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, February 01, 2014


This week on Moyers & Company, David Simon, journalist and creator of the TV series The Wire and Treme, talks with Bill Moyers about the crisis of capitalism in America. After President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union address, it’s a reality check from someone who artfully uses television drama to report on the state of America from an entirely different perspective — the bottom up.

“The horror show is we are going to be slaves to profit. Some of us are going to be higher on the pyramid and we’ll count ourselves lucky and many many more will be marginalized and destroyed,” Simon tells Moyers. He blames a “purchased” Congress for failing America’s citizens, leading many of them to give up on politics altogether.


The Department of Defense, directed by Congress, is undertaking the completion of  Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for a potential additional 'Ground-based Mid-Course Missile Defense' (GMD) site in the continental United States. (The other current GMD site is located at Fort Greeley in Alaska.)

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has decided that four sites will be evaluated.  The MDA has not yet made the decision to proceed with construction of a new missile defense site.

It is expected to take approximately 24 months to complete the EIS.  The EIS will assess environmental impacts at each of the sites, to include potential impacts to land use, water resources, air quality, transportation, socioeconomics and other factors established by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Public involvement is supposedly encouraged as part of the process, to include public meetings, written comments and public review of the draft and final documents.

The sites selected for completion of an EIS are (in alphabetical order):

  • Camp Ravenna, Ohio
  • Fort Custer, Michigan
  • Fort Drum, New York
  • Portsmouth SERE Training Area, Maine (Rangeley)

There are several types of "missile defense" systems today.  Some are on Navy Aegis destroyers (testing quite successfully), some are deployed on Army mobile launchers, while the GMD system is based underground.  The GMD system, whose mission is to have an interceptor missile hit an "enemy" nuclear missile in deep space, has not had any real success in their testing program - many of the tests have been scripted to appear successful.

A new GMD site could cost more than $5 billion to build.  Boeing manages the GMD program while Raytheon and Orbital Sciences Corporation build the interceptors ('kill vehicles') and the rockets.

These "missile defense" systems are key elements in US first-strike attack planning.  Each year the US Space Command runs a computer war game where China and Russia are attacked with hypersonic global strike weapons that attempt to take out their nuclear capability.  After that initial attack China or Russia would attempt to fire their remaining nuclear forces at the US.  It is then that the triad of US "missile defense" systems (ship-based, mobile, and GMD) would be used to pick-off those retaliatory strikes.  One should call "missile defense" the shield that is used after the US first-strike attack sword lunges into the heart of China or Russia.  This is what the Pentagon and the Missile Defense Agency are now developing.

Maine State Rep. Andrea Boland (Sanford) told me last week that North Korea, Iran and Russia are eager to attack the US.  The liberal Democrat wants this GMD base in our state.  Better us, she told me, than someone else. I don't see it that way.  The aerospace industry in Maine wishes to expand their operations across the state....this GMD site appears to be their major effort to make a big splash.

Now is the time for public outcry against this East coast GMD site.  Activists in Maine, Ohio, Michigan and New York must speak out against the madness of US first-strike attack planning and the colossal waste of our $$$$$ at a time of austerity cuts in social spending.

In the end "missile defense" is destabilizing as it forces China and Russia to make counter-moves that are then used by the Pentagon to justify even more of these kind of programs.  New arms races are fueled by deployment of so-called "missile defense".  It truly should be called missile offense. 

Friday, January 31, 2014


Professor Yang Yoon-Mo hits his 365th day in prison today (January 31). Tomorrow is his birthday. It is Yang's 4th imprisonment for trying to block Navy base destruction vehicles on Jeju Island.  He still has about six more months on this jail sentence.

During his previous times in jail Yang has undertaken hunger strikes that nearly killed him.

He was a renowned professor and movie critic in South Korea and came back to his native Jeju to fight against the Navy base.  An earlier interview with Yang, filmed before the Gangjeong villagers were removed from their sacred rocky coast, can be seen just below.  It has English sub-titles.


Footage of what appears to be a group of cheering Afghans stoning a wreck of a Predator drone.  The MQ-1 Predator drone is used extensively by the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan for surveillance and to deliver airstrikes which frequently kill innocent civilians.

Drone crashes are normally not reported by the Pentagon or the CIA, which operate them in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Some transparency campaigners say the DoD is stonewalling their Freedom of Information requests for drone crash records.

Yet such incidents happen fairly often, especially with the fleet of unmanned aircraft rapidly expanding. Last year at least two military drones crashed, while this month the US Customs and Border Protection grounded its entire fleet after one of the drones was lost to a malfunction during a routine patrol mission off the California coast.


I went to our Veterans for Peace  monthly meeting last night in Augusta.  We made final plans for this exciting event tomorrow evening in nearby Brunswick. Two of my favorite activists in the US are coming to speak about their recent trip to Palestine.  Tarak Kauff and Ellen Davidson (both from New York) are active members of Veterans for Peace and are really dedicated and fun people.  They've been up to Maine before and we are glad to have them coming back again.

Yonatan Shipira will be with us via Skype to report on his experiences in the Israeli occupation forces.

If you can make it you don't want to miss this event.

Thursday, January 30, 2014



Today we issue an international call for Spring Days of Action – 2014, a coordinated campaign in April and May to:

          End Drone Killing, Drone Surveillance and Global Militarization

The campaign will focus on drone bases, drone research facilities and test sites and drone manufacturers.

The campaign will provide information on:

1. The suffering of tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza who are under drone attack, documenting the killing, the wounding and the devastating impact of constant drone surveillance on community life.

2. How attack and surveillance drones have become a key element in a massive wave of surveillance, clandestine military attacks and militarization generated by the United States to protect a global system of manufacture and oil and mineral exploitation that is creating unemployment and poverty, accelerating the waste of nonrenewable resources and contributing to environmental destruction and global warming.

In addition to cases in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, we will examine President Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific, where the United States has already sold and deployed drones in the vanguard of a shift of 60% of its military forces to try to control China and to enforce the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We will show, among other things, how this surge of "pivot" forces, greatly enabled by drones, and supported by the US military-industrial complex, will hit every American community with even deeper cuts in the already fragile social programs on which people rely for survival.  In short, we will connect drones and militarization with "austerity" in America.

3. How drone attacks have effectively destroyed international and domestic legal protection of the rights to life, privacy, freedom of assembly and free speech and have opened the way for new levels of surveillance and repression around the world, and how, in the United States, increasing drone surveillance, added to surveillance by the National Security Agency and police, provides a new weapon to repress black, Hispanic, immigrant and low-income communities and to intimidate Americans who are increasingly unsettled by lack of jobs, economic inequality, corporate control of politics and the prospect of endless war.

We will discuss how the United States government and corporations conspire secretly to monitor US citizens and particularly how the Administration is accelerating drone surveillance operations and surveillance inside the United States with the same disregard for transparency and law that it applies to other countries, all with the cooperation of the Congress.

The campaign will encourage activists around the world to win passage of local laws that prohibit weaponized drones and drone surveillance from being used in their communities as well as seeking national laws to bar the use of weaponized drones and drone surveillance.

The campaign will draw attention to the call for a ban on weaponized drones by that has generated a petition with over 80,000 signers
and to efforts by the Granny Peace Brigade (New York City), and others to achieve an international ban on both weaponized drones and drone surveillance.

The campaign will also urge participation in the World Beyond War movement.

The following individuals and organizations endorse this Call:

  • Lyn Adamson – Co-chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
  • Dennis Apel – Guadalupe Catholic Worker, California
  • Judy Bello – Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars
  • Medea Benjamin – Code Pink
  • Leah Bolger – Former National President, Veterans for Peace
  • Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
  • Sung-Hee Choi – Gangjeong Village International Team, Jeju, Korea
  • Chelsea C. Faria – Graduate student, Yale  Divinity School; Promoting Enduring Peace
  • Sandy Fessler – Rochester (NY) Against War
  • Joy First
  • Bruce K. Gagnon - Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
  • Holly Gwinn Graham – Singer/songwriter, Olympia, WA.
  • Regina Hagen - Darmstaedter Friedensforum, Germany
  • Kathy Kelly – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
  • Malachy Kilbride
  • Marilyn Levin and Joe Lombardo – Co-Coordinators, United National Antiwar Coalition
  • Tamara Lorincz – Halifax Peace Coalition, Canada
  • Nick Mottern –
  • Agneta Norberg – Swedish Peace Council
  • Pepperwolf – Director, Women Against Military Madness
  • Lindis Percy, Coordinator, Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) UK
  • Mathias Quackenbush – San Francisco, CA
  • Lisa Savage – Code Pink, State of Maine
  • Janice Sevre-Duszynska
  • Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck- Friedenswerkstatt Mutlangen, Germany
  • Cindy Sheehan
  • Lucia Wilkes Smith – Convener, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) – Ground
  • Military Drones Committee
  • David Soumis – Veterans for Peace; No Drones Wisconsin
  • Debra Sweet – World Can’t Wait
  • David Swanson -
  • Brian Terrell – Voices for Creative Nonviolence
  • United National Antiwar Coalition
  • Veterans for Peace 
  • Dave Webb – Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
  • Curt Wechsler – Fire John Yoo! (a project of World Can’t Wait) – San Francisco, CA
  • Paki Wieland, Northampton (MA) Committee to Stop War(s)
  • Loring Wirbel – Citizens for Peace in Space (Colorado Springs, CO)
  • Women Against Military Madness
  • Ann Wright – Retired US Army colonel and former diplomat
  • Leila Zand - Fellowship of Reconciliation

Sign-On Info: Until we have installed a program that will enable people to post their endorsements, please ask people to send them to me at my email:    I will update the list daily; it should be only a few days until the endorsement link is installed, and I will send full details.


This creative video is from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. Grace Kim writes, "It's an experimental short fiction film [by Han Kang Joung] composed of documentary footage from Gangjeong. The film follows the routine of a 'supernatural' living in Gangjeong and helping police to lift up the protesters in the air."

I also wonder what the police are thinking.  When the Global Network held our annual conference on Jeju this time two years ago we saw many police who were roughly preventing Korean protesters from getting into kayaks to go out onto their sacred rocky coastline to protect it from Navy base construction.

On our last day many of us from the Global Network where able to get onto Gureombi rock using kayaks where a mass was held by a couple Catholic priests.  Afterwards 16 people crawled under the razor wire and were arrested by the government police.

We were split up and some taken to a local jail and others to Jeju City jail on the other side of the island.  MB, Natasha Mayers also from Maine, and I were taken there in a van full of police.  The head of the squad accompanying us was quite talkative and said his crew of police agreed with us.

I've thought about all those legions of police from all over South Korea that have been brought to Gangjeong villager over these seven years of active resistance.  I would venture to guess that many of these police were deeply touched by the spirit and cause of the villagers and their many supporters.  Imagine the power of the Gangjeong seed of non-violence and love for the Mother Earth that has now been planted into the hearts and minds of all those police.  What a lesson and what a gift. I bet many of them pay closer attention to the Navy base resistance.  I wonder how many lives will be changed?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Yesterday I needed to go to Brunswick which is about 10 miles from Bath.  I got a ride there with a friend.  After I did my errands I walked to my hitchhiking spot and stuck out my thumb.  Usually it takes about 10-15 minutes before anyone stops.  Yesterday it took me almost 30 minutes and it was as cold as hell out there.  You'd think people would want to help someone get out of the cold.

I can see why women would be reluctant to pick up a male hitchhiker.  So I don't expect that to happen and never do get a ride from women.  But you wouldn't believe how many men just pass me by.  (I take off my shaded glasses so people can see my eyes.)  Even the tough guys, driving the big V-8 zoom-zooming trucks, pass me by.  My ride yesterday was from a man who delivers mail to rural post boxes.  We had a nice chat about climate change and even a laugh. 

We have been taught not to trust anyone - we even fear our neighbors, and sometimes even our own families.  Everyone knows that cars are the 'biggest security blanket' one can have in life.  Homeless people often sleep in their cars.  A person's car is their castle.  The inference then is that anyone without a car must be approached with extreme caution - they are way out of the normal.  And so the people do just that......

When MB, Karen and I moved into the Addams-Melman House in 2007 we had three cars between us.  After a bit I sold mine.  Then two years ago Karen sold her car, so now we are down to one vehicle between us.  It's caused me to walk more, hitch a ride when I can, or pay a cab.  I feel good about this because I hate cars and what they do to the planet and to community building.  I want more public transit.  Bath Iron Works (BIW) here in our city of 10,000 residents should be building commuter rail systems.  We need commuter rail from Bath down to Portland.  If we had that then MB could take the train to work and we could get rid of our last car.  But it won't happen unless and until we demand it.  The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

The conversion process would benefit labor, the environment, peace as well as social justice movements.  Economists have demonstrated that we'd get twice as many jobs building rail than we presently get building destroyers at BIW.  The Machinists Union last year passed a resolution at their national convention calling for conversion of the military industrial complex.  They asked their locals to get involved in the conversion issue.  The state of Connecticut passed a law in 2012 to set up a statewide commission to create a conversion plan since their state economy is heavily dependent on military production.  Other states are now working on this same law.  Here in Bath we have a meeting soon to see if we can bring the conversion issue alive in our community.  Unless we create jobs for military production workers we will never end war.

On my three visits to Cuba, back in the time when I lived in Florida and organized citizen trips to that country, I was always impressed by how people there handled hitchhikers.  Cubanos would gather at a particular place and any vehicle that had an available space would stop.  Cars, motorbikes, trucks, or buses would all stop and load up whoever they could.  People would pull each other aboard and would be smiling and laughing.  The feeling of community and shared life struggle, a fundamentally spiritual notion, was rich in the air.

I want that here in Maine too.


Recently elected Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawantin in Seattle, Washington responds to Obama's State of the Union speech.


Pastor Bill Bliss is my latest guest as I begin my 11th year of broadcasting in Maine.  Bill was my very first guest when I began the show in 2003.  The show now airs on 14 public access stations across the state.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Even when we are trying not to buy into the scripted demonization of US "enemies" those of us back home still have to evaluate just how much we have swallowed Mr. Big's pill.

The history of successful demonization of others by our nation is the story of the scientific method put to evil purposes.  Scientists, mental health experts, historians, mathematicians, engineers, anthropologists, media and more have been well paid to help the corporate oligarchy design their greedy plan for control of the people and everything else. They have it down to an art.

In my lifetime I can remember the early former enemies Japan and Germany.  We used to laugh when we were kids that all our cheap plastic toys were "made in Japan."

When we moved to Landscheid, Germany in 1959 I got the up-close and personal view of the former enemy.  We rented the upstairs of a farmhouse in the tiny village near Spangdalem AFB where my stepfather was assigned.  I took a charter bus to the base for our military run school.  But all my other time was spent in the village - the only American family there.  I helped bring in the hay, I helped bring in the cows in the afternoon from the fields overlooking the Eifel (a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium), picked piles of berries, brought in eggs in the morning, and played foosball with the boys in the village.  We dug up potatoes, built fires and roasted them in the fields. We rode cows. I learned to functionally speak German and grew to adore the host farm family (Katryn and Alvis) that rented to us.  We lived in their warm kitchen while the rest of the house was freezing.  Katryn was like a second mother.

One day Katryn asked me to go into her bedroom, and bring her something from her nightstand.  When I went to her bedside I saw a framed photo of Adolph Hitler sitting there.   I knew enough about recent history to know Hitler was the devil.  How could these people that I loved so much still have a photo of Hitler - especially since the war was over and Germany lost? I was in crisis.

I never said a word about it but increased my observations of our German landlords.  I was waiting for them to slip up and reveal that they were spying on us and might try to do something bad to us.  My imagination ran wild.  I would watch them on behalf of America!

But they never slipped up.  Instead they stayed as gentle and loving as ever and my fear of their "betrayal" and such things just washed away.  I learned many good lessons from that experience. (Years later while on a speaking tour of Germany I visited Katryn and Alvis.  They told me that the US Air Force Base at Spangdalem had stopped holding their annual open house where they invited the local villagers onto the base for ice cream and propaganda.  Katryn told me that they were all considered potential terrorists and this was long before 9/11 happened.)

So fast-forward to this story from Iran:

When Iranian schoolteacher Ali Mohammadian (pictured above) noticed that one of his students was being bullied after going bald as a result of a mysterious illness, he decided to show solidarity and shave his own hair. In no time, his entire class shaved their heads and the bullying stopped.

I am tired of all the bullying my country does to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Guam, Philippines, Russia, China........ I won't forget the slave trade or the genocide of the Native Americans. Nor will I forget that the US Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on the planet.

I am trying to look for the humanity in the people they try to turn us against so we will keep giving $$$$$ to the military machine that Mr. Big uses to control the planet.

Thank you Ali Mohammadian - you are a great blessing to the whole world. 


Monday, January 27, 2014


Snowden-Interview in English (Exclusive on German Television 01/26/2014) from Anonymous News on Vimeo.

In an exclusive interview with German television, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden discussed reports of government death threats and dismissed President Obama's calls to return home, saying he would face a "show trial."

Snowden was interviewed by German journalist and documentary filmmaker Hubert Seipel at an undisclosed location in Russia. It aired late Sunday night on Germany's main public broadcaster ARD.



I've been closely following the back-and-forth public relations campaign going on between the US and Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan over long-term bases.  The US wants to maintain permanent presence in Afghanistan practically forever but Karzai lately has been more forceful about Pentagon and CIA drone attacks and other Special Forces operations that have killed many innocent people.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that:

The risk that President Obama may be forced to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year has set off concerns inside the American intelligence agencies that they could lose their air bases used for drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and for responding to a nuclear crisis in the region.

If Mr. Obama ultimately withdrew all American troops from Afghanistan, the C.I.A.’s drone bases in the country would have to be closed, according to administration officials, because it could no longer be protected.

Mr. Obama’s hope is to keep 8,000 to 12,000 troops — most of them Americans, some from allies — in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends this year. The resurgence of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, combining with insurgents in Syria, has offered a sobering reminder of the consequences of the American decision to withdraw all its troops from Iraq. Mr. Karzai seems to be betting that the damage that a withdrawal would do to American intelligence operations is so great that he may be able to strike a better deal.

Maybe I've just become cynical about these things but I believe that the current dance between Karzai and Obama is largely scripted.  One must recall that it has long been alleged that Karzai was an adviser to the El Segundo, California-based UNOCAL Corporation (eventually merged with Chevron) which was once negotiating with the Taliban to construct a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline from Turkmenistan through western Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Karzai’s ties with UNOCAL and the Bush administration were likely the main reason why the CIA pushed him for Afghan leader over rival Abdul Haq, the assassinated former mujaheddin leader from Jalalabad, and the leadership of the Northern Alliance, seen by Langley as being too close to the Russians and Iranians. 

So as this whole US-Afghan drama plays out - with Karzai "standing up to the US about drone strikes" - I am skeptical.  I think both sides are playing to their domestic audiences and at some point soon the Obama team will make some "concessions" to Karzai who will then sign an agreement with the US that will allow military bases and operations in Afghanistan for.... say the next 50 years.

Keep your eyes on this bouncing ball.


The Waihopai Valley spy base in New Zealand has been swamped with demonstrators calling for its closure.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Barrack ran for president against the Iraq war (the wrong one)
but in favor of the battle in Kabul (the right one)

But he's not had enough of the blood and glory
he needs more
so he vainly tries to kill the Iran nuke deal
while keeping Tehran
from the Geneva meeting to discuss
peace (read more war) in Syria

See on the map
just how close Tehran is to Damascus
practically next door neighbors
but Uncle Sugar says they're not close enough
to merit sitting at the same peace table
the shape of the table keeps shifting
depending on the whims
of the red, white, and blue

The South Korean robot
who runs the disunited nations
has the job of the go between
doing the dirty work
for the empire
glad handing his way around the globe

The first black president
with the peace prize in hand
now sells drones to Tokyo
and to Seoul
just in case they are needed
to rap Beijing up side their
swelling economic head
the Chi-coms must be tamed
either by hook or by crook
as long as it makes money
for the weapons mob
it doesn't really matter

From tainted corn
to sticky tar sands
to scooped up emails
the White Whores has been turned
into a palace of ill repute
where those with stained fingers and hearts
congregate and trade stories
about skulduggery and evil doing
on behalf of their corrupt
corporate masters

We are left to pray
that the pope
will comment
and put the tall thin resident
in his place
remind him that god is watching
from somewhere
not at all happy that the NSA
has taken over the task of monitoring
and judging
all of us
Santa is not happy either


David Swanson in Brunswick, Maine
Feb. 15, 2014 Saturday
3 - 5 p.m. Curtis Memorial Library
Sign up on Facebook.
Flyer: PDF.

David Swanson in Portland, Maine
Feb. 15, 2014 Saturday
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Lee Hall, Wishcamper Center, USM, 34 Bedford Street
Parking in garage next to Wishcamper
Flyer: PDF.

Talks & Book signings. Free and open to the public.

David Swanson will discuss and sign copies of his new book, War No More: The Case for Abolition.

Swanson's books include When the World Outlawed War, named by Ralph Nader as one of the six books everyone should read; the best-selling classic War Is A Lie, and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, of which Glenn Greenwald said, "There have now been many books written which chronicle the imperial, lawless presidency of the Bush era, but Swanson’s superb new book is one of the very few to examine how we can recover from it and reverse its pernicious trends."

Swanson is the host of Talk Nation Radio. He helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011. Swanson holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign.

He blogs at and and works for Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

These events are co-sponsored by: PeaceWorks, Peace Action Maine, Global Network, CodePink Maine, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Maine Veterans for Peace, Brunswick Friends Meeing, PAM Action Committee.

For more information contact 207-865-3802.