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, January 22, 2011


The Mirror News reports:

Tony Blair finally apologised for the Iraq War yesterday – and was jeered by furious relatives of British soldiers who lost their lives.

After facing an official inquiry for the second time, the strained-looking ex-PM offered his “deep regrets” for the 179 troops killed in the conflict.

But his remarks sparked emotional scenes in the witness room.

One woman broke down in tears, then stood up and spent the rest of the session with her back turned to Mr Blair.

Rose Gentle, the mother of Fusilier Gordon Gentle, who died in Basra aged 19 in 2004, shouted: “Too late!” And as Mr Blair walked to the exit, she called out: “Your lies killed my son. I hope you can live with it.”

Friday, January 21, 2011


The other day I saw a story on the TV news that the city of Camden, New Jersey was laying off a bunch of firemen and police due to their budget crisis. I wonder if any of those being let go thought about war spending? It would have been great if these angry public service workers would have gone on the news and said something like, "If we were not wasting $10 billion a month in Afghanistan I wouldn't be losing my job today."

In yesterday's Washington Post an article called House GOP group proposes deep spending cuts over next decade reported that Republican proposals in the House of Representatives would require cuts of about 15 % at agencies other than the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. The Republican Study Committee (a Tea Party group) plan, by contrast, would reduce most agency budgets by about 30 %.

If cuts were made on that magnitude the Post said, "The federal prison system would have to fire 5,700 correctional officers, the Agriculture Department would have to cut about 3,000 food safety inspectors, and the Head Start early-childhood education program would be forced to cut about 389,000 children from its rolls."

Here in Maine, the state has a budget shortfall of $800 million and heavy cuts will be made this spring. Public education and social spending will take another huge hit. That means more school closers, teacher lay-offs, cuts in grants to social service delivery groups, and cuts in health care assistance to the poor, elderly, and mentally ill. Wouldn't it be nice to turn on the news and hear the teachers union or social service leaders talking about the need to end war spending so those funds could be shifted to the states that are in fiscal crisis?

Imagine the massive lay-offs all over the nation as the federal government cuts social spending and the states do the same thing. Where will these folks find new work? Answer: they won't.

I recognize that the nation has a large budget deficit and something must be done to deal with it. But rather than shut down social progress, wouldn't it be much better to end the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and stop the widening war into Pakistan? If those funds were brought home and invested in our society we'd not only see a big change in our debt crisis, we'd also stop the hemorrhaging of jobs.

These are the points that are not being talked about in the mainstream media. It is obvious that the oligarchy is closing the door on any public discussion except for ways to destroy social progress and return us to a feudal society.

What do you think we can do to spur this much needed debate?

Thursday, January 20, 2011


The following list of attendees was released by the White House.

The President and Mrs. Obama

His Excellency Hu Jintao

The Honorable Madeleine Albright, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Alice Albright

Ms. Christiane Amanpour, ABC News, New York, NY
Mr. James Rubin

The Honorable David Axelrod, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
Mrs. Susan Axelrod

Mr. Jeffrey Bader, National Security Council
Ms. Rohini Talalla

The Honorable Elizabeth Bagley, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Kevin Frawley

Mr. Steven Ballmer, Microsoft, Redmond, WA
Mrs. Connie Ballmer

Ms. Bette Bao Lord, New York, NY
The Honorable Winston Lord

Mrs. Denise Bauer, Belvedere Tiburon, CA

The Honorable Howard Berman, Representative from California
Mrs. Janis Berman

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Dr. Jill Biden

The Honorable Joseph Beau Biden, III, Attorney General of Delaware, Wilmington, DE
Mrs. Hallie Biden

His Excellency Zheng Bijian, Chairman, CIIDS

His Excellency Dai Bingguo, State Councilor

Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs, New York, NY
Mrs. Laura Blankfein

The Honorable Antony Blinken, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, Office of the Vice President

The Honorable Stephen Breyer, United States Supreme Court
Dr. Johanna Breyer

Mr. Greg Brown, Motorola, Schaumburg, IL
Mrs. Anna-Louise Brown

The Honorable Dr. Zbigniew Brezezinski, McLean, VA
Mrs. Emilie A. Brzezinski

The Honorable Kurt M. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

The Honorable Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs

The Honorable James E. Carter, former President of the United States
Mrs. Rosalynn Carter

Mr. Jackie Chan, Beverly Hills, CA
Mr. Phillip Button

The Honorable Elaine Chao, Washington, D.C.
Dr. James Chao

His Excellency Wang Chao, Vice Minister for Commerce

His Excellency Tung Chee Hwa, Vice Chairman, CPPCC, former Hong Kong Chief Executive

Mr. John A. Chen, Chairman, Committee of 100, New York, NY
Mrs. Sherrie Chen

The Honorable Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, Trenton, NJ
Mrs. Mary Pat Christie

The Honorable Judy Chu, Representative from California
Ms. Chiling Tong

The Honorable Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy
Mrs. Jean Chu

The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State

The Honorable William J. Clinton, former President of the United States

The Honorable James E. Clyburn, Representative from South Carolina
Mr. John Clyburn

The Honorable Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Mrs. Maggie Daley

The Honorable William Daley, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff
Ms. Bernadette Keller

His Excellency Chen Deming, Minister of Commerce

Mr. Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase & Co., New York, NY
Mrs. Judith Dimon

The Honorable Thomas Donilon, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor
Ms. Cathy Russell, Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden

The Honorable Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
Mrs. Karen Duncan

Mr. James Fallows, The Atlantic, Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Deborah Fallows

Mr. Xie Feng, Director General, MFA

Mr. Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Ann Friedman

The Honorable Michael B. Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs
Ms. Nancy Goodman

His Excellency Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology

The Honorable Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense
Mrs. Becky Gates

The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury
Mrs. Carole Geithner

Mr. Mark Gilbert, Boca Raton, FL
Mrs. Nancy Gilbert

The Honorable Chris Gregoire, Governor of Washington, Olympia, WA
Ms. Courtney Gregoire

His Excellency Zhu Guangyao, Vice Minister for Finance

His Excellency Zhang Guobao, Vice Minister for NDRC

Mr. Herbie Hancock, Los Angeles, CA
Mrs. GiGi Hancock

The Honorable Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology

The Honorable Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs

The Honorable Steny Hoyer, Representative from Maryland, Democratic WHIP

His Excellency Wang Huning, Director of the Policy Research Office of CCCPC

The Honorable Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China
Mrs. Mary Kaye Huntsman

Mr. Robert Iger, The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, CA
Ms. Willow Bay

Mr. David Ignatius, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Eve Ignatius

Mr. Jeff Immelt, General Electric, Fairfield, CT
Mrs. Andrea Immelt

The Honorable Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

His Excellency Li Jiaxiang, Vice Minister for Transportation

His Excellency Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs

His Excellency Ling Jihua, Director of the General Office of CCCPC

Mr. Robert Kagan, McLean, VA
Ms. Victoria Nuland

Mr. Michael Kempner, East Rutherford, NJ
Mrs. Jacqueline Kempner

Mr. Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola, Atlanta, GA

The Honorable John F. Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts
Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry

Mr. Robert King, UAW, Detroit, MI
Ms. Julie Kushner

The Honorable Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative
Mrs. Matrice Ellis-Kirk

The Honorable Henry Kissinger, New York, NY
Mrs. Nancy Kissinger

Mr. Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, Scarsdale, NY
Ms. Sheryl WuDunn

Ms. Ellen Kullman, DuPont, Wilmington, DE
Mr. Michael Kullman

Dr. Zhang Kunsheng, Director-General, Protocol Department

Ms. Michelle Kwan, Torrance, CA

Mr. Lang Lang, New York, NY
Mrs. Zhou Xiulan

The Honorable Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

Ms. Maya Lin, New York, NY
Mr. Daniel Wolf

Ms. Limin Liu, Reno, NV
Dr. Hugh Shapiro

Mr. Andrew N. Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI
Mrs. Paula Liveris

The Honorable Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce
Mrs. Mona Locke

The Honorable Christopher Lu, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary
Ms. Kathryn Thomson

The Honorable Richard Lugar, Senator from Indiana
Mrs. Charlene Lugar

Mr. Yo Yo Ma, Burbank, CA
Ms. Jill Hornor

The Honorable Capricia Marshall, Chief of Protocol, Department of State

Mr. W. James McNerney, The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL
Mrs. Haity McNerney

Mr. Evan Medeiros, Director for Asian Affairs, NSS

His Excellency Jiang Mianheng, Vice Chairman, CAS

Mr. Mel Monzack, Wilmington, DE
Mrs. Ann Monzack

Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Mrs. Wendi Deng Murdoch, New York, NY

Mr. James Murren, Las Vegas, NV
Mrs. Heather Murren

The Honorable Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources
Ms. Virginia Moseley

Mr. Paul Otellini, Intel, Santa Clara, CA
Mrs. Sandy Otellini

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Representative from California, Democratic Leader
Mr. Paul Pelosi

His Excellency Zhang Ping, Minister of NDRC

The Honorable David Plouffe, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
Ms. Olivia Morgan

Mr. Tom Pritzker, Pritzker Organization, Chicago, IL
Mrs. Margot Pritzker

His Excellency Wang Qishan, Vice Premier of the State Council

Ms. Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland, CA
The Honorable Edwin M. Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, CA

Ms. Azita Raji, JP Morgan Securities, Inc., Belvedere, CA
Mr. Gary Syman

The Honorable Ben Rhodes, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting
Ms. Ann Norris

The Honorable Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, New York, NY
Mr. Ian Cameron

Mr. Robert Roche, Shanghai, CN

Mr. Kenneth Roth, The Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Annie Sparrow

The Honorable Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President
Ms. Courtney Chapin

Mr. David M. Rubenstein, The Carlyle Group, Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Alice Rubenstein

Mr. Kirk Rudy, Austin, TX
Mrs. Amy Rudy

The Honorable Brent Scowcroft, The Forum for International Policy, Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Honorable Gary Sebelius

The Honorable Susan Sher, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady
The Honorable Neil Cohen

Mr. Robert Sherman, Boston, MA
Ms. Kim S. Sawyer

His Excellency Chen Shiju, Chief of the President's Office

The Honorable George Shultz, Stanford, CA
Mrs. Charlotte Shultz

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Culver City, CA
The Honorable Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ

The Honorable Gene Sperling, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy & Director of the National Economic Council
Ms. Allison Abner

The Honorable Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State
Ms. Sherburne B. Abbott

Ms. Barbra Streisand, Malibu, CA
Mr. James Brolin

The Honorable Tina Tchen, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement

Mr. John Thornton, The Brookings Institution, HSBC North America, Palm Beach, FL
Mrs. Margaret Thornton

His Excellency Cui Tiankai, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

Dr. Stanley Toy, Jr., Pasadena, CA
Ms. Lana Toy

Mr. Luis Ubinas, The Ford Foundation, New York, NY
Dr. Deborah Tolman

Mr. Jose Villarreal, Commissioner General, Shanghai Expo, San Antonio, TX
Ms. Sara Villarreal

Ms. Vera Wang, New York, NY
Mr. Arthur Becker

Mr. Steve Westly, Menlo Park, CA
Ms. Anita Yu

Ms. Anna Wintour, Vogue Magazine, New York, NY
Mr. Shelby Bryan

Ms. Patricia A. Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, IL
Mr. Kelvin R. Westbrook

Mr. B.D. Wong, New York, NY
Mrs. Roberta Wong

Mr. Charles Woo, Mega Toys, Los Angeles, CA
Mrs. Ying Woo

The Honorable David Wu, Representative from Oregon
Ms. Anna Kopperud

His Excellency Xie Xuren, Minister of Finance

His Excellency Zhang Yesui, Chinese Ambassador to the United States
Madam Chen Naiqing

His Excellency Sun Yibiao, Vice Minister for Customs


Thousands of angry protesters delayed a shipment of nuclear waste arriving at a dumping site in Germany last November.

Authorities are considering using the site for long-term nuclear waste storage, but anti-nuclear campaigners say alarming cancer statistics at a site in the same region should serve as a warning.


Buildings already going up in Gangjeong village coastline
Rock breaking machine fast at work

Latest word from Jeju Island is that several small buildings have already been constructed and yesterday a big rock breaking machine was spotted along the coastline busting up the big boulders into smaller pieces. People confronted the machine operator and got him to stop temporarily. The base is scheduled to be completed by 2014.

The other news from Jeju is that plans have been announced to build a $100 million "Aerospace Museum" on the island by 2013. Local media reported the facility would include, "Pilot training simulators, entertainment facilities, training centers and a three-dimensional cinema and planetarium are to be built to attract the younger generation. A history museum focusing on Korean space studies and the Air Force will appeal to other age groups."

I'd bet my life that this "museum" is not just a coincidence. My guess it is being built to act as a cover, or a way to sell, what will be going on at the Navy base. We know from artist renderings of the Navy base that aircraft carriers and Aegis destroyers, loaded with "missile defense" systems, will be ported at the base. So that means airplanes will likely often be flying overhead. It is also possible that ground-based versions of the "missile defense" systems like the Patriot (PAC-3) might be deployed on the base to "defend" it from attack.

So the museum is being built to sell the coming militarism to the future generations on Jeju Island. This means that they are planning on this base being there for some time and that it will be having a major "aerospace" role in U.S. and South Korean military operations.

The next thing to watch for will be major announcements of aerospace corporations building production facilities on Jeju. They will make the case that they will produce "good jobs" providing services to the Navy base. Jeju Island has been chosen to be militarized for two essential reasons. First because of its strategic location and secondly because it is an island and is difficult for protesting peace activists to get to.

I'm afraid the "Island of Peace" is being turned into the "Aerospace War Island".

Extra: My recent radio interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott is now up on her web site for easy listening. You can find it here

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Global Network Membership Form 2011

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This is a great scene from one of my all-time favorite movies - Matewan - which is about the struggle to build the United Mine Workers Union in the coal fields of Appalachia.

The lesson about organizing unity applies to our situation today as the oligarchy tries to pit worker against worker, race against race, religion against religion, and more.

As our state governments force major cutbacks in funding for education and social programs we need to increasingly build solidarity between peace activists, teachers, social service workers, and clients. Public service union workers who are fighting for their jobs and pensions can't do it on their own. We all need each other at this time. There won't be many tax increases to solve our fiscal problems. We are going to have to cut war spending and move those funds to help states that are in crisis.

In the end it is about leadership. Leaders of groups have a responsibility to aggressively protect the "interests" of their organization. Whether unions, peace groups or social service agencies, their first priority must be those that they serve. An accurate political analysis of the current climate across the nation (and around the globe) is that governments and the wealthy class are out to destroy unions and social progress. Thus it is leadership's responsibility to build coalition with any and all non-violent allies to help build a bulwark against the dismantling of the social fabric.

We are either going to paddle together or we are all going to drown. It's that simple.


These posters were made at the third Draw-a-thon last weekend in Maine. They will soon be on sale for local use. More info on that when I get it.

  • I am sitting in a Starbucks in North Andover, Massachusetts after driving through a steadily worsening snow storm this morning. MB took me to Brunswick on her way to work where I picked up a rental car and made the drive south. The first hour wasn't too bad but from then on it got worse and the road conditions were bad. As I neared my destination I saw one car turned upside-down at one highway exit. I have a 3:00 pm meeting today with local peace activists to go over plans for the Global Network's 19th annual space organizing conference that we will hold here on June 17-19. We picked this community because Raytheon Co. has a missile offense production facility in town and local activists were eager to host the event. I just hope they show up for the meeting in this weather! I tried to come last week but had to cancel due to a snow storm. The drive back home tomorrow should be easier.

  • I had the great pleasure to introduce actress/activist Vinie Burrows last night in Brunswick at her Frontier Cafe performance of "Walk Together Children" as part of the MLK birthday observation. Vinie, a famous black performer from New York City, is also a leading activist for peace and social justice. Her solo performance last night was beyond magical as she shared the voices of black and Hispanic teenagers, old black women, and acted out several Langston Hughes poems. Maine activist Tom Whitney has scheduled Vinie around the state during this week. Don't miss her if you get the chance.

  • I've heard from several folks in Europe this morning who already got their GN newsletter, Space Alert, in the mail. That's great postal service as I just mailed it last Friday afternoon. You can also see the newsletter on-line at this link. Be patient as it takes a bit to fully load because it is a big file.

Monday, January 17, 2011



Draw-a-Thon III, co-sponsored by CODEPINK Maine, The Union of Maine Visual Artists, and the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign in Maine, an opportuntiy for 'thon artists to mass produce images for parade art and posters with BOW$H messaging.

Many cooperated to teach and learn how to produce art all can use in the coming year to help the public connect the dots between war spending and budget cuts at home.

Held in conjunction with Robert Shetterly's show Portraits from Americans Who Tell the Truth at the Portland Public Library Lewis Gallery.

Words above and video by Lisa Savage


Cement is being poured on the rocky coastline in the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea. They are building a pier to dock Navy ships, including the U.S. Aegis destroyers (built in Bath, Maine). I can't help but wonder if any of the workers in the photo above feel at all conflicted about burying the sea life that lives amongst the rocks?

Just offshore the soft corals abound (recognized by UNESCO as a vital global treasure) and will be severely impacted when they begin dredging in order to make it possible to bring the big nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and other warships into the port. The fishing and sea-diving by the old women of the village will obviously be harmed.

This Navy base, strategically located in the Yellow Sea, will be used by the U.S. Navy to widen its efforts to develop the capability to choke off China's shipping lanes.

The U.S. is simultaneously pushing South Korea and Japan to enter a military alliance that will also be aimed at China.

The whole plan reeks of killing. Not only the violence of war but also the violence that is done to nature and to the human culture. There is no vision here. There is no justice here. There is only the blind obedience to power and greed. The worst of humanity is crushing the best of humanity and nature.

I remain in awe of those in South Korea who continue to stand in resistance to this madness. It is their courage that gives hope and vision. They speak not only for themselves but for the rocks, the coral, the water, and the fish. They speak for the future generations.

Sunday, January 16, 2011



“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank. ”

– Barack Obama Campaign Promise October 27, 2007

  • Yesterday I went to the Portland Public Library for the third Draw-a-thon where artists and activists from around the state gathered to make posters with the messages of Bring Our War $$ Home. They were surrounded in the basement art gallery with many portraits created by artist Robert Shetterly of Americans Who Tell the Truth. A good number of local citizens came down the stairs into the gallery and they saw the poster making process happening. On their way back up the stairs they couldn't miss the Bring Our War $$ Home banner hanging over the railing. Good work done by Kenny Cole, Natasha Mayers and Lisa Savage to keep the message alive.
  • When I picked up the Sunday Boston Globe this morning I began pulling out all the advertisements and other junk that fill the newspaper. It struck me that the last section, almost hidden inside the huge mound of paper, was my favorite part - the Ideas section. An interesting commentary on the state of democracy in our country these days.
  • Read this morning that the Lib-Dems in England, who helped the Conservatives stay in power by forming a coalition government with the Tories, are now falling on hard times. Last April the Nicholas Clegg led Lib-Dems had a 34% approval rating but now are supported by only 9% of the population. A series of bitter betrayals, particularly Clegg's decision to triple the cost of tuition for university students, has led to this steep decline in support. One student told the media, "I supported the Lib-Dems. I campaigned for them amongst my friends and handed out leaflets. But now I feel that I was championing a childish cause, a cause for people who were not honest about what they stood for...There are many students who will never vote Lib-Dem again." Many people are now calling the Lib-Dems the "human shields" for the Conservatives.