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, November 30, 2013


Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers: Walking the Talk from Omega Institute on Vimeo.

The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, including women from the Arctic Circle; North, South, and Central America; Africa; and Asia, represents a global alliance of prayer, education, and healing. They are women of prayer and women of action who regularly travel the globe to bear witness to the wounds of people and of the earth.


With former Florida Senator Bob Graham.....

This story holds great interest for me.  One is because I lived in Florida for 30 years, much of it during the time Bob Graham was Governor and US Senator for that state.  He was a middle-to-left kind of guy, no raving radical.  But generally he was a decent man.  Of course like most politicians in the US he supported much of what the military industrial complex wanted in the way of money and wars.

Secondly this whole Saudi story is very relevant for my work today in Bath, Maine as recent reports indicate that Bath Iron Works is at the top of the list to build up to $20 billion worth of destroyers for Saudi Arabia. 

Any warships that Saudi Arabia buys would surely be fully integrated into the Pentagon space directed war fighting system - "interoperability" they call it.  Look at a map and see where Saudi Arabia sits - right smack dab in the middle between Iran and the African continent.  Both are current areas of major engagement by the US military.

So yes indeed this Saudi story gets more interesting every day.



  • Today was the first Saturday vigil at Bath Iron Works during the Advent season.  The vigils will continue each Saturday for the next three weeks.  These protests are organized by the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm from Hope, Maine.  The seasonal vigils been held at BIW for many years.
The Navy has continued to accept delivery of ships containing hundreds and in some cases thousands of deficiencies despite recent efforts to improve quality control, and is not adequately pressuring contractors to minimize the number of flaws.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO-14-122) said the Navy should adapt more commercial practices that require the ship builder to assume greater risk for deficiencies and shoulder the cost of correcting them.  The GAO said the commercial side does a better job of detecting flaws and ensuring they are corrected while the ship is being built rather than at the time of or after delivery.

The report highlighted commercial standards to apply firm fixed priced contracts to their builders, believing that "the risks to the quality belong with the shipbuilders."  That's in contrast to the Navy's practice of cost-reimbursement and fixed priced incentive contracts that leave less risk on the shipbuilder, the GAO said.  The GAO said the Navy should at least tie incentives to quality control.
  • So the bottom line is that the Navy shipbuilders (Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics, which owns BIW, are the main contractors for Navy ships) are making lots of costly errors and then get paid additional taxpayer $$$ to fix the mistakes.  In the commercial shipbuilding world it's the opposite.  Shipbuilding companies are expected to fix their mistakes at their own expense which incentivizes them to get it right the first time.  This is just one more example of what happens when you make military production a profit making enterprise.

Friday, November 29, 2013


There is now "Grey Thursday" (Thanksgiving day), Black Friday (the day after) and Cyber Monday (to do online shopping).

Our calendar is being re-written.  Even the words we use to describe our week are being colonized by corporate capitalism.

The reports are coming in fast and furious about the insanity of the last 24 hours as the big box stores are flooded with people trying to save a couple of bucks on some junk.  Fights, shootings, stabbings - the usual stuff while shopping you know. Wal-Mart has earned a new nickname: “Brawlmart.”

Let's see if we can help capitalism in their goal to completely monetize our language and our minds.  Here are a few helpful suggestions:

Tuesday - Think of what you need next day

Wednesday - Make a list of more needed junk day

Saturday - No day off from shopping day

Sunday - Finish converting the churches to second hand stores day

The words "shop til you drop" are literally taking on new meaning in America.

Here's a new slogan for the patriotic people in our land:  "America - go shopping or leave it."

Protests planned by current and former Wal-Mart workers were held today at an estimated 1,500 Walmart stores across the US. Over 110 were arrested while engaging in civil disobedience protesting the poor wages workers are paid by the mega-corporation. The National Labor Relations Board announced last week that it plans to pursue charges against Wal-Mart for threatening and punishing workers who planned to go on strike last year.


Saudi Arabia wants to buy $20 billion worth of war ships from the US and Bath Iron Works in Maine is at the top of the list to build some or all of them.

Are we getting so desperate in the US that we now build ships for totalitarian monarchies whose idea of justice is to chop off heads and hands of the accused?  Can you see the firestorm of protest and controversy that will ensue if this deal goes through?

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

Words Before All Else
Greetings to the Natural World

We are gathered together in this place to greet the world in Thanksgiving.  We bring our Minds together to extend thanksgiving and greetings to one another.

With our Minds as one we offer thanksgiving to the Earth Mother who from the beginning of time has cared for our wellbeing.

We direct our Minds to the Waters, the source of all that lives upon Earth Mother. With one Mind, we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Waters.

We address all the Beings both seen and unseen that dwell in the Water. They continue to follow their original instructions from Great Spirit to provide for us. With one Mind we send the Beings that dwell in the Waters our greetings and thanksgiving.

We send our Thanksgiving to the Trees. Trees offer us peace and strength, provide for our needs of shelter, fuel, and maintain the atmosphere. With one Mind, we thank the Tree Nation.

We offer our gratitude to the Plant Nation, who provide food for all forms of life. With our Minds as one, we thank the Plant Nation.

We direct our Minds to the Medicine Plants and the Medicine Keepers who continue to follow their instructions to take away illness, and who are always willing to help us heal.  We extend greetings and thanksgiving to the Medicine Plants and the Medicine Keepers.

We offer Thanksgiving to our relations in the Insect Nation.  They too have not forgotten their original instructions to fulfill their obligation to Continued Creation. With one Mind we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Insect Nation.

We send our gratitude to the Animal Nation.  Each member of this Nation has received a piece of the wisdom of basic survival to share with humanity.  With one Mind we extend greetings and thanksgiving to the Animal Nation.

Now we direct our Minds to the Bird Nation.  Great Spirit gave the Birds a special duty to perform, to make sacred all the places of the Earth with their song and flight. We send our joyful greetings and thanksgiving to the Bird Nation.

We are thankful to the Four Winds for following their original instructions to cleanse the air with their breath.  With one Mind we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Four Winds.

We direct our attention to the Thunder Beings, our Grandfathers. With thundering voices and lightning they control the forces that would prevent life from continuing.  With one Mind we send our greetings and thanksgiving to the Thunder Beings.

We send our greetings to the Sun, the energy source of all life.  We are grateful for the renewal of life each day. With one Mind, we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Sun.

We are thankful for our oldest Grandmother, the Moon. She binds rhythms of the Waters and the female cycles. By her changing face we measure time. With one Mind, we send greetings and thanksgiving to Grandmother Moon.

We are grateful to the Stars. In the darkness they guide us home and hold the secrets of forgotten stories. With our Minds as one, we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Star Nation.

We direct our gratitude to the Enlightened Masters for helping us to remember our original instructions from Great Spirit. With one Mind, we send greetings and thanksgiving to the Enlightened Beings.

We invoke the Four Spirit Beings who dwell in the Four Directions. They were sent by Great Spirit to instruct us, guide us and protect us on our path.  With our Minds as one we send our special Gratitude to the Four Spirit Beings.

We have arrived at the dwelling place of Great Spirit, the womb of life and love.  Great Spirit provides for all our needs and asks only that we always remember to live in gratitude for the gifts of Creation.  With one Mind we send our love and thanksgiving to Great Spirit.

We send Thanksgiving Greetings to the ancestors and to the future generations, to the honored elders and the children and to all of the Nations of the World.  It is now time to end words.  We have become one being.

And now our Mind is one.
This “Basic Call to Consciousness” was born through the Peacemaker Tradition of the Haudenosaunee People.  Traditional meetings of the Iroquois Confederacy begin and end with this Thanksgiving Address. It forms the guiding principle of culture.  This prayer originates from an ancient time in the evolution of Earth, has been held and was spoken during the establishment of the Great Law of Peace, the Iroquois Constitution, 1000 years before European settlers arrived on American soil.  The Constitution of the newly forming United States of America was modeled after the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy. 

The Thanksgiving Address directs our thoughts.  Our actions arise from our thoughts to become part of the process of nature.  The Thanksgiving Address humbles us before the wonder of natural world and awakens a universal consciousness.  An unbroken memory of the cultural ethic for peace and balance has been faithfully preserved and transmitted by the Elders through this prayer as guidance for the Seventh Generation.

May this Thanksgiving Address be honored and preserved—intact and as written.  It is a gift from the Ancestors passed forward to the Seventh Generation to serve human potentials for the re-creation of a peaceful, prosperous and happy world.  May the Circle be un-broken.


The US likes to pick fights.  That is what bullies do.  In early 2001 George W. Bush sent a lumbering propeller driven US Air Force spy plane bumping up along China's coastline.  China scrambled two jets and brought the US plane down onto Hainan Island.  The Chinese held the crew for a while and then sent them home.  China took the spy plane apart and kept the interesting technology.  Eventually they packed the plane parts into crates and shipped it back to the US.  Sometime later Lockheed Martin (who built the US spy plane) built a military reconnaissance system for China on Hainan Island so they could keep a better eye on their coastline.  Talk about making money off both sides of the street.

Bush sent the easy to be intercepted spy plane along the China coast for several reasons.  He wanted to test their ability to intercept such flights but he also wanted to create an international incident that would help him further demonize China back home.  It was all about showing how "aggressive" China has become.

Now Obama is getting into the act as well.  The Washington Post reports:

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it had defied Beijing by flying two warplanes over the East China Sea on a training exercise, ignoring a recent edict from China that it be informed in advance of any such flights in the region.

U.S. military officials said they deployed two unarmed B-52 bombers late Monday over a small island chain that China and Japan both claim as their territory. Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a military spokesman, described the flights as “uneventful” and said they were part of a previously scheduled training mission. He said there was “no contact, no reaction from China.”

Imagine just for a moment if China, or any other country, began moving 60% of their military forces within shooting range of the US Atlantic and Pacific coasts.  Imagine if that same country was establishing military bases in Mexico or Canada.  The US government would be freaking out.  Then further imagine that same country flying spy planes and bombers up along our coast.  The Pentagon would be screaming "provocation" like a junkyard dog.  But when the US does it we are just defending "freedom of movement in international airspace or waterways".  No need to worry at all.

The B-52 bombers took off from Andersen AFB in Guam. That island (called the 'tip of the spear' by the Pentagon) is under assault as the US pushes to take more and more of their land for military operations.  

I understand that creating these incidents builds fear at home and fear is what keeps military spending high and big profits rolling into the coffers of the military industrial complex.  But these kind of dangerous and destabilizing tactics by an out-of-control US military machine is what starts wars that bleed the people back home literally and figuratively.

Where are the voices of sanity in the Congress who should be slapping Obama's hand and saying NO?  Those so-called progressive elected officials appear to be stuffed so deeply into the pockets of the weapons industry their voices are muted and/or silenced.  It then is left to us - the great unwashed back in the hustings.  It's our job to tell the boys in Washington to stop playing their deadly games of Russian roulette.  Put the loaded gun down and go outside and play in the sand box.  It's time for some adult supervision of this crazy bunch running the war machine.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Before sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner with his family, President Barack Obama shared the table with some very rich donors in Beverly Hills, Calif. During his West Coast trip, Obama has also been met by some vocal protesters, who are demanding a stop to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade agreement is being negotiated between 12 countries. Critics say the TPP will reduce labor protections, lift environmental regulations and restrict the Internet.



Conservatives following President Park’s orders

This cartoon depicts South Korean President Park Geun-hye as a military leader similar to her father, former President Park Chung-hee, directing conservative forces to attack Catholic Priest Park Chang-shin for his recent comments on North Korea’s 2010 shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. Father Park’s comments have provoked a strong reaction and allowed the president to distract from the ongoing scandal related to state institutions’ interference in last December’s presidential election. 

Because of the ruling right-wing government's intrusion in the last election Father Park and many other Catholics have called on President Park, daughter of former authoritarian leader and US puppet, to resign from office.  In addition Father Park has accused the present government of trying to provoke war with North Korea.  In South Korea it is virtually illegal to criticize government policies and those that do face being called an agent of North Korea.  This is one very effective way the right-wing keeps all criticism at bay.  But increasing we are witnessing the major growth of the South Korean opposition movements and the resulting crackdown by the corporate controlled government.

The Hankyoreh reports: Father Park was a leading priest in South Korea‘s democratization movement among farmers and citizens in the North Jeolla Province area in the 1970s and 80s. Park was ordained in 1973 and retired last year after 39 years of service.

Shortly after the Gwangju massacre (that killed hundreds) in June 1980, Park was a priest at Yeosan Cathedral in North Jeolla Province. In a sermon he talked about the truth of the Gwangju Democratization Movement and was later attacked by five assailants late at night at his residence. He was beaten and stabbed with metal pipes and walks with a limp to this day with the help of a cane.


  • I heard today from Jun-san Yasuda.  She was the Buddhist nun who brought the large Japanese delegation on our recent drone peace walk in Maine.  One Japanese student who walked with us, Maho with the great voice, is leaving for home tonight after having spent the time since the walk caring for Jun-san.  Jun-san had to drop out of the walk after the first couple days when she was diagnosed with lime disease. Jun-san last night showed Maho the new documentary The Ghosts of Jeju.  Already being translated into Korean, we learn that Maho was so moved by the Gangjeong village story that she wants to translate the film into Japanese.  That is how the magic of the walk keeps working.  Filmmaker Regis Tremblay was excited to hear about the Japanese translation.  Jun-san told me she wants to visit Jeju Island soon and is looking for a travel partner.  If anyone is interested in going with her you can let me know and I can put you both in touch.

This outrageous article promoting and justifying US military expansion into the Asia-Pacific appeared in the USA Today on Monday:

The Pentagon is fortifying bases in the Pacific and looking to revive World War II-era air bases as part of an effort to survive a Chinese missile attack that could wipe out critical installations on Okinawa and elsewhere, military records, interviews and congressional testimony show.

The strategy indicates the evolution of the administration's shift toward Asia, which includes the creation of a growing base in northern Australia. Chinese missiles have been a preoccupation of Pentagon planners who worry they could be used as a threat to deny access to the region by U.S. ships, planes and troops.
Chinese ballistic missiles — termed anti-access, area denial weapons — mean that virtually every U.S. base in the Pacific is under "heavy threat," said Michael Lostumbo, director of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Study. A RAND report found that 90% of the bases were within 1,080 nautical miles of China, the distance it defined as being under heavy threat.
This mainstream media story is part of the "pivot" public relations roll-out that is now underway.  In February a series of congressional hearings are to begin and their primary goal is to further the public fear about the coming "China attack".  Military industrial complex on-going profitability depends on keeping the big China fear alive and growing.  With coming economic collapse here in the US the weapons lobby is working hard to keep their strangle hold on the discretionary federal budget.  Keep your eyes open for more of this and learn to read between the lines.
The environmental implications of this US/NATO Asia-Pacific pivot are real and drastic. (The Pentagon calls it "rebalancing" these days, likely to mean that we are "evening up" our capability against China, but like the last cold war the US exaggerates the "enemy" capability in order to justify its own overwhelming superiority) 

In Hawaii there is some evidence that should give us pause as we see the expansion of US military efforts to occupy, or re-occupy, various Pacific island communities. A Honolulu media source reports:

From World War II until 1990, the Navy used the 45 square-mile island off of Maui for target practice, raining down thousands of bombs, grenades, projectiles and other explosives — one of which, a 500-pound bomb, missed Kahoolawe and hit Maui. The military contractor has since cleared close to 30,000 munitions from the uninhabited island, according to a Navy report. But that work ended in 2004 and the island remains hazardous.

In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower transferred the title for Kahoolawe to the U.S. Navy with a stipulation that it be returned to Hawaii in a condition for “suitable habitation.”

The Navy’s occupation of the island was controversial, sparking decades-long protests by Native Hawaiians. Well-known activist George Helm and his cousin Kimo Mitchell disappeared in rough seas during a trip to rescue other bombing protesters who were hiding on the island.

The U.S. government finally agreed to pull the troops out in 1990.

Under a deal brokered by Sen. Daniel Inouye in 1994, the federal government set aside $400 million for cleanup efforts. Out of that, $44 million was appropriated to the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, a state agency created to restore the island.

By 2004, the Navy had used up all the funding that it had received, but it only cleared all ordnance from 75 percent of the land’s surface; not the 100 percent agreed upon, according to Michael Nahoopii, executive director of the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission. The Navy was also supposed to clear ordnance from 25 percent of the ground’s subsurface, to a depth of four feet, but only cleared 9 percent, he said.

Monday, November 25, 2013


The Russian Foreign Minister's has commented that the Iran nuclear deal quashes the reasons for America to build a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe. Russia's long-regarded the radar as a national security threat, but the US maintains it is necessary to protect against so-called 'rogue states' - like Iran. Anoush Ehteshami, a Professor of International Relations and Head of the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, joins RT to discuss this issue.


The film features Michael Peña in the title role of Cesar Chavez, the Mexican-American labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, who fought for workers’ rights and became an icon in the Latino community after his death.

My first organizing job was working for the United Farm Workers (UFW) from 1978-1980.  I was sent to the union headquarters in California for a month of training.  Cesar Chavez took the four of us who were new staff into his office and told us stories about the founding of the union.  (I almost beat him in ping pong one day but he made a huge comeback to defeat me.)  After my training I was sent back to Florida to work in a field office in Avon Park and then Apopka.  Each year Cesar would come to Florida to speak at a statewide farm worker conference that we organized. 

Many of my organizing skills come from the training I received from the UFW.  Even the Global Network's annual Keep Space for Peace Week is modeled after the UFW's Farmworker Week.  It was discovered that I was a good note taker while in California for my training so I was put on the negotiating team when I returned to Florida. Contract negotiations were between the union and the hot-shot lawyers from the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company (which owned Minutemaid orange juice where the UFW had a contract at that time).  I learned a lot about how union negotiations work.  Those skills have come in handy many times over the years.

I loved listening to Cesar talk.  He was very humble and soft in his speaking but at the same time he was a very strong and determined man.  

I can't wait to see this film. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013


ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer revealed a new report from John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which claims the United States has paid more than $150 million to Afghan companies that may have helped finance terror attacks on U.S. soldiers and assets in Afghanistan.

In a related story from The Washington Post about the new Afghanistan permanent basing agreement now being negotiated with the Obama administration:  "The United States can maintain up to nine bases, and American troops and support contractors will be able to enter Afghanistan without having to obtain a visa." Karzai said that as many as 15,000 foreign troops could remain in Afghanistan through 2024. Of those, it's expected that less than 10,000 would be American troops, including Special Forces units that, under the terms of the accord, will be able to conduct night raids against targets suspected of terrorism. And the bases can be used, presumably, for launching drone attacks against targets in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.


US Plans to Expand War Games in Ecologically Rich Mariana Islands

Naval training exercises threaten local communities and environment

The United States military assumed control the Mariana Islands during World War II  and has been waging war on the environment there ever since. Recent proposals to expand the range for Navy training exercises in this archipelago in the northwestern Pacific Ocean represent the latest frontier in this battle, and could be devastating to local communities as well as wildlife.

By many accounts, military trainings have already had a tremendous impact on the region that’s composed of two US jurisdictions — the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the territory of Guam. Military bombing exercises have destroyed much of at least one island — Farallon de Medinilla — and naval exercises have impacted large tracts of open ocean.

In 2010, the Navy training range in the region was expanded to encompass roughly 500,000 square nautical miles of ocean. “Right now, it is the largest range in [Department of Defense’s] inventory,” says Leevin Camacho, a member of We are Guåhan, a cultural and environmental justice advocacy group in Guam.

The Navy still wants more, and is now asking to nearly double the training range, extending it to 984,469 square nautical miles.  It has named this expansion — which is part of the “Pacific Pivot,” a strategy aimed at shifting the US military’s focus to the Asia-Pacific region — the “Mariana Island Training and Testing” (MITT) area.

“[The expanded area] would be larger than Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico combined,” Camacho says.

“The Navy’s whole approach to the Marianas is shoot first and ask questions later,” says Michal Jasny, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We know very little about the populations of whales, dolphins, and other marine life around the Marianas. Yet the navy is proceeding with a massive militarization of the islands and surrounding waters. It is grossly irresponsible to proceed in this way.”

What we do know doesn’t bode well. “We know marine mammals depend on hearing to find mates, to find food, to avoid predators, to situate themselves in the ocean — in short, for virtually everything they need to do to survive and reproduce in the wild,” explains Jasny. “[We also know] that navy sonar has a range of impacts, from disrupting foraging, to causing hearing loss, to fatally injuring whales and driving them onto shore.”

The Navy estimates that expanded training activities would cause 59 whales and dolphins to suffer permanent hearing damage every year. Thousands more would suffer temporary hearing damage. Other impacts include those on sea turtles, fish, marine habitat, and the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.  Environmental activists say the exercises would violate the National Environmental Policy Act and other US environmental laws.

In addition to this ocean-based training expansion, a separate Navy proposal targets the vibrant Pagan Island for destructive military training exercises. This island was formerly inhabited, but was evacuated in 1981 during a volcanic eruption. It is now home to roughly a dozen people and many former residents still hope to return and reestablish their lives there. The island has numerous endemic and endangered species. The Navy has not yet released a draft environmental impact statement for its proposed activities on Pagan Island.  However, advocates have launched a campaign against the exercises.

“[Pagan] is culturally important, anthropologically important, and biologically important,” says Dr. Michael Hadfield, a zoology professor at the University of Hawaii. “[And] when the military takes an island for live-fire training, they destroy it.”

A local human rights lawyer, Julian Aguon, underscores this point: “I situate what is going on now as… the latest incarnation of a much longer geopolitical process, and that’s been the militarization, the nuclearization, and colonization of this whole side of the ocean, this whole western Pacific.”

“This is our home,” adds Camacho. “We really look at it not just as fighting for dolphins and whales, but we are trying to protect resources that have belonged to our people for thousands of years, before the US military.”

The Navy is currently accepting comments on the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which assesses the impact of the expanded ocean training range. Voice your concern about the proposal here. All comments must be submitted by December 11, 2013. 


Matt Damon reads the words of historian and activist Howard Zinn...."We need a declaration of inter-dependence."


As our government calls for massive amounts of spending on the border corporations are lining their pockets through contracts, waste and money splurge that is costing you and making us all less safe. Less safe - not only is it eroding our rights and liberties but it is creating a military battlefield and a constitution free zone. Furthermore it has led to over five thousand migrant deaths and the human cost continues to rise. All this because corporate execs want to line their pockets even more with lucrative contracts, excused through absurd technology we don't need and doesn't work. 


Saturday, November 23, 2013


In his book, Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism, author and scholar Henry Giroux connects the dots to prove his theory that our current system is informed by a “machinery of social and civil death” that chills “any vestige of a robust democracy.”

This week on Moyers & Company, Giroux explains that such a machine turns “people who are basically so caught up with surviving that they become like the walking dead – they lose their sense of agency, they lose their homes, they lose their jobs.”

What’s more, Giroux points out, the system that creates this vacuum has little to do with expanding the meaning and the substance of democracy itself. Under “casino capitalism,” the goal is to get a quick return, taking advantage of a kind of logic in which the only thing that drives us is to put as much money as we can into a slot machine and hope we walk out with our wallets overflowing.

A cultural and social critic of tireless energy and vast interests, Giroux holds the Global TV Network Chair in the English and Cultural Studies Department at McMaster University and is a distinguished visiting professor at Reyerson University, both schools in Canada.


Six folks turned up at various times yesterday during our 90 minute vigil at Bath Iron Works.  We were there when the afternoon shift knocked off and the evening shift began so we saw lots of workers drive by.

Our message was primarily about building something different at the shipyard.  BIW has been there more than 100 years and the city's whole identity is wrapped up in shipbuilding so its a hard sell.  But what we have heard from conversations with workers over the years is that as long as they have a job they wouldn't mind building rail systems or wind turbines.

The union though has got to come on board to help make that happen.  In the state of Connecticut the legislature passed a bill to create an economic conversion planning commission in their last session.  The Machinist union (IAM) strongly supported the bill understanding that there are going to be continuous cuts in military spending.  The public is tired of endless war and we can't afford it.  Getting ahead of the curve is a good idea.

So we recently had the Connecticut IAM resolution endorsing their conversion commission copied and hand-delivered to the IAM union president in Bath. 

In addition BIW management needs to buy into the idea of conversion planning.  And the city of Bath needs to make such a commitment as well.  Ideally we'd see the city create a local commission and then we'd get the state to follow suit.

In the end none of this will happen unless the public demands that the political class begin the process of converting the war machine to sustainable production.  So as activists we have to be working several levels at once: continually promoting this alternative vision; educating the public about the increased jobs we'd get by converting; bringing unions and management along; and getting local and state governments to take the issue seriously.  It's a big job and all hands on deck will be required.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Rolling Stone

On November 22nd, 1963, my uncle, president John F. Kennedy, went to Dallas intending to condemn as "nonsense" the right-wing notion that "peace is a sign of weakness." He meant to argue that the best way to demonstrate American strength was not by using destructive weapons and threats but by being a nation that "practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice," striving toward peace instead of "aggressive ambitions." Despite the Cold War rhetoric of his campaign, JFK's greatest ambition as president was to break the militaristic ideology that has dominated our country since World War II. He told his close friend Ben Bradlee that he wanted the epitaph "He kept the peace," and said to another friend, William Walton, "I am almost a 'peace at any price' president." Hugh Sidey, a journalist and friend, wrote that the governing aspect of JFK's leadership was "a total revulsion" of war. Nevertheless, as James W. Douglass argues in his book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, JFK's presidency would be a continuous struggle with his own military and intelligence agencies, which engaged in incessant schemes to trap him into escalating the Cold War into a hot one. His first major confrontation with the Pentagon, the Bay of Pigs catastrophe, came only three months into his presidency and would set the course for the next 1,000 days.

Read the rest here


  • A new ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that public belief that the National Security Agency (NSA) unnecessarily intrudes on privacy rights has grown, but so has the sense that Edward Snowden damaged U.S. security by disclosing the spy agency’s activities.  Forty-eight percent in the poll think the NSA intrudes without justification on some Americans’ privacy rights and 42 percent think it intrudes unjustifiably on their own privacy, both up by 8 percentage points since July.  Democrats, protective of the Obama administration, are less critical of the NSA; 37 percent say it “goes too far,” for example, vs. 47 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents. And Democrats are a broad 18 points less likely than Republicans and independents to think the NSA intrudes unjustifiably on some Americans’ privacy rights.  See the whole poll here

  • Last month, a 102-page report by Human Rights Watch concluded that US drone strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Yemen’s branch of the global terror network, had a 70 percent civilian kill rate – or in other words, seven out of every 10 of their victims were civilians. Several days earlier, a UN investigator accused the US of drastically downplaying the number of civilians killed in anti-terrorist drone operations. On the same day the Human Rights Watch report was published, Amnesty International said US officials responsible for carrying out drone strikes may be responsible for war crimes.
  • Rick Rozoff from the Chicago-based Stop NATO writes:  After the [supposed] 2014 pullout from Afghanistan, NATO is set to stage huge European war games involving 40,000 troops, about seven times the size of the recent drills in the Baltic, with critics in the crisis-hit EU calling it a waste of money. Karl Rehbaum, a former officer with the East German security services, says that “there isn’t any need to put these troops in Europe. I think they would’ve ramped up operations even if Afghanistan wasn’t coming to an end… Instead of a defensive army, they want to make an army of intervention, of aggression. NATO is responsible for three-quarters of global arms spending at a time when many of its members are flat broke.” In Berlin, for example, a group of demonstrators, known as “Mothers against War,” were downtown recently, holding banners that said “No to Intervention” – a call for Europe to stop throwing money at the military and take care of the pressing economic issues afflicting the continent on a massive scale. Rainer Rupp, a former German intelligence officer, believes that the current exercises should be examined against the background of the Afghan experience and that the upcoming games have little to do with European security or keeping everyone ready for whatever scenarios may come. There, he explains, NATO “could test its interoperability” just as well. However, now, “with NATO countries – especially the United States – leaving Afghanistan beaten like a dog with the tail between its legs, they need to project and show the world that they still have their claws sharpened.” Rupp sees the games as nothing more than “part of a continued effort of…intimidating nations that don’t follow voluntarily the US and European lead [like Russia, China, or Iran].” 
  • Syria's chemical weapons could be processed and destroyed out at sea. Four days after Albania rejected a U.S. request that it host a weapons decommissioning plant, Western diplomats and an official of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at The Hague told Reuters the OPCW was studying whether it might carry out the work at sea, on a ship or offshore rig. Much of Syria's stockpile is of bulk "precursor" materials that were stored in order to manufacture weapons at a later stage. Burning these, or neutralising them with other chemicals in a process known as hydrolysis, would produce large amounts of toxic fluids and have obvious severe environmental consequences. 
  • Global Network board convener Dave Webb (Leeds, England) also serves as the web master for our web site.  He just did some major updating of the home page and has posted his wonderful report on the recent Indore, India conference that he attended on behalf of the Global Network.  The event was initiated and organized by another of our board members J. Narayana Rao (Nagpur).  I heard the attendance was around 600 people so Dave and Rao made sure that the issues surrounding space weapons and disarmament in general were heavily covered.  You can see Dave's report here.


Walking the Walk: A March Against Drone Warfare from Caneyhead Pictures on Vimeo.

In June of 2013 a group of peace activists set out for a walk across Iowa to protest the Predator drone control center planned for the Iowa National Guard Air Base in Des Moines. Beginning at the arms depot at Rock Island Illinois and ending at the National Guard Air Base in Des Moines, the intimate journey of 25 peace pilgrims is documented in the film Walking the Walk: a March Against Drone Warfare.

For two weeks and one hundred ninety-five miles, the walkers discuss their mission, their hopes, fears and outrage. Among the walkers are a man just released from prison for attempting to deliver a letter to the commander of a drone base, a businessman who has left a lucrative career to walk and witness for peace, veterans who have witnessed war first hand and a lawyer and former government official deeply concerned with the legality of the United States' drone strike program. In discussions with locals they meet and public presentations in libraries, parks and colleges we hear the issue of armed drone strikes and assassinations discussed in all their ethical complexity.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the world-wide peace action organization Code Pink called the film "Wonderful... Fantastic... Brilliant, it gets out so much info in such a humanizing way. And so beautifully filmed."

Thursday, November 21, 2013


The Bath, Maine City Council last night voted 7-1 to give Bath Iron Works (owned by the General Dynamics Corporation) a tax break for the next 15 years.  The council approved a 15-year tax rebate for BIW that is expected to save the company about $265,000 annually for the first 10 years and an additional $212,000 annually for the following five years.  The entire tax subsidy package is estimated to come to about $3.7 million.

The vote against the tax break came from the one member of the council who tried to dramatically rein in the tax break but was unsuccessful when he proposed two amendments to further shorten the years of the tax break and the amount given by the city.

Initially the city considered a tax break for BIW that would have given them more than $6 million over a 25-year period.  But the intervention by concerned citizens successfully trimmed the request by a couple million dollars.  To the struggling city, with a population of about 8,500, that is alot of money.

About 30 people from Bath spoke up during the final public hearing before the council made its decision.  The speakers were nearly evenly split with just a couple more opposing the tax break.  Virtually all of the speakers in favor of the tax break were BIW workers/management.

The first person to speak during the public portion of the meeting was a University of Southern Maine professor of finance who lives in Bath.  The professor said she studied the city budget and "strongly recommended against" giving the corporate subsidy.  She said it "Produced a tax shift that taxpayers must pay.  It is a regressive tax.  You need to say no to this proposal."

The point was frequently made that BIW doesn't really need this tax break as they have contracts to build multi-billion dollar destroyers for the next 10 years.  (Just as the meeting began last night a story appeared at the web site of the Portland Press Herald about BIW being in the running for a $20 billion contract to build destroyers for Saudi Arabia.  This clearly indicates that the Obama administration has extracted economic rewards for the US led campaign to destabilize Syria and Iran who are long-time foes of the corrupt monarchy in Saudi Arabia.)

BIW's strategy throughout this process has been to frighten the community about the boogeyman in some other state that just might steal the shipyard away if the city faltered in the "partnership" with the corporation.

During my time to speak to the city council I told the story about the Boeing Corporation in Seattle, Washington that has similarly threatened to pull out of that community unless they got more corporate welfare.  I said:

The latest big deal everyone is talking about is Boeing in Seattle where the company is threatening to move manufacturing of their new 777X airplane to an anti-union state in the south unless they get big tax breaks from the state of Washington and major health care and pension concessions from the Machinists Union.  Union leaders were quoted as calling the deal “crap” and in recent days union members voted to reject the Boeing proposal with 67% opposed.

But the state has voted to give Boeing the largest corporate tax break in US history. The tax breaks are expected to be worth $8.7 billion and would run through 2040. Despite this record tax subsidy, Boeing still hasn’t committed to building the 777X in Washington.

And guess what….Boeing has not been paying any federal corporate taxes in recent years…  

BIW's chief council, Jon Fitzgerald, told the council, "We are gambling that we can improve our productivity, not certain that we will build the new outfitting hall.... we need this [tax break]."

Most of the city council talked about how complicated and agonizing the decision was.  I'm sure that is true because the pressure on them from the public was heavy.  None of the councilors told stories about hearing from the public who opposed the tax break.  They only shared stories about those who said, "Give BIW the break."  But in spite of that public posturing by the council they still did vote to trim BIW's request by a couple million dollars.

They really didn't want to trim the subsidy.  Bath is fundamentally a corporate colony.  They trimmed it because they heard from residents all over the city and got more than 300 emails from people around Maine that opposed the tax break (thanks to Roots Action for the help).

Key in this public uprising was the door-to-door work that we did that enabled us to reach about 90% of the homes across the city.  It's not easy in Bath to speak out against BIW but many people found a way to make their voices heard.

I concluded my remarks last night with this:

This truly is a race to the bottom of the barrel as taxpayers are being squeezed left and right.  Its no wonder when I was helping take flyers door-to-door in Bath virtually every person I spoke with opposed these tax giveaways to BIW.  I heard over and over again that people were going to have to sell their homes because they couldn’t afford to pay property taxes anymore.

Not only taxpayers get squeezed by these corporate subsidies but workers do as well.  The Boeing workers in Seattle are refusing to go along with the program.  Workers at BIW are seeing their health care being cut and continuing layoffs at the shipyard are forcing many workers to do the jobs of 2-3 others.  In order to increase profits corners get cut during production and quality and safety gets impacted.  At the same time General Dynamics profits are at record highs and top CEO compensation is larger than the municipal budget of Bath.

In the end this was a victory for the struggling citizens of Bath.  They made it happen and they should be proud that their collective voices forced a reluctant city council to make serious adjustments to BIW's tax break request.

Our local committee, called Bath Citizens for Responsible TIF Action, did a great job on this campaign.  Many of us had never worked together before but we all became friends and I would imagine we'll find other local work to focus on in the future.  One of the members last night, a former BIW worker, called for the city to establish an economic conversion commission to begin planning for a new way of providing jobs in the community.

The work goes on......

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


JFK is a 1991 American political thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner).

The film was adapted by Stone and Zachary Sklar from the books On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs. Stone described this account as a "counter-myth" to the Warren Commission's "fictional myth."


These good people are right now languishing inside the jail house on Jeju Island, South Korea.  And there are more on the way.

Their crime?  Trying to non-violently block the construction vehicles from entering the Navy base "destruction" site in Gangjeong village.  In the case of Yang Yoon-Mo he got an 18 month sentence.  And many people are being given severe fines to pay.

One activist from Hawaii, who spent considerable time in Gangjeong village in solidarity with the villagers, has reported: "There is no heat for male prisoners (I do not know about the women's section of the jail) during the frigid months of winter. The conditions are inhumane."

We can't ever forget these good people who are fighting for peace, the environment, and human rights.  See more at the official Jeju web site Save Jeju Now.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013



  • The mainstream media is promoting the inevitability of Hillary Clinton's nomination for president as representative of the Democratic Party.  The oligarchy likes Hillary knowing that she would help keep much of the left demobilized (like Obama has done) while giving Wall Street and the military industrial complex virtually everything they want.  She would also continue the austerity cuts on the poor and middle class.  I'll never forget watching Bill and Hillary on TV sitting in the front row of conservative evangelical minister Billy Graham's last big "crusade" before he retired.  He stopped in the middle of his sermon, leaned over the podium, and said, "Hillary, you are going to make a great president."  The next day I noticed that the former president Bill Clinton flew to Kennebunkport, Maine to play golf with daddy Bush.  Sort of like going to see the godfather to get his blessings. 
  • Our campaign here in Bath to oppose tax breaks for the General Dynamics Corporation (that owns Bath Iron Works - BIW) is growing as we approach the Wednesday evening city council public meeting.  We've been hearing from more and more local citizens that are contacting city councilors with their opposition to the tax break.  The public hearing begins at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, Nov 20 at city hall.  Should be very interesting to see how it all goes.
  • On Friday, November 22 Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is coming to BIW to inspect the new Zumwalt "stealth" destroyer and we will hold a vigil in front of the administration building on Washington Street from 3:00 - 4:30 pm as the workers leave for the day. 
  • Then the annual Advent Vigils for Disarmament (led by Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm), to be held in the same spot at BIW, are scheduled every Saturday from 11:30 am - 12:30 as the weekend shift leaves work. These vigils will take place November 30 and then again on December 7, 14 & 21.  Advent is a time to prepare for peace and in that spirit we hope you will join us in opposition to war and in hope for conversion of the military industrial complex to peaceful and sustainable production. It's good to remember the words of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass - "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will".  We'll never see a release from our addiction to militarism and war unless the public, the military production worker unions, courageous elements within management, and the peace movement make the conversion demand over and over again.  The politicians will then begin to hear our voices. 

Monday, November 18, 2013


Iowa Peace Network reports: Warfare being waged from our backyard in Des Moines, Iowa. This must not pass. Down the drones. Bring an end to war. Peace in the world. Folks from central Iowa, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City joined in the protest.


  • I am heading home after the weekend drone conference here in DC.  Yesterday I spoke in a workshop along with David Swanson and Clare Hanrahan who I've know since my Florida days.  Clare is doing some great organizing in the south educating people about the environmental impact of military production sites across the region.
  • During my time in the workshop I talked about how space technology coordinates all Pentagon warfare these days.  I read the words of former Air Force Maj. Gen. James Poss (he helped oversee the Predator drone's development) who told Atlantic magazine a couple of months ago that he was "tired of the fascination with the drone vehicle itself" and wants people to understand that cut off from its satellite links and its data processors the drone is basically worthless.  I ended my words with a suggestion that we call for the nationalization (take the profit out of war) and the conversion of the military industrial complex.
  • Particularly moving was the testimony of people from Pakistan and Yemen during the conference.  One woman, who comes from an oil rich region of Yemen, said the people there had never heard of Al-Quida until the US began launching drone strikes at them.  "If you are for drones then you are for terrorism," she said.  Similar remarks came from Pakistani delegates who reminded us that drone strikes actually increase militancy.  "Stop these strikes or we will never be able to have peace," one man said.  
  • Entesar al Qadhi from Yemen told the assembled at the drone summit that the US was "testing the drone technology in Yemen for use on Americans at some point."  Knowing that Congress and the Obama administration have ordered the FAA to prepare for 30,000 drones to be flying in US airspace, beginning in 2015, gives strong support to this claim.  As part of the US drone program Congress has mandated that six drone test centers be established across the nation.  Some 37 states have applied.  All six drone sites will make their own privacy rules - allowed by the FAA who doesn't want to establish a national standard.  At this point there is no federal mandate saying these domestic drones cannot be weaponized.  According to one legal expert at the conference the domestic drone program will be secret, pervasive and unchecked.  Thus the great need for local and statewide organizing against drones.
  • Clearly drones, and other robotic warfare technologies, are being created to infuse the military industrial complex with new proftis but are also a strategy to keep war going "out of site and out of mind" of an increasingly war weary public.  Anti-drone organizer Chris Coles from the UK made this point saying his government saw drones as a way to get around "a casualty averse public."
  • It appears that an international coalition against drones will be formed coming out of the summit.  I was unable to fully participate in the meeting that discussed this as my workshop was scheduled at the same time.  But I sat in for a few moments and pledged the support of the Global Network for the growing efforts to oppose drones worldwide.  It's an issue that the Global Network has worked on for many years although it is not our singular focus.  Clearly there is growing interest and organizing energy around drones and we are thrilled to see that.
  • On the subway to the airport in Washington this morning I read two important pieces in the paper about Afghanistan.  One said that despite Obama's announcement that the US would be leaving Afghanistan, his administration is signing new agreements with the government there to allow US military bases indefinitely.  The second article was a report about hospitals closing in Afghanistan for lack of funds.  Tied together these two stories reveal once again that the US never had the interests of the people of Afghanistan in mind - it's always been about establishing permanent military presence in the region for control of local resource extraction and pipeline routes for Caspian Sea oil and natural gas.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


From Moyers & Company:

Have you ever dreamed of quitting your day job to work on something you really believed in? That’s exactly what this week’s guests, Jill Stein and Margaret Flowers, did when they left their careers behind as medical doctors.

Both saw that holding political office largely depended on how much money you have, which in turn enabled injustices to be fashioned into law and public policy. Outraged and angry, they decided to stand up and take action.

“When people ask me ‘what kind of medicine are you practicing?’ I usually say, ‘I’m practicing political medicine because it’s the mother of all illnesses,’” Stein tells Bill. Flowers adds: “Once you start speaking truth to power and standing up for the right things, it’s very empowering.”

Stein and Flowers serve as the president and secretary of health, respectively, for the Green Shadow Cabinet, an organization offering alternative policies to the “dysfunctional government in Washington, DC.”

This week, Bill talks with them about their personal journeys fighting for policy change — including arrests for acts of civil disobedience — and the pressing challenges they’re focusing on, such as the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.


I have previously written about a book I highly suggest reading 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 strongly enough. You should read it, you will be shocked and moved by this story, and you will want to tell others about it.

In a few words, 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  during our annual Global Network space conference in 2008.

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 pal 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. (More than 5,000 helicopters were destroyed during that 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.