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, January 12, 2013


I guess I was lucky to be able to watch this film in full early this's now been pulled from the Internet.  Money rules once again.  Here is something else that gives a glimpse of this great film.

A documentary on a Palestinian farmer's chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army.

There is no doubt in may mind - this is fascism in action.  And remember, the US taxpayers are paying for Israel's stealing of land from the Palestinians and we are paying for the building of that damn separation wall.

And somehow, in the midst of all the horrible treatment of the Palestinian people, they remain non-violent.  It is truly amazing what they do.  This brilliant film is their story.

I saw filmmaker Emad Burnat a few months ago when he came to speak at Bowdoin College in nearby Brunswick.  I was moved by his quiet determined nature and when he was finished I stood to honor his courage and love for his people and his land.


Boston Dynamics Inc. has won a $10.9 million contract to develop and build a set of identical robot systems for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge Program.

The oligarchy plans to get its slaves one way or the other.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence meets with reporters on Victoria Island as last-minute negotiations broke down concerning today's planned First Nations meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Throughout the week, some First Nations chiefs have been deeply divided over the meeting, with top chiefs from Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories vowing to stand with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in her refusal to meet with Harper unless he’s joined by Gov.-Gen David Johnston. So far, Johnston has ignored those calls, committing only to hosting a “ceremonial meeting” at his official residence, Rideau Hall, on Friday evening – after the working session has wrapped for the day.

Some of the 630 First Nations leaders in Canada did meet with Harper.

Chief Spence has been fasting for 32 days.


Evening of Gangjeong on January 11. . .100 full bows for the peace island, Jeju.
SaveJejuNow also reports from Gangjeong village:
On January 8 disabled people stopped illegal construction vehicles with their bodies! Members of the Seongdong Center for Independant Living visited Gangjeong, joining the peoples’ struggle to stop the illegal construction. They stayed all night in front of construction gates to block the construction vehicles. A witness who watched the struggle of the disabled visitors, most of whom are women, testified that the police were embarrassed by their courageous and active protests. He also stated that the police were violent and violated their human rights. The police forcefully lifting their wheelchairs, encircled an each person, and detained them. During the process, many of the disabled women’s cries of pain and distress could be heard.

January 10 was a day to be remembered when the military and police even ignored the state legislative institute. Two National Assembly members, Kim Gwan-Jin and Jang Hana joined people’s press conference and struggle to protest the navy’s illegal construction. The police threatened even the National Assembly woman, Jang Hana, with the charge of obstruction of business and pushed away National Assembly man, Kim Gwang-Jin then encircled him.
National Assembly man Kim Gwang-Jin is encircled by the policemen


Experts believe around 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted while on active duty, far more than die in combat.  Their high rate of PTSD seems to stem as much from the assault on their trust from the way the case is handled as from the physical assault of the rape itself, which is often accompanied by beating and or drugging. By the way, many men are raped while on active duty, too. And as the film makes clear, the families of rape survivors suffer in their own ways. The heroes in this film are the spouses, parents and children who live with someone trying to live with PTSD.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The History Of The United States ~ Chapter 2 ~ Roosevelt, Truman & Wallace


This is basically what the CIA is doing these days in Syria.  When will the American people ever learn?  First, they have to know it is going on.  You can't count on the corporate media to report these kind of stories.

Thank goodness for the 10-part series by Oliver Stone called the Untold History of the United States.


In an interview with Amy Goodman on March 2, 2007, U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.), explains that the Pentagon planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, Iran.  Clark was once the NATO Supreme Allied Commander and also served as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. European Command.

It's important to remember gems like this.  It's clear that what George W. Bush didn't finish, Señor Obama is determined to complete.

Thanks to faithful reader Agneta Norberg in Sweden for the nudge to post this one.


  • Obama is expected to nominate Jack Lew, currently his Chief of Staff, to serve as Treasury Secretary. Lew is the architect of Obama's "grand bargain" and "fiscal cliff" deals with Republicans. He is said to have been involved in the negotiations with the Reagan Administration that led to creating the "Social Security surplus" which has been milked for corporate welfare through the decades since, accumulating massive debt to the Social Security system that "our leaders" are now working tirelessly to avoid paying back. Lew was head of Citigroup when it got $45 billion in federal bailout, from which he got $944,518 in bonuses. Lew claims the financial meltdown was not due to the Wall Street deregulation by the Clinton Administration, which he was part of as Director of OMB. "I don't believe that deregulation was the proximate cause," he said at a Senate hearing in 2010.
  •  The Airline Safety Index Top Ten
    1.  Finnair
    2.  Air New Zealand
    3.  Cathay Pacific
    4.  Emirates
    5.  Etihad
    6.  Eva Air
    7.  Tap Portugal
    8.  Hainan Airlines
    9.  Virgin Australia
    10.  British Airways    
No US airline made the top 20, Southwest Airlines coming in highest at No 21.

  • Back in college I took one class where the instructor had us survey the same news story in multiple newspapers so that we got an idea how various media might treat a particular item.  Yesterday I checked three papers in Maine (all owned by the same corporation) to see how they covered our unity rally in the state capital the day before.  The Kennebeck Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel were exactly the same.  But the Portland Press Herald had one slight difference.  Let me illustrate.  The Journal and Morning Sentinel both ended with this:

    While views ran the gamut from the anti-establishment -- Bruce Gagnon of Bath said "corporations have been very astute" at taking over both Republican and Democratic parties to peoples' detriment -- [Lew] Kingsbury said he's encouraged by rising leaders in the Democratic Party.
    He hopes they won't "buckle to a bullish governor" with veto power.
    "This is the best I have felt about Maine politics in a long time," he said.

    The Portland Press Herald ended with this:

    Music from Alamoosic Lake, an Indian Island-based Native American singing and drumming band, held the crowd's attention until Lew Kingsbury of Pittston, an organizer of the Occupy Augusta movement, rallied the crowd with a megaphone in front of signs that said "No East West Corridor" and "Money Out of Politics."
    Kingsbury said he's encouraged by rising leaders in the Democratic Party.
    Portland is the bastion of Democratic Party politics in Maine.  Could the "more liberal" Portland paper have pulled my quote out because they didn't want their readers to see anyone claim that the Democrats have been taken over by corporate money?

    The majority owner of the three papers is billionaire hedge fund manager Donald Sussman who is married to our Congresswoman Rep. Chellie Pingree, a liberal Democrat.  In the last election Sussman gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to "progressive" organizations in Maine to help them elect Democrats to the state legislature.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


An excellent discussion by Priscilla Settee and Sheelah McLean about where Idle No More came from, what its goals are as a movement and where it is going.

Priscilla is a noted author/professor and activist of many years in indigenous solidarity nationally and internationally.  Sheelah McLean is a teacher and co-founder of the Idle No More Movement - both live in Saskatchewan, Canada.


William Loren Katz, African American historian, writes a fascinating critique about about the Lincoln film.  In part he says the following:

Five days before his assassination, “Honest Abe” assessed his historic role: “I have only been an instrument. The logic and moral power of Garrison and the anti-slavery people of the country and the army, have done all.” Sadly, what President Lincoln himself regarded as vital to his political and military success, Spielberg often leaves out.
 Early on, Abraham Lincoln was a frontier lawyer who told “darkey stories” and a Senate candidate who endorsed white supremacy. As President, he returned runaways to their owners and hoped freed slaves would leave the country. He rejected the reasoning of white and African American activists and resented their harsh language.
 Later on, he began to listen, learn and change. And much to his credit, he never retreated from any advanced position he had previously taken. When he finally, finally advocated the right of black veterans and educated men of color to vote, he became the first modern President.
Sadly, this “Honest Abe,” along with many known and unknown African Americans and their white allies, failed to make the movie’s final cut. Yet as runaways, soldiers and anti-slavery agitators they helped determine the course of a war, shaped public opinion, pressed Congress to pass laws and Constitutional Amendments, and altered the thinking and actions of America’s greatest icon.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013


As protests continue along the southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline, climate change activists can be heartened by the fact, as reported at the Acronym TV blog by Brett Redmnayne Titley: "The Keystone XL pipeline (KXL) will not serve as a vehicle for TransCanada's quest for fifty years of tar sands oil profits unless it obtains two crucial objectives, a federal US permit allowing the tar sands oil to cross the US border from Canada, and a legitimate, legal claim to eminent domain from federal and state authorities."


Well over 200 people gathered at our state capital in Augusta, Maine today for a rally on the first day of the new legislative session.  We were led by Native Americans in dance and song outside the building before entering to hold a rally in the Hall of Flags just next to the office of our Tea Party right-wing Gov. LePage.

This was one of the most successful attempts yet to bring together activists from many different independent progressive groups across Maine.  The "liberal" groups associated with the Democratic Party in Maine largely boycotted the event today.  Somehow they wrongly believe that they don't need to be associated with groups tackling such issues as military spending, climate change, No East-West Highway, Tar Sands XL pipeline that is coming to Maine, and other outside the box issues. They tend to move only when told to do so by Democratic Party leadership and even then in only the most cautious ways.  They never dare offer any criticism of the calcified leadership of the Democrats - either in Maine or Washington.  The fact that many of these groups get money from Democratic Party interests helps explain their cautious nature.

We came together under the banner of the newly created Maine Alliance for the Common Good.  We are committed to connecting the dots between our issues and actively supporting one another.  In a statement read at the rally one line stood out for me:  "We have assembled as a unified front to push back against what we see as corporate dominance in our government."

As we were leaving for Augusta this morning I learned that my Letter to the Editor was printed in the Portland Press Herald today.  In fact I got the headline in the letters section with a photo that quoted from the letter in the caption.  My letter, entitled Money for arms, but little for the people, can be found here.



Gangjeong village Mayor Kang on Jeju Island

Where the Winds Blow

The weather is changing. In March, Gangjeong fishing boats used to go out for 20 days.
But last year they went out for four;
in November, not at all.
The winds were blowing too hard.

The southern part of Jeju, the area chosen by the navy for its base, is the area of the island most severely impacted by typhoons. Though many fishing villages on Jeju Island were built close to the sea, the villagers of Gangjeong built their village further inland, knowing the power of its stormy seas.
In August, a typhoon blew away the plastic tarpaulin and damaged the frame arching over my host’s house. But “I was so happy!” she says, gesturing the way the season’s typhoons also upturned and damaged seven caissons at the base construction site. (They weigh 8,800 tons.) Many tetrapods were also broken.
Two days after the storm, members of the community came to fix her roof. With ten people atop her house, she feared the roof would collapse with their weight or that their cigarettes would burn a hole in the new plastic, but all ended well.
Now she hopes for another big storm.



DG displays her dolls on a low table across from the gates.
One by one, she places them against small cement blocks, propping up their heads.
Each one represents an activist who has joined the struggle against the naval base.
I push back one doll’s yarn hair to get a clearer photo of his face.

When I earlier saw photos of these dolls, 
S. pointed out one with a wide-brimmed straw hat.
Can you believe that’s me? she asked, smiling.


The Guards

Guards haul away the huge sheets of plastic,
the logs and barrel stove, all blocking the upper gate.
One guard begins to hose down the pavement, clearing away the wood chips
and bark left behind.
I stand in place, a bit to the side, with my sign.
I wonder if he’ll spray me with the hose, perhaps my feet.
Instead he just scowls at me, saying words I don’t understand,
then turns off the hose.
Soon afterwards, the police officer whistles another line of cement trucks into the base.

Another day.
Cement trucks rumble uphill towards the upper gate
as we descend to the gate from higher up the hill. 
JD reaches the gate before the trucks and stands in front of the entrance.
She yells at the guards.
The guards growl in disgust.
What seemed an easy entry for the trucks is now delayed.

A quiet morning.
No trucks pass through the gates.
Small birds sing from the trees whose limbs stretch over the activist tents.
One door to the lower gate is open.
I watch a private security guard play with a dog on a long tether
just inside the gate.
Later, he takes the dog for a short stretch along the Gangjeong Cheon,
which flows beside the construction site.

Across the road sits a two-entrance dog house for a mother and puppy.
A blue peace sign, a yellow flower, and the cartoon-like image of a dog’s head are painted on the house.
No naval base is in yellow across the roof. 
The peace dogs are away for the morning.

Confrontation ratchets up.
Only minutes after the activists have rebuilt the blockade, 
and arranged the chair backs to read Save Gangjeong Village,
the private security guards begin again to throw the firewood as far as they can away from the gate.
One activist lays his body over some of the logs, preventing their removal. 
When a guard lifts a wooden stool, 
the activist gets up from the log pile and grabs the other side of the stool. 
The guard releases it. 
Another activist exchanges yells with one of the guards
while a third begins tossing the wood back in front of the gate.
When I join her, one of the guards smiles at me 
and gestures for me to put the logs back down below.
My eyes smile back, then I walk the wood in front of the gate.
The interplay continues, guards throwing the wood back over our heads.
The tension builds, then subsides.
The guards stop throwing wood;
we stop returning it.
We sit in quiet around the stove.


Rough notes of the mayor’s words:

It’s been a long time since this room has been filled. There’s a slogan: five years and eight months, but we will fight for more than 58 years. We have made an effort despite the result of the election and the National Assembly (budget) vote. History will remember us. . . .
We have fought to oppose the naval base. And in the court, I told the judge I think society should be where common sense is shared by the people. We live in a society in which common sense is not accepted. . . .
During these days, we have to stop construction. The only way to do this is for us to continue fighting. . . .
To honor our descendants, we cannot stop our fighting.

By Carolyn

Monday, January 07, 2013


  • I am doing a half-hour live TV program from Iran on PressTV today about US-NATO PAC-3 (Patriot) "missile defense" systems that are being deployed on the Turkey-Syrian border.  The US, Germany, and Netherlands are sending troops and interceptor systems to "de-escalate the crisis".  But the truth is that the US-NATO have been funding and arming the so-called resistance by the Al-Qaeda fundamentalists who are trying to topple the Syrian government.  I think the cartoon above illustrates the story quite well.
  • It's going to be a busy week.  Tomorrow there will be a rally in our state capital Augusta, Maine as the legislature kicks off their next session.  The newly formed Maine Alliance for the Common Good will hold a rally outside and inside the capital building beginning at noon.  People from many different organizations will be gathering together making the point that our democracy has been drowned by corporate power and money.  Budget for all....Why Not? will be the theme.
  • On Thursday I will be taping the next edition of my public access TV show called This Issue that plays on 10 stations across Maine.  My guest will be Bob Klotz who is one of the leaders of the fast growing group called 350.0rg that is working on climate change.  They organized the big event in Portland a couple of months ago that drew a huge crowd as part of the national “Do the Math” tour and nationwide divestment campaign around climate change.
  • The links between Libya, Syria, Iran and climate change I hope are obvious to the reader.  It's all about fossil fuels.  

Sunday, January 06, 2013


New York students rising up....either rise and defend yourself or sink into privatization and neo-feudalism.

Teachers and professors are also realizing that they must defend themselves and their students if they want to protect public education.

Next step?  Students, teachers and parents need to connect the dots.....see that the cost of the military empire is a major reason for cutbacks in public education.


Sen. John Kerry (center front) and S. Brian Willson (left front)

Since I emailed around the Stephen Zunes article about Sen. John Kerry the other day, entitled The Case Against Kerry, there has been a fascinating back and forth discussion on the Veterans For Peace list serve by guys who knew Kerry back in the heyday of the anti-Vietnam War movement. 

Last night well known peace activist S. Brian Willson, pictured above on left in front row, sent around this photo along with a message about Kerry.  Brian, it should be remembered was nearly killed, and lost both of his legs, when ran over by a train in 1987 while trying to block a weapons shipment to Central America.

After Kerry's election to the Senate, Brian was appointed to his veterans advisory committee.

Here is what Brian had to say about John Kerry:

This is a photo taken by photographer Richard Sobol of the thank you party, June 1985, John Kerry gave for us 12 Kerry Commandos (all Viet Nam Veterans) that helped elect him to his first US Senate victory in the 1984 campaign. I sit front left having refused to wear the required "black tie attire".  Kerry of course sits center front, with Joe Bangert right of Kerry, and Bilodeau (one of Kerry's Swift Boat crew), left, now deceased. 

It was at this party, about 1 or 2 am in the morning when Kerry, under the influence, uttered 2 remarks that never left my memory: (1) "my initials JFK will one day carry me to the White House" (John Forbes Kerry); and (2) "Now that I have been in the Senate for 6 months I have had the benefit of briefings from the CIA and Pentagon and have a new appreciation for the use of 'contra forces'." 

At the time the CIA Contra operation in Afghanistan was the largest in CIA history, bigger than the Contra operation in Nicaragua. By 1988, Kerry was also supporting the Nicaragua Contras ("humanitarian aid"). By the time of this party, Kerry had already acknowledged that he had NOT thrown his military medals 14 years earlier, on Friday, April 23, 1971, during VVAW's Dewey Canyon III (April 18-23) Action on the Mall in DC, even as Kerry had emerged that week as the titular up front leader of the vets on the Mall. During his campaign for Senate when being criticized for being a traitor for having thrown his medals, he responded that he had not thrown his medals but instead those of another vet who was not present. Kerry at the time invited reporters to his Beacon Hill Boston apartment to see his intact war medals.

Some of those in the photo have stuck with Kerry all through the years. Kerry and I parted ways in 1987-88.
Kerry has undergone at least one, and perhaps two plastic surgeries to soften the sharpness of his chin and nose so that he might appear more photogenic.
The guy is Mr. Plastic.

S. Brian Willson
Veterans For Peace