Monday, 22 December 2014

DSS Christmas Prayer Service Report

News from the Doukhobor Society of Saskatoon (DSS) about:

2014 December 21, Sunday, 11 am — Annual Christmas Prayer Service
  • Come celebrate PEACE, LOVE and JOY.
  • Prayers, hymns, Christmas carols (Russian and English)
  • Potluck lunch to follow — everyone is welcome, bring a friend.
Click to see: 2014 Christmas Prayer Service photo album
Koozma, Your greeting to the Saskatoon Doukhobor Prayer Service was well received. The message of LOVE is a universal application. I add the prayer line ... "where there is love, there is God." I am the only one that says a prayer in Russian, but God hears all of us.

The dom was full. Many folks attended. Many of the folks we don't usually see at the dom. A 6-year-old sang a solo. There were 4 young kids who sang Jingle Bells. The Russian cultural singers did not come as the flu took over.

Each of the elders brought greetings. June Bold and Peter Perverseff are now elders. too. Verna Tarasoff Thompson brought Polly Meakin from Langham. The singing was superior. Peter P. gave the message and Jeanette Stringer conducted the service.

There was an amazing amount of food. The place was loud with all the conversations. We donated a dinner gift to the Salvation Army and gifts to the 7 kids in that family. The pile of presents was huge.

As always, at the end of the potluck dinner, Verna asks me to start 2 folk songs and we really "rock." A hand of friendship was prevalent all the time, all day.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year 2015 and ALWAYS still smiling, Mae Popoff, Doukhobor Society of Saskatoon (DSS)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Review: Canadian Doukhobor Foodways

This summer I was asked to peer review an article by a recent graduate of Simon Fraser University, B.C., Canada, who is now a graduate student at Oxford University, U.K., to be published in a British university journal. I did not know the student or the journal.

Shutek, Jennifer. ‘Though Undoubtedly Religious Fanatics, [they] have proved themselves good farmers' : Perceiving and Remembering the Canadian Doukhobors Through Foodways, HARTS & Minds: The Journal of Humanities and Arts, v.2, n.1, August 2014.

I was first offended by the title which presented Freedomites as Doukhobors. You know how I try to teach my readers that Doukhobors are not 'Religious Fanatics.' For over a century Freedomites have been falsely presented as Doukhobors. This seemed to be another example of name hijacking.

I emailed 9 corrections to the editors about misspellings, omissions, misunderstandings and incomplete explanations.

When I shared my note with webmaster Andrei Conovaloff, he found the article already posted on the HARTS & Minds website, and saw more errors. Only a few of my 9 corrections were used. Together we decided it would be best to post our own edited version of this article for people who now rely nearly entirely on the Internet for information. Many minor changes were needed.

Our revised article, Canadian Doukhobor Foodways, has a much shorter simple title, links to the original, edits and comments in red nest to original text, and links to nearly all the online references and technical words used. It presents a lesson in how easy it is to misinterpret literature while doing research. When possible a researcher should interview subjects.

The article is not bad for a college history senior. The mission of the journal HARTS & Mind is 'to give more postgraduate students a chance to have their work published, for their resume. Shutek did a good job listing 51 footnotes and 48 sources, giving a premise — 'delimiting communal boundaries, and in defining the Self and the Other' —, and describing how descendants of immigrants maintain their heritage through food. It appears that for convenience she selected her printed sources from one library and the rest from the Internet, which limited the scope of her paper.

We feel too much space was used trying to summarize a complicated, delicate history, which reduced space for the intent of the title — foodways. Of about 10 pages of text (2-11), 7 pages were mostly history which left 3 pages for discussing foodways and a conclusion.

Perhaps a better goal would be to compare foodways among several immigrant groups from Eastern Europe in Canada. But Ukrainians, Mennonites, Hutterites, Slavs, Bulgarians, Russians, etc., like Doukhobors, are not homogeneous groups. We all have many divisions, faiths, varied traditions, and people dispersed along a broad spectrum of isolation-integration-assimilation over time, which is difficult for an outsider to perceive.

A narrow approach would focus on one or a few food types. When searching for translations for sukhari (dried-bread), a variety of similar dried breads were found in many cultures. The same for pirogi and borshch. How these are spelled in English, preserved and altered, compared and contrasted, as heritage markers across immigrant groups and culture classes over time and generations, would be interesting research.

Update: Since this was posted, I have received correspondence from both the author and editor, to which I replied on December 12, 2014, and attached at the bottom of Canadian Doukhobor Foodways.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Return of ‘4 gods-within us’

In December 2013, four friends, kindred souls, met together for coffee in downtown Ottawa, resulting in a blog ‘4 For Coffee: a meeting of 4 gods-within us’. Today, November 18th, 2014, the four of us met again with new insights into human behaviour from the personal to the world order. See all my meeting reports.

We 4 are: Bill Bhaneja, a retired political scientist, Ottawa, playwright and author of Quest for Gandhi — A Nonkilling Journey (2010), and Troubled Pilgrimage: Passage to Pakistan (2013); Mony Dojeiji and Alberto Agraso, co-authors of Walking for Peace — an inner journey (2013), and I Am Happy (2013); and me, Koozma J. Tarasoff.

The common ground of the four ‘gods-within us’ is the spirit of love that permeates our lives and gives us meaning as individuals and as a human species. This spirit within gives us optimism to act as Gods within the confines of a friendly planet. Our intention is to act with passion, but equally to be socially responsible for our actions.

Highlights of what we discussed for 2 hours:
  • Mildred L. NormanPeace Pilgrim (1908-1981), who walked 25,000 miles for peace from 1953 to 1981, spoke about peace among nations, groups, individuals, and the very important inner peace — because that is where peace begins. Her life and work showed that one person with inner peace can make a significant contribution to world peace.
         Both the inner and outer voice were affected by whether we were driven by ego or by our conscience. She said that she began to realize that it was as though we had two selves or two natures or two wills with two different viewpoints. Because the viewpoints were so different, there was a struggle in our lives between the two selves; ultimately it took her 15 years to understand the real meaning of life. It was a challenge and a treat to observe and act from an egoless viewpoint.
         In her search for meaning in life, Peace Pilgrim expressed a need to deal with the world situation today. ‘… Certainly all present wars must cease. Obviously, we need to find a way to lay down our arms together. We need to set up mechanisms to avoid physical violence in a world where psychological violence still exists. All nations need to give up one right to the United Nations — the right to make war….We need a Peace Department in our national government to do extensive research on peaceful ways of resolving conflicts. Then we can ask other countries to create similar departments’ (Steps Toward Inner Peace, pages 31-32).
  • Gandhi — We explored the question of how inner peace could be achieved. Mahatma Gandhi in An Autobiography: The Story of my Experiments with Truth, worked towards two spiritual principles to attain inner peace — this is similar to what Peace Pilgrim sought. Gandhi describes these principles as Aparigraha (non-possession) (An Autobiography.., page 276) and Sambhava (equability). (Bhaneja, Quest for Gandhi, pages 101, 104, 105.) Once you work towards those principles you start understanding the meaning of following Vedantic prayer for inner peace:
               O'Lord lead me from Distinction to Distinctionlessness;
               O'Lord lead me from Ego to Egolessness;
               O'Lord lead me from Desire to Desirelessness.
    This understanding leads us to the notion that we are children of the same God, the same common humanity, and the same divine. We also start understanding Gandhi's message that there is no 'other', no enemy. Gandhi used to remark: 'Hate the Sin, not the Sinner' (Bhaneja, Quest for Gandhi, page105.).
  • Brotherhood — Real citizenship ought to embrace the world. We are all members of the human family. This means that Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada) is as much a brother as is Vladimir Putin (President of the Russian Federation). Members of ISIS are our brothers, too, even though we do not support their violent behaviour. When we label and dehumanize these individuals, it becomes difficult to see them as capable of change, of thinking and acting in different ways. Our anger or frustration at their actions can influence our capacity to see them as human beings too. 
  • Propaganda — Politics on the other hand has been driven by power and control where ego gets an upper hand over conscience; when noble ideals and human rights enshrined in Constitutions are often violated and compromised especially for economic gain. Historically fear and labeling have been used as one of many techniques of propaganda for crowd control. Politicians have often used these mechanisms underhandedly as a way to hijack the population without respecting the rights of citizens to share their legitimate ideas. Let’s be careful how we use the word ‘terrorism’. As well, we need to be aware of corporate groups such as ISIS (the so-called 'Islamic State') which spreads fear designed to hijack vulnerable populations for their own purposes. The same happens even in democracies, where fear is used to create division among the populace and hence justify actions.
  • War — During the Nuremberg trial after WWII, Hermann Goering, Hitler's second in command, said in his cell to the prison psychologist:
         ‘Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country’ (Bold added). (Gilbert, G.M. Nuremberg Diary, 1995: 278).
  • Truth — Words used carefully can become so powerful that they literally fly around the world and influence social policy. What do such words as the following mean: ‘democracy’, ‘peace’, ‘nonviolence’, ‘nonkilling’, ‘spirituality’, and ‘compassionate city’? But when these and other words become mere labels, become routinized and institutionalized, they can betray us and lose the original meaning. Remember that the first casualty of war is information. Journalists should strive for accuracy and avoid spreading untruths.
  • Our Behaviour — Wisdom people such as Aristotle have urged us that there needs to be a balance between the head and the heart. This is what conscience is about. Ultimately, it is our behaviour that makes the difference. Or as my Doukhobor ancestors used to say: Бог да Бог, но ты не буть плох (You can speak all you like about God, but behave yourself. Literally: God yes God, but don’t you be bad.).

Monday, 3 November 2014

Next Book Presented

Why I Wrote My Book on Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors? was my presentation to 39 people at ‘Arts Night’ in Ottawa on Friday evening October 31st, 2014.

The event was a monthly public educational meeting organized by a local artist for guest artists in literature, visual and music. I was the first of three speakers, each given up to half an hour to present and answer questions. It was a fun and educational experience with a diverse group.

I used my time to educate the audience about Doukhobors, talk about my last book and the next book in-progress — Spirit-Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers and their Friends (2016).

I was pleased that most of the audience had heard of Doukhobors, and three gave rather accurate descriptions. I wanted to deliver what I thought were the most important aspects of the Doukhobor movement before I talked about writing. To save time, I prepared a one-page handout.

I wrote the book for 3 reasons:
  • biographies — our people
  • misinformation — misconceptions, myths
  • posterity — next generations
I gave summaries of 5 Doukhobors as sample biographies from my 2002 book and the update book in-progress.
  • Peter Oglow (1913 - 2004)
  • Nick Troubetzkoy
  • Kim Kanigan
  • Jim Deacove
  • Elaine and Alfred Podovinikoff
Then I covered two misconceptions, and finished with a case for nurturing and educating our children towards a nonkilling society. We had time for 7 questions, added to the end of my text.

Read the text of my presentation and questions, and click on the images to see what was projected on the large screen. At the end is the handout. And here are 21 photos of this Arts Night.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

New Russian website: Doukhobor.RU

Doukhobors: a historical-genealogical archive

A new website was launched in Russian by Valerii Kalmykov on October 1st, 2014 —

There are sections in-progress for News, History, Library, Search, DNA, Forum, Photo, Video, Audio, and a Blog. The "News" link shows "what's new" — a chronology of additions.

Kalmykov will publish "... family lists for 1840-1845-1853-1873-1886-1897-1932-1947 about Doukhobors in Russia and in the Caucasus — more than 5,000 documents that have never been made ​​public."

His mission statement says: "… each person ... will be aware of themselves as part of one small but very important part of the history of his family."

He recently visited Doukhobors in Georgia and shows photos of the farm and in the home of his host Ivan Kazakov.

His library starts with the earliest extensive documentation of Doukhobors by Orest Novitsky in 1832 and will include other books he has scanned.

The video section appears to have 3 test videos. The first 2 are a popular, about Russian drivers:
"What to do when a neighbor down the road is acting aggressively?" The third, "Rolik" ("roller"), is a 2-second segment taken in Georgia. Expect these to be replaced with other videos.

In the past, he contributed several items to
Kalmykov's story is one of 32 (so far) biographies in-progress for Koozma's next book: Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers and their Friends, an update of Tarasoff's 2002 book.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Disarmament Education Online

Educating ourselves and our youth about the huge advantages of peace compared to war is of utmost importance.

I am impressed with and recommend new resources and guides provided online by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, particularly the aids for Disarmament Education: Resources for Learning.

A short video on UN Web TV shows 3 boys performing a rap song (4.5 minutes) they wrote which was inspired by their disarmament lessons. The boys' creativity is appreciated when contrasted to youth playing war video games.

One item that caught my attention is the new book: Action for Disarmament: 10 Things You Can Do, by United Nations Department of Public Information, 2014. The book shows many ways people can engage in learning, and creatively use the materials provided online.

  1. Stay informed
  2. Start a club
  3. Create an event
  4. Sign up
  5. Facilitate a discussion
  6. Express yourself
  7. Host a film showing
  8. Voice your concern
  9. Plan a presentation
  10. Reach out

The book summarizes the history and modern uses of weapons: guns, bombs, nuclear and biological weapons. For example, at the height of the Cold War there were 60,000 nuclear warheads, today they are 17,000.

On page 17 is a picture titled: 'Weapons being burnt during the official launch of the "Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration" process in Burundi." Burundi is a land-locked republic in Southeast Africa.

This photo reminds me of my ancestors, the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors, who on midnight of June 28-29, 1895 burnt their guns in Tsarist Russia in regions of the Southern Caucasus. 7000 participated in this first international recognized mass protest against militarism and wars.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Anti-War Rally in Ottawa about ISIS

How should Canada deal with the new Islamic State (ISIS)?
  1. Send the military to the Middle East to engage in more war?
  2. Negotiate a non-killing peace?
Our government is about to make a decision. Here's what my co-peacemakers are doing now.

Yesterday, 6 October 2014, while our government was holding hearings about going to war again, about 40 anti-war protestors were summoned to Parliament Hill. The Raging Grannies notified me by e-mail, so I went to participate. See 20 photos posted online.


The protestors were from both peace and environment groups — Project Plowshares, Nowar Paix, Hands off Syria & Iraq, Rojava YPG-YPJ (Kurds), a housing co-op, etc. I recognized about half of the people, but many faces were new to me. One fellow did not know about the Ottawa Peace Festival which just finished.

When I got home, I found that others sent e-mails of protest. Most are reacting spontaneously as independent individuals and clusters of peacemakers.

Two days ago Peggy Mason, President of Rideau Institute and former Canadian Disarmament Ambassador, wrote:

Yesterday I got an article from Paul Maillet, retired Canadian Air Force Colonel, founder of the Center for Ethics, an Accredited Peace Professional, and Co-Chair of the Ottawa Chapter of the Canadian Peace Initiative. Early this morning he posted 2 articles on his blog, Awakening the Peacemaker Within:

Today Tomas Mulcair, leader of the official Opposition in Canada's Parliament, sent this:
Tonight, Parliament will vote on Stephen Harper's desire to send Canadian soldiers to war in Iraq. However, there is no reason to believe that six months of bombing will succeed where more than ten years of occupation by the US military failed.

Watch my speech on to hear more about why the NDP cannot financially support this combat mission. And, help to spread my message by:
  1. Sharing this email with your friends and family
  2. Posting a link to my speech on social media
Mr. Harper has failed to answer the most basic questions on why Canada is signing-on to this war, such as:
  • What are this mission's objectives and how do we define success?
  • What rules of engagement are in place to avoid civilian causalities?
  • How much will this mission cost?
  • How many years are we willing to be embroiled in Iraq?
  • How can we effectively contain ISIS without deploying substantial ground forces or expanding into Syria?
  • What is our exit strategy?
  • Do we have a plan to take care of our veterans after we leave Iraq?
Canada needs effective leadership. New Democrats think that we should be using every diplomatic, humanitarian and financial resource to respond to the human tragedy unfolding on the ground, and helping to strengthen the political institutions and security capabilities that Iraq and Syria need to achieve lasting peace.

Canada rushing to war is not the answer.

Today I got an update from Paul Maillet:

I have been blitzing MPs and the PM with emails yesterday and today. I  visited 4 of them including Dewar. I  have been on Global TV, CTV Powerplay, and featured in CBC.
Do something say something feel something.  I have said about all I can. ... and all is now dumped on my blog site:

Feel free to link to your blog sites if you wish, or use whatever you wish.

In peace, Paul Maillet
Tel: 613.841.9216   Cell: 613.866.2503


October 12, 2014
October 13, 2014
October 16, 2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Q63: Canada-Russia-Ukraine Dialogue?

From: Marguerite Marlin, Montreal, Quebec, August 26, 2014

I was encouraged to see that at the People's Social Forum in Ottawa this month there was some talk about reviving some grassroots, antiwar counter-balances to what was formerly Cold War foreign policy in Canada, since Canada's foreign policy regarding Russia is beginning to resemble that again. As the official lines of dialogue close ever more between Russia and Canada, it will be that much more important to keep exchanges between our own citizens and our friends in Russia and Ukraine strong and vibrant.

Do let me know of any initiatives or groups that have sprung up for this purpose of maintaining peaceful dialogue between peoples (from the Doukhobor communities or in general) and I will be a happy participant.

(Ms. Marlin is a Political Science PhD candidate and instructor at McMaster University.)


At this moment, I do not know of any international effort for peaceful dialogue between people living in Canada, Ukraine and Russia. There is much discussion within each separate country. I invite readers to respond.

Ms. Marlin is referring to the People's Social Forum Program, University of Ottawa, August 21-24, 2014. There were 2 International theme sessions about Canada's role with Russia and Ukraine. The second session presentations below are online.

A Doukhobor woman from Nelson, BC, attended the Forum, and in her published report mentions that she was at both sessions below. ('The People's Forum: A Choreography of Resistance,' by Hannah Hadikin, Iskra #2082, 1 Sept. 2014, pages 31-32; and posted at Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, where she is a National Board Member.)

Building the anti-imperialist peace movement — by Canadian Peace Congress, Cheryl-Anne Carr and Darrell Rankin — Program page 17.

Understanding Canada as part of international imperialism, economics of imperialism, deception about Ukraine, Syria and foreign policy generally, Canada’s role in wars from looting resources to suppressing popular change, and the need for an anti-imperialist peace movement. The workshop will discuss strategies to get Canada out of the NATO military alliance and oppose plans to glorify the First World War.

What is Canada Doing in the Ukraine and What Should the Peace Movement Do About It? — by NOWAR-PAIX. David Mandel, Roger Annis — Program page 30.

The panel will present an analysis of the situation in the Ukraine, Canada’s role in it, and the serious nature of the situation. The issue to be discussed is: What can the peace and antiwar movement do to counter the Government of Canada’s aggressive posture toward Russia, and oppose its contributions to a NATO military mobilization in Eastern Europe?
More about the forum.

More: Questions and Answers, Comments

Sunday, 14 September 2014

West vs. Russia OR Russia vs. West ?

There's a lot of varied news and opinions in all media about Russia and Ukraine, and I too have much to say myself.

Instead of me blogging, here are honest unedited opposing viewpoints from recent correspondence from Canada and Russia. These professionals do not know each other, but summarize the problem.

I added the bold.

From Canada, March 2014

This is a strategic economic opportunity for Canada. Europe needs an alternative source of petroleum products and natural gas. Rotterdam is set up to receive LNG [liquid natural gas] from offshore into the European pipeline network. Keystone XL will feed refineries that have been upgraded at great cost to produce low sulfur diesel that meets European standards. Russia will be more reasonable to deal with. These issues are being discussed by Harper and Merkel. Let’s be grateful that the PM is so capable.

From Russia, July 2014

I strongly empathize with the Russians in south-eastern Ukraine. In Odessa, my classmate Elena R’s only son has died. No doubt, you know, that the right-wing extremists, simply stated — as fascists — burnt people alive in the Union Building [in Odessa]. They were herded there, set afire, and those who managed to jump out the window, were clubbed to death on the ground. Elena’s son, who was 27 years old, jumped out the window, but the fascists, clubbed him to death. Currently people are being slaughtered in south-eastern Ukraine, and the world’s institutions in the name of democracy proclaim sanctions against Russia. For me, the word ‘democracy’ has become a swear word. If this is the sort of democracy that you have, then I want nothing to do with it!...

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Q62: Doukhobor hood credited to KKK?

From: Keith Tarasoff, Canora, Saskatchewan, August 20, 2014

In the Thursday August 14, 2014 issue of the Kamsack Times on page 13, there is an article : ‘Discovery of unusual hooded garment at Pelly museum leads to research of Ku Klux Klan activities in Saskatchewan.’

To my knowledge this garment was worn by Doukhobors to keep warm, and had nothing to do with the type of hood garment worn by the KKK.

As we at the National Doukhobor Heritage Village in Verigin, Saskatchewan, believe the article was written with a reference in error to the real truth. We want to set the record straight. We are asking for your reaction to the article. Any insight would be helpful.


You are correct Keith. The newspaper shows a Russian hood, called bashlyk (башлык), made by our Doukhobor ancestors. These were common in Imperial Russia.

Maureen Stefaniuk, the museum’s summer attendant, should retract any connection between their display and Ku Klux Klan in Saskatchewan. Canadians have been falsely selling Freedomites as Doukhobors for more than a century, now they are falsely displaying a Doukhobor garment as KKK.

Here are comparisons of 3 Russian-made bashliki with one of current fashion.

  1. Fort Pelly-Livingstone Museum exhibit, published in Kamsack Times.
  2. Photo of a Doukhobor bashlyk by William Perehudoff, 'Costumes and Handicrafts in Color,'Pictorial History of the Doukhobors (1969), page 253.
  3. Photo of bashlyk displayed online at National Sholokhov Museum-Reserve, Veshenskaya, Rostov Region, Russian Federation.
  4. Typical hood-hat-scarf-gloves garment sold online and in many stores.
Fur trapper hats are somewhat similar and more common.

Doukhobor bashlyki are on display at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre in Castlegar, British Columbia; and at the National Doukhobor Heritage Village in Verigin, Saskatchewan. The Fort Pelly-Livingstone Museum can confirm their garment with these 2 museums.

Russian websites show many examples and instructions for making them. Modern English names and styles for this scarf-hat-hood garment vary. Many have animal heads and ears. Sometimes they are mislabeled “snood” — a hair net, which is not a contraction of “scarf-hood.”

Among non-Doukhobor Spiritual Christians from Russia in the USA (Dukh-i-zhizniki, Molokane), their women's' head covering for religious meetings which they call kosinka (triangle), evolved from a scarf of solid fabric to lace cut in a snood-style pattern.

More: Questions and Answers, Comments

Monday, 18 August 2014

69th Anniversary of Atomic Bombings
Cries for “Peace!”

The Ottawa Society of Friends commemorated the 69th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th, 2014.

Some 20 people attended this annual evening event associated with the Hiroshima Day Coalition — about 15 local Quakers and 5 guests. Two main speakers presented reports from the peace movement.

Monique Cuillerier, Membership and Communications Director of the World Federalist Movement spoke on the ‘David vs Goliath’ lawsuit filed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 2 courts (International Court of Justice, Hague; and U.S. Federal Court, San Francisco) against 9 nations for violation of Article VI of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The little islands are challenging the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. I urge you all to support the Marshall Islands in their courageous effort. Learn more at

Bill Bhaneja read 'Message on the 69th Anniversaries of the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,' by David Krieger, President and founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Dr. Krieger wrote about Sadako Sasaki, a girl who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb but died 10 years later from leukemia at age 12. Her story about making 1000 origami paper cranes for a good luck wish has become a peace legend spread by her classmates, and memorialized around the world with monuments, books, articles, and videos (movie, documentary, cartoon).

Though Sadako Sasaki is lesser known and promoted than Anne Frank, her story is simpler and relates directly to nuclear war. Do not forget her or the hope symbolized by her paper cranes.

Our annual ritual of walking to the Rideau River and floating candle-lit lanterns was aborted due to rain and wind. We returned home with renewed resolve to stop nuclear madness.

Previous Articles and Photos

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Peace Tower should stand for ‘Peace’

Recently I strolled around downtown Ottawa to the Parliament Hill and among the many war monuments. I heard a band playing and positioned myself among the tourists to again watch the Changing of the Guards, a summer ritual performed in front of the Parliament buildings.

Towering above all was our impressive Tower of Victory and Peace, the iconic ‘Peace Tower. ’

I asked myself, shouldn’t the Peace Tower represent ‘peace’ as it did 50 years ago?

In the 1950s PM Lester B. Pearson showcased Canada as a ‘nation esteemed thorough the world for its policies of neutrality, peacekeeping, and honest brokering.’(1)

In contrast, today PM Stephen Harper is determined to display Canada as a military nation.

In this same spot during the 2014 Canada Day celebrations, Harper referred to Canada as 'a courageous warrior…as the best country in the world.' (2). For the past ten years he supported the Afghanistan war, and recently assisted the NATO blockade of Russia, to attract local Ukrainian-Canadian votes. Purchasing very expensive F-35 fighter jets is debated as more important than practical search and rescue planes.

In this decade Canada is spending $120 million to commemorate wars for PR and tourism.(3) Schools are encouraged to ‘celebrate’ the upcoming 100th year anniversary of World War I, and the cadet program costing $5 million a year continues.

A permanent impact on education was changing the name of the Canadian Museum of Civilization to the Canadian Museum of History and refocusing it narrower to Canadian history, with the same Director (Mark 'Neill) for the nearby Canadian War Museum. The Director was appointed by the PM.

Absent from the Parliament Hill area are peace statues. The only one in the area is Reconciliation: The Peacekeeping Monument. No streets or bridges are named for peace in Ottawa. Only Winnipeg has a Mahatma Gandhi Way, (220 m. long) leading to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Compare to UK, England, where a statue of Nelson Mandela in their Parliament Square was unveiled in 2007, and a statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be installed next year.

If Canada is to showcase peace to other countries, statues of these world moral leaders must be in the centre of Canada's capital to complement our Peace Tower and offset all the war monuments and statues.

The Canadian Department of Peace Initiative (CDPI) hopes to create a cabinet level department to transform military spending to a peace culture. A Private Members Bill was tabled in 2011, three years ago. While lobbying for CDPI progress, citizens are also working their public relations.

Peace Tower Movement

Rededicating the Peace Tower as a public icon that promotes peace and good governance is a project led by PeaceQuest — ‘to underline the importance of peace … as a basic Canadian value.’(4)

To recast this national logo, the Ottawa Peace Festival — a coalition of 20 peace groups in the Ottawa area — will open its festival on Sunday September 21 on Parliament Hill for its 8th year, but this time to rededicate the tower.

The festival theme: ‘Peacing Together the Canada We Want’ will launch from the Peace Tower for 12 days at 17 locations around the capital. 29 events, hosted by 20 groups are free and open to the public — art exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions, films, peace walks, music, food, and lots of education. Related topics cover domestic violence, PSTD, history, pollution and climate change.

I say let’s celebrate peace, but mourn war.

  1. Dan Gardner. ‘Lester Pearson Would Not be Impressed.’ Ottawa Citizen, 11 Aug. 2006, p. A15.
  2. Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Canada Day, ugnayan, 4 July 2014.
  3. Dennis Gruending. PeaceQuest wants Peace Tower rededicated, group promotes 'counter narrative' to militarism,, 11 July 2014.
  4. Let’s rededicate the Peace Tower … to peace,, 23 October 2013.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Tribute to Eli A. Popoff (1921-2014)

A very well-respected Doukhobor folk historian, writer, community worker, and family man has passed away at the age of  93.

His writings (including two novels) and his talks recall 'Doukhobor life concepts' which can be translated to mean a search for truth, justice, friendship and love.

For the Eli A. Popoff that I knew, the concept of Doukhobor was broader than Christianity, and very much in the thinking of Russian writer Lev N. Tolstoy as found in his Kingdom of God is Within You. Christ was a man, and the Bible was only a book.

For a staunch pacifist who believed in nonkilling, Eli fully respected his ancestral roots and sought to maintain ties of bridge-building between the East and the West. In this respect, he considered himself to be a citizen of the world.

From an early age, he listened to the stories of his father who was exiled to Siberia after the Doukhobors burned their guns in Russia in 1895. Eli recorded them on pieces of paper. Later he transformed them into essays, books, and talks. More biography: Remembering Eli.A. Popoff (1921-2014).

His passion was to pass the great legacy of our Russian ancestors to the young people ('our future') and to inspire them to follow the Doukhobor philosophy of seeking truth, love and peace. That legacy is as fresh today as it was in the 1800s.

Eli's son Dmitri continues to sell books from his former MIR Bookstore in Grand Forks, BC, thereby keeping alive the love of his father for the books in the family and in the Doukhobor community.

Eli's daughter Elaine (also a writer and poet) and husband Alfred Podovinikoff have constructed a large family home in the vicinity of Tolstoy's Yasnaya Polyana, Tula, as a continuing link between Russia and the West. Other members of the family, including grandchildren, are pursuing teaching, social work, and music careers. In their social and creative work, their father and grandfather will no doubt be missed a lot. (Yasnaya Polyana – a mecca for lovers of Tolstoy, Voice of Russia, May 15, 2010.)

For me, Eli A. Popoff was a mentor, a respected person who left an indelible mark on Doukhobor and Canadian society. His tireless efforts in preserving his heritage and doing creative bridge-building work between the East and the West will remain in history for future generations.

Иля, спасибо!
Вечная тебе память!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Selling Freedomites as Doukhobors
     is False Advertising

Two events promoted in Nelson, British Columbia, have been fraudulently selling Freedomites (Svobodninki, Sons of Freedom) as Doukhobors — a movie and museum exhibit. Both events were promoted in the Nelson Star newspaper.

Canada has laws against consumer fraud, false advertising, counterfeit goods, bait-and-switch, identity theft, mislabeling, adulterated food, etc. Consumers want to be protected against deception, counterfeit products to be confiscated, defective products repaired or exchanged, businesses licensed and inspected, and perpetrators arrested.

If 'Doukhobor' was a trademarked commercial product, it would be a crime to promote the 'Doukhobor' label to the public, collect money but deliver something else. After more than half a century of public awareness education, this fraud is still happening in Canada because the word falsely lingers as a profitable commodity of sensationalized abuse, arson, bombings, nudity and terrorism.

Movie: The Change Agents (2012)

In mid-April 2014, Alex Atamanenko (Member of Parliament) gave Tarasoff a DVD copy of a movie to review which was produced by staff and students of L.V. Rogers Secondary School in Nelson, BC. Atamanenko saw it and wanted Tarasoff to comment. The movie shocked us. It’s been in the Kootenay news since October 2010. Why did no one tell us about it? Why was it not mentioned in the USCC Doukhobor monthly magazine Iskra? *

The opening minutes show 6 photos of Freedomites taken in the 1950s, 2 with nudity and fire, while the narration falsely states they are Doukhobors, pacifist spirit-wrestlers. Next, student actors joke about nude protests, arson and bombing; while their teacher discusses the Son of Freedom nude protests as examples of social activism.

While the movie promotes cleaning the environment, it pollutes the public perception of Doukhobors. The words ‘Doukhobor’ and ‘spirit-wrestler’ must be deleted from the movie and never be used to describe extremist actions of Freedomites (Russian: Svobodniki: also: Sons of Freedom).

Tarasoff complained to the movie owner/producers and writer about correcting this fraud. So far some have acknowledged the errors, but the current movie owner has not made the corrections. (See: Ottawa Screening of 'The Change Agents')

Photo Exhibit: Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History (2014)

On June 10, 2014, the Nelson Star website posted ‘Examining the Sons of Freedom’ about an exhibit of photos from the 1950s and 1960s at the Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History, promoted with a photo of the current Doukhobor choir “Friends.” Tarasoff responded with an open letter to the paper and museum to correct two errors.

Your story implies that “Sons of Freedom” are “Doukhobors”. They are not the same! The story stated that ‘the photographs in this exhibit document a compelling chapter in the history of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors, as well as our community.’ To avoid stereotyping and discrimination, the word “Doukhobor” should not appear in this story, nor should it be used as a synonym.’ The exhibit title should be: ‘Sons of Freedom: Photographs from the Stevens Studio,

The original Russian term used by these separatists was Svobodniki (English: Freedomites). Later journalists called them "Sons of Freedom" (Russian: Syny svobody).

Photos of Freedomites in the movie were obtained from the museum collection, online at Touchstones Nelson, flickr. Neither the newspaper nor the museum have responded.

Go to Court

Though the movie and photos don't directly refer to the USCC Doukhobors, the Council of Doukhobors in Canada (CDC), the Canadian Doukhobors Society (CDS), or the Doukhobor Society of Saskatoon (DSS); the intention to deceive the public about Doukhobors for profit and gain is obvious.

With no remorse, the paper promotes organizations which stigmatize Doukhobors with a powerfully negative label that changes their self-concept and social identity.

The only possible legal defense for such fraud is claiming that no entity owns the generic 'Doukhobor' label, therefore anyone is free to use it, abuse it, and misuse it as they wish, to fool the public for profit and personal gain. Though this is unethical, wrong, and dishonest; it's probably not illegal until someone takes the issue to court, or public protests bring shame to the perpetrators.

"[U.S.A.] trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that 'may disparage' individuals or groups or 'bring them into contempt or disrepute.'..." (Washington Redskins' Federal Trademarks Cancelled, the two-way, National Public Radio, June 18, 2014.)

For now, buyer and reader beware — caveat emptor.

Short link to this page:
* A search of the USCC Doukhobor web site found the movie was mentioned in USCC News twice with no comments or further information. A query to the Iskra editor revealed that the USCC board voted to be mute, a vow of silence, regarding Freedomites, a topic too sensitive for public discussion.
— By Koozma J. Tarasoff and Andrei Conovaloff.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Ottawa Screening of 'The Change Agents'

On June 3rd, 80 people attended a screening of the movie The Change Agents (2012) in Ottawa, Ontario.

This full length movie (~90 minutes) produced by the secondary school in Nelson, B.C., uses 6 archival news photos of Freedomites to introduce fictional characters who protest against environmental pollution. Nudity and burning is shown, and bombing is joked about.

L to R: Elizabeth May (MP leader of the Green Party), Robyn
Sheppard (Writer/Director), Cathy Orlando (National Manager,
Canada's Citizen Climate Lobby), Sarah Miller Hayward (Producer),
and Alex Atamanenko (MP for BC Southern Interior)

The event was supported by Canada's Citizen Climate Lobby (CCCL) and coordinated by MP Alex Atamanenko and his office, to lobby Parliament during Environment Week. Most of the audience, including myself, were climate activists from Ontario, 8 were Parliamentarians (17 had RSVP'd), and 4 who made the movie (2 actors, a producer, and the writer/director) came from Nelson, B.C.

Atamanenko represents the riding (electoral district) were the movie was made. In October 2011, he visited the school during production and announced it to Parliament.

From about 70 volunteer amateur actors recruited from the Nelson area to make the movie, 2 attended.

English actors for Deda and Ruby.
Mike Coons (who played grandfather, deda) told me that he served briefly in the military before becoming a carpenter and plumber in Nelson; and he worked closely with local Doukhobor workers on the Kootenay River dam projects. Lucy Carver Brennan (Ruby) was in Grade 6 in Nelson when she auditioned.

Though the production notes showed 4 actors with Russian surnames, 3 appeared in the movie and only one had a speaking role. Ryan Hayward (played by Dylan Zaitsoff) is the main antagonist who verbally abuses and harasses the star character, Carly Dutoff, a fictional descendant of Freedomites (played by Susannah Rebar). The notes also show 4 characters with Russian surnames, all played by English actors.

The movie opened in Nelson on February 2nd, 2013, was shown at the USCC Doukhobor Brilliant Cultural Center (Feb 16th, 2013) and a few places in North America and Europe. The film has been translated into several languages and is online in Spanish.

A co-producer and now owner of the movie, Sarah Miller Hayward told me that she had film experience in Hollywood and Toronto before coming to Nelson, BC. Next, she and Jo Ann Lowell (Executive Producer) are going to Toronto to seek support to promote the film to a larger audience. Many participants hope the movie will boost their careers.

Prior to the screening, I presented my comments (excerpt):
BUT, as a Doukhobor historian, the movie immediately troubled and shocked me. The opening scene shows sensational archival news footage of nudity and burnings by a small group of Freedomites, which is a breakaway faction from the Doukhobors. Their actions are not the same as the Doukhobors, resulting in confusion and discrimination.
Freedomites terrorized Canadian society expressing their displeasure with government. Doukhobors have never supported their extremist actions, and have greatly suffered whenever they were and are falsely presented as Freedomites.
Robyn Sheppard, writer/director
I presented a copy of Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers' Strategies for Living to Robyn Sheppard, writer/director, who did not know that the small number of sensationalized Freedomites were not Doukhobors. She apologized for any misconceptions due to her script. She said her main intent was to highlight the urgency and importance of the environmental issues to world health.

She grew up in the Toronto area, but 18 years ago moved to the West Kootenays where she taught drama at the Mount Sentinnel High School in the Slocan Valley near Nelson, British Columbia, and met many local Doukhobor students.

When asked if she will correct the mistakes, Producer Hayward said that she would 'have a look at it.'


Koozma J. Tarasoff. 'The Sons of Freedom — a Flashback to 1956: Origins, problems, misconceptions, and relationship to Doukhobors.' — Updated reprint of "The 'Sons of Freedom'," The Inquirer (Vol. 3, No. 5, June 1956: 9-13).

Canada's Citizens Climate Lobby. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy group that trains and supports volunteers to engage elected officials and the media for generating the political will to find solutions for climate change. There are 170 CCL chapters in North America covering over 40 ridings in Canada and more than half the congressional districts in the USA.

Spirit-Wrestlers Blog: Selling Freedomites as Doukhobors is False Advertising

Error in the 'Change Agents' movie end credits — "An Angel Flew at Midnight", United in Song (2009 album), Performed by: The Victoria Doukhobor Group, should say "Performed by: The Victoria Island Doukhobor Community Association (VIDCA), with the Vision of Peace Youth Choir, Castlegar, B.C."

Monday, 9 June 2014

Avoiding Another Cold War

Image sent by Alex  Wishlow. Source:

For weeks I have been thinking about a peaceful solution for the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine. This is the territory of my Doukhobor roots.

How can another Cold War be avoided?

This week a peace scholar who I highly respect, Johan Galtung, gave 2 answers in an interview about this issue which got me thinking. I agree with his 2 answers, to which I add my thoughts below.

Question 6: … Russia and Ukraine … what … can … ensure a peaceful resolution …?
  • Focus more on the USA, please, and the Bush 2004 idea of enrolling Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, going even further in breaking the promises to the Soviet Union/Russia.
  • Look also at the clumsy Georgian invasion of South Ossetia to provoke war in 2008, and
  • above all at Khruschev’s gift, Crimea, to Ukraine in 1954 under conditions that no longer apply after the fall of the Soviet empire, and you get a more nuanced picture.
  • Ukraine means, at the border, one state; two nations cry for a federal solution: to elect a president from one of the nations will never work.
  • Look for Swiss-type solution. Putin took Crimea back under these circumstances and now works for a federation; the step-by-step withdrawal is de-escalation inviting reciprocation from Kiev.
  • But Putin should have given the Tatars the autonomy he wants for the Russians.
Question 9: … advice … to young scholars … in peace and conflict resolution studies?
  • Stop studying international relations, a misnomer for inter-state studies, by using Anglo-American texts, given their track record of colonialism-imperialism and continued warfare.
  • Travel all over, talk with people, ask them what is the best and the worst thing that happened to their nation and state, what are the conflicts, what are the solutions.
  • Study history for creative solutions. Try to understand their deep cultures hidden in the collective subconscious.
  • Pay much attention to culture and nation, less to threats/bribes and states.
  • Be solution-, not victory-, oriented – also in your daily life.
Koozma adds:
  • Drop all sanctions against the Russian Federation.
  • Cease demonizing Putin and begin working together for a common solution.
  • Pulling NATO out of eastern Europe would be a good beginning.
  • Drop participation inRapid Trident military exercises in the Ukraine and eastern Europe. Be statesmen, not warrior propagandists. Search for nonkilling alternatives.
  • 'Regime change' is not an option in today's world. USA ought to close down its 1000 bases in 150 countries (including Hawaii), and divert the military budget to improving conditions at home.
  • Work towards international recognition of Crimea's decision to join the Russian Federation. Russia wants the oil and gas, and naval ports.
  • Use United Nations diplomacy to mediate a settlement between Kiev and the break-away provinces.
  • Recognize the Russian Federation as a nation with legitimate interests in the world community that has much to contribute to world civilization.
  • Acknowledge the fact that the former Soviet Union (composed of Russians, Ukrainians and others) lost 27 million people (including 7 million soldiers) fighting to stop Hitler's regime.Without this huge support, the West would no doubt have been invaded.
  1. Al McKay. Interview – Johan Galtung, E-International Relations, Transcend Media Service, June 2, 2014.
  2. Dr. Andrey Fursov, Battleground Ukraine: A Comprehensive Summary (From a Russian Perspective) : Oligarchy Typology of Ukraine. Published April 26, 2014. (70 minute video in Russian with English subtitles and transcript). — Fursov, historian and sociologist, explains 4 business syndicates in Ukraine competing among themselves and against Western tycoons who targeted Russia for 200 years.
  3. Michel Chossudovsky, Ukraine Crisis Today: Bandersctadt. Global Research News, May 30, 2014. (87 minute video). — Atrocities by the Kiev regime not shown in Western media.
  4. Robert Parry, 'New York Time's One-Sided Ukraine Narrative'. Consortium News, in Transcend Media Service, June 2, 2014. — The biased U.S. press, especially the NYT, blames Putin.
  5. Jan Oberg, 'Why Obama's Speech Should Make You Think' Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research, in Transcend Media Service, June 2, 2014. — Hope is replaced by fear.
  6. Robert Parry, 'The Only Standards Are Double Standards 'Consortium News, June 4, 2014. — Obama intervention provoked a civil war.
  7. Jim Albertini, 'Beacon of Freedom and American Exceptionalism'. Transcend Media Service, June 2, 2014. — If the U.S. wants to be a 'beacon of freedom', then its addiction to militarism must end.
  8. Mairead Maguire, 'Peace Movement's Common Vision: The Abolition of Militarism'. Nobel Peace Laureate, Transcend Media Service. Keynote address at Sarajevo Peace Event – 6 June, 2014.
  9. Alberto Portugheis, 'My Thoughts on Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire's Speech on 6th June, 2014 in Sarajevo'. Transcend Media Service – 7 July 2014. 
  10. Video: 'Cold War: Crash Course US History #37.' 14 minutes.
  11. Video: 'All Wars Are Bankers' Wars', written and spoken by Michael Rivero,  4 Feb. 1913. 44 minutes. A written version is also available.
  12. Update: Roger Annis, The Propaganda War Over Crimea's Break From Ukraine. Truthout, December 10, 1014, 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Remembering Knowlton Nash

The gifted Canadian journalist and author Cyril Knowlton Nash died May 24, 2014 in Ontario at the age of 86.

Many Canadians remember him as 'a cool' news anchor for many years on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's flagship television program The National. Before that, he was a dedicated newspaper and radio journalist, and author of several books. He was known for getting the facts, being fair, and producing a good story.

Few people remember that Mr. Nash wrote an expose article published March 1960 in Maclean's Magazine about the diabolical chemical and biological research that was going on in Suffield, Alberta. Since WWII, the British worked with the Canadian government to set up a bioweapons test range at Suffield, Alberta. The area was empty and isolated, and experiments could be performed with greater safety than in the U. K.

Noted Doukhobor lawyer and peace activist Peter G. Makaroff brought the article to the attention of the Doukhobors and Quakers. As a result, on July 5, 1964, some 350 people (most of them Doukhobors) held a peaceful rally at the gates of this Alberta testing centre at the Defence Research Board experimental stationSuffield Experimental Station220 km southeast of Calgary, 50 km northwest of Medicine Hat.

This article by Nash revitalized activism among peace groups in Canada. In the 1960's, a series of peace demonstrations were held by Doukhobors, Quakers, Mennonites, and others.

'In the early 1960s, I was one of the core organizers with Peter G. Makaroff (1894-1970) of three peace demonstrations which we called: "A Manifestation for Peace." Peacemaker A.J. Muste from New York spoke at one of these gatherings in Suffield, Alberta, urging governments to cease research and production of chemical, biological and radiological weapons.' (Q52: Tell me about your 1960s experience, 3 December 2012)

'Suffield, Alberta. July 5, 1964. International peacemaker from New York, A. J. Muste, spoke as 350 people protested at the gates of an Alberta centre testing gas, germ and radiological warfare known as the Defence Research Board experimental station at Suffield (Tarasoff, 1969: 267-268).' (Koozma as ‘Human Library’ on Peace at Canadian War Museum, February 27, 2013.)

From my Pictorial History of the Doukhobors (1969), page 267:

'It all started with a national magazine article by C. Knowlton Nash titled "Have Germs Already Made the H-Bomb Obsolete?" [Maclean's Magazine, 26 March 1960.] This article was translated into Russian by the Doukhobor Society of Canada (formerly the Union of Doukhobors of Canada) and concern began to brew among the USCC and the Independent Doukhobors. A planning committee was established and six months later culminated in the "manifestation".

'Suffield has been used as a centre for "special weapons research" by the Defence Departmemt since World War II. Special weapons is the generic term for chemical, biological and atomic weapons. The Suffield works, of course, is of a classified nature. The following comments, however, [come]…from Knowlton Nash: "The annual expenditure of Canada's Defence Research Board for research and Development is $32,000,000. This covers the cost of maintaining a huge research and testing station at Suffield, Alberta, on which stand 112 miles of fence. In a hangar-like building, according to one visitor, cages of experimental animals line the walls from floor to ceiling and airplane motors circulate experimental gases. Both nerve gases and germs — and possible antidotes — are tested at Suffield."

'Included in the gathering were a group of nine Quakers from the community at Argenta, B.C.; a small delegation from the Edmonton Canadian Universities Committee for Nuclear Disarmament group; a handful of University of British Columbia students; one hitchhiking University of Saskatchewan student; and the rest were Doukhobors from the three western provinces. Their witness at the Suffield gates was that of a fast for ten hours, spent in half hour periods of silent meditations, with acappella singing and speeches in between. Mr. A. J. Muste, internationally known pacifist from New York was featured speaker.

'Rain came down for a large part of the day, but all stayed. Late in the afternoon, as the welcome sun began to shine, a lengthy address was made by Peter G. Makaroff, a prominent international lawyer and Independent Doukhobor. The following are a few of his comments:

'All through history men have served the cause of peace with fighting. Yet it is a law of nature and of God that you cannot do the right thing by wrong means.

'Modern war is terrible beyond any comparison or any imagining. We look across this fence and ask ourselves, and still in the interests of peace?"

'The atomic deterrent is bad enough — yet, to make doubly sure of world peace, we develop chemical, biological and radiological weapons which are said to be superior because they don't harm property.'

Thank you, Knowlton Nash, for making us aware about the dangers of chemical, biological, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. As concerned citizens of any country yesterday and today, we need to stand up and be counted. We need to call out: 'War is a crime against humanity. Let's stop humanity's greatest scourge — that of war!'

The media, our family, and the military industrial complex are good places to start. Are our leaders listening?

As an old Doukhobor hymn states:
'Wake up new spirits.
The time has long come...
To work for peace and goodness.'


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Expensive Killer Robots and Drones

Clear Skies Initiative
Robots and drones are part of modern society that can serve us for good or for evil. However, those advanced devices that can select and kill without human intervention are 'unconscionable,' charged a group of Nobel Prize winners in a statement released May 12, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, on the eve of a multi-day United Nations conference on Inhumane Weapons Convention.

'It is unconscionable that human beings are expanding research and development of lethal machines that would be able to kill without human intervention,' reads the statement signed by a number of peace organizations such as Quakers and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and activists such as Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The statement continues:
'Not all that long ago such weapons were considered the subject of science fiction, Hollywood and video games. But some machines are already taking the place of soldiers on the battlefield. Some experts in the field predict that fully autonomous weapons could be developed within 20 to 30 years; others contend it could even be sooner. With the rapid development of drones and the expansion of their use in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and beyond, billions of dollars are already being spent to research new systems for the air, land, and sea that one day would make drones seem as quaint as the Model T Ford does today.'

Lethality of human life ought to be of central concern, as my ancestors the Spirit Wrestlers / Doukhobors, proclaimed centuries back. 'Don't point a gun at anyone,' they would say, 'and get rid of weapons once and for all.'

Game of DronesThe American Prospect, Feb, 14, 2013
Killer robots and drones are 'the most expensive weapons system in history', nearly $400 billion or twice what it cost to put a man on the moon. This is a huge amount of money that could be more usefully used for developing and building infrastructure for tranport, health, and happiness. By diverting the money from killing to nonkilling, we can build the society that will benefit people worldwide.

The Drone War, Pro Publica

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire, wrote about this issue, comparing Washington's global military-first strategy and China's civilian-first one which is meant to create a transport and communications system that could economically tie significant parts of the world to that country for decades to come. Perhaps an 8,000-mile line from Beijing via the longest underwater tunnel ever built through Canada to the United States, could be one of the outcomes, according to Chinese engineering dreamers on the high-speed 'silk roads'.

Just think about the huge benefits of imagination in a nonkilling society? The foolish system of war must end!

Join the Nobel Peace Laureates call for preemptive ban on autonomous weapons worldwide. How about banning war itself!


Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse. Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.
The Past and Future of Drones in the U.S. By Criminal Justice Degree Hub, April 2014.