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, November 26, 2011



Lined up for jobs, food? No, lined up in the wee hours to be first in line to shop
The prize - one of the discounted mega-TV's - he didn't know we should be boycotting Samsung, the lead contractor of the Jeju Island Navy base. He might not have cared anyway, a deal is a deal

This morning there are stories of shootings, pepper spraying and pushing and shoving in stores across America. Back Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the biggest shopping day of the year - the start of the shopping marathon that ends (temporarily) on Christmas.

Yesterday we were visiting a friend in Framingham, MA. and we went out to see a movie. The streets were clogged with cars and you could see the shopping center parking lots were filled to the brim.

The mega-stories discount a few items in order to draw the masses into the web. Then once there the frenzy of greed and materialism begins. People push one another out of the way so they can get the "latest" toy or sound system.

It's a disease. Humans are being turned into automatons, they've become consumers who measure their self worth but which of the new gadgets they have. They are trying to keep up with the mythical Jones' next door but it is a never ending treadmill. The corporate public relations machine always keeps the cheese just out of reach.

This machine of consumption is destroying our planet as we have to go to endless war in order to extract the natural resources that are necessary to mass produce these products. But consumers don't care about that, they are immune to that reality, they are fixated on the product. Getting the new large flat-screen TV with the perfect picture trumps everything.

We are a sick society. Martin Luther King told us this years ago when he said: "We must rapidly begin to shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-centered' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

Wouldn't it be great if people line up to help one another or to stand in opposition to corporate control? Won't it be a great day when people in mass get out of bed real early to join a protest that called for a change in the way we treat the 99%?

In fact it is largely the poor and the working class who line up and storm into these stores on Black Friday. It appears they have been trained to believe that by possessing the latest junk they will somehow be able to emulate the lifestyles of the rich and famous. It is a shallow hole.

The saddest thing of all is that this materialism is directly connected to Christmas. The celebration of the birth of Christ has been turned into an evil, self-depreciating time of self loathing. Jesus, the poor wandering teacher of love and forgiveness, has had his birthday taken over by capitalism and turned into Black Friday. A sad commentary on life in the 21st century indeed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It was a great Ray Davies show last night in Boston. He played this classic from The Kinks "cult album" that was a smashing failure. But the crowd loved it. His second half of the show was with a choir that added an interesting and wonderful dimension to the concert.

Cousin Bob and I spent the afternoon touring some historic Boston sites and learned where the expression "Read the Riot Act" came from. More on that later. Parallels to Occupy movement are uncanny.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


  • Gangjeong village Mayor Kang (in orange shirt) was freed from prison today with the others from the village. Kang spent 92 days in jail. They appear to have received some fines and likely probation but considering the prosecutor was seeking 2 1/2 years in jail this is a victory. There can be no doubt that growing international solidarity played some role in their release. Thanks to all who sent emails.
  • I head south to Boston this morning in a snow storm. It's been snowing here all night. I go to the Ray Davies concert in Boston tonight and then stay in Boston for Thanksgiving dinner with MB's family.
  • Russia Today TV contacted me this morning and wants to do an interview about latest U.S.-Russia declining relationship. I will do the interview from a studio they have booked in Boston. Will post on the blog as soon as possible.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I have previously posted this book review I wrote in 2008 but since today is the date on which Kennedy was killed in 1963, I thought I'd repost it. The book is entitled JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters. Long-time peace activist James Douglass wrote the book and worked on it for 12 years.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. You should read it, you will be shocked and moved by this story, and you will want to tell others about it.

This book tells the story about why and how the military industrial complex (MIC) had JFK killed. This book is part history, part mystery story, and part moral lesson. James Douglass does a phenomenal job of researching and documenting the story. I’ve known Douglass for years. He was a founder of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Bangor, Washington and is a highly respected writer and Christian activist. Orbis Press, a Maryknoll enterprise, published the book. I first heard about this book when Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton mentioned it in his speech in Omaha last April during our annual Global Network space conference.

JFK admittedly ran for president as a cold warrior. Most people know that. What they don’t know about JFK is how shaken he was by the whole Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We had narrowly averted war with the Soviet Union and the Pentagon was not happy about that fact. Kennedy understood afterwards that the CIA-Pentagon-MIC plan was global domination and it would likely lead to a nuclear war. Kennedy had experienced enough death (his own family history) and war (his participation in WW II) and wanted to find another way.

Early in the story Douglass points out that, “What Eisenhower in the final hours of his presidency revealed as the greatest threat to our democracy Kennedy in the midst of his presidency chose to resist. The military-industrial complex was totally dependent on a ‘Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”

Following the Cuban missile crisis JFK set out to do three things. First he began negotiations with the Soviet Union on a nuclear test ban treaty. Douglass reports that “The Joint Chiefs and CIA were adamantly opposed to Kennedy’s turn toward peace.”

Kennedy and Soviet leader Khrushchev (who carried on a secret pen pall relationship for some time) eventually signed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. They wanted to go much farther but there was a push back. The August 5, 1963, U.S. News & World Report carried a major article headlined, “Is the U.S. Giving up in the Arms Race?” The article cited “many authorities in the military establishment, who are now silenced,” as thinking that the Kennedy administration’s “new strategy adds up to a type of intentional and one-sided disarmament.”

At the time JFK confided “One of the ironic things about this entire situation is that Mr. Khrushchev and I occupy approximately the same political positions inside our governments. He would like to prevent a nuclear war but is under severe pressure from his hard-line crowd, which interprets every move in that direction as appeasement. I’ve got similar problems.”

Testifying against the test ban treaty US Navy Admiral Lewis Strauss said, “I am not sure that the reduction of tensions is necessarily a good thing.”

Another of JFK’s sins was to begin to open up back-door communications with Fidel Castro in Cuba. By doing this JFK wanted to reduce the chance of another severe miscalculation like that which happened during the missile crisis. After JFK’s death, Lyndon Johnson put on permanent hold any dialogue between the White House and Cuba. No president since has dared to restart serious talks with Cuba.

Kennedy’s third mistake, as seen by the MIC, was Vietnam. JFK was tortured by the early deaths of American GI’s in Vietnam. He began looking for a way out. On October 11, 1963 he signed his presidential order for an initial withdrawal of 1,000 US troops from Vietnam by the end of the year, anticipating a complete troop withdrawal by the end of 1965.

Douglass eloquently says about those troubled times, “What is unrecognized about JFK’s presidency, which then makes his assassination a false mystery, is that he was locked in a struggle with his national security state. That state had higher values than obedience to the orders of a president who wanted peace. The defeat of Communism was number one.”

Today one could substitute the word terrorism for communism and the story would remain much the same.

JFK’s Congo policy was also being subverted by the CIA, which had been arming the Congo’s secessionist regime in Katanga in order to promote Belgian mining interests.

The US coup d’etat was about corporate control. A shadow government was taking over. As evidence to that fact Douglass unearthed the words of Washington Daily News reporter Richard Starnes alarming article on the CIA’s “unrestrained thirst for power” in Vietnam. Starnes had cited a “very high American official” in Saigon who “likened the CIA’s growth to a malignancy, and added he was not sure even the White House could control it any longer.”

Douglass reports, “The consequence in the early 1960’s, when Kennedy became president, was that the CIA had placed a secret team of its own employees through the entire US government. It was accountable to no one except the CIA.”

Douglass shares the mystery part of the book by thoroughly documenting the conspiracy to convince the public that Lee Harvey Oswald was the “lone gunman” who killed Kennedy. In fact “Oswald was a CIA asset” first trained by the agency at Atsugi Naval Air Station near Tokyo, a plush super secret cover base for special operations.

Douglass takes the reader through the entire operation to kill Kennedy and then the brutal cover-up that followed. This is the part of the book that read like a compelling mystery story, keeping one riveted to each page. This section hit me hardest – as I found a link between me and my peace work and the assassination of JFK.

I was 11 years old when JFK was killed. I was living with my family at Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City, South Dakota at the time. I was in the school lunchroom when we were informed that “our president” had been shot. I was devastated at the time. In a way my youthful innocence died right along with Kennedy that day.

In his book Douglass outlines how the CIA moved Oswald around the country in order to set up a storyline that made the case for him being JFK’s killer. Oswald had CIA handlers in New Orleans where they had him become publicly identified with a “pro-Cuba” group in order to eventually set the notion in people’s minds that Castro wanted Kennedy dead. Later Oswald was moved to Dallas where a Quaker woman by the name of Ruth Hyde Paine became his host. When I read this I nearly fell out of my chair.

I knew Ruth Hyde Paine, or at least I thought I did.

While living in Orlando, Florida in 1983 I became the first staff person for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice. The organization was actually created in 1982 as a loosely organized network of peace groups in the state and the initiating organization was the St. Petersburg, Florida office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which was based in the Quaker Meeting House. Ruth Hyde Paine was a leader of the St. Pete Friends Meeting and I had occasion to sit in peace meetings with her over the years. What could she have had to do with the assassination of JFK?

Douglass reports that the controversial Warren Commission’s star witness against Lee Harvey Oswald was Ruth Hyde Paine. Ruth Paine took Oswald’s wife into her home when they moved to Dallas. It was Ruth Paine who arranged for Oswald’s job at the Texas School Book Depository in October 1963. It was Paine’s car that was used as a get-a-way car after the deadly shots were fired. Was Ruth Hyde Paine just an innocent victim here?

Come to find out Ruth Paine’s husband Michael worked at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas. His stepfather was the inventor of the Bell Helicopter and the corporation made enormous profit selling the weapon system to the Pentagon for use during the Vietnam War. Michael’s mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young, was closely connected to Allen Dulles who hated Kennedy. Dulles was appointed by Lyndon Johnson to serve on the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination. (JFK had asked CIA Director Allen Dulles to resign after the Bay of Pigs disaster. Kennedy then tried to cut the CIA budget by 20% and had threatened to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”)

Ruth Hyde Paine was the daughter of William Avery Hyde who worked for the Agency for International Development - a known CIA front-organization. Right after Kennedy’s death William Hyde received a three-year government contract with AID in Latin America to promote the US insurance industry. Ruth’s younger sister also worked for the CIA.

Assassins in Dallas, Texas killed JFK on November 22, 1963. At the very moment Fidel Castro was having lunch with JFK’s secret emissary, Jean Daniel, in Varadero Beach, Cuba. Douglass reports that when they received news of Kennedy’s death Castro said, “Everything is changed. Everything is going to change.”

Just months before JFK had delivered the commencement speech at American University in Washington DC. The speech was hardly reported in the U.S. In it Kennedy said, “Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament – and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitudes – as individuals and as a Nation – for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward – by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.”

Douglass concludes that JFK had a conversion. He had turned away from the Cold War. The MIC came to the conclusion that Kennedy had betrayed the goals of empire. He had become a traitor. He had to be killed.

Rejecting the goal of a “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war,” Kennedy asked the nation in his American University speech to reexamine our attitudes toward war, especially in relation to the people of the Soviet Union, who suffered incomparable losses in World War II. Now nuclear war would be far worse: “All we built, all we worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours.” Douglass reminds us that then Kennedy called for “general and complete disarmament.”

His fate was sealed.

Near the end of the book Douglass reports that former President Harry Truman had an article published in the Washington Post on December 22, 1963, one month to the day after JFK was killed. Truman wrote:

“I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency - CIA…..

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

“We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”

Douglass writes that Truman’s warning was met with total silence. The coup d’etat had happened. There was no turning back for those now running the nation. Eisenhower’s, and now Truman’s warning to the American people seemed to fall on deaf ears.

It is my belief that since the JFK assassination the secret government, the CIA and the MIC, have been running the show. They have not allowed anyone to become president, from either party, that was not under their control.

This remarkable and moving book raises serious questions about the time we live in today. How do people of good will who truly seek peace operate when we live under a government that is run by the MIC? How can we support candidates for Congress or the president who are under the control of the oligarchy?

To me these are the real questions that must be debated and be answered if we are to re-establish the idea of democracy in America. As long as we delay having this discussion we will remain like a small boat drifting aimlessly at sea.


A powerful account of what happened last Friday (18th November 2011) by one of the victims who was pepper sprayed by the UC Davis police force. Check out the size of the rally.


"Stools of stumps made good seats for the Pilgrim population. The Indians sat on the ground, gnawing on dear bones, tearing fowl apart, and lapping up the very ancient and rancid butter with grunts of appreciation. It is a pretty picture to think of."
- from Old Glory, by Samuel Eliot Morison

A harvest feast did take place in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, probably in mid-October and the Indians who attended were not even invited. It later became known as "Thanksgiving" but the Pilgrims never called it that. The pilgrim crop had failed miserably that year, but the agricultural expertise of the Pilgrims’ Indian friend Squanto had produced 20 acres of corn without which the Pilgrims would have surely perished. The Pilgrims invited Massasoit, and it was he who then invited 90 or more of his Indian brothers and sisters to the affair to the chagrin of the indignant Europeans. No turkey, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie was served, no prayers were offered and the Indians were not invited back.

The Pilgrims did, however, consume a good deal of home brew. In fact, each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of ale a day which they preferred even to water.

Contrary to popular mythology, the Pilgrims were no friends to the majority of local Indians. Just days before this alleged Thanksgiving communion, a company of Pilgrims led by Myles Standish actively sought the head of a local chief.

They deliberately caused a rivalry between two friendly Indians, putting one against the other in an attempt to obtain "better intelligence and make them both more diligent." An 11-foot-high wall was erected around the entire settlement for the purpose of keeping the Indians out.

Standish eventually got his bloody prize. He beheaded an Indian brave named Wituwamat and brought the head to Plymouth where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years. Just a few years later, in about 1636, a force of colonists trapped some 700 Pequot Indian men, women, and children near the mouth of the Mystic River. English Captain John Mason attacked the Indian camp with "fire, sword, blunderbuss, and tomahawk." Only a handful escaped and few prisoners were taken, to the great delight of the Pilgrims:

To see them frying in the fire, and the streams of their blood quenching the same, and the stench was horrible; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave praise thereof to God. This event marked what was most likely the first actual Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims were pleased with the result. Any goodwill that may have existed was certainly now gone and by 1675 Massachusetts and the surrounding colonies were in a full-scale war with the great Indian chief of the Wampanoags, Metacomet.

Renamed "King Philip" by the White man, Metacomet watched the steady erosion of the lifestyle and culture of his people as European laws and values engulfed them. Forced into humiliating submission by the power of a distant king, Metacomet struck out in 1675 with raids on several isolated frontier towns. The expedient use of the so-called "Praying Indians," natives converted by the colonists to "Christianity," ultimately defeated the great Indian nation, just half a century after the arrival of the European historian Douglas Edward Leach describes the bitter end:

The ruthless executions, the cruel sentences ... were all aimed at the same goal—unchallenging white supremacy in southern New England. That the program succeeded is convincingly demonstrated by the almost complete docility of the local native ever since.

When Captain Benjamin Church tracked down and assassinated Metacomet, his body was quartered and parts were "left for the wolves." The great Indian chief’s hands were cut off and sent to Boston and his head went to Plymouth where it was set upon a pole on Thanksgiving Day, 1676. Metacomet’s nine-year-old son was destined for execution, the Puritan reasoning being that the offspring of the devil must pay for the sins of their father. He was instead shipped to the Caribbean to serve his life in slavery. In the midst of the Holocaust of the Red Man, Governor Dudley declared in 1704 a "General Thanksgiving" not to celebrate the brotherhood of man but for:

[God’s] infinite Goodness to extend His Favors ... In defeating and disappointing ... the Expeditions of the Enemy [Indians] against us, And the good Success given us against them, by delivering so many of them into our hands... Just two years later one could reap a $50 reward in Massachusetts for the scalp of an Indian.

The model of the Indian reservation system in North America had its origin in Massachusetts. A series of legislative acts "for the better regulation of the Indians" established Indian settlements throughout the state. A White overseer was appointed and white Christianity was imposed. Historian George F. Weston wrote that demand was great for rope maker John Harrison, what with "the need for rigging for all the ships and a new rope every time an Indian was hanged." Bon Appetite!

- Dr. Tingba Apidta is author of The Hidden History of Massachusetts: A Guide for Black Folks and also The Hidden History of Washington, DC


Gangjeong village Mayor Kang (directly behind me in dark jacket) when I visited Jeju Island the first time

Report from Jeju Island on pending court sentencing:

The latest news is that the Jeju district public prosecutor´s office demanded a penalty of two years and six months imprisonment for Kang Dong-Kyun (54), Gangjeong village mayor who has been arrested and imprisoned for his protest against the Navy’s base construction, under the charge of obstruction of business. The prosecutor made this request in his written letter submitted to the court judge on Nov. 22, 2011.

The court decision on the 12 defendants including the three of mayor Kang Dong-Kyun, villager Kim Jong-Hwan (54) and activist, Kim Dong-Won (25) who have been imprisoned since Aug. 24 will be at 1:30pm, Nov. 23.

It is told that the prosecutor has also demanded the penalty for defendants Dr. Song Kang-Ho, (religious resistance leader) and Mr. Go Gwon-Il, (chairman of the villagers’ committee to stop the naval base), of two year imprisonment; six defendants Mr. Jung Kyung-Bo (villager), Rev. Jeon Jin-Taek, Mr. Kim Bong-Hyun (activist), Mr. Chae Jong-Dae (villager), Mr. Kim Hyuk-Nam (Democratic labor party) and Mr. Lee Jong-Hwa (activist) of one year and six months imprisonment; and Mr. Kim Young-Sam (chairman of the village young people’s association) of six months.

Otherwise, mayor Kang Dong-Kyun has claimed he is ‘not guilty.’ He said in his final statement, “If there is any crime of the Gangjeong villagers, it is a crime of their aspiration to inherit their beautiful 400 year history’s hometown to their descendants. What else? To protest against the illegal naval base construction should not be the crime.” Mayor Kang had been in one year and six month probation since August, 2010.

Monday, November 21, 2011


  • Much is being made about the Congressional Super Committee not being able to come to an agreement on their job of relieving the entire Congress of making tough fiscal decisions. According to the Super Committee’s Democratic co-chair, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), Bush tax cuts were “the one sticking divide.” Murray, often called Boeing's senator, didn't say attacks on Social Security, Medicare, or whether or not to cut Pentagon spending was an issue. Largely both parties agree that the Pentagon will only get minor cuts over a 10 year period and that Social Security and Medicare will in fact be taken down a couple of notches. It is just the issue of tax cuts that remain in conflict. Could it be the tax cut issue is being used to distract the public, and mainstream media, from the bigger stories like Social Security cuts and Pentagon escapism?
  • There is a growing campaign to force UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to resign after she unleashed pepper spraying police on non-violent students who were sitting down during an Occupy protest on campus. I signed a petition today calling for her resignation. She is supposed to make a public statement today. Imagine how furious students, parents, and faculty at UC-Davis are. See this excellent article on the subject here
  • The word is that the many letters of support for the villagers in Gangjeong have, at least for the present moment, stopped the explosion of the rocky coast by the Navy and the construction contractors (including Samsung) who are building the Navy base. It appears that Jeju Island Gov. Woo felt the heat and stopped the planned Nov 18 blasting. We hope this holds but at least the people got a small victory for now and the governor got a feel of the growing international solidarity movement's outrage. Next up will be the Nov 23 sentencing of Gangjeong village Mayor Kang and two other villagers who were unfairly arrested and tried for their non-violent actions against base construction. See more here
  • After Mary Beth picked me up at the bus station in Portland yesterday we stopped by Occupy Portland to visit with a couple of friends who have been with the encampment for some time. They are feeling a bit overwhelmed as the numbers of homeless and people with mental conditions have been growing dramatically in proportion to the activists who are at the camp. This past week there were a couple of incidents where some homeless got into a scuffle and were arrested at the camp and of course the media and the city have used this to justify demands that the camp be shut down. A meeting between Portland city officials and Portland Occupy is happening this afternoon and it will be interesting to see what comes out of it. The truth is that the homeless are obviously very much a part of the 99% but it is exceedingly unfair for people to think that the Occupy movement should have to be adept at feeding, housing, and offering professional mental health counseling to the very population that society has cast aside. This is an issue that is playing out at every Occupy in the nation - some are dealing with it better than others - but will remain a challenge into the future.


Protests against the Koodankulam nuclear plant continues. Fishermen of the region today held an unique protest. They sailed out to the nearby sea in over 1,000 boats, waving black flags and demanding closure of the plant. The protest coincides with World Fisheries Day being observed on 21st November 2011.

Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power station currently under construction in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

As the stir against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) spread to the seas on Monday, police swiftly slapped sedition charges against protestors saying that they moved too close to the plant.

The police registered cases against 3,015 persons, under various sections, including 121 (waging war against country) and 124-A (sedition).


While the United States, Britain and Canada are planning to announce a coordinated set of sanctions against Iran’s oil and petrochemical industry today, longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh questions the growing consensus on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. International pressure has been mounting on Iran since the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency revealed in a report the "possible military dimensions" to Iran’s nuclear activities, citing “credible” evidence that “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” In his latest article for The New Yorker blog, titled "Iran and the IAEA,” Hersh argues the recent report is a “political document,” not a scientific study. "They [JSOC] found nothing. Nothing. No evidence of any weaponization,” Hersh says. “In other words, no evidence of a facility to build the bomb. They have facilities to enrich, but not separate facilities to build a bomb. This is simply a fact."

Sunday, November 20, 2011



In the video, University of California-Davis students, silent, with linked arms, confront Chancellor Linda Katehi just one day after the pepper spraying incident. It's hard to tell exactly how many of them are present, but there they are, a huge crowd. They're seated in the same cross-legged-on-the-ground position their fellow students used yesterday just before Lt. John Pike pulled out a can of pepper spray and pulled the trigger.

Note that Katehi remains silent during what looks like her perp walk. She does not acknowledge the presence of the students.

These remarkable students are giving the entire Occupy movement a lesson in real non-violent protest. They are the shining stars of the movement.


Cops on a pepper spray rampage at University of California-Davis

  • I am on the bus from Boston to Portland having just returned early this morning from Toronto, Canada. My talk yesterday in Toronto was sponsored by a group called Science for Peace and I enjoyed my stay at the home of Judy and Jim Deutsch who were wonderful hosts. Yesterday Judy and I walked the 45 minutes from their house to the University of Toronto and it was a nice treat to get some good exercise on a cool and crisp day. I've only been to Toronto once before and never got much of a chance to see the city so the walk gave me that opportunity. It is quite an international city and the many local shops owned by immigrants were exciting to see.
  • The talk program was an interesting challenge since I am not an expert on climate change. There were three speakers: Bob Lovelace, a First Nations representative, addressed the re-indigenizing of the commons; Danny Harvey, a professor from the University of Toronto spoke about what we can do to deal with climate change; and I was asked to talk about the links between militarism and climate change. It was fun to see how each of us came at the climate change topic from such different directions. I felt a real affinity with the words of the two other speakers and I think we each learned alot from the other. The audience discussion after the talks was also quite good.
  • After this event Judy and Jim took me to the annual dinner of the long-time anti-nuclear weapons group called Pugwash (named after the small town on the north shore of Nova Scotia where it was formed). The dinner was held in the Officers Dining Hall at the Canadian Forces College, not a usual venue for a dinner celebrating the work to eliminate nukes from the world's military arsenals. The president of the group, Walter Dorn, heads up the Dept. of Security & Int'l Affairs at the staff college and he hosted the dinner. Interestingly, Dorn came to the founding meeting of the Global Network 20 years ago when we met in Washington DC but we never saw him again. He was welcoming people as we walked through the door last night as was a bit startled to see me. I think the fact that I remembered him startled him even more.
  • The dinner speaker at the Pugwash event was the famous Canadian activist, and former senator, Doug Roche who gave a very upbeat and traditionalist speech about getting rid of nuclear weapons. I was surprised that he never mentioned the growing problem of missile defense (offense) as these deployments by the U.S. are going to surely put a screeching halt to any more real nuclear disarmament agreements. Russia and China are unlikely to sign major deals to reduce their nukes while the U.S. is surrounding them with these systems. Already Russia is threatening to pull out of the recent START treaty with Obama if he continues his frenetic pace of MD deployments.
  • Following the dinner Judy and Jim took me for a quick visit of Occupy Toronto. It was quite large and they had several yurts on the grounds next to a large church. Inside one yurt, being used as the library, we talked to a few young people about the links between corporate globalization and an ever expanding global militarization. Then today in Boston, while waiting for the bus at South Station, I crossed the street and walked through the Occupy Boston encampment which again was quite large. Occupy is everywhere.
  • After two weekends in a row of serious traveling I am ready to go home and rake leaves. Next Wednesday I meet my cousin Bob Gagnon in Boston to attend a Ray Davies (singer/songwriter from The Kinks) concert. Bob and I both like The Kinks, and the Baltimore Orioles, and should have a great time together.