Saturday, February 18, 2006


Make history: Join the ‘Second Freedom Rides’ to rebuild New Orleans

Common Ground Collective, in conjunction with the Mass Communication Department of Xavier University, have announced the launch of a nationwide call to action campaign for student volunteers to participate in the “Second Freedom Rides,” a unique, history-making event that will help the city of New Orleans get back on its feet.

The mission of the Second Freedom Rides is to accelerate the rebuilding of the city while exposing participants to African American music, culture and the history that make New Orleans a great city. Throughout the months of March and April, during spring break, rather than going to the beach, come visit New Orleans and a lend a hand to those in need. Help our city thrive once again.

Because all residents have not yet returned, they’re in danger of losing what is left of their homes and their communities. The government is confiscating their property in the name of eminent domain, and the city is in danger of losing an essential aspect that helped create its legacy: the Black population. According to state officials, as many as 75 percent of Black residents may be lost if they have no home or community to return to.

Although there are volunteers currently assisting with relief efforts, there is a need for more. “I’ve been here for a week,” said Caitlyn Ross, a volunteer from Spokane, Washington. “I just felt it’s something I had to do for all the people that lost everything down here.”

Be a part of the solution, come invest some time and volunteer in New Orleans.

For more information on how to participate in the Second Freedom Rides, visit Common Ground Collective’s web site at and complete the volunteer form at After confirming your participation and providing your own transportation to New Orleans, Common Ground Collective will take care of the rest.

or for further information:

Volunteer Coordination Phone: (504) 218-6613
Volunteer Coordination Email:


It can't be too exciting being locked up in a zoo, but getting passed on to an even worse one is a lousy fate for any creature. Such is life for a bunch of unlucky koalas, kangaroos, dingoes, possums, and other mammals down under. The following article comes from the Australian newspaper - The Age.

Concern over zoo deal on animals

Melbourne Zoo has agreed to send Australian native animals to a troubled Thai safari park at which it is alleged that large numbers of animals have died.

The zoo and its Sydney counterpart will send about 40 native animals, including koalas, kangaroos, dingoes and possums, to the Chiang Mai Night Safari in a deal that will see the importation to Australia of eight Asian elephants.

Details of the plan are revealed in a memorandum of agreement signed between the Thai Government and the Victorian and NSW governments in June 2004.

The agreement was tabled in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney during a recent battle by animal welfare groups to halt the elephant import.

One prominent Thai animal activist, who cannot be named, said there had been many animal deaths at the Thai safari park. He said birds were dying every day, three out of six crocodiles had died of infection and one hyena was killed by others.

Thai media have claimed 104 animals have died.

Rebecca Brand, spokeswoman for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said her organisation was concerned about the animal transfer.

"We definitely have concerns about the animals at Night Safari, about Australian wildlife going there and whether their needs could be met," she said.

The agreement commits the Australian zoos to helping their Thai partner become an international leader in wildlife presentation. Training and advice will be provided to park staff.

Mark Williams, media relations manager at Taronga Zoo, said in a statement devised with Melbourne Zoo that the transfer of Australian animals to Thai zoos was not contingent on the elephant program.

He said Australian animals held by Thai zoos would be managed under Australian laws and any illness or injury to the animals would have to be reported. He said zoo staff would be raising the reports of deaths at Night Safari with Thai authorities on a visit to Thailand next week.


I get away from it often, but I like to post little articles about ordinary folks who DO SOMETHING. The North County Times (which serves San Diego and surrounding communities) reported the following.

Mission Hills student plans KFC protest
By: BRENDA DURAN - Staff Writer

SAN MARCOS, California ---- Lauren Johnson, a junior at Mission Hills High School, wants to ruffle some feathers at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Her plan: gather a crowd of her peers next month to protest at the Nordahl shopping center chicken outlet against alleged animal cruelty by the food chain. Lauren has enlisted the help of the national non-profit animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

"I want to inform people about the cruelty that goes on with the chicken they sell," said Lauren, who became a PETA member two months ago. "I'm doing my best to get the word out."

Lauren said her motivation to drum up a protest began last summer when a friend showed her a video with graphic footage of what appeared to be animal cruelty at slaughter houses serving numerous fast food companies, including Kentucky Fried Chicken.

She said the video changed her perspective and fired her up.

Neither the manager of the Nordahl center KFC nor representatives for Kentucky Fried Chicken returned calls for comment Friday.

Soon after doing some of her own research online, Lauren said she contacted PETA headquarters and asked the organization to supply her with fliers for their KFC "We Do Chickens Wrong" Campaign to pass out at school.

She began passing the fliers out two weeks ago during lunchtime and has even motivated four of her friends to become PETA members within the last month.

One of Lauren's friends, sophomore Ashley Beal, said she joined the effort because she thought it would help open the eyes of people at school to the importance of animal welfare.

"I think a lot of young people would be more involved if they knew more," said Ashley, who is helping Lauren organize the protest. "If you stand up for something and you believe strongly in it, it will open the eyes of a lot of people."

Matt Prescott, manager of farming campaigns at Norfolk, Va.-based PETA, said in a phone interview this week that the organization will supply the Mission Hills group with more fliers as well as a chicken with crutches costume for the protest next month.

Prescott said PETA launched a campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken three years ago and was victorious in a 2003 lawsuit against the chicken eatery that forced the company to change statements on its website that denied it had practiced animal cruelty.

The organization has launched similar campaigns against McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's.

During lunchtime on Friday, Lauren and a group of her friends continued to pass out more PETA fliers to students on campus, urging them to read about the campaign and take part in the protest.

Not all students were receptive.

Freshman Michael Vanlaar said the flier did not motivate him to join the efforts. "I like KFC," said Michael, while reading the flier. "All I care about is if the food tastes good or not."

Others, like senior Amanda Mellor, were divided on the issue.

"It tastes good, but it's morally wrong," said Amanda, after hearing her group of friends discuss the fliers.

By the time lunchtime was over on Friday, Lauren and her friends giggled optimistically after passing out more than 30 fliers.

"I'm confident we've convinced enough people to come out," said Lauren. "I think once they go home and go to the website they'll want to join us next month."

Lauren said she and her friends have also posted the fliers in classrooms, made announcements in front of their classes and talked about the protest within their social circles.

So far, she said she has been able to convince a dozen of her friends and classmates to show up at the protest, which she is tentatively planning for the third week of March.

"It might not make a huge difference right away, but every small effort counts," she said.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Students at Rutgers University are not all that thrilled that a big time anti-Semitic band is scheduled to play on their campus next week. The band's philosophy, which one band member describes as “Nationalistic Christian Populism,” will no doubt be on display as they provide the "entertainment" at a gathering of the New Jersey Libertarian Party which is to take place on the Rutgers campus. I thank the ever vigilant One People's Project for the info found below.

Written by Administrator One People's Project

A few weeks ago, we wrote about how a band from Allentown, PA named Poker Face was scheduled to play at the annual convention of the New Jersey Libertarian Party on Feb. 25, scheduled to be held at Rutgers University. As we noted, in addition to playing a number of Libertarian Party events, not to mention a few for Freak Republic, the band is noted for it's anti-semitic leanings as well, and a recent association with Hal Turner. Well some students at Rutgers did not take kindly in knowing that this kind of band was performing at their school, and soon after they wrote about it in the Rutgers Review, one of the newspapers published on campus. Over the past few weeks, we have been told that Poker Face was getting more than an earful from their fellow conservatives, but interestingly enough, that earful didn't seem to transform into action. The only thing we know is the Rutgers students are making it clear that they are not going to tolerate this. Their call to action is based on our reporting and their research on the issue. They also provide phone numbers of university administration officials for folks like you to reach them at.

Anti-Semitic Band Scheduled to Play at Rutgers
Body: Please Circulate Widely
by Zach Morris

On Saturday, February 25, the band Poker Face from Allentown, Pennsylvania is scheduled to play at the Rutgers University Inn on Cook Campus as part of the NJ state Libertarian Party's annual convention.

The band has opened for Motley Crüe in the past and are most commonly known for their support of mainstream right-wing political causes, but Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People's Project, an organization that monitors and exposes hate groups, found out something else about the band: its anti-Semitic and white supremacist affiliations.

In an interview on one white supremacist website, lead singer Paul Topete described his band as “Nationalistic Christian Populism,” One People's Project revealed, and Topete is a self-proclaimed Third Positionist. Additionally, the band's website discussion board is filled with reposts of racist, anti-Semitic propaganda put there by Topete, who uses the screen name Pokerkid. Included are articles by members of the white supremacist National Vanguard and others promoting, in explicit terms, the age-old neo-Nazi routine of an “international Jewish conspiracy.” Others come out in support of jailed neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel.

“Paul Topete's most recent online rants have gone farther,” Daryle Lamont Jenkins said, to the point of praising Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's December 14 speech that described the Holocaust as a myth and called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Topete then attacked any critics of the Iranian President as Zionazis. “But it goes even further back with these jokers,” said Jenkins.

Poker Face also had close ties to Mark Koernke, an anti-Semitic staple of the militia movement in the 1990's, appearing on Koernke's short-wave radio show numerous times. Mark Koernke first saw mainstream media exposure when he was named as a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and is currently serving three to seven and a half years for fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest and assault with a dangerous weapon. The band has also been featured on the white power radio show of NJ's own Hal Turner. In an ironic twist, white power activist Turner was himself once a campaign manager for the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor, Murray Sabrin, who is of Jewish descent.

Anti-racist activists are already voicing outrage at the planned Poker Face show.“We can't let hate bands feel welcome in New Brunswick,” said one student.

Local anti-racists are encouraging students and residents to phone the administration to voice their disapproval and to encourage the Libertarian Party to disaffiliate itself from racists and anti-Semites.

Contact Info:
Manager of Operations
University Inn
phone: (732) 932-9144 x2140
fax: (732) 932-1641

President of Rutgers University
phone: (732) 932-7454
fax: (732) 932-8060

Manager, Conference Services
phone: (732) 932-1004

Conference Coordinator, Cook
phone: (732) 932-9005

Oh, Canada

Just when you thought it was safe to seek refuge in Canada they go and elect some conservative Bush wannabe by the name of Harper. But that isn't all that is going on. It seems the Canadian military is on the road to becoming a sub branch of US operations. As a first generation American whose dad moved across the border to the US during some tough times (I never thought about it until now, but can I call myself a Canadian-American, sounds kinda cool), I take this as a personal insult to my heritage. In any event the following article from Rabble discusses the alarming trend in Canadian military policy.

U.S.-style war fighting will cost Canada dearly

by Steven Staples
February 16, 2006

It is arguably the most important issue facing Canada, but it was not discussed at all during the election. It is consuming billions of taxpayers' dollars, it dramatically increases the risk of a terrorist attack in Canada, and it has already claimed several Canadian lives.

The issue is the dramatic transformation of the Canadian military from a UN peacekeeping force into a U.S. war-fighting force.

The Canadian government has been rapidly building up the military and forging new Canada-U.S. agreements to help fight the U.S.-led war on terrorism and build a virtual Fortress North America.

Pressure to fall in line behind U.S. military and security priorities increased dramatically after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Shortly after that, President Bush declared, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Analysts in our Department of National Defence concluded that “Traditional U.S. allies will find that calls for military, diplomatic and other support from Washington will be regarded as a test of their loyalty.”

As an expression of that loyalty, the Canadian military's goal is to achieve complete “interoperability” between the Canadian and American forces, so that on land, at sea, and in the air, Canada's forces can easily integrate with U.S. forces for all missions, be they exercises, patrols or heavy combat.

Already, Canadian frigates regularly deploy with U.S. carrier battle groups — small armadas of warships and submarines led by a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Canadian warplanes are being fitted with smart bombs to better join “shock and awe” bombing campaigns, and the billion-dollar leaky submarines are needed because “the Americans like us to have them,” as the Defence Minister once admitted.

But keeping up to the U.S. is so expensive, substantial increases in military spending are required to fuel military integration. The Liberals and NDP agreed that defence should receive an extra $12.8 billion over five years in Budget 2005, the largest increase in a generation. Canadian defence spending will soon reach $20 billion, its highest level since the Second World War. The Conservatives would top up that increase by $5 billion.

But while all the parties have agreed to push billions into the military, there is no consensus on how this money should be spent. The NDP recently expressed concern about the “warlike” nature of Canada's upcoming redeployment of troops to Afghanistan, and called for a public debate.

Afghanistan will be the proving ground for Canada-U.S. military integration. Our secret commandos are conducting combat operations with U.S. Special Forces under U.S. command, and handing their prisoners over to U.S. interrogators. Hundreds of Canadian troops are in Kandahar under the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom, where their numbers will swell to more than 2,000 troops in the coming weeks under a new NATO mandate.

But what price will be paid for the Americanization of the Canadian Forces?

The military's spending already exceeds $14 billion a year — 16 times the budget of Environment Canada. Last year's trumpeted new $5 billion child care program was less than half of the increase the government gave to the military. Two thousand new family doctors could have been attracted to Canada for the cost of just one of the 28 new helicopters Canada purchased.

UN peacekeeping has been virtually abandoned. With so many troops committed to the U.S. war on terrorism, Canada has dropped to 36th place as contributor of troops to UN-led peacekeeping missions. Only a few hundred soldiers wear Blue Helmets today.

The move to more aggressive combat missions to support U.S. military objectives will also cost Canadian lives. Eight soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, and most recently a diplomat died in an Iraq-style suicide car bomb attack. The Taliban has said that they will not distinguish between Canadian troops and their U.S. counterparts, viewing them equally as enemies.

Even more worrisome, will our role increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack in Canada? Of course it will. The more closely we wage war with the United States, the more their enemies will become our enemies.

Canadians strongly opposed joining the invasion of Iraq and the missile shield. The government cannot keep the steady transformation of the Canadian Forces from a UN Peacekeeper to a U.S. war fighter secret from the Canadian public any longer. There is no issue more fundamental to a democracy than whether a nation should or should not go to war. We may have missed the opportunity in this election, but it is never too late to engage Canadians in such an important debate.

Steven Staples is the Director of Security Programs for the Polaris Institute, a public interest research group based in Ottawa.


AFP reports:

The number of people suffering from a mosquito-borne virus on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion has reached 110,000, French health authorities said.

More than one in eight people on the French island -- a popular tourist destination -- have been hit by the chikungunya virus, which causes crippling joint pain, with 22,000 new cases recorded in the past week.

Although not known to be fatal, the disease has been linked to the deaths of 52 people, according to epidemiologist Philippe Quenel, of the National Institute for Health Monitoring (INVS).

Hundreds of French soldiers and firefighters have been sent in reinforcement to the island, and are working day and night to help eradicate the mosquitos that transmit the virus.

Tourism to the volcanic island -- which boasts dramatic mountain scenery -- has been badly hit, with bookings down between 30 and 40 percent.

A French overseas department with a population of 776,000, Reunion first detected chikungunya in March 2005. The current epidemic is the largest recorded anywhere, according to French authorities on Friday.

Chikungunya -- a Swahili word meaning "that which bends up" -- is not known to be fatal but can cause painful swelling of body joints, leaving victims stooped and limiting their movements. Symptoms eventually disappear over time. There is no vaccine.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) states:

Between 28 March 2005 and 12 February 2006, 1 722 cases of chikungunya have been notified by physicians from a sentinel network in La Réunion, including 326 cases reported during the week 6 to 12 February. Estimations from a mathematical model indicate that 110 000 people may have been infected by chikungunya virus since March 2005 in La Réunion, including 22 000 persons during the week 6 to 12 February. During the first week of February, other countries in the south west Indian Ocean have reported cases: Mauritius (206 cases) and the Seychelles (1 255 cases).

Because of the extensive outbreaks in the region, WHO is planning to send a team from the Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) and headquarters to assess the control measures under way. These include anti-vectoral activities; an extensive public health education campaign using mass media to sensitize the population about protective measures; and reinforcement of epidemiological surveillance and vectoral surveillance. The team will discuss a sub-regional strategy for surveillance and control of chikungunya and other arboviruses with national authorities. They will visit La Réunion, Madagascar, Mauritius and coordinate with the AFRO vector control mission to the Seychelles.

Chikungunya, a viral disease, is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, typically Aedes aegypti, although there may be other competent mosquito vectors. The name, chickungunya, comes from the Swahili for stooped walk, reflecting the physique of a person suffering from the disease. The disease has been described in Africa, South-East Asia, southern India and Pakistan. It occurs principally during the rainy season.

Chikungunya is rarely fatal. Symptoms appear between 4 and 7 days after the patient has been bitten by the infected mosquito. A high fever and headache occur, with significant pains in the joints (ankles, wrists) and can persist for several weeks. The main preventive measure is to stop the proliferation of mosquitoes by reducing their breeding grounds.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Is there anything the Bush Administration does not justify because of 9/11 and/or the "War on Terror." The Bushies are working on a plan now to bring all of the world's nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The citizens of that state are not all that thrilled about becoming a nuclear grave yard and they are working to stop the plan. Supporters of the idea say it's a national security issue and if it isn't done, terrorists will more easily get their hands on radioactive material.

By the way, since the "waste" supposedly will remain buried, safe and sound for eons, I can't help but wonder what is the plan for those future creatures who happen upon the site (this would possible if some future civilization happens to develop after global warming has killed this one off anyway)?

Well, not to be caught with their pants down, the Department of Energy (DOE) has one.

DOE's current plan is to monitor the potential repository for at least 50 years once the last waste package has been disposed. After the monitoring phase, DOE plans to seal the tunnels and post a guard at the gate for as long as necessary. It is impossible to predict which government institutions may evolve or disappear over the next 10,000 years, so at the time of permanent closure DOE plans to use “passive” measures to warn people against disturbing the site. Monuments, warning markers, and widespread records would be used to inform people of the contents of the Yucca Mountain site and to keep people from intruding into the site.

Wonder what the signs will read...

Anyway, KLSTV in Las Vegas updates the story with the following report.

DOE Wants Yucca to be The World's Nuclear Repository

The Department of Energy is working on a plan to bring nuclear waste from around the country to Yucca Mountain. But a Nevada group working against the project says waste from other countries could also be brought to Southern Nevada.

The Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects met Tuesday to talk about their efforts to stop the project and discuss the possibility of Nevada becoming a dumping ground for the world's waste. This is a new plan the DOE unveiled just a few days ago. It comes as a total surprise to state and county leaders.

In essence, the DOE wants Yucca Mountain to be a clearinghouse for the world's nuclear waste. They claim it's a national security issue. But officials here aren't buying it. The DOE plan would expand Yucca Mountain's original intent and state leaders don't like it.

Bob Loux said, "If it did occur, sure that's what the government would like to do is turn Yucca Mountain and Southern Nevada into a dumping ground for the entire world."

Loux is executive director of Nevada's Commission on Nuclear Projects. He tells Eyewitness News the Bush Administration supports the plan, claiming it would boost homeland security by keeping nuclear waste out of the wrong hands.

Peggy Maze Johnson, said, "It's just absolutely insane to me." Maze Johnson with the nuclear watchdog group Citizens Alert believes bringing more nuclear waste into Southern Nevada increases the dangers to our community. And as for boosting homeland security, she says, " I am so tired of terrorism. Every time this administration wants something we're blaming it on terrorists."

Is homeland security the true reason behind this plan? Bob Loux believes it's not, that the entire thing is a smokescreen to keep the struggling project alive. "In my mind, in my view, the only reason they're proposing reprocessing is Yucca Mountain is failing. They're needing to talk about something to show they're doing something and cover up the failure of Yucca Mountain."

There's more to this: in addition to becoming a clearinghouse for the world's nuclear waste, the DOE plan also calls for some of the waste to be chemically treated at Yucca Mountain and then be shipped back to it's original source to be reused.

Clark County comprehensive planner Irene Navis calls this a bad idea. "I think if anything it's going to get folks charged up here locally. It's the idea that we'll become the world's dump as opposed to the nation's facility for nuclear waste storage."

By expanding Yucca Mountain's mission and tying in homeland security, this plan for Yucca Mountain may breathe new life into the project. State and county leaders say they will continue their fight to stop Yucca Mountain, but admit this change in focus may make it more difficult.

Yucca Mountain spokesman Alan Benson has no comment on this new plan other than to say once the Environmental Protection Agency establishes guidelines for Yucca Mountain, the licensing process will move forward.

In Dec. of 2005, Nevada senators Harry Reid and John Ensign introduced a bill that would stop nuclear waste shipments from coming to Nevada. Instead it would have the waste stay where it is now. So far the bill is still in committee.


The gulag run by the United States at Guantanamo Bay has been condemned by just about everyone from Bush bud Tony Blair to Amnesty International. Today the United Nations said essentially "enough is enough." The UN demanded the place be shut down immediately and those held there be charged and tried or let go. Of course, the demand means nothing to the Bush Administration and what Tody Blair refers to as an anomaly" will go on.

The following is taken from the web site of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

16 February 2006

The following statement was issued today by the Chairman Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Leila Zerrougui; Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy; the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt:

Five independent investigators of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights are calling on the United States to close immediately the detention centre in Guantánamo Bay and bring all detainees before an independent and competent tribunal or release them.

The call comes in a report published today following an 18-month joint study by the experts into the situation of detainees at that United States Naval Base. The report's findings are based on information from the United States Government, interviews conducted by the experts with former Guantánamo Bay detainees currently residing or detained in France, Spain and the United Kingdom and responses from lawyers acting on behalf of some current detainees. It also relies on information available in the public domain, including reports prepared by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), information contained in declassified official United States documents and media reports. The experts expressed regret that the Government did not allow them the opportunity to have free access to detainees in Guantanamo Bay and carry out private interviews, as provided by the terms of reference accepted by all countries they visit.

The five experts – specializing in issues related to arbitrary detention, freedom of religion, the right to health, torture and the independence of judges and lawyers – conclude that the persons held at Guantánamo Bay are entitled to challenge the legality of their detention before a judicial body and to obtain release if detention is found to lack a proper legal basis. The continuing detention of all persons held at Guantánamo Bay amounts to arbitrary detention, they state, adding that – where criminal proceedings are initiated against a detainee – the executive branch of the United States Government operates as judge, prosecutor and defence counsel in violation of various guarantees of the right to a fair trial

According to the experts, attempts by the United States Administration to redefine "torture" in the framework of the struggle against terrorism in order to allow certain interrogation techniques that would not be permitted under the internationally accepted definition of torture are of utmost concern. The confusion with regard to authorized and unauthorized interrogation techniques over the last years is particularly alarming. The interrogation techniques authorized by the Department of Defense, particularly if used simultaneously, amount to degrading treatment. If in individual cases, which were described in interviews, the victim experienced severe pain or suffering, these acts amounted to torture as defined in article 1 of the Convention against Torture. Furthermore, the general conditions of detention, in particular the uncertainty about the length of detention and prolonged solitary confinement, amount to inhuman treatment and to a violation of the right to health as well as a violation of the right of detainees to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. They add that force-feeding of competent detainees violates the right to health as well as the ethical duties of any health professionals who may be involved.

Among their recommendations, the experts say terrorism suspects should be detained in accordance with criminal procedure that respects the safeguards enshrined in relevant international law. Accordingly, the United States Government should either expeditiously bring all Guantánamo Bay detainees to trial or release them without further delay. They also call on the Government to close down the Guantánamo Bay detention centre and to refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, discrimination on the basis of religion, and violations of the rights to health and freedom of religion. The investigators also request full and unrestricted access to the Guantánamo Bay facilities, including private interviews with detainees. Consideration should also be given to trying suspected terrorists before a competent international tribunal.

Chronology leading up to report:

The five mandate holders have been following the situation of detainees held at the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay since January 2002. In June 2004, the Annual Meeting of special rapporteurs/representatives, experts and chairpersons of working groups of the special procedures and the advisory services programme of the Commission on Human Rights, decided that they should continue this task as a group because the situation concerns each of their mandates.

In studying the situation, they have continuously sought the cooperation of the United States authorities. They sent a number of letters requesting the United States Government to allow them to visit Guantánamo Bay in order to gather first hand information from the prisoners themselves. By letter dated 28 October 2005, the Government of the United States of America extended an invitation for a one-day visit to three of the five mandate holders, inviting them "to visit the Department of Defense's detention facilities [of Guantánamo Bay]". The invitation stipulated that "the visit will not include private interviews or visits with detainees". In their response to the Government dated 31 October 2005, the mandate holders accepted the invitation, including the short duration of the visit and the fact that only three of them were permitted access, and informed the US Government that the visit was to be carried out on 6 December 2005. However, they did not accept the exclusion of private interviews with detainees, as that would contravene the terms of reference for fact-findings missions by special procedures and undermine the purpose of an objective and fair assessment of the situation of detainees held in Guantánamo Bay. In the absence of assurances from the Government that it would comply with the terms of reference, the mandate holders decided on 18 November 2005 to cancel the visit.

To read the entire report click HERE.


I just could not pass this up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


One thing that has become clear is that the democracy that Bush is always talking about is one where the winners are approved by him and his buddies. Haiti is just the latest case in point. The Haitian Action Committee has printed a statement issued by Rep. Maxine Waters. Following that you will find an analysis from The Progressive.

Haiti: Maxine Waters denounces election fraud by coup government

Washington, D.C. Today, on Capitol Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) released a statement on the elections in Haiti. The elections took place on Tuesday, February 7, but the results have yet to be announced. The Congresswoman's statement follows:

The obvious attempts to steal the elections in Haiti are blatant and shameful. It is absolutely outrageous that the President Aristide-haters, the anti-Lavalas elites, and the United States Government would so openly and blatantly steal these elections.

The international community is witnessing yet another blow against the Haitian people by the same forces that forced President Aristide out of Haiti, the same forces who are responsible for all of the chaos and destabilization of this small country. How much more can the Haitian people take?

The anti-Aristide forces have done everything in their power to imprison the leaders of the Lavalas Party and deny Lavalas leaders their right to run for office and their right to voice their opposition to the Group of 184, the Provisional Electoral Council, the puppet government, the International Republican Institute, and others who are determined to undermine democracy in Haiti. President Bush must accept responsibility for the ongoing violence, the chaos, and the blatant attempts to steal these elections.

Early results showed an overwhelming victory for Rene Preval. Many polling stations posted their results the day after the elections, and Preval won between 60% and 90% of the vote in all of these polling stations. Last Thursday, the Provisional Electoral Council was reporting that Preval had 61.5% of the votes counted thus far.

Since that time, 125,000 ballots or 7.5% of the votes cast were declared invalid by the CEP because of alleged irregularities. Another 4% of the ballots were allegedly blank but nevertheless included in the vote count, thereby making it more difficult for Preval to exceed 50%.

No one in their right mind could possibly believe that Rene Preval's lead plunged so quickly below the 50% required to avoid a runoff. What are the people of Haiti to do?

Who in the international community will step forward and speak up against the obvious power-grab perpetrated on a nearly defenseless people?

I am totally disgusted with my own government and the role it played in this entire fiasco. Is their no shame? Is their no compassion? Is their no decency?

I cannot believe the audacity of the United Nations and others to tell the Haitian people that they should not resist oppression and demand respect. The Haitian people have suffered greatly at the hands of the United States, France and Canada, powerful nations who preach democracy and yet orchestrated the removal of the democratically-elected president of Haiti and drove him from his own country.

Is their no shame in the fact that the United States installed the puppet Prime Minister Gerard Latortue from Boca Raton, Florida, who proceeded to jail former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune on frivolous charges and jailed other Lavalas leaders like former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert, Haitian singer Anne Auguste and Father Gerard Jean-Juste without cause? Is their no shame in the fact that the United States allowed Roger Noriega to conspire with Andy Apaid and the Group of 184 to manipulate Haitian students in cooperation with the Haitian elites in an attempt to grab control of that country for their own purposes?

Haven't the Haitian people suffered enough? The man-made terror and violence coupled with natural disasters that have been inflicted upon the people of Haiti will be recorded in history as catastrophic events that caused tremendous loss of life and an unbearable and tragic existence for the Haitian people.

After all of this suffering, is the United States really prepared to stand by and deny the poorest of people who persevered on election day, walked for miles, and waited for hours for the right to elect persons of their choice? If so, then the President of the United States does not deserve to use the word "democracy," for he neither respects nor supports it, but simply promotes the rhetoric of democracy to his own advantage.

I stand with the people of Haiti. I stand with the Lavalas Party. I stand with Rene Preval and his Party of Hope. I stand with President Aristide. I stand for justice, equality and democracy. And I challenge the United States, France and Canada to correct their destructive behavior and give democracy a chance.

Rene Preval is obviously the elected president of Haiti. He received considerably more than 50% of the vote, and he must be granted the right to serve without further interference, obstacles or violence.


Behind the Manipulation of Haiti's Election
By Amitabh Pal
February 14, 2006

How long must Haiti continue to suffer? Judging by events over the past few days, the answer is: for at least some more time to come.

After a number of delays, Haiti finally had its presidential and parliamentary elections on February 8. At first, things seemed hopeful, with the polling taking place peacefully. But then trouble started.

The leading candidate, Rene Preval, looked like he was on his way to securing a comfortable majority when things started getting murky. By February 14, with 90 percent of the votes counted, Preval had suddenly dropped in the vote count. His proportion of the vote currently stands at 48.7 percent, a tad short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

It is hard to say what exactly happened. But Preval’s abrupt drop off seems to be dubious, to say the least. And doubts about the vote are heightened by the fact that a member of the nine-person electoral council has come out and alleged fraud.

“According to me, there’s a certain level of manipulation,” Pierre Richard Duchemin told AP [1]. “There is an effort to stop people from asking questions.”

Another official, Jean-Henoc Faroul, has also alleged deceit [2]. “The electoral council is trying to do what it can to diminish the percentage of Preval so it goes to a second round,” Faroul, president of one electoral district, told AP.

Who would be behind the manipulation?

The suspicion falls on the interim government, headed by Gerard Latortue. Preval, a former head of state himself, is an ally of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Twice elected president, Aristide remains very popular among the Haitian poor. And while his own record was not without serious blemishes [3], the Bush Administration had no right to encourage his overthrow. The interim government hates Aristide with a passion, and has jailed a number of people from his regime, including the prime minister under him. (Aristide is in exile in South Africa.)

“The long-term imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune continues to raise serious concerns” states Human Rights Watch [4]. “Although formal charges were finally brought against Neptune in September 2005, the apparent political grounds for Neptune’s detention undermines confidence in the validity of the charges and in the fairness of any future trial.”

Latortue appears determined to keep Aristide from coming to power, even by proxy.

“Preval was leading with 70-80 percent of the vote, and then there suddenly was this surge within a few minutes where his opponent, Leslie Manigat, got a huge number of votes,” says Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. “Where were the election monitors? Were they inside the room or out in the streets?”

Washington is deeply implicated in the actions of the Latortue government, since it helped install it in 2004.

“An indictment can be brought against the United States for putting Latortue in power by extraconstitutional means,” says Birns. “He’s been both cruel and inept, a complete disaster. If there’s a Christ, then Latortue is the anti-Christ.”

But Washington is not interested in calling its protégé to task. In spite of budgeting $400-plus million in aid for the interim government in 2004-2005 (in marked contrast to its stinginess toward Aristide’s administration), it hasn’t even begun to address the grave human rights abuses that the government has been committing.

“After installing Latortue, Washington hasn’t had a word to say,” says Birns. “It pretends to not have anything to do with the regime.”

Condoleezza Rice issued a boilerplate statement on February 10 commending the high turnout and the “free and fair election process,” but has been quiet since then. Worried over possible turmoil, the Brazilian foreign minister, Celso Amorim, has called Rice to urge the U.N. Security Council [5]—presided over by the United States this month—to take up the issue.

By failing to act quickly to ensure that the Haitian people are not denied their choice, the Bush Administration would mock its platitudes about democracy.


From the United Farm Workers-----

Send Threemile's Policy To The Compost Heap

More than 105 hours in one week. 15 hours a day for seven days. No overtime. That's what the pay stub of Roberto Valencia showed that he worked out at Threemile Canyon Farms in the compost operation.

Last week, four workers filed suit against Threemile for failing to pay overtime. Like many others there, they face threats and retaliation for daring to demand their rights be respected.

Threemile produces a lot of compost--they're one of the largest commercial producers of compost in the US. They market their compost under the "Organix" brand. Organix is refusing to accept any responsibility for these sweatshop-like conditions.

Join us in demanding that Organix take immediate action. Workers deserve overtime pay and should not be threatened or intimidated for demanding their rights.

Send your e-mail today!
Click HERE


With the earth being put in the oven, scientists at the EPA are not allowed to talk about it. This has just about got to be the first administration in US history that looks at science as nothing more than a public relations discipline. Everyone is going to pay for the Bushies disregard of objective facts. Some already have.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Contact: Chas Offutt (202) 265-7337

EPA Will Not Match “Open Science” Policies Adopted at NASA and NOAA

Washington, DC —Despite growing concerns about political interference with science, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requiring prior headquarters approval for all communications by its scientists with the media, according to an agency email released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). EPA’s stance of screening all press interviews is at variance with recent pronouncements of scientific openness by two of its sister agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

In a February 9, 2006 email to all staff, Ann Brown the News Director for the agency’s science arm, the Office of Research and Development (ORD), admonished –

“We are asked to remind all employees that EPA's standard media procedure is to refer all media queries regarding ORD to Ann Brown, ORD News Director, prior to agreeing to or conducting any interviews…Support for this policy also will allow reasonable time for appropriate management response.”

By contrast, less than a week earlier on February 4, 2006, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin sent an all-employee email in which he committed the agency to “open scientific and technical inquiry and dialogue with the public.” Griffin stated, “It is not the job of public affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical staff.”

On February 10, 2006, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher told The Washington Post that “I encourage scientists to conduct peer-reviewed research and provide the honest results of those findings,” adding that “My policy…is to have a free and open organization.”

“Why are scientists at NASA free to answer questions about global warming while their colleagues at EPA are not?” asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Science does not come in Republican or Democratic flavors; scientists should be able to discuss findings without having to check whether facts comport with management policy.”

Scientists often fall outside the coverage of whistleblower protection laws and thus, scientists who violate agency gag rules may be punished for insubordination. Corrective legislation (HR 839 by Representative Waxman and S 1358 by Senator Richard Durbin) that would grant scientists the right to openly discuss their findings is pending before both houses of Congress.

Ironically, at the same time that it is restricting media contacts with scientists, EPA itself is engaged in an aggressive public relations effort called “Science for You” that promotes the importance of the scientific research being conducted at the agency.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


What do you say to that? The first article below is from the Guardian. The second is from EastWestNorthSouth.

China's old guard warns censors of 'social disaster'

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Wednesday February 15, 2006

A group of retired senior officials and academics, including Mao Zedong's former secretary, yesterday called for more openness, warning China's propaganda department that the media crackdown "could sow the seeds of disaster for political and social transition".

In a rare sign of friction between the old and new guard of the Communist party, the 13 cadres, many of whom were once leading opinion formers, said the closure last month of the pioneering liberal publication Freezing Point was a "major historic incident".

Their joint statement, published on an overseas website, was all the more remarkable because it was signed by officials who formerly helped dictate the country's propaganda policy. Among them was Hu Jiwei, the former editor of the Communist party mouthpiece, People's Daily, the former propaganda official Zhu Houze, the retired deputy head of the Xinhua news agency, Li Pu, and the former head of the China Youth Daily group, Zhong Peizhang.

In a move escalating the information war between the propaganda department and advocates of free speech, they called on the government to publish China's murky media laws, to "demolish every method of news censorship", and to protect the professional rights of the media. "Depriving the public of freedom of expression is bound to give rise to confrontation among the masses and lead to turbulence," they said.

Despite their former positions, many of the signatories have a record of refusing to be gagged. Li Rui, a former member of Mao's inner circle, was sent to a gulag in Heilongjiang province for several years because he dared criticise the disastrous policies of the Great Leap Forward.

Although it has been some years since the signatories held positions of power, it is unknown for such a group to jointly criticise the government so publicly. Zhang Sizhi, China's most famous lawyer, said those involved felt compelled to act in light of the media crackdown.

The methods of control of the propaganda department of the Communist party are anything but transparent. Chinese journalists say they get given lists of stories they cannot make public. Those that disobey risk arrest, the sack, or closure of their publications.

Yet journalists are constantly pushing the boundaries. Freezing Point, a supplement of the China Youth Daily, has published stories on official corruption and social inequality. Its editor, Li Datong, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests, issued an open letter last summer that forced the propaganda department to abandon plans for a bonus system designed to reward journalists according to how often they were praised by government officials.

The publication was shut down last month for "viciously attacking the socialist system". The editor said the authorities' actions were illegal. "This is an abuse of power by the propaganda department. It goes against the constitution." He compared the struggle over information to a guerrilla war, with the media and the authorities each probing for weaknesses on the other side.

In the past two months, censors have fired the editors of the Beijing News and the Public Interest Times. Yesterday, the government announced regulations for internet cafes and entertainment venues, barring use of any "audio and video products or electronic games that might harm national security and incite hatred toward other nationalities".

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 32 reporters are in Chinese prisons. In its 2005 world press freedom index, Reporters Without Borders ranked China 159th out of 167 countries.

Yesterday the Xinhua news agency reported that 115,000 members of the Communist party were punished last year for bribery, influence peddling and other offences. With thousands of often violent protests occurring in the provinces, the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, has warned of growing social instability.

An Open Letter from Li Datong (China Youth Daily Freezing Point weekly magazine editor)

[in translation]

A public protest against the illegal stoppage of the Freezing Point weekly magazine

Dear news media colleagues, intellectuals, legal professional friends and devoted readers of Freezing Point inside and outside of China:

On January 24, 2006, Tuesday, which the deadline for the Freezing Point weekly magazine, the Beijing editorial staff of Freezing Point worked as usual to edit and proof-read the weekly edition scheduled for January 25. At just after 4pm, we were ready with everything and the pages were forwarded to the editor-in-chief for review and print. The unusual aspect was that there was no reaction for a long while. We gathered that all the newspaper leadership had been called to the League Central Office for an emergency meeting and nobody was minding the store. This meant that something extraordinary was about to happen.

Then the skies fell down. The newspaper will be published as usual, because this is our obligation to our subscribers and readers. We looked for any possible errors and we patiently waited for the breaking event. Based on the fact that the Central Propaganda Department never ceased in their criticisms of Freezing Point and most recently the Central Propaganda Department criticism group issued an Cultural Revolution-style critique of Yuan Weishi's essay on "Modernization and Historical Textbooks" on the Internet, I suspected that it was my moment to be dismissed as the editor-in-chief.

But the contemptible level was beyond the imagination of ordinary person. At just after 5pm, the telephone calls from various media friends around the country began to arrive. They told us that they have received the notice from the Central Propaganda Department, the State Council and the Beijing News Office to "not report or comment on the stoppage of Freezing Point," "not attend any press conference given by the editorial and reporting staff of Freezing Point," "not hype," "maintain the distance" and so on. Thereafter, the overseas media reporters called non-stop to ask me to confirm the facts. But until 7pm, nobody had notified me formally. When the newspaper leadership returned from the meeting the League Central, they went into a meeting to discuss matters. I was the last person to know about this affair. All the information proved that this was something certain persons in the upper level of the party dared to risk public contempt and plotted carefully to take this action. This action had no legal or constitutional basis, and seriously violated and trampled upon the party constitution and political standards of the party.

As a professional media worker, I cannot understand the stoppage of Freezing Pont. I cannot accept this. A newspapers is a public instrument. The newspaper has a social contract with the subscribes and the readers, and it is a source of information that the readers pay money for and therefore the newspaper must fulfill its contract no matter what. Therefore, the Freezing Point weekly magazine should be delivered into the hands of the subscribers. Yet for the person who made this decision, what did the social impact mean? What does the broad readership mean? What does the reputation of a mainstream newspaper mean? What do the party constitution and the national constitution mean? What does the image of Chinese reform mean? What does the image of the governing party mean? They regard the social instrument as a personal property to be disposed of at their own will.

At 730pm in the evening, I received a call from the publisher and editor-in-chief to go and speak to them. The decision about me was made by the League Central Propaganda Department. The "decision" gave Mr. Yuan Weishi an uncalled-for label and then announced that Freezing Point will be stopped for reorganization. Apart from the personal attacks against the editor-in-chief and myself, there were also "economic sanctions." Who gave them that kind of power? They are so disgusting that I don't know whether to cry or laugh.

Of course, with the aforementioned background, this conversation was a farce. Obviously, this was controlled by a small number of people "above" in the background and the League Central was just playing the role of the fools. I used reasoning to condemn the "decision" as well as the absurdity of the Central Propaganda Department's News Criticisms. I told the publisher and editor-in-chief that I will formally complain to the party central disciplinary committee about this illegal act.

On the day when Freezing Point weekly magazine stopped publication, the newspaper received a large number of telephone inquiries from readers. I learned that readers are angrily terminating their subscriptions at the postal offices on account of the stoppage of Freezing Point.

A small number of people "above" have plotted for a long time to strangle Freezing Point. On June 1, 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the victory of the anti-Fascist war, Freezing Point published the essay on "Pingyingguan battle and Pingyingguan victory", in which we recorded the historical truth about how the Kuomintang and Communist Party worked together in the face of national survival to win the battle with their blood. This was different from the unification propaganda, because Freezing Point was the first in mainstream media to objectively report on how the Kuomintang army sacrificed tens of thousands of warriors in this battle.

This true historical account attracted the brutal criticism by the Central Propaganda Department's Criticism Group. What is the basis of their criticism? It was based upon the "XX year XX publisher's Chinese Communist Party history about the Pingyuanguan victory." The Freezing Point report "glorified the Kuomintang and debased the Communist Party." In the end, at the memorial meeting of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the anti-Fascist war, Communist Party General Secretary comrade Hu Jintao said in his memorial speech that he affirmed the contribution of the Kuomintang solders in the war of resistance against the Japanese. It was clear that who was right and who was wrong in this case.

When Lian and Soong completed their visits to Taiwan, the renowned Taiwan writer Ms. Lung Yingtai published a long essay at Freezing Point titled "The Taiwan That You May Not Know." The essay used a rich content to objectively and truthfully present to the people of China for the first time the changes and developments in Taiwan over the past few decades. It created a tremendous response and approval among readers and had an important impact on communication between the people on the two sides of the Taiwan strait. But this essay was accused by certain people within the Central Propaganda Department as being "against the Communist Party at every step" and their narrow-mindedness was truly astonishing.

On November 18, the party central held a solemn memorial for the great proletariat revolutionary Hu Yaobang's 90th birthday. Comrade Zeng Qinghong represented the Party Central Committee to pay tribute to Comrade Hu Yaobang's glorious accomplishments and he was warmly received by the people. But certain members in the Central Propaganda Department forbade the media to publish memorial articles of Comrade Hu Yaobang and required that all media can only publish the Xinhua release and nothing of their own creation.

On December 7, 2005, Freezing Point published Comrade Hu Qili's long memorial essay "The Yaobang of My Heart" and drew a tremendous response. The media inside and outside of China carried that essay. Numerous netizens posted comments to say how they had been moved to tears. About that well-received essay, the Central Propaganda Department called the newspaper to complain and claimed that the newspaper had violated rule of "not having any voluntary choice."! For those people, they felt no genuine emotion or grief over Comrade Hu Yaobang!

A small number at the Central Propaganda Department had numerous unreasonable complaints and criticisms against Freezing Point. For example, on November 30, 2005, Freezing Point published a reporter's investigation about the academic plagiarism by Wuhan law professor Zhou Yezhong. When professor Zhou was interviewed by the Freezing Point reporter, he said: "You better not mind this matter! Sooner or later, the Central Propaganda Department is going to come after you! Your editor-in-chief will come after you!" When the report was published, certain people at the Central Propaganda Department came after us and complained that the essay had major problems with editorial directions.

Under these pressures, Freezing Pont withdrew its follow-up report. On December 28, 2005, Freezing Point published a historical first weekly edition of only three pages. We ask just who the small number of people at the Central Propaganda Department were protecting?

Now, they are looking for a final accounting with Freezing Point! The essay of Mr. Yuan Weishi is just an excuse. Professor Yuan Weishi has published numerous works on contemporary history and he has great influence among intellectuals. When Professor Yuan wrote this article, it was based upon historical materials and his theoretical basis is about the rationality of openness. After the essay was published, it generated a great response. On any discussion of historical issues, it is necessary to have materials as well as viewpoints and to exchange ideas in a calm and peaceful manner in order to reach agreement. Of the many Internet commentary, even those netizens who disagreed with Mr. Yuan were very serious and their rebuttals were very solid. I have personally forwarded some of these comments to Mr. Yuan and he replied afterwards that these essays were very rigorous and he would seriously consider their viewpoints and make the appropriate responses. This is a healthy and normal kind of academic exchange. But the Central Propaganda Department Criticism Group used insults and characterizations in the style of the Cultural Revolution and then nothing else!?

This incident exposes the basic flaws in the news control system of our country. A small number of people in the Central Propaganda Department have a narrow worldview and mind and used dictatorial methods to impose controls that deaden what should be a lively political scene in which a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools speak out. These people want obedience and not equality. Which item in the party constitution of the Communist Party lets them do that?

We will write elsewhere about the flaws of our national news control system. Here, we just want to tell our colleagues, readers and friends just what had happened and why it happened. When one does not have the truth, one is afraid of debates; when one does not have the truth, one is afraid of openness. Although certain people in the Central Propaganda Department used their power to lock up all the media and websites, we believe that you will see this letter! You will know the power of truth!

We thank you sincerely!

China Youth Daily Freezing Point weekly magazine editor Li Datong
January 25, 2006


Jeez, Louise, if you live in Ireland it appears it would be best not to get sick. The first report below is from Ireland On Line. The second section below is from the Irish Nurses Organization (INO). The INO has launced a post card campaign which affords the general public an opportunity to express their views on the overcrowding, directly to the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Ms Mary Harney TD. It is only one aspect of the INO's“Enough is Enough” campaign. The campaign highlights the appalling state of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments. Below you will find some of those messeges sent by the public.

Nurses hit out at 'intolerable' overcrowding

Nurses at one of the country’s top hospitals today warned the number of patients awaiting beds had reached intolerable levels with some on trolleys for eight days.

The Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) said staff were unable to cope with 63 patients on trolleys in the A&E Department of Tallaght Hospital, and another 12 in the day ward also awaiting beds at the one time.

“Some of these people are chronically ill. People who will maybe spend the last days of their lives on those trolleys, it is just sad,” Dave Hughes, general secretary of the organisation, said.

“They really deserve a better form of care than they are getting.”

Mr Hughes said immediate action must be taken to resolve the situation.

“Nursing staff are unable to cope they are at their wits end,” he said. “Immediate action must be taken by the hospital.”

Mr Hughes said the hospital could not sustain the pressure any longer and beds must be freed up by admitting those capable to nursing homes, going off-call for emergency admissions and cancelling elective surgery.

Mr Hughes said the numbers of people on trolleys awaiting beds at Tallaght Hospital had been high every day this year, but it had now become intolerable.

The INO said questions must be asked about the hospital’s ability to manage their bed capacity.

The organisation said it would be delivering its postcards to homes surrounding the hospital as part of its campaign to highlight to the Government the problem of overcrowding in hospital A&E wards.

Mr Hughes said the postcard on overcrowding would give the general public an opportunity to voice their opinions on the matter to Health Minister Mary Harney.

The INO said the completed postcards can be returned by freepost to the organisation which will then arrange to have them delivered directly to the Health Department.

Messages to Minister

Message: Our local Casualty Department looks like something from the 3rd world, and not a rich country like Ireland. Never mind trolley waits, we have wheelchair waits. there are not enough trolleys, and even if there were more trolleys, the area is so small that more trolleys wouldn't fit. So, do you want to know where this 'Old Women in a shoe' hospital is? It's Letterkenny Hospital in Co Donegal.

Message: Blaming Accident and Emergency (A&E) staff and belittling their roles is not the way to improve the health service. i would love to see how Mary Harney would cope with patients, relatives, doctors, managers, surgeons etc etc all at one time without the help of her assistants! By god she wouldn't last an hour in the department!!!

Message: Mary Harney, you should be ashamed of your self. Trying to belittle nurses in a bid to make it look like you are doing some thing about the shockingly bad health service. Its high time you delivered, at least some of what you promised.

Message: Mary, it is time to end the suffering, indignity and embarassment of patients destined to spend nights on trolleys in crowded A&E departments all over the country. We, as a country, deserve better.

Message: If Mary Harney spent less time at the government dinners she might have a better chance at fixing the health service. She'd also want to stop blaming the nurses for the problems in the hospitals because without them there would be no hospitals....

Message: please stop the suffering of patients and the stress placed on the nursig staff by the overcrowding of accident and eergency units across the country .How on one hand can you promote high quality health car when our a&e units are overflowing with patients

Message: Tanaiste, The conditions the sick, the elderly and small children have to endure in this modern wealthy society are inhumane.I Believe it is an infringement of our basic human rights and borders on abuse. I demand the madness ends here, and you fufill your duty to the people to whom you are obliged to serve.

Message: Would you like to watch your husband dying on a trolley from terminal cancer in severe pain on a trolley for 11 days waiting for hours to get additional paid relief due to shortage of staff. The doctors and nurses do the best they can in desperately overcrowded conditions. The situation in the hospital made a terrible time for me & two young sons so much worse. These are real people Mary have some compassion & start treating us like human beings. You have the power to stop this.

Message: First World Economy, Third World Health Service - Our sick and old deserve better. Shame on you.

Message: Mary, Mary, quite contrary, where did your Patients die? Sitting on chairs, collapsed on trolleys, in the hallway where they lie!

Message: I experienced our A&E crisis last year when my brother ended up in hospital 100 miles from home. He was a like a homeless person on a trolley for days with his possessions in a black bin liner under his trolley (for anyone to steal), with zero privacy and no proper facilities for meals and no lights out at night as he was in a corridoor. It is really third world here and makes me wonder what we are funding through our taxes not to mention our hefty private insurance charges so we're not on a waiting list if God forbid, we get sick one day.

Message: When are you going to fix the medical crisis in this country.? We are one of the richest economies in the world and we have the one of the worst medical setups possible. The money is there make us proud ! An efficient medical service is one of the most basic human rights we deserve.Get the finger out and at the end of the day action is louder than words so do what you are being paid handsomely for, supply us with effcient medical services now!!!!!!

Message: "Are you off your trolley Mary?"