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, September 03, 2011


Interesting interviews with people on the street in Minneapolis, Minnesota after the singing.

Friday, September 02, 2011


A powerful speech by one of the great writers, social commentators, and activists of our time.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Latest news:

'As of 12:20pm, while 33 have been already arrested, Hyun Ae-Ja and Mr. Go Gwon-Il are still in the protest site, Mr. Go Gwon-Il chaining himself on the top of tower and Hyun Ae-Ja [former national assembly woman] chaining herself to the container box in a key spot of a three fork road. Politicians are coming to the site, including Lee Jung-Hee, Chairwoman of Democratic Labor Party. Some police have withdrawn and some villagers pass across the site. The spot is originally farm road and a disputed road. The government has forcefully taken it. The situation there is in lull for a while.

In front of the construction site gate, Catholic fathers and nuns are still in stand-off with police. The way to the Gangjeong stream is all blocked.

Gangjeong is totally isolated. #600 bus from Jeju Airport to Gangjeong changed the route, doesn't stop here, goes to Worldcup Stadium directly from Jungmoon.

Catholic peace camp was also demolished at around 4:30 p.m. and big wall has been installed across the main street near the naval base construction headquarters. Priests were dispersed but came back and were sitting near the wall. They had supper there on the street. Tomorrow will have mass at 11 o'clock.

A wonderful news is that the villagers themselves are not cowered by today's tragedy and show determined postures.'


The latest news is that this morning at 4:00 am the South Korean police (many in plain clothes) and military staged a massive raid of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. Sirens blared and villagers ran to the two construction gates to set up non-violent blockades. More than 100 college students have come to join the villagers. By 9:00 am some number of Catholic Priests and 38 villagers and supporters have been arrested. More are likely to be taken to jail before this is all over.
It appears this raid was timed to try to "preempt" the major protest festival planned in the village this weekend where more than 1,000 are supposed to come including many from the mainland. The right-wing government is obviously going after as many of the leadership as possible in order to create organizational confusion and a sense of despair. But in times like this new leadership will emerge to keep things going.

Writing from South Korea Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi, recently released after three months in prison for holding a banner, said, "We need international solidarity. Please protest against the South Korean authorities with letters, press interviews and others."

It is more than obvious that the South Korean government is returning to its previous form of military dictatorship - and sadly it appears to be under the encouragement of the U.S. government who wants more military bases there. The people of South Korea have grown weary of turning their lands over to the always greedy U.S. military whose appetite for more and bigger bases knows no end. All of this is of course actually aimed at "containing" and "managing" China.

The U.S. throws out the threat of North Korea to justify these moves on the chess board but this massive buildup is well beyond the point of dealing with the shriveling Korean government to the north. The real prize for the U.S. in this deadly and dangerous game of empire building is China.

Follow breaking news on Twitter #Gangjung and Facebook

Please contact the South Korean embassy in Washington DC directly:

Phone: 202-939-5660/5663
Fax: 202-797-0595
Email: (send to all of them)


Democracy Now looks at the story of 300 foreign students who came to the United States as part of a work-study program, and found themselves engaged in what they refer to as captive labor at a Hershey’s packing plant in Palmyra, Pennsylvania. The students — from Eastern Europe and Asia — went on strike two weeks ago, after they were reportedly required to lift heavy boxes, work eight-hour shifts beginning at 11 p.m., and stand for long periods of time while packing candy on a fast-moving production line. Federal agencies have launched four investigations into the alleged exploitation.

The walkout apparently marks the first time that foreign students have engaged in a strike to protest their employment. The guest workers are demanding a return of the $3,000 to $6,000 each student paid for the cultural exchange program to work at Hershey; that Hershey end exploitation of J-1 student cultural exchange workers; and that the 400 jobs the guest workers filled instead be given to local workers paid a living wage.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011


More than 200 peace activists protested yesterday in Minneapolis while Obama spoke to the American Legion annual convention

Two hundred people isn't so bad for a protest these days. It's good to see that folks turned out in Minnesota when Obama came to their community yesterday to make the annual presidential pilgrimage to the American Legion convention.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote about the protest:

Some protesters said their numbers would have been larger if a Republican were in the White House conducting current military operations. "His decisions have been horrible," Terry Schwartz, a retired college teacher, said of Obama. "If this were Bush, if this were Reagan, there would be a much larger crowd."

Yes indeed, if this had been a Bush speech hundreds more would have been present. They would have been the "good Democrats" who usually feel it is their duty to protest wars and high military spending when a Republican is in office. But when a Democrat holds the highest office many of these folks become submissive and turn away from the fight.

This "confusion" on the part of many loyal Democrats, who still consider themselves peace activists, continues at epidemic proportions.

In my own community just yesterday I saw an email from one peacenik who trashed Cornell West who has recently become more vocal in his criticism of Obama's presidency. This person wrote, "West, while he should be an academic activist working in concert with others, spends too much time lambasting the president. For instance, West claims that the controversial decision to go into Libya was antithetical to Kings Dream. Its very true that any additional spending on war hurts us domestically and none of us like war, but the decision to do that was in the context of a massive uprising across the Arab world, which was rooted in the very issues King desired for all humanity....I am most grateful to people in the Arab world for shaking up the global powers that be."

I was really dumbfounded by this person's defense of Obama's war on Libya and wrote back asking if the US-NATO war alliance wasn't in fact the very "powers that be" that he was referring to? I've had no response.

It seems to me that people who try to publicly defend Obama have to twist themselves and the truth like a pretzel. How can anyone of good sense claim that the US-NATO attack was anything but more imperial power politics in action? How can anyone claim that the documented NATO bombing of civilian homes, schools, hospitals and the like in Libya was truly an attempt to liberate the people? It's nonsense.

When you bury your head in the sand, or wear blinders like a horse, because you don't want to face the reality that your president works for the "corporate man" you are playing mind games with yourself. That is fine if you wish to do this to your own head. One has that right. What is not acceptable though is when one twists the truth and foists those delusions into the public square. You should expect you will be challenged for saying such things!

Attacks on people like Cornell West, who is actually working with others and laying all the cards on the table about Obama's complicity with the "powers that be," are nothing more than a sad attempt to cover Obama's bare behind. This is the state of our country today. Very sad indeed.


Respected Physicist Dr. Michio Kaku tells CNN reporter that Japanese Government and Nuclear Corporation lied to us and their own public concerning the level of danger and radiation leaking at time of melt down.

Kaku was a founding member of the Global Network.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Millions of the poorest people in the Philippines live without electricity.

Many are informal settlers who illegally connect themselves to power sources, often leading to fires breaking out in their homes.

Now, a new and cheap solar-light idea is providing an answer for a growing number of Filipinos.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reports from Manila, the Philippines.


"Salt of the Earth" was produced, written and directed in 1954 by victims of the Hollywood blacklist - all had been blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment due to their alleged involvement in communist politics. Unable to make films in Hollywood, they looked for worthy social issues to put on screen independently. This film never would have been made in Hollywood at the time, so it is ironic that it was the anti-communist backlash that brought about the conditions for it to be made. In many ways it was a film ahead of its time. Mainstream culture did not pick up on its civil rights and feminist themes for at least a decade.

"Salt of the Earth" tells the tale of a real life strike by Mexican-American miners. The story is set in a remote New Mexico town where the workers live in a company town, in company-owned shacks without basic plumbing. Put at risk by cost cutting bosses, the miners strike for safe working conditions. As the strike progresses, the issues at stake grow, driven by the workers' wives. At first the wives are patronized by the traditional patriarchal culture. However, they assert themselves as equals and an integral part of the struggle, calling for improved sanitation and dignified treatment. Ultimately, when the bosses win a court order against the workers preventing them from demonstrating, gender roles reverse with the wives taking over the picket line and preventing scab workers from being brought in while the husbands stay at home and take care of house and children.

In neorealist style, the producers and director used actual miners and their families as actors in the film.

This film was selected for the National Film Registry in 1992 by the Library of Congress. It became public domain after its copyright was not renewed in 1982.

For more about "Salt of the Earth," visit its IMDB page @


Middle East analyst Dan Glazebrook says NATO used the rebels to make Libya a failed state. He suggests the war on Libya is really about wider US-NATO plans in Africa and in particular competition with China for influence on the continent.

See an interesting article about French role in Libya war here

Monday, August 29, 2011


Will the magician in the White House listen to the cries of environmental activists, NASA scientists, and ordinary concerned citizens?

Can Obama afford to blow off another progressive constituency?


Made in the USA
by Morgana Warner-Evans

We've fought a thousand battles. We've won a hundred wars.
And we've stripped our fill of freedom from those distant golden shores.
And we've propped up many a dictator, made many a despot fall.
Was it worth a fight for oil? Was it worth a fight at all?
D G G D/ D G G A/ D G G A/ D G GA D

Now the war clouds rage all around us, and the rain falls fast as tears.
A few of us ride into battle, and the rest just cry out in fear.
Can a country make valiant citizens, who will say no more killing today,
Or is it just tear gas and bullets that are made in the USA?

Now think of the wars that we've weathered, they said would make us free.
When soldiers left their loved ones to go fight across the sea.
And they swore that the cause was all noble, but all that this country can show
Are crumbling schools, roads, and bridges, and a glory that none of us know.

What once was a struggling nation is now a great force at the top.
We didn't just wait for our power; we sweated and worked our way up.
But we have earned nothing but hatred. Our anger has taken its toll.
Half of the world's lost their bodies. The other half's missing their souls.

Now the war clouds rage all around us, and the rain falls fast as tears.
A few of us ride into battle, and the rest just cry out in fear.
Can a country make valiant citizens, who will say no more killing today,
Or is it just tear gas and bullets that are made in the USA?

So I wonder if there's a new future; a new world order to come.
When there's trouble in other nations, we no longer reach for the guns.
But we think of the wars of each decade, and the people who died fighting them.
And we rise up and speak truth to power: we swear we'll fight never again.


We lost our electricity at our house last night during dinner with several local ministers who had come to talk about holding a public service of atonement in Bath during the period of Sept 10 - Oct 10 when we will be organizing a statewide Bring Our War $$ Home Care-a-Van across Maine.

It's now 1:30 pm the next day and I write this blog post from a local coffee shop that has a generator running so I am able to have some power to run my laptop. A great deal of Maine seems to have lost their power from Hurricane Irene that was mostly rain and strong wind by the time it got this far north. The worst seems to have hit western Maine.

Thinking about power and powerlessness makes my mind connect to Jeju Island in South Korea. The police clamp down on the villagers by the right-wing government continues as they have now served 39 people with injunctions threatening $2,000 fines each time they go onto any "property" claimed by the Navy. (This property was previously the farm land of the villagers that has been taken by the government to build the Navy base for U.S. warships.) The government has also banned the chanting of slogans if you can believe it.

In the photo above you see many government police sitting in the middle of the villagers Catholic mass that is held each day. Clearly they are trying to intimidate and frustrate the people. Instead the villagers and supporters just sat down amongst the young police and the service went on.

Father Moon, just out of jail, addressed the mass and said the following:

"Right now there are two flags in Gangjeong. One is the flag of the National police agency chief Cho Hyon-oh, symbol of the violence of police power, another is the flag of Bishop Kang U-il of Jeju Diocese, symbol of peace and solidarity. Cho Hyon-oh's flag is the flag of unreasonable use of force to suppress the villagers. The flag of the Bishop is the flag of the powerless, taken away by violence,... being ignored and ridiculed. . They can take our lives but they cannot take our alive hearts longing for peace. Now the dictator's end is seen. The flag of power, the flag of Cho Hyon-oh will be broken. . . not so long....Look at Herod who cut the throat of John the Baptist . . . John the Baptist was dead, but alive until now in people's hearts. Do not need to be scared of the dictator. We will go the way of peace that we have to make."

This whole Jeju Island fight is indeed a classic story about the little guy up against the big bad bully state. The villagers are staying non-violent, creative, humble, and determined. Support for them is growing worldwide. Information is flowing from the village to supporters around the world even after many key persons have been put on ice by the corporate bully President Myung-Bak Lee. (Often called the "Bulldozer" or MB2 which stands for "2 Megabyte brain")

I heard today that the Mayors for Peace application has been submitted to the international organization on behalf of Gangjeong village Mayor Kang who is now hunger striking from his jail cell. Mayors for Peace intends to promote the villagers struggle in upcoming international correspondence with their member mayors around the world. Their staff remarked how impressed they have been as they followed the non-violent efforts of the villagers to maintain the integrity of their community and way of life.

The Bulldozer will likely order his forces to become even more repressive and brutal during the coming weeks because all he knows to do is to get meaner with every passing minute. But each of these harsh steps will only serve to increase the global solidarity levels.
In fact President Lee is now powerless and the Gangjeong villagers hold the power. MB2's government only knows to use the tool of anger - the hammer. The villagers have many tools in their non-violence tool kit.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Michael Fishbach narrates his encounter with a humpback whale entangled in a fishing net. Gershon Cohen and he have founded The Great Whale Conservancy to protect whales. is their website, or go to gwc's facebook page, and join them in helping to save these magnificent beings.


Forty of us from Veterans for Peace, CodePink, and PeaceWorks lined up in front of the former Navy base in Brunswick early yesterday morning as tens of thousands of people drove from around the region to pay $20 a head to watch a military (Blue Angels) airshow that serves to recruit young people to join the war machine.

Kids filled the backseats of the cars, SUV's, and pick-up trucks that crawled through the long line of traffic. Many of the young folks, like their parents, have already learned to do the "dead stare" as they tried hard not to make eye contact with us strange creatures holding signs outside an event they were all so eager to attend. What kind of people would protest our military planes and our "hero" pilots? A few reminded us that we need this massive military might to kill the "Muslims". (Back in the 80's they'd say the "Commies". People have been well trained to always find an enemy to justify this madness.)

Some passing by in their gas-guzzling trucks told us that we were lucky to be able to protest - thanks to those who kill for our freedom. But little do they know about the challenges we daily face to maintain our presence on places like public sidewalks.

When I arrived at 8:30 am a handful of our people were already lined up on the grass holding banners. I took my sign out onto a cement island and the cops were on me like flies on shit. One of them got in my face and threatened me with arrest if I didn't move pronto. I'd stood on this spot many times before at previous Blue Angels airshows. But mostly I objected to the way he spoke to me - basically like I was a piece of nothing. I told him that and then I moved onto the sidewalk. The cops followed me and told me I had to stand on the grass, the sidewalk was off-limits. I told them that I'd stood on this public sidewalk at previous events, in fact twice MB and I had spent the entire night vigiling on this very sidewalk, and had no intention of moving.

The police threatened me we arrest and I told them while I had not come looking for trouble, I didn't think their arrest would hold up in court. I urged them though to do what they had to do. They called over two more cops, one with the Aids-prevention surgical gloves on, and I knew they were making their play to frighten me into submission. I stood my ground. Then, likely trying to save face, they suggested if I kept moving along the sidewalk I could stay. Not completely satisfied with that compromise I agreed wanting to end the nightmare.

I was later told that one of our guys said to the hard-nosed cop who first went at me, "Good compromise" and he replied to them, "We'll see if he's still moving in an hour."

At the end of the hour I was still moving, at the end of two I was moving, after three hours I was slowly moving up and down the sidewalk and during the last hour when we held a rally I stood mostly still on the sidewalk, with my sign behind my back so cars could see it as I listened to the speakers.

The screaming war planes don't protect my right to protest. Each time I defend my right to stand on a public sidewalk I find that the militarists are no where to be found - in fact if they could have their way most of them would cheer the police hauling me off to jail.