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, August 24, 2013


No Missile Defense

No to NATO Expansion

End Afghanistan Occupation
Stop the Drones Surveillance & Killing
No Nuclear Power in Space or on Earth
End Corporate Domination of Foreign/Military Policy
Convert the Military Industrial Complex


  • Order the new documentary video The Ghosts of Jeju that puts the Navy base struggle on Jeju Island in context of US military pivot to Asia-Pacific and illustrates how US space domination is used to direct all Pentagon operations.


Syrian army soldiers have found chemical agents when they entered rebel tunnels in Damascus suburb of Jobar, Syrian TV reports, adding that some of them started suffocating. The US Navy's expanding its presence in the Mediterranean with a 4th cruise-missile armed destroyer. The move is a response to the escalating conflict in Syria. For more on this RT is joined by Paula Slier.

A lifetime of watching the US war machine in action leads me to believe that the US-NATO are behind the chemical gas story in Syria. They always fabricate the pretext for war - the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident leads to war in Vietnam; Bush-I and the faked up story in Kuwait about babies taken from incubators and thrown on the floor by Iraqi soldiers helped prepare the American people for the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990's; Bush-II and the more recent "shock & awe" attack on Iraq due to the "ticking time bomb" that did not exist; Obama's lies about Libya which enabled the illegal attack on the nation with the most oil on the African continent.

Law enforcement has a phrase "modus operandi" - MO - every criminal has a way of repeating their criminal behavior.  There is no doubt to me that the military industrial complex has an MO and we keep seeing their fabrication of truth in order to justify endless war.  One day the public will wake up to this shell game that is being played with our tax dollars and the lives of our soldiers and the people they are sent to kill.

Obama is preparing to attack Syria so we can kill the innocent civilians "he is going to protect".  Go figure.......


Desperate for any kind of job, low-paid workers in the UK are being caught in the trap of what's become known as zero hour contracts. RT's Polly Boiko looks at a world where employment doesn't mean there's any work ... or any money.

Friday, August 23, 2013


  • Housemate Karen told me this morning that my blog today ca only be filled with good news.  So here I go.
  • Our friend Phui Yi from Malaysia arrived back here late last night after a 25-hour trip from home for her summer vacation.  She is a student at nearby Bowdoin College and is a wonderful peace and justice activist.  Mary Beth helped her learn to drive during the last semester.  This morning we were joking about places with the craziest driving conditions and  I said my #1 in that category was Nagpur, India when at one intersection I saw cars, scooters, bicycles, trucks, buses, cows, monkeys, and an elephant - all without any traffic lights or policeman directing things.  That was exciting.
  • The Global Network newsletter is now online for your viewing pleasure.  We are taking orders from those who wish to help us spread it around their local community.  You tell us how many you want, we give them to you for free, and you just pay the postage.  I got an email this morning from a woman in Maine who has a wine wholesale business and she said she'd have her drivers spread them around as they make deliveries across the state.  Now that is good news for sure!  You can see the newsletter here
  • The radio interview I did last night on KPFA in Berkeley about Jeju is online.  Oliver Stone, K. J. Noh and I can be heard here
  • We are doing our second planting today of peas, green beans and lettuce.  Our tomato crop this year easily exceeds anything we've ever had before.  Likely has something to do with the very hot summer.... oops, that's not such good news.......
  • Karen just asked me if she could write a blog post once a month on good news.  I said of course, please do so.  I'll urge her to do it soon.  God knows we need it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


The Jeju City cathedral was packed. Here supporters hold various signs. In front a sister holds a sign that says, "The Peace of Gangjeong is our Peace."

  • Our Space Alert newsletter is done and set to go to the print shop.  I am really pleased with how it turned out.  Nancy Randolph always does a great job of laying it all out.  We should have it posted online in the next day or so and folks will be able to see it in full color.  Won't likely get printed for another week or so which makes me crazy but there is little I can do about that.
  • I am doing a radio interview tonight at 8:00 EST on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California.  Oliver Stone will do a 10-minute pre-recorded spot that will air first and then another Berkely area activist and I will come on the show.  We will be discussing Jeju Island, South Korea and Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific.
  • I had to post the photo above of the cathedral crowded with Nuns and Priests as well as faithful Catholics and Gangjeong supporters.  Jeju Bishop Kang Woo-il lead a mass demanding the release of Dr. Song Kang-Ho and Jesuit Brother Park Do-Hyun in late July. The two were recently arrested and imprisoned since July 1st for exposing massive environmental violations by the main Gangjeong naval base construction companies, Daelim and Samsung.
  •  In between work on the newsletter this week I've been outside dealing with a large pile of tree branches that needed cutting into small pieces for winter wood stove kindling.  Then today I walked into the nearby woods and gathered two large shopping bags more of small sticks for fire starting.  It's kind of like a meditation for me knowing that each small twig helps bring us warmth in the cold of winter. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


TIF Petition at Bath Polling Place on August 27

A group of local concerned citizens will have a petition opposing another round of corporate tax breaks (Tax Increment Financing) for BIW at the August 27 polling station in Bath.

We encourage you to be sure to stop and sign it when you vote.  If you've already voted please stop by and sign the petition.  We'll have extra copies on hand that people can take home and get their neighbors to sign and get back to us before September 4.  That is the date of the next City Council workshop on the TIF.

Here is the petition language:

Petition to the City of Bath, Maine

We, the undersigned Bath residents, call upon the City Council to reject another tax break for BIW.  Past Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) have not resulted in more jobs being created at BIW.  We prefer our local resources be used for public education, road repair, and other local needs.

Bruce, Karen, Mary Beth, Kristin


Kevin Zeese (Baltimore, MD) writes from the Manning sentencing courtroom:

Manning sentence: Courtroom TV cut-off immediately so media could not hear audience erupt with calls of continued support for Bradley and shouts of ongoing efforts to free Bradley Manning; but Bradley heard it. 35 year sentence was extreme, Manning will serve 2/3 plus get 4 years off for time served. Could also get parole and serve 1/3. Tonight 7:30 at the White House effort for pardon begins.

The one standing up for transparency, true democracy, and support for peace and justice gets 35 years.  The real criminals like Bush, Cheney, Obama and those corporate banksters/warmongers who are robbing us blind sip champagne and celebrate.  Their day will come.

Money & Corruption

We are sick and tired
Of being promised this and that.
We work all day, we sweat and slave
To keep the wealthy fat.
They fill our heads with promises
And bamboozle us with facts,
Then they put on false sincerity
Then they laugh behind our backs.

Money and Corruption
Are ruining the land
Crooked politicians
Betray the working man,
Pocketing the profits
And treating us like sheep,
And we're tired of hearing promises
That we know they'll never keep.

Promises, promises, all we get are promises......

- The Kinks

Tuesday, August 20, 2013



  • I taped the latest edition of my public access TV show yesterday.  My guest was Shenna Bellows, the Executive Director of the ACLU in Maine.  We talked about our work together on a drone bill in our state legislature last spring.  It passed but with an exemption to allow for weaponized drone testing in northern Maine.  Interestingly enough our right-wing Gov. LePage demanded the exemption then vetoed the bill anyway.  We parted ways with the ACLU once they agreed to the weaponized drone exception - ACLU felt it important to give in on that issue in order to get the police warrant requirement before they use drones for surveillance.  Yesterday during the show Shenna said they now feel that they gave too much to the governor and the drone manufacturing company who wanted the exemption but then turned against the bill anyway.  I wonder if the governor wanted to divide us and then vetoed it after having achieved that goal.  But in the end we are still friends with the ACLU and will continue to work together.
  • For many years I've been saying that one key reason the US-NATO are surrounding Russia is because they have the largest supply of natural gas in the world.  This morning I stumbled upon a very interesting article about this subject.  The bottom line is that many NATO countries rely on Russia for natural gas.  The US, with its expanding fracking effort to mine natural gas, wants those European markets.  See the whole story here
  • The Global Network has been approached by some folks asking for more information about how drones use satellites to do their dirty work.  GN board member Loring Wirbel explains:
In all military fields, the Pentagon uses the proprietary U.S. systems it can, then fills in gaps with commercial systems. For navigation of drones, the Pentagon is stuck with federal GPS, as it does not trust European Galileo or Russian Glonass systems. For drone-to-Earth communication, the Pentagon can use U.S. satellites such as MUOS (Mobile User Objective System), AEHF (Advanced Extremely High Frequency), GBS (Global Broadcast System),  WGS (Wideband Global SATCOM), and a secret satellite network know only as PAN (what PAN stands for is secret). To fill in the gaps, the Pentagon contracts with any commercial satellite company with Ku-band or Ka-band services, such as Hughes, Iridium, or Intelsat General. No one says no.

Monday, August 19, 2013


The Drone Boom

By Cole Stangler
In These Times

The drone lobby really doesn’t like the word “drone.”

When I say it in an interview with Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), he immediately corrects me.

“We don’t call them drones,” says Toscano, who has led the largest trade association for companies in the growing drone industry since 2008. “When most people hear the word ‘drone,’ you think military, you think hostile, you think large and you think autonomous. There’s a total misconception. And every time the media uses it, you’re not portraying good information.”

The AUVSI, which has gained prominence in recent years and now benefits from ties to the 80-member Unmanned Systems Caucus on Capitol Hill, wants to make this point very clear. At the organization’s annual convention this week in Washington, D.C., the word “drone” is hard to spot in the hundreds of exhibits from companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin and iRobot (maker of the Roomba, an autonomous vacuum cleaner). Even the Wi-Fi password in the press center is “DONTSAYDRONES.”

Industry leaders prefer terms like “unmanned aerial systems,” “unmanned aerial vehicles” or “unmanned systems.” According to Toscano, this is a matter of linguistic precision. The word “drone,” according to Merriam-Webster, refers only to the unmanned vehicle itself, while, Toscano explains, drone technology is ultimately a system featuring multiple components that depends on some degree of human input.

But it’s clear that there’s more to this than just dictionary definitions. Industry leaders are intent on improving the public image of their products, which tend to evoke covert military action, assassinations and fears of government surveillance that span the political spectrum. These are, in fact, the most prominent uses for UAVs, which originated in the American military. But the industry wants lawmakers, media and the general public to know that drones are not just flying death robots zooming around for prey in the borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan; they are also a state of the art, multi-purpose technology capable of harnessing and unleashing human ingenuity.

“We are constantly exploring and trying to expand our capabilities, and in doing so, we push the bounds of which human beings are capable,” Toscano says. “On a daily basis, we send men and women into harm’s way, whether it’s in a military application or a natural disaster or research, whether it’s a thousand feet below the surface or in the air. And what we find in many cases is that the weak link in all of these systems is the limitations of the human being. So [unmanned technology] allows us to do what we want to do in a much more effective and efficient manner.”

Drone-makers have a strong financial incentive to recoup their product’s image: There is a growing industry around adapting unmanned systems technology for commercial use. Congress recently directed the Federal Aviation Authority to create regulations governing the introduction of drones into the national airspace by 2015. As the FAA drafts those rules, a wide array of companies hopes to take advantage of the commercial market. As the drone market prepares to expand into a more liberalized airspace, 37 states have applied to host one of six planned FAA test and research sites, which the agency is expected to announce by the end of the year.

Many of these commercial uses are hard to quibble with. The biggest domestic use of UAVs could be for precision agriculture, a field which Toscano says could eventually occupy 80 percent of the industry’s UAVs. Farm robots would monitor crops, eliminating waste and boosting agricultural production. Drones could also be used for search-and-rescue missions after natural disasters. They could also help provide scientific research, reaching extreme terrain like volcanoes or the Arctic and compiling data more effectively than manned vehicles.

A more controversial market the drone industry wants to tap is law enforcement—an idea that has already sparked backlash over privacy concerns. The ACLU argues that “routine aerial surveillance would profoundly change the character of public life in America.” Forty-three state legislatures have introduced bills to limit unmanned aerial systems, with eight of those bills passing.

Of course, the potential domestic utility of drones does not mean that the military has any plans to curb its current usage. And right now, the crucial distinction between military and non-military use is that the former is far more technically advanced. UAV enthusiasts can wax poetic about drones being able to perform all sorts of day-to-day tasks in the future—delivering pizza, for instance—but the U.S. military is still the most active user of the technology, and is likely to remain so. One industry forecast estimates that while the total UAS market could be worth $89 billion by 2023, the commercial market will make up only 2 percent of that. The Pentagon reportedly has a fleet of around 7,000 UAVs, far exceeding any other competitor. In sessions at the convention and in interviews with In These Times, representatives of both the military and the major drone manufacturers said they foresee UAVs playing a prominent role in U.S. military operations for the long run.

The prospect of defense cuts does not substantially alter the utility of UAVs, says Doug Hardison, strategic development manager at General Atomics. His company manufactures the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones, two of the models favored by the Obama administration to carry out its strikes, which mostly take place in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

“We’ve been at war for 10 to 12 years, and we’re pulling back out,” Hardison says. “You’ve got the Arab Spring going on, you’ve got a lot of uncertainty, some ongoing crises, and some potential crises out there. The only way that our nation can stay ahead of those kinds of crises is to be able to see and hear what’s going on around the world. … We can respond before a crisis starts. So in the next 1 to 5 years—and really 1 to 10 years depending on where the world goes—that’s where we see value for the products we build.”

Although drone strikes by the CIA and the Air Force began under the Bush administration, they have skyrocketed under the Obama administration, which views them as a critical counterterrorism tool. The Army also increasingly uses drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Now, the Navy has begun incorporating drones into its arsenal, through its new Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons division (whose logo features a Grim Reaper). Last month, a Navy drone successfully landed aboard a carrier for the first time.

During a speech at the convention, Rear Admiral Mathias Winter, program executive officer of the Navy’s drone division, laid out plans to expand drone usage over the next decade. “We do it because we have a responsibility to provide domain awareness in a maritime environment,” said Winter. The Navy is at work developing its next generation of carrier-based drones, which could be ready by 2019.

As UAV military technology becomes more advanced, foreign militaries have begun adopting it. General Atomics, for instance, has already sold drones to Australia, the United Kingdom and Italy. France is also on the verge of a deal to purchase Reaper drones. Last week, an Israeli drone strike reportedly killed five people in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. China also has a burgeoning UAV industry, represented at the convention by the Ewatt company, which recently announced its plans to build an $80 million plant. Among many other concerns, drone critics often point to the dangerous long-term implications of the proliferation of unmanned technology. Eventually, they say, we could be living in a world where countries regularly use drones for surveillance and killing missions, breeding a risky cycle of instability.

But these kinds of critiques aren’t of primary concern to AUSVI, a trade association whose very mission is to promote unmanned technology and sustain the growth of the industry.

“If people misuse any technology, they have to be held accountable,” says Toscano, when asked about the potential long-term impact of the industry. “You can’t stop bad people from doing bad things. You’re going to have that situation with any technology.”

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The Jaber family of al-Baqa'a is being harrased and attacked by the Zionist settlers of Kiryat Arba. This incident was filmed by Hudaina and Atta Jaber's daughter through the house window on July 12th, 2013. Her father, who arrived at the scene as the settlers were rampaging around the house, had fainted and was given water by the ITF soldiers who would not apprehend the settlers a moment earlier.


Ten-minute video via Charmaine White Face, of Defenders of the Black Hills, where the Great Sioux Nation, local residents, and environmentalists are working  to stop a uranium fracking permit and to make uranium mining companies take responsibility for spills, leaks; and to guarantee protections and restoration of any land or water they have contaminated.

The Black Hills arise in the Great Plains to a height of 7,000 feet. Charmaine White Face describes their historical and spiritual significance: "They cover a vast expanse of land from South Dakota, northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana, forming a sacred landscape for members of the Great Sioux Nation... More than 60 indigenous nations had been traveling to the Black Hills for millennia to conduct spiritual ceremonies, gather medicines and lodge poles.

Since the 1950's, uranium mining companies, seeking quick profits, have created thousands of uranium mining sites on both public and private land throughout the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.  Now the Black Hills are pockmarked with abandoned open pit uranium mines that contaminate the eco-region's air and water.

Now South Dakota is under siege by a Canadian mining company called PowerTech that wants to build hundreds of injection-recovery wells in Edgemont to extract uranium from ore formations hundreds of feet under the ground.  This method could deplete and contaminate  aquifers.