Friday, March 29, 2013

Paths to Independence: TF in Africa

The fifth installment of a series on Africa and Toward Freedom in the 1950s, plus this week's Rebel News highlights. 

In the next installment of Bill Lloyd’s reports from Africa in the late 1950s, he stepped aside for his daughter Robin to tell a story. She used the opportunity to write about an encounter in Southern Rhodesia with Ian Civil, one of her former teachers at the International School in Geneva.
Robin at a local protest
When they arrived Civil was holding an African baby in his arms. As Robin wrote, “Although the government professes partnership between the races, an apartheid almost as strong as their southern neighbors is the actual policy. It is unusual to see a white man and a black man talking on the streets in any manner other than a master-servant relationship. And it is unusual here to see a light man holding a dark baby.”
     Foul deeds were occurring, Robin reported. Hospitals were segregated, even the ambulances. They would actually carry away some victims and leave others behind. Civil had seen it himself: a European ambulance driving away when it saw the color of the victims’ skin. One person left behind later died. Civil said some Africans felt the situation was worse than South Africa.
     A week after they spoke he was declared a “prohibited immigrant” and deported. No reason was given.    
* * *
Next stop, Tanzania, then the UN Trust Territory of Tanganyika. While there Lloyd and company visited the African section of Dar as Salaan to call on Julius Nyerere, president of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). They talked about British attempts to ban the party before an upcoming vote.
     The next morning, having just seen the city’s poverty, they witnessed some pomp and glory out of the 19th century during a celebration of Remembrance Day, which was something like the US Veterans’ Day. Officialdom donned their white uniforms and gloves, attended church services, and laid wreaths on two war memorials. 
     “To one with Quaker tendencies the sight of church ushers wearing swords was a bit of a shock,” Bill wrote.
     For a few days Robin and the younger Bill split off from their father’s itinerary to visit the Friends African Mission in Kenya. Bill stayed for a week and later wrote a story for TF. 
     He had visited the Mission hospital and houses used for TB patients. Although African and European work campers were cordial, he noted that they didn’t socialize much, in part due to language barriers. Nevertheless, he considered it a rare opportunity for different races to work together, one that could lead to better understanding.
* * *
In The Sudan the Lloyds met with Prime Minister Addallah Khalil, who summed up the nation’s three years of independence this way: “We thought we could take independence, but have found that we must build it.”
     The meeting had been arranged by Education Minister Nasr Hag Ali, who was a friend of Leon Despres, a Chicago alderman and member of TF's board.. Ali said the spirit of independence was so pronounced among the country’s largely nomadic population that the government found it difficult to implement regulations.
     Bill asked whether reports of Communist influence were true. No, he replied. “The communists are a very small and unimportant group.” On the other hand, he also claimed that although an application had been made for US aid, no “strings” would be accepted.
* * *     
The family delegation’s last stop was Tunis. At the time President Bourguiba was helping to mediate between France and Algerian rebels across the border. The Tunisian government was also hosting about 300,000 refugees. The Lloyds met with Bourguiba in his private residence near the ancient site of Carthage.
     Bourguiba said the US was losing an opportunity by failing to recognize France’s mistakes in Algeria. He made a comparison with South Vietnam, where the US had backed President Diem over French objections, and predicted that a Saudi Arabian proposal for a provisional Algerian government on foreign soil wouldn’t satisfy the nationalists.  
     But he conceded that domination of the independence movement by the military was also a problem. “Already they are antagonistic toward intellectuals and civilians,” Bourguiba said, “and you just can’t tell what will happen if things go on as they are now. The longer the war lasts the greater the chance that anarchy will break out.”
    Ten weeks after arriving in Africa the Lloyds started home on December 7, 1957. “As we climbed into the clear sky, the beauty of the Gulf of Tunis turned our minds to the possibility of returning sometime as simple tourists with leisure to see the sights,” Lloyd wrote. “And then it was goodbye to a continent that can truly be said to be in crisis – a word which the Chinese very aptly consider a combination of danger and opportunity.”

On The Road Toward Freedom: A Cold War Story, part five of six.
On Monday: Deconstructions and Global Visions


Maverick Media’s Rebel News airs at 9 a.m. (more or less) on Fridays on WOMM (105.9-FM/LP – The Radiator and live streaming) in Burlington. Here are some highlights from this week’s round up.


Scientists have linked Oklahoma’s biggest recorded earthquake to the disposal of wastewater from oil production, more evidence of the need for greater regulation of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas. The 5.7-magnitude quake in 2011 followed an 11-fold bump in seismic activity across the central US in recent years – just as disposal wells are created to handle increases in wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
     Researchers at the University of Oklahoma, Columbia University and the U.S. Geological Survey, who published their findings this week in the journal Geology, said the results point to the long-term risks the thousands of wells pose and shows a need for better monitoring and government oversight.
     The earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma, on Nov. 6, 2011, was the state’s biggest and may be the largest linked to the injection of water from drilling process, the researchers said. The state’s geological office disagreed, however, and argued it was likely “the result of natural causes.” The quake destroyed 14 homes, damaged other buildings, injured two people and buckled pavement, according to the report.
     The rise in earthquakes in the central US is “almost certainly” man-made, and may be connected with wastewater disposal, researchers claim. For the three decades until 2000, seismic events in the region averaged 21 a year. They jumped to 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.


When the State Department hired a contractor to produce the latest environmental impact statement for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, it asked for a Web-based electronic docket to record public comments. Thousands are expected from people and businesses eager to influence the outcome of the intense international debate over the project.
    But it won’t be easy to examine these documents. A summary of the comments will be included in the final version of the environmental impact statement, said a spokesman from the Office of Policy and Public Outreach in State's Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science.  But the only way to see the comments themselves is by filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The process could take so long that the debate could be over before the documents are available.


More than half of the nation’s thousands of miles of rivers and streams have poor water quality, including harmful nutrient pollution and mercury, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That was the key finding of the agency’s first comprehensive examination of the health of U.S. waters.
     Fifty-five percent of these waters were considered to be in “poor” condition for aquatic life, while just 21 percent were considered “good.”  The results were based on samples collected randomly from nearly 2,000 rivers during the summers of 2008 and 2009, the agency said.
     Among the findings: More than a quarter of rivers and streams are particularly prone to flooding, pollution and erosion because of a dearth of vegetation cover… Nine percent of waters tested positive for high bacteria levels, making them not fit for swimming….and fish in more than 13,000 of miles of water carried high levels of mercury, a toxic element particularly harmful to children and fetuses.


Contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the past 15 years than the prior 15 years. According to a study in Geophysical Research Letters, this is because about 90% of overall global warming goes into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically. As suspected, much of the so-called "missing heat"  has been found in the deep oceans. At least 30% of the ocean warming over the past decade has occurred in the deeper oceans below 700 meters, unprecedented over at least the past half century.
    Based on slowed global surface warming over the past decade, some research suggests that the sensitivity of the climate to the greenhouse effect is lower than the best estimate. But those studies don’t account for the warming of the deep oceans. Slowed surface air warming over the past decade may have lulled people into a false and unwarranted sense of security.


The choice between fewer work hours and increased consumption has significant implications for the rate of climate change. Studies say that shorter work hours are associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions and therefore less global climate change.
    Reducing work hours over the rest of the century by an annual average of 0.5 percent would eliminate about one-quarter to half of the global warming that is not already locked in (meaning the climate change that would be caused by 1990 levels of greenhouse gas concentrations already in the atmosphere).


Still more statistics illuminate the spike in income inequality in the U.S. over recent decades. The vast majority averaged a mere $59 more in 2011 than in 1966. For the top 10 percent, by the same measures, average income rose by $116,071 to $254,864, an increase of 84 percent over 1966.


The Vermont Supreme Court has denied a petition to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. New England Coalition, an anti-nuclear group, contended that Entergy Corp., the plant's owner, had violated the sales order authorizing Entergy to buy the plant in 2002.
    At issue was a clause concerning a 2012 deadline for a new state permit. The Vermont Public Service Board said Entergy is in violation of the 2002 agreement and is taking more testimony before making a final decision. In the meantime, however, the plant can continue to operate.
    The Brattleboro Reformer reported that in its decision on Monday the high court ruled that the anti-nuclear coalition hasn't requested, nor has the board issued, an order directing Entergy to stop operating the plant on the grounds advanced by the group.
    Bottom Line:Thought the anti-nuke petition was dismissed, the Court invited opponents to pursue more options and pointed to another pending case.  Talk about mixed messages.



A new report documents that NYPD used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years.  The report also estimates that the people arrested for marijuana possession have spent five million hours in police custody over the last decade.
    Numerous other reports have exposed the array of problems associated with marijuana arrests in the city. New York has made more marijuana possession arrests under Mayor Michael Bloomberg than under mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani combined. Nearly 70% of those arrested for marijuana are younger than 30 years old, and over 50% are under 21. They end up with a permanent criminal arrest record that can be accessed on the internet by employers, banks, schools, landlords, and others.
     Even though young whites use marijuana at higher rates, over 85% of the people arrested and jailed for marijuana possession are black and Latino. All these arrests are costing New Yorkers more than $75 million per year.
     Mayor Bloomberg recently announced administrative changes to how NYPD will process marijuana arrests. But there won't be a change in the law itself.  Advocates want Albany to act. 


Kentucky Senator Rand Paul recently told Fox News that President Obama and former President George W. Bush could have "conceivably been put in jail" for using drugs. "Look, the last two presidents could have conceivably been put in jail for their drug use and I really think - look what would've happened, it would've ruined their lives,” Paul said. “They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don't get lucky and they don't have good attorneys and they go to jail for some of these things and I think it's a big mistake."
     The statement prompted host Chris Wallace to note, "Actually, I think it would be the last three presidents, but who's counting?"

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Continent in Transition: Toward Freedom in Africa

Bill Lloyd and two of his four children spent ten weeks with him crossing Africa during Fall, 1957. They subsequently published a series of first-hand reports in Toward Freedom on independence struggles in ten countries. In the process they also met privately with the new leaders of Ghana, the Sudan and Tunisia.
     Lloyd called the first article “An Anti-Colonialist Journalist Reports from Inside Africa.” It began with a description of a bus ride in Dakar. A strange theme had emerged in his conversations with several locals. They had spontaneously offered that if the French “won’t give us what we want, we will ask the Americans to come in.”
 * * *
     From there they went to Ghana, where Bill obtained an interview with Kwame Nkrumah and listened to his opponents at a large outdoor rally. Being the only Europeans in the crowd attracted considerable attention – until they met an old friend, opposition leader Joe Appiah. As they talked politics others in the crowd stepped closer to listen and offer protection from a light rain with their umbrellas. It was a magic moment.
Nkrumah rationalized
rough tactics
      During that encounter people said they were upset about the deportation of two Muslim leaders. But the government said the two were leaders of a gang that was beating up pro-government organizers. Even some of Nkrumah’s supporters were skeptical about that. Meanwhile, the Minister of the Interior admitted bluntly, “I love power,” and issued more extreme threats.
     If so-called “subversive” activity did not stop, he warned the nation, there would be a real dictatorship, complete with concentration camps.
     Nkrumah excused that statement, arguing that it was just for local consumption and meant only to scare the opposition. Bill Lloyd’s interview with him was off-the record, but he did write that officials frequently used tribalism and fragmentation as their arguments for a strong, “unitary” government. Basically, he felt they were going too far, trying to mold people along preconceived lines rather than adapt to public needs and desires.
     Nevertheless, Lloyd concluded that Ghana was an exciting, hopeful achievement with the potential to inspire the continent.
* *  *
     In Nigeria he was impressed with the dignity of people in the face of intolerable poverty. It was and remains Africa’s most populous country (161 million, according to the UN), as large as Texas and Nebraska combined. In the late 1950s there were only about 15,000 Europeans in the country, which was inching toward self-government through what Lloyd called “progressive Nigerianization” of administration, the courts and legislature. 
     But Britain was holding on to certain powers, even over self-governing regions. The goal, for most Nigerians at least, was complete self-government by 1960.

Encountering Inconvenient Truths

The second installment of the series was called “From the Cameroon to Angola.” Lloyd found Douala to be a clean city, with concrete curbing and underground drainage along most streets. But he heard about political repression, despite the country’s status as a Trust Territory.
    Why was there only one daily newspaper? “Because the others were suppressed,” replied a clerk. On balance Lloyd concluded that, although people clearly feared reprisals, they were determined to speak out.
     Self-government within the French union was supposedly on the horizon.  But France could annul any local law or regulation that “impeded” its obligations, or if French and Cameroon law conflicted. In essence, France could prevent any changes it didn’t like. 
     “If this interpretation prevails,” Bill wrote, “then the scheme is hardly self-government or even autonomy.”
* * *
     In the British Cameroon, despite years of denial, Lloyd learned that plans were still afoot to integrate this "Trust Territory" into Nigeria, a British colony. Important members of the majority party had resigned in protest. Unless people were allowed to freely vote for either unification or independence, he concluded, both Britain and France could be charged with “bartering away the fate of peoples without their consent.”
     In French Equatorial Africa, the Lloyds attended a lecture – on desegregation in the US, and at one point Bill offered a few words about reconstruction bitterness after the Civil War. The question period afterward proved to be especially challenging, especially since some who attended felt that recent US progress on race was propaganda designed to help Washington impose its policies on the world.
     “As far as discrimination was concerned," the editor concluded, "we Americans were damned if we did and damned if we didn’t.”
     He also noticed that, in some cases, the communists and reactionaries in the crowd were backing each other up. Asked why the US felt justified in getting involved in Africa’s problems when it had serious problems of its own, he considered the question an attempt to silence him and answered with this:

“It’s physically one world, and Africans are justified in observing, if possible, and writing about race relations in the South, just as Americans should be concerned with the morality of what the West does in Africa and, to a more limited extent, with what Africans do in Africa.”

     The next stop was Angola, where two Angolan-born African businessmen from Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo told him about the arrest of several hundred former Angolese who had tried to visit from the Congo for a festival. The authorities were apparently concerned that the men, who enjoyed more prosperous conditions than people living in Angola, might spread dissatisfaction and spark a revolt.

On the Road Toward Freedom: A Cold War Story, part four of six.
NEXT: Robin Lloyd in Africa

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fighting Words: Toward Freedom in Africa

In September 1955 an editorial column in Toward Freedom, titled “Consent of the Governed,” criticized “the tendency to make the communist issue so big that it obscured all others." During the recent Bandung conference, which had launched the non-aligned movement, the editor noted that the US press had focused hard on public criticisms of Soviet subversion. But it had ignored other statements by world leaders that “urged the third way of emphasizing democracy and the consent of the governed.” 
1998 Issue
The following month Bill LLoyd took up the urgent need for timetables leading to self-government: 

“The fiction of France’s ‘domestic jurisdiction’ in Indochina 10,000 miles away brought the United States to the verge of war in April, 1954. The extreme version of this concept shelters both colonialism and communist totalitarianism, and promotes their interaction to undermine orderly, peaceful progress.”

     Six former colonial areas – Jordan, Ceylon, Nepal, Libya, Cambodia and Laos – joined the UN in 1955. Lloyd said it was a time “when national freedom again was recognized as a logical, acceptable goal for all peoples.” The call issued in Bandung had helped power the drive for UN membership. He also acknowledged that the US maintained an air base in Libya and that the removal of Algeria from the UN agenda represented a setback. However, for the first time a UN visiting mission had proposed a timetable for independence in Tanganyika (Tanzania) – although it was just “within 25 years.”
     Other countries were edging toward freedom. Ghana was preparing for full independence, Sudan’s parliament had declared it independent, Malaysia was preparing to vote, and Morocco was making slow progress. But thousands of lives were being lost in Algeria, nationalists were defying the British military occupation of Cyprus, and violence persisted in Kenya.
     In the midst of the 1956 elections Lloyd addressed the connection between politics and morality. European powers had “milked the colonial people for all they could get,” he charged in an editorial with the pointed title, “Wrongs Must Be Righted.” Too many people forgot “the simple moral fact that the wrongdoer must make restitution before his good intentions can be given full confidence.” That meant restitution for descendants of “grievously wronged” Native Americans and the African people:

“… a full balancing would require colonial governments to spend more for the education of each African child than for each European child, and more for African than for European agricultural development, rather than the lesser amounts that actually are spent in both cases.”

     If Europe’s governments claim that can’t afford it, Lloyd added, the US should handle a big part of the cost by shifting some money from military spending to a “huge and dramatic educational and development program through the United Nations.”

The Conference on Independent African States

When Ghana became a sovereign nation on March 6, 1957, Homer Jack represented the TF executive board at the independence celebrations and filed a report in the April issue. The British union jack had been replaced with Ghana’s flag of red, green and gold, he wrote, but economic colonialism lingered.
     Jack met with Prime Minister Nkrumah and saw promise in some of his bold ideas. For instance, he liked Nkrumah’s idea for a conference of independent African states – including the Union of South Africa – “to “achieve an African personality in international affairs.”  A year later he covered that event, as well as the Sixth Pan-African Conference, both held in Accra.
     Although a few participants at the Conference of Independent African States, notably Tunisia and Ethiopia, were cautiously pro-Western the majority leaned toward neutralism, Jack reported. But there were various types – the positive neutralism of the United Arab Republic, Ghana’s positive non-alignment, and Morocco’s non-dependence. The final resolutions talked about “non-entanglement with the big power blocs."
     Asserting that the African states had a distinctive personality which would speak to the cause of peace, the conference called on the great powers to stop producing nuclear weapons and suspend all testing. In particular, they condemned France’s provocative intentions to test nukes in the Sahara. They urged more African representation in disarmament talks and more consultation generally on global affairs.
     There was no anti-Israel rhetoric, by the way, only a call for a “just solution of the Palestinian question.” Part of the reason was that Ghana, which hosted the event, was becoming one of Israel’s closest friends on the continent. The other friend was the Union of South Africa.

Regional Federalism and Atomic Colonialism

Bill Lloyd frequently focused on the challenges of independence and the tension between centralization vs. federal states rights. In an April 1955 commentary he said that, taken to an extreme, self-determination could lead to fragmentation. On the other hand, new countries had a perfect right to suspect the colonial powers of trying to use divide and conquer tactics.
     The ideal was sovereignty of the people. But based on his Swiss research Lloyd argued pragmatically for the potential of “regional federalism under democratic guarantees.” This involved authority for the central government in the areas of defense, foreign relations, and trade but also suggested flexibility; for example, states and regions should be able to negotiate trade agreements with foreign governments subject to federal approval.
William B. LLoyd, Jr.
 In matters like smuggling and piracy, on the other hand, the help of the world community should be welcomed. He also proposed an novel trade off: In return for aid, Lloyd suggested that new nations ought to allow their dissatisfied minorities “to appeal to public opinion through the world organization for a peaceful settlement of their claims.”
     The continued testing of hydrogen bombs by the US, USSR and UK led to another idea – expanding the definition of colonialism. It needed to go beyond denial of basic rights of self-determination, he said, “to include the forceful imposition of radioactive fallout upon the citizens of unwilling and protesting nations.” 
     Foreign planes were prevented from violating the recognized air sovereignty of nations. Invasion by radioactive fallout was an even greater violation, he charged. It was atomic colonialism, the ultimate form of environmental racism.
     In a follow up editorial Board member Robert Pickus discussed the “engineering of consent," particularly by the Atomic Energy Commission. “We cannot trust our government to give us adequate information because we have given it a prior command: Secure us, by preparing for war,” Pickus wrote. 
     He identified a profound conundrum; Americans wanted democracy, which meant access to information, but they also wanted to be prepared to wage atomic war – which meant secrecy and ultimately loss of control over the government.

On the Road Toward Freedom: A Cold War Story, part three of six.
Next: Continent in Transition

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Non-Aligned Road: Toward Freedom in Africa

In 1954 the Soviet Union tested its first hydrogen bomb. In the summer negotiations between France, Britain, Vietnam, China and the USSR ended the Indochina War. Vietnam was divided into communist and non-communist sectors, but the US refused to sign and Eisenhower began talking about “the falling domino principle,” which he defined as potentially “the beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.” 
     In response, the US created SEATO, an alliance of anti-communist countries in Southeast Asia and plucked Ngo Dinh Diem out of a New Jersey seminary to head South Vietnam’s government.
      Back at home the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that segregation was illegal. The Army-McCarthy Hearings were also held, after the notorious US Senator accused army officers of communist sympathies. But Tailgunner Joe had finally gone too far. Before the end of the year a special Senate committee recommended McCarthy’s censure. In the 1954 mid-term elections the Republicans lost control of the Senate. The mood was tense, but there were signs of change.
      In Chicago, Toward Freedom’s education and organizing mission was taking shape. A first “booklet” was published in October 1954: “Colonialism and the United States: Proposals for Charter Amendment,” on a series of proposed UN changes covering Information Services, unions and federations, colonial empires outside the UN, the moving of Indigenous Peoples, conscription for foreign service, immigration, conciliation and mediation.
     In 1955 Bill Lloyd initiated a new feature, “The Editor’s Column.” The first installment suggested a survey of colonial areas to assess popular reaction “to the idea of establishing time-tables for self-government or independence.” 
     Timetables – something dictators and imperial powers tend to dislike.
     Lloyd’s practical argument was that having a date for independence was just as important to “articulate, freedom-loving people in colonial areas as it is for the banker to put a date on the promissory note he makes you sign when loaning you money.”
     In February he turned his attention to an upcoming Asian-African conference, suggesting that if the US truly wanted to reduce polarization it should abandon the “futile legalistic view of colonial affairs” and support more UN authority in settling colonial conflicts in Kenya, North Africa, and Malaya (Malaysia), which gained independence in 1957.

Kennedy and Algeria

The struggles that TF chronicled in those years were often ignored by the mainstream press. But Sen. John F. Kennedy was a reader and personally praised its coverage of the Algerian revolution. Kennedy also noticed when Bill Lloyd pressed the State Department and NATO about the involvement of US warplanes in Algeria.
     By 1955 the French had sent in at least 100,000 troops. A million French settlers owned the best land, TF noted, and had “an equal vote in the Algerian Assembly with representatives of 9 million Arabs.” Readers were urged to contact their elected leaders before the crisis “develops into another Indochina situation.” It was a clear call to action.
    The Air Force initially denied the involvement of US planes, but TF pressed and eventually obtained the  admission that, yes, US planes had dropping French paratroopers over Algeria. They described it as “a NATO exercise.” TF’s July 1955 cover story carried the bold headline:


     In the editor’s corner, Lloyd attacked US “toadying to colonialism,” pointing out the hypocrisy of a US Congress resolution supporting self-determination on the same day that President Eisenhower sent helicopters to “put down the Algerian nationalists.” He also acknowledged French criticism that anti-colonialism could be a “self-righteous mark for commercial and financial penetration. The difficulty points inescapably to the need for United Nations rather than unilateral American conciliation or mediation.”
     Two years later, on July 2, 1957, Kennedy introduced Res. 153, which called for an international effort to find “an orderly achievement of independence” for Algeria. TF devoted an editorial column that summer to an “eloquent plea for peace” by the senator.

A Voice for New Nations

Toward Freedom was literally the only US publication to provide advance reporting on the historic Bandung Conference, the event that launched the non-aligned movement. It also published the first eyewitness account after the meeting.
     In April 1955, the leaders of 29 Asian and African nations gathered in an Indonesian mountain city and served notice to the world. They wanted a voice in regional and world policy decisions. Bill Lloyd and the TF group immediately recognized the historic nature of this event. In fact, the publication had announced the possibility a year in advance. Homer Jack attended and rushed a first, on-the spot report for the May issue. Soon afterward, TF published Jack’s widely praised longer report as a pamphlet. The first edition sold out in a month.
     For the next four decades Toward Freedom chronicled the non-aligned movement’s progress and setbacks. LLoyd called the Bandung conference “the first general conclave of Asian and African nations in history, and also the most widely representative meeting yet to be called by leaders independent of both sides in the world cold war.”
     The world changed radically during his editorial tenure, but Bill also remained committed to the concept of world federalism. Just as a small Swiss canton had taken the lead in creating that country’s federalist system, he felt that new nations could play an important role in the birth of a post-nationalist world order.

On the Road Toward Freedom: A Cold War Story, part two of six.
Next: From Restitution to Atomic Colonialism

Monday, March 25, 2013

Waging Peace in the Cold War

In the early 1950s most publications ignored the anti-colonial campaigns in progress around the world and focused almost exclusively on the East-West “superpower” struggle between the USA and the USSR. But not Toward Freedom, which debuted at the end of 1952 as a modest three-page newsletter. Defying conventional wisdom, it took on two daunting tasks – correcting distorted perceptions of world affairs and working for the peaceful elimination of colonialism.
     The name was based on the title of a book by Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian leader who was inspiring what became known as the non-aligned movement. Nehru had also inspired William B. Lloyd Jr, who met him during a visit to India. After a private conversation he said that Nehru’s “grasp of world history and clear leadership on behalf of the dispossessed was enormously impressive."
Robin and TF Editor Bill Lloyd, 1958
     The encounter added new dimensions to Bill’s previous studies of Swiss neutrality and mediation. He’d explored these ideas in a book called Waging Peace: The Swiss Experience. As he later explained, “I thought of applying the Swiss idea to new nations as neutrals in the United Nations.”
     Over the next three decades Lloyd followed independence movements, UN initiatives and contributions to world peace made by what were then called “third world” countries. His early collaborators included American Friends Service Committee organizer Robert Pickus, Unitarian minister Homer Jack, author Sid Lens, Roosevelt University President Edward Sparling, union activist Harold Snell, and Chicago area friends like Leon Despres and Ethel and Frank Untermeyer.
     “As a result of talking to UN members, I became more interested in the people of the developing countries,” he explained, “in ways of improving living conditions and whether US aid was really beneficial. I was also excited about their resistance to military alliances.”
     The first issue appeared on December 6, 1952, and included reports of Britain’s response to the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, a defiance campaign against apartheid in South Africa, and an attempt by Asian and Arab nations to get the UN engaged in mediation between France and its African territories. Lloyd took note of recent UN actions on colonial issues, pointing out that the world body often voted with the colonial powers on questions like conflict resolution and independence. He also announced the formation of a Midwest Committee for Colonial Freedom, and plans for a series of classes on Africa at Roosevelt College to be offered by members of TF’s evolving core group.

Spotlight on Colonialism

In Volume 2, Number One, published in June, 1953 the editor asked a pointed question on the front page: Where does America Stand on Africa?  Sixty years later do we know yet?
     The issue featured a rundown of pending UN votes on Tunisia and Morocco – French protectorates at the time, and stories on a wildly unpopular federation plan for Rhodesia, and recognition of “South-West Africa.” 
     Tunisia was a special focus from the start. The June issue reported on a “virtual state of siege” and the fact that members of the opposition party were either in jail or exile. Nationalists were rejecting a voting scheme designed to keep the French in control. Pro-French Berber chiefs in Morocco were trying to get rid of the Sultan, who reportedly favored Arab nationalism and was being called “too modern.”
     Four and a half years later Bill met with the country’s president at his home.
     The June issue concluded with commentary on another question: What is self-government? The phrase was being used frequently in UN documents about colonial issues. Bill asked whether it included participation:
     “For example, since Puerto Ricans have no part in electing US Congressmen or Presidents, but are nevertheless subject to military service in any US war, declared or undeclared, can they be said to enjoy complete self-government?”
     He also proposed that Article 73 of the UN Charter be used to guarantee liberty. His argument was that the Charter obligated colonial powers to publicly report on their territories. But he noted that they “have promoted the fear that the General Assembly might prevent statehood for Hawaii or Alaska.” In January Washington had followed suit by announcing, unilaterally, that no more information would be officially transmitted to the UN on Puerto Rico.

Official language is often euphemistic. Collateral damage comes to mind. At the time a major euphemism was “non-self-governing territories.” (check out the 1954 map below)
     TF provided context that exposed the real conditions and what these “territories” really were – colonies, former colonies, unrepresented nations, peoples and indigenous communities around the world, struggling and sometimes succeeding in claiming their names, land and rights.
     In October Lloyd focused on Ghana, known as The Gold Coast and led by Kwame Nkrumah, who headed the government after the British released him from jail. Comparisons were made to India and Nehru. Bill saw Ghana as a “bright spot,” a place where decolonization might lead to what Nkrumah said he envisioned – “a new relationship based on mutual respect, trust and friendship.”
     Four years later he also met Nkrumah. But when he asked about Ghana’s Interior Minister threatening political opponents with concentration camps the Prime Minister excused it as a trivial local scare tactic. A warning sign, to be sure.
     The December issue was mainly devoted to an election in The Sudan, UN votes on “colonial changes” in Puerto Rico, Surinam and Netherlands Antilles, and an early essay by Rev. Homer Jack, who wrote about how protestants saw colonialism. Jack soon became a second major voice of the publication.
     In October 1954 TF covered negotiations between mining companies and employees in Northern Rhodesia, including statements from two unions that called out the companies for discrimination based on color and social background.
     The focus also returned to Tunisia, following up after a 451-122 vote for autonomy by the French National Assembly. Virtually alone among US publications TF reported on a series of 33 political executions during the year. Tunisia’s former Minister of Justice blamed them in part on the US for providing, as he put it, “the means of exterminating these people.”
     Lloyd wrote bluntly that the situation had deteriorated into “an organized revolt, held in check only by reinforced military occupation.”

On the Road Toward Freedom: A Cold War Story, part one of six.  
Next: The Larger Context & the Kennedy Connection

Friday, March 22, 2013


This is Maverick Media’s Rebel News Round Up, broadcast at 9 a.m. Friday on WOMM (105.9-FM/LP – The Radiator and live streaming) in Burlington. This Week: Crisis signs in Europe, cost of the Iraq war, Occupy buys emergency room debt, Wind power progress, Support for gay marriage, mining asteroids, Trump v. Bill Maher -- the egos have landed, can the Internet survive capitalism?, the next war, plus an interview on the Keystone XL pipeline.  VERMONT NEWS: 350 Vermont Calls for Divestment, Mayor Weinberger goes to school, and Waterfront redevelopment. Here are some highlights:

Europe on the Edge

In Italy, the economy is in the midst of a credit crunch that is causing thousands of companies to go bankrupt. The youth unemployment rate has risen to a new all-time record high of 38.7 percent.
     In Greece, during the 4th quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate was 26.4 percent...and the youth unemployment rate was 57.8 percent.
     The unemployment rate in Spain has reached 26 percent. There are 107 unemployed workers for every available job. Manufacturing activity is declining just about everywhere in Europe except for Germany.
     Overall, the Greek economy has contracted by more than 20 percent since 2008.Things have gotten so bad that the Greek government plans to sell off 28 state-owned buildings - including the main police headquarters in Athens.

Iraq War Could Cost $6 trillion

A new report by the Costs of War Project shows that “war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest. 
     The report concludes the United States gained little from the war while Iraq was traumatized by it. The war reinvigorated radical Islamist militants in the region, set back women’s rights, and weakened an already precarious healthcare system, the report said. Meanwhile, the $212 billion reconstruction effort was largely a failure with most of that money spent on security or lost to waste and fraud.”

Occupy Wall Street forgives $1 million in debt

An Occupy Wall Street offshoot, Strike Debt, has abolished $1.1 million in medical debt for more than 1,000 people. The group has bought emergency room debts for pennies on the dollar and then forgave them rather than trying to collect the money. 
     When a bank, lender or other company, like a hospital, is unable to collect on a debt, it typically sells it to debt buyers or collectors -- often at a much lower price than the original amount owed since the odds of collecting the money are low. Whoever buys the debt then attempts to get the money from the debtor.

Lost in the papal shuffle

1. Pope Francis is 76 years old. That’s just four years short of the the age limit Pope Paul VI set for cardinal to participate in choosing a pope. Pope Francis was very likely elected as a transition pope, to give the church more time to get its act together.

2. Much has been made of the fact that Pope Francis comes from Latin America, ending the European domination of papacies. But Wikipedia reports that Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires , one of the five children of Mario José Bergoglio, a railway worker born in Portacomaro (Asti) in Italy's Piedmont region, and his wife Regina María Sivori, a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genovese) origin." The Vatican doesn't like to rush things.

States Go Big on Wind Power

Defying conventional wisdom about the limits of wind power, in 2012 both Iowa and South Dakota generated close to one quarter of their electricity from wind farms. Wind power accounted for at least 10 percent of electricity generation in seven other states. 
     The US now has 60,000 megawatts of wind online, enough to meet the electricity needs of more than 14 million homes. A record 13,000 megawatts of wind generating capacity was added to the country’s energy portfolio in 2012, more than any other electricity-generating technology. Wind developers installed close to two thirds of the new wind capacity in the final quarter of the year.

Quick Shift to Gay Marriage

A new Pew Research survey says the rise in support for same-sex marriage over the past decade is among the largest changes in opinion on any policy issue over this time period. The survey finds that "much of the shift is attributable to the arrival of a large cohort of young adults - the Millennial generation - who are far more open to gay rights than previous generations.
     Equally important, however, is that 14% of all Americans and 28% of gay marriage supporters say they have changed their minds on this issue, often because they have a family member or friend who is gay.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When Grads Come Back

(Or, how I spent my high school reunion)

By Greg Guma

In our hearts, sometimes we were the Jets, a teenage posse strutting down Bell Boulevard in Bayside, rapping lines from the opening song in West Side Story. We were also members of our own fraternity, Gamma Beta Sigma – otherwise known as GBS or the Guinea Ballbusters Society.
     Not that we were very tough. Our crib was a basement rec room, and Mrs. George Bernard Shaw – another GBS – was our mascot.

Holy Cross High
     To be honest, we were “normal,” relatively innocent kids who went to confession on Saturday night (before going out to “party”), early Baby Boomers, mostly Italian, and all student “knights” at Holy Cross High School in New York City during the early 1960s. My core group, my compadres – the guys I trusted, the ones who watched my back and kept me in line – were Paul, Jack, John, and Jim.
     I hadn’t seen most of them for decades, in most cases since graduating over 40 years ago. But they agreed to turn out for a high school reunion. Celebrating a half-century of educating “articulate Catholic youth,” the school was hosting dinner and dancing for grads from the early and later years on two consecutive nights in the school gym.

Revisiting the old days isn’t for everyone. For some, even thinking about it – no less actually contacting people who knew us when – can be painful and disconcerting. That may be why some prefer to put the past in a box and tuck it away, focusing on who we want to be rather than the way we were. At least that’s how I felt about it for many years.
     Attending a Catholic school wasn’t my idea. In September 1960, most of my friends were returning for ninth grade at one of New York’s better public junior highs. But I was off to spend four years “with my own kind,” as my parents put it. I’m still not sure what they meant, but it didn’t sound promising.
     As I soon learned, the Brothers of the Holy Cross put a heavy emphasis on faith, obedience, and orthodox piety. Gone were supportive teachers who nurtured my creative side. A beautiful closet socialist who used to sit on my desk, exposing me to political thought and encouraging my urge to write, was replaced by a freshman English teacher/football coach who opened his first class with the warning, “You're going to learn how to read, or you're going to learn how to bleed."  In the days of corporal punishment, it wasn't just a rhyme.
     Holy Cross upperclassmen had been in this thing together for years. Even most of the freshmen knew each other from attending parochial elementary schools around Queens County. I had no idea what it was about, and for a long time (until I found my crew) I felt like an outsider, a public school immigrant who didn’t know the score.
     Nevertheless, when a flyer arrived for the school reunion I was curious. Time had healed enough wounds, and it might be worth the seven-hour drive from Lake Champlain to Long Island to find out what had become of my high school compatriots.
     From the outside, Holy Cross looked the same – a grim stone building in a middle class neighborhood, decorated with an austere crucifix and the school’s name. Going inside early in the morning used to feel like entering a prison. 
     This time it was like time travel.

I arrived with Jack, my best friend from those days, wing man extraordinary, biting humorist, and primary co-conspirator in so many teenage adventures. Becoming a media educator on Long Island, he had handled labor relations for the teachers’ association and mentored students at the community radio station. It was hard to suppress a bit of envy, since he was on the verge of retiring from his full-time job.
     Inside, we linked up with Paul and John. Both had brought their wives.
Joan and Paul at the reunion
     Paul and Joan met while they were still in high school, and married once Joan finished nursing school. After playing in a rock band and a few years doing hair – his story about handling wigs for half-naked models was priceless – Paul settled into the insurance business. He’d put on a few pounds – truth be told, we all had – and yet was still the same slick dude, stylishly casual, a gold cross and an anchor (he enjoys sailing) hanging from his neck.
     During high school, a necklace played a role in one adventure that proved Paul was ready to go to the mat for our friendship. I had been meeting secretly with my girl friend – our parents disapproved of “going steady” – and we surreptitiously talked on the phone in the middle of the night.
     One night, my father burst in, Mom behind him holding the necklace she had discovered in my room. (Was nothing sacred?) The inscription told the tale: For my love. 
     “Who’s on the phone? Dad demanded as I hung up.
     “Paul,” I lied.
     “And what’s this?” Mom followed up, brandishing the evidence.
     “I'm holding it for him” was all I could muster. They immediately called his house.
     Awakened by his parents, Paul backed me up the best he could while half asleep. Our parents knew it was baloney, but there was no way to break us. We’d all seen The Great Escape, and understood what it meant to be part of the team.

“Joan’s still waiting for her necklace,” Paul joked 42 years later.
     We were strolling down the hall to our old in-school getaway, a tiny room from which our group had run the school’s public address system. For us – and our captive student audience – it was WHCH, a “radio” station that we used to offer news, the latest music, and the occasional crazy skit.  “Ah, the ‘don’t bother me, I’m busy’ room,” Paul recalled.
     Although the members of my group had varied interests in high school, we often joined the same clubs; athletics, forensics (various forms of public speaking), the Spanish Club, school paper, Great Books Club, and more.
     John and I also were part of the cheerleading squad (no girls attended Holy Cross, and someone had to orchestrate the cheering). Thinking back, we laughed about the trouble we sometimes had explaining why boys were cheerleaders. Still, he was surprised to learn why I actually joined – to irritate my over-protective parents, who worried that I might get injured doing flips or fall off the pyramid.
     Like Paul, John had become an insurance executive. His comfortable home on the New Jersey coast had cute nautical touches, and he was still the same straight-shooting, earnest guy. I dropped in several years ago, and our spirited political conversation went late into the night.
     Down in the gym, we grabbed a table and looked for faces we could recognize. Sometimes it wasn’t easy. But I had no trouble picking out Artie, the person who had served as our year’s Mr. Wonderful. That’s the guy who is not only smart, but also has real athletic ability, and, to make matters worse, is an all-around nice human being. In this case, he had been class president and vice president over three years, excelled at football and academics, served on the student council, and edited our yearbook.
Artie remembered the show
     Artie was in management with New York’s Group Health, Inc., remained a strong presence, and attended as many reunions as he could.
     “I often wondered what happened to you,” he said, smiling. “Remember WHCH? I loved hearing you guys.”
     Jack and I were surprised that anyone was actually listening.
      Later, I asked Artie how he felt about being that special figure in our class, or whether he was even aware of the role he had played.
     Artie nodded and explained “I guess more people remember my name,” he said. “That’s why I try to keep in touch, bring people back. Every time we see a few new people. I feel it’s kind of a responsibility.” He also hadn’t changed.

Before dinner arrived, Jim joined us. Now the reunion was complete. Although Jim wasn’t “officially” part of GBS – he couldn’t be bothered with our absurd initiation rites – we were debate team partners for most of high school, spending countless hours developing arguments and taking on opponents from other schools. You had to be ready to take either side, but we specialized in “going negative.”
     I found the skills I developed more useful than most of my classes. Jim agreed. Chief of the children’s ward at a New York psychiatric hospital, he noted that understanding and responding to arguments was a major help in his work as a mental health manager. Our salutatorian (second in the class), he remained sharp, serious, and sensitive.
     For the next few hours, we reminisced and shared bits of our stories (all of us had children and most had been through at least one divorce). About the only topic that didn’t get covered was religion. When former Catholic school kids gather, it may be one of the only social taboos left.
     At one point, I considered walking up to my freshman English teacher, the one who connected reading with bleeding, and reminding him that I hadn’t plagiarized that book report on Howard Fast’s Spartacus. For some reason, I just identified with the story of a slave revolt. He was there as a special guest and finally looked approachable. But I let it pass. He wasn’t likely to remember and it no longer made a difference.
     Anyway, there were more helpful teachers. Although many were young, a few downright incompetent or even sadistic, and most Holy Cross brothers with limited experience and marginal social skills, some could make learning relevant.
Jack: Brainy BFF
     Jack and I agree that our junior year English teacher was perhaps the best. He had a knack for getting us excited about literature and ideas. My exposure to major intellectual currents through writing papers for him about Jack London, Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, the early 20th century muckrakers, and the luminaries of the “lost generation” truly set the context for my career as a journalist, editor, and teller of stories with some social relevance.
     That one class made the travails of my high school years worth enduring. 

As the party broke up, Jack, Paul and I extended our reunion with drinks at a nearby bar. We talked about Madeline, the object of all our desires, and other young women we had dated. Although no one got much sex in those days, we agreed that they were among our most romantic and exciting. It was all about anticipation, the mystery of what might happen next – the process of being young and horny.
     But that was then, when we were Holy Cross knights and the “sap was running” – as our principal would put it. We had phony IDs, raging hormones, and more attitude than we could handle. Now we had business cards, responsibilities, and great memories that hadn’t faded with time.  All things considered a worthwhile trip. 

Four Knights: Greg, Jack, Paul and John
Originally appeared in Vermont Guardian, 2005