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. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Last Lenten vigil at BIW - up next more work on conversion

There were 30 of us at Bath Iron Works (BIW) today for the final Lenten season vigil.  Several commented in our closing circle that it will be sad not to have the vigil in the coming weeks because this Lenten series of vigils have been extraordinarily special - likely because of the extra people that turned out due to our GD corporate welfare campaign.

Our next BIW protest will probably be during the 'christening' of another destroyer at the shipyard though at this time we don't know when that will happen.  So stay tuned.

This morning's Bangor Daily News brought two significant pieces worth noting.  The first is a story called With tax break bill on way to LePage, Bath Iron Works announces 31 layoffs. As it turns out BIW announced the layoffs the same day they got the $45 million tax break approved in the Maine legislature.  Just goes to show that BIW/GD have no public relations skills and don't really know how to properly express their thanks to Maine taxpayers who will now fork over tens of millions of dollars that our state can't really afford.

The second item from the same edition was an editorial Lawmakers take big step in building a better tax break.  In the last paragraph of the editorial the newspaper wrote:

Opponents of the tax breaks, who spoke passionately at a public hearing, deserve credit for pushing lawmakers to negotiate a better deal for Maine. Lawmakers were right to listen.

It's always nice to be recognized and appreciated.  Our folks done good.

We are working on holding a campaign celebration pot luck that will be on Saturday, April 14 from noon to 2:00 pm. Don’t have a location yet but wanted to get the date out to everyone. Will let you know once we get a spot reserved.  We welcome all to join us for this special event.

In the meantime we will look for every opportunity to project our vision of a converted BIW to help us deal with our real problem - climate change.  Please help us share this vision with the public - without such a change our children and grandchildren have no real future on our Mother Earth.


The Isolation of Julian Assange Must Stop

We call on the government of Ecuador to allow Julian Assange his right of freedom of speech.

If it was ever clear that the case of Julian Assange was never just a legal case, but a struggle for the protection of basic human rights, it is now.

Citing his critical tweets about the recent detention of Catalan president Carles Puidgemont in Germany, and following pressure from the US, Spanish and UK governments, the Ecuadorian government has installed an electronic jammer to stop Assange communicating with the outside world via the internet and phone. As if ensuring his total isolation, the Ecuadorian government is also refusing to allow him to receive visitors. Despite two UN rulings describing his detention as unlawful and mandating his immediate release, Assange has been effectively imprisoned since he was first placed in isolation in Wandsworth prison in London in December 2010. He has never been charged with a crime. The Swedish case against him collapsed and was withdrawn, while the United States has stepped up efforts to prosecute him. His only "crime" is that of a true journalist -- telling the world the truths that people have a right to know.

Under its previous president, the Ecuadorian government bravely stood against the bullying might of the United States and granted Assange political asylum as a political refugee. International law and the morality of human rights was on its side.

Today, under extreme pressure from Washington and its collaborators, another government in Ecuador justifies its gagging of Assange by stating that “Assange's behaviour, through his messages on social media, put at risk good relations which this country has with the UK, the rest of the EU and other nations.”

This censorious attack on free speech is not happening in Turkey, Saudi Arabia or China; it is right in the heart of London. If the Ecuadorian government does not cease its unworthy action, it, too, will become an agent of persecution rather than the valiant nation that stood up for freedom and for free speech. If the EU and the UK continue to participate in the scandalous silencing of a true dissident in their midst, it will mean that free speech is indeed dying in Europe.

This is not just a matter of showing support and solidarity. We are appealing to all who care about basic human rights to call on the government of Ecuador to continue defending the rights of a courageous free speech activist, journalist and whistleblower.

We ask that his basic human rights be respected as an Ecuadorian citizen and internationally protected person and that he not be silenced or expelled.

If there is no freedom of speech for Julian Assange, there is no freedom of speech for any of us -- regardless of the disparate opinions we hold.

We call on President Moreno to end the isolation of Julian Assange now.

List of signatories (in alphabetic order):

Pamela Anderson, actress and activist
Jacob Appelbaum, freelance journalist
Renata Avila, International Human Rights Lawyer
Sally Burch, British/Ecuadorian journalist
Alicia Castro, Argentina’s ambassador to the United Kingdom 2012-16
Naomi Colvin, Courage Foundation
Noam Chomsky, linguist and political theorist
Brian Eno, musician
Joseph Farrell, WikiLeaks Ambassador and board member of The Centre for Investigative Journalism
Teresa Forcades, Benedictine nun, Montserrat Monastery
Charles Glass, American-British author, journalist, broadcaster
Chris Hedges, journalist
Srećko Horvat, philosopher, Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25)
Jean Michel Jarre, musician
John Kiriakou, former CIA counterterrorism officer and former senior investigator, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Lauri Love, computer scientist and activist
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst, Presidential advisor
John Pilger, journalist and film-maker
Angela Richter, theater director, Germany
Saskia Sassen, sociologist, Columbia University
Oliver Stone, film-maker
Vaughan Smith, English journalist
Yanis Varoufakis, economist, former Greek finance minister
Natalia Viana, investigative journalist and co-director of Agencia publica, Brazil
Ai Weiwei, artist
Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer and activist
Slavoj Žižek, philosopher, Birkbeck Institute for Humanities

Friday, March 30, 2018

Hearing from Mainers on the bad bill

Here is the list of the 40 Maine state legislators who voted against the bad GD corporate welfare bill.  We thank them all.

Senate (25-9 in favor of the bill)

Sen. Shenna Bellows (D-Kennebec)
Sen. Mike Carpenter (D-Aroostook)
Sen. Justin Chenette (D-York)
Sen. Ben Chipman (D-Portland)
Sen. Mark Dion (D-Cumberland)
Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot)
Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland)
Sen. Dave Miramant (D-Knox)
Sen. Kimberley Rosen (R-Hancock)

House (117-31 in favor)

Rep. Kent Ackley (I-Monmouth)
Rep. Christopher Babbidge (D-Kennebunk)
Rep. Donna Bailey (D-Saco)
Rep. Anne Neebe-Center (D-Rockland)
Rep. Lydia Blume (D-York)
Rep. Owen Casas (I-Rockport)
Rep. Ralph Chapman (G-Brooksville)
Rep. Benjamin Collings (D-Portland)
Rep. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth)
Rep. Richard Farnsworth (D-Portland)
Rep. Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford)
Rep. James Handy (D-Lewiston)
Rep. Denise Harlow (I-Portland)
Rep. Erin Herbig (D-Belfast)
Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop)
Rep. Norman Higgins (I-Dover-Foxcroft)
Rep. Chris Johansen (R-Monticello)
Rep. Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle)
Rep. Gina Melaragno (D-Auburn)
Rep. Kim Monaghan (D-Cape Elizabeth)
Rep. Matthew Moonen (D-Portland)
Rep. Margaret O'Neil (D-Saco)
Rep. Jennifer Parker (D-South Berwick)
Rep. Lois Reckitt (D-South Portland)
Rep. Deane Rykerson (D-Kittery)
Rep. John Spear (D-South Thomaston)
Rep. Harold Stewart (R-Presque Isle)
Rep. Michael Sylvester (D-Portland)
Rep. Rachel Talbot Toss (D-Portland)
Rep. Dustin White (R-Washburn)
Rep. Stanley Ziegler (D-Montville)

  • I suggest the strong letter writing campaign should continue calling out the Democrats who voted yes with a VERY clear message sent to the Democratic leadership and members that their capitulation will not go unnoticed at the polls and in campaign support. Polite but specific. There are certainly many issues regarding war and war making by GD that are relevant. My two cents.  Steve
  • Great article on the [Senate] vote. Very depressing. Tony
  • A good analysis of how the vote on 1781 went down.  I long ago learned to have little if any faith in the Democratic or Republican parties-- they are just part of the power structure of the American Empire which is not a democracy, so we must continue our struggle for social justice here where we live.  I would like to say, however, that Erin Herbig, our rep. in the Maine House, cast a very courageous vote against LD1781 and gives one hope that there are yet some people of compassion and integrity still to be found in the political realm.  One can only hope that she can maintain those virtues if she remains in her present endeavor. Cathy
  • It means new legislative leadership is sorely needed. Susan
  • None of those Damn democrats have the (cough) balls courage to cover what we wanted from them. Robert
  • It just goes to show that the leadership here, and nationally, regardless of party, is bankrupt. WE have a long way to go, but you put the fear into them all, and how they could look into the mirror is beyond me. Jim
  • I encourage everyone to send a thank-you to the Representatives and Senators who voted no on LD 1781. I have heard a thank you back from two of them so far for my acknowledgement of their vote. Building a relationship with them to vote for the social justice and healthcare and other important needs Mainers have that could have been funded by that $45 million. Again to say big thanks for the band of citizens who provided facts and a faithful witness at the State House. I'm convinced the bill would have been a slam dunk at $60 million without your vigilance and outreach!!  Andy
  • The indecency of tax breaks as this mires our legislative integrity. It's apparently too difficult for legislators to understand oppressive power structures when they are too busy holding up their part within it. Nickie
  • Despite the disappointing votes in the House and Senate, [we] did much to educate many Mainers about this outrageous practice of giving millions of taxpayer dollars to this huge, wealthy corporation.  Susan
  • It was a great campaign and in the end I think it did more to inform and educate hundreds, maybe thousands around the state and beyond. I always believed this wasn't a fight against BIW, rather the industry itself...the military industrial complex and perpetual wars for profit.  Regis
  • It's a sad, but predictable, end. Someday, states will look back on these gifts for billion dollar companies and ask, Why were we doing that?  Lorry
  • It always seems to come down to, "I was just following orders".  "Follow the money" would explain the why of those orders.  Mark
  • Just a thought from afar: The lying seems like business as usual. Ken
  • I really admire the fight you put up and bet we'll win the next one.  I'd spoken with Brownie [Carson], had thought he would vote the right way, and will see if I can find out what happened. In any case I want to work on why the Democratic leadership went along with the give away. Joseph
  • There needs to be accountability big time this time. My puzzle is how best to do this. Your post this morning about Brownie and Fitzgerald was powerful.  And very indicative of something that needs to be clearly and deeply understood. The times are shaping up towards a sharper delineating separation between the forces of evil and the often stumbling forces of good. Shadowboxing doesn’t cut it. On the key issues the key is to be clear. Your hunger strike was a profound shaking up of all of us who want the good and are trying to mean it, follow it, and make better and better known the real nature of the fight.  John
  • I heard the 9:30 am BIW break whistle from the shipyard, this morning, during my yoga class- & it came to me - this is a massive billion dollar corporation & you took them on!!! And, brought so much awareness to this state about the influence of corporate control & manipulation.  You may think because you are so immersed in this, that everyone knows about this, but they don't! But - lots more do now!  I would include myself in that group! A High cost for education!  Those life lessons usually do cost a lot! Thank you! Susan
  • Deep gratitude to Bruce and crew for all their inspiring activism on behalf of Maine's people. Chris
  • It's not like they 'won' anything at all of course; they lost. Lost it all, lost their souls, their hearts, their integrity, and the future of their children and grandchildren. They are the losers. The problem is that they are taking us all down with them. But because of all the wonderful people we have moved the arguments to higher ground, where all can see the dirty underbelly of this militaristic society hanging low, bloated with money that belongs to the commons. It's not about victory, it's about taking our place, holding that place, in the long line of those who came before us. In solidarity and with love, Nancy
  • It is a bittersweet experience.  Bitter due to the inability of legislators to put principle, rationality and ethics ahead of money, intimidation and job preservation [not Bath jobs, but their own jobs].  Sweet due to the wholly successful community action -- this action will bear more sweet fruit in the future. Herb
  • We did good....I am glad you were able to muster the positive side of this cuz I think it was an amazing vote for NO CORPORATE TAX GIVEAWAYS on the first ever try...I hope we each send each Rep and Sen who voted against 1781 a big thank you and take it to those who didn't in the next considering a '1781' tattoo as a reminder of this whole experience and lessons learned.  Ridgely
  • Pleased to see Hancock County State Senator Kim Rosen vote no, the only Republican [in the Senate to do so]. Lynne

"They lied to us."

“They lied to us. They told us the unions had changed their positions in some deal and were now in favor of it. That is why I changed my vote.”
   ~ Rep. Kevin Battle (I-South Portland)

South Portland resident (and VFP member Don Kimball) was in constant communication with Rep. Battle throughout the campaign to oppose LD 1781.  Don wrote me this morning saying, “THAT was Battle’s reply to my query on why he changed his vote!”

This confirms what I had earlier shared from Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland) who said basically the same thing to me on Tuesday following the Democratic party caucus in Augusta just before the vote in the House on the bill.

Since this went public Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) and others have been issuing denials that the House Democrats misled legislators. Now that Rep. Battle has also added his two cents it is obviously clear that the Democrats did indeed lie in order to swing more votes toward passage.

It was part of a strategy to crush the opposition as a warning that no one should ever consider opposing BIW/GD again.

Can there be any doubt that the Maine Democrats leadership has largely been outsourced to BIW/GD?

It shows they feared this campaign and in my mind that means we did much better than we’ll ever know.

How can there be an real trust inside that Democratic party caucus in Augusta any more?

Photo by Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Story behind the Carson back flip in Maine Senate

I confirmed this morning with Mark Roman (Solon) who watched the 'heated discussion' between BIW V-P John Fitzgerald and Sen. Brownie Carson (D-Harpswell) yesterday just outside the Maine Senate doors before the legislative session began.

Mark described it as intense, about three minutes long, and clearly a dispute between the two men with no back slapping afterwards as is usually done between legislators and those seeking some kind of favor from them.

On her way home last night Mary Beth heard on MPBN radio a story about the GD corporate welfare bill passing the House and Senate and the news reporter stated that the 'Midcoast delegation' all voted in favor of BIW.  Carson is one of those 'Midcoast' state legislators.

My theory on this is that BIW wanted total Midcoast support on this bill - BIW can't afford to have any legislators from the Midcoast peeling off and voting against it.  If that ever happened it would give license to other legislators around the state to abandon ship.

Carson, one can hear it in his statement on this video, clearly understood that this was a bad bill.  Fitzgerald likely greeted him near the Senate chambers door and when he heard (or sensed) some wavering by Carson he lit into him.

I was sitting in the balcony and Carson's seat in the chambers was just below me.  I watched him feverishly writing his statement on a pink piece of paper and when he got up and began talking we all figured he was going against the bill.

In the end he caved to political expediency (and possibly threats).  He will not likely tell many what Fitzgerald said to him.

But in the end the power of BIW/GD was once again enforced on the Maine legislature which has largely been outsourced to the weapons corporation.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Another stake through the heart of justice - Senate votes yes on GD corporate welfare bill

Sen. Justin Chenette (D-Saco) called the GD bill "a bit like highway robbery."

Long time Maine environmentalist Sen. Brownie Carson (D-Harpswell) did a back flip after saying Maine couldn't afford the bill but then stated he'd vote for it anyway.

This morning I was the first of the 'citizen lobbyists' to arrive outside the doors of the Maine Senate.  Soon enough 14 'admin and management' employees from BIW arrived - one of them admitted that they were all being paid to be there.

Thirteen more of our folks arrived as well so it was even representation by both sides of the issue - that is if you don't count all the paid lobbyists that BIW/GD hired. I counted at least 4-5 of them.  Their job was to make sure things went right - and they did as the Senate voted 25-9 in favor of the GD corporate welfare bill.  You can see how they all voted (one Republican voted No and eight Democrats voted Yes) here

One of our folks noticed BIW V-P John Fitzgerald having harsh words with Sen. Brownie Carson (D-Harpswell) outside of the Senate chambers before things got started.  The argument seemed to have worked on Carson who won the award for the best argument against the bill but then did a backwards flip and voted for it anyway - so he additionally won the spineless prize....more on him in a bit.

My state Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic) was the first to speak in favor of the bill that she co-sponsored by saying it was a "jobs bill" and the money would be used for "training workers".  She admitted that BIW was "not likely to close over night without this tax credit" but like many others fell for the notion that the taxpayers of Maine must help fund the military industrial complex.

Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) maintained that the give-a-way to General Dynamics was "not corporate welfare". (Other Republicans spoke in favor of the bill but I won't bore you with their tired theories about how giving tax breaks to big business creates more jobs.)

Sen. Justin Chenette (D-Saco) told his fellow senators that while serving on the Taxation Committee, that had responsibility for LD 1781, he asked BIW V-P Fitzgerald five times for financial information that would prove the company needed the support.  Fitzgerald repeatedly refused to do so.  Chenette asked, "How can we make informed decisions without the facts?  This feels a little bit like highway robbery."

Sen. Ben Chipman (D-Portland) argued against the bill and concluded that, "We could use this money to help alleviate poverty in Maine."

Then Sen. Carson did his amazing high-wire act - the first-half of which drew raves from our side.  He claimed the bill "Was not the highest and best use of our funds.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in requests are now sitting on the Appropriations Committee table for the many needs in Maine."  But then after an astounding double-reverse back flip (with a twist) Carson concluded with, "Despite serious reservations I will support LD 1781."

Imagine the head shaking that followed from us sitting in the public balcony.  

Fortunately there was a quick recovery as Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Bangor) spoke in opposition and outlined the key point that "Tax incentives do not promote economic growth.  Once you put a tax incentive in place it is virtually impossible to get rid of it."

Sen. Mike Carpenter (D-Houlton) surprised us with his strong anti-bill words when he said, "There is no suggestion this company needs our help. This company is exploding with money."

Sadly a big Bernie Sanders supporter, and Senate Democratic leader, Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) spoke twice in support of the bill maintaining it was about preserving good jobs in Maine.  As it turned out Jackson's adult son Chace was on the PretiFlaherty lobby team working in favor of the GD corporate welfare bill.

Actually I didn't expect we'd get more than five votes from the Maine Senate so nine was a pleasant surprise. 

This is the first time since moving to Maine I've gone through this kind of legislative process on any bill from start to finish.  I've attended some public hearings on bills in the past but this was a first to track a bill the entire way.  My work in the peace movement doesn't offer many opportunities to do this kind of thing at the state level.

What is so amazing to me though is to see weapons corporations establish as 'normal' the concept of going to states and cities (like Bath) for additional funding on top of what they get from the federal treasury to build weapons.  This is a very dangerous idea and is totally destabilizing to social progress.  We needed to push back hard against this and we did.

Throughout this campaign we've repeatedly heard about how the state of Mississippi annually gives BIW's competitor shipyard called Huntington Ingalls millions of dollars in subsidies as justification for Maine doing the same for BIW/GD.  But one legislator in the House remarked yesterday that we should be careful as Maine might very well become more like Mississippi than we bargained for as that poor southern state is at the bottom, or near bottom, in most social indicators.

It was in the original Taxation Committee work sessions on LD 1781 that Rep. Ryan Tipping (D-Orono) called the GD corporate welfare bill "a race to the bottom."  Like we saw Sen. Carson do today, speak against the bill and then vote for it, Rep. Tipping basically did the same.

LD 1781 was never meant to see the light of day.  This bad bill was supposed to sail through Augusta without a public whimper but the intervention of many Mainers of conscience changed that plan.  BIW/GD had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to hire PretiFlaherty to usher the bill through the legislature.

In the end public outcry forced the legislature to cut the original bill by 25% to $45 million - still far too much.  We showed that a determined group of citizens in Maine can stand up to the likes of GD and come away with $15 million in savings for the hard-pressed people of our state.

It was an honor to work alongside all of you who stood up for the 43,000 children living in poverty across Maine, for the tens of thousands without health care, for our starving public education system, and for the crumbling physical infrastructure as Maine joins Mississippi in the "race to the bottom".

I look forward to standing with you all again soon.


Photos by Regis Tremblay and Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)

Pentagon of the south

Huntsville, Alabama is where the Nazi rocket scientists were taken after the end of WW II to create the US space program.  For details see here

Huntsville's Redstone Arsenal is currently the 'missile defense' integrator for the Army.  Today they call Huntsville the 'Pentagon of the south'.

It's all about two things - making money and killing people.

Is it any wonder that schools across America are being attacked by mentally unstable people with automatic weapons?  Weapons and war have become the leading indicator of our culture.

We can kill them fast or we can kill them slow.

This is what America does.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

House votes Yes on GD corporate welfare - to the Senate tomorrow

The Maine House of Representatives voted 117-31 today in favor of the GD corporate welfare bill.

The capital was a mad house as the AFL-CIO had their lobby day as did the Medicaid Expansion supporters.  BIW bused in a number of workers (paid to attend) who lined both sides of the entrance to the House chambers.

We had twenty of our supporters there who spread out - handed out flyers - and talked to BIW workers and others inside the packed hallway.

One BIW worker from the S6 union approached me to thank us for our efforts.  He told me he was at the union meeting where they voted not to endorse the bill and that he had voted NO.  He didn't believe GD needed Maine's meager funds.  

We learned there was some confusion inside the Democratic party about how the unions at BIW had voted. We got word to Rep. Denise Harlow (I-Portland) who during debate on the bill asked for clarification on the union endorsement question.  Rep. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) stood up and said that one of the four unions at the shipyard voted in favor of the bill (S7 with 500 members) while the largest union (S6 with 3,500 members) voted not to endorse.  Cooper also spoke against the bill, saying, "The Taxation Committee asked BIW for their financials to prove they actually need the support but they refused to provide them to us."

Rep. Harlow also said from the House floor that the bill was "akin to corporate welfare."

Three Republicans voted against the bill while one Democrat (Rep. Alley) who told me three times he was voting against it actually voted in favor of it.  You can see how they all voted here

Once the House was in session we, along with BIW workers and others from the public, watched the show from the 4th floor public gallery that overlooks the House floor.  

Rep. Ralph Chapman (G-Blue Hill) was actually the first to speak about the bill and said, "We have a shameless request from General Dynamics".

BIW/GD had to crush us today in the House and they paid lobbyists affiliated with the Democrats to put the whole strategy into operation.  They used every trick in the book because they could not allow any organization - any group of citizens - to stand up against the corporate power of GD.

It's a new America where the federal, state and municipal budgets must be surrendered to corporate power on demand - even those corporations from the military industrial complex.

Eisenhower's warning has been smashed on the rocky coast of Maine.

I got a request from one Maine newspaper for a comment on the vote today.  I wrote back:  We thank all those who helped build this important campaign to stand against corporate welfare and in support of the many human needs that are going unmet across Maine.  We will not ever shirk from continuing to fight for the people who have been cast aside by our state legislature. 

Tomorrow the Maine Senate will vote on the bill.  We'll be back in the 3rd floor hallway from 9:30 am to noon with our signs and flyers.

Every time we go to Augusta more citizens learn about this GD corporate welfare bill.


Photos by Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Catching up from Bath....


  • It's been a pretty intense time since I ended the hunger strike early last week.  The next day MB drove me north to Belfast where I spoke to 32 local folks about Korea and the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific.

  • Before I started my talk though we shared information about LD 1781, the BIW/GD corporate welfare bill now stuck somewhere in the halls of the legislature in Augusta.  Their state representative from Belfast is the Democrat majority leader in the House.  At the beginning of the campaign she leaned toward supporting the bill but the excellent solidarity in Belfast moved their representative to a NO vote on the bill.  Now on some level Democratic party leadership is split on the bill.  At the same time growing numbers of people across the state, as they hear about the bill, are against it.

  • We did have a flurry of media as my hunger strike ended.  One article about the controversial bill and my fasting was first carried on the front page of The Forecaster newspaper.  It then was reprinted in the Portland and Waterville papers.  Maine Public radio interviewed me and a short story about the hunger strike ending was heard several times on statewide news reports. (During this entire campaign we've had 150 letters to editors, Op-Eds, articles, radio and TV interviews on 30 different Maine media outlets.)

  • It appears that the House will vote on the bill on Tuesday so we will return to the 3rd floor of the capital from 9:30 am to noon.

  • On Saturday we had the Lenten vigil in Bath.  The crowd was a bit smaller this time as quite a few folks attended March For Our Lives events in Portland or near their homes.  (Photos above by Roger Leisner and you can see more photos here)

  • After the vigil MB, Karen and I went to a memorial service for our dear friend Sally Breen who died recently after a long and valiant struggle against cancer.  Sally was one of the very first people to welcome MB and me to Maine and took us in for a week in the winter of 2002 so we could get a feel for the cold.  She was a dedicated anti-nuclear activist with a heart as big as the sky.

  • Yesterday, thanks to a tip from Jacqui Deveneau, MB and I went to Portland to catch a great movie called Neither Wolf Nor Dog.  It is a story about an old Lakota man who recruits a reluctant white writer to help him share his wisdom and the story of his people in a book.  See the trailer here

  • I've put on about three pounds so far - took the food reentry path rather slowly not to overload my body at once.  But as a result my energy recovery is also slow.  I want to be able to go, go, go but not possible.  So I took to sewing - repairing a few items - just threading the needle takes me awhile - it's a good rest.


Jeju Island: Fr. Mun to jail

[March 25] Fr. Mun Jeong-hyeon chose prison in refusal to paying fines. He is expected to be released from the Jeju prison early April. The below is a rough translation of his letter before leaving to prison on March 25. 

Today, I go to prison in refusal to paying fines for the protest related to a ‘Hope Bus.’

In 2011, I joined the Hope Bus to support and to be in solidarity with Kim Jin-Suk who was carrying out high crane sit-in then, in protest to lay-off of workers by the Hanjin Heavy industry. And later, I was fined of 800,000 won (around 800 $ USD) for that solidarity. I insisted not to pay those fines because a solidarity action for workers’ rights to live should not be a crime. Meanwhile, two former Presidents have been directed to jail. People’s cries have never been in vein.

Otherwise, Kim Deuk-Jung, the branch manager of Ssangyong motor workers' union is carrying out his fourth hunger strike. Today marks 25th day of his fast. At the risk of his health, he demands company to keep the promise of reinstatement of laid-off workers. As today waits for coming Easter which remembers the Passion of Jesus Christ, I pray for Kim Deuk-jung of Ssangyong motor workers' union. What I can do is only this.

The south of Jeju is very warm. Cherry blossoms are flowering. Don’t worry about me.

March 25, 2018
Fr. Mun Jeong-hyeon

Photo by Oh Doo-hee

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Portland anti-gun rally: No little guns or big guns mounted on warships - they all kill kids!

Bob Klotz from 350.Maine handing out flyers yesterday in Portland at huge anti-gun rally (Photo by Beth Streeter)

Bob Klotz reports from the Saturday March For Our Lives protest in Portland where he and others went to make connections to LD 1781:
The powerful solidarity associated with the international March For Our Lives was clearly evident with the over 3,000 people in Portland, Maine -- and was all the more reinforced with engagement around opposition to L.D. 1781. Bob Klotz and Sarah Lachance distributed 300 informational fliers and, along with Paul Cunningham, had numerous conversations with March participants about the issue. People were familiar and supportive and unfamiliar and interested. The family-friendly event amplified the family/people-unfriendly nature of this bill, with many acknowledging that $60 million is needed by the people of the state, not an obscenely profitable multi-national corporation.

Join us in Augusta

I'll be there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week from 9:30 am to noon on the 3rd floor of the capital building.  We'll stand with signs and flyers in the hallway between the House and Senate chambers.

Bring a sign that states why you oppose this GD corporate welfare bill.

Please bring another person or two with you.


Sunday Song

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Don't swallow the pro-war hype....

I highly recommend reading this article by The Saker - find it here

Friday, March 23, 2018

The war hawk cabinet in Washington

The recent changes to Trump's war cabinet are chilling.  His latest pick, adding George W. Bush's Ambassador to the UN John Bolton as the new National Security Adviser, is bad news for the world.

Let's take a quick look at some of the early comments from Asia as people try to assess what may result from such a bad appointment.

After months of painstakingly building a relationship with the departing national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, South Korean officials now have to manage their “very bad chemistry” with Mr. Bolton, “who is all about sticks,” said Lee Byong-chul, senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Cooperation in Seoul.

“We will have to see if Bolton opens his mouth and launches his verbal attacks against the North,” Mr. Lee said. “That will give North Korea an excuse to step away from its summit proposal. The Trump-Bolton team then will ramp up pressure. And we will hear more talk about a pre-emptive strike and see tensions rising again on the Korean Peninsula.”
The appointment “adds to the perception of the U.S. basically being a headless chicken, which is bad for the world,” said Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo.
In Congress even the weak-kneed opposition Democrats are complaining about Bolton - which is to be expected although many of the Democrats don't really seem to disagree with most of the slash and burn politics that Bolton is famous for.  The recent recycled red-baiting of Russia and China from the so-called 'progressives' is not much different from the kind of talk we've historically heard from Bolton who is most famous for helping to sell Bush's illegal and immoral 'shock and awe' attack of Iraq in 2003.

One of the better Democrats is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) who tweeted:

I've been saying since Trump's election that the one good thing that will come from him will be the acceleration of the collapse of the US military and economic empire.  With appointments like Bolton  Washington's allies around the globe will be left to either join the suicidal march to oblivion or begin to separate themselves from the reckless and corrupt policies coming from Pennsylvania Avenue.

One can only hope that the American people will awaken from their long Rip Van Winkle-like slumbers and stand up against the increasingly dangerous, provocative and destabilizing foreign policies being orchestrated by the US-NATO war machine.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Make GD work for their welfare check

Vietnam veteran Tom Ryan (still fasting) and Cynthia Howard among the 12 of us in the hallway of the state capital today - we will return Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. 

It was an interesting day today at the capital in Augusta.  Twelve of our campaign supporters were present to hold signs, hand out flyers, and talk to various legislators.

One Democrat state representative came up to me as I was leaning against the wall in the hallway with my sign.  We'd never spoken before.  She was quite concerned about my health and was glad to hear that I had begun to eat.  She said that she intended to vote against the bill.  One more name in the column to oppose this bad bill.

We learned that the Progressive Caucus would meet next Tuesday to discuss LD 1781 and Taxation Committee co-chair Ryan Tipping (D-Orono) will make the case to them in favor of the bill.  This is despite the fact that he has told some of our supporters in his town that he believes it is a 'bad bill' and a 'race to the bottom'.

We are urging a large turnout of Mainers on Tuesday (March 27) from 9:30 am to noon on the 3rd floor of the capital building.  Be sure to bring a sign that says why you oppose this corporate welfare bill.  We'll also be back there on Wednesday and Thursday of next week as the legislature will be in session then as well.

One of our advisers today shared with us that the Democrats in the legislature are quite vulnerable now as they attack Gov. LePage for his decision to insert a bill that would conform (or match) Maine with Trump's federal tax bill that recently passed in Washington.  (Of course the Dems should oppose LePage's effort to copy Trump's give-a-way to the rich and corporations.)  But for the Dems in Maine to oppose LePage's 'conformity' tax bill and then turn around and support giving $45 million to General Dynamics is the height of hypocrisy.  So the Dems in Augusta have put themselves in a real moral, ethical and political bind.

The alternative we are told is for the Dems to try to hide (or merge) this bad corporate welfare bill for GD into another bill that is more favorable to their constituency base - like Medicaid expansion.  So keep your eyes and ears peeled for this kind of sausage making.

In the end we must step up the pressure on all the legislators.  Both Republicans and Democrats must continue to hear from Mainers.  Each of us must become organizers during these remaining days as this special legislative session nears its last couple of weeks.  Be sure to say that you oppose LD 1781 in any form.

Please do what you can to remain in solidarity with the 43,000 children living in poverty across our financially strapped state.

Thanking you in advance for your support to help save Mainers $45 million.


Stand up, speak up, fight for the children's future!

Video by Regis Tremblay

John Dear says, "Everyone of us is needed."

See his recent talk here in Maine by clicking here

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My first bite.....

Contact your Maine legislators here

Recorded by Regis Tremblay

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 37: Back to Augusta & ending hunger strike



We had sixteen of us this morning with signs inside the 'lobbyist staging area' on the 3rd floor of the capital between the House and Senate chambers.

Lots of kids were there from various schools across the state so they got a real lesson in 'democracy'.  One of the teachers made an interested young girl return our flyer to us - not allowed in her school we supposed.

Our group - very ordinary Mainers - seemed to change the vibe in the hallway and many of us remarked that we felt a discernible shift in the attitude of many of the legislators toward us.  Several stopped to tell us they are with us - including a kind Republican legislator who has told me this three times.

A state senator from the Brunswick area told one of his constituents in our group that he has received more contact on LD 1781 than any other issue since he has been in office.  So you are getting their attention - don't stop now!

My own state senator - one of the sponsors of the bill - approached and told me that "We need you all here."  I took it as a compliment of the campaign's effectiveness.

This afternoon from 4:00-5:00 pm the community radio station WERU in East Orland (almost three hours north of Bath) had several of us from the campaign on the air to discuss the GD corporate welfare bill.  Host Amy Browne did an excellent job of weaving Lawrence Reichard, Alex Nunes, Lisa Savage, Bob Klotz, Jessica Stewart and myself into the discussion.

We covered most of the key points but VFP member Peter Morgan wrote me after the show and said he was standing by to call in and wanted to say, "BIW has refused to [prove] a financial justification for their [request] for financial assistance."  But they took no calls today since there were so many of us on the show.

Last night I woke in the middle of the night feeling dizzy and way out of sorts.  MB got me some juice but I didn't sleep well after that.  My body was talking to me - quite loudly.

So today I consulted with one of my medical advisers (Bob Klotz) and determined that I would end my hunger strike on this 37th day.  Others will continue the solidarity fast under the steady coordination of Mary Kate Small.  Our friend Tom Ryan continues his fasting now into the 15th day or so and he will go until day 20.

We also got confirmation that our advert began today on WGAN radio in southern Maine.  It will run for a week - four times a day.  One of our friends actually heard it on the air.

We feel like we have done well but need a strong surge as we near the end of this campaign.  Our biggest need is to get more new folks to contact their state legislators about their opposition to LD 1781.  We are asking all of our supporters to find five new folks who have not yet called and have them contact their representatives in Augusta.  We offer this handy tool and thank David Swanson for putting this effective vehicle in our hands.  See it here

So I will reenter the eating world slowly and mindfully - experts say at least four days are needed to do this.

I will return to the 3rd floor corridor with my sign on Thursday at 9:30 am and then again next week on Tuesday and Thursday.

In the meantime I am giving my heart and soul to defeating this bad bill.


Photos by Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Alternative views on the Russia-gate side show

As Qatar faces pressure to suppress an Al Jazeera expose of the Israel lobby, Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah discuss how the climate of censorship and fear around Russiagate has empowered those long attacking Palestinian rights.

See more here

John Pilger is an Australian award winning journalist based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: His new film, “The Coming War on China,” is available in the U.S. from

Day 36: Media day and prep to return to Augusta

Margaret Flowers & Kevin Zeese (Popular Resistance) interview me about the Maine campaign to oppose corporate welfare.....

Our radio ad was recorded today by Regis Tremblay and will run on WGAN (popular political radio talk show station out of South Portland) from March 20-26.....thanks to Maine Veterans For Peace for helping to pay for it!

You can hear the advert (which will run 24 times) by clicking here

I, and others, will be heading back to the state capital in Augusta tomorrow (Tuesday) to stand with signs in the hallway between the House and Senate chambers from 9:30 am until noon.

We need to get more Mainers to send messages to their state legislators ASAP.  Please help us by reaching out to friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers and ask them to click on this link that sends a message directly to their state representative and senator - click here

We are coming down to the wire....let's finish strong.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 35: Let's build for the future

Sub-headline: Moving from solitary anger to collective strength

Let's build
sky scrapers to the sky?
rockets to Mars?
more warships?
how about
a sustainable future?
for the kids....

Let's build unity
amongst the people

people rage
because they feel
left behind

Let's build solidarity
caring for
one another
one another
setting political party
what comes first
collective needs
leave no one behind

Let's build
stronger hearts
deeper love
forgiving spirits

Let's learn
honest reflection
of self
and current events
sorting through

Let's try
another way
than we've been
to believe

My Sunday prayer....


Propaganda alert: Who named the Russian missile Satan?

Just to illustrate how the brainwashing works in the west - let's take a look at the so-called 'Satan 2'  Russian missile.

In an article from the UK web site called Metro, they report:

Russia is to test its newest and largest ever nuclear missile – capable of wiping out an area twice the size of Britain.

The weapon, called the Satan 2, is more than 3,000 times more powerful than the bomb that wiped out Hiroshima and is said to be virtually undetectable.

I've repeatedly seen mainstream media throughout the west call this missile Satan 2.  At first I assumed this is what Russia had named it - but I was skeptical and wanted to get to the bottom of this.  Obviously it is in the US-NATO's interest to have the public think 'those nasty Russians worship Satan and just want to kill us all so we'd better hit them first'.

The other day I was watching Putin's NBC interview and he addressed this.  He told Megyn Kelly that the Russians did not name the missile Satan 2, but 'your country did'.  The Russians named the missile RS-28 Sarmat.  (Sarmat is short for The Sarmatians who were a large Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD.)

A Florida media site got right to the fake news point suggesting that Putin had named the missile Satan:

According to Putin, the new intercontinental missile can fly at 20 times the speed of sound to anywhere in the world and can not be intercepted by "any antimissile system on Earth."
He's dubbed the new weapon "Satan 2" and said it gives Russia the advantage in case of a nuclear attack, allowing it to be the aggressor.

An NBC story about the Putin-Kelly interview acknowledges where the Satan name come from - but you have to get to the last paragraph of the long article to see it:

The missile is intended to replace the R-36 Voevoda, which NATO has dubbed "Satan," leading the United States to call the new version "Satan 2." Russian media said in 2016 that the RS-28 Sarmat would be able to carry a payload capable of wiping out a landmass "the size of Texas or France."

So this is how the demonization game goes.  Very deceptive.  And we are only able to figure out this kind of bullshit if we read/watch a wide variety of international media sources - including Russian.  If we are just reading American media then we are likely filling our heads with all kinds of corporate propaganda.

I heard years ago that you should always start every article with the first and the last paragraphs before reading the rest of the article.  Makes sense.


Sunday Song

Saturday, March 17, 2018

GD stock buybacks

General Dynamics bought back $14.4 billion of their own stocks from 2009-2017 driving up market value. They paid their CEO $21 million in 2016.

They don't need $45 million from Maine.

Day 34: Lenten vigil at BIW today


Photos by Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker)

Bob Klotz rode his bicycle to BIW again from South Portland against a heavy wind and extreme cold.  It took him about four hours.  That is commitment.