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

Friday, May 31, 2013


It looks like Obama will nominate James Comey to lead the FBI. Comey served as Deputy Attorney General in the Bush Administration. Though hailed by both Republicans and Democrats for refusing to reauthorize the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program, civil rights activists are voicing concern over Comey's record when it comes to torture and indefinite detention. RT Correspondent Liz Wahl reports.


On my first trip to Gangjeong village Mayor Kang (just behind me in dark jacket) took me to see the place where the fresh water stream flows into the sea.  This was to be one end of the massive Navy base now being built in the village.  At that time I was able to see the undisturbed beauty of the coastline.

I arrived in Berkeley, California last night about 7:30 pm and was able to join a group of conference participants at a Chinese restaurant where they were having dinner together.  When Gangjeong village Mayor Kang saw me he rose and gave me a big hug.  At that time there was no translator available so we didn't get to have much conversation.

This morning at breakfast Mayor Kang arrived with a Korean professor from the university.  The mayor had just come from doing an interview for Democracy Now which is supposed to air on Monday.  Koohan Paik (Hawaii) was on the radio with the mayor.  Koohan has been a great Jeju supporter and made it possible for the mayor to speak at this event on behalf of the village.

During breakfast the mayor told me that when I first came to visit Gangjeong he remembers me talking about space technology.  He told me that he now understands much better what I was saying.  He said he believes that the US is bringing the South Korean government into the military space program as a junior partner to help control China.  I was happy to hear that he has put all the pieces together.

A translator took the mayor and I for a long stroll through the vast University of California campus.  We went to the top of a huge bell tower that enabled us to see the entire San Francisco bay area.  While we were looking out over the bay I told the mayor how much their non-violent resistance has inspired people all over the world due to their strong spiritual grounding.  He told me that they made a conscious decision to act in that way to help them deal with the obvious depression and sadness that comes from the Navy base construction project.  He said that if they were going to resist then they had to find a way to stay connected to what was good in nature and in each other. He offered to teach me the dances.

For those interested in ordering a copy of the fine new documentary about the village struggle the information is just below on this flyer.  You'll see them dancing during the film.

Click on the flyer to get larger image.  Ordering information is at the bottom.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


  • I am at the Portland, Maine airport preparing to head to San Francisco.  I refuse to go through these X-ray security scanners so always get the pat-down from TSA agents.  It's amazing to see how compliant we all have become with this ever present surveillance system that has been imposed on us. Do people going thru these machines ever have second thoughts about it?
  • Once through security I walked into one of the shops and was gazing at newspaper headlines.  The New York Times had a color top-of-the-fold photo from Spain that jumped out at me.  In a fog of tear gas police were beating up firemen who were protesting against austerity cutbacks that were impacting their jobs.  I can't help but wonder what will happen when local police begin to realize they are being screwed as well by the corporate oligarchy.  Once they go on strike who will be brought in to beat the hell out of them?  Maybe the National Guard, Homeland Security, or the 7th Cav.  Cops need to figure this one out real soon and join the non-violent peaceful revolution.
  • On Facebook in recent months there has been a flurry of stories (often with videos) of local cops beating and even killing innocent Americans at traffic stops, home raids (sorry wrong house), or at other similar situations.  In many communities cops are on a rampage.  The question is are many of these police actually former GI's who were in Iraq or Afghanistan and have experienced war trauma?  When they get into adrenaline producing situations (and remember they often had free reign in the war zones) do they just revert to default behavior?  Very serious problem.
  • Update from Chicago airport: Local newspaper big headline reads Bush Official Picked by Obama to Run FBI.  The continuity from one authoritarian administration to the next is quite apparent.  Good cop - bad cop.  Black hat - white hat but still cowboys.  Same old story.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


"This Is What Winning Looks Like" is a disturbing new documentary about the ineptitude, drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and corruption of the Afghan security forces as well as the reduced role of US Marines due to the troop withdrawal. In part one, we see just how chaotic and hopeless the situation is in Sangin, one of the most violent towns in Afghanistan.

See part 2 & 3 here and here

The US is spending about $10 billion a month in Afghanistan.  While Obama says the US is leaving in 2014, top military brass are saying we are not going anywhere.

These videos clearly show that the whole thing is a colossal mess.


  • Yesterday I finished work on the annual Keep Space for Peace Week (October 5-12) poster and flyer.  It's my task to pull it (graphic, lingo, co-sponsors) together and layout is done by a local graphic design person named Nancy Randolph.  (She does our newsletter as well.)  I then send it to our boards for review and feedback.  It's all gone to the printer now and should be ready in time to take posters to our 21st annual conference in Kiruna, Sweden on June 27-29.
  • The graphic above is the image we are using on our poster and flyer. Like last year we are again using space week to help the public develop a greater understanding about how drone warfare is largely possible because of military satellites orbiting the planet.  The very expensive military satellites, launched by very expensive rockets, have essentially become the triggers that help the drone site, target, and fire their missiles. If drone killing is illegal and immoral (and I believe it is) then the military satellites that make it all happen should also be critiqued during this debate.
  • Peter and I do our radio show tonight from 6-8 pm (EST) on WBOR and we will be featuring the Cyber war story.  How would we really know if another country was to hack into Pentagon websites and steal information?  Who would be able to verify if this really happened?  Couldn't the Pentagon just make charges that China or Russia had hacked them and we'd never know the difference?  The US has a secretive network at the National Security Agency (NSA) called the Tailored Access Operations that does hacking for Washington.  It's a case of the pot calling the kettle black. This is our theme tonight.
  • I leave in the morning for Berkeley, California to speak at the Moana Nui 2013 Teach-In. My talk will be called "The Militarization of American Life" and will review how this nation has become an occupied territory of the corporate empire.  The oligarchy is extracting resources and destroying our environment, extracting wages from workers without fair compensation, controls the political system and the media, and is militarizing their response against the people as they organize and demand change.  US Out of North America! 
  • My interview on Press TV this morning was headlined "US government corporate criminal syndicate".  You can listen to it here

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The Global Network was represented at a peace conference in Turkey at the end of April.  GN leaders Dave Webb (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK) and Agneta Norberg (Swedish Peace Council) are featured in this short video from that conference.


Video on Okinawa visit by Peace Nomad. 
Last February, some South Korean people, including Peace Nomad, led by Fr. Mun Jeong-Hyeon visited the fields of struggle opposing US bases in Okinawa. It included Futenma AFB, Henoko, and Takae. “In that fields struggling for peace, we met another Gangjeong and people of Okinawa who have same mind with us.”

Monday, May 27, 2013



On Saturday Regis Tremblay held the first public showing of his new 80-minute film about Jeju Island called The Ghosts of Jeju at the Brunswick, Maine public library.  At least 70 people turned out and much to the delightful surprise of everyone, at the end of the documentary, the audience rose as one and clapped along with the lively music that played as images of protesting South Koreans flashed across the screen.  People loved the film and some of the comments included things like:  This is the best documentary I've ever seen.  High praise indeed.

Then early this morning members of PeaceWorks and Maine Veterans for Peace gathered in Topsham for the annual Memorial Day parade that passes through that town, crosses the river, and ends in Brunswick where the crowd along both sides of the road is always quite big.  We carried the yellow "No Navy base" flag from Gangjeong village with us - particularly since the theme of the Topsham-Brunswick parade this year was 60th Anniversary of Korean War Armistice.

So this weekend we held the struggling people on Jeju close to our hearts. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Saturday, May 25, 2013



Obama's "pivot" of 60% of military forces into Asia-Pacific is well underway.  We are talking big $$$$ here.  New aggressive war fighting technologies are being rolled out almost daily.  Here is a video about one of the latest.


Friday, May 24, 2013


Less than 24 hours after she interrupted President Obama’s major speech on the future of the secret drone war and Guantánamo, CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin describes why she repeatedly interrupted Obama’s address. Benjamin, the author of "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control," criticized Obama for failing to explain why a U.S. drone in Yemen killed the teenage U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in 2011.

"I was very disappointed. He said that his policy is to capture, not kill. That’s just not true. I know personally of many incidents where it would have been very easy to capture people, like the 16-year-old Tariq Aziz in Pakistan, who was in Islamabad at a well-known hotel, but instead was killed by a drone strike two days later," Benjamin says. "I think the president is really justifying the use of drones, which will continue to happen under his administration and be passed on to the next."


The United States Senate decided again Thursday that it simply does not want to let states tell people whether or not they are eating genetically modified food.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly -- 71 to 27 -- against an amendment to the sweeping farm bill, squashing a measure that would not have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, but merely would have let states decide if they wanted to require such labeling.


  • Been a busy couple days of radio.  My weekly radio show at WBOR (along with co-host Peter Woodruff) in Brunswick got moved to Wednesday from 6-8 pm for the summer season.  Our theme this week was war trauma and we played some of the talk by Dr. Paula Caplan from last weekends Veterans for Peace symposium on the same subject.  Peter rounded up a bunch of good music to go along with the theme as well.
  • Last night I was invited to do an interview on WMPG radio in Portland about drones.  The timing was quite perfect as Obama had just given his big drone and Guantanamo speech yesterday as well.  (I watched the speech on C-SPAN and heard the familiar voice of Medea Benjamin interrupting Obama's slick words until they dragged her out of the hall.)  I needed to find a ride to Portland to do the show so Regis Tremblay took me and I promised him I'd buy dinner as a thank you gesture.  It's always fun to spend time with Regis and hear his latest stories about wrapping up his documentary about Jeju Island, South Korea.
  • I spent much of yesterday working on my talk (The Militarization of American Life) that I will do at the Moana Nui 2013 Teach-In on June 1-2 in Berkeley, California.  I will be one of 45 speakers and it's a real pleasure to be invited along with these wonderful folks.  Moana Nui means "great ocean" in Polynesian.  The conference program says: 
As militarization and corporate globalization rapidly advance in the Pacific, we urgently need deep collaboration and dialog with, and among, Pacific peoples. They are being directly confronted by the expansionist drives of the world’s most dominant powers (U.S., China, Russia, as well as Indonesia and Japan) all seeking economic and political control of Pacific territories. Resource battles, giant trade agreements, and rapidly accelerating preparations for wars across the region, are threatening the lands, environment, rights, cultures and sovereignities of all Pacific nations and Indigenous peoples. As the saying goes, “When elephants battle, the ants are crushed.” New resistance is required.
  • In anticipation of the Moana Nui event I've been asked to be part of an hour-long radio interview [with Jerry Mander and Kyle Kajihiro] on Saturday on KPFA (10 am Pacific time).  I love doing radio more than practically anything else.  It's a real challenge to speak into the great unknown and try to create mental images that keep people listening.  Years ago in Florida, back in the 1980's during the Cold War, one of the best local talk show hosts named Clive Thomas used to have me on his show which ran four hours long.  He taught me alot about doing radio during those grueling, but exciting, experiences.  During those interviews the conservative Central Florida audience would vilify me as pro-Soviet and call me every name in the book.  During the breaks Clive would critique my performance and we'd go at it again once back on the air.  He was a great teacher.  Sadly he was eventually chased off the air by right-wing Christian fundamentalists who bought the station but I have always felt lucky that I got to learn from one of the best.  
  • On Sunday, May 26 Regis Tremblay will be showing his just completed film The Ghosts of Jeju for the first time at the public library in Brunswick, Maine.  The show begins at 3:00 pm.  All are invited to attend what should be an exciting event.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Fifty-seven protestors were arrested Monday at the North Carolina General Assembly, bringing the demonstrations led by the state chapter of the NAACP to their highest total in their fourth straight week.

Hundreds thronged the Senate rotunda to show support for demonstrations that are drawing increasing numbers of people to Raleigh for what the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is calling "Moral Mondays." General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver placed the arrest count at 57, which brings the total over four weeks to 158.

The beauty is to see the diversity of this movement.  The middle class and poor people (of all colors) coming together to defend each other.  This is a model we all should be following.


Hezbollah militants have joined forces with pro-Assad troops in the fearce fight for control of a rebel stronghold on Syria's border with Lebanon. The town of Qusair is considered a key entry point for smuggling arms into Syria. Middle East expert Tariq Ali believes the recent escalation of sectarian violence in the region is being used by the West to target Iran.


On Saturday, March 25 there will be a Global March Against Monsanto.

In Portland, Maine I will be attending the protest at 2:00 pm at Monument Square. 

Stand up and demand to be GMO-free!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I did something different today which was nice for a change.  I was asked to volunteer at the Spring Bay Day held by the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMB) - a local environmental group that I belong to.

They hold this event each year for local school kids to come and learn about the interconnected web of life that lives in and around the Merrymeeting Bay that is in our part of Maine.  Over 250 fourth graders were brought to the headwaters of the Bay and I served as a chaperone for one of the groups from nearby Phippsburg.  There were three sessions where the kids were taken to different environmental topic areas and leading ecologists used very creative interactive exercises to teach them about their particular specialty.  It rained for the first hour or so but we all kept going and had a great day.

I learned alot watching the kids play in the mud, marvel at live eels, learn about some edible plants, and come to grips with the impact of toxins on the food chain.  Beside being cold and wet the kids were quite well behaved which made my job much easier.

Six rivers flow from the north into Merrymeeting Bay which at one time was teeming with life.  One of the session leaders told us a story about 14 foot sturgeon that used to be in huge supply - their eggs were harvested and sent to Russia for caviar.  These days the fish are a protected species and don't get nearly as big but they are often seen leaping into the air in the bay.

Ed Friedman is the president of the FOMB and I've had him on my public access TV show a couple of times over the years to talk about his work.  It's a great group and I was happy that I could be of some use to them for once.


SUNNÚ is a documentary about the destruction of rural life and its relationship to the monopolization of the food industry. It shows the deterioration of family farming and the chasm between rural and urban realities, as well as the struggle of indigenous farmers and small farmers to keep producing corn, despite the society’s ignorance regarding the civilizing importance of this grain. Corn has always been the center of Mexico’s economic, social and culinary life, the heart of its very identity.

Mexicans are forgetting how important the grain truly is: it lies at the heart of local economies and community life that forms the basis of our nutrition and identity. It’s ironic because we all eat corn every day, but really don’t know where our food comes from any more.

If native maize disappears, there will be no turning back. We will never recover something that took thousands of years to come into being.

The fate of corn will not only affect Mexico or one specific region, it will affect all of the world’s consumers and producers.

See more and donate toward the film fund here

Monday, May 20, 2013


We had a meeting here yesterday at the Addams-Melman House of our Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home.  We decided to work on the drone issue for the coming period of time.

One key decision was to organize a drone walk through parts of Maine next October 10-19.  Some of that period is during the Global Network's annual Keep Space for Peace Week of local actions around the world.

Japanese Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda from the order Nipponzan Myohoji has offered to lead a peace walk in Maine in October if we were interested.  For several months some of us have been working with the ACLU in Maine on a bill in the state legislature to make police have warrants before they can do surveillance with drones.  It seemed like we had support of the state legislative Judiciary Committee on the bill.  But then Maine's Attorney General Janet Mills (the former V-P of Maine Democratic Party) pushed through her own bill that lets police make all the rules for drone use in the state.  In addition she put language into the bill that would allow the testing of "weaponized" drones in Maine.  

Presque Isle is trying to turn their airport into a military drone test center.  The Attorney General calls drones an "economic driver" in Maine. So we decided to organize a peace walk to begin on October 10 (during annual Keep Space for Peace Week) from Caribou to Presque Isle (about 20 miles).  We'd then shuttle south to Farmington, the area where the Attorney General is from.  We'd then walk from there stopping in several communities before ending the walk on Oct 19 at the state capital in Augusta.  Since that day is a Saturday we'd work to get people to join us that last day to walk to the capital for an anti-drone rally. We decided to call the walk "Preserve our Privacy: No Drone Spying in Maine."  We know that many conservatives in Maine are against drones because of the privacy issue.

I volunteered to coordinate the walk.  We will need a van, contacts in the Caribou-Presque Isle area, as well as walkers. (Anyone interested in working on the walk route with me should give me a shout.) We will ask Natasha Mayers to get her artist group to make some drone banners for us.  We will invite other Nipponzan Myohoji monks and nuns from other areas to participate as well.  Jun-san will also promote the walk in her circles.

Walks are a great way to take an issue out to the public.  In addition to the legions of cars that drive past it is also much easier to get local coverage on an issue when you walk through a community.  It's great exercise and a wonderful community building experience.  I am excited to get working on it.

Just since I first sent word around today about the walk I've heard from a couple members of Veterans for Peace from other states and some experienced walk organizers that want to be involved.  Already a solid core of folks forming.....going to be fun.


Israeli teenager Natan Blanc was sentenced to a tenth prison term of 28 days for refusing to serve in the Israeli army last week. With the latest sentencing, he has been sent to prison more times than any previous conscientious objector in Israel. Earlier this year, supporters and activists held one of many regular support vigils on a hilltop overlooking the IDF’s Prison 6, where he is currently being held.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Chris Hedges talks on how spying and television allows the corporate state to take control of our minds and souls. The consequences of which resulted in a liberalism that has become profoundly bankrupted. Author of The Death of the Liberal Class and other great books.


A March Song for My Dear Love

Without Leaving Love, Glory, or Name
Determined to Fight for Democracy to the Last.

With only the Banner of Liberation in the Wind,
Our Comrades Falling Fight.

Not Being in Despair,
Looking Forward to Seeing the Dawn of a New World!
Though Time Passing On,

Our Land Remembering Truth.

Awakening Our Spirit,
Speaking Up Truth.

Making One Step Forward,
So Those Who Survive Follow!

- South Korean popular resistance song born from the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement during dictatorship

Saturday, May 18, 2013


A Pentagon official predicted Thursday the war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates could last up to 20 more years. The comment came during a Senate hearing revisiting the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, enacted by Congress days after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. At the hearing, Pentagon officials claimed the AUMF gives the president power to wage endless war anywhere in the world, including in Syria, Yemen and the Congo. "This is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I’ve been to since I’ve been here," said Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine. "You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today."

Democracy Now plays excerpts of Thursday’s Senate hearing and their recent interview with Jeremy Scahill, author of the new bestseller, "Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield."


This drum belonged to long-time Maine VFP founding member Tom Sturtevant who passed away in 2012.  Our chapter is now named after Tom.  When ever we gather we always hold Tom close to our heart.  In this photo his son-in-law presents the drum to our chapter.

  • I attended the Maine Veterans for Peace war trauma symposium held today in Portland.  Dr. Paula Caplan was the keynote speaker.  She is a clinical and research psychologist currently serving as an Associate at Harvard University's DuBois Institute.  She has been working to change the language we use to describe victims of war from the overused "PTSD" instead to "war trauma".  PTSD is a clinical description which emphasizes that people have a "disorder" as if they were crazy. The words war trauma acknowledge that people were indeed traumatized by an experience that was thrust upon them by our government's endless war policy and it is quite normal for them to have a severe reaction to this.  Caplan called the US a "war illiterate nation" and felt that if more people would deeply listen to veterans we'd begin to not only help them deal with their traumatic experiences but would also help us all learn more about the real human outcomes of our wars.
  • On Thursday and Friday I spent three hours each day dropping our pizza-style door hangers on doors here in Bath.  These pieces of literature share how 57% of every 2013 discretionary tax dollar goes to the Pentagon.  The literature describes how Mainers have paid $3.5 billion since 2001 for our wars and asks our neighbors to imagine how those $$$ could have been used in our state doing good things for people.  The population here in Bath is about 8,500 (2011) and I figure that we've distributed door hangers to over 1,700 houses in the community in recent days.  The weather was beautiful while I did this work and it felt good to know that this message was reaching so many families in our community.  The literature asks people to call our members of Congress and tell them to cut the military budget instead of cutting programs of social uplift.  I found that virtually everyone that I spoke with while going through the neighborhoods thanked me for passing out the information.
  • I don't necessarily think that everyone will make the calls to politicians but I do think that when we reach a high percentage of people in our communities with this message - when they see that there is some positive action around the budget - they begin to feel less isolated and become more empowered to speak out in their own circles.  I don't want to over hype this but I do think that at some point people begin to talk about this military spending issue in ways that the consciousness of the community expands.

Friday, May 17, 2013


May 16 marks a dark milestone in the history of the world's most controversial  prison - 100 days of a mass hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay. Out of 166 inmates - 130 are on strike according to prisoners, while the military only admits to 102. At least a third of them are being force fed - a procedure recognized by various medical organizations as painful enough to constitute torture. And by all accounts - there's no end in sight to the protest.

The last few minutes of the video feature Lt. Col. Barry Wingard (Judge Advocate General US Air Force) who comes down hard on Obama for continuing to keep Guantanamo open.  Very courageous words from an active duty military officer.


Charles and David Koch are among the richest people in the world, and are known for supporting right-wing causes. The rumor that the billionaires might buy the Tribune Company is hitting a nerve in liberal corners of the U.S. Among the prized media outlets that are part of the Tribune Company are the Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times newspapers.

You can help buy the newspapers here


On Wednesday, May 15 the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) ran another test of its Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor.  The agency said the test was a success.

The dummy (target) missile was launched from the Navy's Pacific Missile Test Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.  The SM-3 interceptor missile was fired from a Navy Aegis cruiser (USS Lake Erie).  The MDA's cost for the test was $32 million (not counting the costs to the Navy).

The SM-3 interceptor missiles cost between $12-15 million each.  The follow-on version of these missiles will double in price.

The Navy currently has SM-3 interceptor missiles on 26 ships with plans to place them on 36 ships by 2018.  These "missile defense" systems are being used today to surround Russia and China.  Their role in military strategy is to serve as the "shield" to take out Russian or Chinese nuclear retaliatory strikes after a US-NATO first-strike attack.

Last fall Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said, "This missile defense concept is global and mobile, and it creates unpredictability...the [US] fleet will invariably appear in our northern seas [Baltic, Barents, and Bering Seas]... The radius of use of these weapons makes them a real threat to us."

China has expressed similar fears as Obama's "pivot" of 60% of US naval forces into the Asia-Pacific destabilizes the region.  More ports are needed for these warships thus we see the pressure to build the new base on Jeju Island in South Korea and talks with Vietnam, Philippines, and other nations about allowing US access to their bases.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


  • I got a call from a media outlet last night just after 11:00 pm as I was climbing into bed.  They said something about a nuclear device that had fallen off a truck somewhere in West Virginia and wanted my comment.  I told them it was late and to call back in the morning.  I knew they wouldn't.  This morning I did some searching on the Internet and found the story.  Yes, indeed do call if you find it!  Here it is:  
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is searching for a nuclear gauge that apparently fell off a truck on Interstate 81 near the Pennsylvania/West Virginia line. The device is yellow and about the size of a shoe box. DEP officials said the device, which was lost on May 3, contains a small amount of radioactive material. If tampered with, the device could release radiation. The device is used to measure the density of soil or concrete. Anyone who finds it should call the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at 301-816-5100.

  • I have begun thinking about my court proceedings due to my arrest at Hancock Air Field drone base near Syracuse, New York.  I saw a list yesterday of 56 activists from three recent civil resistance actions at the base that are now facing trial.  It appears that the small town court of Dewitt, NY that has to handle these cases is backed-up.  God only knows when my trial will happen.  This morning I emailed a lawyer friend in Maine to ask his help with preparing me for the process since I don't qualify for a court appointed attorney.  He called and we talked about some of the first steps I should take to get ready.  He used to be an oil corporation attorney but left that job because he could not stomach the work on behalf of Mr. Big.  He once told me that his job, as part of a large stable of ambitious young attorneys, was to bury any opposing attorney in paperwork that dared represent some aggrieved person who had a legitimate claim against the corporation.  The goal was to drive up the cost of the legal case to the point the solo lawyer and his client would either drop the case or settle for a small amount of money. He now tries to put his life energies toward a greater purpose.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the U.S. requires $3.6 trillion in infrastructure investment by 2020 to bring our current D+ grade to safe standards. The only way we could ever come up with that kind of money is to end the wars and cut military spending in a dramatic way.  We should be fixing bridges, repairing railroad tracks, replacing aging water and sewer lines, and be building rail systems through every state rather than wasting our $$$ on more weapons for war.
  • With that in mind we are holding a meeting of the Maine Bring Our War $$ Home campaign on Sunday, May 19 from noon to 3:00 pm at the Addams-Melman House in Bath.  We will be discussing our anti-drone efforts here in Maine as well as ways to expand public outrage against war spending.  Power concedes nothing without a demand and organizing to back it up. All who are interested are welcome to attend the meeting. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges joins Democracy Now to discuss what could mark the most significant government intrusion on freedom of the press in decades. The Justice Department has acknowledged seizing the work, home and cellphone records used by almost 100 reporters and editors at the Associated Press. The phones targeted included the general AP office numbers in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Connecticut, and the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. The action likely came as part of a probe into the leaks behind an AP story on the U.S. intelligence operation that stopped a Yemen-based al-Qaeda bombing plot on a U.S.-bound airplane.

Hedges, a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and former New York Times reporter, calls the monitoring "one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press."

Highlighting the Obama administration’s targeting of government whistleblowers, Hedges adds: "Talk to any investigative journalist who must investigate the government, and they will tell you that there is a deep freeze. People are terrified of speaking, because they’re terrified of going to jail."


VFP members Tarak Kauff (left) and Bill Gilson carry the lead banner in a Tuesday protest in New York City.  More than 500 people marched from Bryant Park to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel where Obama was attending a fundraising dinner.

  • James C. Goodale, has been called the “father of reporters’ privilege” and the author of a new book called Fighting for the Press.  Mr. Goodale, 79, was the general counsel of The New York Times during the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, when President Nixon ordered the newspaper to cease publication of excerpts from a 7,000-page document, which detailed America’s involvement in Vietnam over the course of three decades. The Times published the first excerpt on June 13, 1971. Now, the man who successfully fought Nixon says President Obama has an even more troubling record. He has indicted six leakers to Nixon’s one, and just this week came word that federal investigators had seized two months of Associated Press phone records without notice. Mr. Goodale believes that a grand jury has secretly indicted Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks and the publisher of the Afghan War Logs, one of the more substantial leaks since the Pentagon Papers. The father of reporter’s privilege is doing everything in his power to make sure the case does not go forward.
  • Corporate profits are at a 50-year high.  The politicians like to call the rich the "job creators".  If this were truly the case we'd be swimming in jobs due to their massive wealth.  But alas the rich are not creating anything but domestic chaos. 

Unlike many European Union countries, Hungary is a nation where genetically modified (GM) seeds are banned. In a similar stance against GM ingredients, Peru has also passed a 10 year ban on GM foods.

- See more at:
Hungary has taken a bold stand against biotech giant Monsanto and genetic modification by destroying 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, according to Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar.

Unlike many European Union countries, Hungary is a nation where genetically modified (GM) seeds are banned. In a similar stance against GM ingredients, Peru has also passed a 10 year ban on GM foods.

- See more at:
  •  Hungary has taken a bold stand against biotech giant Monsanto and genetic modification by destroying 1,000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds. Unlike many countries, Hungary is a nation where genetically modified (GM) seeds are banned. In a similar stance against GM ingredients, Peru has also passed a 10 year ban on GM foods. 
  • Studies shows that charter schools don’t typically outperform public schools and they often tend to increase racial and class segregation. Compared to public schools, charters schools are an extremely unregulated business. They contract with private companies to provide all kinds of services, from curriculum development to landscaping. Most of the regulations that bind charter schools are implemented at the state level. And unlike public institutions, the finances of charter schools are managed on a school-by-school basis. Because they are not consistently held accountable to the public for how they distribute funds, charter schools are often able to keep their business practices under wraps, and thus avoid too much scrutiny.  And even by the flimsy legal standards in place to protect the public against charter school industry corruption, charter schools across the nation are failing. They are mired in financial scandal—and have become known in many districts for mismanagement.
  • A United Nations investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has called on the US government to return some of the land stolen from Indian tribes as a step toward combatting continuing and systemic racial discrimination. James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.
  • A great activist resource is the web site called Occupy Washington DC.  I find great organizing reports from around the world there - from a multi-issue perspective.  I use some of the videos they post.  See it here

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


If North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) is concerned about his place in history, it looks like he's got something to worry about. Several of the world's top historians, three of whom appear in this video, have been arrested in recent days protesting what Rev. Dr. William Barber II called an "avalanche of extremist policies that threaten health care, education, voting rights." McCrory has said he will sign bills that threaten the poor, the elderly, and minorities while giving tax cuts to the 23 wealthiest families in the state.

The civil resistance campaign is being led by Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP. Each Friday for the past three weeks, they have announced their intentions for the following Monday. So far, over 50 people have been arrested.

The strategy of the corporate oligarchy is obvious these days.  Drain the energy of the left by making poor and working people fight on every conceivable issue front.  It is all the more difficult to fight back when the president of the US is not on the side of the people.  The Congress, by and large, stands with the oligarchy as well.

The positive sign here is that the people are realizing that they need to rise together or perish.  They are starting to rise.


Cornell West on BBC calls Obama a war criminal.  He also calls the poverty levels in the US spiritually profane.

The Obama team has taken to calling West un-American for having the audacity to tell the truth about the president and his right-wing policies.

Sadly not many "progressive" black leaders are willing to speak out against Obama for fear of retribution.  But it's basically the same story with many white "progressives" as well.  Those who are attached to the Democratic party are neutralized and unwilling to speak the truth about Obama's role in perpetuating endless war, destroying social progress, desecration of our civil liberties, and letting Wall Street off the hook for their fiscal crimes against the nation.

You can see an extensive story in the Guardian about West's visit to the UK here

Monday, May 13, 2013


  • I saw this new film, The Company You Keep, yesterday and really enjoyed it.  You know you are getting old when the stories of your youth become "historical pieces".  The film follows a young newspaper reporter played by Shia LaBeouf, and after the arrest of a Weather Underground suspect (Susan Sarandon), LaBeouf sets out on a journey to track down another at-large member (Robert Redford) of the American radical left organization. They got in some good statements about corporate control of the government and our propensity to kill legions around the world.
  • It's been raining here for days but today the sun is shining which means doing some more gardening while I can.  I stuck our tomato plants in the ground during a lull in the rain two days ago.  It's also a day for some house cleaning as our mud room is full of mud and the kitchen floor needs washing.  Let the truth be told about the life of an organizer.
  • Friend Regis Tremblay has finished his documentary film about Jeju Island that he is now calling Ghosts of Jeju which I think is an excellent title.  Going to look at it today and he is then going to turn it over to a couple hot-shot young film guys he's known since they were in college.  They are going to fine tune it.  Regis has worked day and night on this project for more than six months.  A true labor of love and necessity.
  • Word from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island is that Mayor Kang and another villager were released from jail (several others still remain in the slammer) after the tragic events of last Thursday when he was almost hung to death trying to defend their protest tents across the road from the Navy base gates.  I was touched when I read that after being released folks gathered for a meeting and song and they finished with this one:  "A march for the Beloved." The lyrics include.. "Without trace of love, honor, and name, we have made a hot pledge to go together on this way.... Our hot cry as we wake up... As we stand in front, please go along with us, all the livings..."  Remember to boycott Samsung products.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Saturday, May 11, 2013


There have been various periods of capital accumulation during US history.  The Robber Barons of the industrial age wrung everything they could from the working class.  The tactics they used then are very similar to those used today by their descendants on Wall Street.

During the late 1800's to early 1900's in the US there was much movement building in response to the greedy capitalists than ran the nation.  Labor, women's suffrage, farmers, Socialist, Communist, and other movements created the national pressures that led to Social Security, unemployment insurance, the eight-hour day and 40-hour work week, and other great leaps forward in human and economic rights.

Today much of this social progress is being dismantled as we see global corporations squeeze working class and poor people around the world.  These greedy bastards care nothing about the people.

Anyone paying the slightest attention can see that the public is now rising up in response and fighting back.  Here in the US and around the world students are increasingly organizing as are service industry workers, peace activists, climate change organizations, anti-austerity movements, civil liberties groups, native people with Idle No More, anti-foreclosure groups, and more.

All of these movements are pointing directly at the growing power of corporations who control our governments and use the forces of the state to try to repress us.  As these movements continue to grow their power will become so deep and wide that the police and military forces of any state won't be able to control them. 

Here in the US we now see super-majorities in the polls that oppose endless war, cuts in social spending, and more give-a-ways to Wall Street banksters.  Things break down for us though at the congressional level and courts as the corporations, not the people, control those levers of power.

Our solution will not come from the gun, or the halls of Congress or any Parliament.  Our collective victory against this current period of capital accumulation will only come by an energized global commons that takes their outrage into the streets in a massive show of non-violent protest.  This protest must not be a one-shot deal but sustained over time and must link energies and demands across the planet.

We the people of the world are brothers and sisters.  The global corporate class remains in power because they pit us against one another - using religion, skin color, language, and ignorance as their tools.

When we recognize the humanity in one another, and learn to love each other, then we will be able to take back the power to determine our future on this tiny beautiful orb spinning through space.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Attorney and author Glenn Greenwald confessed Wednesday that he thinks America’s oligarchs appear to be mostly focused right now on consolidating surveillance and military might without regard for discontent across society, risking major civil unrest.

See more here


Catholic Father Moon is carried away from the tent area while playing accordion
Mayor Kang from Gangjeong village trying to defend the tents across from Navy base construction gate

Village protest chairman Go Gwon Il chained to top of tent
Village protest cook Uncle Jonghwan

Gangjeong villagers last night were removed while protecting tents they had long used just across the road from the Navy base construction gate on Jeju Island, South Korea.  The government appears to be continuing with its fierce crackdown since the election of the new president Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the former brutal South Korean dictator who had once served as an officer in the Japanese imperial Army.  He was essentially a US puppet and his daughter appears to be serving the same purpose today.

The villager tents were used by construction gate protesters to rest, offer information to the public, and to display banners in opposition to the base.  In the current climate they are being removed again and again from various public spaces as the Navy tightens its grip on the village.  Navy plans reveal that they intend to take significant portions of the village for military personnel housing once the port facilities are complete.

This base will be a key port for the US Navy that is now moving 60% of its forces to the Asia-Pacific as part of Obama's dangerous and destabilizing military "pivot" into the region.  Gangjeong village sits just 300 miles from the Chinese mainland making the proposed Navy base there a strategic outpost for the Pentagon's goal of controling the shipping lanes which China uses to import 80% of its oil.

It is ironic that just last night I went to see the award-winning documentary film called Five Broken Cameras that was shown by Students for Justice in Palestine at nearby Bowdoin College.  The story of Palestinian lands being stolen by force in order to build Jewish settlements is sadly similar to the Jeju Island story.  At the very time we were watching that film the latest crackdown on Jeju was also happening.

In recent weeks the Jeju crackdown has included the deportation of several international activists who had been in the village offering solidarity for quite a long time.  We've got to get more internationals to go to Jeju so that the villagers are not isolated from the rest of the world.

As I write this three of the four who were arrested last night (including Mayor Kang) were still being detained. 

More video from this event is available here

In the meantime you can follow the story by visiting the Save Jeju Now website here

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee was buzzing Monday with some unusual sights, all in advance of a federal trial for three people charged with vandalizing [pouring blood and painting anti-nuclear slogans] the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

Last July Michael Walli, 64, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Sister Megan Rice, an 82-year-old nun, cut through fences at Y-12 in a protest against nuclear weapons at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility.

Jury selection for their federal trial began Monday afternoon. Seventy five potential jurors were vetted extensively by a special judge who came in from Kentucky.

See the major Washington Post coverage of this trial here 

Update:  The three activists were found guilty and face up to 20 years in prison.  Sentencing will happen sometime in the near future.

MR. 109

The poor and working class, marginalized people of a profit driven culture, filled the room at the Dewitt Court just outside of Syracuse, New York.  There were 109 cases to be heard and the “night court” began at 6:00 pm. 

When one man appeared before the judge I heard the court say he was accused of grand larceny.  My mind immediately flashed back to Richard Connor, the former CEO of the Portland Press Herald (Maine) who took over the paper a few years ago and immediately reduced the news staff, sold off assets, changed the paper’s political orientation to a right-wing rag, and ran it into the ground.

Then after what seemed like a short period of time, Mr. Connor was gone and there was no public explanation.  It wasn’t until just last week that stories appeared in the paper that Connor had embezzled $530,000 from the newspaper.  He reportedly gave himself a couple of unauthorized pay raises, bought his son a new expensive car, treated himself to high-priced vacations in Maine resort towns, and more.

After all of that high-level thievery one would expect that Connor would be sitting behind bars in the slammer for a long time to come.  But it appears not likely to happen.  The current administration of the newspaper (recently bought by a Democratic Party hedge fund operator married to our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree) has been quoted in the paper saying that we just want to “move on” – focus on the future and not the past.  (Yes, the same kind of lingo that Obama used when asked if George W. Bush and company should be prosecuted for war crimes.)

Clearly, there are two standards of justice in this country.  The rich and well connected commit big expensive crimes (remember Wall Street) but don’t go to jail.

The poor and working class commit petty crimes in comparison and languish in jail – often for years. 

The fat cats take care of one another even if they are from different political parties or have different ideological orientations.  There is something that always bonds them – greed and their loyalty to the capitalist system and the global imperial project.

I wrote all of this while sitting in the Dewitt courtroom - waiting to be called before the judge for my pre-trial hearing – and watching the “fair and balanced scales of justice” in action.  Finally after five and one-half hours I got my chance to convince the judge that I was capable of representing myself during my trial for civil resistance at Hancock Air Field drone base.  The judge gave me an August 1 date to reappear in his court to hear any motions that I submit before my trial.  It took about 15 minutes in all. 

As it turns out I was the last of the 109 cases to be heard last night.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


Critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership say it's an attempt to impose an American system on Japan and would threaten Japanese public healthcare system.

Monday, May 06, 2013


US government officials have claimed that Bashar al-Assad's government used chemical weapons against the citizens of Syria, but according to the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry that may not be the case. According to the findings of the commission, there is evidence that suggests the anti-government rebels in the country are guilty of these allegations. Israel has launched air strikes against the worn torn country in an attempt to stop the movement of weapons allegedly coming in from Iran, but what is really going on the ground?

See more on this story by Reuters here

Also statement by Green Shadow Cabinet on Syria here


  • I have to make the eight-hour return trip to Syracuse, New York for my second appearance before the Dewitt Court on May 7.  Mary Beth is taking a couple days off work and coming with me so we will leave this morning and drive half-way there and stay with a friend in Massachusetts and then make the second-half of the journey Tuesday morning. I don't really know what to expect from this trip but doubt that it will be much of anything.  Likely just a decision by the court that I don't qualify for a court appointed attorney because our combined income puts me over the poverty barrier (which I have been expecting) and means I will represent myself.  They will also probably give me another appearance date in the near future.  This is part of the punishment process - long travel to court.
  • Yesterday I made the trip two-hours north to Belfast for the Maine Green Party annual convention which was one of the better ones I've attended over the years.  Many of the key activists in Maine (representing various issues) were there and Green presidential candidate Jill Stein was also present.  She's doing a good job building the party by connecting the various movements.  Looks like her campaign is not really ending - she's already building for the next national election by integrating movement and electoral work.  The growing disappointment, outrage, and disillusionment with Obama and the Democratic Party is driving people to the Green Party in greater numbers.

Sunday, May 05, 2013


Saturday, May 04, 2013


My plenary talk last weekend in Syracuse.  The previous one I posted on this blog was my workshop.  This particular talk was a bit more organized and formal.

The last three minutes of the video cover my talk at the rally last Sunday before we moved to Hancock Air Field for the civil resistance action.


On April 27, 2013, Horace Campbell presented a workshop titled "Ending the Fabrication of the War on Terror: Lessons from Africa" at the Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire convergence in Syracuse, NY.

I met this delightful man at the conference and we traded books.  I gave him one of mine and he presented me with a copy of his new book called Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya. I've put it on top of my stack.  This man has much to teach us.


Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern speaks tonight at Bowdoin College in Brunswick

I had lunch with Ray McGovern today.  He swung by Bath and we walked down to our nice local Thai restaurant for a meal.  He was interested in the huge crane at Bath Iron Works that hangs over the city like a bad memory.  I told Ray about the USS Cowpens that was built in Bath and launched in 1989.  This Aegis cruiser became the first US Navy ship to launch ordnance in the opening stages of the Iraq War when she fired 37 Tomahawk cruise missiles in George W. Bush's "shock and awe" attack in 2003. 

I told Ray the sad story about the woman Lieutenant on-board who was driving the ship when it launched those missiles.  She came to one of my talks in Boothbay, Maine some years ago and would become close friends of Mary Beth and I. She also became a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Veterans For Peace here in Maine.  She told us how, after their cruise missiles had been fired on a defenseless Baghdad, she went below deck to join the crew watching the burning city on TV.  The Navy personnel on the ship were cheering with each new explosion and she felt sick.  This remarkable young woman today suffers from a severe case of war trauma.

Ray is no stranger to these kind of stories.  He's been around war and peace activism for many years now.

Ray came from his native New York to Washington in the early Sixties as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then served as a CIA analyst from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985.

In January 2003, Ray helped create Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to expose the way
intelligence was being falsified to “justify” war on Iraq.

In 2011 Ray joined the US boat to Gaza to bring humanitarian aid and solidarity to the embattled Palestinian people.  At the behest of Tel Aviv and Washington, Greek authorities stopped the small flotilla from sailing to Gaza in a challenge to Israel’s four-year blockade of the narrow strip of land and its 1.6 million people.

Thanks go to Michael Cutting (Portland) who took on the challenge of organizing Ray's speaking tour this week in Maine and New Hampshire.  Ray specifically requested that he get to speak with students and Michael made Ray more than happy by securing invitations to speak to several high school and college audiences.