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, June 18, 2016

More Photos from 'Stealth' Destroyer Protest at BIW in Maine

Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle, Maine) being arrested at Bath Iron Works.  Dud went to the U.S. Naval Academy and was an all-American lacrosse player there before going to Vietnam.  He made a great speech at the rally before we were arrested for blocking the road in front of Bath Iron Works where the $4 billion Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyer was being 'christened'.  Dud told about his own conversion of heart - today he is an active member of Veterans For Peace.

Would Jesus Christ really bless a $4 billion destroyer or would he want to feed the poor and tend to the sick?  Can't we do something better with our friggin money?

Retired architect Cynthia Howard from Biddeford Pool, Maine being handcuffed and moved to a van for journey to Bath Police department for processing.  We were released on our own recognizance and have an August 2 arraignment in local District Court. 

Vietnam veteran and poet Gerry Kamke suffers from multiple ailments caused by his exposure to toxic Agent Orange during the war.  He has been in and out of hospital during recent months but came today and shared his story.  Thousands of people were lined up to go into the shipyard for the event and were captive ears for the messages from our speakers and musicians.

We saw a large number of the crew of the Zumwalt destroyer heading our way so we moved out into the middle of the road and refused to move.  Traffic backed up and the crew had to walk right by us.  No preaching to the choir today - in fact today the choir was singing in public.  Very powerful moments.

Jason Rawn (Lincolnville, Maine) has just recently come back from months in Okinawa and Jeju Island.  He stood daily with those struggling local people who oppose new U.S. military bases for the Pentagon's provocative encirclement of China and Russia in that part of the world.  Jason is also one of our great peace walkers here in Maine.

Karen Wainberg is one of our housemates at the Addams-Melman House in Bath.  She is now in a nursing home after a recent stroke and surgery.  It was inspiring to all of us to see Karen arrive at the event today in a wheelchair.  We expect her home soon. Our intentional community is named after Jane Addams, founder of social work and peace activist during WW I and Seymour Melman, former Columbia University professor who is regarded as the father of the 'conversion of the military industrial complex to sustainable and useful production' movement.

Peter Woodruff (in blue from Arrowsic, Maine) is a recently retired worker from the BIW shipyard.  Peter was the first and only worker to ever speak at a shipyard destroyer 'christening' protest.  Some years ago he publicly called for the building of offshore wind turbines at BIW and got more than 800 fellow BIW workers to sign a petition saying they supported that idea.  He and I did a weekly radio show for six years where we played political music and talked issues.  Today Peter can barely talk due to poisoning from the steel dust at the shipyard over the years. In the background is Pete Sirois (Madison, Maine) also a former BIW worker who now makes political videos and plays them on public access TV stations in his part of rural Maine helping us extend our message to more people.

A county sheriff stuck his elbow in my chest trying to get us to move out of the road.  He was one of only two cops I saw that went out of their way to be rude to us.  All the rest I saw were really kind, low key, respectful and even encouraging.  The Bath police department officer in charge told the county elbow thrower to back off.  One Bath cop told one of those arrested that "You all are the conscience of the community."  That was nice to hear.  Our message is indeed getting into the core of the local community.  Persistence offers rewards.

Rosie Tyler (Brunswick, Maine) sings along with Mike Hasty (Berwick, Maine) during the rally featuring speakers and music as the thousands of event goers lined up to enter the shipyard.  When we were sitting blocking the road I noticed Mike singing one of my favorite union organizing days songs:  "We shall not be moved.  Just like a tree standing by the water, we shall not be moved."

Artist Russell Wray (Hancock, Maine) being arrested with his dolphin head he made for this event.  While in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island last December Russell (who is most motivated by wanting to protect sea life from military toxics and sonar) became a fan of the Korean peace group called 'Hot Pink Dolphins' that creatively specialize in teaching fellow citizens about the dangers to sea life of the new Navy base on Jeju.  U.S. destroyers made in Bath, along with nuclear subs and aircraft carriers, will eventually be deployed by the Pentagon to the base on Jeju.  In order to build the base a 500-year old fishing and farming community has been destroyed and the villagers have gone to prison, lost their lands, and now face an absurd lawsuit by the Samsung Corporation (the lead base construction company). Samsung is demanding that the village of 2,000 people pay them $3 million in compensation for 'construction delays' after their village was stolen by undemocratic means by the Navy.  The U.S. Navy sent the specs for the base to the puppet right-wing Korean government and told them to build the base that will port U.S. ships.  A complete insult.

The Zumwalt destroyer crew members had to pass by our protest.  We are trying to prepare them for what they will see when they port in Korea, Guam, Philippines, Okinawa, Australia, Japan, Ukraine......the world is fed up with U.S. militarism and 'exceptionalism'.  It's time for the arrogance to end before it kills us all.

The $4 billion Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyer.  The story is that the Navy didn't actually want the ship because of the cost - it would punch a hole in their ship building budget.  Obama forced the Navy to build three of the warships because he owed General Dynamics Corp. (that owns BIW) for helping to make him president.  The Crown family in Chicago are majority stock owners of General Dynamics and raised money for Obama to become president.  They ran interference for him within the powerful military industrial complex that ended up giving Obama more campaign money than his rival John McCain got.  Oligarchy controlled Obama from the start.

Tarak Kauff (Woodstock, NY) is a national board member of Veterans For Peace.  He often comes to Maine to support our events and is co-publisher of VFP's national newspaper called 'Peace in Our Times'. Behind him in red shirt is wonderful activist Connie Jenkins from Orono, Maine.  She spoke during the rally about our October 11-26 peace walk through Maine.

Sitting in the road and forcing the police to remove us.  It was the least we could do.

George Kehoe-Ostensen (Hope, Maine) is a longtime Catholic Worker movement activist.  He and his wife Maureen have been leaders for years in keeping the ongoing Advent and Lenten weekly vigils going at BIW.  Their high school son Jurgen handed out 100 flyers to those entering the shipyard and also asked to speak during the rally.

Artist Brown Lethem has been a peace activist since the early 1960's.  One of the cops overheard him talking about a protest he attended in 1963 at Fort Leavenworth and was amazed that Brown had been at it for so long.  Brown is one of our housemates at the Addams-Melman House in Bath.  He is also a member of VFP.

Eric Herter (Brunswick, Maine) is a Vietnam veteran whose life was changed by the war.  He comes from an established family in Massachusetts.  His grandfather was former Speaker of the House in Congress and governor of their state.  Eric was sent to Harvard to follow in the family foot steps.  After the war he went another direction and became an AP filmmaker and moved to Vietnam where he reported for that media outlet.  Eric is making a video about the event today. 

~ Photos by Regis Tremblay from Woolwich, Maine 

You Are Not Alone!

Zumwalt 12 after being released by police in Bath, Maine today. Arrested for blockingthe road in front of Bath Iron Works 'christening' of the new $4 billion Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyer.

We told the media that we wanted to "interrupt the celebration of endless war and corporate profit" going on inside the event. All the Maine big wig elected officials were there - Republican and Democrat alike - all on their knees begging for more $$$$ to build more damn warships while the rest of the nation is put on life support.

We continue to call for the conversion of BIW to build rail, solar, wind, and tidal powers systems so the future generations can have a life. We need more help projecting this demand into the public consciousness.

The Pentagon is the recipient of the golden treasure chest that the pirates in Washington have grabbed. Nothing good can happen until we take the national treasury back.

We don't need a war with Russia and China.

We are dealing with fascists here now and we must move into the streets quickly.

We found alot of support from the law enforcement crowd today - one police officer told one of the Zumwalt 12, "You all are the conscience of the community."

Resist and are not alone!

Solidarity Statement from Jeju Island to BIW Protest

Dear Friends in Maine, United States,

Hello from Gangjeong village, Jeju Island, South Korea. Despite our struggle against base construction for nearly nine years, there was a ceremony for the completion of the Jeju navy base construction this February. However, despite the navy base, we will do our best to maintain village community. And we cannot get along with the navy as long as it continues to foster conflicts.

We heard that there is a ceremony for the christening of a recently built Zumwalt destroyer in the Bath Iron Works (BIW), Maine, United States on June 18 and that this destroyer is the most threatening naval ship in history, with a production cost of more than 4 billion USD per ship. According to the Korean media, the U.S. Secretary of Defense said that all three Zumwalt-class destroyers, once being made, would be deployed in the East Asia Sea by the end of this year. It is very worrisome as it would intensify tension in Northeast Asia and threaten peace. We heard that you would carry out protest to the christening ceremony on the Zumwalt destroyer and some of you plan non-violent civil disobedience on June 18.  

Many of you have visited Gangjeong and have made solidarity with us with deep concern for the struggle in opposition to the Jeju navy base project. Thanks to you, we came to know that our fight is not isolated but connected to all the peace movements in the world. Therefore we send deep gratitude, friendship, and solidarity to you all who are to magnificently expressing faith on peace in protest to the christening of the Zumwalt destroyer.  We also resolve that we will endeavor more fully to keep our struggle.

Despite the navy and government manipulation 9 years ago, more than 94% among more than 70% of the electorate of the village strongly opposed the Jeju naval base construction. However, the government ignored villagers’ opinion and enforced base construction destroying democracy, environment and human rights. Further, the government and navy filed a wrongful lawsuit demanding around 3 million USD against the people of Gangjeong and are preparing to evict our community protest site, at the entrance to Gureombi Rock, which is now covered by concrete. The Jeju navy base was built on the destruction of democracy and threatens the peace of northeast Asia. That is why we continuously oppose to it and will do so in the future, too.

The Gangjeong sea with UNESCO-designation and the world’s largest soft coral habitat, a place where the 100 remaining Jeju Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins often came, has changed into a site infested with aegis destroyers and submarines. It is currently only used by military vessels of the South Korean navy. However given that Lisa Franchetti, the ex-commander of US naval forces of South Korea mentioned last August that the US wants to ‘send its ships’ to the ports of South Korea, including the Jeju navy base, it is very worrisome to imagine that the Zumwalt destroyer, the so called most threatening military vessel, might enter the Jeju naval port.  

We think peace can be made through peace not through war. Even though the base was completed and oppression on the opponents to the Jeju navy base has been heavy, we will not stop our efforts to oppose militarism and make Gangjeong a ground for life and peace, on behalf of future generations and the living creatures in the sea. 

We thank for your noble dedication and solidarity.

In peace,
The Anti-navy base committee of Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, Korea

Friday, June 17, 2016

The System's Deep Crisis

In the first episode of ‘On Contact’, host Chris Hedges discusses the global revolt against corporate capitalism with radical intellectual and author Tariq Ali.

Ali talks about how the world banking system got Greece and other European countries in trouble, and how big capital may be behind the impeachment of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

RT Correspondent Anya Parampil joins the show with a report on global inequality.

Saturday Protest in Bath

Demonizing Russia Non-Stop

As I was getting my breakfast this morning we had National Public Radio (NPR) - what we often call National Petroleum Radio - turned on.  As usual they were doing their daily succession of Russia bashing.  One story jumped out at me as an example of the ridiculous and idiotic 'journalism' we now get in this country.

It was a story about how the Russian people never smiled - that is until McDonald's opened up in Moscow.

They had on a Russian man who told the story that under the old Soviet Union people were ugly, snarly and unhappy.  Then after the fall of the Soviet Union McDonald's came to Russia.  Workers were taught to say Thank you, Have a nice day, Come back again - and suddenly the culture of Russia began to change and now people smile!

This corporate propaganda story is one more glaring example of how U.S. 'exceptionalism' works.  Those poor Russians were saved by capitalism - our consumer culture brings politeness and satisfaction.  McDonald's taught the Russian people what real happiness means.

Fill the American people's thick skulls with this kind of crap and you can sell them anything.  Tell Americans that Putin is the new Hitler and wants to take over the world.  Tell them Putin wants to invade Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as an excuse to put US-NATO troops on the Russian border.

Fly US warplanes along the border - only 85 miles from St. Petersburg - don't worry it's not a provocation - we are just liberating those unhappy Russians!

This is how wars start - when one side convinces themselves that they are god's gift to humanity and that people all over the world are eager to bite into a Big Mac.  Yes we must spend our national treasury to make it possible for those poor Russian people to be happy.  They need us and our McDonald's and Burger King and Pizza Hut! 

The NPR story though didn't mention that in 2014 Russia ordered the closure of four McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow after government health inspectors declared the U.S.-based fast food chain was serving contaminated products.  That same year Wendy’s, the third-largest American hamburger chain, abandoned its Russian operations.  Also in 2014 the iconic golden arches were replaced in Crimea by the bright red insignia of RusBurger.  NPR didn't bother to mention these facts but of course that was not the purpose of their story. 

Have a nice day - on the way to World War III..... 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

U.S. Navy Plans for 'Visit' to Jeju Island

South Korean Navy warships already have ported at the new base on Jeju Island, South Korea.  The U.S. Navy has prepared its plans to visit the base as well.  Below are cynical plans outlined in a US Army War College paper from 2013. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

More Strikes Coming in France

Anne Guerrier writes from Paris:

This is the best video to show what really happened yesterday. We have no aerial view to show that Paris thoroughfares were actually clogged for miles. A million people in Paris (1 person out of 60 in the whole country) and 300,000 more in the rest of the country. This video does give a good impression of the numbers though. You can also see the figures showing what happened in other cities all over France. 

The police never allowed us to reach our destination near the Assemblée Nationale, at Hotel des Invalides (which is Napoleon's grave) they split the march into three and blocked some young people at a street corner. We know now that orders were given for the police to immobilize the march at this particular point. This was provocation because the young in the marches we've had systematically smash 'banks and companies offices' glass windows. There was a hospital there for sick children which has ground floor glass walls and after 5 minutes being cornered there, inevitably, one of the young smashed those windows. The result is that the French press focused on the fact that our protest was about attacking children's hospitals. They didn't mention the figures of the peaceful demo that was following (although Paris hasn't seen anything like it in 15 years). 

You can see both the numbers and the atmosphere of the real demo on this video. There was a deliberate media blackout in France and elsewhere about this because it scares the shit out of the system. Lots of workers around the world are looking at us. Well we did it. We had that million-man march yesterday about decency, a reasonable living, the end of cannibal liberalism, for human rights at bottom. And we'll do it again. More strikes have been decided on. 

This is the Great Thaw.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Directing Public Opinion

With thousands of advertisements seen by Americans everyday, and a corporate media that reinforces the needs of Empire, propaganda in the U.S. is more pervasive and effective than ever before.

The manipulation of public opinion through suggestion can be traced back to the father of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, who discovered that preying on the subconscious mind was the best way to sell products people don't need, and wars people don't want.

To get a deeper understanding of how propaganda functions in today's society, Abby Martin interviews Dr. Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Media Studies at New York University.

Big Spender

No words
are needed here
the picture tells
the whole story

the Russians
are coming
Washington says
we must prepare
to restrain
the 'bear'

the Russians
are not coming....
the U.S.
is already
at Moscow's

Monday, June 13, 2016

Inuits: Earth has Shifted, Sky has Changed

Inuit observers describe how their traditional understanding of weather patterns is being challenged by unpredictable weather behaviors.

The elders declare that the sun rises at a different position now, not where it used to previously. They also have longer daylight to hunt now, the sun is much higher than earlier, and it gets warmer much quicker. Other elders across the north also confirmed the same thing about the sky changing.
They also alleged that the position of sun, moon and stars have all changed causing changes in the temperature. This has also affected the wind and it is very difficult to predict the weather now and according to them predicting weather is necessary on the Arctic.

All the elders confirmed that the Earth has shifted, wobbled or tilted toward the North.

Oppression & Violence - It's Our History

Public Comments Needed on New 'Missile Defense' Deployments in Michigan, Ohio or New York

The Pentagon's 'Missile Defense Agency' (MDA) now has ground-based deployments in Alaska and California.  They are presently holding public comments on a third deployment site either in Michigan, New York, or Ohio.  Public comments are due by July 18.

Submit Comments

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be received by July 18, 2016 by one of the following methods:


U.S. Mail:

Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp.
6800 W 115th Street, Suite 2200
Overland Park, KS-66211-2420

The MDA will host open house public meetings at each of the candidate site locations to review the Draft EIS.

All written comments received during the comment period will become part of the public record. Providing private address information with your comment is voluntary and such personal information will be kept confidential unless release is required by law. All comments received by the public, including at public meetings, will be addressed in the Final EIS.

The public hearings and dates are as follows:

  • June 21, 2016 - 5 p.m to 8 p.m., Lakeview Middle School, 300 S 28th St., Battle Creek, Michigan
  • June 23, 2016 - 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Richland Community Center, 9400 E. Cd Ave., Richland, Michigan
  • June 28, 2016 - 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Carthage Senior High School, 36500 New York 26, Carthage, New York
  • June 30, 2016 - 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Ravenna High School, 6589 N. Chestnut Street, Ravenna, Ohio

 Below are the comments submitted today on behalf of the Global Network:

    To MDA:

    I am writing on behalf of our organization made up of peace groups around the world.

    We strongly oppose the deployment of a Ground-Based Mid-Course Missile Defense system in any of the three locations now under consideration – Michigan, Ohio, or New York.

    Our primary reason for opposing this so-called ‘missile defense’ (MD) system is that it is provocative and a key element in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.  At the level of this current program US MD only has any real capability against limited retaliatory strikes after the US initiated a first-strike against Russia or China.

    We know that the Space Command annually war games such a scenario – the red team verses the blue team – where the US launches such a first-strike and MD is used to pick off any retaliatory strikes.  Thus this MD system is highly destabilizing and should not be deployed. (In fact this particular GBMD system has the least success in its testing program making it all the more a wasteful program.)

    Beyond that our concerns also center around the outrageous waste of national resources as this boondoggle program would steal from badly needed programs in our social sector like education, health care, needed infrastructure repair, environmental clean-up and more.  At the very time we are facing the reality of climate change these funds could be better used building rail, solar, wind power, and tidal power systems.

    The environmental consequences of building such a deployment site would be massive.  First there is the issue of the environmental damage from the construction process but there are other environmental concerns as well.

    Particularly dangerous is the likely toxic rocket fuel contamination that would result as the fuel is trucked onto the site and then stored to fuel the interceptor missiles.  All across the nation there is an epidemic from perchlorate contamination, a key component in rocket fuel.  Somewhere between 20 million to 40 million Americans may be exposed to the chemical.  We know that the CDC has found perchlorate in 100 percent of the people they've tested, so there's widespread exposure, through contaminated drinking water and also through contaminated food. The concern is that the fuel additive has seeped into the ground and water in dozens of states – that is how perchlorate has ended up in the drinking water and the food supply.

    Clearly no matter where MDA chooses to deploy the GBMD system this issue of rocket fuel contamination and other environmental consequences will be a major sticking point.

    Thus for all these reasons we highly recommend that the MDA make ‘no decision’ on this expensive, dangerous, and highly toxic program.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Song