Saturday, October 01, 2005

Letter in Support of the Movement in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: Notes on Strategy & Tactics

I have not read this yet, but it looks interesting...

Eric Mann's "Letter in Support of the Movement in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: Strategy & Tactics"
Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2005 18:03:21 -0700

* * * Please forward and post to listserves * * *

Dear Friends,

I've linked here the PDF version of my just-finished 50 page Letter in Support of the Movement in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: Notes on Strategy & Tactics. You can also visit to download the PDF, or contact us to receive hardcopies. I have been working on the Letter for 21 days non-stop, aided by many conversations with Gulf Coast activists and organizers, and other Black organizers throughout the U.S. I have been trying to read, devour the tons of articles on the racist, human-made attack on the Black community, code name Katrina, to inform this work.

For those of you who have read my Dispatches from Durban, Letter to the Movement on the War in Iraq, and The 2004 Elections: A Challenge to the U.S. Left, you know I try to focus my writing on the re-building of a multiracial Left led by the interests of the Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Indigenous peoples, in alliance with the nations and peoples of the Third World. The objective is to help build an antiracist, anti-imperialist united front, and to try to address issues of strategy and tactics from that perspective.

We live at a time when Right-wing racists are so emboldened that Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of freedom-fighter Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, and former Education Secretary William Bennett, the architect of the war on drugs that has contributed to 1 million Black people being in prison today, stated, If you wanted to reduce crime you could abort every Black baby in the country. The defense of the New Orleans movement offers a hopeful opportunity for a major assault on the forces of reactionwhat this Letter calls a Third Reconstruction. Today, the embattled Black people are under unbearable assault, and are in great need of friends and allies willing to go to the mat to fight against white supremacy and imperialism.

This Letter in Support of the Movement in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is rooted in that tradition. I hope people find it worth their time to read, to debate, to generate other strategy papers such as Saladin Muhammads important Hurricane Katrina: The Black Nations 9/11! As this goes to press there is a critical meeting of Gulf Coast organizers in South Carolina working to further refine and develop their strategy and tactics, and we can expect important statements coming from Community Labor United and the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund and Reconstruction Project in future days. This Letter is an effort to gain more national and international support for their efforts.

In solidarity and struggle,

Eric Mann

September 30, 2005

I would appreciate comments and feedback at

Friday, September 30, 2005


It so happens that on some Friday’s I just reprint an article of interest or importance from another source en lieu of the Oread Daily. Today, my friends, is such a day.

It’s been just a little more then 34 years since the prison revolt at Attica took place. I remember it like it was yesterday. What happened there should never be forgotten.

The following is taken from the web site:
It's About Time - Black Panther Party Legacy & Alumni


In September 1971, before I was able to leave New England and return to the warmth of California, I got a call that Chairman Bobby Seale was headed to upstate New York and that I was to accompany him. We were going to Attica State Prison. It had been broadcast on the radio that a riot had broken out and part of the prison was under the control of the inmates.

The inmates had a list of demands that they presented to the prison authorities and they requested civilian observers. They wanted representatives of the government, several newspapers, the Young Lords, Black Muslims, the Black Panther Party and some other social and professional groups.

Bobby, his driver - Van Taylor - me and a couple of other Panthers hit the highway for Attica, 40 miles east of Buffalo, New York. After we had driven a while and were close to the prison, we stopped and asked a state trooper for directions. He recognized bobby Seale right away. Bobby explained that we had been asked to come as part of the negotiating team at Attica. The state trooper told us to follow him and he escorted us right up to the prison.

When we pulled up to the prison, the front was full of state and local police, national guardsmen, emergency medical personnel and lost of news media personnel and equipment. Once we were recognized as Panthers, the news people and reporters were all over us with questions and requests for interviews. Bobby told them that we had just arrived and had nothing to say at that point.

Word got inside that we were there. Attorney Bill Kunstler came out and told us he would let Commissioner Russell Oswald know that we were there and make arrangements to let us in the prison. Oswald came out and directed his armed guards to let us pass through. Inside, there were members of the press; New York Times, Daily News, Washington Post, Muhammad Speaks, and of course, The Black Panther News Service -us.

I remember Dr. Benjamin Spock, David Dellinger, Bill Kunstler, members of the Young Lords and the Black Muslims. We were briefed on the inmate’s demands and the hostage situation. There were at least 30 guards and civilian employees taken as hostages.

I forgot to mention that outside with all the police and medical personnel were the families of the prison guards being held hostage. There were wives and children crying and asking us to do all we can to help settle the situation so their loved ones would be released unharmed. That part of it I'll never forget because their pleas went out to Governor Rockefeller and fell on deaf ears.

On Sept. 9, 1971, approximately 1,000 of the 2,254 inmates (85% of whom were Black) took control of the southeast portion of the prison compound. The inmates issued a list of demands for; higher wages, religious and political freedom, dietary, medical and recreational improvements, and total amnesty and freedom from reprisals upon the surrendering of the hostages. Negotiations between the inmates and Commissioner Oswald began.

The civilian observer committee, including us, the BPP, were admitted into the prison and served as a liaison between Oswald and the inmates during 4 days of tense negotiations. Oswald offered a list of twenty-eight reforms that he was willing to grant. He acceded to nearly all the inmates' major demands, except the ouster of Attica Superintendent Vincent R. Mancusi and total amnesty.

The Warden's office areas were alive with telephones ringing off the hook with news people calling out reports and officials talking to the Governor's office.

Runners were coming and going to the yard; taking and bringing messages between the commissioner and the inmate revolt leadership.

Governor Nelson Rockefeller rejected the amnesty request and despite requests by the observer committee, refused to travel to Attica to participate or show any king of understanding of the negotiations.

At dusk, as it was getting dark, the inmates agreed to let members of the BPP and some members of the media into the restricted area of Cellblock "D" which let out into the yard where the inmates' command center was and where the hostages were held. To get to the yard we had to walk down a long semi-dark corridor that was about 100 feet long and maybe 10 feet wide. There was one overhead light in the corridor. There were cellblocks on the left and a wall on our right. Some cell doors had mattresses standing up against them. Water was standing in places on the floor.

Way down at the end of the corridor was a cell gate guarded by three or four inmates with their faces covered so as not to be identified. Verbal signals were yelled out that the Panthers were coming in.

If ever there was a place that looked and smelled of death, this was it. It was just hours away. I remember a bible scripture that came into my mind and for some reason, while walking, I said it to myself, "Yea though I Walk through the valley and shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thine art with me, thy rod and thy shaft they comfort me in the presence of my enemy, and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever."

Anyway, we got to the end of the corridor and were let into the yard. The yard was crowded. There were fires going at various locations around the yard. There were employees of the prison, hostages if you will, sitting around the fires. Most were dressed in prison clothes. You could tell they were hostages because most of them were white, dirty and looked very sad, but unharmed. You could tell that they were clinging to hope that it would soon be over and that they would be alive.

The revolt leaders or committee had a command post set up in the yard. They had a table with seats behind it, lights and a P.A. system. When it was announced that Bobby Seale and a delegation of the BPP was there, the whole yard erupted with applause and yells of acknowledgment. On our way to our seats, I shook hands with many, many inmates who said, "Hey Big Man, All Power to the People." I had no idea these guys knew me or who I was. Then, on the other hand, I had made the papers up and down the east coast during the New Haven and New York trials.

With the BPP and the press present, the inmate leaders stated their demands. Bobby Seale told them that he had to consult with Huey P. Newton, the Minister of Defense of the BPP before he made a statement but we stood in support of their demands. Bobby went to find a phone to contact Huey. Huey agreed that although very little could be done at that point, the Black Panther Party would stand in solidarity with the inmates in whatever way possible.

On Sunday morning, Sept. 11, 1971, the assembled forces of 211 state troopers and correction officers retook Attica using shotguns, rifles and tear gas. After the shooting was over, 10 hostages and 29 inmates lay dead or dying. Four hundred rounds of ammunition had been fired. Four hostages and 85 inmates suffered gunshot wounds. It was initially reported that several hostages died at the hands of knife- wielding inmates. Pathology reports later revealed that hostages and inmates all died from gunshot wounds. No guns were found in the possession of inmates.

Frank "Big Black" Smith, Attica survivor, reported: "It was very, very barbaric; you know, very, very cruel. They ripped our clothes off. They made us crawl on the ground like we were animals. And they snatched me. And they lay me on a table and beat me in my testicles. And they burned me with cigarettes and dropped hot shells on me and put a football up under my throat and they kept telling me that if it dropped, they were going to kill me. And I really felt, after seeing so many people shot for no apparent reason that they really were going to do this. They set up a gauntlet in the hallway and they broke glass up in the middle of the hallway and they made people run through the gauntlet.

They had police on each side with the clubs they call nigger sticks and they were hitting people. It just hurt. You see one human being treating another human being this way and they really hurt me. I never thought it would happen. I never thought so many would be treated like animals. And the way they treated me, the way they beat me and after they took me off the table, they ran me through the gauntlet. And the way they broke my wrist, over my head. They took me to the hospital and dumped me on the floor, playing with me with shotguns, pointing it in my face and putting the barrel of the shotgun over my eyes and telling me - Nigger we're going to kill you."

After all these years, the question still goes unanswered, what was the hurry. The inmates and hostages were inside a thirty-foot wall. They were not going anywhere. Nobody knows what the hurry was. "There's always time to die."
Big Man

Elbert "Big Man" Howard, one of the original six members of the Black Panther Party, served as the Party's deputy minister of information and as a member of the International Solidarity Committee. He was the founding editor of the Party's newspaper, the Black Panther Party Community News Service. He currently works as an advisor to several groups in Memphis working to improve education and health care.

The following is taken from the web site of Court TV


Why did Attica happen? What were prison conditions like in 1971?

Attica was about wants and needs. Attica was a lot about class and a lot about race. Let me give you an example. The 4th of July was a big day; the corrections officers opened up the four prison yards. Well, corrections had a "black ice time" and "white ice time." That meant that corrections called the white inmates to get ice for their Kool-Aid or their drinks, then they'd call the blacks. It wasn't just, "Alright, ice time!" Corrections had that kind of separation. The football teams had separation. The jobs, there was separation. Basically, the white inmates had the white-collar jobs: working in the package room, around the warden or assistant warden. The labor part of prison was basically for minority people in 1971. Then if corrections saw four or five blacks standing around talking, they'd make you bust up. But if it was four or five whites, corrections didn't say nothing to them. Basically, 80 to 90 percent of the people in Attica State Prison were, and are, coming out of the New York City area. You put that urban attitude and class of people with corrections officers and their upstate rural attitudes, class, and behavior, and you automatically create a conflict.

During Attica's four-day takeover, you were named chief of security. At the start, you were apolitical. What changed you?

There was a lot of change. Corrections brought in big-time educational programs and started going up on wages. Corrections started letting more religious practices into prison and started conjugal visits. You might have a little more time out of your cell, where you can breathe better. Even the medical things started changing.

But that's not enough to create a different value system and outlook in life. You need to address the human behavior thing, how you react and interact as a human being. You're not going to accomplish that if the corrections officers don't have any of that themselves, if all they do is look down on you with no humane concern and call you some form of an animal. So you can't have all the programs for the inmates and not have any kind of training for the keeper.

Society is so aggravated with crime and the punishment of crime, they don't see the revolving door. A person goes in, and he or she is going to come out. Something in between that has to be put in place. Rehabilitation and reform have to become a force, because prison doesn't know what to do. All they know is how to turn the key and lock the door. You have to do meaningful things while you're there: job training, rehabilitation, heavy drug treatment, broad educational programs. The average person who goes there doesn't have a high school diploma. It should be mandatory to get a high school diploma. If someone goes there and does drugs or some kind of addiction, it should be mandatory that they get into a program. It should be mandatory that when they come out that they continue the program. The court has got to set guidelines for this when it is issuing the sentence. If you had parole officers who really acted as helpers, instead of sitting around and just telling you to look for a job, that would help. They have work relief programs, but if you take someone from the city who's in Attica and let them out for work relief, they don't know anybody upstate. Their family's down here, and they're the folks who might help them get set up and start life again, maybe talk to someone about giving them a job. They should send those people to a downstate facility for work relief.

(Note: time frame referred to just below is from a couple of years ago)
A lot of the reforms are gone now. There are no educational programs anymore, no life skill programs, or training for jobs. The Governor stopped all of those programs about a year ago. Cut backs. They figure it's better to have more prisons than more educational programs. You had 15 state prisons then, now you have 70 or 80 [in New York]. And they're still building. A lot of them have double bunks, and they have young kids in state prison with adults. That's a big problem.

Why should people care about Attica today?

Attica is not just an isolated prison. Attica is attitudes and behavior, crime and punishment, education. It's about communication, it's about alleviating racism as much as we can, it's about the criminal justice system. It's about how the police can do what they want to when they want to do it. It's about how court-sentencing guidelines should be different. People should learn from and remember Attica, just like they learned from Kent State and other such events. People need to see they are part of the problem and part of the solution. Attica is all of us.

Frank "Big Black" Smith served nine years in Attica for
robbing a crap game - he was released in 1974. He was the prison
football coach and was popular and well liked by inmates and staff
alike. This was the reason he was chosen to be the chief of security
by the inmates during the rebellion. He was responsible for the
safety of the observers and negotiators during the four day
uprising. Frank "Big Black" Smith died just a little over one year

Thursday, September 29, 2005


The New Democratic Party of New Brunswick in Canada has elected an openly lesbian social activist and the founder of the province’s Morgentaler abortion clinic as their new leader.

With a convincing first ballot victory at the NDP leadership convention, Allison Brewer, 51, made history Sunday, becoming New Brunswick's first openly gay party leader.

After winning, she said the day was "historic" and pledged to continue campaigning for gay and abortion rights.

The Telegraph-Journal reports Brewer comes to her new role with a diverse resume as a former journalist, social activist and former executive director of the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton. Although her roots are in New Brunswick, she recently spent four years in Iqaluit, Nunavut as a government communications adviser and senior adviser to government on women's issues. During her time in New Brunswick, she was active with the Conservation Council, the Capital Credit Union and Parents for Children with Special Needs. In October, she earned a Governor General's Award for her work as a union and human rights activist, a feminist and a disability rights activist.

In New Brunswick, she was at the forefront of a battle with Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside, who refused to proclaim Gay Pride Week. Brewer was one of two complainants who took the matter to the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, which ordered Woodside to proclaim Gay Pride Week in 1998.

“As the leader I think there are things I have to hear and I will certainly respect other people's opinions but anyone who thinks that a woman doesn't have the right to choose is just wrong and anyone who doesn't support equal marriage for Canadians is just wrong," Brewer said. "And I won't hear any arguments to the contrary."

Brewer warned the country's Conservative and ruling Liberal parties that she was on her way to challenging them. Sources: Telegraph-Journal (Canada), Rainbow Network, Planet Out


The cops in Contra Costa County were shocked at the number of those who turned out to protest a fund raiser for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The organizers of the event expected maybe fifty folks at the most. Instead nearly 500 showed up. The protesters were mainly nurses, firefighters, teachers and students who have had enough of the gov’s policies and plans to last a life time.

"No more dirty tricks, no more 76," they hollered in protest alluding to the Nov. 8 ballot measure Proposition 76. This measure would devastate public schools and other vital services, cutting school funding by over $4 billion every year - $600 per student, leading to more overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs, and fewer textbooks and classroom materials. It also cuts funding for cities and counties, cutting police and firefighters, as well as local health care that protects children and the elderly. This initiative would also cap spending on voter-approved programs like the early childhood programs that are already paid for with the tobacco tax. Under this initiative, the Governor could declare a “fiscal emergency” and cut funding for vital services like education, health care, fire and police without approval from anyone else.

A Contra Costa County firefighter, who gave only his first name, Dominic, said another Schwarzenegger plan will "mess with" firefighters' retirement benefits. "Our lives are shorter, so our retirement is important to us," he said.

And he is absolutely correct.

A recent proposal (ACA 23) of the governor contains a number of dangerous provisions, the more egregious it:

 Constitutionally outlaws defined benefit (DB) retirement plans for all state and local firefighters effective 7.1.07 in favor of risky defined contribution (DC) and hybrid retirement schemes;

 Eliminates specific provisions that otherwise provide for secured, defined death benefits for the survivors of firefighters killed in the line of duty;

 Constitutionally increases the normal retirement age for firefighters from age 50 to age 55;

 Constitutionally takes away retiree health care for those firefighters who have not yet reached age 55; and

 Constitutionally eliminates the single-highest year standard in favor of a 36-month average when calculating a firefighter’s final compensation for retirement purposes.

The California Professional Firefighters (CPF) says, “Philosophically, ACA 23 is simply mean-spirited. The measure does nothing more than inappropriately and unfairly attack the retirement security of those fire service professionals who have made protecting the public their life’s work; putting their lives on the line to keep Californians safe each and every time the alarm bell rings."

The protest yesterday occurred outside the Lafayette, California home of former Dreyers Ice Cream president Rick Cronk and his wife, Janet. The protest was organized by the Alliance for a Better California (ABC).

Another proposition targeted by the protesters was #75 (Should public employee unions be required to obtain annual written consent from each member in order to use a portion of that member's dues for political activity?). ABC says, “Proposition 75 is a deceptive measure put on the ballot by the big corporations and out of state billionaires who support Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's destructive agenda for California. It unfairly targets teachers, nurses, firefighters, police and other public employees with restrictions that don’t apply to other groups or corporations, which regularly spend shareholder money on politics without permission. Prop. 75 is designed to reduce our ability to respond when politicians would harm education, health care and public safety, effectively clearing the opposition to the Governor’s education and health care cuts.”

In fact, according to ABC, last spring, the governor’s political operation urged Lewis Uhler, a longtime corporate advocate, to lead the initiative. Uhler started a committee of the governor’s wealthy and corporate donors called “Coalition for Employee Rights.” In June, Uhler abandoned that committee name, but took the donors and started “Californians for Paycheck Protection.” Last week, in his most blatant attempt to deceive voters, he created his third alias, changing the name of “Californians for Paycheck Protection” to “Teacher, Firefighters and Law Enforcement for Paycheck Protection,” with its own web site and radio ad campaign.

“These guys are not union members, they’re millionaires,” said Lorena Ornelas, RN from Pomona. “Their ads say public employees like me paid for Prop. 75. But if you read the fine print, you’ll discover it’s actually funded by people like Frank Baxter and Robin Arkley – two of the biggest millionaire donors to Governor Schwarzenegger and President Bush.”

Baxter, founder of the right-wing fringe group Club for Growth and Arkley are the two largest contributors to the new committee. The two are featured with other millionaire, corporate special interests on the new site Millionaires for Prop 75.

“Classroom teachers oppose Prop. 75 because its real agenda is to make it harder for us to speak out for our students and schools,” said Lisa Dickason, a fifth grade teacher in Long Beach. “The truth is, the governor’s corporate pals are writing big checks to support Prop. 75 to increase the amount of power they already have over our government and push their own agenda – an agenda that hurts public schools and takes California in the wrong direction.”

According the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, corporations currently outspend unions by a margin of 24-1. Uhler told The Sacramento Bee Prop. 75, “will be a boon to our control over governmental activities in our state.’

The Contra Costa Times notes Schwarzenegger's approval rating with Californians fell to an all-time low of 33 percent, down 61 percent from a year earlier and unchanged since he announced his re-election bid two weeks ago, according to a poll released today by the Public Policy Institute of California. All three ballot measures he's backing lost support since a similar survey in August.

``People are very concerned about the direction of the economy, rising gasoline prices and the ability of the government to respond to the terrible things that are happening around us, such as natural disasters,'' Mark Baldassare, the pollster for the San Francisco-based institute, said in a telephone interview. ``They're looking to this special election and they really can't draw a connection between what concerns them the most and what seems to be the purpose and the emphasis of the special election.''

By the way, the Gov. himself failed to show for the fund raiser. Sources: Contra Costa Times, Bloomberg, Argus (SF Bay Area), CPF, Alliance for a Better California


Unlocking the future - An Phoblacht Editorial

The root causes of IRA activity for the past three decades have been the unjust partition of Ireland, the physical, political and economic repression of the nationalist population of the occupied Six Counties, and the absence of any other credible or effective means of progress towards freedom and democracy.

The republican peace strategy, the confidence of nationalists in the North and the growing strength of the Sinn Féin mandate throughout Ireland have all altered the political landscape in recent years. There now exists a credible, alternative, peaceful strategy to attain the freedom of Ireland and to establish democracy and equality for all our people.

The intelligence, courage and flexibility of the leadership of Oglaigh na hÉireann has been a crucial factor in bringing about this sea change. At every step of the way the IRA has supported and sustained the Peace Process. On numerous occasions the IRA rescued the process from total collapse. The organisation has taken initiative after initiative to move the process forward. It had done so in the face of the worst type of political cynicism, lethargy and outright obstruction from enemies and opponents. For many republicans it seems it is the IRA which always has to jump first and without due reciprocation.

For some time now the opponents of the Peace Process have sat in the middle of the road and blocked political progress. Again it has been republicans, as those who seek maximum change, who have acted to clear the way forward. The latest IRA initiative in putting all of its arms beyond use is a brave act of faith in the republican and nationalist people to bring the freedom struggle forward to a successful conclusion.

British occupation, oppression, discrimination, sectarianism and partition are all remnants of the painful history of Ireland. They belong in the past and a strong, united Irish republican struggle will consign them to the past. A future based on freedom, democracy and equality beckons. In its latest, decisive move, the IRA has unlocked the future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


The Nuclear-Free Future Award will help bring about the end of the Atomic Age. As an international prize it will work to strengthen those forces actively engaged in the struggle for a post-nuclear society. The wish for a planet freed of nuclear contamination must remain a wish -- the radioactive inheritance we have already gutted from the earth is doomed to accompany the next few thousand generations.
----From the Mission Statement of the Nuclear-Free Future Award

Last Saturday leaders of the Navajo Nation were in Oslo, Norway to accept the Nuclear-Free Future Award at the Nobel Institute. President Joe Shirley Jr. and Navajo Nation Council Delegate George Arthur who attended the award ceremony were honored for the tribe’s stance against the mining and processing of uranium, which is used to make nuclear weapons, on the reservation, and in particular the passage by the Navajo Nation Council of the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005 on April 19 in Window Rock, Ariz.

Chris Peters, director of the Seventh Generation Fund who introduced the President, said that with renewed interest in atomic energy, indigenous people of the world will be the most impacted. “Our communities share a disproportionate amount of risk,” he said.

Shirley, in his acceptance speech in Norway, which began with a Navajo greeting, told the story of uranium on the Navajo Nation and of how unprotected mining, processing and transportation of uranium ore damaged the health of the tribe. “Many of my people died,” he said, according to the release. “Many are dying today. Some are on their death beds. Why continue to mine that which kills?”

LoRenzo Bates, Navajo Nation Council delegate from Upper Fruitland, told the Daily Times the award makes the Navajo Nation’s stand on uranium known to the world. “It lets the word out that the Nation has taken a position that there will be absolutely no uranium mining within the boundaries of the Nation,” Bates said, adding any future attempts to mine or process uranium on the Nation will be refused in accordance with the law. “It sends the message that the Nation cannot be bought with money,” he stated.

Still today, the majority of wildcat uranium mines that pock the reservation remain unremediated, and tailings from the region's open-pit mines sew wind and rain with cancer. In 1979, the Church Rock disaster, the largest accidental release of radioactive material in U.S. history, sent eleven hundred tons of radioactive mill waste and ninety million gallons of contaminated liquid into the Rio Puerco River when a dam burst. The Navajo still cannot use this water.

Shirley said that the fight continues as other companies now seek ways to come back to Navajo land to mine uranium through in situ leaching. The new concern, he said, is that the next generation of uranium death will come through the contamination of the groundwater for a community of 15,000 in Crownpoint, N.M., if uranium extraction is allowed to proceed.

Other award recipients included Motarilavoa Hilda Lini of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu in the South Pacific; Preben Maegaard, director of the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark; and Mathilda Halla, an Austrian anti-nuclear activist. Sources: Navajo Nation, Daily Times (Farmington, NM), Indianz, Nuclear Free Future Award


"I have notified (House Speaker Dennis Hastert) that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County District Attorney today."

This just in from the Austin American-Statesman

By Laylan Copelin


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on one count of criminal conspiracy, jeopardizing the Sugar Land Republican's leadership role as the second most powerful Texan in Washington, D.C.

The charge, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years incarceration, stems from his role with his political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, a now-defunct organization that already had been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate money during the 2002 legislative elections.

The grand jury, however, took no action against Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond or state Reps. Dianne Delisi and Beverly Woolley, both of whom sit on the political committee's board, for their roles in the election.

The grand jury's term ended today.

Delay's defense team will hold a press conference in Austin later this afternoon. The team includes defense attorneys Bill White and Steve Brittain of Austin and Dick DeGuerin of Houston.

State law bans corporate money being spent in connection with political campaigns and Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, has spent almost three years investigating whether Republican groups and their business allies violated that ban. The groups helped elect a Republican majority to the state Legislature which, in turn, drew new Congressional districts that benefited Republican candidates.

DeLay and his associates insisted the corporate money was legally spent on committee overhead or issue advertising and not campaign-related activity.

An indictment does not force DeLay to resign as a member of Congress, but the GOP's rules demand that he resign his post as majority leader as he fights the charges. Congressional Republicans earlier tried to drop that requirement, citing Earle's investigation as a political vendetta, but they ultimately maintained the rule after withering criticism.

Over the past year, Travis County grand jurors have indicted three DeLay associates —John Colyandro, Jim Ellis and Warren Robold — as well as eight corporate donors, the Texas Association of Business and DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority. Colyandro and Ellis were re-indicted this morning as part of the conspiracy indictment.

DeLay had appeared to escape criminal scrutiny as early as last year when Travis County prosecutors concluded they did not have the jurisdiction to pursue election code violations against him. Under the law, only DeLay's local district attorney, a Republican, had jurisdiction, and he expressed no interest in the case.

But a conspiracy charge falls under the criminal code, not the election statute that bans corporate money from being spent on a campaign. And Earle has the jurisdiction to prosecute DeLay for conspiring with others to circumvent state law.

In recent days, the broad-based investigation has focused on one particular transaction during the 2002 campaign.

In late September 2002, Colyandro, the executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, sent a blank check to Ellis, who is DeLay's primary fundraiser in Washington.

According to the money-laundering indictment returned against those two last year, Ellis was accused of having the Republican National Committee launder $190,000 of corporate donations into noncorporate money that was sent to to seven Texas House candidates, including Austinites Jack Stick and Todd Baxter.

As late as Tuesday, Travis County prosecutors were interviewing Republican National Committee staffers about their roles in the transaction.

Even with DeLay indicted, many Republicans will breathe a sigh of relief that Craddick and others weren't indicted.

Theoretically, prosecutors could ask another grand jury to consider charges between now and the Nov. 2 anniversary of the 2002 election, when a three-year statute of limitations expires. But the defense lawyers expect today to be the last chance for 2002 allegations.

"What will you know in October," said one defense lawyer, "that you didn't know the past six months?"


Journalist David Ochami of the Kenya Times was arrested yesterday in Kenya for writing an article which criticized President Mwai Kibaki's handling of a constitutional review and said that a coup would not be "inherently bad for the country".

"We do not know exactly why he was arrested but, as of now, we think it is in regards to an opinion article that was published by our Sunday edition," Kenya Times editor-in-chief Chriss Odwesso said. Odweso condemned the arrest, terming it an attempt to gag the media.

Ochami was arrested shortly before noon in the newspaper office in Nairobi. His house was also searched, and notebooks were confiscated by police. He was driven to the police headquarters and interrogated for hours before being whisked away to an unknown destination.

Police said Ochami may be charged today with incitement. "We first want to know his motive of writing the article. He is safe," a senior officer told the Kenya Standard.

AFP reports that in the article in question Ochami wrote, "There is no guarantee that a coup or other ouster of the president involves bloodshed or is inherently bad for the country. Likewise, (a) democratic mandate such as Kibaki's in 2002 is no excuse to betray the ideals that brought (him) in to power.”

A joint statement signed by representatives of the Kenya People's Democratic Movement (KEPEDEMO Mapinduzi), Kenya Socialist Democratic Alliance, Kenya Social Forum in Norway (KSF - Norway), Organization of Kenyans in Denmark (OKD),and the Association of Kenyan Students in Finland (AKSIF) stated:

“In the article, Mr. Ochami was answering the increasingly familiar and
alarmist outbursts of Mirungi Kariuki and David Mwiraria (Kibaki's key
sycophants) who had suggested that imaginary anti-Kibaki forces
(advocates of the "No" vote in the coming referendum) were out to overthrow
the Kibaki regime.”

“There is a crisis of leadership in Kenya and the only reason why Kibaki is still in power is because there is no credible alternative political force
that can effectively lead workers and the youth to power. If Kibaki has
started arresting Journalists now, what will he do when he loses the
referendum in November or when he senses defeat at the 2007 General
elections? Will we see a return to detention without trial?”

“A revolutionary Movement or Party armed with a revolutionary theory and
a clear revolutionary Program for democratic change and transformation
is urgently needed in Kenya to show the way out of the blind alleys of
the rotten capitalist class rule now tampering with Press freedom in
our country, intimidating and arresting journalists, looting the economy
and using the huge security apparatus as a powerful tool for oppression
KANU style.”

“We will oppose any charges brought against Ochami and dramatize his
case in the International arena in case the government goes ahead to press
for bogus charges against a conscious Journalist who was simply doing
his work. Kenyans should resist a small gang of wealth grabbers calling
themselves government to hold back a struggle that has been going on
for more than 4 decades.” Sources: The Standard (Kenya), SAPA, AFP, Kenya Socialist Web Site, The Star (South Africa)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


This rule affects people across the USA and sets an abominable example. Please forward. Under an emergency order, it is now illegal to bring animals from Lousiana, Mississippi or Alabama into the commonwealth of Massachusetts without approval from the state's Department of Agricultural Resources.


So, will they be asking every non-human for his or her Identity Papers at all border crossings? Maybe they should have a rule like this for human beings from Katrina-affected states. The rationale for this ruling is that veterinary care is in a shambles and animal medical records have been lost. You could say the same for human medical records.

There is no excuse for human beings. However, Massachusetts does have a particularly stupid governor in Mitt Romney. He certainly gives our Gov. Perry a run for his money in the Stupid Stakes.



Department of Agricultural Resources
251 Causeway Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114
617-626-1700 fax 617-626-1850

Lieutenant Governor

Emergency Order
2 – AHO - 05

Concerning Controls on Importation of Animals from Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama

September 22, 2005
Whereas, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has received reliable
information that various local and national animal welfare and shelter groups are engaged
in importing animals into the Commonwealth from areas affected by hurricane Katrina;
Whereas, the veterinary infrastructure in the gulf coast region has been severely inhibited
by the destruction of hurricane Katrina, and the remaining infrastructure is severely taxed
in responding to the disaster;
Whereas, a functioning veterinary infrastructure is necessary to issue health certificates and
provide other services necessary to ensure animals originating from a given area are
healthy and free of communicable diseases;
Whereas, veterinary medical records necessary to determine the health and vaccination
history of an animal were destroyed or otherwise unavailable for animals displaced by
hurricane Katrina;
Whereas, veterinary medical records are normally used to determine the vaccination status
of an animal and general health of an animal prior to importation;
Whereas; many animals displaced by hurricane Katrina have been exposed to
environmental conditions conducive to the contraction of contagious disease;
Whereas; rabies, canine parvovirus, equine infectious anemia, and canine distemper exist
in the Gulf Coast region;
Whereas; MGL 140, Section 138a requires that a health certificate accompany all animals
entering the Commonwealth;
Whereas; Emergency Order 1-AH0-05 issued by the Director of Biosecurity, Animal
Health and Dairy services list several requirements concerning animals being brought into
the Commonwealth;
Whereas; animals displaced by hurricane Katrina were separated from their legal owners
and unorganized removal of these animals to another location greatly decreases the
likelihood of these animals being reunited with their rightful owners;
Whereas, the Commonwealth has an emergency management plan addressing how to deal
with animals in disaster situations and the Department of Agricultural Resources is
designated as the lead agency in coordinating a response;
NOW THEREFORE, by authority of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 129, Section 2,
as of this date, and until further notice, no dogs or cats will be permitted entry into the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts that have originated in Alabama, Louisiana, or
Mississippi unless through mechanisms and processes approved by the Department of
Agricultural Resources.
_______________________ ___________
Brad Mitchell Date
Division of Biosecurity and Regulatory Services
Massachusetts Department of Agricultural

Monday, September 26, 2005


I consider this afternoon's announcements to be a very full and positive response to the appeal that I made in April.

At that time I called upon the IRA to pursue their goals by purely peaceful and democratic means.

This was in keeping with the position outlined by Sinn Féin going back over many years.

I want to commend the leadership of the IRA for moving so decisively.

I know that today's announcement will be difficult for many republicans. I saw that myself as we watched the press conference of the IICD and the two independent witnesses.

This was a bold and brave leap. But all us need to think beyond it. We need to think beyond the moment. It is not the leap itself but the place that it takes us all that is important. For this reason the IRA's courageous decision was the right thing to do.

Both governments now need to be focused, decisive and creative. They need to implement the Good Friday Agreement as they have promised to do. There must be progress on equality, policing, human rights, people on the run and victims. There must also be progress on other issues, including prisoners and Northern representation in the Oireachtas.

There must be a proper peace dividend to tackle inequality, discrimination, deprivation and sectarianism wherever it exists.

The political institutions must be restored.

I understand and appreciate that unionists need space to absorb what all this means. I would ask them to reflect upon the potential which is now created, and to see it as an opportunity.

Some unionists may fear that this is a tactical maneuver, or an attempt to trap them. It is not.

Some unionists have expressed fears about a Plan B. There is no Plan B. There is no secret agenda.

Unionists say they do not trust republicans. But they do need to trust themselves.

The IRA's decision to formally end its armed campaign and today's announcements are genuine initiatives to revive the peace process by conclusively resolving the concerns of unionists.

Issues relating to the IRA, which were presented as difficulties for unionists, have now been definitively dealt with.

There are those who will try to dismiss or to minimise what has been announced today. We are prepared to meet those people to discuss their concerns.

Our leadership will also be seeking meetings with political, church, business and civic interests to build on the progress of today's events and to discuss all these urgent and important issues.

I would appeal therefore to political leaders to respond carefully. The words of some in the past have fueled sectarian violence against Catholics and this has been a particularly difficult summer. There were serious attempts to provoke a reaction from nationalists and republicans. There may well be other attempts in the time ahead so I call upon people to show the calm and discipline that was evident over the summer months and particularly in recent times.

This initiative has opened up a new phase in Irish political life. This is not just about the peace process and conflict resolution, though that is vitally important. It is bigger than the question of arms.

It is about the future of this island, the type of country that we want to live in, the sort of society that we desire for future generations as well as this generation.

Sinn Féin is proud of our republican values. Our strategy is to bring about Irish unity and independence. And we will campaign and argue for this as we expect unionists to argue for their political vision.

But in the interest of our shared constituencies we are prepared to work with them in the political institutions to deal with the outstanding issues of the peace process and the social and economic needs that face people at this time. One of the most critical issues facing us at this time is the pressing need to tackle sectarianism.

The context for this is the Good Friday Agreement.

We are not naive about the hard work and the difficulties which have yet to be overcome. But a new dynamic has been created. Republicans face into this with confidence. We appeal to unionists and others to join with us. To leave the past behind and to build a shared and peaceful future for all our people.


"The leadership of Oglaigh na h-Eireann announced on July 28 that we had authorized our representative to engage with the IICD to complete the process to verifiably put arms beyond use.

"The IRA leadership can now confirm that the process of putting our arms verifiably beyond use has been completed.

"P O`Neill"

With those words the IRA announced it had completed disarmament. The decommissioning of all its weapons was confirmed in Belfast by General John de Chastelain who said:

"We have observed and verified events to put beyond use very large quantities of arms, which we believe include all the arms in the IRA's possession."

"We have also made an inventory of them and we are satisfied the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA's arsenal."

"The Commission has determined the IRA has met its commitment to put all its arms beyond use in a manner called for by legislation."

As reported in the Belfast Telegraph the General added the issue of arms in possession of loyalist paramilitaries still needed to be addressed by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and called on those with influence to use to it to help in that regard.

The churchmen who witnessed the decommissioning were ex-Methodist president Harold Good and Catholic priest Father Alex Reid.

In a statement they said: "The experience of seeing this with our own eyes, on a minute-to-minute basis, provided us with evidence so clear and of its nature so incontrovertible that at the end of the process it demonstrated to us, and would have demonstrated to anyone who might have been with us, that beyond any shadow of doubt, the arms of the IRA have now been decommissioned."

Of course, none of this was good enough for some.

Democratic Unionist Party leader the Reverend Ian Paisley said the announcement showed the ``duplicity and dishonesty of the two governments and the IRA''. He said the announcement by General de Chastelain did not meet the requirements of proof the unionist people demanded.

Democratic Unionist Party MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he remained to be convinced about IRA disarmament. He said: “We need greater transparency of this process and we’ve been left short on detail. There has been a lot of fine rhetoric and fine words, but there is little substance. That is the difficulty.”

However North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said in a statement released today that Unionism can no longer use the IRA as an excuse for not sharing power with nationalists and republicans. He also added that that there is now a greater onus than ever on unionist politicians to work to achieve the full decommissioning of the unionist paramilitary weapons that are still clearly active in the north of Ireland. “Today truly is an historic day for the Peace Process. I am confident that this is the conclusion of the final chapter on the issue of IRA arms. I would like to echo the words of the Rev Harold Goode who said that he “was beyond any shadow of a doubt” that the arms of the IRA have been put beyond use.”

McGuigan said, "Of course, this is about more than arms. It is about the reviving the peace process, it is about the future of Ireland. And this places an enormous responsibility on the British and Irish governments to finally implement the Good Friday Agreement in all its aspects on issues like equality, human rights, policing, demilitarization and northern representation. It will also place a huge responsibility on the leadership of the DUP to re-engage in the political process. I am looking forward to seeing the DUP putting the same vigor and energy into the issue of putting unionist guns and pipe-bombs, which are still very much active in the north, beyond use as they did regarding the silent military hardware of the IRA.”

“This process has been an understandably difficult one for republicans, including republicans in North Antrim. There will be some who are concerned about the future. But I believe that we need to face up to this opportunity in a positive mood. This is not a time to be uncertain it is a time to be confident and energized and forward looking. There has been a consultation process with republicans throughout this area who although concerned are still fully supportive of and understand the need to move this process forward.”

“There is a lot of work to do if we are to get the process back on track and get all of the guns out of Irish politics. Sinn Féin is about taking all of the guns out of Irish politics - Unionist paramilitaries, British Army and PSNI. I would like to think that the two governments and others in the political establishment will pay as much attention to this task as they did to silenced IRA weapons. We also need to see the Irish and British governments show real leadership and deal with all of the outstanding issues - these are not new issues, they are not new demands there are key parts of the Good Friday Agreement that have still to be implemented. As part of the outworking of the IRA's decision to end its campaign we need to see the release of all republican prisoners and an end to the ongoing discrimination against republican ex prisoners."

The IRA’s disarmament is certainly not without risk.

Damien Kiberd writes in today’s Daily Ireland:

“The IRA is taking a massive risk in all of this. Everybody in the upper reaches of the Republican Movement knows that the reason the modern IRA was created was not because of any belief in a united Ireland but because of a practical need to defend Catholic districts, mainly in Belfast.”

“…the events of 1969 were not an aberration or an isolated incident. Catholic families had been attacked, murdered and burned out in almost every decade of the 20th century.”

”One has to ask what the republican movement will do if loyalists revert to their previous form and simply decide to burn out their neighbors? It is a magnificent thing to “dump arms” and issue a challenge to everybody else in the political world, but in practical terms what will republicans do if loyalists attack districts occupied by Catholics?”

“If the loyalist mob decides to turn on its Catholic neighbor, then who will protect those who are targets? It is by no means clear.” Sources: Belfast Telegraph, Ireland On Line, UTV, McGuigan Press Release, Daily Ireland

Sunday, September 25, 2005


One would think outside of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico nothing is going on in the world. At least, if you live in the US that is what you might think from watching the likes of CNN, et. Al.

For example did you hear that during the last week Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked the US-led coalition forces to stop unauthorized search operations and air raids?

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul last Tuesday, Karzai said the situation had changed in Afghanistan now and they did not want the foreign forces to carry out unauthorized search operations in the country. Karzai said: "I don't think there is a big need for military activity in Afghanistan any more." He also questioned the effectiveness of US air strikes.

Pajhwok Afghan News says the President suggested the international community should concentrate on eliminating terrorism and hit at places where terrorists had been trained, financed and armed. He had in mind US ally Pakistan.

Karzai said, "We do not think a serious terrorist challenge is emanating from Afghanistan."

It's the second time Karzai has publicly challenged the US-led coalition. In May, before a trip to Washington, he demanded more control over the 20,000 American troops here, but US President George W Bush said they would remain under American control.

Radio Free Afghanistan reports that Albert Stahill, Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of Zurich, believes a major reason for Karzai's call lies in the way the US military currently operates in Afghanistan. He refers in particular to the use of air strikes. "The problem is that during certain times... the Americans are doing bombardments with B52s [along the border with Pakistan] against different villages and ... these freefall bombs are destroying many villages. These are Pashtun, and of course Karzai is a Pashtun, so he has problems with his own people."

The good Professor adds, "With the ISAF [the International Security Assistance Force - under NATO leadership, ed.] there are no problems. There are no problems with the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. But there are certain problems with the coalition of the Americans, because they are hunting the so-called neo-Taliban, they are doing bombardments." "I would say that, in the long term, there should be a stop of these actions by the Americans ... If there is not such a move, they will have more problems in the future. Karzai will also have problems, because the result could be an angry population, mainly among the Pashtun, and that would create political problems for Karzai."

Professor Stahill also believes that US military policy - and what he describes as the 'very arrogant' attitude of US troops in comparison to the 'common sense' approach of other forces, such as the Germans - is actually helping the remnants of the Taliban by providing them with a tool to gain popular support. As such, this could be another reason why Mr Karzai would like to see a curtailment of US operations. In the professor's view, it's time for a change of direction. "There should be another strategy. Not a strategy of bombarding these villages, but a strategy to look for the hearts of the people, to [try to get them] behind the government and not against the government."

Meanwhile Afghani popular local singer, Qorban Nazar, and six of his companions were murdered by unknown gunmen in northern Afghanistan. "All seven have perished," said Jozjan police official Ibrahim Sharwal. Ethnic Turkmen singer Quarab Nazar was among the dead, he said. "It's the work of the Taliban, none of their equipment or money was taken," he said.

Afghan On Line press reports that several attacks on musicians in southern and eastern parts of the country, believed to be the work of the Taliban, have occurred since their overthrow by U.S.-led forces.

The Taliban, who ruled the country between 1996 and 2001, banned music and cinema under their harsh interpretation of Islam. Sources: Afghan News Network, Afghan Online Press, Radio Free Afghanistan, Pajhwok Afghan News, Seattle Times