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

Friday, September 09, 2011


For Immediate Release
Contact: Bruce Gagnon 443-9502
Lisa Savage 399-7623

The Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home has announced that a statewide series of local anti-war actions, observing 10 years of war in Afghanistan-Iraq-Pakistan-Libya, will begin on September 10 and last until October 9.

The events are intended to remind citizens in Maine that our state's share of war spending since 2001 comes to $3.4 billion. The campaign, which began two years ago with a rally inside the Hall of Flags in Augusta, has now spread nationally. Recently the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting passed a Bring Our War $$ Home resolution, the first time they have taken a foreign policy position since the Vietnam War.

Bring Our War $$ Home resolutions have passed in Maine by the Deer Isle Town Meeting, Solon School Board and the Portland City Council. Similar resolutions have also passed city councils in Hartford, Ct, Amherst and Northampton, MA, Eugene, OR, and Los Angeles, CA.

In addition to the 17 local events (held in 14 Maine communities) the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign has purchased radio ads on five Maine stations from Portland to Presque Isle carrying their message. The radio ads are narrated by Maine's Humble Farmer Robert Skoglund.

According to Bring Our War $$ Home co-coordinator Bruce Gagnon, "Recent national polls show that 70% of the American people want us out of Afghanistan and they want the $10 billion we waste on that war every single month to be brought back to our local communities and states to help solve our fiscal crisis. We are not going to have an economic recovery as long as we keeping flushing people's hard-earned tax dollars down the endless war hole. We are organizing this month of actions across Maine in order to help people apply pressure on all of our elected officials to publicly say - Bring Our War $$ Home."

The month-long series of events will be connected by a Care-a-Van that will attend each event and will hold signs and banners in the communities at each stop. Flyers will be handed out in towns and to students at many colleges during the month. Letters to the Editor will be sent to newspapers across the state as well during the month.

Schedule of Care-a-Van Events:

* Sept 10 WERU Maine Grassroots Media Conference at the Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts. Conference participants will make Bring Our War $$ Home T-shirts. Among the several panel discussions will be: “Political Art Activism” featuring Rob Shetterly (Americans Who Tell the Truth) and Lisa Savage (Bring Our War $$ Home)
* Sept 10 Penny Poll at the Orono Festival join members of the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine and the Orono Peace group to invite members of the community to share their federal budget priorities. Contact the Center if you would like to help.
* Sept 11 Portland "It's time for light" around Back Cove to end war 6:00-8:00 pm (Bring flashlight)
* Sept 12 Saco Potluck supper and meeting to discuss Bring Our War $$ Home and Maine Walk for Fukushima (which will arrive in Saco that day), First Parish Congregational Church, 12 Beach Street, 6:00 pm
* Sept 17 Brewer 3:00-6:00 pm Building Bridges for Peace, First Congregational Church in Brewer (45 Church Street) with keynote by Terry Rockefeller of Families for Peaceful Tomorrows who lost her sister on September 11th in the attack on the Twin Towers. She has traveled to Iraq to meet with peace organizers. The keynote will be followed by panelists sharing what motivates them to continue to work for peace and activity tables by various organizations working for peace. A community simple supper will conclude the day which is free and open to the public.
* Sept 20 UMFarmington event featuring singer/songwriter David Rovics and Ruth Hill at 7:00 pm in the Emery Performing Arts Center; Teach-In at 11:00 am - 1:00 pm in the Student Center, leafleting of students about tuition hikes and student debt
* Sept 21 Belfast film showing of documentary Kill/Capture (the US military campaign in Afghanistan and targeted raids using classified intelligence, drones, and Special Operations Forces as a tactic - It interviews Afghan and Taliban leaders and their responses to the campaign - it's impact on them and the consequences of the whole operation), Belfast Library, 6:00 pm
* Sept 23-25 Bring Our War $$ Home tabling (with Veterans for Peace) at Common Ground Fair, Program in speakers tent. To volunteer to work our table please contact Diane at
* Sept 25 Bangor 7:00 pm Film showing Scarred Lands, Wounded Lives at the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine (96 Harlow Street). The film recognizes our deep dependence on the natural world and our humanly caused threats to the future of the planet. But it also focuses on what is often ignored by environmentalist: the extreme threat of the environmental impact of war and massive preparations for war.
* Sept 25 Belfast Rally to Restore Democracy 4:00 - 6:00 pm at Post Office
* Sept 27 Blue Hill Program featuring Voices for Peace choir & Robert Shetterly at Bay School's Emlen Auditorium in Blue Hill, 7:00 pm
* Sept 30 Afghanistan war Teach-In at Bowdoin College in Brunswick entitled 10 Years of war in Afghanistan: What have we learned, what can we do? Smith Auditorium, 3-5 pm Speakers Include: Paul Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Gould, Allen Wells, Nat Wheelwright, Lisa Savage, Dud Hendrick
* Sept 30 Interview of Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould on public access TV program This Issue in Harpswell
* Oct 1 BIW vigil in Bath emphasizing drone warfare during Keep Space for Peace Week at 11:30 am
* Oct 2 "A Time for Reflection on 10 Years of War" in Bath led by local religious leaders at 1pm
* Oct 6 UMOrono Bring Our War $$ Home: The Lessons of 9/11, the Afghanistan War, and the Killing of Osama bin Laden, program includes Doug Allen 12:30-1:45, Bangor Room, Memorial Union (Campus leafleting of students about tuition hikes and student debt after the event)
* Oct 9 Finale event of Care-a-Van featuring Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscots and Indian drummers plus Bring Our War $$ Home speakers/singers in Augusta to observe Indigenous People's Day or (exact location yet to be determined). Noon until 3:00 pm. Bring finger food to share.


I joined the Walk for Fukushima yesterday from our house in Bath to Brunswick - about a 10 mile day. The walkers stayed here the night before and I cooked for them (homemade pasta sauce from my garden veggies and beet burgers). Some others brought food as well including CodePink Maine's Lisa Savage who made a Japanese dish - she lived in Japan four years many moons ago.

Mie Athearn (and her husband Steve) live in Rockland, Maine but Mie comes from Fukushima. Her family is all still there and it is very moving to listen to her describe the feelings of desperation felt by the people as they have no income, can't be sure about the food they eat, have no way to move anywhere, and worry about the children's future after radiation exposure.

Mie suffers from Lyme Disease and can barely walk but her strong will to do something in support of her family and the people of Fukushima has over taken and she has been walking each day since they began six days ago in Rockland.

The plan is to reach the Japanese consulate in Boston where Mie will present a petition demanding that the government of Japan do more to help the people and that it tell the truth about the true radiation contamination levels that they currently withhold from the people.

If one ever doubted the insanity of nuclear power all one has to do is listen to the heartfelt stories of people like Mie and you will become clear that the entire nuclear industry must be shut down yesterday!

You can follow Mie's progress on the Walk for Fukushima on Facebook here


Wednesday, September 07, 2011


There is oil under the Arctic waters -​ black gold! And serious conflict is underway about who should control it. There appears to be little concern on any side about environmental implications of drilling in the Arctic regions.

Should we not be pushing all the harder for sustainable societies? Should we not be demanding conversion of the military industrial complex to build an alternative energy future?

And who will make this demand? Surely not the Democrats in the U.S. Isn't it time to call for a new progressive political party that unites the Greens, labor, women, people of color and other constituencies. The old go it alone strategy is just not working. We've got to build a truly united progressive block if we have any hope of surviving on this beautiful planet.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011



Imagine your family has been fishing and farming in a village for more than 300 years. Then the government decides they want your land and coastline for a Navy base. They stage a phony vote with less than 10% of the villagers present, bribe a few people, and then take a vote by having people clap to show they are in favor of the base.

When the majority learns what happened they force out the corrupt mayor who helped instigate the first phony meeting and more than 800 people turn out (just over 1,000 live in the village) and hold a real vote where 94% of the people say NO to the Navy base. They elect new leadership that supports the people and stands in strong opposition to the base. That mayor now sits in jail for resisting the destruction of the people's way of life. But the government does not recognize the second vote - the one that happened in a real democratic way with no bribes.

This is the story of Gangjeong on Jeju Island. It's the story of the global military industrial complex in operation. It's the story of a corporate criminal syndicate. This political power structure must be destroyed and put behind bars with walls and fences and barbed wire.

This out-of-control military industrial complex is killing life on this planet. It is the biggest polluter on the planet and they use force of arms to stay in control. They have no problem attracting all the young people they need to serve in these global "armed forces" because jobs are hard to come by these days - whether you are in the U.S., South Korea, or anywhere else.

This global military machine needs to be taken apart one tank, warship, bulldozer, airplane, and military space satellite at a time. We need to shut down the weapons manufacturing process and use our money and the skill of the workers to build things we need to survive on this planet like solar, wind, rail and the like.

We need to acknowledge, and repeatedly say out loud, we have no faith in this war machine. We don't want to pay for it anymore. We don't accept that we have to be controlled by the military mindset and all the politicians that it buys and controls. We reject the idea that war makes us safer. We reject the idea that more militarism is progress. We reject that the military can push the people around like we are slaves. We throw off our chains.

We stand as free human beings with rights to breathe, to walk where we wish, to think and speak as we wish.

We stand in solidarity with the wind, the sun, the fish, the birds, the plants, the rocks, the rain and the dirt that produces our food. Machines don't create life. Bombs don't give life. Guns don't produce life. Power comes from our connection to the Mother Earth.

The militarism is a sickness - a mental disease. We reject this sickness - we cast if off from our bodies and from our minds. We are free like the wind. We shall not be chained in our body or our mind. No more.

Monday, September 05, 2011


Mie Athearn, a Japanese woman living in Maine and a native of Fukushima Prefecture, is undertaking a "Walk for Fukushima" to deliver a message to the Japanese government appealing for stronger actions to protect children from radiation hazards in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Ms. Athearn, acutely aware of the heightened stresses being experienced by her close family members over the ongoing releases of radioactive contamination from the crippled reactors, and distressed by the Japanese government response seemingly dictated by expediency and downplaying, has decided to walk from Rockland to the Japanese Consulate in Boston to seek an audience with officials there urging a stronger public health response to the crisis.

She was also inspired by the Peace Walkers who came through Rockland last year, led by Japanese Buddhist monks and nuns. Just back from their latest pilgrimage from Boston to Albany, with stops at nuclear power plants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, the Grafton Peace Pagoda is now lending its support to the Walk for Fukushima.

With her husband Steven, Jun Yasuda of the Peace Pagoda, and others who may join along the way, Mie plans to set out from Rockland on Sunday, September 4 and expects to arrive in Boston on September 19, covering a distance of nearly 200 miles. The walk will partly coincide with a series of anti-nuclear actions within Japan planned for the week of September 11, and culminating with a "goodbye nukes" rally in Tokyo on September 19. Those dates are, respectively, six months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and five months since a Ministry of the national government, MEXT, directed Fukushima Prefecture to adopt a much laxer standard for radiation exposure, making higher-than-controlled-workplace doses for children officially acceptable.

They also plan to make a stop at the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant in New Hampshire.

People wanting to lend a hand by offering overnight accomodations, daytime rest stops, organizing events along the way, or joining some portion of the walk themselves may contact Mie at

For more information call Steven Athern.... (207) 593-7422

Schedule, "Walk for Fukushima"

9/4 Rockland - Warren
9/5 Warren - Nobleboro
9/6 Nobleboro - Edgecomb
9/7 Edgecomb -- Bath (Dinner at 6:00 pm at Addams-Melman House in Bath. All are welcome. Please RSVP to 443-9502)
9/8 Bath - Brunswick
9/9 Brunswick - Falmouth
9/10 Falmouth - Portland
9/11 4-5 miles in Portland (Lights around Back Cove 6-8 pm)
9/12 Portland - Saco
9/13 Saco - Wells
9/14 Wells - York
9/15 York - Portsmouth
9/16 Portsmouth - Seabrook
9/17 Seabrook - Topsfield
9/18 Topsfield - Saugus
9/19 Saugus -- Boston


The Tar Sands Action (smile)
By Ted Glick

My mind has been a jumble the last couple of days as I’ve tried to think about what I would be saying in this column. I knew I would be writing about the historic and amazing Tar Sands Action in Washington, D.C.

I am literally smiling as I embark on this writing journey. There was so much positive energy, so many wonderful experiences, so much hope for the future in and around the two weeks of sitting-in and standing-in in front of the White House, August 20-September 3.

One of the things I will never forget is how, day after day, new people kept arriving at Lafayette Park in the morning prepared to walk across the street and get arrested, 1252 of them. Wave after wave, daily, this kept happening. And over the last four days, from August 31 to September 3, the numbers kept getting bigger and bigger each day. On the last day, 243 people crossed Pennsylvania Avenue and stood and sat, first in the rain—most without rain gear--and then in the hot sun, some for four hours, before being arrested.

The vast majority of those arrested had never done so before. They were from all over the country, just about every single state. They ranged from teenagers to grandparents in their 80s, predominantly white but racially diverse, people of faith, landowners, movie celebrities, climate scientists, elected officials and more.

Then there was Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network and North Dakota, speaking Friday morning in Lafayette Park before she and others crossed over and got arrested, speaking from the heart, speaking of the many people close to her who have died of cancer at young ages because of the fossil fuel industry’s poisoning of her community’s air and water. Was there anyone in the audience of hundreds not moved to tears?

There were the young people Saturday morning and afternoon who sang and chanted for hour after hour on the Lafayette Park sidewalk to keep up the spirits and energies of those across the street in front of the White House who kept waiting for hours for their turn to be handcuffed and put into police wagons or buses.

There were the sobering things I learned about the tar sands throughout the two weeks, especially from the Indigenous people from Alberta province in Canada who have been leading this struggle for years: The second-largest area of (extra-dirty and thick, tar-like) oil in the world, behind only Saudi Arabia. The ethnocide of Indigenous people taking place as their land, water, health and millennia-old culture are being devastated as the forests are destroyed and massive strip mines moonscape the land. All of the toxic chemicals that must be added to the thick tar sands oil in order for it to be able to flow through pipelines, which increases the likelihood of corrosion and leaks. The plan for the pipeline to be built over the Ogallala Aquifer, water source for many millions in the US, and the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills of Nebraska.

There was the statement by our nation’s leading climate scientist, James Hansen, that if the Keystone XL pipeline is built and the tar sands is fully exploited, it’s “game over” for the planet as far as surviving climate change.

There was all the news coverage, this issue becoming all of a sudden a major national story. In retrospect, the decision of those who called this action for the “dog days” of late August, when Congress and the President are out of town, turns out to have been very prescient. There was lots of press coverage in the first week which then led to even more and more extensive coverage in the second week, including Bill McKibben being on the national PBS news program. Tim DeChristopher reported to friends that the protests were one of the three national news stories on the late night television news he saw in the Nevada jail where he’s currently housed.

There hasn’t been an action like this in the United States for a long, long time. The last ones I know of in terms of comparable numbers were the 1414 people, my late ex-wife and excellent political artist Peg Averill among them, arrested in Seabrook, New Hampshire in 1977 outside the site where a nuclear reactor was beginning to be built, and the many thousands arrested over several days in early May of 1971 in Washington, D.C. in a Vietnam war protest.

But neither of them went on for two straight weeks.

I know that some of those not in touch with what’s been happening within the climate movement in recent years were amazed to watch the Tar Sands Action unfold over these two weeks. But it didn’t come out of nowhere.

Two and a half years ago thousands of people were prepared to be arrested at the Capitol Coal Plant action in Washington, D.C. Then, more recently, there was the 10,000-person Power Shift conference and actions in mid-April in D.C. and the powerful, week-long March on Blair Mountain of hundreds, and a thousand on the last day, in early June. There was the example and leadership of Tim DeChristopher, who publicly called for just this kind of day-after-day, provoke-a-political-crisis type of action from the stage at Power Shift, three months before he was sentenced to two years in prison. And, without question, there was the exemplary, day-to-day leadership given by Bill McKibben. Without Bill, without his passion, his tireless work, his writing and speaking, this action never would have happened.

But it wasn’t a one-man show, not at all. Scores of mainly young people worked hard leading up to and during the two weeks of the action doing all of the things needed to make this be such a success. When Bill and 51 others were unexpectedly kept in jail for 53 hours after the first day’s action, there wasn’t an iota of letting up or hesitation. On the second day, as those 52 sat in jail, 45 people crossed over to the White House sidewalk, all of them knowing they could receive the same treatment. As it turned out, the willingness of those 45 to not back down, to show the police that we were serious about our plans for scores to get arrested each day for two weeks, led to a dramatic pull-back by the police. They went back to their original plan to use “post-and-forfeit,” essentially a $100 fine on everyone arrested, and then let them go within a few hours of their being arrested.

At the rally in Lafayette Park on September 3rd, it was announced by Bill McKibben that there were plans being developed to keep this movement going. It has to; Obama is supposed to make a decision about the Keystone XL pipeline by the end of the year. One big upcoming date is October 7th, when the last of a number of public hearings around the country on that pipeline will be held in Washington, D.C.

Bill also reported on an action taken in Seattle, Wa. where 40 or so people paid a visit to the newly-opened office of the Obama re-election campaign. A repetition of that tactic would be a way to keep getting the attention of Obama and his people: public visits to such offices all over the country, especially by people who worked for and/or voted for him in 2008, so that the Obama campaign understands that we are serious, that we expect Obama to finally carry through on his promises during the 2008 campaign.

“Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil.” That’s one of the things Obama said, along with this big applause line, that his election was “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

He hasn’t yet delivered. Worse, he and his administration have opened up public lands in Wyoming for coal mining, allowed most mountaintop removal permits to proceed forward, done nothing to stop natural gas fracking, supported the expansion of deepwater ocean drilling beyond the Gulf of Mexico and, so far, given lots of indications that he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline. These methods of extreme extraction of fossil fuels are exactly the wrong direction to be going.

Michael Marx of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign gave an excellent speech on Saturday in Lafayette Park. He called for us to help Obama find his “inner lion” so that he can finally begin to do what he promised he would do in 2008, which will only help his chances of reelection. He went on to say that if that is going to happen we need to find our own inner lions and we need to “bare out teeth.”

For those who want to see Obama reelected, for those who are turned off by all of his administration’s many betrayals of his campaign promises and unsure of what they’ll be doing about the Presidential election, and for those who have had it with both Republicans and Democrats, the campaign to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline is a classic unifying issue, an urgent issue. The next few months are key. Let’s keep building the Tar Sands Action momentum and win one for the people and the earth this year. Si, se puede!!

Ted Glick is the National Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. He worked on the Tar Sands Action for two months. Past writings and more information can be found at Follow him on twitter @jtglick.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Regina Pyon writes from South Korea:

Peace plane arrived from Seoul. . .police barriers and police fence and police walls. . .Peaceful and joyful cultural event at Gangjeong.

You can figure that when many of these folks go back home to the mainland, having personally experienced the massive police presence in Gangjeong village, that they will become strong voices throughout their nation in support of the struggling villagers.

Now this energy needs to be taken around the world. All of you reading this can do something to help. You can share this information with others.....write a letter to the the nearest South Korean embassy or consulate and express your indignation about the treatment of the Gangjeong villagers who are just trying to protect their farm land, the coral reefs, the fish, the water, the sacred rocks, and the plant life. You can help organize to send someone from your community to Gangjeong village to stand in solidarity with the people.

This issue on Jeju Island ties all our important work together. It's environmental, human, and about stopping a dangerous and provocative Navy base in an already unstable Asia-Pacific region. It's an issue that encapsulates all the evils of the U.S. military empire in action.

Help throw a wrench into the wheels of this endless war machine.


Some photos and video from the big rally in Gangjeong village yesterday. More than 1,000 people came from around the island and from the mainland to stand with the villagers. The police turned out in huge numbers to hassle the people and attempted to take the long sticks on which the big puppets were carried. The police had demanded that the festival not be allowed to address the villagers opposition to the Navy base.

The arrogance of the Navy and the South Korean government is so extreme that they think they have the right to control what the people think and say. It is quite evident that the South Korean right-wing government does not understand the meaning of the words freedom and democracy.


  • I was up late last night doing a radio interview on a network that plays on about 36 stations around the country. The show began at midnight and went until 2:00 am. The host and I talked about the weaponization of space and ended by discussing what it means to be a human being. We were both on the same page as we concluded that the only way we can ever have a chance of stopping the corporate military criminal syndicate is for each of us to rediscover what it means to be human - and use our energy and light to protect the Mother Earth and the future generations.

  • Signs of fall are coming to Maine as leaves are just beginning to turn bits of brown and some have started to fall to the ground. The leaves on the squash plants are turning a yellowish brown as they finish their cycle. Many unattended apple trees in the neighborhood are dropping their forgotten fruit - we went for a walk today and salvaged as many as we could from a couple trees by a local school. No one seems to bother with them.

  • It was interesting to see the alarm that was raised a couple days again when the magician in the White House once again caved in to the Republicans when he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to back off regulations that would have tightened government smog standards. The business community cheered and the environmental community groaned. Is anyone keeping score of the list of Obama's betrayals of the people and the planet? The list is getting longer by the minute.

  • Last Monday a "dedication" was held on the island of Kauai in Hawaii at the site of a new "missile defense" testing complex. The Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range will become the home of the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex. Basically what is happening is that in September 2009 Obama announced that the Pentagon would take the interceptor missiles (Standard Missile -3 or SM-3), now on-board the Navy Aegis destroyers, and also deploy them on ground-based launch platforms. The Aegis "missile defense" system, named after the legendary shield of Zeus, is deployed on 81 naval ships around the globe with more than 25 additional Aegis-equipped ships planned. (Most of these ships are built in Bath, Maine.) Obama plans to deploy the ground-based Aegis system in Romania in 2015 and in Poland in 2018, after they are tested at the new center in Hawaii. Russia and China see these systems being continually deployed around their borders at sea and on land and they understand that they are part of the Pentagon's first-strike program of the sword and the shield. The Obama plan is guaranteed to ratchet up the arms race.