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, October 18, 2014

Sunday Song


Oklahoma U.S.A.

Written by: Ray Davies


All life we work but work is bore,
If life's for livin' what's livin' for,
She lives in a house that's near decay,
Built for the industrial revolution,
But in her dreams she is far away,
In Oklahoma U.S.A.
With Shirley Jones and Gordon McRea,
As she buys her paper at the corner shop,
She's walkin' on the surrey with the fringe on top,
Cos in her dreams she is far away,
In Oklahoma U.S.A.,
She walks to work but she's still in a daze,
She's Rita Hayworth or Doris Day,
And Errol Flynn's gonna take her away,
To Oklahoma U.S.A.,
All life we work but work is a bore,
If life's for livin' then what's livin' for.

Originally written by Ray Davies of the Kinks, this song is performed by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band featuring Clint Maedgen on vocals. Filmed mid-2005, this music video features Clint Maedgen, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and a guest appearance by the New Orleans Bingo Show.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Peace Walk: Cars, Oil & Endless War

Walking along the road slows everything down.  Today I noticed a bird at the top of a tree on the other side of the road singing as we passed by.  We heard a big pack of dogs at a 'doggie daycare' howling as we went by - they were pleading to come along with us but the chain link fence prevented their act of solidarity.  Four graceful and powerful horses moved in unison as they intently watched us pass them by.  We were hosted for lunch by an organic farm family that gave us fresh tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, melons and a comfortable place to relax under a warm sunny sky.

But the overwhelming thing we have experienced during the walk is the car culture.  Cars and trucks zoom by us and rarely slow down even though we have our red flag waving ahead of the walk.  Everyone is in a hurry and god forbid they have to slow down for fifteen seconds because of this unusual band of people walking along the highway.

Today as I walked I made a point of looking for signs of this dominant car culture that so completely engulfs us.  Here we are in the US with 5% of the world population using 25% of the planet's resources.  We like our cars and we like them big!

Along the way I could see why we are in a constant state of war - because our entire way of life - our economy - our entire identity and being is wrapped up in the car culture.  As I walked I scribbled down the following signs of this addiction to the automobile:

  • Car insurance agencies
  • Auto detailing shops
  • Auto repair shops
  • Auto sales dealers
  • Auto body shops
  • Disabled van renovation shop
  • Auto parts stores
  • Gas stations
  • Truck stops
  • Road paving companies
  • Drive thru lanes at fast food outlets
  • Road crossing guards at schools
  • Expensive bridges over rivers

I know I must have missed some but you get the idea.  There is no enterprise in rural or urban Maine that is more pervasive than the automobile related industry.

Most people say they want to end wars though we keep using our cars.  We are all responsible for endless war.

We are killing people all over the world because we 'love our cars' more than we love our planet or the people living on it.

Update:  WERU radio here in Maine covered the walk and you can listen here.  Also the Biddeford Courier ran a nice story here

Video from the Peace Walk

Video by Vietnam veteran Eric Herter from Brunswick. Day six of the walk from Rangeley to North Berwick. This day was from Lewiston to Gray.

NATO Expansion: Chicken or the Egg?

Rear Adm. John Kirby battled with Associated Press reporter Matt Lee at the State Department’s daily press briefing on Thursday. The Pentagon press secretary stated by positioning forces within several kilometers of the Ukrainian border, the Russian army was encroaching on NATO’s “doorstep.” Lee pressed the spokesman on this statement, seeking to clarify whether Ukraine is in fact a member of the Western military alliance, and whether NATO’s eastward expansion over the past 15 years is a factor in the escalating tensions.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More Gladio: Destabilization in Venezuela

The President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, revealed important information on the killing of the youngest socialist member of the Venezuelan Assembly, Robert Serra. Maduro reported that, although it was perpetrated in only 11 minutes, that crime had been planned for more than 3 months.

Remember that Venezuela has huge supplies of oil and the US/UK oil barons want full control of it.  Thus they are working overtime to destabilize the nation (using Colombia as their agent) just as they are doing to Russia, China, Syria and on the African continent.

Space Week Event in Nagpur, India

Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao writes:

The Dharna (Squatting) could not be as planned because in the State of Maharashtra, Assembly elections for the state legislature have been announced to be held on 15 the October and the Police will not give permission to organize any public events. Permission has to be obtained from the Election commissioner and so the squat took place in the Railway Pensioners Office. Members of the Pragatisheel Railway, Mahila Samaj and the S.E.C. Railway Pensioners participated.

Peace Walk: Rain, Bears & Doughnuts

Today we walked through rain for most of our 13 miles from Lewiston to Gray.  We shuttled about five miles in the middle to avoid a bunch of road construction and a huge downpour.  Since we arrived early in Gray our folks are chillin at the local McDonald's, Dunkin Doughnuts or the small town library for a couple of hours.  I'm in the McCafe which has free Internet but no electric outlet so my time is limited.  (The motto here appears to be keep the folks moving in and out - electrical plugs keep the seats filled for too long.)

There is a big bear hunting referendum in Maine on November 4 that if passed would not allow 'hunters' to use bait, traps and hound dogs to hunt for bears.  One of the primary items used to bait the bears are barrels of doughnuts that are put in the woods and when the bears come to eat them they step in traps and tourist hunters then come and shoot them.

The Maine state wildlife department biologists support the present system and maintain that in order to keep the bear population at manageable levels we must allow baiting and such.  All along our walk we've seen a flurry of signs opposing the referendum which would ban bear baiting.  Amazingly there is a whole big business that has sprung up trucking day old doughnuts from Massachusetts to Maine for the operation. Bears and doughnuts are big biz!

You can imagine that when a group of walkers get tired they make jokes to keep from getting grumpy.  So the bear-doughnut story has been our constant joke during the walk.  Our friend and photographer Peter Woodruff keeps buying 'bear bait' when we stop at some local truck stop for a break.  This morning Maine Veterans For Peace member Peggy Akers came to the church in Lewiston where we slept last night and unsuspectingly brought us a box of bear bait.

If one was to judge just by the campaign signs the bear bait ban referendum will be rejected overwhelmingly. 

If you were similarly judging the race for governor then incumbent Tea Party Republican Paul LePage would also win by a landslide.  As one friend pointed out earlier this week the Republicans have won the sign wars this year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Peace Walk Truckin into Lewiston

We arrived in Lewiston about 4:30 pm today - a hard 18 miles.  The first half was through the rural rolling hills and was lovely walking.  Many truckers flying by waved or blasted their horns.  It seemed like today we had more responses from truckers than usual. The last half of the walk was city with much traffic, noise, impatient drivers and all that goes with it.  A man on a motorcyle had an accident right by us at one point and seemed to have been quite injured.  A traffic jam caused many cars to stop and he tried to change lanes and clipped another car and then crashed onto the sidewalk just behind me.  I'm actually lucky I didn't get hit.

At lunch we were joined by another Buddhist monk from Massachusetts and Jun-san the Japanese nun based in New York.  Then a bit later we saw a man walking down the opposite side of the road toward us and he joined the walk.  He had seen the front page coverage about the walk in the weekly newspaper in Gray about a week ago.  He's going to walk with us for a couple of days.  Then a bit later two more people unexpected popped up and joined in.  So by the time we got into Lewiston we had a nice sized group.

Lewiston has many African immigrants and as we neared the beautiful Kennedy Park in the downtown area we were given much support by the many people in the park.  Maine is such a white state so it was a wonderful thing to see all these people of color giving us such good feedback.  A really wonderful experience.

We are being hosted by the Episcopal Church and will have a supper here and sleep on the floor.  In the morning we head to Gray for a Methodist Church and another hard floor.

While at our lunch spot today I was interviewed by WERU radio and have already had a phone call from a friend who heard the program and was pleased with it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Magic of the Peace Walk in Livermore Falls

The group this morning as we began walking from Farmington to Livermore Falls - an 18 mile day
During our lunch break this local old timer, a WW II vet, came over and talked with us about the insanity of war

During a break just outside of Livermore Falls Veterans For Peace founding member Doug Rawlings rests and holds the VFP flag

Students from University of Maine-Farmington

We made it to Livermore Falls by about 4:00 pm - after our 8:30 am start this morning in Farmington.  Several students from the University of Maine-Farmington Amnesty International club joined us for the first nine miles.  They were strong walkers and helped carry our lead banner and signs.  It was good to have some fresh walkers as the regulars are all getting tired. Lots of sore feet and blisters are now appearing.

Last night we were all divided up to go to various homes for a shower and a bed.  Mary Beth and I went to a log cabin in the woods. Very wonderful hosts and a lovely old cabin.

Livermore Falls was the hardest town to find a place for us to stay.  As of just days ago we had nothing then thanks to an email out of the blue we heard from someone 'who knew someone in Livermore Falls' and I called them and asked if they could help us.  Just like that they agreed to host us in their big house and so here we are.  We've taken over the entire second floor and miraculously they have mattresses for each of us that have filled up three otherwise empty bedrooms.  Once again, the magic of the peace walk.

Our hosts made a huge salad for us and we've ordered five pizzas to round out our dinner.

In the morning we head to Lewiston where we will stay at an Episcopal Church for the night.  Some time tomorrow we will be joined by another Buddhist monk and a nun.  People come and go each day but as of right now we have 13 of us here in Livermore Falls.

Click here to see good walk coverage in popular Farmington media outlet.

Photos by Peter Woodruff and Nate Goldshlag

Representing Global Network in India

Global Network board member Tamara Lorincz went to Nagpur, India on behalf of our organization to speak at a Keep Space for Peace Week conference organized by another one of our board members J. Narayana Rao.  Tamara is from Halifax, Nova Scotia and is living in Yorkshire, England for a year doing a peace studies fellowship.

Rao wrote from India:

The National Youth Conference has come to an end at 3 PM to day. Tamara will send you a report. But I would like state how correct the decision to send Tamara to our Conference. She has won the hearts of the young people here. The narration of facts on several issues is amazing. Many students want that this sort of meetings should be held in their colleges and university. She and Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat have succeed to ponder over the issues of imperialist Wars, Disarmament, Prevention of An Arms race in the Outer Space. 

The delegates who have come Hyderabad have decided to invite Adm.Vishnu Bhagwat to Hyderabad in December to speak on these issues. They have also assured me that in the Year 2016 or 2017 if the Annual G.N. Conference is held in India, they are ready to host it at Hyderabad. This city is one of the metropolitan cities in India in the South.

I feel that the purpose for which this conference is held has been achieved.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Arrived in Farmington

Lunch on the road on way to Farmington
Our blister bus and gear car for the walk

We made good time to start the day doing three miles in 45 minutes rather than the usual hour - the early morning cold might have had alot to do with it.  All together we walked about 15 miles.

The part of Maine we've been walking through is a conservative Republican bastion.  We made 1,000 half-page flyers about the walk and hand them to any one we see along the road.  Sometimes we have to run a bit to a nearby house when we see someone stick their head out the door because they heard the drumming by the Buddhist monk and the others who drum along with him.  We also put flyers in the newspaper boxes along the side of the road but few people subscribe to local papers anymore so they are few and far in between.

We got lots of food donated to us last night from the pot luck supper in Phillips so our lunch today was quite abundant.  It becomes a challenge to find ways to carry all the gifts of food and drink people donate to us.

A Veterans for Peace (VFP) member from the Boston area arrived in Farmington today just after we arrived.  He'll walk with us tomorrow.  Our dear friend Starr Gilmartin arrives tomorrow for the rest of the way.  She walked with us last year on our Maine Drone walk from Limestone to Bath. A Buddhist nun and another monk are coming on Wednesday.

Tonight we will be hosted by Maine VFP co-founder Doug Rawlings in Farmington at the UCC church and then we'll be taken to different homes for showers and a bed.  After a couple of nights of floor sleeping a bed will feel good.

Photo by Peter Woodruff

More Peace Walk Photos

Quite a great walk from Rangeley to Phillips (the smell of the pines trees was enchanting) and when we arrived were hosted to a great feed at the local community center that back in late 1800's to early 1990's was part of the local rail station that served as a stop for tourists who took the train to Rangeley lake.

I am getting Internet connection this cold morning outside the old station house window - hands freezing.

Photos by Peter Woodruff

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Big Action in Japan Opposing US 'Missile Offense' Radar

Global Network board member Atsushi Fujioka in Japan writes today:

We had a people's gathering to say No to the construction of the US Army's X-band radar site on Kyogamisaki in Kyoto, which will be a first US base in Kansai region of 30 million population. 1,400 people including many local people, with more than 20 buses, gathered at the auditorium of Ukawa Middle School. In the opening session, I talked and introduced GN's Message of solidarity, mentioning this is probably the first demonstration which was connected with GN's events commemorating the Keep Space for Peace Solidarity Week. I also mentioned GN 's annual meeting will be held in Kyoto in the next July, and lots of activist will come to this Auditorium to say No to the US 'Missile Defense' site.

Second Day of Peace Walk

Our second day of the peace walk took us from Rangeley to Phillips where local hosts have organized a three-soup pot luck for us.  It is more than amazing to see the beauty of the Rangeley lakes area and I can't wait to come back to enjoy the nature in this place.

Three peace women from Farmington found us mid-day and walked the remaining distance to Phillips.  We walked a total of 12 miles today.  It's 19 miles to Farmington from Phillips but we will only walk 16 miles tomorrow - got to break ourselves in easy as we go.

The weather today more than fantastic.  Lots of honks from cars, people eager to take our walk flyers, and my favorite moment today was when a car stopped on the highway and took our flyer. 

For Mainers who will understand this - lots of LePage signs up this way.  (For others he is our terrible right-wing governor who is up for reelection and presently tied for the lead in the polls in a three-way race.)

(In the photo I am stretching my overly tight calve muscles.)

Photo by Peter Woodruff