Academy instead of the university because I had no money but left school in the mid-course. [It was because his future wife did not like soldier.] After my first child was born, I taught myself and passed administrative civil service examination then started my life as a government employee and then was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. After that, I studied the agriculture economics in the North Carolina State University. Returning back home, I worked as a director of the bureau then as an agriculture attaché in the embassy in Italy and then as a director of livestock farming after which I spent my life as a visiting researcher in the Georgetown University. Later as I returned back home again, I worked as a head in the office of planning and management in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. After that, I was designated as an Island governor and then elected as an Island governor again. The total period that I worked as an Island governor is from 1993 to 1998. After that I became a chairman of the central committee of the livestock farming cooperative, leaving politics, and ran eco-friendly agriculture business. During the IMF crisis in Korea, I resisted against the integrating move of the agriculture cooperative and livestock farming cooperative then I was jailed because of political retaliation for 790 days which was from Nov. 30, 2007 to Jan. 25, 2010, in the Youngdeungpo prison, Seoul. I see myself as personally conservative but socio-politically reformative figure.

What was the reason for solidarity fast with a professor Yang Yoon-Mo?

On Dec. 15, 2010, the Gangjeong villagers got the court decision of the dismissal on their lawsuit for the reason of disqualification of them as plaintiffs, which they had filed on Feb. 28, 2010 and which had been related to the issue on the absolute preservation areas. Since I myself was the victim of the judicature, I was infuriated by it and became to have concern with the naval base issue, having press interview etc. Since then I became to have more concern with it as I visited the site once to twice.

When I heard the news on the restraint of Yang Yoon-Mo and his fast in jail, I was reminded of his words that he “would die once reclamation of the coast and sea starts,” even though I could see him only for short time. He graduated from the same high school with mine, as my junior, but I could figure out his character. What would be the way to make him live? For that, I thought pressuring him would be the only way - that I would not end my fast in his tent he had lived in the Joongduk coast if he did not end his in jail.

On the second or third day of fast in the Joongduk coast site, my thought on the naval base has become much differentiated. In the past, I had thoughts that there could be the naval base, if needed for security and that Hwasoon [nearby village] would be OK while Gangjeong would not, which were similar to that of ordinary people.

However, I become to rethink on the naval base, looking at the Gangjeong villagers’ suffering, the navy’s role and its attitude toward villagers. There should be no naval base in the Jeju, not to mention in the Gangjeong village. The reasons are: First, the base business the navy is currently building is not the security business. It is for the navy who is in conflict with the army to expand its vested interests. In other words, the navy is doing its own business, under the pretext of security. Second, it is because I became to be aware on the values of life and peace. The Jeju Island should be that kind of Island. Third, if you look at the navy’s official promotion materials, it says that it has no plan for the joint usage of it with the U.S. military. If its words are true, there is no reason for the Jeju to have the naval base. It is needed to have the investigation on the reason and process of the naval base construction. The construction should be stopped at least until the result of the truth investigation on it, as well.

What do you think the reasons of the fact that the Island people’s concern on the opposition to the naval base is low?

First, it is because of their point of view that they should accept the security facilities. Second, it is because the naval base issue entered the Gangjeong village under the name of the civilian-military complex harbor and the majority of the Island people think it positive, considering that such naval base would provide them economic advantage. The Gangjeong village is specially an area where there should enter no naval base but the navy has gotten in its hands the main power class who might have been able to persuade the Island people, when it first came to Gangjeong.

As of your sixth day hunger strike, what have you seen and felt meanwhile?

First, it is the realization that I have not really known about the world we live in. I have not really been concretely practicing the most supreme values of life and peace, even though I have known of them in abstract way. We should do our works with ecology and environment as our most precious values, transforming ourselves from the lives of the development-prioritized era. Second, it is the realization that the lives of the peace activists who work for the values of life outside the political power sphere are far nobler than those of the politics society. Third, it is the realization that the villagers who was originally innocent have become much mature, being aware of the issues on the ecology and environment. The villagers have gone through the hard struggles for nearly four years. We should be one in Gangjeong for our efforts to be achieved, on the historical line from the April 3 [massacre and uprising in 1948].

The April 3 occurred [in 1948] when the state had no power and the essence of the problem was that the nation excessively suppressed people. The Gangjeong naval base issue is on the same line in that latter point, but is different in the sense that the state has betrayed the villagers and Island people rather than that it has no power- in other words, the state has not filled its obligation. However, both of April 3 and naval base are connected to the U.S. military.

What could be the differences between your life in the past and now?

Even though there could be a little difference, it is basically same. If not the past experience, I could not be able to do this. But I have seldom thought that I would experience same thing again in my current age.

During the terms of life as a public servant, I have confronted with governments lots of times for farmers even though I was a government employee. For example, there was the incident called that of the horse matters’ group in 1989. The profit of that group had been used as the public fund for farmers but the Ministry of the Sports attempted to rob of it so I resisted against it. Another example is that, right after the IMF, when the IMF was trying to process structural adjustment and to forcefully integrate the agriculture cooperative and livestock cooperative, I fought against the government. At the time, I had to fight with the departments of the legislative and judicature, as well. As a result of that, I had to go to jail. I have fought against the unjust politics and administrative power. I see the issue of Gangjeong on that same line. I have not thought that I would confront again myself [with those powers].

Whether this struggle would be won or failed, there are things that we should keep. When the people and sovereignty are experiencing unjust suffering because of wrong policy, we should act according to our consciousness. We should be aware of the value of life and act to save it. I am thinking to continue to do on the eco-friendly agriculture in the agriculture field.

Monday, April 25, 2011



Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill" Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.


Best part of this begins at 1:08 where Mike Wallace interviews Ayn Rand and she makes some startlingly scary acknowledgements about what she believes.


The media is abuzz with the human interest story about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) who will be flying to Cape Canaveral for Friday's scheduled launch of the space shuttle Endeavour which will carry her husband, Mark Kelly, to the International Space Station (ISS).

Rep. Giffords has recovered well enough from the recent tragic shooting of her and others in Arizona to make the trip. This launch will be the second-to-last mission of the space shuttle program before it is shut down in favor of Obama's plan to privatize key portions of the space launch business.

Like so many other things in our society today, the plan to privatize space launches comes after years of taxpayer investment created the basic space technological infrastructure that will now, to a considerable extent, be turned over wealthy investors. Immediate plans call for private industry to boost "space tourism trips" where people, with too much money on their hands, take a joy ride up into the heavens. From there we'll see private space developers begin to contract with the government for launch services. Eventually private corporations will fly missions to, and make land claims on, the moon, asteroids, and other planetary bodies for the purpose of extracting precious resources from those places.

In the meantime massive government investment will continue to create space military technologies to "control and dominate space" so that when the day comes where profit can be made from mining the sky, the Space Command will be able to patrol a military highway, or create a "front gate," to determine which countries or corporations have the ability to travel to and from Earth to space.

This strategy was all clearly spelled out in the 1989 Congressional study called Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years. Author, and congressional staffer John Collins, wrote:

Military space forces at the bottom of Earth's so-called gravity well are poorly positioned to accomplish offensive/defensive/deterrent missions, because great energy is needed to overcome gravity during launch. Forces at the top, on a space counterpart of "high ground," could initiate action and detect, identify, track, intercept, or otherwise respond more rapidly to attacks. [This would include bases on the moon, armed space stations, and other orbiting battle platforms.] Put simply, it takes less energy to drop objects down a well than to cast them out.... Armed forces might lie in wait at that location to hijack rival shipments on return.

Nuclear reactors thus remain the only known long-lived, compact source able to supply military space forces with electric power..... Larger versions could meet multi megawatt needs of space-based lasers.... Nuclear reactors must support major bases on the moon..... Safety factors, rather than technological feasibility, will remain the principal impediment to nuclear power in space, unless officials convince influential critics that risks are acceptably low.

This is all a very expensive proposition. Some years ago the industry publication, Space News, wrote an editorial admitting they had to come up with a "secure funding source" in order to pay for their industry's plans in space if the U.S. hoped to stay on top of the heap. In the editorial they notified readers that indeed they had identified such a funding source - the "entitlement programs" and were sending their lobbyists to Washington to secure them for their use.

Officially the entitlement programs are: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and what is left of the welfare program. It is these programs that today are under vicious attack by the corporate interests who wish to use those funds in part to build their pyramids to the heavens.

The spectacle of a recovering Rep. Giffords and Obama waving to her husband as he blasts off on the space shuttle will bring tears to many eyes and warm feelings in many hearts. The aerospace industry hopes that more support for "everything" space will also result.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Yesterday I attended the 4th annual Symposium on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) put on by Maine Veterans for Peace (VFP). The event was held at the University of Southern Maine's Hannaford Hall in Portland. About 125 people were in attendance and the crowd included mostly Vietnam-era vets, family members of veterans, and professional counselors and therapists.

The younger veterans, from the 1990's Persian Gulf war, and from the current Afghanistan and Iraq wars, have been slow to come around to events like this. Vietnam veterans often talk about how long it took them to come to grips with the fact that they needed help with the demons they wrestled with after they came home. Many younger veterans it appears are also trying to "do it on their own" or not yet recognizing that they need to get some help.

One young man who was at the event, as a speaker, was Camilo Mejia who was in the Army and was stationed in Iraq. Mejia became a conscientious objector and refused to return to Iraq on a second deployment.

In May of 2004 Mejia was convicted of desertion by the U.S. military, a charge which can be punishable by death, and was sentenced to a year in jail. He served his time at Fort Sill military prison in Oklahoma and was recognized during his incarceration by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience and was awarded the Courageous Resister Award by Refuse and Resist. He was released in February of 2005 and since then has devoted his time to speaking out against the war in Iraq and encouraging others to understand that being a part of an immoral war was more cowardly than breaking the law: “I was a coward not for leaving the war but for being a part of it in the first place, “ he said.

He has written a book called The Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Seargeant Camilo Mejia which details his experience. In August of 2007 Camilo Mejia became the chair of the board for the Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Mejia told his personal story and weaved in his growing knowledge about PTSD. He said that his time in Iraq was a violation of his "contact with the world". He lamented that the "moral and spiritual aspects of PTSD are not part of the Veterans Administration (VA) treatments."

It is "not inherent in humans to kill each other," Mejia said. So the military changed their training after WW II to remove the thought process from killing. Heavy emphasis is now put on the mechanical process - siting the target, breathing, trigger finger position, stance, rifle placement - the dehumanization of the "enemy".

Soldiers would not want to kill "if people have time to think about what we are doing," Mejia said. The military does not teach you how to turn off that mechanical act of killing. "When you violate the contract you have with yourself you have a moral injury," he reflected.

After firing 11 bullets at a young man (about 16 years old) who was going to throw a grenade "my mind erased the time that I fired on him," he told us. He afterward had to go and sit down and count the numbers of bullets that he had expended in order to prove to himself that he had fired the shots that killed the boy. He told us that his squad was safely positioned on a roof, and that a wall separated the Iraqi people from Mejia, and were thus no real threat. But they had been ordered to fire on anyone who made any "hostile" moves toward them.

Mejia concluded that "We aren't going anywhere until we can acknowledge that we violated our moral core," by killing other humans. In order to move to recovery "we must step outside of our own interests" and "restore the balance," Mejia told the audience. In his case he hopes that becoming a full participant in the peace movement, and someday returning to Iraq for humanitarian work, will help him on the road to repairing his damaged soul.

Hundreds of thousands of stories, similar to the one by Mejia, could be told by the GI's now suffering from PTSD who are being deployed over and over again in Iraq and Afghanistan today. An epidemic of suicides is now being reluctantly acknowledged by the military as these injured young people, or those who have yet to be sent to battle but fear going, cry out in their lonely darkness. Those who claim that they "support the troops" should be at the front of the line calling for an immediate end to these insane wars.



Friday, April 22, 2011


Thirty-seven people who protested at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, New York against the use of drones were arrested Friday....see details here


Sung-Hee Choi reports from Jeju Island, South Korea:

On April 21, Shin Goo-Beom, an ex-Jeju Island governor, who is doing the 5th day solidarity fast along with the movie critic Yang Yoon-Mo, said in the press interview in the National Assembly that, “The naval base construction currently occurring in the Jeju is nothing but a criminal activity and the navy is betraying the residents under the excuse of national security and illegally destroying nature and trampling down people’s human rights.” He strongly demanded the National assembly’s investigation on the Jeju naval base construction.

Shin Goo-Beom started his fast in solidarity with Yang in Yang's tent in the Joongduk coast on April 18. [Professor Yang remains in jail where he continues his fast.]

To have the former Jeju Island governor join the protest, engage in a solidarity fast, and return to the National Assembly and call the Navy base construction "a crime" is a hugely courageous act and must be buoying the spirits of the Gangjeong villagers in a big way. Good for Shin Goo-Beom!

In the evening after the day’s struggle, people gathered in the Joongduk coast, the reclamation-planned naval base area, to see the music concert sponsored by peace groups.

A girl sings a revised song ‘like a rock’. She sings to let us live like the strong rocks in the Joongduk coast and save the sea & coast from the base construction (April 21, 2011)


Risking it all for a paycheck, some photos and a flat screen TV. That is a tough call. The fact that the government is getting ready to button up the area indicates that things are worse than they are letting on. Nothing could be more sad than this.

Thursday, April 21, 2011



Corporate Coup d’état Coming Soon to a City Near You

By Rania Khalek

In her book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein demonstrates how wealthy elites often use times of crisis and chaos to impose unpopular policies that restructure economies and political systems to further advance their interests. She calls these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, “disaster capitalism.”

Disaster capitalism is on display around the country, as legislators use the debt crisis afflicting their states as an opportunity to hollow out the public sector. In Michigan it’s being packaged as “emergency financial management” by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who is looking to exploit an economic crisis that has left his state with a severe budget deficit. In March, Snyder signed a law granting state-appointed emergency financial managers (EFM) the ability to fire local elected officials, break teachers’ and public workers’ contracts, seize and sell assets, and eliminate services, entire cities or school districts, all without any public input. He claims these dictatorial restructuring powers will keep Michigan communities out of bankruptcy.

Michigan currently has unelected EFM’s in charge of the schools in Detroit, as well as the cities of Pontiac, Ecorse, and Benton Harbor. In Benton Harbor, the city’s elected mayor and city commissioners were stripped of all power by unelected EFM, Joseph Harris. Harris issued an order saying the city commissioners have no power beyond calling meetings to order, approving minutes, and adjourning meetings. This decimation of local democracy is spreading. Robert Bobb, the EFM that has taken over Detroit’s public school system, sent layoff notices to all of the district’s 5,466 unionized employees. Bobb says he will exercise his power as EFM to unilaterally modify the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Federation of Teachers starting May 17, 2011.

ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss said the law raises concern about separation of powers, its impact on minority communities, collective-bargaining rights and privatization of services. She is absolutely correct. Faced with a deficit, emboldened EFMs can sell off public property to developers, close public schools and authorize charter schools, and void union contracts with literally no recourse for local, tax-paying residents or their elected officials to stop it.

And, it gets worse. Michigan has joined with the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) to develop a training program for prospective emergency managers. According to their website, TMA members are a professional community of turnaround and corporate renewal professionals who share a common interest in strengthening the economy through the restoration of corporate value. Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon, while speaking about the new program during a seminar on municipal distress, said that mayors and school superintendents are essentially running big businesses that, in many cases, are more complicated than private companies. It’s no surprise then, that Wall Street investors are thrilled about the potential impacts of the EFM law.

An estimated 400 accountants, lawyers, school employees, and city workers began classes offered by the program in Lansing, Michigan this week on topics including “Dealing with the Unionized Workforce,” navigating municipal bankruptcy and negotiating contracts for sewer, water and other utilities. ”Dealing with the Unionized Workforce” is code for destroying unions and has nothing to do with balancing the budget. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) in an appearance before the House Oversight Committee, under questioning from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), admitted a key provision in his state budget proposal to curb union rights had no fiscal benefit, putting to rest the notion that union-busting governors like Rick Snyder have any intention of actually solving their state’s economic woes. As for “negotiating contracts for sewer, water, and other utilities”, this is code for privatize, privatize, privatize!

This so-called financial emergency is really a democracy emergency. Local governments are NOT corporations, nor should they resemble them. The true purpose of emergency financial management is the conversion of a democratically elected government into a hierarchal business entity through economic “shock therapy”, which would be impossible if workers, elected representatives, and residents had any say. Michigan has become a laboratory for CEO Governor Rick Snyder to impose disaster capitalism onto his state. If we allow what is taking place in Michigan to continue unabated, it won’t be long before disaster capitalism finds its way to a city, town, or school district near you.

- Rania Khalek is a young, progressive activist with a passionate dedication to social justice. Check out her blog at


  • A new Washington Post-ABC poll finds that 72% of the American people support raising taxes on families with income more than $250,000. At the same time 78% oppose cutting spending on Medicare (health program for the elderly) as a way to chip away at the national debt. On Medicaid — the government insurance program for the poor — 69% disapprove of cuts. Despite the steady drumbeat in the corporate media saying that we need to drain "the entitlement programs" in order to balance the budget, the public appears able to make their way through the fog to a better fiscal remedy. Tax the rich. Tax the corporations. When you add to this the 65% of Americans who want us to get out of Afghanistan then you begin to see the outlines of a real plan to bring fiscal sanity back to the nation. Even though the American people are clear on these issues it does not mean the corporate controlled Congress will listen to them. People are going to have to organize and publicly demand these things if we hope to save social progress.

  • My trip to speak to a Sociology class at Boston University on Tuesday night was well worth it. The class was three hours long so I had plenty of time to engage the students and we had quite a good discussion. They asked loads of questions - from 9-11 to the true intentions of corporate globalization. The teacher, an Irishman named Paul Pelan, had done a great job opening the minds of these students to new ideas. Two of them are connected to the National Guard, there was one BU basketball player, and then a mixture of students with other interests and career ambitions - freshman to seniors. I asked them to think about what was the number one job of a human being. I also invited them all to come to the Global Network's space conference in June.

  • I am half-way done with the wood stacking here at home. Luckily I have some time these days to work on this. Today housemate Amanda and I took some time to talk about the meaning of life, raising kids, and being a free agent in this corporate controlled world. She has two kids that bless our house with their energy and their verve for life.


April 20, 2011 is the 97th Anniversary of the Ludlow, Colorado Mining Massacre.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Japan's nuclear crisis seems to have given fresh impetus to protests against a proposed nuclear power complex in India.

While one person was killed and at least 20 others injured after police clash with protesters in Maharashtra state, critics say the Jaitapur site lies on an active fault-line increasing the risk to residents.

Prerna Suri reports from New Delhi.


My latest public access TV show with John Reed, author of the new book "Elegant Simplicity: Reflections on an Alternate Way of Being". John lives in France half the year and comes to the U.S. for the other half and has a unique perspective on American culture.


Click on graphic for better view. See the full article here. It's a rare piece from the mainstream media.


See the CBS 60 Minutes news show report on this here

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


* The U.S. currently ranks thirty-fourth (34th) out of the thirty-four (34) members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development in regards to spending on social programs. The amount the U.S. spends is currently only 7.2% of our gross domestic product on programs that make up our social contract with the American people. Here are a couple comparisons between the U.S. and Germany. The claim that social spending must be cut in the U.S. because it is killing the economy is a lie. Militarism and corporate welfare is what is causing the U.S. economy to collapse.

Population below 50% of median income
USA: 17%
GER: 8.4%

Child poverty
USA: 22.4%
GER: 10.7%

Infant mortality rate
USA: 7.8
GER: 5.4

Homicide rate
USA: 5%
GER: 0.86%

Life expectancy
USA: 78.3
GER: 79.4

Unemployment rate
USA: 8.8%
GER: 6.3%

Exports per capita
USA: $3,375
GER: $14,169

* I heard the other day that the FBI was raiding union offices in Hartford, Connecticut looking for immigrants. Recently the FBI has been raiding the homes of peace activists in several states as well. Expect more of this in the near future as the government creates distractions for the public.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

* I am heading south today to Boston where I speak tonight to a Sociology class at Boston University about the Global Network's space organizing conference on June 17-19 in Andover, Massachusetts. People are just beginning to focus on the conference and registrations are starting to pick up. Local activists in Massachusetts are also now beginning to increase their efforts to promote the event. Looks like we will have a good international representation at the event with key Global Network leaders coming from as far away as India, Japan, England, Sweden, Germany, Canada, and throughout the U.S.

Monday, April 18, 2011


The new construction entrance to the Navy base on Jeju Island, South Korea. The fresh water stream empties into the sea. The Navy base cement pier would begin here. Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, still in jail for lying down under a construction truck, is now in his 13th day of fasting against the base.
Gangjeong villagers lying down to block road with banners.
Rocks piled up by villagers and supporters to block construction effort.
Fighting to save the soft coral.
Fighting to save these endangered species. When the sea bottom is dredged, in order for U.S. Aegis destroyers and aircraft carriers to port here, these will surely be destroyed.

For daily updates on the Navy base struggle on Jeju island see here


You can watch a longer film about Emma Goldman here

Sunday, April 17, 2011


There are rumors flying around that The Kinks will soon be reformed. To this lifelong fan that would be a great event. Until then I will continue to enjoy and share some of the enormous back catalog of songs by Ray and Dave Davies.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


A conservative German leader decides to close down their nuclear industry because the German people are outraged and organized.

We could all learn from the German anti-nuclear movement. Since the Fukushima disaster the Germans have been the most active anti-nuclear activists in the world.

Congratulations to the German people! They are putting us all to shame!



On May 7 another Aegis destroyer will be "christened" at Bath Iron Works and a protest will be held beginning at 10:00 am

Today was the 6th weekly vigil at Bath Iron Works (BIW) here in Maine during the Lenten season. Organized by the Smiling Trees Disarmament Farm, these weekly vigils have been a mainstay outside the Navy ship yard for many years.

Since our house is so close it is one of the few protests we can actually walk to - a very nice thing for us.

I held a sign today that has a train painted on it by an artist friend and reads "Built in Bath" across the top. As the Saturday shift workers drove by at noon it was clear that many of them understood the message - and many of them agree - that something different could and should be produced at BIW. There is growing support amongst the workers to consider the idea of conversion. But in order to make it happen the workers inside these military production facilities are going to have to become more vocal.

These Aegis destroyers, with so-called "missile defense" systems on-board, are keys to the aggressive Pentagon military strategy that calls for deployments around Russia and China's borders in order to neutralize their nuclear retaliatory forces.

The hard fought struggle now going on at Jeju Island in South Korea against the construction of a Navy base is linked to these Aegis destroyers as the Navy needs more ports of call for the ever-expanding fleet of these ships.

The next "christening" of an Aegis at BIW will be on Saturday, May 7 so we will once again put out the call for peace activists to join us there for a protest of these war ships. Many of Maine's leading politicians, including our new Republican governor, will be on-hand for the event. We will gather at 8:30-10:00 am in order to be there as the thousands of people file into the ship yard to watch the ceremony. We'll hook up a portable sound system and hear speeches from representatives of many peace groups in the state. After it is over we'll hold a pot luck lunch at the Addams-Melman House in Bath.

We'll be talking alot that day about jobs. Studies show that spending $1 billion on military production creates 8,555 jobs. But if that same $1 billion was invested in building rail systems at places like BIW we'd get 19,795 jobs. That's a huge difference and you'd think that the media, unions, politicians, and the public would be all over this little known bit of good news.

People are clamoring for jobs these days. Corporations, despite huge tax cuts, are not investing here in the U.S. because they are attracted to cheaper labor overseas. So if we want more jobs in this country we've got to take our federal tax dollars, that are presently being pissed down the rat hole, and invest them in building rail systems, wind turbines, solar systems back here at home.

This won't happen though unless we demand it and we must do it repeatedly. We'll have another opportunity to do so at BIW on May 7.


Obama pledged to end torture. He hasn't. Obama pledged to close Guantanamo. He hasn't. Now Obama tortures Bradley Manning at the Quantico Marine Base prison and won't allow him have any visitors, including the U.N., the Red Cross, or even Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Then when challenged by reporters about their illegal treatment of Manning the Obama mouth piece gets testy and refuses to answer any questions.

Smells like, sounds like, acts like George W. Bush.......please show me otherwise.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Bahrain cracks down on protesting footballers

Football star among hundreds of athletes suspended from national team for taking part in anti-government protests.

By Dave Zirin

Al'a Hubail is a legend in the world of Bahraini football. In 2004, along with his brother Mohammed, he led the national team on a rollicking VCU-esque run into the Asian Cup semi-finals.

Hubail then became the first Bahraini player to win the prestigious Golden Boot Award after scoring five goals against the continent's best teams.

Now the winner of the Golden Boot has gotten the boot, expelled from the national squad and arrested after news cameras caught him at an "anti-government" protest aimed at Bahrain's royal family.

His football-playing brother, Mohammed, who stood alongside him at a peaceful protest across from Bahrain's shoot-first army and the imported armed forces of Saudi Arabia, was also sacked from the team and put into custody.

Both brothers, along with two other players, were cuffed and frog-marched off the practice field in front of shocked teammates.

According to the Times of London, Bahrain's state-news program had focused on the Hubail brothers at the demonstration to "shame the sports stars" for taking part in the protest and referred to them and all the demonstrators as "stray hyenas".

The state-news report did not mention that Al'a Hubail is a trained paramedic and EMT who was also acting as a volunteer nurse at the protest.

Considering the dozens killed and hundreds injured by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia's armed forces since the protests began, he should be lauded as a true international hero. Instead he is behind bars.

The Hubail brothers were just the most prominent athletes affected in what has become an ugly crackdown on the country's sportsmen for justice.

Bahrain, a country run by a royal family so decayed with gluttony, excess, and corruption, they could be honourary Trumps, has announced that 200 athletes have been indefinitely suspended on charges of "supporting the popular revolution in the country".

Among them are nationally known basketball, volleyball, and handball players.

The Associated Press quoted a government official, speaking under the cloak of anonymity, saying that these athletes have been branded "against the government" for having supported "anti-government" protests.

No other specifics were given. All 200 have also been banned from any international play. All 200, like the overwhelming majority of demonstrators, are part of the country's oppressed Shia Muslim majority.

Shamefully, yet completely unsurprisingly, the Bahrain Football Association backed the move, saying, "The suspension falls under misconduct, and the breaching of the rules and regulations of sporting clubs... not to engage in political affairs."

Also shamefully, yet completely unsurprisingly, president Barack Obama and the US government have said nothing.

US silence

As Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, a consultant to Human Rights Watch, wrote: "President Obama loses his voice when it comes to Bahrain."

This is not just oversight or happenstance. Bahrain happily houses the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, and has pledged to do so for another 50 years. It appears that this favor has given them the right to spill the blood of peaceful protesters with impunity.

There is no "no-fly zone" over Bahrain, and no emergency UN Security Council meeting. There are no breathless comparisons by news columnists of the Bahraini royal family with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Darth Vader, or Sauron.

Instead, with a lockstep consistency that would impress the state media systems of the old Eastern Bloc, US politicians of both parties and US media have chosen to remain silent.

This is not the first revolt in Bahrain's history but it is by far the most serious.

Once the wave started across the region, Bahrain was an obvious place where the sentiment of rebellion against autocracy would find fertile ground.

I spoke to Chris Toensing, the editor of the Middle East Report, and he said: "because it is located atop the hydrocarbon jackpot of the world in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain has the image of a wealthy nation.

In fact a large part of the native population is poor. That poverty plus the sectarianism chauvinism and tyranny of the royal family have made the country restive for decades. The 2011 revolt is but the largest and most brutally repressed of a series of popular struggles for justice."

But just because the political class and the front page of your paper have surrendered their morality and said nothing, doesn't mean the sports page should follow suit.

Every football writer with a working pulse should be calling for the release of the Hubail brothers. Every sports union should release statements saying that they stand with their 200 brethren and want them re-instituted immediately and without delay.

Every player who believes in the concept of fair play should call upon the Bahraini royal family to cease and desist. The Royals want to practice their repression in shadows.

We can offer light. Sports teams are often referred to as families. Well, when members of our family are being abused, you say something.

Bahrain's royal butchers are banking on our silence. But when silence equals death, it is no longer an option.

Dave Zirin is the author of "Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love" and just made the new documentary "Not Just a Game".



  • We've had four chords of wood delivered to our house and it now needs to be stacked. Yesterday I began the process of lining up pallets to put the wood on. Today I will begin the long, and slow, process of stacking. My back is going to love it. But once done I will be proud of a job well done and can spend the summer and fall admiring the wood as it cures.

  • This morning I watched a new documentary called Lifting the Veil: Obama and the Failure of Capitalist Democracy. It's long but quite thorough with many excellent people being interviewed. It clearly outlines the sad story of Obama's betrayal of his base and makes the point how Democrats historically have played their progressive constituency like a fiddle. The film makes the case for a socialist democracy rather than the centralized corrupt corporate power which we have today. If we are going to get anywhere we are going to have to start talking about getting rid of this system of predatory capitalism. I can't imagine anyone ever trusting Obama enough to vote for him in 2012 - or the Democrats for that matter. The evidence that Obama and his party are loyal tools of the oligarchy is overwhelming. We just can't keep going back-and-forth between Repubs and Dems each election cycle. The power elite are quite happy with that arrangment since they control both those parties. One of my favorite voices in this film is economist Richard Wolff from UMASS-Amherst. Here is one of his video clips.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It's all there. Right out front. Either we stop giving tax breaks to the rich and end our wasteful and immoral wars and occupations or collapse is sure to continue.

Nice words by those in power are one thing but we are learning to watch the other hand of the magician. See what the magician actually does.

In the meantime folks better get off the couch and into action or this ship is sinking. No more rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Each April the Space Foundation holds its Space Symposium at the posh Broadmoor Hotel in the hills overlooking Colorado Springs. Thousands of aerospace industry operatives, military personnel, elected officials and students are brought to the event which has become almost a religious ritual for those working to move the arms race into the heavens. The Colorado Springs-based Citizens for Peace in Space holds a vigil during the annual space confab and attempts to hand out leaflets.

Here is a brief report from Bill Sulzman about the event this year:

Can't get some of the images from yesterday out of my head. At one point in our demo there were at least 100 employees from General Dynamics who crossed the sidewalk from the five-star Broadmoor Hotel on their way to the Convention center hosting the annual Space Symposium. In the middle of the pack was an actual two-star Air Force General in conversation with several of the employees. That would make a great military industrial complex poster. The event organizers say that there will 9,000 attendees in all including hundreds of school children. Another graphic image was the presence of a couple of Northrop Grumman shuttle buses all decked out in the latest corporate slogan listing all the areas of warfare that they are involved in. And finally there was the Boeing building. It was set up to handle their massive display as though there weren't enough space for that in the convention center. As usual there were very few who took our leaflets. They do live in a different world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011



Japan has raised the severity rating of its nuclear crisis from 5 to 7, the highest level, matching the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Democracy Now goes to Tokyo for an update from Thomas Breuer, head of the Climate and Energy Unit for Greenpeace Germany and part of a field of radiation monitors in Japan. He notes that unlike Chernobyl, the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is in a densely populated area. “We warned the government that there are a lot of cities and villages outside the 20-kilometers evacuation zone where the radiation levels are so high that people need urgently to be evacuated, especially children and pregnant women, because they are the most vulnerable part of the population to radiation,” says Breuer.

According to Natural News, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to release new data showing that various milk and water supply samples from across the US are testing increasingly high for radioactive elements such as Iodine-131, Cesium-134, and Cesium-137, all of which are being emitted from the ongoing Fukushima Daiichia nuclear fallout.


Cuba week events in Brunswick, Maine organized by Let Cuba Live.


  • A new report from a Swedish-based think tank (SIPRI) reveals that U.S. military spending has almost doubled since 2001. The U.S. spent more than $700 billion on the military last year, an 81% increase over the last decade. Writing for Time magazine, Romesh Ratnesar says:

For all the posturing in Washington about confronting the "existential threat" posed by the country's dire fiscal state, there has been, until now, almost no serious discussion about reducing America's vast military expenditures. The White House says Obama's speech on the deficit this week will call for Pentagon cuts. But as TIME's Mark Thompson has shown, neither Obama's 2012 budget proposal nor Representative Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" contemplate a major decrease in overall military spending anytime in the near future. At best, Ryan's proposal would slow the rate of growth of the defense budget over the next 10 years but won't halt it. Even after pocketing the expected savings from a pullback of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Ryan's budget projection calls for nearly $8 trillion in military spending over the next decade — more than the government's Medicare obligations, which Ryan asserts (correctly) must be reformed. The justification for continued runaway defense spending? "The U.S. cannot retreat in its aggressive campaign against the global network of terrorists intent on taking American lives and destroying the American way of life."

  • One way we could spend our money would be to dramatically invest in sustainable technologies. We do have a serious problem ahead due to climate change. The citizens of Germany seem to get it. They are demanding (successfully it appears) that their country abandon nuclear power production. They are also building a giant wind farm with 89 turbines, set for completion off their North Sea coast in 2014, that will supply electricity for 330,000 homes. Over the next 20 years, Germany plans to install enough wind power to replace what's now produced by its 17 nuclear reactors. About 21,000 wind turbines produce 7% of Germany's electricity, one of the highest rates in the world. (Note above the military spending of Germany.) China meanwhile is now the world leader in clean energy investment, having spent $51.1 billion last year alone. China also moved to the top of the installed wind power list. (Thanks to Nukewatch for this info.)

  • Associated Press reports, "The military is investigating what appears to be the first case of American troops killed by a missile fired from a U.S. drone. The investigation is looking into the deaths of a Marine and a Navy medic killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator after they apparently were mistaken for insurgents in southern Afghanistan last week, two senior U.S. defense officials said Tuesday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing."

    Watch the full episode. See more Journey to Planet Earth.