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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The Global Network has decided to send one of its board members to Jeju Island, South Korea in order to bring messages of solidarity from our international membership to the struggling people of Gangjeong village. MacGregor Eddy (WILPF) from Salinas, California has been a leader in the international effort to build support for the people on Jeju Island.

The South Korean government is building a Navy base there, destroying endangered soft coral reefs and a shoreline of remarkable beauty in this fishing and farming village.

Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi is in jail on Jeju and is now on her 15th day of a hunger strike. She was arrested for holding a banner saying "Not one flower, Not one stone" at a Gangjeong village protest. Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is also in jail since blocking a truck with his body on April 6. He is now on his 59th day of hunger striking and vows to die unless the Navy base construction is halted. The naval base will be used for porting U.S. Aegis destroyers that carry so called "missile defense" interceptor missiles.

MacGregor would be in Jeju Island during the Global Network's upcoming 19th annual Space Organizing conference on June 17-19 that will be held in Andover, Massachusetts. One of her tasks will be to regularly report back to our membership while there and to let the South Korean media know about the growing international support for the villagers struggle to save their way of life and the sacred nature that surrounds them.

We need to raise the funds to send MacGregor on this trip and appeal to you to make a special donation to the Global Network for this purpose. You can make a tax deductible donation one of two ways. First, you can go to our web site at and look for the orange Donate Now! button (also found here on the blog) and make a secure on-line donation. Or you can put a check in the mail to GN at PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011.

Let us hear from you right away. Help us send MacGregor on this important solidarity trip. Thanks for your support.



Over the past weekend hundreds rallied in Gangjeong village in South Korea to protect the rocks and the plant and animal life that will be destroyed once the thousands of huge "tetra pods" are all placed in the water and cement gets poured over everything to build the piers in order to dock the visiting U.S. warships.

The military (who says they are out to bring security) does not care about the life forms that are killed. Their brazen quest for power and control separates them from the living world around them. Power is like a drug and they always need more as the addiction numbs them to life. The plants, the rocks, the coral, the fish, the clean water do not exist in their minds. It is a spiritual disconnection.

Here in the U.S. we witnessed last week the U.S. House of Representatives voting to give the president formal power to declare war anyplace and anytime he wishes. The Constitution says that only Congress can declare war but now that the corporations own Congress the loyalty of both parties has switched from protecting the people to protecting the profits and global imperial agenda of the corporations. This is the time that we live in. Democracy has been smothered just like the life forms living among the rocks in Gangjeong will be smothered by the concrete.

This weekend we learned that our dear friend Sister Jackie Hudson, a Catholic nun, recently arrested again for yet another act of protest against the endless war machine appears to have had a heart attack inside the Irwin County Detention Facility in the state of Georgia. It is one of the new "privatized" jails where the lines of authority are blurred and for some reason they have decided that Jackie doesn't need to be sent to a hospital. For the last several days lawyers and doctors and supporters of Jackie have been calling the jail and anyone else they can reach. I called the jail last night and talked to the "supervisor" who told me Jackie is fine inside the jail medical room. I asked that my message be passed on to the "warden" when she returns to work today but I was told that would not be possible because it would be a "violation of personnel policies" to transmit that call. You can make a call to demand Jackie be taken to a proper hospital: ask for Warden Barbara Walrath – 229-468-4120 .

Today begins my 9th day of fasting in solidarity with all life forms in and around Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. My heart is with Yang Yoon-Mo who is now on his 58th day of hunger striking and Sung-Hee Choi on her 14th day.

I am grateful to those who have been writing me and sending messages to the South Korean embassy in their country. In recent days I've heard from people in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, Wales, England, China, Philippines, Japan, Hawaii, and all over the U.S. who are taking steps to show support. Many of these same people are fasting for a day or more. Thanks to all of you. Please keep spreading the word. I will return to Bath Iron Works again today.

Monday, May 30, 2011


His new book "The Face of Imperialism"


Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. where the war dead are remembered. Most communities have parades where Boy and Girl Scouts and high school bands march. Squads of old veterans, dressed up in uniforms that no longer fit, march as well. Local business use the march as free advertising and try to dress themselves up in patriotic colors but their true intentions are obvious. There is little creativity or things of real value in these parades.

There is a big parade in nearby Brunswick and each year the local peace group called Peaceworks gathers its members and participates in the parade behind their banner. Today our Maine Veterans for Peace, dressed in our black T-shirts with our name on the front, walked behind the women from Peaceworks. All together we had about 30 of us.

Dud Hendrick, Maine VFP president and Vietnam veteran, made a couple hundred copies of my blog post about my vigil at Bath Iron Works in support of the folks on Jeju Island and he and other members of the group handed them out to crowds watching the parade. Dud is also now fasting for several days in solidarity with Gangjeong villagers. He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. The leaflet asked people to write to the South Korean embassy in Washington DC urging them to cancel the Navy base construction in the Gangjeong village.

Usually it is still cool when the Memorial Day parade comes each year and we have to wear sweatshirts but not today. After an unusual thunder storm last night, that woke up practically everyone in the region, we were greeted today with hot muggy weather - more like Florida than Maine.

I walked the whole two and one-half miles with our group in the parade but by the end my legs were a bit wobbly. I am home now sitting on my bed with my laptop and a cool glass of watermelon juice. Today is the 8th day of my solidarity fast and it is the 57th day (Korean time) of Yang Yoon-Mo's hunger strike and the 13th day for Sung-Hee Choi.

The South Korean peace group Solidarity for Peace & Reunification of Korea (SPARK), a Global Network affiliate, reports that over the weekend hundreds of people gathered in Gangjeong village for protests. In a news conference SPARK leaders told of the growing international solidarity efforts and fasts that are now happening.

It appears that my earlier information about the June 4 trial of Yang was wrong. It now seems to be that he will be sentenced on June 1 (Korea time).

So if you have not yet written or called to show support for the villagers on Jeju Island now is the time to do it. Please don't wait. If you live outside the U.S. please call the South Korean embassy in your country and get others to do it as well.

If you live in the U.S. please call the South Korean office at the United Nations - 212-439-4000. Also write to the South Korean embassy in Washington DC using this email

Sunday, May 29, 2011



I lived in downtown Orlando, Florida for 20 years....have never seen a more backward political community anywhere else I ever lived. Sad to see that folks still have to fight tooth and nail for every good thing but love their courage and determination.

See newspaper story here


JungJoo Park from South Korea has provided us with the latest communication from Sung-Hee Choi who is now on her 11th day of hunger striking on Jeju Island, South Korea. It is Sung-Hee laying under the construction vehicle and in the middle of the photo above.

JungJoo writes, "What Sung-hee in a prison said to people who support her a few days ago."

The revolution comes in time we do not know.
It comes suddenly when we are in desperate, so close to give up.
I believe in that long water flow which are made by tiny water drops gathering rather than someone's big power at certain time.
I especially believe the power of culture, power of arts, no, I believe the power of cultured people and artists.
And I believe the truth will be spread out to this whole world as our young generation begin to stand up.
But our fight has to be fun.
And again, our youth should be a source of strength for our fight.
You do not know how much I miss you, Gangjeong village, Gureombi...
I miss them so much, appreciate them so much, and I'd love to see them all.
Brother, Taewhan, will you sing again?
And everyone, will you sing together?
We get together again and do a dance on Gureombi?
But on the other hand, I am glad to come trapped.
More and more people coming to Gureombi, more things are doing!!
Here, I read books that I missed so far, and think a lot of ideas I missed.
There is a passage, especially coming so often these days.
"The absolute, must open one side of the door if the other side is closed."
Let's walk together toward the open door!
(And the tears flow quietly)
I've never ever cried while visiting.
But so many young people have come, my tears of happy flowing.
Please call more young people of 20's. Let my tears flowing more.
For a while I was totally numb.
I got here so unjustly.
If your transparent and clear forces get together, It will change everything at the moment nobody can expected.
At the moment we think of defeat, we are really missing out on everything.
But we do not fail as long as we do have beliefs.
I believe history.
Take courage and anger at the same time.
Lying down under a dump truck and crane must be finished by our generation.
You do your things in your way.
More enjoyable, more fun!
Not short time later, a lightning flash occurs and the naval base will be destroyed.
At that moment we must able to say openly.
'I am that thunder and lightning.'
I believe history and you.
Your infinite power available is up to you!

- Sung-Hee Choi
Jeju Island, South Korea


Honoring Gil Scott-Heron this time on Sunday Song.


I woke up at 3:30 am very hungry and couldn't get my mind off eggs, grits, toast, faken bacon (soy), and English breakfast tea with milk. My only other food craving so far has been French toast smothered with maple syrup. Why am I not craving pasta? Amazing.

I couldn't go back to sleep so I thought writing this might help cure this itch. We'll see if it works. Desperate people take desperate measures.

I am still getting lots of emails from people concerned about my health. I appreciate it very much but please don't worry about me. I am doing fine. It is Professor Yang that I am most concerned about right now. He is now on his 55th day of hunger striking. His health is in serious danger. Last night I had a call from a Korean-American friend in New Jersey who called South Korea for me to get the latest information. They are going to put Yang on trial on June 4. Can you believe that? Outrageous. He very well might be on his death bed at that point.

We need everyone to take action now to literally save his life. Please write to the South Korean Defense Attaché assigned to Washington DC. at this address and demand an end of the Navy base construction in Gangjeong village......

This is all Yang Yoon-Mo is asking of us. He is hunger striking to spur us to help build international consciousness and support about the insanity of this Navy base that the U.S. is pushing the South Korean government to build.

And please spread word to your friends and neighbors about this situation. Urge them to watch the video interview with Yang and/or the coral reef video . Call the South Korean embassy in your country.

The story of Bobby Sands comes to mind. He was an Irish volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and member of the United Kingdom Parliament who died on hunger strike while imprisoned in 1981 inside the HM Prison Maze after 66 days. He was 27 years old. Professor Yang is in his late 50's.

All joking aside, I feel particularly compelled to continue this fast because I've seen Gangjeong village and have met the people there. It's real for me. But I am also motivated by the fact that I live in Bath, Maine where these very Aegis destroyers are built. And my life's work is about preventing an arms race in space that is being accelerated by the continuing deployment of missile offense systems on-board these warships.

I thank you for taking action to help save Yang's life. He is a good man who deserves to live. His village - the rocks, the fish, the vegetation, and the water deserve to live as well.

Saturday, May 28, 2011



A terrible loss......

Gil Scott-Heron, the US poet and songwriter, has died at age 62.

Scott-Heron died yesterday at a New York hospital. He fell ill after returning from a trip to Europe, news reports said.

Considered a voice of African-American activism, Scott-Heron was also a musical critic of apartheid, war and nuclear power.


I've had 70 people send me supportive emails in response to my blog yesterday about talking with Tom at BIW. When I went to BIW again on Friday, I was looking for Tom but did not see him. I was able to hand out 11 leaflets - not much to report except the folks in one car, waiting at the traffic light, said they had read my letter in the paper. Thumbs up.

The primary message I am getting from all the emails is support and appreciation for my solitary witness at BIW. People are touched by the human interaction I had with Tom and the hopeful possibilities that come from such engagement.

I've been thinking lately that my organizing style was off balance. I spend way too much time on the Internet. While there is no doubt that one can do alot of good work using the Internet, it has largely replaced human interaction and this makes me uncomfortable. So lately I've been pushing myself to come up with some way that I could do something where I was back out on the streets in a regular way.

Usually when I think about such organizing questions I think in the bigger picture - how can I organize a bunch of people to do something? In this case it became clear to me that I had to stop "Waiting for Godot" and get out and do something myself.

Years ago while working for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice we used to have weekend retreats each year for our members. One year we had the legendary Abbie Hoffman come spend two days with us to talk about organizing. I only knew of him as a political clown but that weekend I learned that he was the most brilliant political strategist that I've ever met.

I'll tell one story to illustrate his thinking and its impact on me. It was during the time he was on the run from the FBI (from 1974-1980). He moved around alot but ended up in northern New York state (upstate I think they call it) along the St. Lawrence River and had changed his name to Barry Freed and had a nose job to change his appearance. But he was an organizer and couldn't stay away from issues that mattered to him. He got involved in a group called 'Save the River' and did such a good job that he was given an award by then Gov. Mario Cuomo in Albany. Can you imagine that? On the run from the FBI but getting an award from the governor. Simply amazing.

Anyway, Abbie told us that when you organize you have to look for every opportunity to project your message into the public consciousness so that no matter where they turn people are always coming back to the issue. He gave us an illustration. He said one day there was a small plane crash into the river and he knew the media would be there. So he ran down to the river and got there before the media. He found a boy on his bicycle who was the only witness. He said to the boy, "You want to save the river, right?" Sure, said the boy. OK, Abbie said, then when the TV interviews you say, "And this plane crash will hurt our ability to clean up the river." The boy did his job. One more seed planted in people's heads about the river clean-up effort.

Abbie wanted us to be more creative in finding these small ways of integrating our message into the daily lives of people. So every time I find myself organizing anything I always come back to that question - what else can I do to bring this story to the public? How else can I weave this issue into the local fabric?

Today marks my 6th day of solidarity fast and it makes 54 days of hunger striking for Professor Yang and 10 days for Sung-Hee Choi. I've not been able to get any news the past couple days from Jeju Island - now that Sung-Hee is in jail the day-to-day reports are hard to find. My hope is that some of the South Koreans who read this will send me an update.

Friday, May 27, 2011


When they dredge the seabed to make it possible to bring U.S. Aegis destroyers and aircraft carriers to dock at the Navy base at Gangjeong village they will destroy these endangered soft coral reefs and the fish that live amongst them.

If we don't fight for this aquatic life then who will?


Six seems to be my lucky number. I was able to hand out six leaflets at Bath Iron Works (BIW) yesterday. But I found a way around the road block though. I sent the leaflet language to the local newspaper as a Letter to the Editor and it was printed yesterday. You can read it here

At 3:30 pm, when the gates are opened and the workers come streaming out, one man ran ahead of the pack and held up a large piece of paper in front of me. It read "I've got a job! Where's yours? I'm working for my country. Your working against it!" As the big group of workers passed by the scene some cheered him on but not as many as you might have expected. One brave soul walked up to me, stuck out his hand, and said "I think I'm ready to take one of those now."

The man with the sign stood in front of me for one-half hour. His first words to me where "I bet you weren't in the military either?" I replied that in fact I was in the Air Force during the Vietnam war for 3 1/2 years. It got quiet for awhile after that initial exchange.

About 15 minutes into the stalemate I had the thought to tell him my name. He quickly replied "I'm Tom" and then began to tell me that we have to protect ourselves from the Muslims who want to kill all of us. He accused me of being disloyal to my country and other such things. I told him firmly that he should not judge me. Since he refused to take my leaflet, I told him that he knew nothing about me or why I was standing here. This exchange went on for a few minutes.

Then he softened just a bit and I told him the full story about the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island and about Yang Yoon-Mo who is now on his 53rd day of hunger strike. I told him about the other eight villagers in jail, including GN board member Sung-Hee Choi who is now on her 9th day of hunger striking. I told him that I was joining them in a solidarity fast and today marks my 5th day.

He listened.

Then I asked Tom if he knew of Pemaquid Point in Maine. Yes, of course, he replied. I told him that the coastline of Gangjeong village was very similar to Pemaquid. I explained how it would be covered with cement and the animal and plant life within the rocks would be buried alive.

He winced.

Then things started to turn. Tom suggested that I change a few of the words on my sign to better express the environmental concerns of the villagers. Then he told me I should call Kim Block at TV Channel 8 and have her come out to cover the story. I told Tom that they would never cover me protesting at BIW if I called them. But, I said, if you called them and told them you worked at BIW and thought they should cover this story they probably would.

By now the workers walking home were largely gone but cars were still stuck in traffic in the street. I asked Tom to imagine he lived in Gangjeong village and the Navy was going to destroy their fishing and farming way of life. What would you do Tom? He quickly replied, "I'd kick their ass." Exactly.

At this point I asked Tom if I could shake his hand. He easily extended his hand to me and I looked over at the workers in their cars stuck in traffic and saw some jaws drop.

Tom was really a sweet, kind-hearted man. Once we got past the formalities we had a real positive conversation. I thank Tom for that. He gave me a chance to tell him the story and that is all I really wanted. I look forward to seeing him again.

I walked toward home carrying my big sign and as I approached my house a neighbor who works at BIW called out to me, "You were pretty brave out there." I stopped and we had a good long talk about the whole situation and he took my leaflet. He promised to watch the video of Professor Yang. He expressed sadness about the direction our country is heading.

Thursday, May 26, 2011



Artists rendering of the planned Navy base on Jeju Island
Photo taken on my first trip to Gangjeong village

I had a bit more luck yesterday at Bath Iron Works (BIW) as I was able to hand out 12 leaflets during my hour-long vigil. The first guy to take one came out of the union hall just across the street and asked for a couple copies. He said they wanted to see what I was doing. I was able to explain why I was out there to him. He listened respectfully.

(In fact it was William Winpisinger, former President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers from 1977 until his retirement in 1989, who was a key leader of the economic conversion movement in the 1980's. Winpisinger worked directly with the peace movement to promote the idea of converting military production facilities toward building rail systems and the like. He understood that the unions and the peace movement were natural allies in this process. His successor actually came to a conversion conference I organized in Miami, Florida to speak soon after he took over for Winpisinger.)

Bath Iron Works is owned by General Dynamics. (Interestingly the Crown family dynasty of Chicago are major stockholders in General Dynamics and they were early promoters of Obama for president. They raised money for him and opened the door for him to the lucrative and politically powerful national Jewish community.)

All they build at BIW are warships - Aegis destroyers and cruisers that fired the first cruise missile attacks on Iraq in 2003, fired cruise missiles recently in the early attacks on Libya, and are being equipped with missile offense systems that have proven capable of knocking satellites out of the sky thus potentially serving as anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.

A new upscale version of these ships is now being produced called the DDG-1000. They will cost $3.3 billion each. The present version of the ship produced at BIW, the DDG-51, cost about $1.5 billion each. Partnering with General Dynamics on the DDG-1000 is Northrup Grumman. So some of the workers at BIW work for Northrup.

Little did we know on Monday (May 23) when Karen Wainberg and I first went out to BIW at shift change to leaflet the workers that a big yellow bus with open doors was a Northrup Grumman bus to pick up their workers. Karen went on-board the unattended bus and put some leaflets on the seats. When the driver got back in the bus he found the papers but didn't say anything about it. Yesterday, soon after I arrived at BIW, a Bath police car drove up and one of the cops in it got out carrying two pieces of paper. One of them was a copy of our leaflet and the other was a copy of a Northrup Grumman business card. He told me that a complaint had been filed against us for putting the leaflets on the bus and if we did it again we'd be arrested. No problem I told him.

The interesting thing for me is knowing that the leaflet had been copied and likely had been passed around to key corporate executives at both Northrup Grumman and General Dynamics in Bath. In addition, officials at the Bath police department had seen it as well. So I am glad that the leaflet is making it's way around the community in greater numbers than I had previously thought.

When the crowd of workers came out of the shipyard yesterday I greeted them again in a friendly way and this time tried to use my voice to describe to them the contents of the leaflet since few of them will take one. One worker came up close to me and gave me a good shove with his forearm trying to knock me over. I was surprised but just laughed and kept on with my business.

I had two workers getting into 15-passenger vans take leaflets which was nice. One of them talked to me for the second day in a row. He told me that most of the guys thought I was protesting against them. I told him that was not the case and reminded him that if he'd take my leaflet he could read it and see that I was there to pass on information about the villagers in Gangjeong trying to save their way of life. We had a good talk about the best way to create the most jobs and I told him about the UMASS-Amherst Economics Department study that shows military spending creates fewer jobs than any other kind of investment. See the study here

So if we really want jobs, I said to him, we should be building rail systems which would more than double the amount of jobs we get per billion dollars of federal spending.

I am feeling good about my vigils at BIW and I intend to stay at it. I have a feeling that I am going to make a friend or two in the process. My hope is that the workers will see my humanity, see that I am not a threat, and begin to understand that I am in fact just trying to help create a stable and sustainable product at BIW.

I am not really any different from these guys, I am a working class kid whose step-dad grew up logging and worked in the paper mills in Rumford, Maine before joining the Air Force as an enlisted man. Our family never had a pot to piss in and I still don't.

It was being in a military family, and moving to Germany and England when I was nine years old, that taught me that people were the same everywhere you go. They all love their families, they love food, they love to laugh. It is this truth that I found when I visited Gangjeong village and met the people there. I felt their good hearts. I am just trying to bring a bit of that reality to BIW.

In my leaflet I say, "Simple farmers and fishermen just trying to protect their way of life. Not such a strange concept....I will come to BIW each weekday to stand here so that maybe someone in our local community will reflect on what is happening."

Yang Yoon-Mo is now on his 52nd day of hunger striking. Sung-Hee Choi is on her 8th day. Today is my 4th day of solidarity fast.

People all over the world are now making phone calls in support of the villagers and hunger strikers. In the U.S. please now call the South Korean office at the United Nations - 212-439-4000.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech was warmly received by Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Tuesday. According to ABC News, he received 29 standing ovations during his address—four more than President Obama received during his State of the Union address earlier in the year.

However, there was at least one dissenting voice inside the halls of Congress on Tuesday. Rae Abileah, a Jewish-American activist of Israeli descent with the peace group CodePink, disrupted Netanyahu’s speech. Standing in the congressional gallery, she yelled, “No more occupation! Stop Israel war crimes! Equal rights for Palestinians! Occupation is indefensible!” As she screamed, members in the audience tackled her to the ground, and undercover security forces later dragged her outside.

She was taken to George Washington University Hospital where she was treated for neck and shoulder injuries. At the hospital, police arrested Abileah and charged her with disorderly conduct for disrupting Congress. Her protest came as part a week-long series of actions organized by CodePink called Move Over AIPAC.

Democray Now speaks to Abileah about why she used nonviolent civil disobedience to disrupt Netanayahu’s speech.


Gangjeong Mayor Kang shows people where Navy base would be built.


Coastline of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.....imagine these rocks covered with cement

At BIW yesterday as workers left the shipyard

I was able to hand out six leaflets yesterday as the hundreds of workers walked past me and hundreds more drove past my little spot on the corner in front of Bath Iron Works (BIW). I plan on going back again today, and every weekday, as long as I continue with this fast in support of the extraordinary people of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.

I am grateful to Dennis Bernstein at KPFA in Berkeley who yesterday interviewed me about this story. I was touched by the sincerity of Dennis about Professor Yang Yoon-Mo who today is on his 51st day of hunger strike. You can hear the interview here

Global Network board member MacGregor Eddy (Salinas, California) is working non-stop to create Facebook support for Yang, Sung-Hee Choi (who is now on her 7th day of hunger striking while in jail), and the seven other villagers now in jail. It appears that the Navy has picked out the key leadership of the non-violent resistance to the base construction and put them in the slammer. So this is where we all come in - we have to internationalize this struggle in order to pick up the slack.

Last night I had an email from one of our supporters here in Maine. He told me he had called the South Korean embassy in Washington DC and they told him he had to call Boston to lodge his complaint against the treatment of the Gangjeong villagers. So when he called Boston the person there said they knew nothing about the Jeju story. It seems to me that the South Korean embassy in Washington must be getting tired of the phone calls and are trying to divert and frustrate those who are making the call. I take this as a good sign that they are trying to deflect the growing public support.

So my response is - step up the emails and phone calls! You can write to the South Korean Defense Attaché assigned to Washington DC. at this email and demand an end of the Navy base construction, or you can call the South Korean Embassy in Washington at 202-939-5600 to show your solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers. Or call the South Korean embassy in your own country.

If you haven't yet watched the video interview with Professor Yang you must do so and help us get others to see it as well. More than 6,400 have seen it since it got posted on May 20. You can see it here

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Chained to machine and sitting in road at Gangjeong village
Sung-Hee Choi in jail and also hunger striking

I got a report from South Korea this morning. Here is the text:

Taking Sung-Hee Choi to prison was illegal. There is no basis in the law for arresting her in her act. The protest was being done in a peaceful way. She did not do anything to obstruct their work. She has been fasting from 19 May. Today it is the 7th day of her fast in prison.

Here are her 3 requests:

1. Cancellation of the annulment of the absolute preservation area by the Jeju Providential Governor’s authority [This means the Island government withdrew the preservation law for the Gangjeong village/sea coast in order allow Navy base to be built]
2. Asking the Ministry of National Defense to stop the construction of
the naval base on Jeju.
3. Protest her illegal imprisonment and isolation. Asking the commissioner of the Seogwipo Police Agency for an apology and lay-off of the chief of the Seogwipo Police Station.

People say that all that Sung-Hee did was hold a banner that said “Do not touch any stone or any flower” at the protest. One of activists working with her said Sung-Hee loves Mother Nature very much, so that is why she is against the naval base construction.

She will be moved to Jeju prison soon from the detention cell at the police station. This is the second time she has been taken to prison. She will be sentenced this time. Sung-Hee has been taking a very important role to spread what is going on in Gangjeong village on Jeju through her blog and international network. Hopefully she can be released soon and not be sentenced.

Meanwhile the movie critic, Prof. Yang, has still been fasting [now on his 50th day]. A lot of people are worried about the condition of his body. Many people have tried to persuade him to change his mind and stop fasting. But his will to stop the naval base construction seems very strong and clear.
- JungJoo Park

People have begun to contact me to say they will fast for a meal, a day, or more in solidarity with those now in jail and hunger striking on Jeju Island. Folks are also spreading the information about Jeju far and wide. Here are the solidarity fasters so far.

    • Kathleen Russell (Spokane, Washington)

    • Lotus Lee Fong (San Francisco, California)

    • Mary Beth Sullivan (Bath, Maine)

    • Makiko Sato (Japan)

    • Boryana Tacconi (Andover, Massachusetts)

    • Carla Rael (New Mexico)

    • Leonard Eiger (Seattle, Washington)

    • Sally Breen (Windham, Maine)

    • Jill Gough (Wales)

    • Marjorie Swann Edwin (California - 90 years old)

    • Art Laffin (Washington DC)

    • Bob Lezer (Freeport, Maine)

    • Karen Wainberg (Bath, Maine)

Yesterday Karen Wainberg joined me in the cold rain in front of Bath Iron Works (BIW) for an hour as we held signs and handed out leaflets explaining the situation on Jeju Island. Five of the first six workers I saw took one but from then on it was more of a challenge. About 25 leaflets were taken as the hundreds streamed out of the shipyard. Karen had a long conversation with one young worker who said he was with us but asked what else could he do since he needs the job.

I will be back out at BIW today for another hour from 2:45-3:45 pm. Just had a call from Dennis Bernstein who wants to interview me tonight about Yang Yoon-Mo on his radio show at KPFA in Berkeley, California. That will be at 5:00 PST.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Great movie, now playing at the Eveningstar Cinema in Brunswick....


This one concerning a $1.2 billion NSA program.


Slide show made by MacGregor Eddy from Salinas, California. She is a Global Network board member.

See the good article on the conflict: One Island Village's Struggle for Land, Life,and Peace

If you'd like to help you can do any of the following:

1) You can write to the South Korean Defense Attaché assigned to Washington DC. at this email and demand an end of the Navy base construction, or you can call the South Korean Embassy in Washington at 202-939-5600 to show your solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island. Or call the South Korean embassy in your own country.

2) You can watch this video interview with Yang Yoon-Mo, who is now on his 49th day of hunger strike, and share it with others. We need more people to know about the situation on Jeju island.

3) You can join me in fasting and invite others to join as well. Fast for a day or several days. Be sure to let me know if you will be fasting and I will post your name on my blog.


I have decided to begin an open-ended fast today in solidarity with Yang Yoon-Mo and the other eight leaders recently arrested for trying to stop the Navy base construction in the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. By my calculations, professor Yang is now on his 49th day of his hunger strike.

Having twice visited this beautiful island village, and seeing first-hand how the Navy base construction was at that time already impacting this small farming and fishing community, I feel I must do more to help. In my visit there I was particularly touched by the sad thought of concrete being poured over the rocks to make the piers for the visiting U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers that are built here at Bath Iron Works in Maine.

All I could see in my mind's eye was the abundant sea and plant life, living amongst the rocks, being completely destroyed as the concrete was poured over them. How could I not feel the sadness of that action? How could I not see that the presence of these warships, outfitted with missile offense systems, was going to heat up tensions in the Asian-Pacific as the U.S. continues its military encirclement of China? It's all pure insanity as far as I am concerned.

In the photo above you see these man-made concrete things called "tetra-pods" being placed into the ocean alongside the rocks. It appears that they are being used to help create a larger space that would eventually also be covered with cement to widen the docks for the ships.

I plan to produce a leaflet today that explains the situation on Jeju Island and talks about Yang's hunger strike and the others now in jail. I will also make a large sign that reads "Where do these Aegis go?" and stand at the shipyard when workers come out of work. I plan to do this each weekday from 2:30-3:30 pm as long as Yang continues with his hunger strike or until he dies as he vows to do unless construction is halted.

I have to do something more. This is something I can do, I must do.

I hope others will join in fasting for a day or more if you are moved to do so. Let me know if you do fast so I can share your name on the blog. People need to know about this Navy base struggle on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


The long-time AIPAC control of U.S.-Israel policy is wearing thin as a younger generation of Jewish voices emerge. In addition we are seeing more people everywhere supporting the rights of Palestinians as Israeli policy in recent years of building walls, expanding settlements, and horrific attacks on innocent civilians is changing hearts and minds.



Things went well yesterday on our trip to Boston. We took an early bus from Maine to the "big city" and then subway to the Boston Public Library. Thirty people gathered there to hear talks by Charlie Derber, professor of Sociology at Boston College, and myself. Then after dinner with MB's family we took the late bus back to Maine and got home about 11:00 pm.

I enjoyed listening to Derber speak and took extensive notes. He began by commenting on the whole "rapture" story that everyone was talking about yesterday. Apparently the fundamentalist preacher Harold Camping made $72 million by pumping up the fear of people around the world that sinners would be left behind on May 21. As it turns out we're all still here. We saw three trucks with big "rapture" signs posted on them driving around Copley Square yesterday in downtown Boston as they tried to warn the public about the impending doom. Their basic message was get on your knees and repent.

Derber told the folks at the meeting that the "fiscal crisis is a cover for adopting a new corporate globalization model where few people have jobs and a larger mass of people become redundant, surplus, not needed anymore."

The mainstream political parties are "incapable of resolving these three simultaneous crises - economic, environmental and war," Derber said.

He spoke glowingly about the Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign and felt it was best suited to respond to the present situation. Other key points made by Derber were:

* The Bring Our War $$ Home campaign can directly take on the idea of American global hegemony and the internal support for it.
* 58% of the American people say that the Pentagon budget should be reduced while only 18% believe that Social Security should be cut and only 20% support cuts in Medicare. This campaign supports public thinking on priorities.
* Calling for the government to cut war spending and convert the military industrial complex to sustainable production will create jobs while bailing out banks and hedge funds doesn't create them. Both parties have "failed to create jobs and their policies are in fact job genocide," Derber said.
* Real unemployment is around 20-25%
* Climate change is the most catastrophic symptom of the U.S. economic crisis and enables us to talk about "particular kinds of job creation" that would employ people for home weatherization, building wind turbines, solar, public transit and other green technologies. The kind of investment to truly make this happen though will not come from Wall Street and must be done by federal spending.

We also heard reports from organizers in Hartford, Connecticut where the city council has passed a Bring Our War $$ Home resolution; from Providence, Rhode Island where all the teachers have been fired and activists are calling for major cuts in military spending; from Boston where the "Fund Our Communities" coalition is calling for a 25% cut in military spending; and we heard from leaders of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families who are now including the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign in their national work and in meetings they hold with members of Congress. It was also reported that the Massachusetts Democratic party convention in two weeks will be presented with a Bring Our War $$ Home resolution.

So it was exciting to hear of new energy emerging throughout New England around this campaign. Our message appears to be the right prescription for the current illness that afflicts the nation and the planet.

So instead of chanting "The world is going to end!" we need to just change two words and shout "The wars are going to end!" Our message has to be "get off your knees and rattle your chains."

Saturday, May 21, 2011


The global movement for cooperation and shared values of life and peace is spreading. The ugly values of greed, power, competition, and control are waning.


Why bother with the Constitution? As George W. Bush once said, "It's only a piece of paper."

So the illegal, and undeclared, war now rages on in Libya. Add one more check mark to the Pentagon's list of countries that must be taken down for the benefit of corporate globalization. Who is next? Syria maybe.

Gen. Smedley Butler was right....war is a racket.

Friday, May 20, 2011


ISLAND OF STONE from Island of Stone on Vimeo.

This film was done by Jane Jin Kaisen, a Korean woman living in Denmark. She recently travelled to Jeju Island, South Korea in order to cover the Navy base construction protest effort.

This interview with Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, who is now on his 46th day of hunger strike from jail, took place before he was put in jail.

You can't help but think of the coast of Maine when you watch this and wonder how people here would feel about this if it was happening in our state.


I will be speaking at an event in Boston on Saturday called Bring Our War $$ Home. It will be a New England regional event and is to be held at 1:00 - 3:00 pm in the Boston Public Library Mezzanine Conference Room, 700 Boylston St., Copley Square.

MB is going along and after the meeting we will have dinner with her brother and one of her aunts. Sunday is MB's birthday and she has lots of family in Boston so it was great timing to be invited to talk at this event.

A growing number of mayors will join Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles, California) when he introduces the Bring Our War $$ Home resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual event that will be held in Baltimore in June. So far the following mayors have agreed to sign-on as co-sponsors. Please try to get the mayor of your city to sign on as well. For more info go here

Kitty Piercy (Eugene, Oregon)
Carolyn Peterson (Ithaca, New York)
Dave Norris (Charlottesville, Virginia)
David Coss (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
John Heilman (West Hollywood, California)
Gayle McLaughlin (Richmond, California)
Bob Kiss (Burlington, Vermont)
R.T. Rybak (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Frank Ortis (Pembroke Pines, Florida)
Matthew Ryan (Binghamton, New York)
Paul Wiehl (Athens, Ohio)
Brenda Lawrence (Southfield, Michigan)
Joy Cooper (Hallandale Beach, Florida)
Joseph C. O'Brien (Worcester, Massachusetts)
Paul Soglin (Madison, Wisconsin)
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Baltimore, Maryland)
David L. Konick (Rock Mills, Virginia)
Joanne Twomey (Biddeford, Maine)

This campaign, which I can proudly say began here in Maine, is now moving rapidly across the country as activists are seeing that it is imperative to connect endless war spending to the economic crisis in 46 states. While some in the progressive movement, for whatever reason, don't want to deal with the wars they can't escape the reality that war spending negates solving the jobs issue, social spending cut-backs, environmental crisis, public transit, health care, and a whole lot more.

We've always said that peace groups don't have to drop what they are already doing to pick up this campaign. But a good organizing strategy for local organizing would integrate the Bring Our War $$ Home theme into existing organizing. Fortunately more folks are beginning to do just this.

Build it and they will come.


Obama's Middle East speech not going over well with Arabs living in the U.S.

By now virtually everyone who is a thinking person has got the magician figured out. They've learned to watch both of his hands when he starts running the shell game.

His magic spell is running out of gas.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


My latest public access show with artist Robert Shetterly who has painted the series called Americans Who Tell the Truth


Mayor Kang leads the people of Gangjeong village in protest

Sung-Hee Choi and villager sitting in front of truck

These big cement things on the right side of photo are called "tetra pods" and thousands of them are going to be dropped into the ocean, right on top of the coral reefs, to help make the large piers to dock the Navy warships like the Aegis destroyers. This is a crime against nature. (Click on photo for better view)

I got this message this morning from South Korea. It appears that the shit has hit the fan on Jeju Island and with Sung-Hee Choi arrested there might not be any updates on her blog for some time. In the video below you can hear her voice on the megaphone as she stands on top of some heavy construction equipment.

Yang Yoon-Mo is now in his 45th day of his hunger strike.

Mr Gagnon,

I am writing to let you know about the current situation in Gangjeong, on Jeju Island. The military and police are stepping up their efforts to silence all opposition to the naval base. This morning, 19 May, the construction companies came with their heavy equipment together with around 100 members of the police and military. They specifically came to destroy the greenhouse on the Jungdeok coast that has been occupied by protestors for several years now as well as the many banners from around Korea denouncing the naval base. Once there intentions became know, many people gathered in an attempt to stop the greenhouse and banners from being destroyed. In addition to blocking the construction equipment some people chained themselves to the greenhouse.

Even though for the moment the protestors were successful in blocking the destruction of the greenhouse and banners, due to the overwhelming force of the police, military, and construction companies, eight protestors were arrested, all important leaders in opposing the construction of the naval base, including Sung-hee Choi.

Obviously the situation is still ever developing, but I thought you might like to know what is going on right now. Thank you for helping to spread the news about Jeju beyond Korea.

Jungjoo Park
South Korea

We need your help. We must show the South Korean and U.S. governments that people all over the world are following the story on Jeju very closely and care what happens. You can write to the South Korean Defense Attaché assigned to Washington DC. at this email and demand an end of the Navy base construction. or you can call the South Korean Embassy at 202-939-5600 to show your solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011



Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF chief, was widely expected to run in France's presidential election next year.

But the sexual assault charges that he now faces have effectively shattered those ambitions and boosted president Nicolas Sarkozy's chances of re-election.


We don't make much in America anymore - clothes,TV's, cars, shoes...but we do build weapons. The Pentagon calls it "security export".

I call it endless war.

We'd better start demanding the conversion of the military industrial complex otherwise it will just be one war after the other.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Click on poster for better view


How many times have we seen this script before? Topple a government and then place in power an operative who lived and was trained inside the U.S.

Same old tune.....


A villager in Gangjeong, South Korea joins the protest against Navy base

Supporters visited Yang Yoon-Mo at the jail yesterday on Jeju Island. He is now on his 42nd day of hunger strike. People tearfully begged him to resume eating but he vows to die if necessary to stop the Navy base construction. Yang met his friends in a wheelchair and said his blood sugar was down. His pulse is gradually dropping as well.

According to Sung-Hee Choi, "He said even though the prison officers have been trying to persuade him to stop fast, he would not submit to it until, Woo Keun-Min, the Island governor, withdraws the Jeju naval base plan and protects peace in the Gangjeong village. It is to emphasize that his heart has never been changed. He finally said he would not regret his decision and his death would be the fertilizer for the struggle."

Yang made the following short statement:

Since I am a son of society, son of history and son of national history, I have seldom attached myself to my own family.

I have struggled for social justice, film society’s democracy and against the Free Trade Agreement, and that is why I could carry out the absolute opposition movement against the naval base for the Gangjeong village, Jeju Island.

I will protect the Gangjeong Sea until I die and protect it even after it.

Please do my funeral in the simplest way.

And please shed my bone powders after cremation everywhere of the Joongduk coast, carried by Mr. Kim Jong-Hwan and Go Young-Jin, the two Gangjeong villagers.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Atlanta fans boo!
Santana speaks out for civil rights
at baseball's 'Civil Rights Game'

By Dave Zirin / May 16, 2011

ATLANTA -- Major League Baseball’s annual Civil Rights Game was poised to be a migraine-inducing exercise in Orwellian irony. Forget about the fact that Civil Rights was to be honored in Atlanta, where fans root for a team called the Braves and cheer in unison with the ubiquitous "tomahawk chop."

Forget about the fact that the Braves have been embroiled in controversy since pitching coach Roger McDowell aimed violent, homophobic threats at several fans. Forget that this is a team that has done events with Focus on the Family, an organization that is to Civil Rights what Newt Gingrich is to marital fidelity.

The reason Atlanta was such a brutally awkward setting for a Sunday Civil Rights setting was that Friday saw the Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, sign HR 87, a law that shreds the Civil Rights of the state’s Latino population.

Modeled after Arizona’s horrific and unconstitutional SB 1070, HR 87 authorizes state and local police the federal powers to demand immigration papers from people they suspect to be undocumented. Those without papers on request will find themselves behind bars.

Civil rights hero John Lewis of Atlanta has spoken out forcefully against the legislation saying “This is a recipe for discrimination. We’ve come too far to return to the dark past."

But there was Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, celebrating civil rights in Georgia, and chortling excitedly about the 2011 All-Star game in Arizona. In the hands of Selig, irony becomes arsenic.

Thank God that Commissioner Selig was stupid enough to choose the Civil Rights Game to honor, among others, the great musician Carlos Santana. Santana was supposed to be the Latino stand-in, a smiling symbol of baseball’s diversity. And maybe, he would even play a song!

But Bud picked the wrong Latino. Carlos Santana took the microphone and said that he was representing all immigrants. Then Santana added, "The people of Arizona, and the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves."

In a perfect display of Gov. Nathan Deal’s Georgia, the cheers quickly turned to boos. Yes, Carlos Santana was booed on Civil Rights Day in Atlanta for talking about Civil Rights.

Then in the press box, Santana held an impromptu press conference where he let loose with an improvised speech to rival one of his virtuoso guitar solos. He said,

This law is not correct. It's a cruel law, actually, This is about fear. Stop shucking and jiving. People are afraid we're going to steal your job. No we aren't. You're not going to change sheets and clean toilets. I would invite all Latin people to do nothing for about two weeks so you can see who really, really is running the economy. Who cleans the sheets? Who cleans the toilets? Who babysits? I am here to give voice to the invisible.

He went on to say,

Most people at this point they are either afraid to really say what needs to be said, this is the United States the land of the free. If people want the immigration law to keep passing in every state then everybody should get out and just leave the American Indians here. This is about civil rights.

Where was Bud Selig during all this drama? It seems that Selig slunk out of a stadium backdoor in the fifth inning. If there is one thing Bud has become an expert at, it’s ducking his head when the issues of immigration, civil rights, and Major League Baseball collide.

If Selig really gave a damn about Civil Rights, he would heed the words of Carlos Santana. He would move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona. He would recognize that the sport of Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, and Curt Flood has an obligation to stand for something more than just using their memory to cover up the injustices of the present.

If Bud Selig cared about Civil Rights, he would above all else, have to develop something resembling a spine. But if Bud is altogether unfamiliar with the concept of courage, he received one hell of an object lesson from Carlos Santana.

- Dave Zirin is the author of Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love (Scribner) and just made the new documentary Not Just a Game. This article was also published at The Nation blogs.


  • We are still trying to get the blog back in order. We are hearing from some that it is not showing up as normal when they view it. If it is not coming across right on your screen please let me know at

  • There is a must read article by Chris Hedges called The Obama Deception: Why Cornell West Went Ballistic just out on Truthdig. Great inside the ball game stories like the time Obama publicly yelled at West because he had the audacity to challenge him. It's a real story of betrayal by Obama of West who worked hard for his election. West couldn't even get a ticket to the inauguration. Really gives us a good sense what kind of person Obama really is.

  • Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is today on his 41st day of hunger strike as he remains in jail for opposing the building of Navy base on Jeju island, South Korea. You can keep up with the whole campaign and see many photos here

  • The ACLU is warning the public that the U.S. Congress is trying to pass new legislation that would give the president total war making powers. This would be the final circumvention of the Constitution that says only Congress can declare war. This new war authority would essentially create a worldwide war without end. You can sign a petition to Congress here. Our Congresswoman, Chellie Pingree here in Maine, voted in favor of this when it came out of the House Armed Services Committee which she sits on. This is very bad news for the whole world. If this provision passes, there will be no more checks and balances on the use of the military.

  • Since the beginning of the NATO operation (31 March 2011) a total of 6,661 sorties, including 2,608 strike sorties have been conducted. Secretary of War Robert Gates announced last week that the war on Libya had already cost the U.S. $750 million.

  • So instead of ending wars since coming into office, Obama has continued the occupation of Iraq, expanded operations in Afghanistan, expanded war deeper into Pakistan, and now has opened up the African continent for oil wars. There was a running debate last weekend on a national peace movement list serve about whether peaceniks should abandon the Democratic party or not? Should they vote for Obama in 2012 or not? It comes as no surprise that some in the peace movement still defend the Democrats but their numbers are dwindling by the day.

  • See the video below to get an idea what these wars are doing to "the troops" who people love to enshrine as "heroes" but are being emotionally and physically destroyed by endless war.