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This week at a glance.

Nov 23

•First striking workers
•The Thibodaux Massacre
•Anti-insurgent effort funds insurgents

Nov 24
•Darwin publishes evolution theory
•Hollywood Ten charged
•Peoples' Peace Treaty
•Plowshares deface bombers

Nov 25

•Peaceful resistance meets violence
•Hollywood Ten blacklisted
•Iran-Contra Scandal unravels

Nov 26
•U.N. finds capital punishment ineffective
•Indians re-claim Plymouth Rock
•Reagan props up Saddam

Nov 27
•No-Conscription Fellowship resists WWI
•India's leader: End arms race
•Early anti-Vietnam-War protest
•Poor Peoples Campaign kick-off
•Vietnam medics fast for peace
Nov 28
•Electrical workers unite

Nov 29
•Warren Commission
•McNamara resigns

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November 23, 1170 BCE 

The first recorded strike took place in Egypt when necropolis workers who had not been paid for their work in more than two months sat down and refused to work until they were paid and able to eat.



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November 23, 1887

Black Louisiana sugarcane workers, in cooperation with the racially integrated Knights of Labor, had gone on strike at the beginning of the month over their meager pay issued in script (not cash). The script was redeemable only at the company store where excessive prices were charged. When the first freeze of the season arrived and damaged the crop, the plantation owners were angered. The Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of "prominent citizens," shot and killed at least 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage, and lynched two strike leaders in what became known as the Thibodaux Massacre.

More on the Thibodaux Massacre.

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November 23, 1981

President Ronald Reagan signed off on a top secret document, National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), which gave the Central Intelligence Agency a budget of $19 million to recruit and support a 500-man force of Nicaraguan insurgents to conduct covert actions against the leftist Sandinista elected government. This marked the beginning of official U.S. support for the so-called contras in their war against the Nicaraguans.

Read (most of) the memo More on the Reagan policy


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November 24, 1859
British naturalist Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which explained his theory of evolution.

The basis for the theory is natural selection, the process by which organisms change over time as a result of changes in heritable (genetically based) physical or behavioral traits. Such changes allow an organism to better adapt to its environment and help it survive and have more offspring.
Evolution is now universally accepted among scientists, and is the organizing principle upon which modern biological and related sciences are based.

Behind the Controversy: How Evolution Works Darwin and "On the Origin of Species"

Charles Darwin
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November 24, 1947

A group of writers, producers and directors that became known as the "Hollywood 10" were cited for contempt of Congress when they refused to cooperate at hearings about alleged Communist influence in the movie industry.

Following their appearance in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) under Representative John Parnell Thomas (R-New Jersey), the House of Representatives voted 346-17 for the citations. All were convicted and sentenced to 6-12 months in prison. The charges were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Hollywood 10
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November 24, 1970

14 American students met with Vietnamese in Hanoi to plan the "Peoples' Peace Treaty" between the peoples of the United States, South Vietnam and North Vietnam.

It begins, "Be it known that the American people and the Vietnamese people are not enemies. The war is carried out in the names of the people of the United States and South Vietnam, but without our consent. It destroys the land and people of Vietnam. It drains America of its resources, its youth, and its honor."
The treaty was ultimately endorsed by millions.

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November 24, 1983

On Thanksgiving Day seven Plowshares activists hammered and poured blood on B-52 bombers converted to carry cruise missiles at Griffiss Air Force Base near Syracuse, New York.

Bloody handprint on missile.

Watch Plowshares history video
Read more

Listen to them discuss their efforts


"Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's brains and then as ceremonial shrouds
to bury the dead."

- Arundhati Roy


November 25, 1913

Indians marching with Mohandas Gandhi for recognition of their religious and cultural legitimacy, and individual freedom, were attacked by police, leaving five dead (shot from the back according to the inquest) and nine wounded. He was marching with more than 2000 striking miners from Natal to Transvaal provinces in South Africa in violation of the law.
Gandhi in his publication, Indian Opinion, had advocated the end of a
£3 tax on ex-indentured Indians. He had lamented the violence
that had been inflicted on his peaceful marchers.

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November 25, 1947

Film industry executives, meeting in New York, announced that the “Hollywood Ten” directors, producers, and writers who had refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) would be fired or suspended, and not hired in the future, thus “blacklisted.”


Who were the Hollywood Ten?


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November 25, 1986

President Ronald Reagan and Attorney General Edwin Meese revealed that $30 million in profits from secret arms sales to Iran had been diverted to support the Nicaraguan contra insurgents in violation of U.S. law. What became known as the Iran-Contra Affair was revealed three weeks after a Lebanese magazine reported arms had been sold in violation of U.S. policy. Reagan & Meese

The arms trade with the revolutionary government of the Islamic Republic of Iran was carried out in hopes of freeing some of the Western hostages held by Iran’s allies in the middle east. Reagan had repeatedly pledged never to negotiate with terrorists.
However, notes of an earlier meeting kept by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said, "President decided to go with Israeli-Iranian offer to release our 5 hostages in return for sale of 4,000 TOWs [U.S. missiles] to Iran by Israel.  [Sec. of State] George Shultz + I opposed -- [CIA Director] Bill Casey, Ed Meese + VP [George H.W. Bush] favored -- as did Poindexter."
The Congress had specifically barred U.S. funds going to the contras (Boland amendment) who were terrorizing the Nicaraguan countryside.

John Poindexter

Reagan and Meese denied knowledge of the activity and named two subordinates — National Security Advisor Admiral John M. Poindexter and National Security Council staffer Colonel Oliver L. North — as responsible and being dismissed from their jobs as a result. ". . . [I] was not fully informed on the nature of one of the activities," said President Reagan, referring to the fact that money from weapons sales to Iran was diverted to the contras.
Who's who in Iran-Contra

Tom Tomorrow on Iran-Contra


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November 26, 1968

U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution against capital punishment following an official report which said, “Examination of the number of murders before and after the abolition of the death penalty does not support the theory that capital punishment has a unique
deterrent effect.”

More on capital punishment and homicide

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November 26, 1970

American Indian activists marked Thanksgiving with a National Day of Mourning for Native Americans by occupying Plymouth Rock on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the alleged landing spot of the Pilgrims’ landing in Massachusetts colony. Led by Wamsutta Frank James, an Aquinnah Wampanoag elder and music teacher, over 200 Indians seized the Mayflower II and painted Plymouth Rock red.
Day of Mourning demo in downtown Plymouth
James had refused to speak at a state dinner the night before commemorating the 350th anniversary of the landing, and went on to organize United American Indians of New England
Wamsutta Frank James

"What we did in the 1960s and early 1970s was raise the consciousness of white America that this government has a responsibility to Indian people. That there are treaties; that textbooks in every school in America have a responsibility to tell the truth..."
- Dennis Banks

November 26, 1983

President Ronald Reagan ordered military assistance to Iraq in the war Saddam Hussein had begun by invading Iran. To prevent an Iraqi military collapse, the Reagan administration supplied battlefield intelligence on Iranian troop buildups to the Iraqis, sometimes through third parties such as Saudi Arabia.
National Security Decision Directive 114, signed on that day, stated that the United States would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran. It called for heightened regional military cooperation to defend oil facilities, and measures to improve U.S. military capabilities in the Persian Gulf.
The assistance was granted despite frequent and consistent reports of Iraqi use of chemical weapons, a clear violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Mustard gas had been used against Iranian troops and against “human wave” attacks by thousands of Basij (Popular Mobilization Army or People's Army) volunteers.
The full story on U.S.-Iraq relations at that time The Geneva Protocol

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November 27, 1914

The No-Conscription Fellowship (NCF) was founded by two English pacifists, Clifford Allen and Fenner Brockway. They opposed the Military Service Act which introduced conscription, and then mounted a vigorous campaign against the punishment and imprisonment of conscientious objectors.
They were consistently opposed to the war in Europe.

Early Fellowship members
  Fellowship members at a recent protest

Read more about Clifford Allen, Fenner Brockway and No-Conscription Fellowship

More on the No-Conscription Fellowship from the Swarthmore College Peace Collection

November 27, 1957

Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, made an impassioned speech appealing to the United States and the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) to end testing and begin nuclear disarmament. The two superpowers were the only nations with atomic weapons at the time.
Nehru had fought to free his country from British colonial authority through acts of nonviolent passive resistance with Ghandi, and they achieved independence. He stressed the urgency for the U.S. and U.S.S.R. to "save humanity from the ultimate disaster.”
Nehru’s Congress Party government nevertheless pursued an aggressive nuclear program, starting in 1948, publicly committed to peaceful purposes exclusively. Nehru acknowledged that the possession of fissionable materials and growing expertise could readily be directed toward production of such weapons. In the absence of universal nuclear disarmament, he feared acquisition of such weapons by potential adversaries. In particular for India, this meant Pakistan or China.
India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru
Nuclear India - a short history


The forces in a capitalist society, if left unchecked, tend to make the rich richer and the poor poorer."
Jawaharlal Nehru

November 27, 1965

In Washington D.C., 35,000 anti-war protesters circled the White House then marched on to the Washington Monument for a rally against the war in Vietnam.

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November 27, 1967

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. announced the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s Campaign, a movement to broadly address economic inequalities with nonviolent direct action. "It must not be just black people," argued King, "it must be all poor people. We must include American Indians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and even poor whites."


"Our scientific power has outrun our
spiritual power.
We have
guided missiles and misguided men."
- Martin Luther King, Jr

November 27, 1969

Over one hundred members of the U.S. 71st Evacuation Hospital and the 44th Medical Detachment at Pleiku, Vietnam, organized a Thanksgiving protest fast called the “John Turkey movement.” In Home before Morning, nurse Lynda Van Devanter recalled her change in attitude.
“Earlier in my tour, when I had heard about the war protesters, I had felt angry at them for not supporting us.  Now I wished I could march with them . . . Most others in Pleiku felt the same way . . . We even held our own Thanksgiving Day fast—the John Turkey movement — as a show of support for those who were trying to end the war through protests and moratoriums. We heard that the fast had spread to units all over Vietnam.”
Nurse Lynda Van Devanter
The fast received considerable media coverage when Denise Murray, a nurse at Pleiku and daughter of a distinguished admiral, made antiwar statements to the press.


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November 28, 1891

Early IBEW delegates The National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) was founded when 10 men met at Stolley’s Dance Hall in St. Louis, Missouri. Their goal: the joining together of electricians in a common organization to make a better life for all.
Read more The original logo adopted at the First Convention.

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November 29, 1963

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson establishes the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Earl Warren and LBJ

More about Earl Warren

More about The Warren Commission

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November 21, 1981

More than 350,000 demonstrated in Amsterdam against U.S. nuclear-armed cruise missiles on European soil.

November 29, 1967

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announces his resignation during the Vietnam War.

The Fog of War a movie about the Vietnam War
Robert McNamara

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