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, November 30, 2013


Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers: Walking the Talk from Omega Institute on Vimeo.

The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, including women from the Arctic Circle; North, South, and Central America; Africa; and Asia, represents a global alliance of prayer, education, and healing. They are women of prayer and women of action who regularly travel the globe to bear witness to the wounds of people and of the earth.


With former Florida Senator Bob Graham.....

This story holds great interest for me.  One is because I lived in Florida for 30 years, much of it during the time Bob Graham was Governor and US Senator for that state.  He was a middle-to-left kind of guy, no raving radical.  But generally he was a decent man.  Of course like most politicians in the US he supported much of what the military industrial complex wanted in the way of money and wars.

Secondly this whole Saudi story is very relevant for my work today in Bath, Maine as recent reports indicate that Bath Iron Works is at the top of the list to build up to $20 billion worth of destroyers for Saudi Arabia. 

Any warships that Saudi Arabia buys would surely be fully integrated into the Pentagon space directed war fighting system - "interoperability" they call it.  Look at a map and see where Saudi Arabia sits - right smack dab in the middle between Iran and the African continent.  Both are current areas of major engagement by the US military.

So yes indeed this Saudi story gets more interesting every day.



  • Today was the first Saturday vigil at Bath Iron Works during the Advent season.  The vigils will continue each Saturday for the next three weeks.  These protests are organized by the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm from Hope, Maine.  The seasonal vigils been held at BIW for many years.
The Navy has continued to accept delivery of ships containing hundreds and in some cases thousands of deficiencies despite recent efforts to improve quality control, and is not adequately pressuring contractors to minimize the number of flaws.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO-14-122) said the Navy should adapt more commercial practices that require the ship builder to assume greater risk for deficiencies and shoulder the cost of correcting them.  The GAO said the commercial side does a better job of detecting flaws and ensuring they are corrected while the ship is being built rather than at the time of or after delivery.

The report highlighted commercial standards to apply firm fixed priced contracts to their builders, believing that "the risks to the quality belong with the shipbuilders."  That's in contrast to the Navy's practice of cost-reimbursement and fixed priced incentive contracts that leave less risk on the shipbuilder, the GAO said.  The GAO said the Navy should at least tie incentives to quality control.
  • So the bottom line is that the Navy shipbuilders (Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics, which owns BIW, are the main contractors for Navy ships) are making lots of costly errors and then get paid additional taxpayer $$$ to fix the mistakes.  In the commercial shipbuilding world it's the opposite.  Shipbuilding companies are expected to fix their mistakes at their own expense which incentivizes them to get it right the first time.  This is just one more example of what happens when you make military production a profit making enterprise.

Friday, November 29, 2013


There is now "Grey Thursday" (Thanksgiving day), Black Friday (the day after) and Cyber Monday (to do online shopping).

Our calendar is being re-written.  Even the words we use to describe our week are being colonized by corporate capitalism.

The reports are coming in fast and furious about the insanity of the last 24 hours as the big box stores are flooded with people trying to save a couple of bucks on some junk.  Fights, shootings, stabbings - the usual stuff while shopping you know. Wal-Mart has earned a new nickname: “Brawlmart.”

Let's see if we can help capitalism in their goal to completely monetize our language and our minds.  Here are a few helpful suggestions:

Tuesday - Think of what you need next day

Wednesday - Make a list of more needed junk day

Saturday - No day off from shopping day

Sunday - Finish converting the churches to second hand stores day

The words "shop til you drop" are literally taking on new meaning in America.

Here's a new slogan for the patriotic people in our land:  "America - go shopping or leave it."

Protests planned by current and former Wal-Mart workers were held today at an estimated 1,500 Walmart stores across the US. Over 110 were arrested while engaging in civil disobedience protesting the poor wages workers are paid by the mega-corporation. The National Labor Relations Board announced last week that it plans to pursue charges against Wal-Mart for threatening and punishing workers who planned to go on strike last year.


Saudi Arabia wants to buy $20 billion worth of war ships from the US and Bath Iron Works in Maine is at the top of the list to build some or all of them.

Are we getting so desperate in the US that we now build ships for totalitarian monarchies whose idea of justice is to chop off heads and hands of the accused?  Can you see the firestorm of protest and controversy that will ensue if this deal goes through?

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

Words Before All Else
Greetings to the Natural World

We are gathered together in this place to greet the world in Thanksgiving.  We bring our Minds together to extend thanksgiving and greetings to one another.

With our Minds as one we offer thanksgiving to the Earth Mother who from the beginning of time has cared for our wellbeing.

We direct our Minds to the Waters, the source of all that lives upon Earth Mother. With one Mind, we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Waters.

We address all the Beings both seen and unseen that dwell in the Water. They continue to follow their original instructions from Great Spirit to provide for us. With one Mind we send the Beings that dwell in the Waters our greetings and thanksgiving.

We send our Thanksgiving to the Trees. Trees offer us peace and strength, provide for our needs of shelter, fuel, and maintain the atmosphere. With one Mind, we thank the Tree Nation.

We offer our gratitude to the Plant Nation, who provide food for all forms of life. With our Minds as one, we thank the Plant Nation.

We direct our Minds to the Medicine Plants and the Medicine Keepers who continue to follow their instructions to take away illness, and who are always willing to help us heal.  We extend greetings and thanksgiving to the Medicine Plants and the Medicine Keepers.

We offer Thanksgiving to our relations in the Insect Nation.  They too have not forgotten their original instructions to fulfill their obligation to Continued Creation. With one Mind we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Insect Nation.

We send our gratitude to the Animal Nation.  Each member of this Nation has received a piece of the wisdom of basic survival to share with humanity.  With one Mind we extend greetings and thanksgiving to the Animal Nation.

Now we direct our Minds to the Bird Nation.  Great Spirit gave the Birds a special duty to perform, to make sacred all the places of the Earth with their song and flight. We send our joyful greetings and thanksgiving to the Bird Nation.

We are thankful to the Four Winds for following their original instructions to cleanse the air with their breath.  With one Mind we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Four Winds.

We direct our attention to the Thunder Beings, our Grandfathers. With thundering voices and lightning they control the forces that would prevent life from continuing.  With one Mind we send our greetings and thanksgiving to the Thunder Beings.

We send our greetings to the Sun, the energy source of all life.  We are grateful for the renewal of life each day. With one Mind, we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Sun.

We are thankful for our oldest Grandmother, the Moon. She binds rhythms of the Waters and the female cycles. By her changing face we measure time. With one Mind, we send greetings and thanksgiving to Grandmother Moon.

We are grateful to the Stars. In the darkness they guide us home and hold the secrets of forgotten stories. With our Minds as one, we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Star Nation.

We direct our gratitude to the Enlightened Masters for helping us to remember our original instructions from Great Spirit. With one Mind, we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Enlightened Beings.

We invoke the Four Spirit Beings who dwell in the Four Directions. They were sent by Great Spirit to instruct us, guide us and protect us on our path.  With our Minds as one we send our special Gratitude to the Four Spirit Beings.

We have arrived at the dwelling place of Great Spirit, the womb of life and love.  Great Spirit provides for all our needs and asks only that we always remember to live in gratitude for the gifts of Creation.  With one Mind we send our love and thanksgiving to Great Spirit.

We send Thanksgiving Greetings to the ancestors and to the future generations, to the honored elders and the children and to all of the Nations of the World.  It is now time to end words.  We have become one being.

And now our Mind is one.
This “Basic Call to Consciousness” was born through the Peacemaker Tradition of the Haudenosaunee People.  Traditional meetings of the Iroquois Confederacy begin and end with this Thanksgiving Address. It forms the guiding principle of culture.  This prayer originates from an ancient time in the evolution of Earth, has been held and was spoken during the establishment of the Great Law of Peace, the Iroquois Constitution, 1000 years before European settlers arrived on American soil.  The Constitution of the newly forming United States of America was modeled after the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy. 

The Thanksgiving Address directs our thoughts.  Our actions arise from our thoughts to become part of the process of nature.  The Thanksgiving Address humbles us before the wonder of natural world and awakens a universal consciousness.  An unbroken memory of the cultural ethic for peace and balance has been faithfully preserved and transmitted by the Elders through this prayer as guidance for the Seventh Generation.

May this Thanksgiving Address be honored and preserved—intact and as written.  It is a gift from the Ancestors passed forward to the Seventh Generation to serve human potentials for the re-creation of a peaceful, prosperous and happy world.  May the Circle be un-broken.


The US likes to pick fights.  That is what bullies do.  In early 2001 George W. Bush sent a lumbering propeller driven US Air Force spy plane bumping up along China's coastline.  China scrambled two jets and brought the US plane down onto Hainan Island.  The Chinese held the crew for a while and then sent them home.  China took the spy plane apart and kept the interesting technology.  Eventually they packed the plane parts into crates and shipped it back to the US.  Sometime later Lockheed Martin (who built the US spy plane) built a military reconnaissance system for China on Hainan Island so they could keep a better eye on their coastline.  Talk about making money off both sides of the street.

Bush sent the easy to be intercepted spy plane along the China coast for several reasons.  He wanted to test their ability to intercept such flights but he also wanted to create an international incident that would help him further demonize China back home.  It was all about showing how "aggressive" China has become.

Now Obama is getting into the act as well.  The Washington Post reports:

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it had defied Beijing by flying two warplanes over the East China Sea on a training exercise, ignoring a recent edict from China that it be informed in advance of any such flights in the region.

U.S. military officials said they deployed two unarmed B-52 bombers late Monday over a small island chain that China and Japan both claim as their territory. Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a military spokesman, described the flights as “uneventful” and said they were part of a previously scheduled training mission. He said there was “no contact, no reaction from China.”

Imagine just for a moment if China, or any other country, began moving 60% of their military forces within shooting range of the US Atlantic and Pacific coasts.  Imagine if that same country was establishing military bases in Mexico or Canada.  The US government would be freaking out.  Then further imagine that same country flying spy planes and bombers up along our coast.  The Pentagon would be screaming "provocation" like a junkyard dog.  But when the US does it we are just defending "freedom of movement in international airspace or waterways".  No need to worry at all.

The B-52 bombers took off from Andersen AFB in Guam. That island (called the 'tip of the spear' by the Pentagon) is under assault as the US pushes to take more and more of their land for military operations.  

I understand that creating these incidents builds fear at home and fear is what keeps military spending high and big profits rolling into the coffers of the military industrial complex.  But these kind of dangerous and destabilizing tactics by an out-of-control US military machine is what starts wars that bleed the people back home literally and figuratively.

Where are the voices of sanity in the Congress who should be slapping Obama's hand and saying NO?  Those so-called progressive elected officials appear to be stuffed so deeply into the pockets of the weapons industry their voices are muted and/or silenced.  It then is left to us - the great unwashed back in the hustings.  It's our job to tell the boys in Washington to stop playing their deadly games of Russian roulette.  Put the loaded gun down and go outside and play in the sand box.  It's time for some adult supervision of this crazy bunch running the war machine.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Before sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner with his family, President Barack Obama shared the table with some very rich donors in Beverly Hills, Calif. During his West Coast trip, Obama has also been met by some vocal protesters, who are demanding a stop to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade agreement is being negotiated between 12 countries. Critics say the TPP will reduce labor protections, lift environmental regulations and restrict the Internet.



Conservatives following President Park’s orders

This cartoon depicts South Korean President Park Geun-hye as a military leader similar to her father, former President Park Chung-hee, directing conservative forces to attack Catholic Priest Park Chang-shin for his recent comments on North Korea’s 2010 shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. Father Park’s comments have provoked a strong reaction and allowed the president to distract from the ongoing scandal related to state institutions’ interference in last December’s presidential election. 

Because of the ruling right-wing government's intrusion in the last election Father Park and many other Catholics have called on President Park, daughter of former authoritarian leader and US puppet, to resign from office.  In addition Father Park has accused the present government of trying to provoke war with North Korea.  In South Korea it is virtually illegal to criticize government policies and those that do face being called an agent of North Korea.  This is one very effective way the right-wing keeps all criticism at bay.  But increasing we are witnessing the major growth of the South Korean opposition movements and the resulting crackdown by the corporate controlled government.

The Hankyoreh reports: Father Park was a leading priest in South Korea‘s democratization movement among farmers and citizens in the North Jeolla Province area in the 1970s and 80s. Park was ordained in 1973 and retired last year after 39 years of service.

Shortly after the Gwangju massacre (that killed hundreds) in June 1980, Park was a priest at Yeosan Cathedral in North Jeolla Province. In a sermon he talked about the truth of the Gwangju Democratization Movement and was later attacked by five assailants late at night at his residence. He was beaten and stabbed with metal pipes and walks with a limp to this day with the help of a cane.


  • I heard today from Jun-san Yasuda.  She was the Buddhist nun who brought the large Japanese delegation on our recent drone peace walk in Maine.  One Japanese student who walked with us, Maho with the great voice, is leaving for home tonight after having spent the time since the walk caring for Jun-san.  Jun-san had to drop out of the walk after the first couple days when she was diagnosed with lime disease. Jun-san last night showed Maho the new documentary The Ghosts of Jeju.  Already being translated into Korean, we learn that Maho was so moved by the Gangjeong village story that she wants to translate the film into Japanese.  That is how the magic of the walk keeps working.  Filmmaker Regis Tremblay was excited to hear about the Japanese translation.  Jun-san told me she wants to visit Jeju Island soon and is looking for a travel partner.  If anyone is interested in going with her you can let me know and I can put you both in touch.

This outrageous article promoting and justifying US military expansion into the Asia-Pacific appeared in the USA Today on Monday:

The Pentagon is fortifying bases in the Pacific and looking to revive World War II-era air bases as part of an effort to survive a Chinese missile attack that could wipe out critical installations on Okinawa and elsewhere, military records, interviews and congressional testimony show.

The strategy indicates the evolution of the administration's shift toward Asia, which includes the creation of a growing base in northern Australia. Chinese missiles have been a preoccupation of Pentagon planners who worry they could be used as a threat to deny access to the region by U.S. ships, planes and troops.
Chinese ballistic missiles — termed anti-access, area denial weapons — mean that virtually every U.S. base in the Pacific is under "heavy threat," said Michael Lostumbo, director of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Study. A RAND report found that 90% of the bases were within 1,080 nautical miles of China, the distance it defined as being under heavy threat.
This mainstream media story is part of the "pivot" public relations roll-out that is now underway.  In February a series of congressional hearings are to begin and their primary goal is to further the public fear about the coming "China attack".  Military industrial complex on-going profitability depends on keeping the big China fear alive and growing.  With coming economic collapse here in the US the weapons lobby is working hard to keep their strangle hold on the discretionary federal budget.  Keep your eyes open for more of this and learn to read between the lines.
The environmental implications of this US/NATO Asia-Pacific pivot are real and drastic. (The Pentagon calls it "rebalancing" these days, likely to mean that we are "evening up" our capability against China, but like the last cold war the US exaggerates the "enemy" capability in order to justify its own overwhelming superiority) 

In Hawaii there is some evidence that should give us pause as we see the expansion of US military efforts to occupy, or re-occupy, various Pacific island communities. A Honolulu media source reports:

From World War II until 1990, the Navy used the 45 square-mile island off of Maui for target practice, raining down thousands of bombs, grenades, projectiles and other explosives — one of which, a 500-pound bomb, missed Kahoolawe and hit Maui. The military contractor has since cleared close to 30,000 munitions from the uninhabited island, according to a Navy report. But that work ended in 2004 and the island remains hazardous.

In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower transferred the title for Kahoolawe to the U.S. Navy with a stipulation that it be returned to Hawaii in a condition for “suitable habitation.”

The Navy’s occupation of the island was controversial, sparking decades-long protests by Native Hawaiians. Well-known activist George Helm and his cousin Kimo Mitchell disappeared in rough seas during a trip to rescue other bombing protesters who were hiding on the island.

The U.S. government finally agreed to pull the troops out in 1990.

Under a deal brokered by Sen. Daniel Inouye in 1994, the federal government set aside $400 million for cleanup efforts. Out of that, $44 million was appropriated to the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, a state agency created to restore the island.

By 2004, the Navy had used up all the funding that it had received, but it only cleared all ordnance from 75 percent of the land’s surface; not the 100 percent agreed upon, according to Michael Nahoopii, executive director of the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission. The Navy was also supposed to clear ordnance from 25 percent of the ground’s subsurface, to a depth of four feet, but only cleared 9 percent, he said.

Monday, November 25, 2013


The Russian Foreign Minister's has commented that the Iran nuclear deal quashes the reasons for America to build a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe. Russia's long-regarded the radar as a national security threat, but the US maintains it is necessary to protect against so-called 'rogue states' - like Iran. Anoush Ehteshami, a Professor of International Relations and Head of the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, joins RT to discuss this issue.


The film features Michael Peña in the title role of Cesar Chavez, the Mexican-American labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, who fought for workers’ rights and became an icon in the Latino community after his death.

My first organizing job was working for the United Farm Workers (UFW) from 1978-1980.  I was sent to the union headquarters in California for a month of training.  Cesar Chavez took the four of us who were new staff into his office and told us stories about the founding of the union.  (I almost beat him in ping pong one day but he made a huge comeback to defeat me.)  After my training I was sent back to Florida to work in a field office in Avon Park and then Apopka.  Each year Cesar would come to Florida to speak at a statewide farm worker conference that we organized. 

Many of my organizing skills come from the training I received from the UFW.  Even the Global Network's annual Keep Space for Peace Week is modeled after the UFW's Farmworker Week.  It was discovered that I was a good note taker while in California for my training so I was put on the negotiating team when I returned to Florida. Contract negotiations were between the union and the hot-shot lawyers from the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company (which owned Minutemaid orange juice where the UFW had a contract at that time).  I learned a lot about how union negotiations work.  Those skills have come in handy many times over the years.

I loved listening to Cesar talk.  He was very humble and soft in his speaking but at the same time he was a very strong and determined man.  

I can't wait to see this film. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013


ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer revealed a new report from John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which claims the United States has paid more than $150 million to Afghan companies that may have helped finance terror attacks on U.S. soldiers and assets in Afghanistan.

In a related story from The Washington Post about the new Afghanistan permanent basing agreement now being negotiated with the Obama administration:  "The United States can maintain up to nine bases, and American troops and support contractors will be able to enter Afghanistan without having to obtain a visa." Karzai said that as many as 15,000 foreign troops could remain in Afghanistan through 2024. Of those, it's expected that less than 10,000 would be American troops, including Special Forces units that, under the terms of the accord, will be able to conduct night raids against targets suspected of terrorism. And the bases can be used, presumably, for launching drone attacks against targets in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.


US Plans to Expand War Games in Ecologically Rich Mariana Islands

Naval training exercises threaten local communities and environment

The United States military assumed control the Mariana Islands during World War II  and has been waging war on the environment there ever since. Recent proposals to expand the range for Navy training exercises in this archipelago in the northwestern Pacific Ocean represent the latest frontier in this battle, and could be devastating to local communities as well as wildlife.

By many accounts, military trainings have already had a tremendous impact on the region that’s composed of two US jurisdictions — the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the territory of Guam. Military bombing exercises have destroyed much of at least one island — Farallon de Medinilla — and naval exercises have impacted large tracts of open ocean.

In 2010, the Navy training range in the region was expanded to encompass roughly 500,000 square nautical miles of ocean. “Right now, it is the largest range in [Department of Defense’s] inventory,” says Leevin Camacho, a member of We are Guåhan, a cultural and environmental justice advocacy group in Guam.

The Navy still wants more, and is now asking to nearly double the training range, extending it to 984,469 square nautical miles.  It has named this expansion — which is part of the “Pacific Pivot,” a strategy aimed at shifting the US military’s focus to the Asia-Pacific region — the “Mariana Island Training and Testing” (MITT) area.

“[The expanded area] would be larger than Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico combined,” Camacho says.

“The Navy’s whole approach to the Marianas is shoot first and ask questions later,” says Michal Jasny, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We know very little about the populations of whales, dolphins, and other marine life around the Marianas. Yet the navy is proceeding with a massive militarization of the islands and surrounding waters. It is grossly irresponsible to proceed in this way.”

What we do know doesn’t bode well. “We know marine mammals depend on hearing to find mates, to find food, to avoid predators, to situate themselves in the ocean — in short, for virtually everything they need to do to survive and reproduce in the wild,” explains Jasny. “[We also know] that navy sonar has a range of impacts, from disrupting foraging, to causing hearing loss, to fatally injuring whales and driving them onto shore.”

The Navy estimates that expanded training activities would cause 59 whales and dolphins to suffer permanent hearing damage every year. Thousands more would suffer temporary hearing damage. Other impacts include those on sea turtles, fish, marine habitat, and the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.  Environmental activists say the exercises would violate the National Environmental Policy Act and other US environmental laws.

In addition to this ocean-based training expansion, a separate Navy proposal targets the vibrant Pagan Island for destructive military training exercises. This island was formerly inhabited, but was evacuated in 1981 during a volcanic eruption. It is now home to roughly a dozen people and many former residents still hope to return and reestablish their lives there. The island has numerous endemic and endangered species. The Navy has not yet released a draft environmental impact statement for its proposed activities on Pagan Island.  However, advocates have launched a campaign against the exercises.

“[Pagan] is culturally important, anthropologically important, and biologically important,” says Dr. Michael Hadfield, a zoology professor at the University of Hawaii. “[And] when the military takes an island for live-fire training, they destroy it.”

A local human rights lawyer, Julian Aguon, underscores this point: “I situate what is going on now as… the latest incarnation of a much longer geopolitical process, and that’s been the militarization, the nuclearization, and colonization of this whole side of the ocean, this whole western Pacific.”

“This is our home,” adds Camacho. “We really look at it not just as fighting for dolphins and whales, but we are trying to protect resources that have belonged to our people for thousands of years, before the US military.”

The Navy is currently accepting comments on the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which assesses the impact of the expanded ocean training range. Voice your concern about the proposal here. All comments must be submitted by December 11, 2013. 


Matt Damon reads the words of historian and activist Howard Zinn...."We need a declaration of inter-dependence."


As our government calls for massive amounts of spending on the border corporations are lining their pockets through contracts, waste and money splurge that is costing you and making us all less safe. Less safe - not only is it eroding our rights and liberties but it is creating a military battlefield and a constitution free zone. Furthermore it has led to over five thousand migrant deaths and the human cost continues to rise. All this because corporate execs want to line their pockets even more with lucrative contracts, excused through absurd technology we don't need and doesn't work.