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, April 09, 2011


The Peasants Need Pitchforks
By Robert Scheer

A “working class hero,” John Lennon told us in his song of that title, “is something to be/ Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/ And you think you’re so clever and classless and free/ But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.”

The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is a myth blown away by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current issue of Vanity Fair. In an article titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” Stiglitz states that the top thin layer of the superwealthy controls 40 percent of all wealth in what is now the most sharply class-divided of all developed nations: “Americans have been watching protests against repressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet, in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.”

That is the harsh reality obscured by the media’s focus on celebrity gossip, sports rivalries and lotteries, situations in which the average person can pretend that he or she is plugged into the winning side. The illusion of personal power substitutes consumer sovereignty—which smartphone to purchase—for real power over the decisions that affect our lives. Even though most Americans accept that the political game is rigged, we have long assumed that the choices we make in the economic sphere as to career and home are matters that respond to our wisdom and will. But the banking tsunami that wiped out so many jobs and so much homeownership has demonstrated that most Americans have no real control over any of that, and while they suffer, the corporate rich reward themselves in direct proportion to the amount of suffering they have caused.

Instead of taxing the superrich on the bonuses dispensed by top corporations such as Exxon, Bank of America, General Electric, Chevron and Boeing, all of which managed to avoid paying any federal corporate taxes last year, the politicians of both parties in Congress are about to accede to the Republican demand that programs that help ordinary folks be cut to pay for the programs that bailed out the banks.

It is a reality further obscured by the academic elite, led by economists who receive enormous payoffs from Wall Street in speaking and consulting fees, and their less privileged university colleagues who are so often dependent upon wealthy sponsors for their research funding. Then there are the media, which are indistinguishable parts of the corporate-owned culture and which with rare exception pretend that we are all in the same lifeboat while they fawn in their coverage of those who bilk us and also dispense fat fees to top pundits. Complementing all that is the dark distraction of the faux populists, led by tea party demagogues, who blame unions and immigrants for the crimes of Wall Street hustlers.

My book on the banking meltdown, “The Great American Stickup,” begins with the following words. “They did it. Yes, there is a ‘they’: the captains of finance, their lobbyists, and allies among leading politicians of both parties, who together destroyed an American regulatory system that had been functioning splendidly. …” They got to rewrite the laws to enable their massive greed over everything from the tax codes to the sale of toxic derivatives over the past quarter century, smashing the American middle class and with it the nation’s experiment in democracy.

The lobbyists are deliberately bipartisan in their bribery, and the authors of our demise are equally marked as Democrats and Republicans. Ronald Reagan first effectively sang the siren song of ending government’s role in corporate crime prevention, but it was Democrat Bill Clinton who accomplished much of that goal. It is the enduring conceit of the top Democratic leaders that they are valiantly holding back the forces of evil when they actually have continuously been complicit.

The veterans of the Clinton years, so prominent in the Obama administration, still deny their role in the disaster of the last 25 years. Yet the sad tale of income inequality that Stiglitz laments is as much a result of their policies as those of their Republican rivals. In one of the best studies of this growing gap in income, economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found that during Clinton’s tenure in the White House the income of the top 1 percent increased by 10.1 percent per year, while that of the other 99 percent of Americans increased by only 2.4 percent a year. Thanks to President Clinton’s deregulation and the save-the-rich policies of George W. Bush, the situation deteriorated further from 2002 to 2006, a period in which the top 1 percent increased its income 11 percent annually while the rest of Americans had a truly paltry gain of 1 percent per year.

And that was before the meltdown that wiped out the jobs and home values of so many tens of millions of American families. “The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles,” Stiglitz concludes, “but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.”

- Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. His columns appear in newspapers across the country. Between 1964 and 1969 he was Vietnam correspondent, managing editor and editor in chief of Ramparts magazine. From 1976 to 1993 he served as a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.


The U.S. government loves to call on everyone else to "renounce the use of violence."

Anyone notice the hypocrisy?


Our new governator in Maine has added to the state welcome sign a new bit that reads "Open for business". Basically this means he wants to turn Maine into a total corporate colony.

Mr. LePage, elected in a three-way race by a whopping 38%, formally was the CEO of a cheap discount chain called Marden's.

So some friends made a big banner with some Marden's type-themes on it and posed for the photo above. (Click on the photo for a better view.) Quite fitting.

The governator just returned from his week-long vacation trip to Jamaica. In his Saturday radio address he said he wants Maine to be more like our neighbor New Hampshire which historically has been a model of right-wing governance - "Live free or die," free market, no-tax, few social programs, few government regulations - you get the idea. Yes, a corporate colony.

At the same time we witness the "big deal" that was cut in Washington DC last night to "save the federal government from shutdown". The deal will slash another $40 billion from social programs as the Republican controlled House of Representatives, the Democrats, and Obama continue their relentless assault on social progress. This $40 billion is equal to what the Pentagon spends on the Afghanistan occupation in about three months. But we are not supposed to notice.
In many respects the public is stunned and listless. They have no feeling that their voice matters in the face of the 24-7 corporate onslaught that is shattering the country these days. How can you claim to be a democracy when the people basically have their hands tied behind their backs and a gag on their mouth? The ever increasingly rich oligarchy has the bases covered with the courts, the media, and the majority of the politicians in their pocket.

Humanity has seen feudalism before. It still exists in many parts of the world today - like in Saudi Arabia. Many countries though had thought they had broken the backs of feudalism and moved on to democracy. But the global corporate forces are making their comeback. In some places they are using military force to retake control. In countries like the U.S. it is a mean-sprited budgetary process that is returning us to the days of lords and masters by cutting back on public education, health care, retirement security, and more.

Our new governator in Maine is already sending the message to workers that they must forget their noble history of social gains through unionization and must relearn to bow and scrape before the business overlords. We shall see how much of this shit the public is willing to swallow. History also shows that eventually people have enough of it and react. Time will tell.

Some of us though are already at that point and will keep refusing to bow to those who say we must be their servants. Resistance to the new feudalists is the only way back to real justice and sanity.

Friday, April 08, 2011


Yumi Kikuchi writes on her blog:

Tetsuo Jimbo is an old friend of mine. He and the crew went to Fukushima Daiichi Neclear Power Plant and took the footage you can see above. It is so sad to see the dogs and cows walking around trying to survive...

With the geiger counter exceeding 100 mSv/hr I can only say Tetsuo and his crew have guts!! Of course, we should be thankful to them for showing the world what is happening there!

No More Fukushimas!

No more nuclear power plants! They all must be closed down! All of them.
There is no safe place for them in Japan, or the world, for that matter!
April 10th 'Stop Nuclear Power Plants! Global Action Day'!


The Global Network mourns for the people of Japan following the recent disastrous chain of events that began with the earthquake, tsunami and then the nuclear power plant. Sadly Japan is now the victim of three gargantuan nuclear disasters: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan tragically demonstrates, again, the dangers of nuclear power, an energy source that must be abandoned--as a clear and present threat to life. Instead there must be full implementation of safe, clean energy technologies --- which are here today.

The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space has long challenged the use of atomic energy in space. The network has emphasized that there are safe alternatives to energize space devices. In recent times, NASA, at long last, has begun substituting solar energy for nuclear power in space. Indeed, in coming months NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft will be launched on a five-year mission to Jupiter. It was not long ago that NASA emphatically insisted that solar power could not substitute for nuclear beyond the orbit of Mars. Suddenly, it now can be done.

Likewise, as numerous studies have documented, safe, clean, renewable energy technologies now here can provide all the power we need on earth. Nuclear power and its deadly dangers are unnecessary. As the conservative scientific magazine, Scientific American, in its October 26, 2009 cover story, "A Plan for A Sustainable Future," declared, "Wind, water, solar technologies, [and conservation] can provide 100 percent of the world's energy needs."

The issue of switching to safe, clean energy is not technological -- it's political.

The problem involves vested interests: the government agencies which push nuclear power, notably in the United States the national nuclear laboratories and the entity that owns them, the Department of Energy (headed currently by a former national nuclear laboratory director), and the nuclear industry as it seeks to profit from selling nuclear technology despite the cost in people's lives.

These same entities are pushing nuclear power world-wide as evidenced by GE’s involvement in the construction of Japanese reactors and the recent U.S.-India Nuclear deal. China and other emerging nations are also expanding plans for nuclear power despite the horrific memories of Chernobyl and now Fukushima.

A disgrace in demanding nuclear power on earth and space has been President Barack Obama. As president, he has reversed the critical position he espoused as a candidate and now, even in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, is seeking to "revive" the nuclear industry with the building of new nuclear plants using billions of taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile, his administration has been pushing to also "revive" the use of nuclear power in space by restarting U.S. production of Plutonium-238 for use on space devices.

The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space calls for:

* The end of nuclear power on earth. Although the nuclear establishment claims this is impractical, it is not. In the U.S. where nuclear power provides 20% of the electricity, there's a 20% reserve capacity in the electrical system. All 104 U.S. nuclear plants could -- and must -- be immediately shut down. The reserve capacity can deal with their absence.

And, meanwhile, a concentrated effort could -- and must -- be made to swiftly bring the safe, clean energy technologies on line. Instead of promoting nuclear power expansion globally the nuclear power industry should be dismantled or converted to a green technology industry.

* The end of nuclear power in space. Accidents such as the 1964 SNAP-9A disaster in which a plutonium-powered satellite fell from orbit, disintegrating and spreading the plutonium widely -- a plutonium release long seen as causing an increase in lung cancer on earth -- have demonstrated the folly of using nuclear power overhead.

* The closure of all national nuclear laboratories. They have been breeding grounds for developing lethal atomic energy -- on earth and in space. There's an effort now underway in Washington to cut back on the federal government spending. Here is a federal government activity that must be cut back -- a string of national nuclear laboratories, including Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Lawrence Livermore, Idaho, Sandia, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Argonne, spending billions upon billions in taxpayer money annually while developing deadly nuclear technology.

Unless the nuclear juggernaut is stopped, we all live in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima.

Global Network Board of Directors & Advisors:

Bob Anderson (Stop the War Machine, New Mexico)
Dr. Helen Caldicott (Pediatrician/Anti-nuclear activist, Australia)
Sung-Hee Choi (Artist/teacher/activist, South Korea)
MacGregor Eddy (Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, California)
Stacey Fritz (No Nukes North, Alaska)
Atsushi Fujioka (Professor of Economics Ritsumeikan University, Japan)
Bruce Gagnon (Global Network Coordinator, Maine)
Holly Gwinn Graham (Singer/songwriter/activist, Washington)
Karl Grossman (Professor of Journalism SUNY/College of Old Westbury, New York)
Regina Hagen (Darmstadter Friedensform, Germany)
Matthew Hoey (Military Space Transparency Project, Massachusetts)
Filip Ilkowski (Lecturer Political Science/History Warsaw University, Poland)
Helen John (Peace activist, England)
Dr. Michio Kaku (Professor Theoretical Physics CUNY, New York)
Tamara Lorincz (Halifax Peace Coalition, Canada)
Dr. Hannah Middleton (Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, Australia)
Agneta Norberg (Swedish Peace Council, Sweden)
Lindis Percy (Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases, England)
J. Sri Raman (Movement Against Nuclear Weapons, India)
J. Narayana Rao (All India Peace & Solidarity Organization, India)
Tim Rinne (Nebraskans for Peace, Nebraska)
Makiko Sato (Anti-nuclear activist, Japan)
Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck (Friedenswerkstatt Mutlangen, Germany)
Alice Slater (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, New York)
Koji Sugihara (No to Nukes & Missile Defense Campaign, Japan)
Bill Sulzman (Citizens for Peace in Space, Colorado)
Jan Tamas (Humanist Party, Czech Republic)
Dr. Dave Webb (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, United Kingdom)
Carol Urner (Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Oregon)
Loring Wirbel (Citizens for Peace in Space, Colorado)
Lynda Williams (Physics teacher/activist, California)
Wooksik Cheong (Peace Network, South Korea)
Hibiki Yamaguchi (People’s Plan Study Group, Japan)

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. ~Henry David Thoreau


Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) has become a consistant anti-war voice in the House of Representatives. Especially amazing because he comes from the conservative south.

Thursday, April 07, 2011



Arm the government and then arm the opposition....a tried and true way to create instability and make money at the same time.

Next step? Occupation to bring "stability" - and of course control of Libya's oil.

Can you say - scam?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


These images were created during the rally on Monday at the state capital in Augusta, Maine. Artists from around the state once again gathered during the protest to ask people there to envision how our war $$ could be spent here at home.

These are some of the offerings made that day.

As we organize here in Maine we've been trying to reach out beyond our normal confines. So two years ago we began working with artists on this campaign and now they are making and distributing posters across the state from some of the images that have been created. Art helps the public "see" the issue in a different kind of way. Many people, myself included, are visual learners and these images can often say more to a person than hours of speeches ever could.

We are lucky in Maine to have artists like Natasha Mayers, Kenny Cole and Robert Shetterly to work alongside.


I woke up this morning to my emails and found news that Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi had been arrested along with Yang Yoon-Mo from the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in South Korea. Yang has been a key activist in the village struggle to stop the Navy base construction. Sung-Hee has moved to live in Gangjeong and has played a key role building international support for the overwhelmed villagers.

Apparantely Yang had tried to block a construction truck with his body and somehow got underneath the truck. When Sung-Hee heard about it she ran to the site and crawled under the truck with Yang. Knowing Sung-Hee I can see her doing just that. Already I have had emails from Koreans living as far away as Denmark so Sung-Hee's wide network of friends are speading word.

See a message below that I got from one Korean woman on Facebook.

You can follow the latest happenings on Jeju from Sung-Hee's blog here

You can also watch a Korean news video of them being dragged out from under the truck

Hi, This is Jungjoo. I have heard about you from my friends who work with different orgnization such as Life and peace fellowship and also I got to know you from Sunghee Choi. I assume you might visit Sunghee's blog sometimes. so maybe you know what has been going on in Jeju island now.Unfortunately this morning Sung-hee got arrested while she was trying to block the truck carrying stones and tetrapots for naval construction. she was laying down under the truck for a while eventually police took her to prision. I don't know exactly what happened there because I wasn't there. our community members and other activists were with her. another guy who has been protesting against naval base construction for 4 years alone also was arrested with her. we don't konw she would be setenced or be free with some fine. it is very sad she got arrested because she has been working so hard on this issue and keep updating date to date news. We do hope she could be set free soon without any fine. but Navy seems so determined this time and rushed to keeping doing construction by ignoring local people. I don't know what we should do. but Absolutely we need solidartiy and friends who can help her. please share this situation with your friends. thank you for reading this note. if you have any question, please ask me. thanks.
JungJoo Park

From Sung-Hee after getting out of jail:

I was just released around 12:53 am, April 7 from the Dongbu Police Station, Jeju city (A couple who manage a restaurant in the Jjeu city thankfully drove me to the village) but movie critic Yang Yoon-Mo was not released and he is still in a confinement cell of the police station. He has been once imprisoned for his former actions against naval base and this time, has been accumulated with two more charges beside today. We are planning to accelerate the struggle against the Jeju naval issue to the Pan-Nation struggle, while doing the movement for the prompt release of him. We are asking people whether the Peace Island can stand with illegal and violent entry of naval base. No.

Professor Yang and I had been locked up in the Dongbu police station confinement cell for about five hours after we were moved from the Seogwipo police station where we were carried after arrest around 9am on April 6. We resolutely claimed that the forceful construction of the naval base and arrest upon us was violent and illegal therefore we are innocent and the police station chief should make apology to us. We also strongly resisted against their moving us to the Dongboo police station. We also carried out hunger strike for a day and determined to do it more days until this illegal construction is stopped and some violent policemen are punished. Still, they charged us with the business-interruption crime. It is another process whether the prosecutors will indict us later or not.

While I was relatively gently dealt with, the arrest on movie critic Yang was really violent and inhumane. He was handcuffed with wounds in his arms and violently hit by and inhumanely dealt by some police men who even tried to hit him inside a police wagon but was restrained by a policeman. He needs the hospital check tomorrow morning with a lawyer and we will see how much degree of wounds he has gotten during the violent arrest.

Many young activists here not only helped us to spread the struggle through photos and videos but were also told to block six trucks in the morning after we were arrested. A leader in the organization called the Frontiers was told to have thrown his body under the crane as part of making efforts to prevent the construction. He was not arrested. The construction was told to resume again in the afternoon after all the people gathered in the village hall to discuss the aftermath strategy and to inform the news to nationwide media. The struggle to prevent illegal construction will go on with higher intensification afterward. We will do our best efforts and people will eventually win.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


At the capital in Augusta, Maine


As more and more Americans face mortgage foreclosure, banks' crucial ownership documents for the properties are often unclear and are sometimes even bogus, a condition that's causing lawsuits and hampering an already weak housing market.

In the United Kingdom activists are protesting at the banks by doing sit-ins. Isn't it time that we began to hold civil disobedience actions inside the banks, Hedge funds, and insurance companies?


Following the defeat of the Japanese imperial Army the U.S. essentially took control of Korea. The U.S. put right-wing Koreans, who had collaborated with the Japanese during their occupation of Korea, in charge of the newly "liberated" country. This betrayal is what eventually led to the Korean war.

On April 3, 1948, the right-wing police on Jeju island fired on a demonstration commemorating the Korean struggle against Japanese rule. Outraged, the people of Jeju attacked 12 police stations. In the fighting many policemen and civilians were killed. They then issued an appeal urging the local population to rise against the occuping American military government. Up to 60,000 individuals were killed in fighting or execution on the island.

The brutal suppression of the rebellion by the South Korean army resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, the destruction of many villages on the island, and sparked rebellions on the Korean mainland. The rebellion, which included the mutiny of several hundred members of the South Korean 11th Constabulary Regiment, lasted until May 1949, although small isolated pockets of fighting continued into 1953.

Reporters from the U.S. military Stars and Stripes newspaper provided vivid and uncensored accounts of the South Korean Army’s brutal suppression of the rebellion, the local popular support of the rebels as well as the rebels' retaliation against local “rightist” opponents. The Koreans committed these atrocities in front of the U.S. military. The Americans documented the massacre, but never intervened. On May 13, 1949 the American ambassador to South Korea wired Washington that the Jeju rebels and their sympathizers had been, "killed, captured, or converted."

On the 63rd anniversary of the Jeju April 3 uprising, about 1,300 workers from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) gathered for a cultural and peace evening event held near the naval field office in the Gangjeong village to express their solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers' struggle against the current naval base construction.

After the KCTU rally, villagers, workers and other citizens gathered together in the village ceremony hall. Jeong Young-Hee, a woman in the Gangjeong village sang a traditional song.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Obama's ready to declare his candidacy for reelection.

Obama is expected to formally kick off his re-election bid on April 14, and his campaign could raise as much as $1 billion. In a move criticized by progressives, Obama has appointed former White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina as his campaign manager. Obama’s move has drawn scrutiny over Messina’s ties to corporate America, his push to drop the public option from healthcare reform, and his lack of support for gay rights. Democracy Now speaks with journalist and author Ari Berman about his new profile of Messina in The Nation. "Messina has a ‘take no prisoners’ style; the problem is, the people he’s often taking prisoner are Democratic activists and grassroots organizers,” Berman says.

No surprises here....but for those who still hold illusions about Obama being a "progressive" this should be more water on the stone.


Projected onto the state capital building in Augusta, Maine.

Maine artist and president of the Union of Maine Visual Artists Rob Shetterly was the first to speak at the mural rally held at the State House on Monday.


Early on (the governor's office is right behind the stairs but he was hiding out on the beaches in Jamaica after only three months on the job) Dud Hendrick, president of Maine Veterans for Peace CodePink Maine's Lisa Savage talks about the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign Former State Senator Michael Brennan (Portland) on impact of proposed social spending cuts in Maine The view from the top of the stairs during the "mural" controversy portion of the protest double-header

It was a great day in Augusta today. We had long planned this as our day to hold a rally calling on all elected officials in Maine to demand that we Bring Our War $$ Home. Due to bad weather last Friday we were asked by the Union of Maine Visual Artists to share our rally permit with them. Without hesitation we agreed and by the end of the day 400 people had turned out to take part in a protest double-header.

The Bring Our War $$ Home campaign led off the event with an hour of speakers and music. One stirring moment occurred when the fiery Mayor of Biddeford, Joanne Twomey, joined us and took the microphone to say that she is tired of cutting jobs and social programs in her city. She said that at the last city council meeting she brought up cutting war spending as an alternative to these cutbacks and then told the roaring crowd "I offer a challenge to every mayor in Maine to say we need to Bring Our War $$ Home." Maine public radio aired some of her strong words in their evening news report from the capital.

The rally began with singing by the Raging Grannies and then Dud Hendrick, president of Maine Veterans for Peace, underscored the importance of the day as it was the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. who many believe was killed because he spoke out against the Vietnam War - calling it a war on "programs of social uplift" as well as morally bankrupt.

Following a quick change of signs the chanting crowd switched gears and gave their full attention to speakers lined by the Union of Maine Visual Artists who came to protest the controversial decision by our new governor to pull down a labor oriented mural from the walls inside the state Department of Labor. You can see some news coverage of the rally here

Today was a good example of group solidarity and connecting the dots between the issues. I was proud that the Bring Our War $$ Home rally showed how addiction to war is tied to our addiction to oil. Our speakers linked climate change, militarism, social spending cuts, attacks on labor and civil liberties, and the need to protect one another.

In my opening words I said the following: "We're at a crucial time - No more going it alone - no more of the 'business model of organizing' where everyone/every group just looks out for themselves. Those days are over. They will pick us off one at a time if we continue to do that. We are all in this together now - it's gotta be all for one and one for all.....or nothing. It's time we showed the links between all the issues and put out an alternative sustainable vision for the future."

See more coverage here and here

Sunday, April 03, 2011


In 1932, unemployed veterans marched on Washington, DC demanding payment of a bonus due in the future. The "bonus marchers" were routed by the military on orders of President Hoover. The idea of World War I veterans who had come home as heroes being confronted by the army was a national shock and doomed whatever hope Hoover had for reelection.

See longer version of this story here


Message from the Mayor of Minami-Soma City; filmed on March 24, 2011. The mayor talks about how the city lacks supplies and that there is no means to deliver supplies to the citizens stranded at home.

See a news article with more info here