Saturday, June 04, 2005


The north central Missouri town of Moberly has come alive with the sound of…electricity.

Two locals, David Lash Sr. and David Lash Jr., got lit up by taser wielding coppers and are suing the city, the local police and Taser International.

According to the Moberly Monitor-Index, a lawsuit was filed May 31 in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Missouri. The two plaintiffs say the alleged violence caused $99,417.55 in hospital bills, and more than $13,000 in lost wages. They are also asking for $5 million in damages.

The suit charges that local cops used a Taser gun on the Lash Sr. up to 15 times and tossed in kicks to the groin and neck and a stranglehold for good measure.

Lash Senior was left unconscious for days and suffered temporary kidney failure.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Taser International spokesman Steve Tuttle was urging a cautious approach to the case. "We believe in the life-saving value of Taser technology, and we are prepared to help in the investigation of this alleged incident," he said.

The incident began when Lash Sr. had an allergic reaction to some meds he was taking for an injury, which cost him part of his right index finger, he suffered while on his construction jobs a few days earlier. The suit says that at the time Lash Jr. rushed to the scene of his step sister's house where Sr. was to help restrain him.

Police then showed up and for some reason shot both dad and son with a Taser. According to the suit, Jr. was taken to another room while the cops continued their attack on his father.

Sr. began vomiting in response to the strangle hold and was rushed to a hospital where he remained unconscious for ten days. He suffered kidney failure, and he received dialysis treatments for two months.

According to the human-rights group Amnesty International, at least 103 people have died in custody after being shocked with the guns, called Tasers, which shoot darts 25 feet that deliver 50,000-volt jolts for five-second periods and can also be used like cattle prods.

Taser International president and founder Tom Smith who reportedly shocks himself with 50,000 volts of electricity numerous times a week in Taser demos says he just can’t tolerate misconceptions about his product.

But then, you have to ask yourself, how much can we trust the mind of a man who spends so much time zapping himself?

The Tuscon Citizen says that the Scottsdale, Arizona based firm began marketing police stun guns in 1998 and now, more than 7,300 law enforcement agencies and military installations use them worldwide. Sources: Tuscon Citizen, KSDK (St. Louis), Moberly Monitor-Index, St. Louis Post Dispatch

Its the Weekend

Get some rest, watch a ballgame, walk the dog, catch a movie...or smash the state...

Friday, June 03, 2005

General Burkhalter Is Dead

This just in...This just in...

Nazi General Burkhalter is dead. Burkhalter who amongst other duties was in charge of the famous prisoner of war camp where allied war hero Col. Hogan was held. Burkhalter often pushed a harder line than camp commander Col. Clink. Leon Askin who played Burkhalter in "Hogan's Heroes" passed over at the age of 97. Did you know was born into a Jewish family in Vienna and fled to the US to avoid Nazi persecution?

Native Americans, Allies Resist Expansion of Utah Nuke Wasteland

As regular readers of the Oread Daily know, on Friday the OD reprints an article from some other source. Todays article comes from the New Standard

Native Americans, Allies Resist Expansion of Utah Nuke Wasteland
by Megan Tady

A small but resilient band of Indians surrounded by toxic waste sites, have drawn a line in the sand of the Utah desert; joined by politicians and activists, the Goshutes hope to fend off yet another waste dump in their backyard.

Jun 1 - In a photograph of Margene Bullcreek, she stands next to a weathered sign that reads, "No Trespassing." She looks formidable, chin held high, proud and protective of the land laid out behind her.

She also looks tired. The warning sign and her watchful eye, have fallen short of warding off predators from her tribe's reservation.

The reservation was carved out of the Utah desert in 1917 for the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes. The 124 surviving tribal members have scattered, leaving only Bullcreek and 24 other members to defend their homestead. In some respects, the reservation is a gated community. An invisible fence rings their 18,000 acres, a ring of toxic landmarks.

East of the reservation sits a storage facility for nerve gas. South of Skull Valley is the coal-burning Intermountain Power Project. To the northwest sits a low-level radioactive waste disposal site called "Envirocare." North of the valley chugs the Magnesium Corporation Plant, deemed the country's worst polluting plant of its kind by the Environmental Protection Agency for the chlorine gas and hydrochloric acid it spouts into the air.

But that is not all. In 1968, the Dugway Proving Grounds tested VX nerve gas on traditional Goshute hunting grounds, causing the death of 6,000 sheep grazing in Skull Valley. Over 7,000 fighter jets based in the nearby Hill Air Force Base fly over the reservation every year to drop bombs for target practice on the Wendover Bombing Range.

With little outside economic opportunity and land already poisoned, the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes became an easy target for another project that would help the United States with its biggest hot potato: high-level radioactive waste. In 1996, Private Fuel Storage, a conglomeration of eight nuclear powerhouses, began courting the tribe to shelter 44,000 tons of irradiated nuclear reactor fuel on their land. Touted as an interim storage site for waste on its way to permanent storage at Yucca Mountain, a yet-to-be-built and highly contested storage facility in Nevada, the reservation would play host to 80 percent of the country's nuclear waste for 40 years.

That same year, Leon Bear, the Washington's federally recognized chairman of the Goshutes, signed a lease with PFS for an undisclosed but lucrative amount, and an eight-year licensing process has ensued. Many of the Goshutes claim the lease is illegitimate, given that Bear's leadership is consistently disputed by tribal members. Bear has been indicted on federal charges for tax evasion and embezzlement of tribal funds.

Bear did not respond to interview inquiries for this article. But in a 2001 interview with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), a networking center for citizens concerned about nuclear power and radioactive waste, he said: "We can't do anything here that's green or environmental. Would you buy a tomato from us if you knew what's out here? Of course not. In order to attract any kind of development, we have to be consistent with what's around us."

Now in the final stages of approval, the waste dump is edging closer to reality as activists opposing the site launch last-ditch efforts to thwart the project. Resistance to the waste dump has been fierce and divisive. Some members of the tribe contest the site, while a minority of the tribe has sided with Bear to welcome the dump, which has promised enough jobs to allow some members to come back to the reservation.

Skull Valley is 45 miles from Salt Lake City, and Utah lawmakers have been vociferous in their resistance to the dump. Joined by local and national public interest groups, the opposition is citing environmental racism, ecological and health hazards, risks to national security and the possibility that the temporary site will become a de facto permanent dump as reasons to reject the project. PFS, however, claims the dump would provide a revenue stream for the tribe, as well as infrastructure, health care and local jobs.

Over 420 organizations have signed a letter urging the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the body that will make the final decision regarding placement of the dump, to reject PFS's license application.

"We are the caretakers of this land," said Sammy Blackbear, an outspoken leader for tribal opposition to the dump, and a resident of the Skull Valley reservation. "Our ancestors took care of it, and we have an obligation not to ruin it."

In April Utah filed for a motion of reconsideration with the Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB), the judiciary arm of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), based on one of the last standing contentions against the site: the possibility of an aircraft crash or stray missile into the nuclear canisters from the F-16 flights made from the air force base.

As most, experts have deemed the chances for a crash or strike to 4 in 1 million. The ASLB ruled in favor of PFS on May 24, sending the final decision, and the fate of the Skull Valley Goshutes, to the NRC. As though personally on trial, Bullcreek, Blackbear and others await their sentencing, which could be handed down any day: life with or without a radioactive backyard.

Small Pox of the Nuclear Age
The Skull Valley dump is not the first time Native Americans have been approached to house the United States' nuclear waste, but marks a trend by the government and the industry to target the population. In 1987, Congress created the Office of the Nuclear Waste Negotiator, which subsequently contacted federally recognized tribes attempting to convince them to host the dump.

"The government has no place to put their waste, so they're turning to indigenous lands as the last place they can go," Bullcreek asserted.

When the government-funded project failed, the commercial nuclear power industry stepped in, again with the intent of finding what anti-nuclear activists call "nuclear sacrifice zones."

Currently, nuclear waste is stored on site at the 66 nuclear power facilities pock-marking the country. The nuclear power industry has strong motivations to find somewhere else to store the waste as the country looks for alternatives to coal- and gas-fired energy.

"Yucca Mountain was plan A and PFS was plan B," Kamps said. "They've put PFS on the fast track because plan B is now plan A. The nuclear industry needs to have the illusion of a waste solution to sell the public. They want to build new nuclear reactors and keep using the old ones. But they have a big PR problem of needing a place to put the waste."

The government also has an incentive to find a home for the nuclear waste, as it is legally bound to provide a permanent depository for radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel for nuclear energy companies.

When the opposition to the Skull Valley dump cited environmental racism as a major argument against PFS, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refused to hear their arguments, on the grounds that the tribe was being fairly compensated with a profitable contract from PFS.

"Native Americans are the most politically and economically vulnerable population in the country, which is part of why this is so shameful," Kamps says. "We call this the small pox of the nuclear age, only it's more sophisticated. It's dumping the most hazardous poison ever created by humans on a population of color that didn't benefit from its creation."

Native American reservations are also attractive to companies like PFS because their sovereignty exempts them from state environmental regulations.

"They target reservations because they don't have to go through the red tape they do when they're dealing with white people," Blackbear said. "This wouldn't be happening in Salt Lake City."

Blackbear, who has often been asked why he doesn't just take his share of the money from PFS and leave the reservation, is defiant. "Why should we move?" Blackbear said. "What does that say? We're not the type of people to just pack up and move away."

Both Blackbear and Bullcreek said the waste dump threatened to further erode their culture and traditions.

"As Native Americans, we need to stick up for what we believe is right," Bullcreek said. "From the beginning, they've tried to take away our land, our language and our identity, but there were many people that wouldn't let them do it. That's the reason why we are saying no to the nuclear waste dump."

Living in the Shadow of the Valley
Health risks from accidents and daily exposure to radioactive waste are severe. Irradiated fuel emits gamma rays that pass through human tissue and can cause cancer, reproductive failure and genetic deformities. In the event of an accident, a radioactive cloud is often invisible, odorless and tasteless, and fallout can contaminate water and food that will remain deadly for centuries.

Both Bullcreek and Blackbear's houses would be less than two miles from the proposed waste dump.

"If there was an accident, gamma materials would float downwind and deposit on the ground," said Marvin Resnikoff, senior associate at Radioactive Waste Management Associates, an independent consulting firm that advises on the technical aspects of radiation exposure and radioactive waste. "It would be like having an x-ray machine on the ground that you can't turn off. You would be exposed to high levels of radiation as long as you stayed there, causing a strong likelihood of getting cancer."

Resnikoff developed the petition against the waste dump for the state of Utah.

Along with the environmental and health risks posed by the dump, opponents are also worried about the threat to national security.

Opponents of the PFS project predict that the radiological risks for the Goshutes could last longer than 40 years. While the Skull Valley dump is billed as an interim storage facility for waste en route to Yucca Mountain, the fate of that proposed repository, also slated for construction on Native American land, is uncertain.

Substantiating the claim that PFS would turn into a permanent site is the recently passed House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. The bill provides $10 million to the DOE to begin focusing on federal interim storage facilities, signaling a shift away from the Bush Administration's dedication to Yucca Mountain.

Even more problematic for the Goshutes is language in the nonbinding Nuclear Regulatory Commission report that says, "Should these or other [Department of Energy] sites prove impractical, the Department should investigate other alternatives for centralized interim storage, including other federally owned sites, closed military bases and non-federal storage facilities." PFS is the only non-federal storage facility in the licensing process.

"This has PFS written all over it," Kamps said.

Despite the complications surrounding Yucca Mountain, PFS is adamant that the Skull Valley site will be temporary.

"I understand their concern because Yucca is so iffy," Sue Martin, public affairs consultant for PFS, said in an interview with The NewStandard. "But there are several reasons why their concerns aren't really valid. The facility isn't designed to be permanent. Everyone agrees that a permanent facility should be deep underground."

Martin also said the lease signed with the Goshutes was only for 25 years, with a possible extension for another 25 years, and that financial incentives would drive private utility companies to close the facility as quickly as possible. Martin said the utility companies would be footing the bill for PFS, whereas if it is stored on a federal site, the government will pick up the tab.

"The utility company that stored the fuel will continue to own it," Martin said. "They have an obligation to be responsible for it until they turn it over to the federal government. They are liable under the licensing contract."

'Nothing But Garbage Cans'
The Goshutes and the state of Utah aren't the only ones at risk from the waste dump. PFS plans to transport 4,000 nuclear waste loads to Skull Valley via train routes that traipse through cities and towns all over the country.

"Why are they interested in putting communities at risk?" Kemp asked. "Who does this really benefit? This is really a case of industry running amok over people's interests and safety."

Comparisons have been drawn between the risk of nuclear waste cargo on trains and the train accident that occurred in the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore in 2001. The train caught on fire in the tunnel after an axel broke and punctured a container of hazardous materials. The wreckage burned for five days and caused the evacuation of parts of the city.

Shortly after that accident, Resnikoff, with co-worker Matthew Lamb, wrote a report on the subject of nuclear fuel shipments. They estimated that had the Baltimore train been carrying nuclear waste, 390,388 residents in the area would have faced exposure to radiation. An estimated 4,972 to 31,824 of them would have died from cancer over the next five decades. The report projected the cleanup costs would have totaled $13.7 billion.

The nuclear industry has tried to calm fears about transporting waste, saying that the Holtec casks are designed specifically to protect radioactive materials. But according to Oscar Shirani, a 23-year nuclear industry vet, the casks are "nothing but garbage cans."

Shirani, who was the lead auditor for Exelon, Exelon, the largest nuclear energy corporation in the United States, blew the whistle on Holtec following a quality assurance review of their casks. In his audit, conducted in 2000, Shirani cited nine major quality assurance failures in a 199-page report explaining the deficiencies.

"Every cask I touched had a problem," Shirani told TNS.

The NRC had previously reviewed and accepted the casks.

When Holtec did not recognize Shirani's report, he threatened to issue a "stop work order" on the casks. Before he could, Exelon removed Shirani from his department and subsequently fired him.

Shirani is suing Exelon and continues to fear the consequences of the Holtec casks.

"The public should know they are sitting around time bombs," Shirani says. "The dry casks are in our backyards. If one of them leaks or bursts… we don't even need a terrorist attack or a 747 to crash. The structural integrity of the casks is unknown. There are a lot of unknown answers."

Thirty-three nuclear energy companies are currently using the Holtec casks to store their waste on-site at plants around the country.

PFS nevertheless claims to be certain of the project's safety. "We filed an application for this site back in 1997, and the licensing process has been going on for almost 8 years," Martin said. "That tells you that this is a very rigorous process. All the arguments against the site have failed and we've been issued a favorable environmental impact statement. When all is said and done, the public should feel confident in how safe this will be."

As the NRC moves closer to making a final decision to approve the PFS waste dump, groups working to halt the process are offering alternatives to the Skull Valley site and finding creative ways to stop the dump altogether.

"We're concerned about the safety and security of all nuclear waste storage sites," Kemp said. "But we should keep them where they are and work on increasing safety and security instead of dispersing these toxins throughout the country. We need to keep transportation to a minimum, and if we move it, we should move it only once."

Kamps believes the best solution is to phase out nuclear power and stop producing nuclear waste.

"If we don't, we are just going to double or triple the waste we have," Kamps says. "For the waste that exists now, even if PFS opens in 2007 and Yucca in 2010, it will take many years to transport. There are also limits to how much each site can hold. So it needs to be protected where it's at right now."

Members of the tribe and other concerned citizens of Utah plan to contest the NRC's prior ruling against the environmental racism argument. Blackbear and twenty other co-plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against the US Bureau of Indian Affairs, alleging that it violated its trust responsibility by approving the lease after only three days of consideration.

Utah's congressional delegation is also pushing legislation that would create a federally recognized wilderness area 50 miles west of Skull Valley, effectively cutting off PFS' rail route to the waste dump.

According to Connie Nakahara, an attorney working on the case for the state, Utah has filed a petition of review to present to the NRC. Nakahara also said Utah is prepared to pursue other legal avenues if the dump is approved, including an appeal with a federal appellate court.

Resnikoff, however, is not as optimistic. "The die has been cast," he remarked. "It's very difficult to stop a facility once the decision goes to the NRC board."

Megan Tady writes for The NewStandard. She works as a freelance journalist living in Western Massachusetts, writing about economic and social justice issues. Her work has been published by Reuters, AlterNet, CommonDreams, WireTap, Yes! Magazine, and Clamor.

© 2005 The NewStandard.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Messy Situation in Bolivia

It is still a sticky wicket in Bolivia where in the midst of huge marches, protests, road blockades and the like comes rumors of a coup attempt by right wing forces.

Prensa Latina is reporting today that Evo Morales, leader of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), says just such a coup is in the making and with it comes plans to assassinate him and eliminate the leadership of the social movement. Morales says the oligarchy from Santa Cruz is building up arms to take on the popular and Indian movement (The Santa Cruz oligarchy is associated with a regional separatist movement). Morales warns that that "If the regional or popular position prevails, the country will erupt in flames."

Morales accuses right wing forces within the military and “fascist” civilians as believing that such a coup is the only solution to the present crisis in the country. He specifically targets Congress Chairman Hormando Vaca Diez. He accuses Vaca Diez and his followers of favoring the coup due to his contacts with the military, although the military leadership appears to respect democracy and are the sole pillars of support for President Carlos Mesa.

Meanwhile, violent clashes between police and protesters and huge marches by indigenous groups in La Paz “paralyzed the capital Tuesday and Wednesday, scaring lawmakers and forcing suspension of a session of Bolivia's Congress,” according to the Resource Center of the Americas. They report that riot police outside Congress lobbed tear gas and fired water cannons to repel protesters, who fired sticks of dynamite with slingshots. Thousands demanding nationalization of the energy sector took over the city and blocked access to the airport.

It is reported that so few congressional deputies ventured into the capital that lower house chairman Mario Cossio to suspend the session for lack of a quorum. Even the president of Congress, Hormando Vaca Diez, did not appear.

However, today it is said that tensions have eased just a bit. According to NarcoSphere, there were a few incidents, but none to get too upset about… it seems the social movements – faced with Senator Hormando Vaca Diez’s blackmail in saying that there were not guarantees of a congressional session – have left the politicians alone for the moment, to see what they’ll do.” Sources: Prensa Latina, Resource Center of the Americas, Narcosphere

Bolivia: the Agony of Stalemate

The following is taken from CounterPunch and is written by Forrest Hylton who is conducting doctoral research in history in Bolivia.

On May 30-31, the Bolivian capital witnessed the largest, most radical protest marches since October 2003; in a climate of institutional crisis and government paralysis, two concepts of democracy confronted one another. For President Mesa (and I'm paraphrasing here), mass mobilization in the form of civic strikes, protest marches, and road blockades is synonymous with chaos, economic disorder, political instability, subversion, criminal conspiracy, and coup plotting. For Bolivian social movements, democracy is the expansion of political participation and national sovereignty obtained via mass mobilization.

Liberal democracy and radical democracy are momentarily locked in fierce combat, with the balance tipped precariously in favor of the latter. Though Mesa's public discourse is evermore reminiscent of predecessor Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada's, his practice is substantially different; another reason why he remains in power after over a week of marches, blockades, and strikes that have shut the capital down and cut it off from the rest of the country. If Mesa decides to use lethal force, no one would be surprised if he met with the same fate as Sánchez de Lozada. But having served as Goni's vice-president, he does not want to follow a similar trajectory.

Regional, ethnic, and class divisions (notable features of mobilization in January and March) have been sharply exacerbated, and political polarization advances accordingly, but it seems that unless Evo Morales breaks with liberal democracy, neither side can impose its collective will. Not for the first time, Morales functions as a dam against a popular flood onto the nation's highways, into its streets and perhaps even the presidential palace. The motive force of the current wave of protest comes from the rank-and-file and mid-level cadre in El Alto and the department of La Paz, but only Morales and MAS have the potential to unite the highly fragmented social movements across the above-mentioned divides. Unless Morales and MAS call for it, as they did in March, nationwide mobilization is unlikely to materialize.

However, like all popular caudillos, Morales has a vested interest in maintaining a dynamic of limited mobilization. Currently the only effective break on popular insurrection, Morales poses as the defender of democracy in hopes of winning over the urban middle class. Here it is important to highlight his sincerity. Though the U.S. Embassy, the weak and divided Bolivian elite, and the London Economist see Morales as a wolf in sheep's clothing -- a strategic radical disguised as a tactical moderate -- in rhetoric and fact Morales is the strongest defender of Bolivian democracy as presently configured. Neither he nor MAS want to see the constitutional order unravel, as both have had their sights set on the 2007 elections since 2002, when Morales nearly won the presidential race.

Whatever one thinks of the center-left electoral strategy, it is important to recognize its internal coherence. Composed of miners from Huanuni; Aymara peasants from the department of La Paz (CSUTCB-Túpaj Katari); the neighborhood association (FEJUVE) and trade union central (COR) of El Alto; and the rural and urban teacher's union in El Alto, La Paz, and Potosí, the radical-popular bloc demands immediate nationalization of oil and gas; the resignation of the president; the closure of parliament; and a constitutional assembly.

As a result of close collaboration between social movements and the petroleum and gas professionals' association (Codepenal), proposals for nationalization are relatively clear, at least in El Alto, and have obvious precedents. In 1937, Standard Oil was nationalized under the military populist General David Toro, and in 1969, Gulf Oil was nationalized under General Alfredo Ovando. What would come after Mesa's resignation or the closure of parliament, in contrast, is a question that is infrequently raised and therefore largely ignored. For his part, Mesa shows no willingness to resign: in March he tendered his resignation in order to undercut social movements, not to appease them.

However, if Mesa were to resign, the head of the Senate, Hormando Vaca Díez, would become president. In light of his longstanding ties to one of two major neoliberal parties (MIR), as well as rightwing interests in his native Santa Cruz, Vaca Díez would likely prove more authoritarian, dictatorial, and bloody than Mesa. Thus far, Vaca Díez shows no signs of interest in taking power on the back of popular radicalism, although his name did come up last week in connection with unsubstantiated rumors of a rightwing conspiracy. If Mesa resigned and Vaca Díez declined to assume the presidency, it would pass to the head of the Lower House of parliament, the MNR's Mario Cossio. He would probably refuse, too. In that case a judge from the Supreme Court would be obliged call elections. This panorama would not necessarily open space for broader political participation, and might well restrict it.

Morales and Mesa agree that shutting down parliament would be tantamount to imposing a dictatorship, and since there is no coherent, much less hegemonic alternative from the left, the demand seems impractical and unrealistic. Furthermore, Román Loayza, MAS's caudillo of the indigenous peasant sector-who, in line with his constituency, calls for nationalization-has promised to protect parliament so it can meet to discuss the new hydrocarbons law.
Precisely because his power comes from peasant trade union federations rather than parliament, Loayza falls considerably to the left of Morales. In light of his willingness to order his followers to protect parliament, the bloc from the provinces of La Paz and El Alto would be hard pressed to shut it down. It had not been able to enter the Plaza Murillo after nearly a week's worth of effort, particularly by miners and Aymara peasants, and FEJUVE, in spite of its official positions, had no designs on parliament and the presidential palace (both located in Plaza Murillo). Its columns stayed in the Plaza San Francisco.

In addition to marches and strikes paralyzing official business in the capital, El Alto -- which spread to Sucre and Potosí -- road blockades had shut down seven of Bolivia's nine departments, further demonstrating Mesa's inability to govern. The irony, as one sage observer noted, is that Mesa could easily bring protest and mobilization to a stop by moving the constitutional assembly forward a year to this August. That way he would not have to take responsibility for the future of Bolivian gas and petroleum, which would be decided in the assembly, and could legitimately claim to be responding to popular demands for immediate, radical change. Meanwhile, the popular movements would have a hard time cobbling together a widely accepted proposal for the design and implementation of a constitutional assembly on such short notice.

Given the fragmentation of the radical-popular movements, and their limited possibility of achieving political articulation in the absence of state violence and without support from MAS, it is difficult to imagine what Mesa is waiting for. Like Sánchez de Lozada, it may be that he is too blinded by anger, pride, and prejudice to read the popular mood or calibrate the "political time" of the current moment. On the state-owned television channel, he seems as out of touch as his predecessor was in the days leading up to his downfall. If anyone is to blame for the widely shared perception that Mesa is not governing, it is Mesa himself. Morales is not so different. Yet one could argue that unlike Mesa, Morales has made a career of being out of touch since mass uprisings began in 2003. Mesa's distance from reality threatens his political future, while Morales' distance would appear to secure him and his party a place at the electoral table.

Whatever happens on June 2, when parliament is scheduled to meet and debate the constitutional assembly, Bolivia's predicament is far from unique. Radical-popular mobilization in Bolivia is now more compact and forceful than elsewhere on the politically contested South American continent, but even where social movements have altered the balance of power, the crisis of neoliberalism drags on, and a viable alternative has yet to emerge.

March for Kids, March for Schools

Adequate funding for public schools was the issue yesterday in Rhode Island where students, parents, teachers and education advocates marched from a local high school to the State House. Marchers carried signs which read "Kids come first" and "March for our kids, March for our schools."

The march was organized by the local chapter of ACORN and met up with union activists and others from the group Working Rhode Island.

The goal of the ACORN organized march was to send a message to legislators and Governor Carcieri that public schools need more state money now. "While our state leaders are still deciphering the budget, we need to send them the message loud and clear: Stop our children from suffering any more! Fund our schools now!" said ACORN member Vivian Moreno, a mother of three. "We need a statewide fair and predictable formula where every child in the state has access to a quality education and immediately our school districts need more money for the upcoming school year."

Stephanie Cannady, a march coordinator and a Rhode Island delegate to the national ACORN organization, told the Providence Journal parents were moved to march after reading news reports about state officials pondering tax breaks for companies as they discuss curtailing aid to public education. "Our goal is basically, as parents, to make a stand and say that we're fed up and tired," said Cannady, who has a son graduating from high school and a daughter in the third grade at Asa Messer Elementary. "For the past three years, this struggle [over funding education] has been an ongoing thing."

Also quoted in the Providence Journal was Nancy Evans-Lloyd, a parent who joined a local Save Our Schools coalition in March 2004, when the School Department made its first round of cuts in extra-curricular activities. She said schools have become "pretty darn dry" and "unmotivating." "Three years ago the schools were doing so well [with education reform]," Evans-Lloyd said. "But the last three years they've just been chipping away and chipping away and chipping away." Evans-Lloyd came to the march with her son, Davis, a seventh grade student at Nathanael Greene Middle School. She said many parents brought their children to "set a good example" and teach them that "you have to stand up for what you believe in."

Fred McLin who graduated from Johnson & Wales University two weeks ago, wore his black cap and gown to draw attention, he said, tucking a bullhorn under his arm, and to emphasize that many Providence students might not graduate from college if the state is not willing to invest in their education. In order for today's youth to flourish, McLin said, they need more and after-school programs that promote positive activities and teamwork.

At the state house, as stated earlier they met up with thousands of union members who were there to show solidarity and to demand some respect from the governor. "All he's been doing since he got elected is demonizing the unions," Frank J. Montanaro, president of the state AFL-CIO said of the governor.

According to at times, the rally got “downright nasty.” Scott Malloy, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, said he was sick of "the rich" pushing unions around "in order to bring down the taxes of the wealthy." He called the governor "that shifty bum." Stan Israel, vice president of District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, called Carcieri a "liar and a cheat."

Attacking the myth of the glory of the “private sector,” Pat Mancini, a registered nurse at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, said: "I am proud to stand up and say I am a public employee. I am tired of hearing this myth about the virtue of the private sector," she added, naming a string of troubled companies. "We do the work the private sector can't do or won't do." Sources: Providence Journal,

Jailed Bulgarian Nurses Have Something to Say

Those never say die Bulgarian nurses aren’t letting anybody off the hook just yet.

The nurses are calling the Bulgarian government to report regularly on their steps to aid Libya's HIV-infected children. Bulgaria which completely supports the nurses’ pleas of innocence had committed itself in the past to aiding the families of the infected children. The Sofia News Agency reports the nurses have told Dr. Zdravko Georgiev, who was also on trial in Libya and was freed from jail last May, that their government should give, “...a weekly account on the specific steps taken to help the patients.” The nurses want this account to be made public to the people of Bulgaria. Dr. Georgiev met with the nurses in a Tripoli prison. Focus One News reports, “Christiana Valcheva, one of the nurses, said that children infected with the AIDS virus should get adequate help. According to her the outcome of the case will depend on that how the engagements on humanitarian plan will be fulfilled.” Valcheya is quoted as saying, “Our opinion is firm – the children should be rendered help as much as possible because this is really a tragedy. It is awful!”

Meanwhile, the Libyan government promise of improved prison conditions has not been fulfilled.

Wondering what Khadafi thinks this is all about. Can you guess? He says the imprisoned healthcare workers were taking orders from the CIA and the Mossad to kill Libyan children in order to destabilize his country. Sources: Focus One News (Bulgaria), BNN, Sofia News Agency,Medical News Today

UFW Action Alert

Take action: Farm workers were 50 feet away when applicator exposed them to poisons!

Friends, we need your immediate help. Thousands of you responded to last Thursday’s action alert after 23 women table grape workers were exposed to toxic pesticides--including one that may cause reproductive harm--as they worked in the grapes in a Kern County, Calif. vineyard.

As details leak out, this incident has become more horrifying. According to the Bakersfield Californian, "when the workers were hit, the sprayer was about 50 feet away" in a nearby field.

It gets worse. It was reported that grower officials from both fields spoke to each other before the incident occurred. The newspaper notes that some one at Paramount Citrus, the orchard where the pesticides were sprayed, talked to the supervisor of the crew in the adjoining vineyard about the farm workers' close proximity to the spraying. "A vineyard supervisor in the field thought the spraying would stop," the Californian reported. "Instead, San Joaquin Helicopters made two more runs through the grove," according to the grower. "When the workers were hit, the sprayer was about 50 feet away, according to the victims." The Kern County Agricultural Commissioner said "the crews were actually right on top of each other."

The pesticide application firm, San Joaquin Helicopters, has a long record of infractions according to the Bakersfield Californian. In 1996, the state levied a fine of $60,000 and suspended the licenses of two San Joaquin Helicopters employees for spraying pesticides on 1,100 vineyard workers. Since 1989, the applicator has also been fined on eight occasions for pesticide infractions. Our research shows other violation notices which carried no fine have also been issued against the company.

Enough is enough. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation should immediately investigate and prosecute San Joaquin Helicopters and anyone else found to be responsible. There have been too many violations over the years. It is time for the state of California to consider permanently revoking the company’s license.

Please send your email to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation TODAY and demand it take immediate action! and go to the TAKE ACTION page

UFW Father's Day Sale

Sunday, June 19 is Father's Day! Families across the nation will celebrate the incredible men in our lives who first taught us about justice and humanity.
Show dad you share his concern to make the world a better place by giving him a gift from the special UFW Father's Day collection. Proceeds from all our products help support the UFW's efforts to provide just and humane working conditions for the farm workers who bring food to our tables.
20% off selected items through Sunday, June 19!
* Order by June 13 to insure you receive your gift by Father's Day

Go To:

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Anti-Illegal Logging Activist Shot in the Philippines

Romeo Pacot is a guy you’ve probably never heard of.

Pacot was the chief operations officer of Task Force Kalikasan, a people’s organization campaigning against illegal logging in the Caraga region of the Philippines.

Romeo Pacot was shot in the head last night near his home and in intensive care in a local hospital. Three men attacked Pacot and then casually walked away to a parked motorcycle(S) and drove off.

Pacot had received death threats before according to police.

Last fall flash floods and landslides which killed 340 persons were blamed on rampant deforestation in the Philippines. Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told the Sun-Star the powerful storm, which hit the country's east shortly after a typhoon caused so much death and destruction because there was no forest cover to hold mudslides that washed away roads, bridges and submerged whole towns. "The real culprit is really the mud and the landslides," Soliman said. "The rains caused the flash floods, yes, but the soil could not hold up the water in the mountains."

The Sun-Star reported, “A recent US-funded project concluded that the Philippines was losing more than 100,000 hectares (247,100 acres) of forest every year. Other experts say less than 3 percent of the country's primary forest remains intact.”

Earlier this month Philip Agustin, editor and publisher of a Philippines weekly Starline Times Recorder, was killed by a single shot to the back of the head. The shooter in that murder also fled on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice.

What’s the connection?

The day after Agustin’s murder a special edition of Starline Times Recorder, highlighting corruption and illegal logging in the town of Dingalan was scheduled for print. According to the ABS-CBN news Web site Agustin's family told police that his articles about local corruption and official inaction against the illegal logging trade were the likely motives for his murder.

At the time of that murder the Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists Ann Cooper said, "We call on authorities to make Agustin's death the last. The government must apprehend those responsible and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."
Sources: Sun-Star (Philippines), Philippines Star, YEHEY!News, Committee to Protect Journalists

The Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act of 2005"

Usually, I don't post much about Congressional bills. But a few months ago my friend Carol died of Ovarian Cancer. Anyway...

"Johanna's Law:
The Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act of 2005"

Nilak Butler, a founding mother of the Indigneous Women’s Network and founding council member and staff of Indigenous Environmental Network, died of advanced ovarian cancer in December of 2002. Nilak’s disease was initially misdiagnosed­twice. Her experience tragically mirrors the experience of most women suffering from gynecologic cancers. That’s because there is a general lack of education and awareness about the signs and symptoms of ovarian and other women’s cancers. When it comes to women’s reproductive issues, complaints are often dismissed or ignored.

A new bill before the House of Representatives called “Johanna’s Law: The Gynecologic Education and Awareness Act of 2005” will significantly increase funding for public education and awareness of gynecologic cancers, including ovarian, cervical and uterine cancers. The legislation is aimed at increasing the knowledge of women about gynecologic cancers, and knowledge of symptoms is key to early detection and diagnosis.

According to the American Cancer Society, gynecologic cancers will affect approximately 79,480 women and take 28,910 lives this year alone. Every effort to educate women about the signs and symptoms of these cancers will help save women’s lives.

Please help by calling for passage of Johanna’s Law. Contact your Representative and urge them to support the bill. A sample letter and other materials can be found at:

Nilak Butler, in talking about the overall diagnostic negligence of gynecologic cancers, asked her friends and family to take a stand. “Women are not disposable,” she said. This is an opportunity for us to take that stand.

For further info go to

President Fox Thinks 400 Murders of Women Are No Big Deal

Just what is it with Mexican President Vicente Fox?

Fox announced yesterday that most of the slayings of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez have been solved and suggested that they had been blown all out of proportion. Speaking to reporters in Monterrey, Mexico, yesterday, Fox said there have been 323 women killed in Juarez since 1993. He says that 230 cases have been solved and 200 of the killers are in prison. Fox cited a report by his special prosecutor in charge of the case, Maria Lopez Urbina.

Victims’ families, human rights and women’s activist were outraged by the comments. Lopez Urbina’s findings had already been received with scorn by those following the case and a variety of human rights groups.

The past week has seen a series of anti-violence marches in Juárez, including a 20,000-strong gathering on Friday. The marches were sparked by long-standing frustrations and the recent, brutal killings of two young girls, aged 7 and 10.

Earlier this year, the Governor Reyes Baeza of the state of Chihuahua in Mexico complained that international attention on the situation in Ciudad Juarez is damaging the city's public image.

Amnesty International has said, “Ciudad Juarez does have an image problem, but that image is due to both the horrific crimes perpetrated in the region and the institutional failure to bring justice to bear on the perpetrators in a credible and fair way. The administration of Governor Reyes Baeza and the federal government must take responsibility for the situation. Ciudad Juarez's image will improve when the violence ends and the atmosphere of corruption and denial is replaced by one of justice and fairness."

Amnesty also pointed out that while many arrests have indeed been made, that is little cause for satisfaction. “…allegations of torture and other violations against alleged suspects, as well as the perception that some convictions may be due more to political and international pressure than well-founded judicial decisions, has heightened concern that miscarriages of justice have occurred."

Over the past twelve years, nearly 400 women have been killed in the cities of Juárez and Chihuahua, 250 miles south. Of these, at least 137 of the victims were sexually assaulted prior to their murders. There are many similarities in the killings.

A significant number of victims work in the maquiladora sector - sweatshops that produce for export with 90% destined for the United States. The maquiladoras employ mainly young women at poverty level wages. Though the maquiladoras are making a load of money thanks to poverty level wages and lax environmental regulations, they offer virtually no protection for their women workers.

Donate to grassroots organizations in Juarez and Chihuahua that are in need of funds to keep their vital work going. Donate through MSN and 100% of the money is passed on to local projects working to support victim's families, to educate people about the crisis, and to defend the falsely accused. Send check or money order to: MSN, 4834 N. Springfield, Chicago, IL 60625 and indicate that it is for Chihuahua organizations on your check. Sources: Washington Office on Latin America, Latin America Working Group, Amnesty International, Mexico Solidarity Network, KLTV (Tyler, TX), El Universal (Mexico)

Libyan Court Delays/Health Care Workers Remain in Libyan Jail

Following up on last weeks Oread Daily story concerning the plight of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya for allegedly infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus, a Libyan court yesterday issued a decision to delay a ruling on an appeal filed by the health care workers. JANA quoted the Chairman of the Peoples Committee for the Society for the Care of the Injected children after the court's decision to postpone the sentence "We respect the court's decision of this case, but in the same time we hope the others would respect it also".

The Pakistani newspaper DAWN reported that, “Angry scuffles erupted outside the court at the judge’s decision, with families of some children trying to get into the Tripoli courtroom and forcing officials to shut the doors to keep them out. Chants of “Kill them or kill us” echoed round the building as security forces tried to control the demonstrators, some of whom vented their wrath against Othman al-Bizanti, the nurses’ defense lawyer.”

The decision was welcomed by the European Union. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told a news briefing, "I welcome this decision. It indicates that the Libyan Supreme Court accepts that the original trial needs additional consideration and that the death sentences ... cannot be confirmed."

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy saw the court's delay as a sign it "is starting to listen more carefully to the arguments of the defense". "We hope to have our people back in Bulgaria this year ... They will have to stay six months more in jail for reasons which they themselves, and we ourselves in Bulgaria, do not understand," he told the same news briefing in Luxembourg. Although not happy with the length of the delay until the new appeal date, Ferrero-Waldner said the outcome could have been far more serious. "There was a very difficult moment today, where there could have been a death penalty for six people," she said.

Not everyone was quite so taken with the decision of the Court.

The Human Rights group, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) was dismayed by the delay which requires the health care workers to languish in a Libyan prison. A statement released by the group said in part, “We are disappointed to learn that the Libyan Supreme Court has delayed an opportunity to release the nurses and physician accused of intentionally infecting children with HIV. This is especially troubling in light of the medics’ allegations that their confessions were extracted under torture. These medics have already served five and half years in prison. They were arrested in 1999 and not tried until 2004. The announcement postponing the court ruling until November 15 means six more months of confinement for the medics.”

PSR noted that Professor Luc Montagnier, a co-discoverer of the virus that causes AIDS and Italian microbiologist Vittorio Colizzi sampled viruses from the infected children in 2004 and determined that many of the children had been infected with HIV before the arrival of the foreign nurses and doctor in 1998. Further, the presence of co-contaminants Hepatitis B and C suggests that the victims had been infected by unsanitary conditions at the hospital rather than by any deliberate action. Sources: JANA, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Reuters Alert, DAWN, AFP

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Western Sahara: The Intifada You Haven't Heard About

A struggle for national liberation has been ongoing in the Western Sahara for decades. Largely unnoticed here in the US of A. An intifada has been going on for days, even more unnoticed.

The "new Intifada" began just over a week ago in the Moroccan occupied territory. According to "Afrol News" Moroccan security forces have answered the demonstrators with tear gas and mass arrests of civilians.

The Intifada began peacefully in Western Sahara's capital El Aaiun where human rights activists protested against limited freedom. The activists were soon joined by hundreds Saharawi (Western Sahara) citizens. The new arrivals took the human rights folks demands a step farther. They wanted the Moroccans out. They wanted real freedom. Saharawi national flags were carried, some protesters set tires on fire and some engaged in street battles with Moroccan security forces.

According to Brahim Noumria - a prominent Saharawi human rights activist who has spent several years in Moroccan prisons - the occupying power was overwhelmed by the mass mobilization. The rights activists, known to the police and usually let in peace by them, had noted "the genuine fear" among the Moroccan troops stationed in El Aaiun, faced by a new and surprising rebellion.

According to a variety of sources, many involved in the El Aaiun uprising have been disappeared or taken into custody.

But instead of shutting down the uprising, people across the nation rose up in defiance. Within 24 hours Intifada had spread to other cities and towns in Western Sahara and Morocco. There have been several reports of confrontations in the Saharawi town including Smara and Dakhla and of protesting Saharawis in the Moroccan cities including Tan Tan and Rabat.

Students at Souissi II University in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, pelted police with stones in response to attempts to break up their demonstration of support. "Around 100 policemen came in backup and raided the campus restaurant, rooms and other facilities. We all had to run," said one student, who asked to be identified only as HS. According to Reuters at least a dozen students were wounded.

In Agadir and Fez, Saharawi students also organized marches of solidarity and support for the Intifada and read releases condemning the repression against their people in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

The amazing thing is that none of this appears to be coordinated by the Polisario who have long led the liberation movement. Rather it seems that Intifada has developed autonomously out of frustration over the Moroccan occupation and the Kingdom's unwillingness to engage in the UN-led peace process.

Internationally there has been some been some strong opposition to the repressive response of the occupying Moroccan forces.

Protestors staged demonstrations in the Spanish cities of Seville and Almeria to urge an end to the "violent repression" in the Western Sahara and to support what they term the Saharawi people's right to independence. The associations organizing the protests have repeatedly accused the Zapatero government of "passiveness" in the face of the Moroccan authorities' continuing clampdown on the territory's separatist movement.

On Sunday the 3rd Congress of Canaries Coalition (CC) adopted a resolution which condemned "the strong oppression" and which expressed "solidarity with the legitimate aspiration of the Saharawi people struggle for self-determination."

The Spanish Human Rights League (SHRL), according to the Sahara Press Service (SPS) "strongly condemned" the violation by Morocco "of the most fundamental human rights, the right to demonstrate" in Western Sahara "at a moment when the international commrecognizeognise to the Saharawi people its rights on the basis of an arsenal of resolutions and many settlement plans, all of which Morocco accepted"SHRL asked for "the immediate release of the political prisoner EL Keinan and the 33 detainees of the Intifada", and to "immediately undertake measures against the persons who bares the responsibility of the repression."

Meanwhile, Polisario accused the Moroccan government of terrible repression. "The repression by the Moroccan authorities which is still going on has left 57 people injured, seven of them seriously, dozens of people under arrest, many others missing... and dozens of houses completely sacked," the Polisario said in a letter to the United Nations written on Sunday.

"The violation of civil and political rights... demands a firm reaction from the whole international community," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by IRIN. "Every day that the world delays means added suffering for the civilian population."

Agence France Presse reported that Morocco was opening an inquiry into the clashes. But the Polisario said it wanted an international probe into the recent disturbances and foreign observers and journalists to come to the territory.

Still the Moroccan government is doing what it can to keep the latest uprising a secret. According to "Western Sahara On Line", Moroccan authorities have expelled the journalist Abdessalam Razzak from the Arabic channel television 'Al Jazeera'. The journalist had just arrived to cover a report on the situation in Western Sahara. Also, two journalists upon their arrival at the airport in El Aaiun, two journalists from the Moroccan weekly "Assahifa"; Lahcen Aouad and Mourad Bourja, were held for more than three hours before being released. In addition, members of the Spanish television channel TVE team, who reached El Aaiun, were prevented from leaving the hotel. However, they were able to give an account of the situation and on their forced confinement by using their cell phones.

Even before the outbreak of the new Intifada tensions had been rising in the region. A summit of North African Heads of State which was abruptly scrapped when, according to IRIN, Morocco reacted angrily to Algeria's reiteration of its support for the Polisario.

Earlier in the month the Polisario's chief negotiator, Emhamed Khadad, had told Reuters that the liberation forces were considering resuming armed struggle if UN led peace talks continued to stagnate. The current deal on the table provides for Western Sahara to be given self-rule for a period of four to five years. After that, its long-term residents and the refugees in Algerian camps would vote in a referendum to choose whether the territory is to be fully integrated with Morocco, continue to have autonomy within the Moroccan state, or become independent. The plan has been accepted by the Polisario movement, but rejected by Morocco.

Less then one month ago, the government-in-exile of Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) outmaneuvered the Moroccans when it invited international oil companies to bid for 12 offshore exploration licenses at a meeting in London. The London meeting comes a week after Texan oil giant Kerr McGee announced it was renewing its reconnaissance agreement to work in the disputed country for only six months, but on Moroccan terms. Morocco which invaded Western Sahara over thirty years ago is eager to offer big business the chance to operate in Western Sahara in the hope that Western operations will help legitimize the occupation.

Tom Marchbanks of the Western Sahara Campaign UK said: "It is important for oil companies to approach SADR when seeking approval to operate in Western Sahara. By operating in the territory solely with Moroccan approval they are legitimizing the occupation, potentially exhausting the valuable resources of the Saharawi refugees and showing a disregard and ignorance for international law and corporate social responsibility."

Only one major oil company seems to be completely dissing the SADR. Kerr McGee appears largely alone in its oil dealings with Rabat on Western Sahara following the pullout from the territory of Norwegian, Dutch and Danish seismic firms in 2003 and mid-2004 and then Total - which had a similar agreement with Rabat - last November.

"For KMG to renew their contract flies in the face of attempts by the wider petroleum industry to instill greater moral and ethical best practice," says Tom Marchbanks of campaigners Western Sahara Resource Watch. "By continuing its activities in Western Sahara,… KMG is legitimizing the Moroccan occupation while actively seeking to exhaust valuable potential resources..."

"Under international laws decreeing the treatment of non-self-governing territories, Morocc's granting of rights in Western Sahara to Kerr McGee holds no more sway than if those rights had been granted by Luxembourg or Ireland, says political scientist and lawyer Raphael Fisera. Sources: IRIN, Aljazeera, Sahara Press Service (SPS), Reuters, Adnkronos International (AKI), Afrol News, Oilbarrel, Finanacial Times, Western Sahara Campaign, Reporters Without Borders

Monday, May 30, 2005

Who Needs Lewis and Clark

Who can forget those junior high history text's wonderful stories of the adventures of Lewis and Clark exploring the American frontier. Well, lots of American Indians wish they could forget. If history is indeed the story of the "winners" then American history is one of the best examples. America had to go out and conquer the savage Indians who threatened the poor settlers who after all only wanted to take away their land. Or America had to go out and save the brave men and women of Texas who only wanted to steal Mexico. Or...or...a thousand ors...

Anyway, for those of you who don't live out here in the "heart of America", especially somewhere along the Missouri River, we've been having this on going and seemingly endless reenactment celebration of Lewis and Clark going on. You know these reenacters float up and everyone greets them and learns of "our" history by seeing it.

As the Oread Daily has been reporting old L and C are not being received so well in Indian Country.

The latest "greeting" came from members of the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes at the border of the Fort Belknap Reservation. As reported by the Great Falls Tribune (Great Falls, Montana) the Gros Ventre and Assinboine say, "...say they have little gratitude for the government-commissioned explorers who purported to 'discover"' their ancestors and the land they inhabited for generations."

"Nobody discovered us," said Raymond Chandler, vice president of the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council. "Our people were always here. This is our homeland."

Last Thursday en lieu of a swell hello, members of the tribes played host to the "Corps of Recovery," a counter celebration meant to underscore the survival of their own people, culture and spiritual beliefs in the modern world." The day of games, feasting and prayer replaced a four-day National Park Service-sanctioned event called the Corps of Discovery II that was scheduled for this week on the reservation.

"Everything that has been done to the Native Americans started with Lewis and Clark coming through here under the European-type doctrine of discovery," said John Allen, spiritual leader for the Fort Belknap band of Assiniboine Indians and coordinator of Thursday's events."We're in essence saying we still have our culture, we still have our spiritual ways, even after 200 years of repression by the United States government," Allen said.

Gena Weasel, a Fort Belknap Assiniboine, said the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial is a reminder to her of the ills that have befallen Indian Country in the past two centuries. "It's like the Fourth of July," Weasel said. "I tell my kids, this is not really a celebration. It's a white man's celebration."

Indeed, just what did L and C bring to the Indians.

Well, for the Assinboine and Gros Venture who were surviving quite well at the time the results of the visit were the forced destruction of major parts of their culture, the forced relocation to a reservation in Montana, disease, starvation and, "a generation of Indian children ...(shipped) to off-reservation boarding schools where they were forbidden from speaking their native tongue."

"Lewis and Clark brought a lot of hardships," said George Horse Capture Jr., a Gros Ventre spiritual leader. "I don't want to be harsh, but that is what was brought here."

That is what they brought everywhere.

For further information, check out

Sunday, May 29, 2005

In the meantime

While you are waiting for this new blog to get off the ground you can find the Oread Daily at

Coming soon

Folks, I am working on this. The real thing is days away. If you've come here, I'd suggest coming back later...