Category Archives: Politics

RDOS Director Says Goodbye

With a degree from the Emily Carr School of Fine Arts, how could

Angelique Wood, visionary & pragmatic
Angelique Wood, visionary & pragmatic

the outgoing Director of Area G possibly have had the understanding and practical experience to deal with the difficult issues confronting the RDOS? This is a question we might be tempted to ask about Angelique Wood.

Living on the same street, two doors from her home, I’ve had the opportunity to observe her at fairly close range. Professor Ashley Montague, formerly of Rutgers University, has said, “if you want to know what a person is going to do, don’t ask them what they believe. Observe what they do.” After being her neighbour several years, I’ve concluded that although the lady is certainly a visionary with ideas, she has a distinct pragmatic streak as well. She is quite capable of chopping her own wood, attending to plumbing problems, and building a work shop.

Over a cup of hot ginger tea at our kitchen table, I asked Angelique what had motivated her to get into politics, what had surprised her, what she had learned.

Prior to coming to Hedley she worked at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, one of the biggest in Canada, largely devoted to aboriginal and ethnic art. She also sold aboriginal art for 7 years.

When she bought a small home in Hedley in 2005, it wasn’t her intention at first to live here. However, she found Hedley increasingly alluring. After deciding to make this her home, she got involved with the museum. She painted the basement floor and installed glass shelves in the Tea Room. In 2007 she joined the Fire Department and got her air brake endorsement.

Turning to her time in the RDOS, she said, “I came to the role thinking that most politicians must be corrupted. I found though that I was working with 17 individuals who cared very much about their communities. Many were brilliant in their careers. They came with ideas to improve things. There was an atmosphere of respect.”

Over time she came to the realization most people don’t feel anyone is listening. To counter this, she and fellow Hedley resident Kim English created a forum. They invited speakers from other communities, politicians from the Similkameen Valley and interested citizens.

“We brought together a lot of grass roots leaders,” she said. We wanted them to understand how to communicate with elected officials. We wanted to get people thinking, and talking to each other. We wanted them to be aware of what was happening in the rest of the universe.”

She emphasized that “we need to nurture each other and make our organizations strong. People need to feel safe enough to express their views.”

I have sometimes seen Angelique up very early in the morning, doing yard and garden work before attending to RDOS affairs. She feels a compulsion to get things done. It was a surprise to her that the wheels of government turn very slowly. “I learned that even working 40 to 70 hours per week, I could not speed up the functioning of government. Getting agreement of stakeholders takes time. It’s important to stay focused on what you want to accomplish.”

She reflected on this a moment and then added, “ A lot of what you do as a politician is listen. Often when people have a problem, they are frustrated. Sometimes they begin with yelling. It takes patience to wait for them to calm down. Then we can begin working on their issue.”

“Where did you make progress?” I asked.

“We signed a protocol agreement with 3 of the 4 Indian bands,” she replied. “We wanted to open lines of communication between the bands and the RDOS. We came to understand we need to work together.” She said the USIB is considering signing.

Angelique also cited development of a joint tourism strategy as an important step. This agreement includes both Area G Indian bands, Keremeos, Princeton and areas H,G and B.

What was gratifying? This question triggered an emotional moment and she picked up a kleenex. “The most gratifying thing about being an RDOS Director,” she said, “is the many people who have said ‘thank you. You did a good job’.”

Meriam Ibrahim Still Needs Our Help

Late yesterday Linda and I read an online report stating that an appeals court had released the Sudanese Christian woman, Meriam Ibrahim and her children from prison. This morning we read that the Sudanese National Intelligence Security Service had re-arrested Meriam and her 2 young children and her husband at a Sudanese airport.

We listened to the CKNW news this morning, hoping to learn more. There was no mention of this situation. I called the station’s news room, told Gord McDonald what I had heard and asked if CKNW was going to shed more light on this issue. He promised to get it on their news.

I admit that often when I feel something is wrong, I hesitate to express my concern publicly. Sometimes I question my own thinking. Is my concern valid? Will others consider it foolish?

At times our timidity prevents us from drawing attention to a government or corporate policy that is hurting vulnerable individuals. Hurricane Rubin Carter believed that “the most powerful enemy of justice is inertia.” A racially charged trial cost him 20 years in the Trenton State Prison for 3 murders committed by someone else. Surely there must have been individuals who realized that the process was flawed and that this innocent man needed people to speak loudly on his behalf.

When we allow the media to guide our thinking, we tend not to question whether a matter is being dealt with fairly or justly. And even when we realize that something should be done, we expect someone else to do it.

If the problem isn’t resolved rapidly, we are diverted from it by the next issue being reported by the media. The case of the Nigerian girls who were abducted is a prime example. Is the Nigerian government still looking for them? They assured parents they would find them. But now the media has lost interest and the government no longer feels international pressure.

We become complacent so easily. We are quickly diverted. We are fearful and hesitant. This permits base, corrupt, dishonest individuals to carry on with their nefarious schemes. An ancient Israeli poet once asked, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can good citizens do?”

In the game of life, we cannot be bystanders. At this writing, it is not known where the family has been taken. Whatever country we live in, each of us can ask our national government to press Sudan to release them. Meriam Ibrahim and her family, and many others, desperately need our help in drawing attention to their plight.

 

James Douglass: “JFK And The Unspeakable” (part 1 of 3)

Jim Douglass, author of"JFK And The Unspeakable"
Jim Douglass, author of”JFK And The Unspeakable”

James (Jim) Douglass was born in Princeton, B.C., lived in what later became known as “the Hedley Pub”, and spent time in jail for participating in a number of high profile protests against the US war effort. He also wrote “JFK And The Unspeakable”, a best seller detailing the reasons and cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. With that on his resume, he isn’t likely to get a government job. Fortunately, he has no plans or desire to apply.

In a two hour phone interview with him from his home in Birmingham, Alabama, Douglass spoke freely about the early years in Hedley, his work on behalf of the Peace Movement and his 6 books, including the best seller.

Initially his father was Manager of the Nickel Plate Mine in Hedley, and they lived in what was then the Mine Manager’s residence. In 1942, when Jim was 5, the family moved to New York where his father became Vice President of the Kelowna Exploration Company. The family continued to value its connection to Hedley, however, and frequently returned in summer. Jim recalls playing tennis on the court across from the Colonial Inn.

As a young man, Jim’s life began moving in quite a different direction from that of his father. “We had a good relationship,” he says, “but in discussions we were always at opposite ends of the spectrum.”

Hedley View "It's the most beautiful place in the world."  Jim Douglass
Hedley View “It’s the most beautiful place in the world.”
Jim Douglass

In 1966 he bought a house in Hedley so he and his family would have a place to stay, while he wrote his first book. “I still consider Hedley my home,” he told me, “it’s the most beautiful place in the world”. His daughter, Jennifer, now lives in the house.

One summer he coached the Hedley youth baseball team and remembers a tied game in which longtime local, Derek Lilly was on third in the 9th inning. “I told him not to steal”, he said, “but there was a wild pitch and Derek stole home, scoring the game winning run. He was a splendid athlete.” Jennifer remembers with evident pride that he was an organizer of the May Day parade one year. This later became the Stamp Mill celebration.

Douglass prepared diligently for his far ranging and unusual career. After receiving a BA from Santa Clara University, he completed an MA in Theology at Notre Dame. He also studied theology in Rome. While there, he lobbied Bishops attending the 2nd Vatican Council, asking them for a statement condemning total war and supporting conscientious objection.

It was while he was teaching theology at the University of Hawaii that the trajectory of his life took a dramatic turn. “It started when Martin Luther King was assassinated. In response to his death, several students in my class refused to be drafted for the Vietnam War. They burned their draft cards and they challenged me to live the theology of peace I was teaching. I joined the Hawaii Resistance and shortly after, I was sitting on the pavement in front of a convoy of trucks carrying National Guardsmen going to Vietnam.”

In 1977, Jim and his wife Shelley cofounded the Ground Zero Centre for Nonviolent Action adjacent to the Trident Nuclear Submarine Base near Seattle. According to his daughter Jennifer, “the cloak of leadership in these protests was placed on him.” His acts of civil disobedience concerning the Trident protest netted him some 15 months in prison. He was also jailed for resisting the Persian Gulf War.

In the midst of various protests he returned to Hedley to write three books and most of a fourth. “There were fewer distractions,” he said.

James Douglass: “JFK And The Unspeakable” (part 2 of 3)

Insightful Bestseller About JFK Assassination
Insightful Bestseller About JFK Assassination

In “JFK And The Unspeakable”, Douglass takes us step by step through the thinking, motivation and actions of John Kennedy. “The president’s inaugural address,” Douglass says, “reflected his horror of war, (which came from personal experience), and his passionate resistance to a totalitarian enemy.” Douglass also explains the reasoning, motivation and culture of the CIA and Pentagon which led them to the conclusion that the President of their nation must be eliminated.

Using declassified documents from the Warren Commission hearings, interviews with some employed in the security agencies at that time (including Abraham Bolden, a black former Secret Service agent), plus a variety of other sources, Douglass has unravelled a web of intrigue that is unfortunately still being ignored by the media.

The CIA and the Pentagon began to seriously turn against their President when he refused to commit American forces to an attempted invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles in April, 1961. The attempt was sponsored, planned and backed by the CIA, and Kennedy had reluctantly sanctioned it. However, he had informed Allen Dulles, head of the CIA, that if things turned out badly, American troops would not be deployed to ensure success.

Douglass says the CIA overlords schemed to entrap Kennedy so he would have to support the invasion if it floundered. However, even though Fidel Castro’s forces over powered the invaders, JFK remained adamant in his refusal to send in troops. “That was the first instance in which Kennedy refused to do what his military advisors wanted,” Douglass suggests. “There would be many more.”

Kennedy understood that the CIA bosses had attempted to deceive and ensnare him. The conflict between him and the Agency deepened when he began to redefine and reduce its power and budget. According to Douglass, the President’s determination to deal with the CIA placed him in direct conflict with a Cold War institution that had come to hold itself accountable to no one. His later firing of Dulles, Bissell and Cabell would intensify his conflict with the Agency.

“In the Cuban Missile Crisis” Douglass says, “Kennedy took a step that the military considered an act of treason. He turned for help to his Communist enemy, Soviet Nikita Khrushchev. He asked him to withdraw the Soviet missiles from Cuba in exchange for his secret commitment to withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey, alongside the Soviet border. He also promised publicly not to invade Cuba. The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were furious. Kennedy and Khrushchev were becoming partners in peace making.”

A further crisis with his Cold War advisors resulted from the President’s address to the graduates at the Commencement Ceremonies of the American University in Washington, D.C. JFK called for World Peace and an end to the Cold War. This further incensed the CIA and Pentagon chiefs. “In their minds,” Douglass says, “Kennedy’s views placed him on the side of the enemy.”

Another issue in the minds of the CIA and Pentagon was the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed by Kennedy and Khrushchev. This development angered the Military Industrial Complex.

Finally, there was the President’s move to initiate a dialogue with the despised Fidel Castro. Also, National Security Memorandum 263 to end the Vietnam War.
“Those were the final nails in the President’s coffin,” Douglass says.

 

 

James Douglass: “JFK And The Unspeakable”

JFK’s progressive turning from a Cold War mentality to a desire

James Douglass talking about "JFK & the Unspeakable"
James Douglass talking about “JFK & the Unspeakable”

for peace had made him a serious threat to what Douglass refers to as “the most powerful military/ economic coalition in history.” At Kennedy’s earlier (July 20, 1961) meeting of the National Security Council, Dulles and the Chiefs of Staff had actually called for a preemptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. Kennedy had walked out of the meeting.

The coalition of Dulles and the Chiefs of Staff had for some time been conniving and strategizing against JFK, knowing they could escape culpability under the cover of what Trappist monk and author, Thomas Merton, called “the Unspeakable.”

“The Unspeakable” was the government’s covert action doctrine of “plausible deniability”. Allen Dulles interpreted “plausible deniability” as a green light to assassinate national leaders…, and lie to cover up any trace of accountability. The concept of plausible deniability had been enshrined in law under President Harry Truman. It is this lack of accountability, Douglass contends, that made possible the JFK assassination and cover up.

And what about the role of Lee Harvey Oswald, supposedly the only shooter responsible for the assassination of JFK? Douglass traces his movements with meticulous care, pointing out that even after Oswald renounced his American citizenship in Moscow, the CIA cleared the path for him to return to America without being charged for aiding the enemy . He says “Oswald was clearly under the control of CIA handlers”. According to Judge James Botelho of California, formerly Oswald’s Marine room mate, “Oswald’s defection was nothing but a U.S. intelligence ploy.”

To conclude, Douglass’ grasp and recording of detail is quite phenomenal, well beyond my ability to represent adequately. I certainly agree with Oliver Stone who held up “JFK And The Unspeakable” at the end of an interview on the Bill Maher television show “Real Time”. “Everyone should read this book,” he urged. The following month, ten thousand copies were sold. Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, said the same on her blogsite. And before passing away, his father, who had always been at the opposite end of the spectrum in their discussions said, “Jim, I think you are on the right path.”

Hedley can be proud of Jim Douglass, its native son!

 

Vladimir Putin’s Move Into Crimea

How realistic is Vladimir Putin’s claim he simply wants to protect Russian speaking people in Crimea?  Isn’t this reminiscent of Adolph Hitler’s assertion to Neville Chamberlain he wanted only to unite all German speaking people?  Unfortunately for Europe and much of the world, Chamberlain believed the Fuhrer and allowed German troops to invade the Sudetenland.
 This served only to embolden Hitler and convince him the Allies didn’t have the will to oppose him. Surely it is foolish to assume power seeking individuals like Hitler and Putin will act in accordance with their words.
 

If we want to assume anything, a wiser assumption might be that Putin intends to breathe life into the former Soviet Union.  Like Attila the Hun, Napoleon, Hitler and others, Putin is not likely to be satisfied with one acquisition.  Crimea will almost certainly only whet his appetite for more.

 If there is an anaemic push back, he will conclude no nation has the will to stand in his way.  Only a determined, united opposition by the G7 nations will thwart his ambition. Appeasement didn’t prevent WW 2 and it won’t prevent another even more devastating conflagration.
 
 

First Step To Senate Reform?

 

Even if Justin Trudeau’s decision to grant independence to the Liberal senators is politically motivated, as Minister of Industry James Moore has suggested, it could be a positive step toward true Canadian democracy. Like many fellow citizens, I’m hoping his bold action will persuade, or even shame, Stephen Harper to also release Conservative senators from the confining shackles of the party apparatus. This would allow them to genuinely represent us, if they have the will to do so.

Certainly such a change would not remedy all shortcomings in our political system, but it would be a welcome beginning. At this time it is probably little more than wishful thinking, but if Mr Harper hears from enough voters, he might acquiesce.