Organizing Notes

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

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

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

Saturday, March 12, 2011


When I was on the recent peace walk one night a pot luck supper was held for us at a church in Warren, Rhode Island. One of the women, a teacher, who came to the event told us during the program after supper that she had received a notice of dismissal that day from the city of Providence. She was on the verge of tears as she talked about the growing effort of cities to bring in new teachers with no experience to replace existing teachers because the replacements would be cheaper. The cities don't want to have to pay the higher wages and benefits to veteran teachers.

The woman told us that it takes at least eight years of experience to become a good teacher. She feared for the children who will be thrown to the mercy of rookie teachers.

Local politicians who claim they are doing what is best for their communities and then pull shenanigans like this need to be sent packing. We need to demand that elected officials begin to protect and defend their constituents and one important way to do that is by them having the courage to demand that we Bring Our War $$ Home. By doing this we could solve the fiscal crisis of every city and every state in the nation.

Today I went to the weekly Lenten Peace Vigil at Bath Iron Works and as I was leaving I was speaking to a local high school girl who came to the event. She told me that one of her teachers showed a news clip from CBS's TV news program 60 Minutes that featured a story about the effects of homelessness and poverty on children. The girl told me that during the class discussion after the video she mentioned the numbers she found here on this blog: The total debt of all 50 state governments is now $130 billion. The U.S. will spend $170 billion on our wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan this year. Maine's share of war spending since 2001 is now right at $3.4 billion according to the National Priorities Project.

The girl said that it's been difficult to get many of her follow students interested in these issues but when she mentioned those numbers several of them took notice and commented. It just goes to show how sometimes it just takes one of us to have to courage to speak up and make these connections that can help move people from apathy into consciousness and action.


It was found that three people arbitrarily chosen out of 90 people who were waiting for a rescue helicopter to come on the school ground within 10 km-radious from the plant where the explosion happened are positive with high radioactivity. They are fine but need the whole cleansing of the body.

It is advised that if you live within 20 km-radious from the plant, you throw away your clothes after entering into a room, house, facility, from the outside, especially so if the clothes get wet in the rain.

One of the staff, who got down due to the explosion while doing his utmost to stop the situation from further worsening, died in the hospital in the evening. Details on his death have not been disclosed.

Quakes are still happening, spreading into nearby places. Someone calculated that radioactivity will reach Tokyo tomorrow night. A big oil complex in Sendai has been on fire since the quake in the evening today, following the gas complex still on fire since yesterday.

We don't know how to stop this ongoing energy--nuclear, gas, oil-complex disasters. To me, it is as if Obama's love of ' energy' and ' infrastructure' has been backfired here in Japan, as some Japanese accomplices have made this country greedy, seeking energy abroad.

All the leading politicians, whether conservative or progressive, must have been informed of this probable situation as to Fukushima No.1 & 2 plants already last night, a conviction I gained from still another source. Our Diet (Parliament) should be moved to somewhere near a nuclear power plant.

But in the meantime, the older nuclear power plant in Shizuoka which stands on an active fault would be another threat, especially to Tokyoites.

Makiko Sato


Explosion rocks Fukushima nuclear power plant!

A famous pro-citizen physicist, whom many anti-nuclear power plant citizens deeply trust, says that the containment vessel has already broken and that the next problem is how badly the pressure container inside has been broken. He says this situation is beyond a simple meltdown, and that second criticality is nearing. He says the ultimate problem is how they can contain the situation, which is between Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

He says citizens living nearby should go far away, desirably outside 30 km radius from the accident site, though our government has only extended it from 10 to 20 km radius as to No.1 plant.

And another disaster may be coming at No.2. Let me remind you once more that our government had anticipated this late last night. Citizens around the power plants were not told about the true situations which politicians had been informed of.

Makiko Sato

Friday, March 11, 2011


SolarTimes editor Sandy LeonVest talks with author and labor, human rights and peace activist Bruce Gagnon about the US warfare state, the economic culture of "endless war" and the prospects and possible ramifications of US military involvement in Libya. They discuss transcending single-issue politics and the importance of coalition building among activists, through finding our commonality and connecting the dots between climate change, social justice and war.

Listen here



Global Network board member Makiko Sato in Japan sends the latest report following the earthquake in her country.

According to repeated TV news:
No.2 reactor of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in norther part of Japan cannot be cooled down any more, as its inner diesel-powered emergency electricity supply is now out at 20:00, a few hours after the electricity blackout happened in the area. As for No. 1, No. 3 reactors, they still have some time to run our of electricity for cooling them.

Citizens living within 3 km from the plant were urged to evacuate into some buildings, as radioactive leakage is expected if emergency electricity supplies are out. As last resort, before the blackout would be somehow overcome, eight electricity power trucks of the electricity company's and some of Security Defense Forces were dispatched for the No. 1 plant. The latter arrived at 19:48, but no information has delivered as to the connection went successful and how long one such truck can hold for supplying.

Anti-nuclear power plant groups are circulating their suggestions or appeals, including advice of eating iodine or one specific sea weed rich in it.

Bodies of 200-300 people have been found on streets in Sendai, Fukushima, where the river were inundated with Tsunami.

In Tohoku area, 4.5 million households are still out of electricity. In Tokyo area, there are 3.61 million households without electricity. Japanese government has requested U.S. forces in Japan for help.

Another activist in Japan, Junko Abe, reports that:

Tsunami will grow more powerful. The 2nd and the 3rd stage attacks will be more powerful than the 1st stage ones. It will attack other parts of the Pacific coast, areas such as Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kyushu. The first stage attacks were of 10m high.

UPDATE: Thanks, Bruce, for your concern. So bad. Not look it will be heading for better. Quakes and tsunami never die out. People in the northern parts are still very much endangered, and fires in several cities have not been contained. One of the gas tanks on fire in Ichihara, Chiba, has just exploded, spreading toxic gas around. Nearby residents have been evacuated.

It is a small relief to read that the damages were not so big in Hawai'i, but still, to people on small islands in the Pacific, the fear of Tsunami must be so large. Please take care. Right now, warning of 10m high tsunami at one area has been issued on TV.

(I'm quoting this just as I hear NHK TV news.).....................
The evacuation area around Fukushima nuclear power plant was enlarged from 3 to 10 km early this morning.

Inside the operating room of No.1 ( I heard No. 2) reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant 1,000 times higher radioactivity has been detected.

One expert now appearing on TV is saying that there is a 'minor possibility' that the containment vessel will be broken down. The announcer and the expert are saying a slight radioactivity was detected at the front gate of the plant but that this may not be from the reactor itself but from some broken tubes or something around it. I've just got a Gov. paper from an anti-nuke activist in Tokyo via email who also is a core member of GreenPeace Japan. This was released by the central government at 22:35 last night, which regards Gov. emergency counter-measures to contain damages in every aspect.

The paper says at 21:41 last night our prime minister ordered that in case of evacuation,
residents be over 10 km radius away from the No.1 plant. (Actual evacuation 'recommendation' for expanded area of 10 km-radius was issued around 5:00 this morning. )

One expert fear the repeated quakes in the northern part ( still going on) might trigger ones in the southeastern, and then in the southern area, as has been afraid, but so far, it seems OK.

One of the hard hit area in a Miyagi town at the river mouth, the ground of the whole area has sunk, meaning another Tsunami might endanger people left even on the roof terrace of 3 or 4 story-concrete buildings, so the local authority is right now asking for their help. The fear of Tsunami is still warned as to every part in Japan. Several towns in Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima have been totally destroyed. Fatalities around Japan may be thousands or more.

Many workers in Tokyo had to stay in nearby public buildings like universities, community centers, and so on, as Japan Rail (JR) trains didn't run because of blackout. Part of transportation including some lines of JR recovered late at night. I'm totally in a safe place, feeling devastated, praying nuclear power plant(s) in Japan might not cause further disaster.



Thursday, March 10, 2011


State troopers unloading riot gear in Madison, Wisconsin

  • More than 8,000 people have once again taken control of the state capital building in Madison, Wisconsin and the governor has called in the state troopers. The ACLU in Madison reports that riot gear has just been unloaded and it looks like the governor is going to go for head busting. Look for troops mounted on camels next.
  • Wired is reporting that weapons corporations are using prison labor in the U.S. (at 23 cents an hour) to help build Patriot (PAC-3) missiles for Raytheon. Prisoners are also making cable assemblies for the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, Bell/Textron’s Cobra helicopter, as well as electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s laser rangefinder. Now you can see why the corporations want to get rid of unions. Why pay workers living wages with health benefits when you can build more jails, move the unemployed into these jails, privatize the prisons, and then get your slave labor to build weapons to kill people in other countries so you can then steal their natural resources. It's called slavery or feudalism. Folks better get hip to what is going down real soon.
  • The latest media distraction is to promote mega-rich man, mega-egotist Donald Trump for president. He is daily being interviewed on the mainstream media where he is offering promises that if he was elected he'd return America to its #1 status. Some polls are showing that he would today run even with Obama in a national election.
  • According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, a majority of Americans prefer cutting defense spending to reduce the federal deficit rather than taking money from public retirement and health programs. The poll found 51 percent of Americans support reducing defense spending, and only 28 percent want to cut Medicare and Medicaid health programs for the elderly and poor. A mere 18 percent back cuts in the Social Security retirement program, Reuters says.

    In addition, a new Bloomberg poll asked Americans if they would support pulling all troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The poll found an overwhelming 66 percent would favor this action, while only 30 percent oppose it.



Michael Moore calls for a non-violent revolt against the class war that is being aimed at working people. Now is the time to be is the time to get real. Get off your knees and speak up. We either do it now or we go down the tubes.

Don't be afraid of the emotion - as Dr. Helen Caldicott says, if you are not emotional about all of this then you are not healthy.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


A protest in Boston last weekend around Int'l Women's Day

My youngest sister lives in Central Florida and yesterday she called to say that she was considering going to a rally that was being organized by unions to protest their new Republican governor's plan to destroy their pensions and social progress. She's been reading this blog and has my rap down pretty well and thought she might take a leaflet with her that spells out the cost of war. So she went to the National Priorities Project web site and printed out the cost of war to the citizens of Orlando. She made copies and pushed through her nervousness as she'd never done anything like this before.

She called me this morning and was swinging from the chandeliers with excitement. She went to the rally, handed out the leaflets and talked up a blue streak about the cost of war spending. She even volunteered to get involved in the effort.

Former Congressman Alan Grayson, who was swept out of office last November in the Republican tide, was there and she spoke to him as well.

I was proud to hear that my sister took this step. She overcame her fears about talking to people about politics and discovered that she was actually good at it. She did what we all must do more of - go out and talk to the people on the streets in order to provide them with more information so they can better articulate a real solution to the economic crisis. In the case of Orlando the taxpayers there have given over $1.85 billion since 2001 to pay for the wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan.

I did two interviews yesterday, a half-hour public access TV spot out of Burlington, Vermont via Skype (you can see it here) and then a one-hour radio interview from the San Francisco bay area.

This evening I drive an hour south to Biddeford where my friend Richard Rhames will interview me on his public access TV show called Out in Left Field. Then on Friday he will drive up here and I will have him on my own public access TV show. Richard is one of my favorite guests. He has a small family farm and understands what it means to struggle for a living. He's been a political activist for a long time and is quite open and direct about telling the truth about how our political system has been corrupted by the corporations that now control both political parties.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, and he was the founder of the media watchdog FAIR.

Monday, March 07, 2011


Click on the photos so you can read the signs
I left early this morning to head to Maine's state capital in Augusta with friends Dan Ellis and Peter Woodruff. There was a 9:30 am rally inside the capital by organizations representing the elderly, the homeless, and the poor. They gathered to protest our Republican governor's proposed two-year budget that would drastically slash social spending while giving more tax cuts to the rich.

We were there early enough that Dan and I could leaflet every one of the 250 folks who showed up for the event. When they called for people to gather on the stairway behind the podium, seven of our Bring Our War $$ Home supporters took their signs up onto the staircase. Most of the signs made by the groups that organized the event were mild by our standards, ours were more direct and to the point about taxing the rich and ending war spending.

Following the rally people signed up to speak before the joint House and Senate committee that is now holding hearings on the governor's proposed budget. After two hours of listening to a staff analysis they took a couple hours of public comment and then switched back to another hour of staff analysis. I finally got to speak for my three-minutes around 3:00 pm, after an almost five hour wait.

All day long people predominantly talked about their one specific area of concern - don't cut seniors medical care; don't cut HIV patients care; don't cut homeless housing assistance; don't cut aid to families. These were important and at times heart breaking stories but one thing was missing. None of the representatives I heard from AARP, United Way, poor people's organizations, or the legal agencies that represent the poor did any kind of deeper analysis of the situation at hand.

When I spoke I tried to do this by acknowledging that the governor was, despite his claims otherwise, undertaking class warfare on the working class and poor people. I mentioned that the proposed income tax cuts and estate tax cuts for those at the top would only increase the wealth divide between the 1% in the country who now control the equivalent wealth of all the rest of us on the bottom of the pyramid. This is leading us to a new feudalism I said.

The governor's claims that tax cuts for the rich would increase jobs is not supported by economic data that instead shows that state funding for education and infrastructure actually creates more jobs.

And I suggested, this economic crisis will be even worse next year. What was needed is a real solution.

I then read from the leaflet that we handed out today that said: The total debt of all 50 state governments is now $130 billion. The U.S. will spend $170 billion on our wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan this year. Maine's share of war spending since 2001 is now right at $3.4 billion according to the National Priorities Project.

Imagine, I said, how those dollars could have been used to fund education, health care, and other human needs in our state. Many more of our tax dollars will be wasted as long as these wars continue.

We must, I concluded, call upon all of Maine's local, state, and federal elected officials to speak up and tell President Obama and Congress to Bring Our War $$ Home now. I also suggested that the Maine legislature might consider passing a resolution calling on Washington to Bring Our War $$ Home.

At this point I had nine seconds left on the clock to finish my last line. But the chair of the committee interrupted me to say "It's time to wrap up." I'd been watching him for hours let many people go over their time without interruption.

So I increased my volume and stared right into the eyes of the chair and said, "We should all begin to make the connections between endless war spending and our economic crisis here at home. Thank you."

It was a long wait to speak for three-minutes but I think our presence in the capital brought a broader dimension to the day, something I am very proud of our folks for doing. We can talk all day about how bad cuts in social funding are but we have a responsibility to clearly articulate the path out of this deep hole if we hope to restore the economy and protect social justice.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


Okinawans engaged in nonviolent action to protect their beloved, biodiverse Yanbaru Forest from unwanted U.S. military training helipad construction. Photo: The Situation in Takae Higashimura and Yanbaru Forest website.)
The blog Ten Thousand Things reports: Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Foreign Minister Maehara has stepped down because his acceptance of illegal South Korean donations has come to light.

The villagers of Takae, Okinawan environmentalists, the wildlife and trees (and the ill-paid construction workers caught in the middle of of the Japanese government's forced construction in Yanbaru Forest) have an uneasy reprieve for the next couple of months. Tokyo has stopped heavy equipment construction in the forest because of the start of the reproductive season of the critically endangered Okinawa Woodpecker.

Takae's lush forest where Tokyo wants to construct of six helipads (diameter of 75 meters each) for U.S. military V-22 Ospreys. Over 192 plant and animal (most are endangered) species are unique to this area.

The Japan Times (via Kyodo News) published a disturbing report of U.S. diplomat Kevin Maher's racist disparagement of Okinawans as "lazy" and "masters of manipulation and extortion."

Maher is in charge of Japanese affairs at the State Department. When he was posted in Okinawa in the summer of 2008, Ginowan City residents formally requested he immediately leave their island.

A former Japanese Foreign Ministry official said his experience indicated that other "U.S. officials in charge of recent U.S.-Japan negotiations shared ideas like those of Mr. Maher."

Read "U.S. diplomat accused of disparaging Okinawans: Islanders 'masters of manipulation and extortion' on Futenma issue" here.


That control of oil in Libya is just too much to pass up. Here we go again.