Saturday, November 12, 2005
In an example of modern science catching up to ancient wisdom, researchers have found that Native Americans who use peyote as a regular part of their religious practices show no evidence of brain damage or psychological problems.
Quite the contrary, these individuals scored higher on several indicators of mental health than members of the same tribe who did not use peyote and who were not members of the Native American Church.
Navajo experts expressed delight at the findings.
"It's heartwarming," said Victor J. Clyde, a judge with the Arizona state courts and vice president of the Native American Church of North America. "Our elders told us that this beauty is good for us, and will never do us harm. The government never really took their word, and even prohibited peyote for a while."
The authors of the study, appearing in the Nov. 4 issue of Biological Psychiatry and partially funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cautioned, however, that this does not mean that peyote is necessarily good for everybody in all situations.
"We must be careful not to extrapolate this finding to other situations," said Dr. Harrison G. Pope Jr., senior author of the study and director of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory at the McLean Hospital in Boston. "These are people who are taking hallucinogenic substances under religious sacrament, under special types of conditions that cannot be extrapolated to those taking illicit hallucinogenic substances on the street." McLean is affiliated with Harvard University.
Indeed, hallucinogens sold on the street typically are not mescaline, but LSD or other substances.
Peyote is the name of a cactus that contains mescaline, a hallucinogen. The substance is used, legally, as part of Native American Church (NAC) ceremonies. Peyote is also supposed to be effective as a treatment for alcoholism when used "in the NAC context," the study said.
Despite its widespread use within this population, the scientific literature on peyote is sparse.
"There are no studies that have generated any data on the outcome of the human consumption of peyote for religious purposes or for illegal purposes," said Dr. John Halpern, lead author of the study and an investigator with McLean's Biological Psychiatry Laboratory.
About one-third of 255,000 enrolled members of the Navajo tribe are also NAC members, providing a unique opportunity to study the compound and its effects.
"If they are faithful to the church, they don't ingest any illicit substances ever," Halpern said. "They may have taken peyote in a religious context hundreds or thousands of times, and have never abused alcohol or cocaine. It's a distinctly pure population."
The challenge was enlisting the support and cooperation of the Navajo tribe. This was, Pope said, "profoundly difficult."
Halpern traveled dozens of times to Navajo country in New Mexico and Arizona over a period of years trying to establish a rapport. "It was a tremendous amount of groundwork," he acknowledged. "Native Americans are sure sick of reservation drive-bys, someone who comes on to the reservation, never explains how the research could be of use, then, when the results are obtained, never coming back. I learned to hate the word 'research.' "
"Many of the people said, 'We already know we're fine. Tell us something we don't know,'" Halpern said. "They looked at peyote as something given to them by God for the benefit of all natives as medicine with a capital M."
Clyde confirmed this. "When Halpern came around, members were reluctant because of past experience," he said. "They said, 'Are you going to put us under a microscope?' "
Pope recalled a turning point about two years into this effort. He and Halpern were sitting in a rented conference room at the Best Western in Farmington, N.M., just off the reservation, trying to explain one of a battery of neuropsychological tests to about 20 "skeptical and slightly hostile-looking Indians." Pope tried out some recently acquired Navajo words, and soon they were all laughing. "I hope you're not going to be the one administering the test," they said.
In the end, Halpern, Pope and their team were able to recruit 61 NAC members who had ingested peyote at least 100 times, as well as two control groups: 36 individuals with past alcohol problems, and 79 individuals reporting virtually no peyote or other substance use.
The people who had used peyote scored better on several measures of the Rand Mental Health Inventory (RMHI), which is used to diagnose psychological problems and ascertain overall mental health, than the other two groups.
The group of former alcoholics showed significant deficits on every scale of the RMHI, and on two neuropsychological measures.
"We do not pretend that peyote is the reason for the higher mental health score, but that it's a much tighter community, and group support and all of the other positive values account for it," Pope said.
According to Halpern, NAC leadership is "quite ecstatic" about the findings, although they come as no surprise.
Still, Harvard-backed research could prove useful if government committees, politicians and the public start questioning the safety of peyote.
It could even help some careers. About 10,000 NAC members are enrolled in the U.S. military and, currently, are prohibited from having nuclear-warhead responsibilities, even if they say they will not take peyote while serving. Somebody who takes LSD and lies about it, on the other hand, can have such responsibilities, Halpern said.
"Indians who are exclusively honest are excluded because of their honesty, so this may have important bearings even outside of the nuclear issue for those Native Americans who are serving," Halpern added. "Native Americans serve in the military more than any other race percentage-wise."
The findings could also help doctors who don't know anything about the subject. And the research could aid in court cases, for instance, involving a white mother and an Indian father who want to take a child to a peyote meeting just to be blessed.
As for the Navajos themselves, Halpern and Pope made sure they heard about the findings before the rest of the world.
"I really took it quite seriously about making sure that no reservation drive-by was done by us," Halpern said. "I wanted to show that I had completed what I promised I would do, and that they would be the first to get to hear about it, which has happened."
"It does reassure," added Clyde. "The statement made by the elders, the government was not going to listen to them, but this carries weight."
Friday, November 11, 2005
For Veterans Day, I thought these letters from some oft forgotten veterans would be in order.
from CANUTE FRANKSON
July 6, 1937
My Dear Friend:
I'm sure that by this time you are still waiting for a detailed explanation of what has this international struggle to do with my being here. Since this is a war between whites who for centuries have held us in slavery, and have heaped every kind of insult and abuse upon us, segregated and jim-crowed us; why I, a Negro who have fought through these years for the rights of my people, am here in Spain today?
Because we are no longer an isolated minority group fighting hopelessly against an immense giant. Because, my dear, we have joined with, and become an active part of, a great progressive force, on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of saving human civilization from the planned destruction of a small group of degenerates gone mad in their lust for power. Because if we crush Fascism here we'll save our people in America, and in other parts of the world from the vicious persecution, wholesale imprisonment, and slaughter which the Jewish people suffered and are suffering under Hitler's Fascist heels.
All we have to do is to think of the lynching of our people. We can but look back at the pages of American history stained with the blood of Negroes; stink with the burning bodies of our people hanging from trees; bitter with the groans of our tortured loved ones from whose living bodies ears, fingers, toes have been cut for souvenirs—living bodies into which red-hot pokers have been thrust. All because of a hate created in the minds of men and women by their masters who keep us all under their heels while they suck our blood, while they live in their bed of ease by exploiting us.
But these people who howl like hungry wolves for our blood, must we hate them? Must we keep the flame which these masters kindled constantly fed? Are these men and women responsible for the programs of their masters, and the conditions which force them to such degraded depths? I think not. They are tools in the hands of unscrupulous masters. These same people are as hungry as we are. They live in dives and wear rags the same as we do. They, too, are robbed by the masters, and their faces kept down in the filth of a decayed system. They are our fellowmen. Soon, and very soon, they and we will understand. Soon, many Angelo Herndons will rise from among them, and from among us, and will lead us both against those who live by the stench of our burnt flesh. We will crush them. We will build us a new society--a society of peace and plenty. There will be no color line, no jim-crow trains, no lynching. That is why, my dear, I'm here in Spain.
from JACK FREEMAN
October 22, 1937
Dear Mom, Pop, and Herbie,
Six months after leaving home and almost five months after arriving in Spain, I've finally gotten to see some actual warfare. This morning marks my tenth day in the front line trenches and, altho this front is technically speaking pretty quiet at present, still we've managed to squeeze in quite a lot since we came up.
We moved into the trenches one morning before light and, as soon as dawn came, the crap began to fly. Then started my education. Some of the old-timers explained the various sounds to me. At first anytime anything whizzed, whistled, or buzzed, I would duck. Then I found out that any bullet which passes anywhere near you will whistle. Ricochets, that is, bullets which have already hit the ground or a rock or something and bounce off in a different direction, buzz when they go by. When bullets come very close they sound more like a whine than a whistle.
But the most important thing of all about these bullet sounds is never to worry about any bullet you hear. Bullets travel much faster than sound, strange as that may seem, and the bullet is way past you by the time you hear it. As it's put out here, "You'll never hear the slug that gets you."
Of course, it's pretty hard to control your instinctive tendency to duck when you hear a loud noise, but the only time it really pays to duck is when you hear a burst of machine gun fire and hear them come over you. You can't, of course, duck the first few if they're coming at you, but you can get out of the way of the rest of the burst.
The same thing goes for artillery too, except for trench mortars and very heavy stuff.
A trench mortar gun looks like a fat can between two wheels. The barrel points almost straight up and the shells go all the way up into the air and then almost drop. You can judge after a while if they're going to your right or left, but if they're coming in your general direction there's nothing to do but hope. Heavy artillery goes very slow and you can hear them coming, but they usually head for the rear lines anyway.
Well, the first morning I'm keeping low in the trench and not too much interested in the intricacies of military education, when these trench mortars start coming over. They whistle for a long time before they hit and that just increases the agony, waiting for them to land. When these things start coming the battle commander shouts "Everybody down in the trench." So I stick my nose six inches below the level of my heels and then the commander finishes his sentence, "That doesn't go for the observational staff. Locate that gun."
So I found out what observing under fire meant. Poor me has got to spend my time sticking my nose thru peep holes when it's much more comfortable two feet below, and my head and shoulders over the parapet half the night, and when the big bastards come over instead of dropping we've got to watch. It was pretty tough the first morning but I soon got used to it.
You see, after a while you get the feeling that what's going to happen to you, if anything, will happen pretty much in spite of anything you do. That doesn't mean we become dauntless heroes and walk out of our way to take risks because we like to watch the patterns the bullets kick up in the dust, but it does mean that we don't become nervous wrecks bobbing up and down every time a mosquito buzzes around your left ear. It's the only kind of defense mechanism you can adopt.
Shortly after noon that first day we went over the top. For about three quarters of an hour after the beginning of the attack I didn't think I'd get a chance to climb over that hump. I was stationed next to the commander in a pretty exposed observation post keeping wise to how our boys were going, so that the attack could be properly directed. The commander, you understand, does not move up until the troops have taken up a position, even a temporary one, in advance of the original lines. But if you think that's safe, you're cock-eyed. He's got to keep calm and see everything that's going on when every instinct is pulling him down to a covered position.
Communication with the men out front is maintained by runners. Pretty soon we ran out of runners, so I got my chance. But the company I had been sent out to contact had had some tough going and was pretty well scattered and difficult to find. I went out, couldn't find the company commander nor anyone else who knew where he was. So I was in a fix. I didn't want to return until I had contacted them and I couldn't find them. I roamed around that god-damned no-man's land, sometimes running, sometimes crawling, sometimes snake-bellying, and holy cow, was that a time. I didn't of course know where in hell my men were and one time I crawled up to within fifty meters of the fascist lines before a sniper reminded me where I was.
The hardest thing out there is not keeping going once you're on the move, but starting once you've stopped. When you get down in between two furrows in a plowed field or behind a little ledge where you know you're about as safe as you will be, it sure is tough to get up and start going thru the air again, especially since you know there's plenty more stuff in that air besides you.
Another thing. This time they used trench-mortars against the attacking men. The thing to do when you hear them whistling at you is to drop so that you'll be out of the way of any shrapnel or flying bits of shell. Most of the time I could hear them whistling at me and then the sound would reach a high point, and from then on it was whistling away from me. That scares you, but once the whistle is behind you you know you're safe a little longer.
But of the six hours I spent out in between those lines the worst moments were three times when the whistle of the mortars approached, came overhead, and then, instead of receding, kept coming louder. There's very little time involved, but you think fast out there. Here's that damned shell falling at you, no place to move to, nothing to do. In that brief instant you get a horrible feeling--not of excitement or fear, but just resignation. You are a dead man aware of the fact--a body which is lifeless except that its mind knows it is lifeless. I don't know if you get that. And then, three separate times, those damn shells land within ten feet of me, and were duds! This isn't literary exaggeration, I'm not writing a phony adventure story. I could see where the shells hit and dropped dirt over me and failed to explode.
Get my point. We are in danger continually and it is not pleasant. But there is a gamble, a risk, a probability. However when there is no probability, when it's a certainty--it's coming at you and you know it--then you've got something. Try thinking what you'd think about if you had two seconds to think it in.
Well, I couldn't find the company and it was starting to get dark, so I decided to go back. But I found that wasn't so simple either. Dusk is always a dangerous time, so everybody is especially watchful. This day there had been an attack, so the fascists were especially jittery and there was a hell of a lot of fire. I waited for it to quiet and started back. This time I attracted fire from both sides because neither side knew what I was. It's a funny feeling to be fired on by your own men. I had a couple of more scary moments, but I finally got in.
In one or two days we'll be relieved and I'll write some more. I am still bodily and mentally unhurt.
from CECIL COLE
October 22, 1937
Well hello everybody—
We've been here at the front for almost five weeks. It's not so healthy here. Too much "lead-poisoning" going on to be exactly comfortable.
Since I last wrote I've been advanced again. Now I am Chief of Brigade Scouts. That in itself is making life less sure. So far I've been beyond the Fascist lines twice and up to them six times. All at night of course. In fact we do most all of our work at night. We have to move very slowly to avoid being seen. Three times now I have been seen & shot at.
The first time I was about twenty meters from their line. They opened up on me with a machine gun & six or eight rifles. Believe me, I hugged the ground. They hit the heel of my left shoe at the seam several times and actually blew my shoe apart there. Five of the "slugs" passed thru the seat of my pants, one just burning my "fanny," but none closer. However my "fanny" is a little sore still to sit on. Needless to say, I was plenty scared.
The second time they caught two of us, myself and one of my sergeants, about 50 meters from one of their out-posts. It was pretty gruesome, as we hid behind two dead comrades who had gotten "it" in the attack a couple of days before. We lay there for three hours. Every time we moved, this damn sniper would put a shot along side of us. Finally, after the moon went down we got back. I had 3 holes in my coat to show for that patrol.
from CECIL COLE
Jan. 29, 1938
I was strafed one morning, when I was returning to the brigade, in a truck. There was the driver, three comrades against the cab, and myself against the back of the truck. The driver evidentially saw them first and started to stop, turning off his motor and heading toward the bank. This was the first I noticed, then came the staccato crack of heavy machine gun and there was the 1st plane, not over 40 feet above us. It killed the driver instantly, taking off most of his face. The truck was then stopped against a high bank to the right of the road. I shouted something to the other three and jumped out. The only place I could see that offered any cover was between the motor and the bank. The planes were not coming head on, but from the side of the truck away from the bank. They dove three times one after the other, all seven of them, and finally went away. I was never so terrified in my life. You see, there was time between each plane's dive, to think, and the continual tightening up and letting down was horrible. It's not a very heroic nor pretty picture, but it's true. The fact is, I haven't yet gotten back on my feet--mentally--yet. It was the first time I had time to be afraid. The other times I was doing something and moving, but that helpless feeling of no place to go and just waiting--waiting, really got me.
Incidentally they also dropped hand bombs, but they all hit on the far side of the truck. If one had landed any place on my side I'd be so full of lead they wouldn't have to dig me a grave, I'd just naturally sink into the ground.
from TOBY JENSKY (American nurse)
June 21, 1937
To-nite we had our first dance. We invited the boys of the Lincoln Battalion and a good time was had by all. I'm still on night duty, but I was relieved for a few hours so I did my bit of dancing. The dance was also successful in keeping the patients awake and now at 3 A.M. they're just about popping off. But what the hell. Among the boys were a few I knew from the Village, so we talked & talked about New York and I really feel much better now. During the full moon, you can sit outside and read it's so light. The only trouble is that it's also light for the fascist planes.
A little girl was brought in here yesterday—all shot full of holes—both her eyes blown out. It seems that she and a few others found a hand grenade and decided to play with it. Her brother died soon after he was brought in. 3 other kids were slightly hurt and she if she makes it will be blind and all scarred. It's a pretty horrible thing—she's got plenty of guts and certainly can take it—you never hear a whimper out of her. She's about 10 years old. It's the same sort of thing you see in places that have been bombed, only more of it. It's a stinking business. We still get very little news of what's doing. I still don't read Spanish, so there you are. I can speak a few more words. I wish I could make myself sit down for an hour a day and study, but there's always something more pleasant to do. Maybe some day soon—
I haven't written home for a while, so will you give them my love?
Here's hoping we beat the hell out of the fascists soon, so I can get back.
Keep on writing—
Saluda Comarado (the one & only salutation around here).
from JACK FREEMAN
June 29, 1938
Last winter we had the coldest winter in about twenty years and now it seems, we're headed for the hottest summer in a long time. From eleven in the morning to 3 or 4 in the afternoon it is simply physically impossible to do anything. The slightest motion brings oceans of thick, stinking sweat rolling down your body. The civilians sleep their famous siesta, but for us, living in trenches or in open fields, even this is almost impossible. For along with the hot weather came the flies. Not flies like the delicate, frightened creatures we have in the states. Oh, no. Big, heavy, tough, persistent things that you can't shoo away. They swarm in thick clouds over every square inch of your body that's exposed, buzzing ferociously, creeping across your skin so heavily you can feel each individual footstep, biting so that you almost forget the lice. And when you swing at them, they don't scatter like properly civilized American flies. They merely fly off two or three inches and are back on you before your hand is at rest. If you lie uncovered they torment you to distraction and if you put even the most sheer piece of material over you, you drown in your own sweat. And the lice, thriving on the rich sweat, grow fat & bloated like well-fed pigs and dig fortifications in your skin.
from FREDERICK LUTZ
October 23, '37
Another of your frequent and most welcome letters arrived today and this afternoon I find the time to answer it.
Heard Langston Hughes last night; he spoke at one of our nearby units--the Autoparque, which means the place where our Brigade trucks and cars are kept and repaired. It was a most astonishing meeting; he read a number of his poems; explained what he had in mind when he wrote each particular poem and asked for criticism. I thought to myself before the thing started "Good God how will anything like poetry go off with these hard-boiled chauffeurs and mechanics, and what sort of criticism can they offer?" Well it astonished me as I said. The most remarkable speeches on the subject of poetry were made by the comrades. And some said that they had never liked poetry before and had scorned the people who read it and wrote it but they had ben moved by Hughes's reading. There was talk of "Love" and "Hate" and "Tears"; everyone was deeply affected and seemed to bare his heart at the meeting, and the most reticent (not including me) spoke of their innermost feelings. I suppose it was because the life of a soldier in wartime is so unnatural and emotionally starved that they were moved the way they were.
from MARY ROLFE
Friday, November 25, 1938
Dearest Leo [Hurwitz] and Janey [Dudley]:
The enclosed note was written after the first two bombings on Wednesday—and I thought when I started that I could overcome the reaction of the morning, but I had to stop. Now, though still a little limp and sickish, I can write of the last two days with more or less ease.
The first raid, at about 10:30 A.M., came while two American soldados and I were in a shop buying cigarette holders. The boys had come to Barcelona to buy some trinkets for their girls and I went along with them to help them choose. The shop we were in is some three or four blocks from the hotel and some six or seven blocks from where the first bombs fell. The siren sounded just as we were paying our bill. We saw the people hurrying along the Paseo de Gracia (our street) into sheltering doorways, or hugging the walls. We stepped into a doorway, going out to look up when the anti-aircraft started and I spotted three planes—enemy planes flying high, they looked minute. The guns were hot on their trail and the boys pulled me back into the doorway because very often the shrapnel casings of the aircraft shells fall and get you. As we got back to the doorway we heard the bombs falling—and the boys made me crouch down, close to them with my head buried in my arms. The sound of those bombs, and they sounded close (as we found later they were) is hard to describe—crashing through the air as if to break the very air itself, screeching and whining and then the contact as they hit their target—as if a thousand wrecking crews were tearing down buildings at the same time. I wasn't frightened then, my mind was blank—I was concerned only with crouching down in the doorway. We got up then and started walking to the hotel, the people in the streets came to life, continuing to walk to wherever they had been going when the alarm sounded; we reached the next corner to see a crowd of people pointing up at the sky and then a shout arose, and cheering as our guns got one plane—it came down hurtling through the air head over heels. We were excited, forgetting completely the bombs falling a minute before and we hurried to the hotel to find Ed. We found him there, worried but relieved to see us. Everyone talked about the downed plane—but soon life went on as usual. Soon we heard the siren blow three times, meaning all's well, the raid is over, and we went out again—Ed, the two boys, Capa and I. We went to the Rambla—a long street in old Barcelona (Barcelona was once a small village—the Rambla was its main street with narrow, winding streets stretching on either side of it—and although the Rambla is one thoroughfare it has various names—like Rambla de Flores, because of the numerous flower vendors, etc.). We stepped in a shop where Ed and Capa bought some shirts, leaving them there while one of the boys and I went on. We walked leisurely, looking in the windows of the numerous shops in the twisting streets, stopping to buy some decorative combs and finally going to a little antique shop stuck away in one of the little streets where I had bought a locket some weeks ago. We found a necklace for his girl and again, just as we were paying the bill, the siren started. This time we knew we were in danger because this quarter had been often hit, the last time only a week and a half ago. We left the shop, the boy with me starting to run, and so I ran too. But as I ran I could feel the panic growing in me and I stopped him—"let's follow the people here—they know where the refugios are—we mustn't run" I said. Meanwhile thoughts raced furiously through my mind—"I mustn't get panicky, I mustn't be frightened. I've got to be calm—if we reach the refugio in time, good—if we don't there's nothing we can do about it—but we must not run—Ed will be worried about me—I wish I could somehow let him know that we'll be all right." We followed the others coming out on the Rambla de Flores where we found two Metro stations (these, of course, are used as refugios—although Barcelona is full of newly built, completely safe refugios). We followed the others down to the subway—and I was struck by the order and lack of hysteria. No one pushed or shoved—everyone was quiet, composed—we all helped to get the kids down first—and soon we ourselves went inside, going deep into the station and standing close to the wall. The people talked together, played with some dogs who had come down with us, the children romped—these people will never be crushed. Mussolini and Hitler, however much they bomb, will never break the morale of these wonderful, courageous people. We heard the guns, the sound reverberating in the tunnel, and again bombs falling. My friend and I talked in low tones—about anything—I can't remember now—we held each other's hand and we both tried hard not to tremble. Soon the lights were on—we could go out. As we came up the stairs of the Metro we saw the puffs of smoke from the guns directly above us and we knew the bombs had fallen close to us. (Three blocks from where we were—we found out later). We walked home, both of us talking fast, but we walked slowly.
We found Ed and the other soldado looking for us frantically and we all embraced in the street—it was like a reunion. "Sure, I feel fine—don't worry—I'll be all right." We went in to lunch—and I got through it somehow. It was when I went upstairs that the reaction began—that's when I had to stop the letter I began to you. I got a terrific stomachache—it doubled me up for ten minutes, and when it was over I was exhausted and shaking as if I had just dug a well or pounded rock. I was alone—Ed was writing his story at the Ministry. I tried to read—but the letters danced before my eyes and so I put my book aside and just sat in the chair—thinking—this is what the barbarians have been doing to the Spanish people for two years; I had witnessed the ruthless murder of an innocent people because fascism's voracious appetite must be satisfied—I saw what I had been reading about—the systematic terrorization of a people, by which the fascists hope to bring them to their knees—and I saw the people reiterate the words of Pasionaria—which by now have become part of their lives—"Better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees." Think what these murderous raids have done to the lives of these people—to their nervous mechanisms—to their sanity. And what a heritage for the kids! Here was I, coming from comparative freedom, well-fed, my nerves shattered by my experience—and then think of the Spanish people who have lived through this horror for two years.
But the bastards weren't through with us. At seven o'clock they came again—this time I watched from our window—saw the powerful lights cutting the sky trying to locate the planes, saw the puffs of smoke from the guns and the flares going up—and the welcome sound of our planes—our little chasers going after them. Nothing excites the people as much as to see or hear our planes—they go wild with excitement—shouting themselves hoarse—every single time they come. I was alone when the siren sounded at 11:00. I watched only a little while this time—I threw myself on the bed, too tired to undress, and just lay there, anger mounting—"the bastards—the bastards," saying it over and over again until I could think no longer. Ed came in a little after midnight, bringing the news that the Bank of Spain had been hit in the first bombing, with an incomplete count of 40 dead, 124 wounded, mostly women. We went to sleep finally—and then began the night—six times they came over—the sirens shrieking each time—the guns furiously shooting—six raids in the night—six times to create terror. [Herb] Matthews [New York Times correspondent] came in to see us in the morning, telling us how each time he had awakened, jotted down the time, and then tried to go to sleep again. There was no panic in the hotel—but there was anger and hatred for the fascists. And then at 9:30 they came again—to be driven off quickly.
When the siren sounded again—this time meaning release—we went out, Matthews, [Robert] Capa [the photographer], Ed and I, to see the damage. We found one building which had been hit in the second bombing—twisted and mutilated—piles of broken glass and debris in front of it--a huge crater in front of the doorway where the bomb had fallen—a water main cracked. Everywhere around the building—all the houses had piles of glass and debris being swept out of them—the concussion often creates terrific damage—in all the little streets off that main street on which the building was had the little piles of broken glass and debris lining them—the gutters were covered with brick and mortar. We drove on past the Bank of Spain—the bomb had fallen right clean through it—we went down to the port where huge craters showed where bombs had fallen, breaking water pipes; crews were feverishly at work repairing the damage—there was no sign of panic or terror anywhere—people went about their daily tasks, walked in the very spots where bombs had fallen—sat in the cafes along the waterfront—sat on the benches along the streets. We talked to one man (Ed wrote about him in his dispatch)—he told us most of the people had spent the night in the refugios—thereby lessening the toll of lives. He was calm when he told us about his demolished house—a smile on his face when he told us he had been able to save his family and then the full proof of what these people are made of when he said to us in farewell "I would invite you to my house—but you see, it isn't there anymore."
When I first walked into the streets of Barcelona I was amazed at what I saw. When we read about Spain in the newspapers, articles, and books, we read of the front, of cities bombed, and I came expecting to find a war-like—or what I thought was war-like—atmosphere over everything and everybody. Here in Barcelona, the city goes on living its life—shops do business, people work and sit in the cafes. When you are in the city for a while you begin to see the effects of war. You see that there aren't many young men in the streets—and if there are they are in uniform, home on leave or recovering from wounds. You see the wrecked buildings where bombs have fallen—and you see the women and the kids, tattered, ragged, and hungry. But you see too that everywhere are a people who are fighting for their lives, their country—the raised fist which greets you in Salud is not just a gesture—it means life and liberty being fought for and a greeting of solidarity with the democratic peoples of the world. Barcelona is a beautiful city—surrounded by hills and mountains—an ever blue sky—palm trees lining the broad avenues—a city which in peacetime must have been a joy to live in. And the people—how can I tell you how wonderful they are—how truly a beautiful people the Spanish are. They are an intelligent people and an understanding people, and even now, in midst of their war, the education of its people goes on—schools for kids, girls from the Basque country and Andalucia who three months ago couldn't read, now holding down leading and important jobs in Government agencies.
Hemingway was here for a few days—but once you meet him you're not likely to forget him. The day he came I had been slightly sickish, but Ed came up and got me up out of bed to meet him. When I came into the room where he was he was seated at a table and I wasn't prepared for the towering giant he is. I almost got on my toes to reach his outstretched hand—I didn't need to, but that was my first reaction. He's terrific—not only tall but big—in head, body, hands. "Hello", he said—looked at me and then at Ed and said "You're sure you two aren't brother and sister?" which meant—"what a pair of light-haired, pale, skinny kids!" He told us another time when we were driving back to the hotel from somewhere of his correspondence with Freddy Keller—how he told Freddy he's got good stuff, but he must study—must educate himself and above all study Marx. That was what he had done all winter in Key West, he told us—otherwise, he said, you're a sucker—you don't know a thing until you study Marx. All of this said in short jerky sentences—with no attempt at punctuation. Before he left he gave us the remainder of his provisions—not in a gesture, just gave them to us because he knew we needed them and because he wanted to give them to us. I'm still a little awed by the size of him—he's really an awfully big guy!
And now—I'll say goodbye—I promise not to let so long a time go by the next time I write.
from EVAN SHIPMAN
June 21, 1938
Dear Ernest [Hemingway]:
I wish we had had a few days in Paris together. Marty [Hourihan] was still there when I got in. You know they sent him out across the mountain. I don't know how he ever managed it with that leg.
The damn fools sent me across the mountain too. They knew I had been expelled from France but they told me it was perfectly safe. I no sooner left the Carabineros at the top than the Guarde Mobile spotted me—It was a bright night and they fired a couple of shots over my head. I lay low for an hour and then began again, changing my line to come out at another place on the road. Then when I got to the road I was so damned jollied up and excited that I made a mistake and started right back into Spain again. I got almost to the French Customs before I was able to get my bearings. The Carabineros had told me about a staircase going down the mountain to Cerbere from the road. I couldn't find it for the life of me, and I kept going back and forth and back and forth around those turns in the moonlight. If the Guarde Mobile were looking they must have thought the whole 43rd Division was on its way over. And they did think something like that, too, because finally I gave up looking for that staircase and followed the road right in and then I found the staircase—the bottom of it where it meets the road again—six Guarde Mobile were there. I couldn't dodge them. They wouldn't believe that I was the only man coming down the mountain. "Why we saw at least a dozen" they said. And two of them took me to the station and the rest went up the mountain to hunt. They hunted all night.
You know Port Bou—the way the whole town seems to be in the bottom of a cave. Well the Fascists bombed us twice the day I was there. There are good refuges but even then it's not a nice place to be bombed. When I got over and the Guarde Mobile had me I said, anyway, that's one thing I don't have to worry about anymore. There's a good big mountain between me and those planes. Can you believe it? I was not in that jail one hour—had no sooner gotten to sleep and I was tired—before there was the God damndest crash of bombs just up the street—not a hundred yards away from the jail. I was all alone and locked in of course and everybody was running up the street and women screaming. First I felt haunted as if they were following me, and then I felt glad that the French were getting a chance to run screaming through the streets for a change. I even thought they might let me go the next morning as a mark of solidarity or something.
The next morning they took me to Perpignan on the train. Everybody was talking about it in the train. The Pyranees Oriantele was getting really bellicose. They were all scared and mad. The Guarde Mobile were extra sympathetic to me—bought me cognac and tobacco out of their own money and forgot about handcuffs—But that was as far as the solidarity went.
At Perpignan I found out that I was up against six months. No alternative, no way out, except pull. I was scared. It was a nice jail and all that but the prospect of six months made me feel very bad. I wrote at once to Desnos to get in touch with Martha, who I remembered had some pull with the Radical Socialists at one time, and also Senator Hollis from N.H. who used to be a friend of my father's and who practices now in Paris. They all got started right away and Charley Sweeney, too, went to bat for me. But here was the funny thing. And if you think a minute—you will see the queer, uncomfortable position I was in. Father used to have a friend in Paris—a very rich man named James Johnson who helped father a lot—and I never could abide him. So Desnos, on Senator Hollis's advice goes to Johnson. And the first thing I know—the first thought of Johnson that I have in two years I guess—there he is down at Perpignan—come all the way down from Paris to help me out of jail.
from SANDOR VOROS
Madrid, December 17, 1937
"The moon is very big tonight"--this sentence has been on my mind for days. It is a beautiful sentence, I can't stop rolling it off my lips. I came across it in a letter among my documents while searching for material for the book I am now working on.
A girl in New York started her letter off to her boyfriend in Spain with that--on the very night her boyfriend was killed. He died very bravely under that very big moon and that very big moon lit up the whole landscape, throwing a ghostlike silvery flame on No Man's Land, silhouetting the rescuing parties against the sky, and the fascists opened fire, wounding many of the brave volunteers who were risking their lives trying to bring in the body of that boy who was lying dead out in the field under the very big moon his girl was writing about in New York. She was very lonesome for him and so she was looking at the moon in New York and the moon was very big; it reached all the way to Spain. He never received the letter. I was the one who received it and I read it ten months later, a few days after I finished my chapter, on the night of the very big moon, and I never heard till then about the girl. But ever since I read that letter my heart went out to that girl. I keep on wondering whether she still notices the moon and hope she is proud of the boy who died a death worthy of his principles and his class. I want to raise a monument for that boy and girl under that very big moon, a monument of love and class struggle and of heroism and self-negation and sacrifice that shall be at the same time a monument of the struggle against fascism in Spain.
The moon has been very big a number of times and I hope the time will be soon here when it will shine on a free Spain and we, two, will walk arm in arm under that very big moon, thinking about that other boy and girl....Sanyi
REPRINTED from Cary Nelson and Jefferson Hendricks, eds. Madrid 1937: Letters of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade from the Spanish Civil War, copyright 1996 by Routledge.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Greenpeace says a German Greenpeace activist holding a peaceful protest against the Masinloc coal power plant outside Manila was horrendously beaten by local plant personnel and four other Greenpeace activists from New Zealand and the Philippines were also hurt.
German Jens Loewe, 36, was beaten and hit by a crowbar in the face and head while he was on the ground, Greenpeace said. Also badly beaten was Filipino activist Tomas Leonor, 24. An Agence France-Presse photographer at the scene said Loewe was repeatedly hit with a crowbar and was later carried away on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in Masinloc town. Others listed as injured were New Zealander Debra Gay Pristor, and Filipinas Pam Palma and Janine Mercado. They were also taken to hospital along with the other injured.
"Greenpeace condemns this violent attack to a peaceful protest," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Energy Campaigner Red Constantino. "It is disproportionate to the nature of the protest which is peaceful, non violent protest. He commented further, "We're disappointed that the Filipino plant personnel prefers to protect the interests of a power plant that brings more harm than good to people. Coal is the culprit here, not peaceful protest."
"We were attempting to stage a peaceful protest in the Masinloc coal power plant when a number of ground personnel became very violent and began to throw stones," Constantino said. "Gunshots were also fired from rifles and one of our activists was repeatedly hit in the face and rammed with a steel bar while he was immobile on the ground," he said.
Greenpeace activists were at the plant to draw attention to Australian and Japanese backing of the expansion of climate changing coal dependency in Asia. "The Masinloc power plant displays the very worst excesses of the Philippine and Asian coal industry," said Constantino at the plant site. "Masinloc's environmental impact has never been publicly scrutinised and yet funds from organisations like the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) are being earmarked for a 50% expansion of the plant's power capacity at a time when there is considerable controversy surrounding the financing of its privatisation sale. Worse still, it is primarily coal from Australia that will feed the planned expansion."
The National Power Corp. (Napocor), on the other hand, denied the claims of a violent scuffle taking place between the guards of the Masinloc coal-fired thermal power plant (MCFTPP) and the Greenpeace activists.
Seeming to somewhat contradict itself, Napocor justified the use of force claiming the power plant personnel and security guards had tried to prevent the illegal entry of the Greenpeace members even after some were able to enter into the highly-restricted area of the plant. Napocor said it deplored, “...the premeditated illegal intrusion" by Greenpeace activists, calling it "a stunt and a cheap shot at trying to attract attention at the expense of the public.” Napocor added, “The power plant is a high security risk area and its operations should be protected."
Greenpeace’s Constantino said, "Burning coal is the main cause of global warming. Australia and Japan are underwriting climate change at a time when the Philippines and Asia are facing the likelihood of devastating social and economic instability from climate change precisely when the country and the rest of Asia are least able to deal with its impacts. The expansion of coal in the Philippines and Asia must stop. Greenpeace calls on the Philippine Senate for an inquiry into Masinloc's expansion plans.”
"It is no surprise that countries like Australia refuse to join the Kyoto Protocol and then talk of secret climate pacts," said Greenpeace International's Athena Ronquillo on-board the Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior. "It is the world's biggest coal exporter, it has Asia on an addictive drip of climate changing coal and it plays dirty," said Greenpeace International's Athena Ronquillo. "Japan is equally as hypocritical. It is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol yet continues to be far and away the biggest funder of dirty energy projects in Asia."
Greenpeace points out that clean alternatives to fossil fuel power in Asia are widely available. In the Philippines enough wind power potential exists to produce 7 times over the country's current energy demand. In the Chinese province of Guangdong there exists sufficient wind power potential to meet the equivalent of the current energy supply in Hong Kong.
"Time is not on our side. We have to cut global greenhouse emissions by at least half by the middle of this century to avoid catastrophic climate change. That means that global emissions must peak within the next 10-15 years, not 25 or 30 years from now," concluded Ronquillo. Sources: Greenpeace International, The Philippine Star M and C News, Philippine Daily Inquirer
National Stand Down Day - Nov. 18, 2005
End The Iraq War - Demonstrations and Nonviolent Resistance at Recruiting Stations Across the Country
Young Americans sign on to go into harm’s way to defend their country if necessary, but instead they are being turned into harm’s ministers in a war that has claimed more then 100,000 Iraqi lives and nearly 2,000 Americans. The President and Congress have breached a sacred trust with our soldiers and abused their oath to defend the Constitution by leading young Americans to kill and die in a war based on lies.
As the Bush Administration refuses to make plans to bring our troops home, join us for “National Stand Down Day,” as we halt the machinery that takes young Americans off to this illegal and endless war in Iraq.
We welcome, and will provide coordination and support as possible, for all manner of protests and demonstrations at recruiting centers. We want to especially encourage and assist nonviolent resistance actions, such as civil resistance or civil disobedience. As we recognize and support soldiers who take great risks to refuse fighting in this unjust war, so it is our moral responsibility to share that risk to the extent that we can, by preventing even more young Americans from being placed in such jeopardy – particularly in light of the lies and abusive practices being used in the recruiting process.
Our violation of these unjust practices is undertaken in a spirit of nonviolence and love, with compassion and respect for all we encounter. But our nonviolence will not be mistaken for lack of resolve: we cannot stand by while our schools and communities are militarized by the "No Child Left Behind Act,” or as potential recruits are deceived by clauses that allow the armed forces to disregard the terms of their contract.
This call is also made in support of the “National ‘Not Your Soldier’ Youth and Student Day of Action” call for a youth and student led counter-recruitment day of action on Thursday, November 17. We encourage everyone who will participate in National Stand Down Day on November 18 to support the efforts of local students as well - you can find out more by going to www.nyspc.net/home.php
Please join us as we say NO to the war in Iraq, and NO to the recruitment of our fellow Americans into this war.
If your organization is interested in joining this nationally coordinated day of nonviolent action to end the war, please contact us at http://www.iraqpledge.org/endorsement.html
National Stand Down Day is a project of the Iraq Pledge of Resistance’s National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. The Iraq Pledge of Resistance, founded in September of 2002, is a nationwide network of activists and organizations committed to ending the war in Iraq through nonviolent, Gandhian and Kingian resistance.
Endorsers of National Stand Down Day include:
National Student and Youth Peace Coalition
United for Peace and Justice
War Resister’s League
Code Pink Women for Peace
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Progressive Democrats of America
Student Peace Action Network
Iraq Pledge of Resistance
Peace Majority Report
The Catholic Peace Fellowship, New Jersey
Raging Grannies of the Peninsula
N.C. Peace Action
This from a guy who although he roots for the Oakland Raiders is still my friend.
Bill Berkowitz - WorkingForChange
11.10.05 - Two weeks ago, the Chicago White Sox, led by manager Ozzie Guillen (Oswaldo Jose Guillen Barrios as he is known in his home town of Ocumare del Tuy, Venezuela), swept the Houston Astros to win their first World Series since 1917. As popular as baseball is in both Venezuela and the United States, the victory -- engineered by the first Latin American-born manager of a World Series team -- is unlikely to be the catalyst for a warming trend in political relations between the two countries.
The most recent round of acrimony between the two countries began in late August when, during a broadcast of "The 700 Club," the Reverend Pat Robertson advocated the assassination of Venezuelan Present Hugo Chavez: "I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it... We have the ability to take him out," Robertson said. While many were quick to condemn his comments, some observers suggested that they went beyond the mere ramblings of an uninhibited televangelist; perhaps they were a trial balloon -- launched by a longtime Team Bush supporter -- on behalf of an administration that has shown little but disdain for the Venezuelan president.
After more than two decades of having gotten a pass for provocative, offensive, and often ridiculous comments, several of Robertson's religious and political colleagues unloaded on him.
Joe Loconte, who specializes in faith-based issues as a William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at the conservative Heritage Foundation, warned that Robertson was alienating a large segment of the American people already suspicious about "the role of religion in public life."
In a column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Loconte suggested that, "evangelical leaders... marginalize Robertson and his media empire -- publicly and decisively. They should editorialize against his excesses, refuse to appear on his television program and deny him advertising space in their magazines. Board members should threaten to resign unless he steps down from his public platform."
While Robertson issued a quasi-apology, the State Department said little.
Since Hugo Chavez became President of Venezuela, Team Bush has done much to destabilize and isolate the Chavez government, as well as to demonize Chavez: A U.S.-backed coup in April 2002 failed to remove him, and a recall election -- during which the opposition received U.S. support -- particularly from the National Endowment for Democracy -- was unsuccessful. (Since he came to power, Chavez has held eight elections, referendums and plebiscites.) Late last month, Israel acceded to U.S. demands that it put on hold, or cancel, a large arms deal it had brewing with Venezuela.
In mid-September, President Bush issued "Presidential Determination No. 2005-36," which branded Venezuela (and Burma) outlaw countries in the drug wars. Dan Feder, writing for The Narcosphere -- a project of the Narco News Bulletin -- characterized the president's decision as another component of the "Cubanization of Venezuela."
Interestingly enough, the presidential determination recommended that, "support for programs to aid Venezuela's democratic institutions, establish selected community development projects, and strengthen Venezuela's political party system is vital to the national interests of the United States."
While "a drug war decertification generally implies blocking a country from international aid and loans," it is significant that Bush's Presidential Determination encourages aid for Venezuela's so-called "democratic institutions," Feder reported. "So, while aid to Venezuelan 'democracy' (code for funding the opposition to President Chavez), most recently seen in the National Endowment for Democracy's $107,000 grant to Sumate) will be allowed to continue, Venezuela will most likely be cut off from other forms of aid and loans from institutions like the World Bank."
While Bush has not directly advocated regime change in Venezuela, he has relied on surrogates and longtime supporters to make the administration's desires known that Venezuela, and Latin America, would be better off without Hugo Chavez.
On October 9, the Rev. Pat Robertson was back on television, this time as a guest on CNN's "Late Night," where he again had sharp words for Chavez. After suggesting that Hurricane Katrina and other recent natural disasters might be a signal that the "End Times" is hurtling down the pike, Robertson turned his attention to the Venezuelan president.
Sans assassination talk, Robertson linked Chavez to Iran, one of President Bush's "axis of evil" countries, Osama bin Laden, and even to the jailed terrorist Carlos the Jackal.
Robertson claimed that the United States "could face a nuclear attack from Venezuela": "The truth is, this man is setting up a Marxist-type dictatorship in Venezuela, he's trying to spread Marxism throughout South America, he's negotiating with the Iranians to get nuclear material and he also sent $1.2 million in cash to Osama bin Laden right after 9-11." The televangelist maintained that Chavez sent a "warm congratulatory letter to Carlos the Jackal, he's a friend of Mommar Qaddafi," he said. "He's made common cause with these people that are considered terrorists."
Although Robertson told CNN that he had "apologized" for advocating Chavez's assassination, and that he would "be praying for him," he added that, "One day we will be staring at nuclear weapons and it won't be Katrina facing New Orleans, it's going to be a Venezuelan nuke." And in a remark that sounded suspiciously close to comments that set off the late August brouhaha, Robertson pointed out that "my suggestion was, isn't it a lot cheaper sometimes to deal with these problems before you have to have a big war."
When asked where he was getting his information from, Robertson said, "Well, sources that came to me. That's what I was told."
The sources Robertson may have been depending on could be the same sources that fueled a recent report in the Unification Church-owned Washington Times. On October 17, Rowan Scarborough reported that Venezuela was beginning to take steps toward developing nuclear weapons: "The Venezuelan government has made overtures to various countries about obtaining nuclear technology, according to U.S. officials, who worry that President Hugo Chavez might be taking the first steps in a long road to develop nuclear weaponry."
"We are keeping an eye on Venezuela," one senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Washington Times. "My sense is that Venezuela has not been as successful with its nuclear entreaties with other countries as it would have liked." Iran is one of countries that Venezuela has supposedly approached. The administration claims that Chavez is developing a close relationship with the mullahs in Iran. "They are quite kissy-kissy with Iran," said the U.S. official. "There is a lot of back and forth. Iranians show up at Venezuelan things. They are both pariah states that hang out together."
Chavez has carried out actions that have clearly rubbed the Bush Administration the wrong way. He continues to be close with Cuba's Fidel Castro, and he has stressed that Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, has a right to control it own oil, and to determine its own affairs without the interference of the U.S.
In April, Venezuela "canceled the long-running IMET (International Military Education and Training) program, which had seen Venezuelan soldiers traveling to the U.S. for training, as well as U.S. officers giving courses in Venezuela." According to a report by Narco News Bulletin's Dan Feder, "the cancellation was the direct result of findings by a determined young Venezuelan-American attorney and journalist named Eva Golinger, who had discovered a direct connection between the program and coup-plotters in the Venezuelan military."
On August 31, shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans, Citgo, the US gasoline distribution affiliate wholly owned by the Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), announced on that it would donate $1 million to help in rescue efforts for areas.
A few weeks back, Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S., accused the Bush Administration of "protecting" Luis Posada Corriles, a right- wing Cuban wanted on terrorism charges in Venezuela.
On October 12, at an indigenous gathering marking Columbus Day -- renamed by Chavez as the "Day of Indigenous Resistance" -- he accused the Sanford, Florida-based evangelical group, New Tribes Mission, with being agents of imperialism and suggested that the group leave the country.
With all that is on the administration's plate these days, it is unlikely that it will turn its full attention to Venezuela. However, if Chavez continues to assert hegemony over its oil, continues to grow his influence amongst other Latin American leaders, and continues to be a thorn in the side of the Bush Administration, the U.S. could again turn its attention south.
(c) 2005 Working Assets Online. All rights reserved
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
The top leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) was still in prison on Wednesday after being arrested ahead of an anti-poverty march in the capital, Harare.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo, secretary-general Wellington Chibebe and some 200 members were arrested on Tuesday as they were preparing to take part in what the police called an illegal demonstration to highlight growing unemployment and the rocketing cost of living.
"We are being held in a cell at Harare central (police station)," said ZACTU president Lovemore Matombo. "There are about 80 of us (here), including trade union leaders, ordinary citizens and women with children. We have just been gathered. We have not been told what charge we are facing," he said.
Several other ZCTU leaders were still at large yesterday and fears have been expressed about the safety of four more executive members taken into custody by the army. Mlamleli Sibanda, Last Tarabuku, Tabita Khumalo and Leonard Ngwenzi were last seen being dragged from a ZCTU minibus by soldiers at a roadblock in central Harare shortly before 1pm.
Lucia Matibenga, a senior ZCTU official, told IRIN she was unable to comment on the labor federation's next move, as it was "operating in an uncertain terrain".
The ZCTU said marches were planned simultaneously for six main cities and towns across Zimbabwe and were meant "to remind the government and employers that workers are hungry, angry and tired". The labor union is demanding what it called a "living wage for workers" and reduction of income tax from 45% to a maximum of 30%. It also wants job protection in the face of threats of closure of many companies because of the flooding of the Zimbabwe market by cheap Chinese imports. Further demands included better availability and free access to antiretroviral drugs for people with HIV/Aids. The ZCTU said they also were protesting about the acute shortages of petroleum-based fuels in the country, which has been hit by its most severe crisis since independence in 1980.
Before the planned march, police mounted roadblocks on all routes into Harare, stopping any vehicle with more than one passenger. Paramilitaries with dogs, shields and batons were conspicuous on most street corners and in the city's central Unity Square Gardens outside Parliament.
The marchers sang songs and waved tiny placards before police moved in. Journalists watched from a safe distance for fear of arrest under Zimbabwe's draconian press laws.
"Those arrested continued to sing in the police van as it drove off," a witness said.
Scores of protesters, including the labor leaders, were charged for taking part in potentially riotous activities, while others -- including a town mayor -- faced charges of inciting violence, a defense lawyer said today.
"They have been charged with the usual -- taking part in a gathering conducing to riots or disorder," lawyer Alec Muchadehama said.
The mayor of Harare's dormitory town of Chitungwiza, Misheck Shoko, and outspoken pro-democracy activist and lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, along with seven university students, were charged with inciting violence.
"All the arrested are denying the charges," Muchadehama said, adding they were still in police custody.
The situation in other cities was not immediately clear.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai angrily reacted to the arrests, saying the "rogue regime in Harare" has criminalized an action to express displeasure, anger and disgust over the state of affairs.
"Let me warn the Mugabe regime that targeting civil society for regular attacks means declaring a war against the people and the people shall respond," Tsvangirai said in a statement.
"We cannot let the situation continue to worsen at a time when all forms of relief have vanished; when our entire coping mechanisms have been exhausted," he said.
Tsvangirai, who last month vowed his party would mount a national crusade against the Senate elections, said preparations for "peaceful democratic resistance" program have reached an advanced stage.
"The eye of the storm is now on the horizon," he warned. "The people's power is strengthening and soon every village ... hamlet, town and city shall register the national sentiment on a scale never seen in this country."
The South African trade union federation COASTU expressed its solidarity with the detained union leaders and called on President Robert Mugabe to intervene and ensure the immediate release of those arrested and for the scrapping of the draconian Public Order Security Act, which it said would soon allow only cabinet ministers to gather.
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) sent a letter to Mugabe which read,
“The ICFTU has learnt with utter shock and dismay the reaction of your government to the ZCTU-led peaceful demonstration yesterday aimed at highlighting, amongst other pressing issues, the ever growing poverty and high unemployment. Workers worldwide are at pains to reconcile the action by the police to proceed instead at arresting over 200 demonstrating workers and their leaders for what is considered a legitimate action by trade unions in line with internationally accepted norms and practices.”
”Mr. President, the ICFTU appeals to you for your prompt intervention for the full respect of trade union rights, the immediate release of all detained trade unionists and urgent initiatives to involve the trade union movement in serious talks aimed at reaching a consensus on the issues raised by the ZCTU.”
”The ICFTU would also like to draw your kind attention to the abuse that is being made of the provisions under the Public Order Security Act (POSA), which seriously undermines freedom of speech and assembly and hence the normal conduct of trade union activities. The ICFTU therefore supports the ever growing call for the abolition of POSA.”
”We trust, Mr. President, that you will act decisively to put a stop to all abuses of trade union rights, open dialogue with the trade union movement and ensure that all laws promote full respect of human and trade union rights.”
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic crisis and facing serious food shortages due to recurring droughts and the government's fast-track land redistribution program, which disrupted agricultural production and slashed export earnings. The country has been described as having one of the fastest-shrinking economies in the world, with unemployment at 80 percent. Sources: IRIN, News24 (South Africa), Star (South Africa), International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Independent (Zimbabwe), Mail and Guardian (South Africa)
Non-government organizations held a protest rally Sunday in Brussels in support of the 5 Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor imprisoned in Libya. The organizations “Doctors Without Borders” (“Medecines Sans Frontieres”), “Lawyers Without Borders”, “Together Against The Death Penalty” and the Moroccan association “Prisons Watch” initiated the event in front of the European parliament Building. The groups called for the release of the detained medics.
Last night Dozens of Bulgarian music stars appealed for "Freedom for the Bulgarian Medics, Mercy for the Libyan Children" during a concert in Sofia, Bulgaria. Lili Ivanova, Kotseto-Kalki, Margarita Hranova and a child church choir performed at the National Opera in a bid to boost public support for the five Bulgarian nurses on death row in Libya.
On November 15th the Supreme Court in Libya is expected to take up the appeals against the death sentences of the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor who have been accused with the alleged deliberate infection with the AIDS virus of more than 400 Libyan children in Benghazi. The accusation is considered by almost everyone outside of Libya to be absurd.
The Washington Times newspaper published information recently that the USA and the EU were in the last phase of signing a deal for the release of the Bulgarian nurses.
The British Sunday Times newspaper published information in the past few days that Libya had suggested it would spare the lives of the sentenced Bulgarians and the Palestine doctor if Great Britain gives back the man sentenced for the airline bombing over Lockerby, Scotland which took the lives of 270 people.
Meanwhile, the editor in chief of the Libyan oppositional newspaper Akhbar, Ashur Shimar, reported that the Bulgarian and the Libyan side had agreed for the release of the Bulgarian nurses in exchange of USD 1 billion. The Bulgarian Minister of Justice Georgi Petkanov says that won’t happen for the nurses are guilty of nothing. Sources: In Focus (Bulgaria), BNN (Bulgaria), Sofia News Agency
The Oread Daily reported recently on the “stand down” by the paramilitary thug group knows as the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).
What I didn’t report at the time was the terror group, described by some as drug dealers with guns and badges, is not likely to be giving up their lucrative drug trade.
"Whether or not they step down, as they have said in the past week is one thing. But drug dealing is what these people do for a living and have been for years, and it's unlikely that they are going to give that up now," warned a senior security source quoted in the Belfast Telegraph. "They have come out with their statement because they have been under intense pressure from the Ulster Volunteer Forces (UVF), and for no other reason. If they are serious about standing down they will have to give up their guns and stop dealing drugs and I don't see that happening.”
Meanwhile, the larger Loyalist group, the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), is looking like its going to have to let its North Belfast boss go. Andre Shoukri was arrested yesterday along with his brother Ihab Shoukri, a female relative, and two other men in a series of early morning raids. The arrests came after a woman approached the Police Services of Northern Ireland (PSNI) with information on illegal money making rackets being run by the north Belfast UDA. Since joining the UDA in the mid-1990s, Shoukri has been in regular trouble with the law. In 1996 he was jailed for his involvement in the death of Dubliner Gareth Parker who was run over by a car after being punched by Shoukri. The loyalist was back in court in 1998, when he was jailed for attempting to smuggle cigarettes. Two years later he was jailed again for his part in a blackmail plot against a Catholic businessman. During the 2002 UDA feud, Shoukri was arrested with a gun in his car. He was initially jailed for six years but the conviction was overturned on appeal.
Shoukri is viewed by many within the UDA as being in the same mould as former east Belfast boss Jim Gray who was “stood down” and then murdered. Shoukri has powerful enemies within the organization including its south Belfast leader Jackie McDonald. McDonald and Shoukri’s UDA factions clashed during the summer when a number of bars that their supporters drink in were paint-bombed.
And while this is going on the US Administration of G.W. Bush has gone ahead and denied Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams a fundraising visa to visit the U.S. The Friends of Sinn Féin funding event in New York City that Adams was due to attend will go ahead as planned. Sinn Fein News says, “The decision appears to be an effort by elements within the US Administration to get Sinn Féin to change its' position on policing, something which can only be done by Sinn Féin and their electorate.”
Adams said, "Our position on policing is very clear. The British government has agreed to honor certain commitments made on the policing issue. When they do this I will honor commitments I have made including going to a special party Ard Fheis to deal with this matter.”
"The visa position is absurd,” he added. “I am expected to go to New York and not attend the most important Friends of Sinn Féin funding event of the year, an event incidentally that will go ahead as planned. The decision robs me of the opportunity to speak in person to over 1000 US citizens who have consistently supported the peace process. They want to hear how we can make best use of the recent historic republican initiatives to move the peace process forward.”
U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y, said the State Department's decision was ``misguided and wrong and lacks any sense of historical perspective. After Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein have demonstrated enormous courage and leadership in doing so much to take the gun out of Irish politics this decision sends exactly the wrong message.''
Adams who announced yesterday he has cancelled his entire trip to the US (but not a scheduled visit to Canada) was due to receive a peace award Tuesday from the National Committee on American Foreign Policy at a dinner hosted by Bill Flynn, a leading Irish-American businessman. Sources: Irish Aires News, Belfast Telegraph, Sinn Fein News
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
From the California Nurses Ogranization
The California Nurses Association, which has followed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for more than a year with over 100 protests at his appearances, will be next to the governor on election night as well.
CNA is hosting an "Aloha" party at Trader Vic's Restaurant in the Beverly
Hilton hotel where Schwarzenegger is holding his own election night public
party. Dress: tropical.
When: Tuesday night, November 8
Where: Trader Vic's Restaurant
9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills
Time: Media availability from 5 p.m. 'till the drinks run out
To honor the $300 million consumed for the unnecessary special election,
the nurses will wear money leis and serve corporate roast pork in recognition
of those special favors in exchange for all that corporate cash.
Other possible menu selections offered as tribute to Schwarzenegger
include minced principles, twice cooked promises, spare no corporate favor
ribs, sticky fingers on healthcare funding rice, disappearing pineapple
education budget cake, and the ever popular Maui Fizz drinks on behalf of the
governor's dwindling public standing.
In addition to the levity, partygoers will describe the one-year CNA
campaign, which has been a model for the nation in confronting corporate
control of California's political, economic and social life with an emphasis
on grassroots mobilizations and novel tactics.
"For more than a year, California nurses have been the conscience of
California, following the governor and exposing his degrading of our political
system and democracy on behalf of his corporate donors," said CNA Executive
Director Rose Ann DeMoro.
"Tonight will be just another chapter in our campaign. Nurses challenged
Gov. Schwarzenegger and the corporate right agenda to eliminate corporate
checks and balances in our political system, starve education and public
health funding, and increase corporate dominance of our society, long before
these initiatives were on the ballot," said DeMoro.
"We will continue to campaign on behalf of genuine reform tomorrow and the
There are reports of leaflets being circulated in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that warn of new violence on the horizon.
A missionary source in Bukavu, the main town of South Kivu, told the Catholic news agency FIDES there were signs that the civil war which ravaged the country from 1998 to 2003 could flare up again.
"We are living in fear. We keep receiving mysterious leaflets saying war is imminent" the unnamed missionary said. "Bukavu is living in fear and apprehension as mysterious leaflets are circulated announcing fresh hostilities."
The unnamed source said the Congolese Tutsi rebels, or Banyamulenge are split between two factions. One faction wants to renew hostilities, while the other prefers peace.
"There are those who realize they have no chance of winning regular elections without violence and fraud and are willing to use every means to sabotage the electoral process. Then there are others anxious to continue exploiting Congo's mineral riches in total impunity denying the due profit to the local people and the legitimate government," the FIDES source said.
Tensions were already high in the area following attacks last month against the village of Kanyola south of Bukavu where at least 25 were killed and hundreds left injured. The UN reported that thousands had fled the area. The UN reported at the time that the attack by a group of 'Rasta' - Rwandan rebel group recently emerging on the scene - also affected other villages near Kanyola such as Tchindudi, Mungombe and Rudundu.
The South Kivu governor, Didas Kaningini Kyoto told Reuters AletNet that the attackers did not use guns because "they did not want to be noticed by soldiers at an army base on a hill nearby." He added: "They killed their victims with machetes and axes, smashing victims’ heads in with hammers."
The Rwandan Hutu rebels in the DR Congo are under increasing pressure from the UN and regional states to disarm and return to their home country. As a result, more splits have been reported among the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (DFLR) who include former ex-Rwandan Army Forces, former Interahamwe militias involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and young men recruited in the Rwandan refugee camps in the Congo.
One dissident group has been making tentative moves towards a mediated negotiation with Rwanda, but at the same time there are suspicions that factions in the Kinshasa transitional government are not keen that the forces should be totally disbanded.
In South Kivu, armed groups composed of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (DFLR) dissidents such as the so-called 'Rasta' group have been proliferating in the Walungu region.
They do not appear to have specific political aims to justify their murder, rape and looting. Other DFLR defectors have joined a Mai-Mai tribal Congolese militia led by 'Commander' Jackson Muhura Mboto, which is creating havoc in the Myamilima North Kivu region, at the Ugandan border. Sources: UN Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Catholic Information Service for Africa, IRIN, Reuters AlertNet
Seven women were arrested on trespassing charges Monday while protesting a proposed power increase for Etergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The women were charged with unlawful trespass and then released.
The women were ordered to not cross the police tape or go onto Entergy's lawn. They did so at about 11 a.m., after an hour of speeches in the parking lot across the road where they and supporters were permitted to protest. Protesters made demands for legislative action, a switch from nuclear energy to alternative energy sources, and an evacuation plan in Massachusetts towns like Gill and Wendall, located just outside the 10-mile radius zone from Vermont Yankee. The federal government requires the power plant to alert towns within a 10-mile radius of an emergency.
"We living in Massachusetts are subject to the pollution downwind, but we have no say," said Sally Shaw, who lives in Gill, Mass.
Sally Shaw, 49, of Gill, Mass., said she and the others were protesting because they felt shut out of the regulatory process as federal and state agencies consider if Vermont Yankee can boost its power production. “There’s a lot of frustration because many of us feel we have been left out of the process," Shaw said. "And all we could do is utilize our right to speak the truth on our own terms."
Protesters had requested to speak to Entergy officials, but were denied.
Shaw told Barre Montpelier Times Argus the she hopes legislators in Massachusetts and Vermont press for the development of renewable energy. She also criticized the NRC — a federal agency that she dubbed the "Nuclear Advocacy Council" — for allegedly bowing to industry demands. "The process is broken and rigged and we are tired of the pretense," she said.
Sunny Miller, executive director of the Traprock Peace Center in Deerfield, Mass., told the Brattleboro Reformer the protest was a form of "direct action." And, even at the risk of arrest, protesters wanted to communicate concerns about the Vernon reactor. "We are organizing appeals and demands directly to the decision-makers operating this facility," Miller said.
Amongst concerns cited in an open letter to Congressman John Olver are:
*A 20% power increase, even accomplished in two steps, is an extreme uprate. Most uprates have been accomplished in smaller steps and been for a smaller increase.
• An increase in power output requires more steam/water to be passed through the system at a faster rate; this subjects all components to greatly increased stresses and vibrations. These effects can lead to making parts break off or to breaking of pipes which can cause major malfunctions in the rest of the power station.
• Operation under uprate shortens time available for operator response and increases the likelihood of a malfunction due to operator error.
• The limited inspection review provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was inadequate. Information and analyses provided by Entergy were incomplete and inadequate. Vermont state legislator Steve Darrow said that Entergy gave evasive answers to questions asked. He testified at Vermont Public Service Board hearing that Entergy is gaming the process.
• The recent fueling of the nuclear reactor with more highly enriched uranium in advance of completion of the uprate approval process and prior to a ruling by the Vermont Public Service Board on the acceptability of the inspection report is unacceptable.
• Instead of providing a comprehensive analysis of the ability of components to handle the increased stresses, the NRC is proposing to allow Entergy to stress test components during the process of ramping up the power level. We hold that such an experimental approach to assessing the operation represents an irresponsible approach and an unacceptable risk.
• David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that such experiments belong in a laboratory, not in communities.
• We are aware that similar uprates at other reactors of this type have caused costly shutdowns due to potentially dangerous steam dryer cracking and valve jamming. Cracks are known to exist in VY’s steam dryers, which are identical to the Quad Cities unit that failed in Illinois.
• In addition, the Entergy request to run the ENVY reactor at containment overpressure is a potentially dangerous and operationally confusing condition that puts the public at risk.
• It may be seen that in addition to safety concerns, the power uprate will reduce the reliability of existing power production at the reactor.
• We are concerned to read in the March 22, 2005 Federal Register that Entergy is no longer reequired to report annual occupational radiation exposure for its workers. This suggests relaxation of safety standards for public and workers alike at a time when risks of harm are heightened by the uprate.
Sources: Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont), Open Letter to Congressman John Olver, Boston Globe, Barre Montpelier Times Argus (Vermont)
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina has been arrested in Venezuela on charges that he and a group of friends attacked employees at his ranch with machetes and tried to set fire to them, police said on Tuesday.
"He's been captured and he's held in one of our cells," investigative police commissioner Marcos Chavez told Reuters by telephone.
Bernardo Navarro (23), Vincler Gallegos (20), Ricardo Osal (21), Tony Rodriguez (34), Jose Tovar, Argenis Faras and Key Duarte accuse Urbina of abuse and beatings.
VHeadlines reports that on arrival in Venezuela and at reception to welcome him back to the farm, Urbina and guests rounded the workers up to find out who stole a missing weapon.
The workers allege that Urbina used machete and his fists to elicit information and threw gasoline and thinner on some of them causing minor burns.
Urbina says he is innocent of the charges against him.
“Everything will be cleared up soon and people will know the truth,” Urbina said from his cell at a police station. “Right now we aren’t going to do anything to deny things that aren’t true.”
Urbina’s lawyer, Jose Luis Tamayo, said the pitcher was sleeping at the time of the incident and was not involved.
A state prosecutor has taken on the case and will investigate whether Urbina did what the workers accuse him of or whether they are trying to get easy money from the big-leaguer. Sources: VHeadlines, Delaware on Line, Bloomberg, Guardian
Monday, November 07, 2005
It was not a good day for the Ku Klux Klan in Austin, Texas Saturday. Not a good day at all.
Ten men and four women calling themselves members of the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan gathered at City Hall plaza Saturday for a brief rally against gay marriage. The group said they were from San Angelo in West Texas. "We're asking Texans to vote for Proposition Number 2," Klan chaplain Steven Edwards told the crowds through loudspeakers set up on the plaza. "Not because the Ku Klux Klan supports it but because God supports it." Some Klan members, all of whom were dressed in black uniforms or jeans with Klan T-shirts, hid their faces behind masks made from Confederate battle flags.
The Kluxers were protected by about 200 police.
The opposition numbered at least 3000. Many anti-Kluxer demonstrators carried yellow daisies, sang peace songs and chanted anti-Klan slogans. Some held banners or signs that read, "Vote Against Bigotry," "Vote Against the Klan" and "Killers, Kowards, Kooks Go Away."
Protesters, including Bonn Ramsey of Austin, said they hope that the Klan's rally will encourage moderate Texans to vote against Proposition 2 on Election Day Tuesday. "People will think at the ballot: 'Do I really want to support what the KKK endorses?'" Ramsey said. "Austin's riled up now. It reaffirms the work we have to do."
Former state Rep. Glen Maxey, who is gay told the anti-Kluxers, "Our role today is to stand against their bigotry, their hate and Proposition 2." Maxey, campaign director for the group No Nonsense in November, turned his back on the Klan to speak to the demonstrators, who carried signs with messages such as "keep Austin tolerant" and "selectively denying rights is prejudice."
Maxey said Tuesday's vote is important, but changing Texans' minds about discrimination is more important.
The human rights activist group Texas Civil Rights Project plans to file a federal lawsuit against the city of Austin on Monday. They claim members of certain media outlets, as well as the demonstrators opposed to the Klan, were denied access to the rally, according to President Jim Harrington. Sources: The Eagle (College Station, Texas), Daily Texan, American Statesman (Austin), KLTV (Texas)
Rabbi Joel Soffin is the religious leader of Temple Shalom in Succasunna New Jersey. Sunday, the rabbi, led a march around the Morristown, NJ, Green, marking each of seven laps with the blast of a shofar. The rabbi led this march because he said he could no longer stand and do nothing – not while knowing that almost a half-million people have been killed in the Darfur region of Sudan and that there has been little to no international response.
"This is a genocide,” said Soffin. "The Jewish people suffered a genocide during the Holocaust, and we can not stand by and let it happen to someone else."
The temple was joined in the march organizing by the Morris County Human Relations Commission and the United Jewish Communities of Metro West NJ.
Abdelbagy Abushanab, president of the Newark-based Darfur Rehabilitation Project was forced to flee Sudan in 1992 because of his political activities. He told the marchers that two of his sisters and their five children have been missing since the conflict began about two years ago. He has been unable to find them in refugee camps. "Before we leave here today, many women will be raped and many children will die because of disease, starvation and raiding supported by the government of Sudan," he said.
Those who attended the rally said they have been disturbed by the lack of attention to the crisis.
"We have news every night about Paris Hilton's every movement, but no news about this genocide involving 1.3 million people," said David Schwartz, 50, of Randolph. Schwartz of Randolph, NJ, and an adjunct professor at Kean University who teaches about the Holocaust, said the United States has a pattern of remaining silent in the face of genocide, such as during World War II and in Rwanda. "I can't be silent and allow this to happen again," he said.
Likewise, 16-year-old Arielle Wisotsky said she was alarmed by how nothing was being done in the United States to help the Darfur people. She and two friends decided to start a nonprofit foundation to raise money to send to organizations such as Doctors Without Borders.
The Bernards teen, along with Millburn brothers David and Eric Messinger, created Help Darfur Now this fall. "No one was paying attention and I just wanted to do something," said Arielle, whose grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. "This is a systemized killing of a whole group of people -- it's no different from the Holocaust."
Just last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent a letter to U.S.Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick On Darfur. The letter read,
Dear Mr. Zoellick,
We are pleased that you are going to Sudan and hope that your visit will bring renewed attention to the continuing crisis in Darfur.
As you know, the security situation in Darfur has deteriorated in the past two months. This is partly due to political posturing by armed groups related to the Abuja negotiations, and is also linked to seasonal livestock migration and banditry.
However, the most significant perpetrators of armed violence against civilians remain the government-backed "Janjaweed" militias, many of whom continue to operate with the full support of, and sometimes in coordinated operations with, the Sudanese government. Human Rights Watch has also noted a recent increase in reports of abuses by rebel groups, including continuing abductions of civilians, use of children as combatants and attacks on humanitarian convoys.
As a result, the lessening of active hostilities between the warring parties in the past year has not translated into any significant improvement in protection for civilians. More than two million displaced people remain confined to camps and other locations, unable to return to their rural homes due to continuing insecurity and the impunity from prosecution of the government-backed militias. More than three million people are wholly or partly dependent on international relief aid which is increasingly threatened by banditry as well as targeted attacks on humanitarian convoys.
Improved security and protection of civilians is essential and urgently needed. The Sudanese government has utterly failed in its responsibility to protect civilians. Even worse, it continues to commit armed attacks and arbitrary detentions against the civilian populations of those communities that share the same ethnicity as the rebel forces. Despite repeated demands from the international community, including the UN Security Council, and pledges from the Sudanese government, there has been no serious action by the Sudanese government to disarm its militias, end impunity or support the African Union’s efforts to protect civilians. We are disappointed that the UN Security Council has done so little to follow up on the government’s failures to adhere to its commitments.
Taking these steps would have important positive effects on the situation in Darfur.
Instead the Sudanese government continues to pursue policies that consolidate the "ethnic cleansing" for which it is responsible and that encourage government-backed groups to commit further, more brazen, abuses.
While some of the most recent dramatic attacks on civilians have been publicized, there are many more attacks on a daily basis that are not publicly reported.
There is an urgent need for the international community-and the U.S. government in particular-to do more to protect civilians from further violence. This is particularly important given the commitment made by member states at the recent UN Global Summit to the "responsibility to protect." In the long-term, the international community must ensure that ethnic cleansing is reversed by safeguarding the right of return of displaced persons to their land and providing compensation and other redress to the victims.
If ethnic cleansing is to be reversed, the U. S. government and the international community must unequivocally signal to the Sudanese leadership that its actions in Darfur are unacceptable and that there will be serious consequences for its failure to meet its responsibilities towards its citizens. It is vital that the U.S. government take a leading role by reiterating to Sudanese policymakers that there will be no removal of bilateral U.S. sanctions on Sudan until significant improvements in Darfur, including the reversal of ethnic cleansing, are underway.
The African Union’s mission in Darfur has had some effect in preventing abuses against civilians in the areas where it has deployed, but further efforts, including additional troops and equipment and a more aggressive interpretation of the mission’s mandate are required if civilians are to be adequately protected. The U.S. should therefore urge the African Union to expedite the deployment of the remaining forces and equipment planned within the current AMIS operation. Human Rights Watch is concerned by the report that $50 million for AMIS was recently cut from the foreign operations spending bill. Along with the European Union and other donors the US should ensure that the funding needs of the existing operation and any further expansion of AMIS are met.
Human Rights Watch urges the United States to take the following actions:
Call on the Sudanese government to fully cooperate with and facilitate the African Union mission in Sudan (AMIS) including through: supporting the deployment of an enhanced AMIS presence of military personnel and civilian police; expediting clearance for armored personnel carriers and other equipment and supplies requested by AMIS; and, supporting enhanced protection of civilians including proactive patrolling and, where necessary, robust use of force by the AMIS forces.
Call on the rebel movements to immediately cease human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law against civilians including abductions, use of children within their forces, looting of civilian livestock and property, and attacks on humanitarian convoys.
Urge AMIS to proactively interpret its mandate to protect civilians and expedite the full deployment of all 6,171 military personnel, 1,560 civilian police and equipment within the current AMIS-II (Enhanced) operation.
Support an immediate and substantial expansion of the AMIS force by providing as needed increased logistical and financial support and expertise. Support AU requests for additional AMIS troops and civilian police, as well as requests for greater policing powers. Ensure that US-funded contractors providing infrastructure to the AMIS force (such as accommodation) meet their objectives in a timely way.
Strongly and publicly urge the Sudanese government to:
+ immediately cease all violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including direct attacks on civilians and the civilian population;
+ cease all "hostile military overflights" in line with previous commitments and permit AMIS to monitor aerial movements;
+ cease providing arms and logistical, financial and other support to all militia groups and cooperate with AMIS and relevant UN agencies in preparing a disarmament plan;
+ disband all Popular Defense Forces and other paramilitary groups, whether under army supervision or not, and deploy only adequately trained units of the Sudanese government armed forces in Darfur;
+ suspend from official duty, investigate and fully prosecute all civilian and military personnel, including government officials, military commanders and militia leaders, implicated for individual or command responsibility for serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Darfur;
+ establish an internationally monitored compensation fund for victims of human rights violations and war crimes in Darfur;
+ fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court by providing full, unimpeded access and facilitation of court staff.
On your return to the U.S., we urge you to ensure that the U.S. government plays a lead role at the UN Security Council in producing a resolution to this effect.
Regarding the current sanctions regime proposed by U.N. Security Council resolution 1591, we also hope that the U.S. will play a leading role in implementing this resolution despite divisions among the Security Council members. We urge the United States to:
Ensure that the recommendations of the Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts are promptly implemented by the Sanctions Committee of the Security Council and that penalties are immediately placed on those individuals identified as violating resolution 1591.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We hope to meet with you and your staff to discuss these issues in further detail.Sources: Daily Record (Morris County, NJ), Asbury Park Press (New Jersey), International Justice Tribune, Sudan Tribune