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....

My Photo
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 11, 2014


My latest public access TV show with guest Orlando Delogu who is a retired law professor at the University of Southern Maine.  He specializes on corporate welfare issues and helped us tremendously in our recent campaign here in Bath to try to block the requested tax break by General Dynamics that owns Bath Iron Works.  We were able to trim about one million dollars from this proposed corporate tax break.  A bit more money for the local people and less for those at the top of the war machine. 


I got an early start this morning with my day of cooking.  I got my pasta sauce (from scratch) going that will cook for several hours.  We are hosting the birthday party sleep-over at the Addams-Melman House tonight for one of our local friends who is turning 15.  She's having a bunch of friends over for dinner and slumber party.  She requested my spaghetti so I decided to make enough sauce that I can freeze.  It's always good to have some sauce in the freezer.

While cooking I've been listening to a CD of Italian music that a friend made for my 60th birthday party.  I listen to it often when I cook.  It reminds me of the early years when my Italian mother used to sing all the time when she was cooking - particularly to Mario Lanza records.  As the years rolled by she sang less and less until she pretty much stopped.  I'm trying to reverse that trend in my life.

My grandmother was born with polio and lived in a nunnery in Italy for many of her young years.  She was a bit of a religious zealot who used to throw shoes at us from her wheelchair.  It felt like she got more bitter as she got older.  When I was around 14 my grandfather gave me a bag of hand sewn Yarmulkes and told me "these have been in the family for generations.  I want you to have them."  No other word was one wanted to talk about how my grandfather Vincent's family had dropped their Jewish identify and culture to become Northern Baptists.  He was an ambitious immigrant.

My grandfather would cook on Sundays, rigatoni with meatballs or sausage or chicken or beef ... and always a wonderful small soup to start.....and the kids all drank wine (mixed half-and-half with water) that Vincent made from the grapes in his garden in Shelton, Connecticut.  We'd visit this big house on the hill between our military moves. Angela was the Italian immigrant maid that worked at the house for years.  I loved her the most because she was kind and the most authentic.

My mother and her sister and two brothers were taught at school the American dream - make money, leave home, become a city slicker, cut loose and fancy free...and consume.  Then at home they were taught the culture of La Famiglia, deep sense of responsibility and reverence for the elders, frugality, the old ways.  Conflict arose between the immigrant parents and the young first-generation Italian-Americans that was my mother's group.  They questioned but had no clue where they were going.  They had a hard time deciding which was their true identity, their "new American" identity, so they become extremely neurotic.  Then as parents these 1st generation folks had a hard time telling their own kids (my generation) what was real and what was not.

While taking a sociology class in college I ran into a book called "Blood of My Blood: The Dilemma of the Italian Americans," by Richard Gambino.  He taught college and was astounded at how many of his Italian-American students had no sense of grounding - they were at times adrift in this culture because of the disconnection from their traditions.  This book helped liberate me in many ways as I stumbled through my own neurosis that has often engulfed me but the story helped me see the bigger picture so I could fit the pieces of my family puzzle together.  I had to find my own mind and place in the world.  In our family time no one talked about anything real - the real world was not either known or allowed to be discussed.

I always think of the immigrants today....they bring the good from the old world with them and the dominant American culture either rejects or absorbs some of these new gifts - but those who immediately suffer from the great loss of the goodness from the old ways are stunned by the experience.  I feel for them all the time.

Friday, January 10, 2014


I spend a good amount of time on Facebook.  As an organizer I can spread information quickly and a great distance. I find many good articles and videos.  It's useful to me although I don't like their sellout to the NSA.

Lists seem to be the current fashion on FB and I am one who has all my life tried to walk away from trends, fashion, the popular thing because I didn't want to be like everyone else.  Sometimes one succumbs to the prevailing waves but in general I've tried to stay loyal to that attitude.

So here is my list about why lists are worn out:

10.  Lists are linear thinking and the native people tell us that our entire mindset must move away from industrial brain patterns if we are to live on Mother Earth in a good way.  (linear means straight line pictorial representations...obedience to the line, to authority)

9.  Lists keep us from telling stories which are the traditional way to pass on information to each other

8.  Lists simplify the complicated            

7.  Lists make little noise

6.  The list makers, and list keepers, hold much of the power             

5.  The master(s) of the list makers and list keepers also have lists

4.  Lists reenforce the class division - corporations are at the top of the list of annual profits, donations to politicians, polluters of the environment, makers of weapons, and the fewest members of their class ever going to jail

3.  Key activists get their names on lists used by Mr. Big to spy on the people

2.  Lists create separation - X is the most popular person in the public eye and Z is not.  Z feels slighted and is angry with X (and the public).  X fears Z might become most popular on next year's list.  So X undermines Z

1. Lists are anti-life in that they help keep us disconnected from the web of creation...lists keep us away from the circle which is a revolutionary concept

Here is an example of the linear and the circle in direct conflict. The linear is very efficient.


Amiri Baraka, the poet, playwright and political organizer died Thursday at the age of 79. Baraka was a leading force in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1963 he published "Blues People: Negro Music in White America," known as the first major history of black music to be written by an African American. A year later he published a collection of poetry titled "The Dead Lecturer" and won an Obie Award for his play, “Dutchman." After the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, he moved to Harlem and founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre.

In the late 1960s, Baraka moved back to his hometown of Newark and began focusing more on political organizing, prompting the FBI to identify him as "the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the pan-African movement in the United States." Baraka continued writing and performing poetry up until his hospitalization late last year, leaving behind a body of work that greatly influenced a younger generation of hip-hop artists and slam poets.

Democracy Now interviews four of Baraka’s longtime comrades and friends: Sonia Sanchez, a renowned writer, poet, playwright and activist; Felipe Luciano, a poet, activist, journalist and writer who was an original member of the poetry and musical group The Last Poets; Komozi Woodard, a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College and author of "A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka and Black Power Politics"; and Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress in Newark, New Jersey.


Mass in snowy morning at Navy base destruction gate .... Release of Kim Eun-Hye from prison... video by Dunguree

Thursday, January 09, 2014


In the UK, the government is introducing new laws to protect US military bases in Britain - a person could be punished just for walking a dog nearby. The government's using legislation enacted over a century ago, to move ahead without Parliament's approval.


  • It's been a good day.  I went to our state capital in Augusta today to the rally of the Maine Alliance for the Common Good.  It's a statewide multi-issue group that some of us created last year.  We had a big rally during the legislative session in 2013 and today we held a rally on just the second day of the new session at the capital. About 150 folks turned out and the event featured mostly young speakers, including a ten-year old boy speaking about Nestle that controls alot of the water in Maine.  Other speakers talked about climate change, student debt, environmental devastation across the state, the need for a single-payer health care system, the need to bring our war $$ home, recognizing indigenous culture, and corporate domination of our politics.  Many of the young people said how empowering it was to have an audience to hear their message.  One young man said that none of his peers believe in the system anymore - it does not work for them.  It chains them with massive student debt and then spits them out onto a dead job market with a declining environmental condition.  He said he too felt lifted by the experience.

This alliance, unlike some others in the state that are more closely allied to a particular political party, is a group of more independent people.  The big difference is that the people at today's rally are talking about the corporate domination of politics in Maine and across the nation.  They are willing to connect the issue dots and hold Democrats in power accountable as well as the Republicans.  Some progressive organizations are under the protective wing (they get funding from Democratic party funders) so they have less ability to freely fly in the political world.  Sad but true.

  • Another great thing that happened today was an email from Joseph Gerson who works for the AFSC in Boston.  He helped put together the Okinawa statement (see below) that was then sent to the media on Okinawa and across Japan.  I was told there was a great response yesterday with many papers covering the statement (including the Stars & Stripes military overseas paper).  Here is more from Joseph along with a report from Okinawa: 


This note is addressed to those whose names I solicited for the Okinawa statement, and others of you whose e-mail addresses I have readily at hand.

If you had doubts about what impact your signature on the Okinawa statement might have, please take a look at the second paragraph of  our key partner Satoko Norimatsu's note below.  You may also be interested to see the five pages of today's Ryukyu Shimpo. Okinawa's leading newspaper, which are attached.

Also to add that we are preparing a second round of signatures to reinforce the impact that we've already had and to take it further. If you have colleagues/peers who you think would be interested in signing, please share the statement with them and ask them to send their names and identification to me.

Thank you  so much,

-----Original Message-----
From: Satoko Norimatsu
Subject: Ryukyu shimpo pages from January 9

Joseph, Peter, Kevin,

Here are pages from the January 9 edition of Ryukyu Shimpo (one of the two Okinawan newspapers) with special articles on our action. Front page top news again following the previous day, a double-length editorial, comments from experts, voices of praise and excitement from within Okinawa, and the highlight is the full list of us with photos and profiles. Full text of our statement and release too.

Mayor Inamine had a rally marking the launch of the start of the campaign yesterday, and he had a copy of Ryukyu Shimpo in his hands, put it up and said something like "We are not alone! We have international support like this!" followed by a big applause by a crowd of 3,000 people. Many colleagues in Okinawa tell me everybody is talking about it in Okinawa now, even those who are normally not interested in base issues. After their sense of abandonment and despair at Nakaima's betrayal, our action seems to have re-invigorated the Okinawans. The extent of the effect of our action seems to know no limits.

Thanks again,
Satoko Oka Norimatsu
Peace Philosophy Centre


Wednesday, January 08, 2014






We oppose construction of a new US military base within Okinawa, and support the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment

We the undersigned oppose the deal made at the end of 2013 between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima to deepen and extend the military colonization of Okinawa at the expense of the people and the environment. Using the lure of economic development, Mr. Abe has extracted approval from Governor Nakaima to reclaim the water off Henoko, on the northeastern shore of Okinawa, to build a massive new U.S. Marine air base with a military port.

Plans to build the base at Henoko have been on the drawing board since the 1960s.  They were revitalized in 1996, when the sentiments against US military bases peaked following the rape of a twelve year-old Okinawan child by three U.S. servicemen. In order to pacify such sentiments, the US and Japanese governments planned to close Futenma Marine Air Base in the middle of Ginowan City and  move its functions to a new base to be constructed at Henoko, a site of extraordinary bio-diversity and home to the endangered marine mammal dugong.
 Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa.  Immediately before the gubernatorial election of 2010, Mr. Nakaima, who had previously accepted the new base construction plan, changed his position and called for relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture. He won the election by defeating a candidate who had consistently opposed the new base. Polls in recent years have shown that 70 to 90 percent of the people of Okinawa opposed the Henoko base plan. The poll conducted immediately after Nakaima’s recent reclamation approval showed that 72.4 percent of the people of Okinawa saw the governor’s decision as a “breach of his election pledge.” The reclamation approval was a betrayal of the people of Okinawa.
 73.8 percent of the US military bases (those for exclusive US use) in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, which is only .6 percent of the total land mass of Japan. 18.3 percent of the Okinawa Island is occupied by the US military. Futenma Air Base originally was built during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa by US forces in order to prepare for battles on the mainland of Japan. They simply usurped the land from local residents. The base should have been returned to its owners after the war, but the US military has retained it even though now almost seven decades have passed. Therefore, any conditional return of the base is fundamentally unjustifiable.
 The new agreement would also perpetuate the long suffering of the people of Okinawa. Invaded in the beginning of the 17th century by Japan and annexed forcefully into the Japanese nation at the end of 19th century, Okinawa was in 1944 transformed into a fortress to resist advancing US forces and thus to buy time to protect the Emperor System.  The Battle of Okinawa killed more than 100,000 local residents, about a quarter of the island’s population. After the war, more bases were built under the US military occupation. Okinawa “reverted” to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawans’ hope for the removal of the military bases was shattered. Today, people of Okinawa continue to suffer from crimes and accidents, high decibel aircraft noise and environmental pollution caused by the bases. Throughout these decades, they have suffered what the U.S. Declaration of Independence denounces as “abuses and usurpations,” including the presence of foreign “standing armies without the consent of our legislatures.”
 Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have non-violently pressed for the end to their military colonization. They tried to stop live-fire military drills that threatened their lives by entering the exercise zone in protest; they formed human chains around military bases to express their opposition; and about a hundred thousand people, one tenth of the population have turned out periodically for massive demonstrations. Octogenarians initiated the campaign to prevent the construction of the Henoko base with a sit-in that has been continuing for years. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa.

We support the people of Okinawa in their non-violent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The Henoko marine base project must be canceled and Futenma returned forthwith to the people of Okinawa.
 January 2014

Norman Birnbaum, Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University
Herbert Bix, Emeritus Professor of History and Sociology, State University of New York at Binghamton
Reiner Braun, Co-president International Peace Bureau and Executive Director of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
John W. Dower, Professor Emeritus of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut
Daniel Ellsberg, Senior Fellow at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, former Defense and State Department official
John Feffer, Co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus ( at the Institute for Policy Studies
Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Joseph Gerson (PhD), Director, Peace & Economic Security Program, American Friends Service Committee
Richard Falk, Milbank Professor of International law Emeritus, Princeton University
Norma Field, Professor Emerita, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
Kate Hudson (PhD), General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Catherine Lutz, Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University
Naomi Klein, Author and journalist
Joy Kogawa, Author of Obasan
Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate
Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action
Gavan McCormack, Professor Emeritus, Australian National University
Kyo Maclear, Writer and Children’s author
Michael Moore, Filmmaker
Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus, Brown University/ Veteran, United States Army, Henoko, Okinawa, 1967-68
Mark Selden, a Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University
Oliver Stone, Filmmaker
David Vine, Associate Professor of Anthropology, American University
The Very Rev. the Hon. Lois Wilson, Former President, World Council of Churches
Lawrence Wittner, Professor Emeritus of History, State University of New York/Albany
Ann Wright, Retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat 

Monday, January 06, 2014


A largely forgotten event in US history - the post-WW I bonus Army occupation of Washington.  The government crushing of this veterans rebellion was brutal and unforgiving.This is a perfect historical illustration of just how this country chews up and spits out its war veterans who fought and died to the benefit of the capitalist oligarchy.

I just finished reading a book about this WW I period called "Democracy's Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, The Great War, and The Right to Dissent".  It's the moving story about the US government's repression of the Socialist Party candidate for president in 1920 - Eugene V. Debs. Author Ernest Freeberg quotes Debs from his famous 1918 Canton, Ohio anti-war speech that landed him in jail after being charged with ten counts of sedition. He was convicted and given a 10-year sentence (he served nearly three years before being released):

"They have always taught you that it is your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at command.  But in all of the history of the world you, the people, never had a voice in declaring war.... And here let me state a fact - and it cannot be repeated too often: the working class who fight the battles, the working class who make the sacrifices, the working class who shed the blood, the working class who furnish the corpses, the working class have never yet had a voice in declaring war.... If war is right, let it be declared by the people - you, who have your lives to lose; you certainly ought to declare war, if you consider war a necessary."


Call for Local Spring Asia-Pacific Events

Around the World
After twelve years of war in the Middle East and Central Asia, the Obama Administration is “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific.  Sixty percent of the U.S. military forces are being deployed in the region to “contain” China.  The popular phrase in Washington to describe this process is a “re-balancing” of US forces.

The increased militarization of the US’s Asia-Pacific policies is anything but benign. It is fueling region-wide arms races, increasing the dangers of war, as we have seen in the territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, reinforces Japan’s transformation into a national security state, and has devastating impacts on the people of Jeju Island, Okinawa, Guam and Hawaii where new bases are being built.

The House Armed Services Committee will begin a series of hearings in February to further demonize China and to create the support for additional Congressional funding for the military “pivot”.  

The Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization invites peace groups, faith communities, and API solidarity groups to join us to counter-organize around those hearings this coming spring. We invite you to organize local or regional educational forums or other public events to create greater public awareness about the pivot.  

Our plan is to follow up after the spring events by organizing a national conference on the Asia-Pacific in the fall of 2014. 

We will soon provide a list of Asia-Pacific resources including speakers, films, books, websites, and articles that could help further grow the issue in our communities.

The pivot is an issue that will touch every community.  The military industrial complex fully knows that in order to pay for the massively expensive “re-balancing” the remaining slim thread of social spending must be cut to cover corporate imperial ambitions. The military also creates a large carbon footprint that will only exacerbate climate change.

We hope that with your collaboration, we can connect the dots between cancerous militarism, environmental degradation, a new costly arms race, and human rights abuses.

Please let us know if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions or would like to offer to become a local or regional spark plug for these events.

In peace, 

Christine Ahn – Women De-Militarize the Zone (DMZ)
Liberato Bautista - United Nations Ministry of the General Board of Church and Society
Jackie Cabasso – Western States Legal Foundation
John Feffer – Foreign Policy in Focus
Bruce K. Gagnon – Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Joseph Gerson – American Friends Service Committee
Subrata Ghoshroy – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mark Harrison – United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
Christine Hong – Korea Policy Institute
Kyle Kajihiro - Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice
Peter Kuznick - American University
Judith LeBlanc – Peace Action
Hyun Lee – Nodutdol
Andrew Lichterman – Western States Legal Foundation
Ramsay Liem – Boston College
Kevin Martin – Peace Action
Stephen McNeil – American Friends Service Committee
Satoko Norimatsu - Peace Philosophy Centre (Vancouver)
Mike Prokosch – Working Group for Peace & Demilitarization in Asia & the Pacific
Arnie Saiki – Moana Nui Action Network
Chloe Schwabe - Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Tim Shorrock - Journalist 


There have been a series of protests at Hancock Air National Guard base outside of Syracuse, New York.  As a result several trials have taken place during the past couple of years.
The base switched four years ago from flying F-16 fighter jets to operating drones from Hancock Field.  The drones operated from the Syracuse base support military operations in Afghanistan.
This video includes openings by James Ricks, Ed Kinane, Clare Grady, and a short one by the prosecutor  in the Dewitt town court January 3. The trial went until shortly after midnight, but the prosecution had yet to finish its presentation. The next session will begin at 5:00 pm Monday.
Last April I took part in a protest and was arrested at Hancock.  Due to the backlog of protest trials my case has yet to come before the court for final hearing.  Not sure when that will happen.

Sunday, January 05, 2014



  • I am beginning work on our next Global Network Space Alert! newsletter.  Articles are coming in from around the globe - it's always a great learning experience for me as I pull these various strands together and make some sense of the greater Pentagon and Space Command strategy of global dominance through space control.  Hope to have it printed and mailed by the third week of January. Let us know if you'd like bulk copies for local distribution.  We just ask you to pay for the postage.

  • Sung-Hee Choi has posted the current Jeju prisoner information this morning on the No Naval Base on Jeju Facebook page.  It reads:
Mr. Yang Yoon-Mo (Prison #301) hits 339 days in prison 
Br. Park Do-Hyun (#535) hits 189 days
Ms. Kim Eun-Hye (#12) hits 91 days
Address of Jeju Prison, 161 Ora-2dong, Jeju City, Jeju, the Peace Island, Korea.
Dr. Song Kang-Ho was released on bail as of Nov. 29, after 151 days in jail. Mr. Kang Bu-Eon was released on Dec. 5, after 59 days in jail. The appeal court made a decision on Kang with 10 month imprisonment suspended 1 year.
All the peace prisoners are not-guilty. Free all the prisoners immediately! Stop the illegal building of war base that infringes and destroys life!
  • After a 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems - UAS (drone) research and test site operators across the country. 
In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk.

A brief description of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future drone use are below:

  • University of Alaska.  The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation.  Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations. 
  • State of Nevada. Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen.  Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.
  • New York’s Griffiss International Airport.  Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.
  • North Dakota Department of Commerce.  North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota’s application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.
  • Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.  Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).  Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.