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 01, 2012



For a fictional show (based on actual events), this is the truest news story you have ever seen.

We've seen this script before in American history.  And it's come back around full circle.

The Know Nothing was a movement by the nativist American political faction of the 1850s, characterized by political xenophobia, anti-Catholic sentiment, and occasional bouts of violence against the groups the nativists targeted. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to republican values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant males of British American lineage. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and entirely Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Graffiti is a thriving life force in Oakland. Meet GATS (Graffiti Against The System), an artist for whom the city is one endless canvas to connect with the people. Times are rough in "The O," as GATS plans to write a poem throughout the city.



IUCN leadership refuses to criticize Korea's destructive naval base that is killing numerous endangered species, and destroying indigenous communities. This stance from IUCN defies its traditional mission, conserving nature and a "just world."

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Sung-Hee Choi (Gangjeong, South Korea)
                Koohan Paik (Jeju Emergency Action Committee)
                Save Jeju Campaign website

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress is the world’s largest environmental event. Held every four years, the 2012 World Conservation Congress  (WCC) will be held from September 6-15 on Jeju Island, the “jewel” of South Korea. Over 7,000 leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and social organizations will meet at this event.

Meeting just a few miles from Gangjeong village the IUCN has over and over again resisted requests from those living in the 450-year old fishing and farming community to help them protect their sacred nature and coastline from Navy base construction.  A five-year non-violent campaign rages in the village and more than 500 people have been arrested for attempting to block the destruction of their way of life.

 While continuing to proclaim its devotion to protecting Nature through democratic process, IUCN leadership has ignored or whitewashed projects that are assaulting these wonders, and undermining human rights and sustainable livelihoods.

The naval base project, meant to become homeport for Korean and U.S. “missile defense” warships 300 miles from China, is threatening one of the planet’s last great soft coral reefs, and other coastal treasures, killing numerous endangered species (including one on IUCN’s famous Red List), and destroying centuries-old sustainable communities.

The Gangjeong villagers are being met with daily police brutality.  Such activities represent all that IUCN has traditionally opposed.  Samsung corporation construction division is building the Navy base and has made significant financial contributions toward the WCC. 

On August 22, an official letter arrived from IUCN leadership informing the Gangjeong villagers that their request to host a small Information Booth at the convention was denied. No explanation was offered.

“The Korean government announced that it would not permit any demonstrations or even picketing within two kilometers of the Convention.  So, no speaker from the village or information table inside. No demonstrations outside.  We are disappointed because we thought the IUCN stood for democratic participation,” commented Sung-Hee Choi, a Gangjeong resident and member of the International Organizing Committee.

Gangjeong villagers continue to press for a chance to address the IUCN and for a public display booth at the event.  Efforts have been made to contact most of the thousands of IUCN delegates coming to the event and several have volunteered to introduce resolutions opposing the Navy base.  Villagers intend to invite IUCN members to visit Gangjeong and see the environmental devastation for themselves.

Concerned citizens around the world are being encouraged to send messages to IUCN demanding fair treatment for Gangjeong villagers.  Messages can be directed to:,,;

A petition will be delivered to the IUCN by villager leaders.  You can sign it here 


Organizing Committee & International Support Group includes:

Christine Ahn
             Global Fund for Women; Korea Policy Institute 
Imok Cha, M.D.
Jerry Mander
            Foundation for Deep Ecology; International Forum on Globalization
Koohan Paik
            Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice
 Maude Barlow
              Food and Water Watch, Council of Canadians (Canada)
John Cavanagh
              Institute for Policy Studies (U.S.)
Vandana Shiva, Ph.D.
              Navdanya Research Organization for Science, Technology and
              Ecology (India)
Walden Bello
              Member, House of Representatives (Philippines)
David Suzuki
            The David Suzuki Foundation (Canada)
Robert Redford
            Actor, founder of Sundance Institute (U.S.)
Gloria Steinem
          Author, Women’s Media Center (U.S.)  
Noam Chomsky
          Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)
Raj Patel
          Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First (U.S.)
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ph.D.
            Educator, Singer-Songwriter (U.S.)
Angie Zelter
           Trident Ploughshares, (UK)
Matt Rothschild
          Editor, The Progressive magazine (U.S.)
Susan George, Ph.D.
          Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)
Galina Angarova
          Pacific Environment (Russia)
Lagi Toribau
              Greenpeace-East Asia
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
              Tebtebba Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for
              Policy Research and Education (Philippines)
Lisa Linda Natividad
          Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice (Guam)
Eugeni Capella Roca
           Grup d’Estudi I Protecció d’Ecosostemes de Catalunya (Spain)
Sara Larrain
          Sustainable Chile Project (Chile)

Korean Federation for Environmental Movement and
Citizen Institute for Environmental Studies (South Korea)

- End - 

Thursday, August 30, 2012


  • It's been a busy week with my chores inside and outside our intentional community.  I've also been occupied with some writing I promised to do for a New Zealand environmental publication that requested an article linking Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific and the resulting impact on the environment.  They seemed to be happy with what I sent them.  Once I get a link to the article I'll post it here.  Today I drafted a news release for the Save Jeju campaign about the World Conservation Congress coming to Jeju Island.  I'll post it on the blog in the morning.  Be sure to check out the brand spanking new web site for the Save Jeju campaign here
  • Tomorrow I will do a TV interview with Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein who is in Maine for the next few days.  I'm going to ask her about her foreign policy positions.
  • No question that Obama has been good for the military industrial complex.  The New York Times ran a story on August 26 entitled U.S. Arm Sales Make Up Most of Global Market and reports that in 2011 weapons sales by the U.S. tripled to a record high of $66.3 billion.  In second place on the global market was Russia with sales totaling $4.8 billion.  In 2010 the U.S. sold $21.4 billion worth of killing products.  What does it say about the soul of our country that weapons are our #1 industrial export product?  "We are a killer nation - we can kill them fast or we can kill them slow," says Sr. Ardeth Platte from Jonah House in Baltimore. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Tuesday, August 28, 2012


A typhoon hit Jeju Island in the last few days taking down parts of the fence around the Navy base destruction site in Gangjeong village.  The villagers will now have a full view of the damage that has been done to the sacred Gureombi rocky coastline.

This weather related "disobedience" will surely slow the whole destruction process by a step or two. 

Next up for the village will be the meeting of the World Conservation Congress that will bring about 7,000 people to Jeju.

The villagers request to address the environmental event and to have an information booth have been rejected by the conference leadership.  (The story is that conference organizers asked the South Korean government to decide on the speaking and booth requests and of course the right-wing corporate dominated government said hell no.  It's no coincidence that Samsung not only is the lead base construction contractor but is also helping to fund the conference.)

How anyone can take this WCC seriously when it is absolutely clear that they are under the control of corporate forces?  It will be interesting to see if the thousands of delegates, who have now been notified about the official snubbing of the environmental issues on Jeju Island, will have backbone enough to stand up against Samsung's lackeys who are running the show.


This is a video by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.  He is funny but also strongly adheres to the oligarchy power line.  Milbank is a Skull & Bones Club member from his days at Yale University.

Here we see Milbank making fun of the crazy direction of the increasingly insane Republican Party.

I've long maintained that the corporate oligarchy is quite pleased with the job Obama has done for them.  Just like Clinton, who pushed through "welfare reform" and NAFTA (as well as renaming Reagan's Star Wars program BMDO - Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and kept it humming), Obama has kept Wall Street welfare flourishing and continued the strategic occupation of Afghanistan.

The oligarchy would be happy with the corporate Romney as president but Obama gives them the big bonus of keeping his "liberal" base under control and very quiet as social progress is dismantled and the militarization of America's culture continues apace.

Milbank's role is to be "entertaining" as he puts the dagger into the Taliban-like Republican Party.   It's not that Milbank is a progressive - he's just part of the show.  His job is to help keep the public cynical about "government" and politics in general.  The oligarchy wants the public to lose faith in government and thus leave the decision making process to the elite whose interests the government now represents.

Monday, August 27, 2012


We were sad to learn today of the death of Joshua Casteel, a veteran of the Iraq War who sought early discharge as a conscientious objector.

Joshua was an Army veteran and former interrogator at Abu Ghraib. 

Joshua was diagnosed in early November 2011 with stage IV lung cancer (adenocarcinoma), that was also present in his liver, spine and adrenals. He died in New York City where he was seeking experimental treatment, on August 25th at 3:30 PM accompanied by his mother Kristi, and sisters Rebekah and Naomi.


A note from the activists:

The Illuminator, in case you haven't heard, is a tactical media machine (aka a van with a really powerful projector, sound system, and library) that has been roaming the streets of New York City and beyond, bringing the spirit and message of the #occupy movement to street corners and public squares everywhere.

On November 17th, 2011, the two month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, a group of artist-activists pulled off an epic light projection action that came to be known as the "OWS Bat Signal". The video went viral, and the story got picked up by news outlets all over the world.

The success of this action led to the creation of The Illuminator, and since March 3rd, we’ve been on the streets of New York City and beyond. Our all-volunteer collective, comprised of artists, technologists, librarians, biologists, etc… have been staging spectacular interventions in public spaces, supporting a wide range of struggles, making the news, and reminding people that the crises that brought people into the streets last fall are still very much alive. It has been an incredible journey.
Unfortunately, due to differences in vision with the funder of the project, our access to this van will end after September.  This clearly demonstrates why it’s vital for our movement projects to be accountable to all of us, to the 99%, rather than any individual funder. (You can read our statement about this here.)

That's where you come in. Together, let’s seed funding for "The Illuminator 2.0." This time around, it will be all of you, all of us, that bring our beautiful imaginings into being. This time, we want to expand the project to other cities, to groups of committed activists and artists in places like Boston, San Francisco, and Baltimore who are ready to utilize the tactic of mobile guerilla projection. And there's undoubtedly lots more of them - of you - out there that we haven't heard from (if you have a committed group with the background and skills, write to us at! We'd love to expand this Kickstarter campaign's reach).


Secretary of War Leon Panetta warns us that cutting the Pentagon budget would create a "doomsday" scenario for the U.S. military. However, wait until you learn how they're really spending your money.

In addition to the video,  how about cutting that vast recruiting budget?  And all the toxic imperial military bases around the world.   (Remember that the Pentagon is the biggest polluter on the planet.)

Don't fall for the military industrial complex's job scare tactics.  Cut that damn Pentagon budget and create real jobs weatherizing homes, hiring teachers and medical workers, repairing our bridges and local water systems, build a national rail system and a solar society.

Help us demand conversion of the war machine to peacetime production.  Deal with climate change - end the wars for resource extraction.

It's your $$$ we are talking about here. 

Stand up and be counted.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


 Joshua Chamberlain Civil War statue at Bowdoin College
  Two international students at Bowdoin joined the protest
The march from Bowdoin College to the former Navy base on Saturday
Walking uninterrupted through the airshow crowd on Sunday
Starting our Sunday action in front of B-1 bomber
Ending our very successful action under the B-1

Yesterday 75 activists from around Maine joined our peace march and vigil in Brunswick at the Air Force Thunderbirds airshow.

We walked from Bowdoin College to the former Navy airfield and then stood with signs and banners while the much smaller crowd than normal drove into the show.  One policeman told us that only 1/4 of the crowd that came in the past had ventured in this weekend.  The likely reason is that when the Navy base was still open the airshows were free to the public.  Now that the base is closed, and a redevelopment agency is running the place, they are charging $20 a head to enter.  Since most of the folks going to these airshows tend to be working class they are being priced out of the equation.

Then this morning 14 of us (mostly members of Veterans For Peace) bought tickets and went inside the airshow to carry the powerful banner made by Maine artists Natasha Mayers and Nora Tryon and to hand out flyers.  Six of us were prepared to risk arrest while the others had the roles of taking photos, video, and handing out flyers.

Much to our surprise those running the airshow did not try to stop us when we unfurled the banner in front of the biggest plane on the tarmac, a B-1 bomber flown in from Texas for the occasion.  Since they left us alone we spent the next hour or so walking back and forth through the large staging area giving the crowd an up-close view of the banner.  Our leafletting team trailed along with us and kept offering literature to the public.

We got a few hostile comments ("get a job; you can only do this because the military protects you") but many more actually took the flyers.  Two times I saw men in military uniforms request a flyer.  Finally after the first hour of walking through the crowd we went back to the B-1 and stood in the shade under one of the wings.  It was then that several security men came up and ordered our photographers to stop taking pictures of us in front of the plane - a "Homeland Security" matter they said.  When our photographers challenged them to explain why the general public was allowed to take unlimited photos of the bomber, they were told it was because of what we "would be doing" with the pictures.

It was a great action, one that Maine VFP member Tom Sturtevant wanted to do last year but we weren't able to get it together at the time.  So this year we were determined to take a banner about military recruitment (Tom's favorite issue) into the airshow.  We tip our caps to you Tom.  Presente!

See alot more photos here and here