Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year

Have a happy and healthy New Year. 

May 2013 bring the world closer to peace!

Jan Barry and Paula Rogovin

These peace cranes were made by Paula’s grand-niece, Hoshea Rogovin. They were made from Combat Paper made from the fibers of a military uniform blended with the fibers of a Marine Mom T-shirt. These cranes were donated to a Combat Paper crane project inspired by Tina Drakulich whose son, David, was killed in the war in Afghanistan.
After the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, a young child named Sadako contracted leukemia. As she lay dying in the hospital, she tried to make 1,000 paper cranes. She died before she finished. People in Japan and around the world continue to make paper cranes to symbolize our yearning for world peace.
The red cloth is from a blouse made in a special program in Vietnam for teenagers with leg deformities from Agent Orange or other chemicals dropped by the US during the Vietnam War. It is another way of making use of art to help heal the wounds of war.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Making a Killing

Another Kind of Bottom Line
(graph/Mother Jones)
Until apple-cheeked school children and beloved teachers died in a blizzard of bullets in Newtown, Connecticut, pension fund managers, Wall Street hedge fund owners and other investors were looking for another kind of killing—a financial one—from their considerable shares in gun manufacturing firms.

Now a shocked news media is rushing to unveil the long hidden shadow behind the long string of massacres by homegrown gunmen armed with military assault weapons aimed at fellow citizens.

“Pension giant California State Teachers' Retirement System, or Calstrs, is reviewing a $500 million investment commitment to Cerberus Capital Management LP because of the private-equity firm's ownership of the maker of a weapon used in Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn,” the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday morning.

The New York Times reported more details in a business column: “It is often overlooked, but some of the biggest gun makers in the nation are owned by private equity funds run by Wall Street titans. The .223 Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle that was used on Friday by Adam Lanza to massacre 20 schoolchildren was manufactured by the Freedom Group, a gun behemoth controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, named after the three-headed dog of Greek myth that guarded the gates of Hades. Its founder, Stephen A. Feinberg, hunts regularly on the weekends with a Remington Model 700.”

Within hours of these news reports, Cerberus Capital Management, based in New York City, announced that it is selling its stake in the company that makes Bushmaster rifles. But news reporters across the nation were now on the trail like baying hounds hot on the heels of the usually wily foxes of Wall Street. Bloomberg News tracked down Feinberg’s father at his retirement home in, of all places, Newtown, Connecticut and asked for a comment on the shooting rampage that tore up the heart of a community school, an outrage committed by a local boy with the loaded Bushmaster belonging to his mother, who was also killed reportedly by one of her collection of semi-automatic guns.

Then the business news company owned by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped the boom on the cozy relationship between assault weapons-makers and public pension funds.

“The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages $150 billion, is also reviewing its investments in gunmakers, according to Eric Sumberg, a spokesman for State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli,” Bloomberg News reported. “As investors, we support Cerberus Capital Management for taking action today to sell its stake in the Freedom Group,” Sumberg said today in an e-mail.

“New York City pension funds are reconsidering about $18 million in the stocks of Smith & Wesson, Sturm Ruger and two other companies whose businesses include gun manufacturing. ‘We are currently conducting a review of our holdings and aggressively exploring all options, including divestment,’ Matthew Sweeney, a spokesman for Comptroller John C. Liu, said in an e-mailed statement.”

Until Friday, the gun manufacturing parent company had a good year, Reuters reported: “Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million the same time a year ago.”

Other reporters tracked down the financial link between the gun manufacturer and the California teachers pension fund, which quickly announced it was reviewing its massive investment in the Cerberus hedge fund.

“The California teachers' retirement fund is also ‘reviewing’ its multimillion-dollar investments in two publicly traded firearms manufacturers, Smith & Wesson, and Sturm, Ruger, another fund spokesman, Ricardo Duran, told The Huffington Post.

“Smith & Wesson manufactured the assault weapon used by James Holmes during the Aurora, Colo., rampage that killed 12 and injured 58. Sturm, Ruger made the assault weapon used by Anders Breivik during the killing spree that left 77 people, mostly teenagers, dead in Norway in July 2011.

“California's teacher retirement system owns hundreds of thousands of shares in the two publicly traded gun corporations according to the system's equities documents, for a total worth of approximately $6 million…

“As sales of traditional hunting rifles and shotguns have declined in recent decades, sales of military-style assault weapons to civilians have become a major profit-driver for gun companies,” The Huffington Post noted, “making any new gun control regulations a major financial threat for the entire industry, analysts said.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

Confronting the War at Home

State police arriving at school shooting in Newtown, CT
(photo/The Hour)
As US military forces roam the world in search of enemies to fight, folks back home are under assault by suicidal, mayhem-bent sons and neighbors wielding military assault weapons. America’s relentless war on terrorism—i.e., on people using mass violence against the globally expansive American way of life—has come home in terrifying, terrible ways.

Gunmen from our own communities have turned urban neighborhoods, suburban shopping malls, college campuses and small town schools into war zones.

“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end,” President Obama said Sunday at a prayer vigil in Newtown, Connecticut, where a 20-year-old local resident killed 20 school children, six teachers and administrators, his mother and himself in volleys of shots in a war on the community where he was raised.

The military solution would be to declare martial law, station troops at every school, shopping center and every other public gathering place, marshal special operations teams to break down doors at every home and apartment that military-intelligence found reason to believe may harbor hidden weapons of mass destruction.

That’s been the American way of war for the past decade and more in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s been very popular in American video games, movies, TV shows. And it’s been a fatal attraction for many young men in American communities whose minds became unhinged in a society that apparently worships military-style violence.

“We have to change,” our commander-in-chief said in Newton. Obama could lead off by ending the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. Americans are dying across America of the consequences of waging such violence abroad.

The rest of us will have to decide if we have the courage of the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown who died confronting a hometown gunman wielding a military-style arsenal made in America.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Green Businesses: Redefining the Bottom Line

 2013 Chevy Volt      (photo/

 General Motors has set a different kind of bottom line for car companies, reducing and reusing waste material to zero at more than half of its manufacturing plants around the world.

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay is taking similar action in food manufacturing, building what it calls a “netzero” plant in Arizona designed to operate on recycled water, solar-panel energy, biomass fuel and cutting edge waste reduction.

“This is an investment in our future. This is an investment in environmental sustainability,” Al Halvorsen, a Frito-Lay executive, said during a panel discussion at the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference recently. “For businesses to succeed, societies must succeed as well,” he added in a rare discussion with a roomful of journalists about corporate moves to reduce their impact on the natural environment.

GM showcased its “green business” stance by displaying its newest Chevy Volt hybrid-electric car at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Lubbock, Texas in October. While many conference participants were drawn to test-drive the Volt, my attention was hooked by large posters highlighting GM’s “landfill free” actions at scores of facilities. The posters flanked a literature table headed by the company’s environment and energy communications manager, Sharon K. Basel. 

"If you put a bag of trash on the curb each week," Basel told the Detroit News in April, "you're putting more trash on the curb than our 99 (landfill-free) facilities combined."

This is an astounding development, given the massive flow of industrial debris dumped by auto manufacturers over decades that created toxic waste sites across the US. How did GM do this? Creative step by step, the Detroit News reported. “For example, engineers converted Chevrolet Volt battery-pack covers that were scrapped during the development process into wood-duck nesting boxes at the Wildlife Habitat Council-certified grounds of GM's Customer Care & Aftersales Center in Grand Blanc.

"’A lot of the stuff we've incorporated has come from employee ideas,’ Basel said. For GM, recycling means dollars, too. The company has recorded about $2.5 billion in revenue since 2007 by selling recycled materials.”

This is a business-oriented environmental story I don’t recall seeing reported previously. It gets more interesting the further I dug into it when I got home from the conference.    

“In a sustainability report published last January … GM said its number of landfill-free facilities rose from 0 in 2000 and 1 in 2005 to 76 in 2010, and in that year its facilities recycled 92 percent of the waste they generated. In the report, GM committed to achieve 25 more landfill-free sites and reduce total waste by an additional 10 percent by 2020,” Environmental Leader website reported in June.

Among GM’s innovative actions, the environmental and energy management news site noted, are these: “The company has been re-purposing a wide variety of material. In conjunction with its suppliers, GM recycles scrap cardboard from various plants into a sound absorber on the Buick Lacrosse and Verano interior roof. Air deflectors on the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks are made with used tires from the automaker’s proving ground.”

In a business culture that traditionally emphasizes trade secrets, GM executives decided to tell other companies how they managed these improvements. “GM is sharing the lessons it's learned with other corporations, such as PepsiCo's Frito-Lay,” The Detroit News reported. "’That is a big focus for us, to help mentor and train and share our best practices with other companies,’ Basel said.”

GM created a blueprint for landfill-free waste reduction and posted it on its website. “In the blueprint, GM gives nine steps on how to make plants and facilities landfill free such as tracking waste data, defining zero waste, prioritizing waste-reduction activities, engaging employees and building a sustainability culture, strengthening supplier partnerships, and resolving regulatory challenges,” Waste & Recycling News reported last month.

Why are big corporations like GM and Frito-Lay acting like environmental activists?

“Sustainability really isn’t a choice any more,” Sharlene Leurig, senior manager of water and insurance programs at Ceres, said during the SEJ panel discussion on “Green Businesses.”  Ceres is a coalition focused on sustainable business practices.  What got business executives’ attention, she said, is “the scale of disruptions” in doing business because of water shortages in drought areas and “extreme weather events” erupting around the world.

“The climate is changing,” Leurig said. “Companies are noticing.”

 Halvorsen, the Frito-Lay executive, said multinational companies take supply disruptions from weather-related disasters very seriously—such as floods in Thailand that closed manufacturing supply plants. Many businesses now work with conservation groups on issues such as deforestation that contribute to more severe floods, for instance.

“We are active with about 400 corporations to try to improve sustainability in the world,” he said.

Halvorsen said his company and others are looking to change what goes on in agricultural and other practices in their supply chain that impact the environment. “There’s some dramatic things we can do,” he said. 

For more information:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day USA

Voters in Rockaway, NY     (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The young woman walked up to the closed, dark community center and burst into tears. “Where can I vote?” she said to an older woman standing in the virtually empty parking lot. “This is my first time.”

And so began a conversation among strangers that led to my being asked to drive the young woman to an elementary school across town where the voting districts that usually set up in the community center had been moved in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s swath of destruction across New Jersey. When she came out of the elementary school, the young woman, a high school senior juggling a job at a fast food restaurant and unsure what she wants to do in life, burst into a big smile. “I feel empowered,” she said of her vote.

Hours later, a forlorn figure came striding across the dark parking lot to two people standing by a car. “Where can I vote?” said the well-dressed woman toting a large bag. “I just got off the bus from work.” I dropped her off in front of the school in a far corner of Teaneck, NJ with ten minutes to spare before the polls closed.

Earlier in the day, I gave a ride to two older men speaking Russian and a woman with a Caribbean accent. The neighborhood around the community center is a sometimes uneasy mixture of middle class African-Americans, conservative Orthodox Jews and liberal Manhattan transplants. The most divisive selection on the ballot was perhaps the local school board race, certainly right up there with the contest for president of the US.  

Residents of this suburban neighborhood anxiously coped with the frustrations of leaving a home without electricity—or which had only recently gotten it back after a week without power—to find their polling place closed by the storm. They coped by cooperating with strangers offering directions or a ride to an unfamiliar part of town.

Some who stopped by looking to vote came back from the polls and joined the tiny band of volunteers. “This is the best thing I could do today,” said a tall, distinguished-looking hospital administrator. A former youth league basketball coach, he connected with many of the confused voters by recalling coaching their kids.

The woman with a Caribbean accent returned in her husband’s pickup truck with a magic marker. She was upset that when she had walked over to vote, a sign directed voters to go to Hawthorne Elementary School. “I’m not going to drive to Hawthorne, NJ!” she said angrily. She hand-wrote under the name of the school: “Teaneck.”

And then she settled in to spend the rest of the day helping reassure voters anxious about gasoline supplies that they didn’t have to drive to a polling place in a distant town in the next county. Hour after hour, she greeted confused drivers and walkers, handing out copies of Google map directions and organizing car pools to the school. “I’m a state supervisor,” she said, referring to her job as a medical supervisor at a state retirement home for military veterans. “I feel this is what I should be doing today.”

Meanwhile, my partner alternated greeting lost voters and calling election and municipal officials on her cell phone for assistance. She pressed the municipal manager to provide copies of map directions and an emergency light for the parking lot when evening approached. A DPW worker stopped by, assessed the situation and said he’d see what could be done. Two National Guard trucks arrived and their crews unloaded boxes of emergency shelter beds. “That’s for the next storm,” someone said, referring to the Nor’easter predicted to whip in off the ocean on top of the hurricane damage.

Shortly before sunset, the municipal manager strode out of the building and announced that the lights had been restored. Then the municipal workers and the National Guard drove off.

The parking lot grew dark and lonely, even with the newly restored lights. A woman who had stopped by earlier in the day drove in and parked. “I’m back to help,” she said. As they waited for voters to swing in and abruptly stop, stunned to see the community center closed, the latest volunteer and my partner suddenly started whooping. They discovered they had both been at the same New York City public school years ago, as a teacher and student in another class.    

A car drove in. The driver was a college student still wearing his cooking uniform from a culinary institute up the Hudson River. “Hurry up,” my partner said, giving directions to the school. “You can still make it to vote.” 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stormy Weather

Hurricane Sandy, Cape May, NJ  (AP photo/Mel Evans)
Nobody was prepared for the force of Hurricane Sandy when it smacked into the Jersey shore on Monday: Not the barrier island towns turned into miles-long piles of mangled houses, buried cars and burning gas lines, and their dazed, defiant old-timers who’d weathered previous storms, but had to be rescued by police and National Guard units.
Not the state of New Jersey, whose Obama-bashing Republican governor was reduced to asking the Democratic president for massive federal aid, as lines of desperate drivers snaked along roads across the state seeking some gasoline from the few service stations that had electricity, and millions of residents shivered in homes with no lights or heat.

Not the city of New York, where the storm surge swamped subway tunnels and car tunnels, flooded power stations that shorted out electric power to large swathes of the city, as winds gusting to 100 miles per hour closed bridges, airports and fanned flames that burned out an entire seaside community.

And not the federal government, which scrambled to mobilize military units to fly in utility crews from other states to help untangle broken power lines and fallen trees, fix or replace exploded transformers and flooded substations; FEMA and other federal agency aid teams faced with millions of increasingly restive people without electricity and heat and running out of food; and logistics teams to organize the movement of gasoline supplies to the region’s thousands of largely darkened service stations.        

In our little corner of Teaneck, NJ, power returned after four days, thanks to a crew of utility workers from Florida who worked long hours to replace a transformer down the street that burst into flames during the hellacious winds that whipped through here on Monday, toppling trees across the region. We celebrated with friends with a potluck supper that was all that remained of a poetry reading we’d planned to hold at a local arts center. Beyond our few, happy blocks of light, most of our town and as far as one could see across Bergen County was still dark Friday night.

Meanwhile, long lines of cars, vans and trucks formed near the few service stations that were open. A long line of people on foot with gas cans waited at a gas station in a neighboring town, hoping to get some fuel for generators or to drive to work even after the station ran out and closed the pumps. The gasoline crisis prompted New Jersey Governor Christie to order odd/even rationing based on the last numeral on one's license plate and the date of the month. Even so, a service station near our home closed this morning after it quickly sold out its supply to a flash-mob of drivers and walkers with gas cans. A worker at the station said he didn’t know when they would get resupplied.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Barry O’Bama, Republicanocrat

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

If Barry O’Bama were a registered Republican, Republicans would be hailing him as a brilliant commander-in-chief who took out Osama bin Laden, sent in the Marines to spearhead a military surge in Afghanistan, saved Wall Street, Main Street and the American automobile-SUV-and-pickup-truck industry from bankruptcy, stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel in the face of threats from Iran, and created an economically sound, bipartisan, public-private partnership based on the pioneering state health care plan formulated by that rock-ribbed compassionate conservative, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
The irony of the 2012 presidential election campaign is that Barack Obama’s record as president is more Republican than it is stereotypically Democratic. Like Eisenhower’s pledge to end the stalemated war in Korea, Obama vowed to end the war in Iraq and did so. Like Nixon’s diplomatic coup in traveling to Communist China, Obama deftly undercut dictators in Egypt and Libya. Like Teddy Roosevelt’s nurturing of national forests and national parks while thundering like a bull moose at the rapaciousness of big banks and oil corporations, Obama revived environmental protection and tighter regulations of big financial wheelers and dealers as national priorities.

Like Gerald Ford, Obama dutifully and thanklessly picked up the pieces of a recklessly war-waging, backroom dealmaking, self-serving presidency that crashed in flames—and pardoned the unrepentant crisis-makers, telling the nation, including furious Democrats, let’s move on, clean up the mess and work together to rebuild. Like Lincoln, Obama has tried mightily to hold a fractious republic together in the face of a fiercely anti-federal government, “states’ rights” rebellion on one side and a revolt by disenfranchised students, military veterans and disgruntled armies of the unemployed on the other.

In  contrast, Mitt Romney appears to be running to be CEO of America Inc. The former governor contends that government can’t do anything right including creating jobs, but that he can. In that case, as an experienced business executive, Mitt has a tremendous public spirited opportunity to invest his fortune and that of fellow billionaires to create or expand companies to hire millions of Americans to do good American jobs. With all that money, reportedly sitting in off-shore tax havens, what’s he need the government for to boost the economic engines of the private sector?

Mitt Romney likes to invoke the genial ghost of Ronald Reagan. Unlike Romney’s bellicose stance regarding Iran, however, the former California governor knew how to diffuse an international crisis involving threats and worries over nuclear weapons, reaching out to adversaries. Like Reagan, who went to Moscow to embrace Gorbachev in Red Square and end the Cold War, Obama has traveled far and wide to offer his hand in friendship to nations in turmoil, and also to our tumultuous, politically-divided, culturally warring states. It’s time for Republicans of good will to bury the animosity driving the debilitating Cold War at home that has so disastrously divided Americans.   

Monday, October 22, 2012

Texas Style State of the World

I've seen the future and it's called Texas! That's the gist of how a liberal environmental activist, a conservative Congressman and many other folks described the Lone Star State at the 22nd annual Society of Environmental Journalists conference that ended Sunday in Lubbock, Texas.

Here's what the future looks like, according to an astounding variety of people who spoke with the assembled writers, television and radio personalities, journalism professors, environmental activists and industry representatives at the event, hosted by Texas Tech University. Besides panel discussions at the Overton Hotel and Conference Center, where I was a moderator of a lunch discussion, busloads of conference attendees fanned out from Lubbock across the Texas plains to see various places and issues first-hand. Here're some highlights of what they heard and saw:

  • There's plenty of water in drought-parched west Texas for oil and gas drilling and fracking operations, which use substantial amounts of water mixed with sand and chemicals to crack open shale formations deep underground, said an owner of an oil drilling operation near Midland, Texas.
  • With hundreds of cedar trees dead from drought, the water supply from the Texas hill country is in deep trouble, if the hottest and driest weather pattern on record continues, said a watershed researcher.

  • There's plenty of beef in Texas, to judge by the heaping platters of meat set out for the hungry hordes of scribes.
  • Food suppliers predict that "meat is going to become a luxury item within a year," said the manager of food services for scores of schools.

  • West Texas is "one of nature’s biggest working laboratories for agriculture, energy and water research," said the region's Congressman, Rep. Randy Neugebauer. “I think that West Texas can serve as an example to the rest of the country on how we can meet the challenges we face today.”
  • "We're going to struggle in Texas if we have a decade like 2011"--the driest on record for the state, said a former EPA regional administrator, Alfredo Armendariz.

  • Oil and gas fracking operations provide good jobs and don't harm the environment, said industry operators.
  • Oil and gas fracking operations are destroying the quality of life in a rural community near Midland, Texas, where many oil and gas workers live, said several angry residents.

  • "The climate is changing," but who's to say it's not a natural cycle, said the West Texas Congressman.
  • "The vast majority of scientists are telling us it's not a natural cycle," said the former EPA administrator.
  • In any case, Texas and much of the US just experienced two summers of record heat waves, which cost "billions of dollars in health costs" as well as increased deaths, said a public health scientist.

  • Texas is booming with oil, gas, cotton farming, cattle ranching and many other businesses, said several speakers.
  • The future may look like the past unless major modifications are made to the intensive farming practices amid drought conditions that led to the "dust bowl" disaster across the Great Plains in the 1930s, suggested a new Ken Burns documentary, "The Dust Bowl," shown at the conference. The film is scheduled to air on PBS next month.

Here’re some of the news reports that this eco-journalism spotlight on Texas generated:

“President of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce Mike George introduced Odessa to a group of environmental reporters in a unique way — calling the city the Clean Energy Capital of the World,” the Odessa American newspaper reported of the visit by a busload of Society of Environmental Journalists attendees.

“George then went on to talk about Duke Energy’s 95-turbine wind farm in Notrees and how it is the home to a 36-megawatt battery storage facility, the biggest battery storage unit for any wind farm in the world,” added Odessa American reporter Nathaniel Miller. Then he listed plans for a 500-acre solar farm. And then there’s the 400-megawatt “clean coal” electricity generating plant planned for next year with funding from the federal government and the Export-Import Bank of China that is “designed to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide it produces and sell the CO2 as enhanced oil-recovery, which will help companies bring more oil out of the ground.”

“Shane Leverett and his neighbors in Gardendale, Texas, are livid that their properties are now graced with tall white stakes, some less than 150 feet from their homes,” noted a reporter from, Bobby Magill. “Those stakes are signs that an oil company plans to come soon to drill their yards and ranch land in Gardendale, a ranching community on the broad mesquite flats between Midland and Odessa in the heart of the oil-rich Permian Basin.”
In contrast, Magill added, “Unlike Colorado, where the state regulations currently being amended determine oil and gas well setbacks, Texas allows cities to regulate setbacks and other oil and gas issues themselves. In dense urban areas, Colorado’s current setback is 350 feet from homes.”

“Brooks Hodges took over as general manager of Pitchfork Land & Cattle Co. last year in the midst of a drought and then had to deal with wildfire devouring 90,000 acres of native pasture,” noted an editor at, Chris Clayton.

“A group of journalists participating in the Society of Environmental Journalists annual meeting in Lubbock, Texas, toured the Pitchfork Ranch near Guthrie on Thursday as well as the Hale Center Feedyard outside Hale Center, Texas,” Clayton wrote. Here’s what they found:

“Drought recovery remains slow for cow-calf operators. There won’t be any official USDA numbers on whether ranchers are starting to rebuild their herds until January, but numbers earlier this year showed the Texas cow herd had 650,000 fewer head than a year earlier. Overall, the entire cattle herd in Texas declined from 13 million head to 11.9 million.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Death of a Poet

John E. Cowen, 1941-2012
A poet, at his or her best, channels the rhythms of life and death.

Somehow when we get ready
to put things in
order, we know
our time has
come …

("Getting Ready”)

That was the last poem in John Edwin Cowen’s latest book, Poems from Dylan’s Wales, a reflection on Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s life and death.  Just months after its publication earlier this year, Cowen died on August 23 at age 71.

There was no hint of this abrupt departure in Cowen’s vigorous poetry reading in June at his favorite hangout, Louie's Charcoal Pit, in his hometown of Teaneck, NJ. Amid a crowd of admirers going back to his years as a local school teacher and administrator, and more recently as an education professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Cowen signed a copy of his new book for me—“A fellow poet who I met at the Louie’s reading—June 18, 2012”—in a firm scrawl.

But in his homage to Dylan Thomas, the fabled poet from a tiny backwater of Great Britain who died at 39 in New York, Cowen channeled death’s realm.

In the grayest bay on the grayest day
            the grayest seagulls sing
their grayest shrieking song
            to my grayest grayest ring-
ing bell to toll

(“Gray Gray Swansea Bay”)

Earlier in his visit to Thomas’s hometown during the 2011 International Poetry Festival in Swansea, Cowen made light of tripping on the steep hillside at Laugharne Cemetery and falling on the famous poet’s grave. But the poem turns macabre.

Once upon a time, I fell
            On Dylan’s grave: —
Upon his sea-drift songs
            Of his apple green youth
and mine. And, now, I, too, lay, me

            Down, perhaps to dream,
Perhaps to sleep, but more
            Content shall I now keep…

Until I hear October’s
            Raven: —cough up sticks.

(“The Day I Fell on Dylan Thomas’s Grave”)

He was pleased with the way the trip to Wales turned out, how traipsing Dylan Thomas’s home grounds inspired a flurry of new poems. He was delighted that two poets he met at the festival recommended his work to Anaphora Literary Press, which later that year brought out Mathematics of Love, a collection of Cowen’s poems that had previously appeared in literary magazines.

He was further delighted when Stanley H. Barkin, publisher of Cross-Cultural Communications, printed a handsome collection of Cowen’s poems inspired by Dylan Thomas. The book is co-published by The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea, Wales.

As he turned 71, Cowen had crowned a lifetime of scribbling poetry amid teaching and academic administration work with two books of his poems appearing in tandem. He celebrated each publication with a reading at Louie’s Charcoal Pit. By happenstance, my partner and I decided to eat at Louie’s one night and discovered Cowen intently reading to a rapt crowd. We returned for his next reading in the restaurant, as well.

Behind the humble, down-home celebration was a life devoted to poetry. As his obituary in a local newspaper noted:  “John was the ‘Parnasus Literary Journal's’ first-prize winner in international competition. He published poems widely in major literary magazines and was a co-publisher of  ‘Bravo: The Poet's Magazine’ founded in 1980 by the late poet, Jose Garcia Villa. He was the editor of the Penguin Classics centennial volume: ‘Doveglion: The Collected Poems of Jose Garcia Villa’ published in 2008.”

You never know about poets, where they’ll spring up.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Winning Hearts & Minds Anniversary

 The Puffin Poetry Jam presents a 40th anniversary celebration of Winning Hearts & Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans on Friday, Nov. 2, 7-9 p.m. at Puffin Cultural Forum, 20 Puffin Way, Teaneck, NJ. The event is a benefit for the Warrior Writers program.  $10 suggested donation.

Readers include Winning Hearts & Minds poets Jan Barry and W.D. Ehrhart;  Gerald McCarthy, contributor to Demilitarized Zones, the 1976 sequel; Warrior Writers Nicole Goodman,  Justin Jacobs, Jennifer Pacanowski and Eli Wright; and guest poets Allen Hinman, Jim Murphy, Walt Nygard, Dayl Wise and Walter Zimmerman. Performers also include musicians Tamara Hayden and Raymond Daniel Medina.

Published in 1972 by 1st Casualty Press, a literary collective formed by Vietnam veterans Jan Barry, Basil T. Paquet and Larry Rottmann, WHAM debuted with selections reprinted in the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times Midwest Magazine and other newspapers and magazines across America. Besides hand-made paperback editions hawked at peace rallies, poetry readings, progressive bookstores, on street corners and through mail orders, a widely distributed commercial edition was reprinted by McGraw-Hill.

A WHAM poem,”The Longest War” by Jan Barry, appeared in A People and A Nation: A History of the United States. A novel by WHAM contributor Gustav Hasford sparked the war film Full-Metal Jacket. Another contributor, W.D. Ehrhart, recently published his 20th book of prose and poetry. Other contributors forged distinguished careers in journalism, education, medicine, law, government service, business and other enterprises.

“Winning Hearts and Minds touched the lives of thousands of people and made them better for it. It touched my life, leaving me with a permanent fascination in the power of words. It made me want to be a poet – not just a doodler or a hobbyist, but a writer. It opened the way to the life I have lived ever since.”
– W.D. Ehrhart, author, most recently, of Dead on a High Hill: Essays on War, Literature and Living, 2002-2012 and other works.

"WHAM was/is a labor of love built upon so much disillusionment and betrayal. WHAM captured the unreality of the WAR, as well as the reality of same. The words on those pages just leapt off the page and into the, ironically, Hearts and Minds of the reader. It was a very special project which for the writers and readers alike served to render a verdict of Colossal Blunder, in a Thunder and torrent of words written from the heart, soul and gut of the participants."
– Stan Platke, WHAM contributor


Monday, October 1, 2012

Remembering Paula Kay

Paula Kay Pierce, 1942-2002

 She would have turned 70 today Instead, she died of cancer more than 10 years ago.

I met Paula Kay Pierce at a peace march. She was my greatest supporter in transforming from bitter ex-soldier into a productive citizen. She became my life partner and made it possible in all sorts of ways for me to do my poetry and other projects.

My best response to the Vietnam war was conveyed in poetry. I found my writing voice in contributing to Winning Hearts & Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans, which was put together and published at the Brooklyn place where Paula and I were living at the time.

 When she died, in January 2002, after more than 30 years together, my habit of jotting down lines and ideas for poems saved my life. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and wrote poems about her and created a collection, Earth Songs, in which she was very much a presence. That collection encompasses poems on Vietnam and post-war experiences, including our life together and the immediate aftermath of her death.

I’ve since tried to write a sequel to that 2003 collection. Here’s a couple of the poems in that work-in-progress:


I can still hear
after all these years
you playing ragtime tunes—
ecstasy filling the living room

On comes a Scott Joplin tune
I can feel you in the room—
fingers flying, souls soaring,
hearts attuned and dancing

So much joy, so much lost—
my heart still races after a ghost
after all these years,
ecstasy and tears

Paula’s Day

We scattered your ashes
On the Hudson River today—
Sorry it took five years
To do it, finally.

The boys came from LA,
Nik flew in just for the day—
Chris had a premier in Montclair!
All of us together, finally.

We went to Liberty State Park
On a sparkling spring day—
Near where we kept the boat,
We released your spirit, finally.

We scattered your ashes 
With rose petals on the river today—
Sharing fond memories of you,
Our family all together, finally.

We so missed you all these years,
And so we gathered today—
To release you in a river of love,
Together again, finally.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Call to Action

Alice Walker
Veterans For Peace held its 27th national convention last month in Miami, Florida. Among the highlights were a tribute to the organization by former TV talk-show host Phil Donahue and a call by novelist and poet Alice Walker for a new wave of outreach to enlist veterans on the verge of suicide to join social change campaigns.

"I admire Veterans For Peace for one central reason above everything else," Donahue told the August gathering of community-to-international activists. "Veterans For Peace walks the walk."

Donahue was there to show and discuss his film, Body of War, the story of a severely wounded Iraq war veteran, Tomas Young, who flung himself into peace movement activism, interacting with many of the veterans attending the convention.

“Hundreds of veterans with knowledge of war and dedicated to the abolition of war were gathered for the opening night ... [of] their first international convention as VFP has opened a chapter in the U.K. from which members are attending. VFP also has a chapter in Vietnam,” the St. Louis-based group noted in a news release.

Walker, the Pulitizer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple and numerous other books, was the keynote speaker at the convention’s concluding evening banquet.

In a soft, firmly focused and melodious voice, Alice Walker presented an extended poem/riff on the deaths of war veterans who killed themselves and her persistent, well-put plea that the best way to address this tragedy is to issue a call to veterans in despair to join the fight for human rights at home and abroad. 

“The madness of war is given mute testimony by our young men and some young women who take their lives,” she said, “rather than continue to murder others or to self-murder in slow motion while feeling half-alive…
“We need them beside us with all that they have learned, with all of their valor and expertise, the lack of fear of dying—the lack of fear of dying—which can be a very good thing. Stay with us, I say to them, stay with us—we desperately need you…”
She cited the example of Howard Zinn, the historian and vet for peace who was horrified by his role in bombing European cities and villages during World War II. Walker recalled how Zinn, one of her professors at Spellman College in Atlanta, persistently got arrested in civil rights demonstrations in the early 1960s and the long arc of his life of social activism. 

A video of Alice Walker’s speech is here:

"Not included in the video is what happened right after Walker finished," Vietnam vet Paul Appell of Illinois wrote in an email.  "Carlos Arredondo, who you know lost his first son Alex to war by way of a bullet in Iraq on August 25, 2004 and then lost his remaining son Brian to war by way of suicide on December 19, 2011, spoke.  Carlos asked everyone who had lost a family member to suicide to stand.  Almost every table in the banquet hall had someone stand up."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Military Suicide Watch

What do you do when even war heroes can’t take it any more?

A year after surviving a fierce battle in Afghanistan, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. He was shocked that it didn’t fire, the highly decorated Marine wrote in a soon-to-be-released memoir, Into the Fire.

“That right there was rock bottom,” Meyer, 24, said at a friend’s home in New Jersey in a recent interview with Military Times. Meyer said he pieced his life back together with treatment for post-traumatic stress and decided to write and talk about his despairing grab for a gun he kept in his pickup truck.

Had he died of a self-inflicted gun shot one dark night in Kentucky, Meyer would have joined the long grim line of suicides among military veterans and active duty troops. The suicide rate among active duty troops is roughly one death per day, with a big jump in July in the Army, according to military reports. Meanwhile, military veterans have been committing suicide at a furious clip of about 18 per day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

How to stop an epidemic of suicides has baffled military and VA leaders. Now everyone from former soldiers to President Obama is weighing in on a tragedy that for a long time was seldom talked about in public.

The total number of U.S. military deaths by suicide since 2001 is now more than 2,600—eclipsing the roughly 2,000 military fatalities in Afghanistan, Time magazine recently noted in a front page special report. Of 4,486 US military deaths in Iraq, how many were self-inflicted was not determined by Time, but it is a substantial portion, as military suicides started climbing during the height of the war there.

Another sign of the scope of this tragedy is that the “VA’s crisis line has fielded more than 600,000 calls from suicidal veterans, active-duty troops or their family members in the last five years, with the numbers steadily increasing each year,” Stars and Stripes reported in June. “While agency officials tout the figures as a success, they also show the inner anguish tormenting many of those in the military community.”

Despite a growing network of hotlines and post-traumatic stress counseling programs, instituted in response to concerns that many soldiers have done multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the root cause of suicides by soldiers and veterans is still unclear, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said at a national suicide prevention conference in June.

. “’Resiliency’ programs such as Battlemind, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and similar initiatives have their supporters, but to date, these programs have not had a clear impact on the problem,” Bret A. Moore, a psychologist who served in Iraq, wrote in a recent Military Times column. Moore asked veterans to write in with suggestions on what to do.

“The answer is simple: There is simply not enough support for troops suffering with depression,” Moore wrote in the current issue of Military Times, summarizing some of the emails he received from veterans. Another big piece of the problem is how troops are treated by people in command and by fellow soldiers. 

The Marine Corps is court-martialing a Marine who slit his wrists in Okinawa—a punitive action that hasn’t put a damper on the rising rate of suicides, which more than doubled in the Army since 2003 and is heading upward in all armed services this year.

Nor was the appalling rate of military suicides reversed by a blistering message from Major General Dana Pittard, a commander at Ft. Bliss, Texas, who wrote “on his official blog that he was ‘personally fed up’ with ‘absolutely selfish’ troops who kill themselves, leaving him and others to ‘clean up their mess,’” Time reported. 

That sort of blundering yet traditional flogging of the troops was countered by an even blunter statement by retired Army Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie: “In nearly every one of the active-duty soldier suicide cases I saw, there was an incident of humiliation or embarrassment before the actual death,” Ritchie told Military Times in August. “The services need to look at how that’s handled.”

Meanwhile, the suicide rate for veterans is several times higher than for active duty troops. The VA’s estimate of 18 suicides by veterans each day is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Violent Death Reporting System, which receives input from 18 states including New Jersey.

“Preliminary figures suggest that being a veteran now roughly doubles one’s risk of suicide. For young men ages 17 to 24, being a veteran almost quadruples the risk of suicide, according to a study in The American Journal of Public Health,” The New York Times reported in April.

But little has been done to sort out why suicide has swept through the ranks of young soldiers, seasoned veterans in their late 20s and 30s, and virtually the entire Vietnam war generation.  

In Nevada, a recent state study found, the highest rates among 373 veteran suicides in 2008-2010 were among males in their 20s and early 30s.  Yet, a much smaller number of female veterans committed suicide “at more than triple the overall rate for females statewide and nearly six times the national rate for females,” KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reported in March. “Nevada male veterans had a suicide rate 62 percent higher than the statewide rate for males and 152 percent higher than the national rate for males.”

In New Jersey, male veterans killed themselves at a rate more than twice that of the overall suicide rate in 2008-2010, the most recently available data shows. Of these, 57 percent were aged 45-74--predominantly the Vietnam war generation. Only 4 of New Jersey’s 253 veteran suicides were females. Male veterans aged 20-34 accounted for 20 of this grim total—yet died at a rate more than twice that of other male suicides statewide—according to data compiled by the state Department of Health’s NJ Violent Death Reporting System.

The dramatically lower number of suicides by younger veterans may reflect the fact that New Jersey established a veteran-to-veteran help hotline six years ago. Yet that hotline program does not seem to have put a dent in suicides by Vietnam veterans.   

Nevada’s report on veterans’ suicides in that state suggests it may be due in part to the region’s high unemployment. It also calls attention to the effect of military service: “Some become stronger with self-discipline, goal orientation, and confidence. Some are left with the confusion and aftermath of experiencing personal violence and abuse at the hands of their fellow unit members. Others return home with wounded bodies and minds that impact the rest of their lives.”

Among the worrisome welter of suicide statistics is that the majority who killed themselves while on active duty were not in combat. This suggests that something in military culture is a big part of the problem, regardless of where one serves. As the Nevada report on veteran suicides states: “Individuals in uniform yet not deployed into actual war zones may experience continuous training for performing a wartime mission, longer assignments to other hot regions, delayed discharges, emotional turmoil of friends who are injured or killed, and guilt for ‘not being there to help.’”

Wartime military culture also drums into soldiers that the solution to seemingly intractable problems is to shoot or blow something up and kill somebody. Indeed, the most frequent form of self-destruction by veterans is shooting themselves, the Nevada and New Jersey reports show.

Frustrated by the pace of official actions, some soldiers, veterans and family members have been sharing their own stories in public meetings and to the news media and working on climbing out of black holes of despair through writing about disturbing experiences in the military and since coming home.

Dakota Meyer told Military Times that he was “wracked with guilt for months after the ambush [that he survived] and still struggles with it. … In fact, he attempted suicide in September 2010, he acknowledged in his book.” For his actions in the blistering battle in Afghanistan, Meyer was presented the Medal of Honor a year later in a ceremony at the White House.

Meyer said he is doing better since seeking out treatment for post-traumatic stress. He wrote about the suicide attempt in his memoir, he added, in order “to show the realities of war and what he had faced,” Military Times reported.   

Shortly after Dakota Meyer’s story appeared in the news media, President Obama signed an executive order directing the VA, Department of Defense and other federal agencies to expand suicide prevention programs.

Government officials should listen to veterans for workable solutions. Former Marine Lance Cpl. Warren Glas knows one thing that works. He pulled his weapon out of his mouth after losing buddies in combat, he recently told Military Times, because he suddenly “remembered his platoon sergeant talking about when he decided to seek help for PTSD.”

“People like my platoon sergeant actually talking, telling about their experiences and how it’s OK … that’s what helped,” Glas said.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dead or Alive: W.D. Ehrhart on War and Peace

We are the ones you sent to fight a war
You didn’t know a thing about.
Those of us who lived
Have tried to tell you what went wrong…
(from “A Relative Thing”)

The expanding bookshelf of works by W.D. Ehrhart—20 books, at last count—started with a ticked off Marine who barely survived a rocket blast in the Battle of Hue in 1968. 

“I began to write about the war. I didn’t know it then, but the writing was a way to get at what had happened to me and why and how I felt about it,” he noted in “Why Didn’t You Tell Me?,” an essay published in Studies in Education in 1994 and reprinted in one of Ehrhart’s periodic collections of essays. “My writing has been for me a continuing education, as I hope it is for those who read it. Somewhere along the way, I came to understand that I have been an educator all my adult life.”

But here’s a very unusual educator—one who hurls poems and essays, books and more books, like thunderbolts.

“As a poet, that’s what I want a poem to do. Shake things up. Get under people’s skin. Get into their heads and stay there,” he wrote in “Batter My Heart with the Liquor Store: or, Teaching Poetry to Teenagers,” a speech he gave at a teachers’ conference, reprinted in Dead on a High Hill: Essays on War, Literature and Living, 2002-2012. “I want to make my readers laugh and cry and ache and gasp and see the world in ways they never thought of made suddenly familiar by my words. And when they put down a poem of mine, I want them to say to themselves, ‘Wow.’”

Ehrhart’s interweaving of “wow”-level poetry, provocative essays and challenging classroom teaching is astounding. Consider this address he gave to seniors at The Haverford School, a private school near Philadelphia, PA, where for the past decade he’s created a crucible of life lessons by way of teaching American and British literature and history:

“Are you going to continue to make the same mistakes humanity has been making since time out of mind? Are you going to continue to think in terms of me and mine, us and them, my good fortune and your tough luck, my country versus your country, my way or no way, this is mine and I deserve it? Are you going to continue to live as the generations before you have lived, as if the future will always be there?

“Or are you going to do what has never been done before: learn to think truly and genuinely creatively, imaginatively, globally, selflessly, beyond borders and boundaries and horizons, beyond old fears and comfortable truisms that are leading us inevitably toward irreversible disaster?”  

Ehrhart’s teachable moments don’t just occur in his presence. I was recently at a Warrior Writers workshop for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that was held in New York City. As a writing prompt for the younger veterans looking to learn how to write about haunting experiences, workshop director Lovella Calica handed out copies of an Ehrhart essay titled “If This Be War.” The provocative point of this opinion piece is that if Americans truly support the war on terrorism we should stop amusing ourselves with sports events until the war is over.

Ehrhart is even harder on fellow history teachers. “If you are unwilling to believe that your government will lie to you, if you are unwilling to believe that your government considers its less influential citizens expendable, if you are unwilling to believe that your leaders make decisions based not on rational logic and available information but on irrational wishes and insupportable beliefs, then you will never understand the disaster of the Vietnam War and should not be teaching it,” he said in a speech at Columbia University’s Teachers College, titled “’They Want Enough Rice’: Reflections on the late American War in Vietnam.”

For years, Ehrhart has taught writing workshops for veterans at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts Boston and done readings and lectures at a wide variety of places, from community arts centers to colleges and universities across the US and in Europe.

In similar fashion, Ehrhart tackles a wide range of American myths, myopias and irrational passions in Dead on a High Hill, his latest collection of essays, recently published by McFarland & Company. The title is from an essay on poetry from the Korean war, which summarizes a book he wrote on neglected poets who served in the “forgotten war.” In this collection of essays published over the past decade, he also pays homage to writers, high school teachers, sports coaches, friends and family members who influenced his growth from Marine grunt to much-accomplished writer, poet and teacher.

I even make the cut, in a review of Earth Songs, my 2003 collection of poetry. Indeed, Bill Ehrhart and I have been supporters of each other’s literary efforts since working together on collections of poetry by Vietnam veterans published decades ago. It's been, on my part, an often challenging learning experience.

Ehrhart’s relentless push to publish a veritable library of literary works probing every aspect of the war in Indochina challenged me to write more than I otherwise might have done. His brash way of writing about seemingly every facet of life delighted me so much that I shed some of my Scots/Anglo-Saxon reserve to reveal more about myself in my writings. And his fearless, unflagging tweaking of the conventions of journalism, book publishing and other aspects of American society encouraged me in my work as a journalist, as well as in writing poetry. 

In an essay on World War I poet Wilfred Owen, Ehrhart notes how hard it is to convey to another generation what we mean to say. “By the grace of chance, I survived my war,” he writes in “The Pity of War Poetry,” a homage to the famous British poet who died in battle, “and in an odd way I have indeed become a Wilfred Owen of sorts, a chronicler in verse of the war I fought. But I often wonder, when people—especially young people—read my poetry, do they understand what I am trying to say any better than I understood Owen when I was young? Sadly, I don’t image they do.”

And yet, he keeps trying to connect: writing, teaching, doing workshops and performing poetry readings with young veterans and old friends to audiences of all ages.  

For more information:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peace Boat Update

The Golden Rule, the storied sailboat that sparked a successful campaign to stop nuclear bomb testing in the South Pacific, is well on the way to going to sea again.

Two years after a storm-battered relic was raised from Humbolt Bay in California, a crew of volunteers is working with experienced boat workers to restore the 30-foot wooden ketch and launch her under the flag of Veterans For Peace.

The Golden Rule sailed into history in 1958, when a retired Navy commander, Albert Bigelow, and three other men set out from Hawaii to deliberately intrude into the US nuclear test zone in the Marshall Islands as a protest of exploding radioactive bombs in the Pacific Ocean. Their arrest by the US Coast Guard set off a wave of protests across America that prodded President Eisenhower to halt the testing and start negotiations with the Soviet Union that culminated in the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty that ended atmospheric nuclear tests.   

The “peace boat,” as Project Coordinator Fredy Champagne calls her, “will once again sail …in opposition to militarism and the manufacture, testing, and use of nuclear weapons,” to quote the project mission statement. “Over a period of years, we plan for the Golden Rule to take its message of peace far and wide – on all three coasts, as well as the Great Lakes and inland waterways.”

The sailboat is being restored at Zerlang and Zerlang Boat Yard in Fairhaven, CA. Boat yard owner Leroy Zerlang salvaged the ship and donated space for the restoration. “The Golden Rule showed up in Humboldt Bay 10 years ago as the property of a local doctor,” Zerlang told the Eureka Times-Standard earlier this year. “It sank in a big storm two years ago this month. After he raised the battered 30-foot hull from the bottom of the marina, Zerlang said, the boat nearly became firewood.

”If it wasn't for her history, her very unique history, the boat would have been destroyed,” he said. “People have come from the East Coast to visit this boat. They come from Canada to visit this boat.”

During a visit to the boatyard on a vacation trip in July, I got an opportunity to see the work in progress. I was especially interested in the plank I’d purchased for $100 as part of a Golden Rule fund-raising swing through the East Coast that I encountered at the 2011 Clearwater music festival on the Hudson River.

“Pick a plank!” Restoration Coordinator Chuck DeWitt said with a chuckle, sweeping a hand along the restored hull. I missed the “Whiskey Plank” party in March, when the last new plank was put in place. Still, I was glad to have made a small contribution that helped put the project’s phase one $50,000 fund-raising goal over the top.  

DeWitt, a Navy vet, and Champagne, an Army vet, clambered up the scaffolding and into the boat’s open innards to show off the new Yanmar engine that an anonymous veteran had purchased. The boat lies in a specially built boat shop, surrounded by salvaged and donated rigging, masts, sails and other parts.

It is being restored as a project of Veterans For Peace Chapter 22 with the aid of other VFP chapters, other groups and individuals, including family members of the original Golden Rule peace crew.   

“The Golden Rule will be a powerful out reach effort,” Elliot Adams, past national president of Veterans For Peace, said in a support statement. “[H]er story is an inspiration to all of us, she will attracted local media attention and all of that will be used to deliver the message of peace and motivate people to work for peace.”

In a letter of support from VFP Chapter 61 in St. Louis, MO, chapter President Tom Tendler wrote: “We hope the Golden Rule may some day find its way up the Mississippi River.” Other chapters providing support for this project, and welcoming the Golden Rule to sail its waterways, range from San Francisco to Vermont.

Champagne reports in a recent email that work is well along at “cutting, fitting and installing the deck beams. … We have all the parts now to finish her, just trying to keep the funds coming to pay the worker to keep working with our volunteers.” 

Plans are to have the ship seaworthy in time for the 2013 Americas Cup Yacht Races in San Francisco and then tour ports along the West Coast, Gulf Coast, East Coast, Great Lakes, and rivers and canals in the Mid-West.

“The Golden Rule project is seeking regional volunteers to sail and to join the committee as the tour moves from one area to the next, and logistical and publicity assistance from local activists, especially from VFP chapters. Financial assistance is also welcome,” Champagne wrote in a recent article in The War Crimes Times. 

For more information: