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, 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.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


The 2012 NATO summit will be held in the U.S. next April. Protests are now being planned. Stay tuned for more information.