Saturday, February 25, 2006


Last month Costa Mesa, California Mayor Allan Mansoor put on display what the city’s latest immigrant crackdown proposal really is all about when he became a Minuteman and unveiled his desire to deport every “illegal” immigrant in the city.

As a result of the anti-immigrant policies of the Costa Mesa city council's ruling troika (Mayor Allan Mansoor and Eric Bever are the others), Latino residents of the city are reportedly avoiding normal activities like going outside or shopping for fear of being harassed swept up by Costa Mesa police. Some local business owners report that business is down by 30 percent.

Those who oppose the anti-immigrant and racist plan have called on local residents and businesses to fight against it and to refuse to cooperate with the police. They threaten a boycott.

"There is no neutrality where there is injustice," said Nativo V. Lopez, an activist from neighboring Santa Ana. Lopez said he would tell business owners: "If I consume from your establishment … I call upon you to stand with me when I become the target of a discriminatory, racist policy."

From the LA Times:

Costa Mesa's Border Heat Puts a Chill in Its Latinos
By Christopher Goffard
Times Staff Writer

February 25, 2006

In a Republican county known as a cradle of border enforcement zeal, Costa Mesa has long been celebrated — and maligned — as a city that offered immigrants a generous embrace.

Though perhaps best known for its shopping mecca, South Coast Plaza, the city of 110,000 also spawned a soup kitchen, a long-running charity with a free medical and dental clinic and a pioneering day-labor center.

But in its treatment of its Latino residents, currently a third of the population, the city's heart has always been riven, a fissure more evident now than ever.

Last year, the city shut down the dayworker center after 17 years. It abolished its human relations committee after 18 years. And as the city now moves to train local police in immigration enforcement — the nation's first municipality to do so — it has become a flashpoint in a national debate.

Outsiders have rushed in, hailing or condemning the city's efforts. There are demonstrations at City Hall, shouting matches, floods of e-mails, threats of a boycott. But nowhere is the turmoil felt more keenly than in the city's heavily Latino Westside.

"Everybody's afraid," said Sherry Chavez, 23, a day-care worker and mother of two, as she pushed her baby stroller toward her Shalimar Drive apartment. "They're scared to go out of their houses. I have family that don't have papers, and they're scared of taking their children to school."

Chavez grew up in the city's barrios and considered Costa Mesa a nice town, blessed by sunshine and ocean breezes. Since police blocked off her street with concrete pylons a few years back to stymie drug traffic, it has also felt like a safe place to raise children.

Now, she said, the city seems meaner, less like home. Mayor Allan Mansoor insists his immigration plan, if implemented, will target only serious criminals. But Chavez and many others are convinced that roundups of undocumented workers — and the potential harassment of Latinos in general — are imminent.

A few miles from Chavez's block, in a neighborhood of modest tract homes called College Park, another longtime resident worries the city he loves is slipping away.

Ken Rasmussen, 64, a retired restaurateur, moved to Costa Mesa in 1968 and had his two children attend the public schools. He wouldn't do it now; he thinks an unchecked influx of Latino immigrants has ruined the schools.

"All of a sudden, it isn't the same city," Rasmussen said. "I want my city back."

The hubbub mirrors much broader anxieties. Like California, Costa Mesa is an increasingly diverse and expensive place to live. Costa Mesa's Latino population has grown to about a third of the total, with blacks and Asians accounting for about 10%.

The city flourished after World War II, drawing troops from a military base in the city and workers from the Boeing plant in adjacent Huntington Beach and absorbing part of the white flight from Los Angeles.

Today, along with its high-end mall and its teeming Westside, the city features pockets of million-dollar homes, a symphony orchestra, a respected theater and a 3,000-seat Performing Arts Center.

"It's one of the most split-personality cities I've ever seen," said former Mayor Peter Buffa. "If you're south of the 405, it's a small-town community. If you're north of the 405, it's one of the most vibrant commercial areas in the country."

The city is wedged between two radically different cultures. To the north is predominantly Latino Santa Ana, with many low-income and crowded neighborhoods. "Guess what's coming south," said Rasmussen, worried his city increasingly resembles its northern neighbor. "Guess what's coming this way."

To Costa Mesa's south is wealthy, showy Newport Beach, with beachfront mansions and a harbor full of yachts. Costa Mesa's median home price in 2005 was more than $710,000, but in Newport Beach the median topped $1.5 million.

Costa Mesa means "coastal tableland," and the city seal features a sailboat on picturesque blue water. Yet although it is cooled by the ocean breeze, it has no coast, no docks. Those are in Newport Beach.

What Costa Mesa has are high-profile charities, such as Share Our Selves. All week long, immigrants stream in for medical care, clothes and bags of groceries — workers who clean the city's big houses, keep its yards hedged and oil the gears of its humming economy. They know the 36-year-old charity is a friendly place that won't ask about their citizenship.

The charity helped forge Costa Mesa's incongruous reputation as "a city with a heart" — to use the words of a former county supervisor — in a county that has been a caldron of border-enforcement sentiment. Orange County was the birthplace of Proposition 187, the 1994 ballot initiative that sought to curb public services for illegal immigrants. And it is the home of Jim Gilchrist, cofounder of the Minuteman Project citizen patrol.

To some Costa Mesa residents, the immigrant-friendly facilities were a drain. "Costa Mesa has always been super socially liberal, always wanting to take care of anybody who comes down the street," said Roger Carlson, a retired sportswriter who lived in Costa Mesa for 40 years. "You feel sorry for them, but does one city have to take care of them?"

Latinos live throughout the city, and in some crowded Westside neighborhoods around the intersection of West 19th Street and Placentia Avenue, they are the vast majority. Mayor Mansoor said he does not know how many people are living in the city illegally, but he pointed to statistics showing that of Orange County Jail's average daily population of 6,000, about 10% are illegal immigrants.

For decades, Costa Mesa's treatment of its swelling immigrant population has ranged from warm receptiveness to icy suspicion.

In 1989, amid cries that Share Our Selves was a beacon for crime and illegal immigrants, the city evicted the charity from its original site in a residential neighborhood, and it reopened elsewhere.

The next year, the city had a headline-grabbing spat with Jack Kemp, then secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The City Council had decided to bar HUD grant money from agencies that assisted illegal immigrants, but Kemp called the policy "un-American" and issued an order against it.

Costa Mesa has never had a Latino council member. Council members are elected citywide, rather than by district, diluting Latino voting power. Just over 10% of its registered voters have Spanish surnames.

The city's treatment of immigrants is regularly determined by a single vote on a divided council. Last year, with a series of 3-2 votes, the council shut down the job center, which was intended to prevent loitering by day laborers; abolished the human relations committee, which was meant to quell prejudice; and endorsed the mayor's immigration plan.

The plan ostensibly will target only serious criminals for deportation and remains in the planning stages. But fear and confusion are pervasive in the city's barrios, and the conversation keeps turning to what is perceived as an ominous alliance between la policia and la migra, the Border Patrol.

"There's a lot of people thinking that on Jan. 1, police officers were allowed to arrest anyone who is walking, driving or riding a bike who looks Hispanic," said Paty Madueno, who manages apartments on the Westside.

At the Vista Center on 19th Street, which includes the El Metate market and a panaderia, or bakery, merchants say business has been suffering. "People are staying inside, in the house," said Nelson Lopez, 36, a Guatemalan immigrant who works the counter of the Dollar Mart.

Opponents say the plan threatens to erode the already tenuous bonds between the city's police and Latino residents, some of whom refuse to report crime for fear of harassment or deportation.

Costa Mesa Police Cpl. Doug Johnson, who patrolled the Westside for more than two years, said he found Latinos wary of his badge long before the mayor announced his plan.

"The majority of the people, unless you make contact, they turn away or look away," Johnson said. "People who got beat up on the streets or even robbed, they were hesitant [to call]. It would have to be someone who witnessed it who called it in."

At City Hall, immigrant-rights advocates are converging from across the Southland to denounce the immigration plan. And border-crackdown activists are coming to hail it, hoping it portends broader change.

"This will be the testing ground for the country," Gilchrist said before a recent council meeting.

Councilwoman Katrina Foley, who voted against the plan, said she thought outsiders had hijacked city politics. Foley said her constituents wondered why the city was taking on a federal issue. They are more concerned, she said, about getting lighted fields and breakfast eateries in their neighborhoods.

"People outside of Costa Mesa have taken over the discussion, so reasonable-minded residents have been taken out of the discussion," she said. "Unfortunately, our city has become the lightning rod for a political issue that is consuming all of our resources and time."

Friday, February 24, 2006


Australia always looked to me somewhat like the US but upside down or something. So does it come as any surprise to learn that like in the US, the fossil fuel industry is in control of "greenhouse" policies in Australia. Thus, it should come as no surprise that down under, just like up top, profits for private industry finish well ahead of the future of the planet in eyes of the powers that be. Sick, but not surprising.

They call it capitalism, folks!

The following is from Australia's Green Left Weekly.

Australia’s 'Greenhouse mafia’ exposed
Norm Dixon

A Liberal Party member, speech writer for former federal environment minister Robert Hill and former lobbyist in Canberra has gone on the record about the self-described “mafia” representing big business polluters that “has got the keys to the [federal government’s] greenhouse policy car”, which is “being driven by the mining and energy sectors”.

There is now an overwhelming scientific consensus that if the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the world’s corporations are not significantly and rapidly reduced within decades, humanity faces catastrophic consequences from the resulting rising temperatures. Yet the Australian government has not only brazenly thrown its weight (and subsidies) behind the corporate polluters’ efforts to stall mandatory international measures needed to avert this urgent crisis, it has embarked on a path that will ensure that worst-case scenarios of global warming will become reality.

On ABC TV’s Four Corners program on February 13, Guy Pearse told reporter Janine Cohen that, while working for Robert Hill from 1997 to 1999, he noticed the favoured treatment “of a powerful group from the top end of town ... lobbyists from the high-energy-using industries who seemed determined to undermine the Environment Department and block any greenhouse reforms”. However, it was not until he later taped interviews with some of them for his PhD research, which focussed on big business’ influence on climate change policies, that he realised just how instrumental they were in shaping the Coalition government’s surrender to global warming.

“What was incredible was the level of consensus that I got from the 56 interviewees ... about the extent of influence that the fossil fuel industry in Australia had over government greenhouse policy”, Pearse told Cohen in the extended interview posted on the Four Corners website, but not used in the televised version. “I spoke to Howard government ministers, to ministers in the Hawke and Keating governments, to heads of department here in Canberra and also to senior members of the bureaucracy ... What amazed me when I interviewed industry association bosses was that ... they were quite happy to brag about their role in running government greenhouse policy.”

In the interviews, the lobbyists — who spoke on condition that their names would not be made public — openly and proudly referred to themselves as the “mafia”.

They were people associated with the Canberra-based Australian Industry Greenhouse Network (AGIN), the members of which include powerful peak bodies in the fossil fuel industry such as the Australian Coal Association, the Australian Institute of Petroleum, the Australian Petroleum and Exploration Association, the Minerals Council of Australia, the National Generators’ Forum, the Australian Aluminium Council, Australasian (Iron and Steel) Slag Association and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. Individual corporations, such as Alcoa, BP, BHP Billiton, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Rio Tinto, Santos, Shell, Woodside Petroleum and Wesfarmers are also AGIN members.

'Musical chairs’

Pearse explained that some of these lobbyists were previously high-level public servants in key federal departments so were now negotiating with their former colleagues. In the website version of the interview, Pearse described the situation as like “playing musical chairs”. “There’s no question that the executive directors of these associations have been over many years recruited, from the industry department in particular but other departments [as well], because it was felt that they had a particular advantage to offer those industries through improved access to government and government processes.”

“Mafia” members boasted to Pearse that they were given access to confidential government documents, including papers that advise cabinet ministers on what policies to adopt. Such papers, known as cabinet submissions, are supposed to be drafted by public servants at the request of a minister. However, big business reps told Pearse, in the words of Cohen, “how they’d helped write cabinet submissions and ministerial briefings, and costings relating to greenhouse policy ... One lobbyist who was interviewed in 2002 claimed he had drafted cabinet documents and ministerial briefs four or five times over the preceding 10 years. This meant his privileged access went back as far as the previous Labor government.”

“So you ended up with this unique situation, a circular situation, where the advice that the government was receiving from its bureaucrats was almost identical to the advice they were receiving from industry associations, because effectively the same people were writing it”, Pearse explained in the website interview.

When confronted with this by Four Corners, federal environment minister Ian Campbell, while denying the specific claim that industry reps authored cabinet documents, was unapologetic about big greenhouse polluters helping to formulate the government’s greenhouse gas emissions policy: “I think when you’re designing greenhouse policies, when you’re designing any policies, you want to make sure that industry are fully consulted ... I’m writing policy with the aim of trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and have a world-leading policy that will help to save the planet from dangerous climate change. I make no apology for any consultations I have with industry, be it from the coal industry or be it from the renewables industry.”

AGIN spokesperson Robyn Bain (who is also executive director of the Cement Industry Federation and has previously been on the staff of two Coalition ministers) agreed: “There is no doubt that industry and industry organisations work with government to provide information, and that’s the role that we play, and an important one.”

'Fixing the outcomes’

However, there was more than “consultation” involved. As one of Pearse’s taped interviewees declared: “I used to read the cabinet papers, you know? I know what was going on. And it was a question of using those ins carefully and protecting sources and you’d never go public on it. It’s about fixing the outcomes.”

The ''outcomes” have certainly been in line with the interests of the greenhouse mafia champions. As Pearse points out in the website interview, “There [are] definitely some industries in Australia for whom cheap energy, and Australia certainly has cheap energy by world standards, is integral to their ongoing operation ... As one member of the aluminium industry said to me, we pulled down 18% of eastern Australia’s electricity consumption ...

“The mining, fuel and energy industries in Australia already receive billions in public assistance through tax concessions and direct expenditures ... The annual contribution the federal government makes [to these corporations in this way] is more than double our entire response to climate change.”

The greenhouse mafia has “prevented many things from happening over the years”, Pearse continued, “but really their proudest day was the release of the energy white paper by the government in 2004 where really they got total victory”.

On September 7, 2004, ABC Radio National’s PM program reported that leaked memos and emails revealed that the white paper was drafted with the help of the shadowy Lower Emissions Technical Advisory Group, which included representatives from Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, ExxonMobil, Alcoa, Holden, Boral, Amcor, Energex, Origin Energy and Edison Mission.

The Australian government continues to attempt to prevent the introduction of binding international greenhouse gas reduction measures. Following the US government’s lead, Canberra has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, even with its token goal of an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012. Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rose by more than 23% between 1990 and 2003.

The US and Australian governments are instead promoting hugely expensive technological “fixes” that do not require reduced industrial CO2 emissions. The latest technological fad being hyped by these governments, and the major corporate polluters, is “geosequestration”. This is the process of capturing industrial CO2 emissions before they reach the air and storing them underground. The problem is the technology needed is not yet viable, and may never be!

Nevertheless, this fiction was the basis of a Coalition-hosted meeting of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate in Sydney on January 12. The confab brought together governments whose countries are responsible for almost 50% of the world’s CO2 emissions — the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and India — to declare that “coal and gas are and will remain critical fuels for all six partner economies”. Alongside the government reps were the greenhouse mafia Dons, including executives from ExxonMobil, Rio Tinto and Peabody Energy.

The APPCDC’s goal is to entrench fossil-fuel consumption, using the justification that (non-existent) “clean coal” technology, supplemented by expanded nuclear power, will save the day.

Addressing the gathering, Prime Minister John Howard summoned up all his powers of deception to declare that “cleaner technologies ... have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in partner countries by almost 20% below what would otherwise be the case by the year 2050". This claimed “reduction” was based on an estimate by the government’s Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), which uncritically accepted as fact the claims made for the yet-to-be-developed “clean coal” technology.

On even the most optimistic interpretation of ABARE’s figures, overall world greenhouse emissions will in fact increase by more than 100% by 2050, locking the planet into a devastating 4°C temperature increase. World’s scientists agree that, in order to restrict global warming to a (still damaging) 2°C, total human-generated greenhouse gas emissions must be slashed to at least 60%-80% below 1990 levels by 2050 at the latest.

Profits before the planet

ABARE was long ago compromised by the greenhouse mafia. Its climate change research was heavily funded by fossil fuel corporations and lobby groups, including BHP, Rio Tinto, Exxon, the Australian Coal Association and the Australian Aluminium Council. Industry groups and corporations that provided $50,000 to ABARE were given a place on its steering committee with the promise that they would “have an influence on the direction of the model development”.

The corporate polluters’ control of Coalition policy was also apparent in the revelation that the government’s official science adviser until 2005, Robin Batterham, was also on the board of Australia’s largest coal producer, Rio Tinto, and being paid an estimated $700,000 annually. (Lyall Howard, the PM’s nephew, happens to be Rio Tinto’s “government affairs manager”.)

Batterham was a former chairperson of Rio Tinto’s electricity-guzzling Comalco aluminium corporation. Not surprisingly, he was a vocal public campaigner for geosequestration.

That the Howard government is prepared to put the profits of the mega-corporations before the interests of the planet should come as no surprise. Figures from the Democracy4sale website () reveal that donations to the federal and NSW branches of the Liberal and National parties in 1998-2005 from corporations categorised as “resources companies” add up to a massive $1.43 million (compared to $331,000 for the ALP). This figure excludes the tens of thousands donated to the Coalition’s other state branches.

Among the most generous donors were uranium miner Western Mining Corporation ($465,000), AGIN-affiliated oil producer Santos ($425,000) and Wesfarmers, an AGIN affiliate with significant holdings in coal ($435,000). A huge $5.6 million was donated by the mysterious Cormack Foundation between 2001 and 2004. The Cormack Foundation is co-chaired by former Western Mining Corporation boss and high-profile global warming sceptic Hugh Morgan.

Cheney Schnookered?

Not that I care all that much, but several web sites are reporting that the Veep had one too many the day he shot his Republican buddy. Who knows. Who cares? The following is from Air America Radio.

Cheney's Reckless Endangerment Charge was Covered Up

Secret Service agents in charge of guarding the Vice-President at the time of the hunting accident say Cheney was wasted. One White House aide who spoke on condition of anonymity, said "This was a South Texas hunt...Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it." One agent at the scene has been placed on administrative leave and another requested reassignment this week. Doctors said Secret Service officials took possession of all tests on Whittington's blood at the hospital. One Physician, who treated Whittington, admitted privately that he was ordered by the Secret Service to "never discuss the case with the press."

Gilberto Soto

The US of A has full confidence in the investigation into the the murder of a union leader in El Salvador. Almost no one else does.

The first article below is from North The rest of the information is from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Teamsters call death probe tainted

U.S. Embassy officials in El Salvador insisted Wednesday that the right people were tried in the 2004 murder of a Cliffside Park labor leader, even though two of three were acquitted over the weekend.

The response came on the same day Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa blasted the Salvadoran government for what he said was a coverup in the shooting death of union official Gilberto Soto.

"We received assurances that the Salvadoran government would conduct an objective, open-ended inquiry," Hoffa said. "That never happened."

Teamsters have long claimed that Soto, 49, was shot dead on Nov. 5, 2004, because of his efforts to organize truck drivers as part of a trip through Central America.

A month later, his mother-in-law, Rosa Elba Zelaya de Ortiz, was charged with hiring hit men to kill Soto because of a dispute between him and his estranged third wife.

But Zelaya de Ortiz and alleged gunman Santos Sanchez Ayala were acquitted Saturday night. Herbert Joel Gomez, who was charged with supplying the murder weapon, was convicted.

Embassy officials maintained they did everything to ensure Salvadoran police investigated all angles of the killing and were pleased with the results of their work.

"We had confidence in the investigation and the police and thought the right people were on trial," said Rebecca Thompson, an embassy spokeswoman in San Salvador. "We're still awaiting the sentencing. But in the end you have to respect the results of the judicial process, even if you're disappointed with the outcome."

Teamsters have accused U.S. officials of tiptoeing around the investigation to avoid disrupting negotiations on the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The measure, which is opposed by labor unions, would eliminate trade, investment and business barriers between the United States and El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

It was approved by Congress during the summer. It is expected to take effect Wednesday in El Salvador.

Embassy officials said it was insulting to say that trade negotiations muted their response to the Soto killing.

"We've had communication with the highest level of this government," Thompson said. "Soto was a U.S. citizen, and nothing is more important to this embassy or any embassy than protecting U.S. citizens."

Thompson said the embassy set up and publicized a hot line for tips but received only prank phone calls. She said U.S. officials continually met with police and prosecutors during the investigation. She said there has been no evidence to show that Soto was killed because of his union activities.

"We were a little surprised by the verdict," she said.

Others were not.

The charges were scrutinized by the ombudswoman in the Salvadoran Office for the Defense of Human Rights immediately after they were filed. She said police refused to let her review the evidence, including the chain of custody of the bullets and the handgun that were recovered. Beatrice Alamanni de Carrillo later issued a report saying that the suspects had been tortured and the charges trumped up.

Embassy officials said the torture claims were later discredited.

They said that the national police, once notorious for corruption, have become one of the best law enforcement agencies in Central America.

"We've had full confidence in the police and prosecutors in this case," Thompson said. "All of us want the same thing the Teamsters want: justice."

But Teamsters officials said they have hired their own investigator to review the shooting because they no longer trust the police.

"This shows we can't rely on them to get to the root of this," said Ron Carver, a Teamsters official who has met with embassy staff in San Salvador.

Soto grew up in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States in 1975.

He joined the Teamsters 10 years later, becoming president of Local 11 in Haledon, a business agent for Local 723 in Montville and an organizer of truck drivers at ports from Elizabeth to Boston.

Teamsters Call Upon the President of El Salvador to Reopen Soto Murder Investigation
Official Statement of Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a official statement of Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President:

On November 5, 2004, Gilberto Soto, a Teamster official representing our union's Port Division was assassinated in Usulutan, El Salvador. Lacking any compelling evidence, the Salvadoran government arrested and jailed Rosa Elba Zelaya de Ortiz, Soto's mother-in-law. Now, more than 15 months later, the Salvadoran government has dismissed their case against Zelaya de Ortiz. The case was groundless from the start, as the government refused to consider any other possibilities.

They have squandered time and resources. They have ruined an innocent woman's life by subjecting her to a witch-hunt to avoid pursuing the mastermind of this death squad killing while allowing the true culprits ample opportunity to erase any evidence that may connect them to the crime.

It has been our longstanding belief that the government of El Salvador made an unconscionable rush to judgment regarding the murder of our official representative. We received assurances that the Salvadoran government would conduct an objective, open-ended inquiry. That never happened.

Most disturbing has been the Salvadoran government's determination to thwart the constitutionally guaranteed right of the Office of Human Rights to oversee the criminal investigation. In the initial stages of the case and in the months prior to the trial, the Ombudswoman of the Office of Human Rights, Beatrice Alamanni de Carrillo, was barred from reviewing the files and interviewing witnesses and investigators.

The behavior of the Salvadoran government officials in this case appears to be an attempt to cover up or deflect attention from the instigators of this heinous crime or perhaps to avoid prosecuting parties who were determined to keep unions from establishing a foothold in El Salvador's Acajutla port. I call upon President Elias Antonio Saca Gonzalez to reopen this case, assign the best investigators, and follow through until the perpetrators are brought to justice, whoever they may be.

In the end, the only way that the government of El Salvador will be able to gain the confidence of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the international community is to show respect for the Salvadoran Office of Human Rights. The Salvadoran government must protect the office's director and investigators, give them full access to the case files and police investigators, and allocate appropriate funding to their work. Any lesser commitment gives the impression that government officials have something to hide.


Biography of Jose Gilberto Soto, 1954 - 2004

Jose Gilberto Soto was born on November 6, 1954 in Usulutan, El Salvador. Gilberto was devoted to his family and leaves his children (Blanca, Rosalva, and Edson), his wife (Alva “Maritza”), his mother (Blanca Rivas), his siblings (Henry, Julio, Francisco, Yolanda, Araly and Mayra), and his extended family of port drivers and Teamsters.

In 1975, Gilberto came to the U.S. from El Salvador, where he had been working as a bank teller. In New Jersey, he worked as a trash collector, waiter, cook, factory worker, general maintenance, and landscaper until he settled at CEFCO, an electrical fuse manufacturer, in North Bergen, NJ. It was at CEFCO that Gilberto first joined the Teamsters and served as a union shop steward until 1985. In April of 1985, Gilberto was appointed as a Business Representative for Local 11 and in this capacity he developed his organizing skills and recruited new members into the Local. Gilberto quickly rose through the ranks and became President of Local 11 in 1993, the first Latino president of a Teamsters local union in New Jersey. At the same time, Gilberto was committed to fulfilling his life dream of obtaining a college degree. He attended Hudson County Community College and then transferred to Kean University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in May of 1994.

After attaining his degree, Gilberto continued organizing workers with the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees from 1994-2000, and then served as a Business Agent for Teamsters Local 723 until he was hired by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as Port Division Representative for the New York-New Jersey and New England regions.

Gilberto was an ardent supporter of the FMLN and the New York chapter of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.

In early 2004, Governor James E. McGreevey appointed Gilberto to the New Jersey Clean Air Council and to the New Jersey Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

In addition to Gilberto’s union activities, Gilberto organized and managed El Sirpo soccer team. He also convinced Hudson County to build a soccer field in North Bergen’s Hudson Park. Gilberto was a founder of CEUS, an organization that sends financial aid and computers to El Salvador. Gilberto also wrote poetry, played the guitar, and was an elegant salsa dancer.

On October 30, 2004, Gilberto traveled to Central America to meet with port truck drivers and labor officials in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras to better understand working conditions for port drivers there and to create a solidarity network between Teamsters and their Central American counterparts. Gilberto was assassinated Friday evening, November 5, at 6:00 p.m., outside of his mother’s house in the city of Usulutan, El Salvador. Witnesses say he was shot in the back by three men, who waited outside his house and fled in a getaway car. He died immediately.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Anti-war demonstrators took over a campaign rally for Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl in Madison, Wisconsin yesterday. They demanded Kohl sign a pledge to begin bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq and end funding the war. Kohl declined the invitation. The group which organized the take over, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) "promotes nonviolent opposition to the war, following the disciplines and practices of nonviolent leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr and Mahatma Gandhi..."

The following is from the Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin.

Protesters interrupt Kohl’s campaign kick-off

Meeting with eager supporters and distressed protesters, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis, kicked off his reelection campaign at the Orpheum Wednesday evening.

Filled with lavish appetizers, guest orators and a DVD screening, the swanky event was momentarily put on hold as war protesters interrupted the senator’s speech.

While National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance members accused the senator of refusing to support U.S. troops, Kohl supporters stood firmly behind “nobody’s senator but theirs,” slogan.

“Your interests are my interests. They’re not the special interests,” Kohl said. “As you know, I’m lucky enough to not have to give money to special interest groups. I may be the only person in Washington who doesn’t solicit money.”

Although Kohl’s statements were mostly met with strong approval, a number of NCNR members approached the senator and asked him to pledge to stop funding the war.

The pledge called for Kohl to oppose President Bush’s proposed additional appropriation for the Iraq War.

Additionally, the pledge asked the senator to support a bill by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wis, which asks for a timeframe of troop withdrawal.

While Kohl refused to sign the pledge, he did agree to talk about the Iraq issue.

“I believe the president has misused his authority … and that is the reason why we are where we are today,” he said, adding he believes the Iraqi government should be stabilized before withdrawing forces.

Protesters, however, were not satisfied, repeatedly interrupting Kohl’s speech to ask for a signature.

Although Kohl initially listened to the protesters’ arguments, he eventually asked them to step away and allow him to speak – a request that was only heeded after Kohl supporters pressured protesters with shouts to go home.

According to NCNR member Jackson Tiffany, the senator has not been receptive to the group’s concerns.

“I think it was a very important step, even though it was a somewhat awkward moment,” he said. “Because he has not been responding to our efforts.”

Due to Kohl’s failure to commit to NCNR requests, Tiffany added the group will stage statewide 24-hour sit-ins at Kohl’s offices.

Despite the protests, those in attendance – including Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, State Superintendent Libby Burmaster, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke – remained supportive of the senator.

“Herb Kohl is as much about Wisconsin as Wisconsin is,” Wineke said in an interview. “He’s the guy that has been there for people forever [and] he’ll always be.”

Kohl, in an interview before his speech, expressed his excitement for this year’s U.S. Senate race, and added how happy he is to see political activism on campus.

“I really appreciate the involvement of students in politics,” he said. “I’m always engaged with their comments about current affairs and the things they say that I believe are important and fresh and need to be said. The student activity on campus is a really important part of our society.”


With the situation in Iraq going downhill rapidly, I wanted to bring you a first hand account of the last 36 hours from an Iraqi dentist living in Baghdad. This comes from his blog site - Healing Iraq.

Samarra Attack, the Last Straw?

The situation in Baghdad is bad, bad, bad. I had to flee work early and return home after news of large protests in Shi'ite districts, and several attacks against Sunni mosques in the Baladiyat, Sha'ab and Dora districts by angry rioters. Sunnis are being blamed for the attack against a Shia holy shrine in Samarra, a largely Sunni town.

The streets look empty now, and all stores seem to be closed. I can hear gunfire and American helicopters and jets circling the skies.

I'll update again when I get a grip on what is going on. Things look tense enough.


I was disconnected for a while so I couldn't update any sooner.
Details on what is going on are still rather vague. I have to rely on Iraqi television and word of mouth to put this update together. But first, here is what the Iraqi Islamic party website (Arabic) is reporting:

The Al-Qudus, Al-Shaheed, and Al-Abrar mosques in Sadr city were evacuated and occupied by the Mahdi army. In the Baladiyyat and Binook districts, the Ahmed RaÂ’ouf, Al-Qudus, Dhiyouf Al-Rahman, Al-Fayyadh, Al-Muhannad, Al-Hassan bin Ali, and Ibad Allah Al-Muttaqeen mosques have been taken over by armed mobs from Sadr city.

Mosques in Baghdad attacked by armed rioters:

The Umm Al-Qura and Al-Hamza mosques in Ghazaliya.

Al-KhulafaaÂ’ and Al-Fardous mosques in Hayy Ur.

Al-Haqq and Al-Sada Al-NiÂ’am mosques in Al-ShaÂ’ab.

Al-Hajja Fawzia, Al-Faruq, Al-Hassan, and Ibad Al-Rahman mosques in Palestine street.
Abu Ubaida and Al-NidaÂ’ mosques in Qahira.

Al-Rahma and Al-Battawi mosques in ShuÂ’la.

Malik bin Anas, Al-Samarrai, and Uthman bin Affan mosques in Baghdad Al-Jedida.

Al-Mustafa, Ubaid Al-Kubaisi, Taha Al-Samarrai and Al-Bustani mosques in Saidiya.

Badriya and MusÂ’ab bin Umair mosques in Talibiya.

Al-Hamza mosque in Turath.

Al-Rahma mosque in Al-Utaifiya.

Al-Ani mosque in Waziriya.

Hayy Al-Umal mosque in Baladiyyat.

Al-Yassin and Al-ShuhadaaÂ’ mosques in Dora.

Fendi Al-Kubaisi mosque in Al-Shurta.

The Al-Ashra Al-Mubashareen mosque in Basrah was attacked, and unconfirmed news that the shrine of Talha bin Ubaid Allah (a companion of Muhammed), south of Basrah has been set to fire by armed demonstrators.

The Islamic partyÂ’s Basrah branch at Al-JazaÂ’er district was also set to fire, following armed clashes between guards and ShiÂ’ite demonstrators. Several members are reportedly still trapped inside, with Sunni parliament member Khalaf Al-Sheikh Eissa among them.

The Al-Fayhaa, Al-Salam mosques, and stores belonging to the Sunni Endowment Board have also been set to fire. A curfew has been imposed until morning.

Sunni mosques in Diwaniya, as well as the Grand mosque and Hutteen mosque have been evacuated, and occupants arrested during noon prayers.

Several mosques at Nasiriya and Suq Al-Shiyoukh have been threatened. The Islamic party office was set to fire.

The Al-Nijoom vermicelli factory at Baghdad Al-Jedida (owned by Hajj Nassar, a Sunni merchant) has been burned to the ground, and the Al-Safa, Al-Mustafa and Al-Isra mosques have been taken over.

The Rusafa and ZaÂ’faraniya Islamic party offices have been attacked.

The Mahdi milita stormed into the QabaaÂ’ mosque in ShaÂ’ab district and renamed it to Al-Hadi mosque.

Al-Aqtab Al-ArbaÂ’a mosque near the Baghdad airport road was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades.

Interior ministry forces take over the Salman Al-Farisi shrine in Salman Pak (Madain) south of Baghdad.

Armed attack against the Sunni Endowments office in SabaÂ’ Abkar, and American troops arrive at the location.

Al-Rahman and Yassin mosques at Abu Dshir attacked.

The Islamic party website says ShiÂ’ite mourning chants and prayers are being broadcast now from the abovementioned Sunni mosques.

Clashes are being reported in Sulaikh, Ghazaliya, Al-Amil, ShaÂ’ab and Dora districts of Baghdad.

And right now, they sound like they are near my doorstep. The Interior ministry forces and Mahdi militiamen are having a field day. Relatives from Palestine street and Baghdad Al-Jedida have called to report raid campaineighborhoodsnni neighbourhoods.

Is this the final straw? Or will it pass after a random spree of violence? No one can really tell at the moment.


It's almost 3 am and I can still hear gunfire in the neighbourhood. Word of the street in our area is that Sunni neighbourhood watch teams are patrolling several Sunni districts in Baghdad, such as Adhamiya, Ghazaliya, Khadhraa, Adil, Dora, Amiriya, Bayaa, Mansour and Al-Jihad. They say if any Interior ministry forces (read Badr brigade) enter the area, local mosques will shout three Allahu Akbar's through loudspeakers as a sign for residents to defend themselves.

Sistani called for calm, yet he urged his followers to continue with 'non-violent' demonstrations, like this one for instance (SEE PHOTO ACCOMPANYING ABOVE).

Meanwhile, the Islamic party reports a total of 109 mosques attacked Wednesday. 11 Sunnis have been killed in the violence, 6 of whom were mosque Imams.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Written by Administrator - One People's Project
Tuesday, 21 February 2006

The New Jersey Libertarian Party has given us a lot of really screwy characters, but when they thought they were going to sneak the band Poker Face past everyone, they were proven otherwise. Now there will not be any band playing their conference this weekend at Rutgers University because students did not want a bunch of singing Holocaust deniers coming to their campus and making money. We need to extend out kudos to those students. Poker Face has spent the past decade or so getting a past from neo-cons across the country, notably Freak Republic who has had them perform at a number of rallies. Now they all need to explain why they would want to be associated with a band who made no bones about their hatred of Jews and damn near any non-white on the globe. In the meantime, this is one event this Saturday we don't have to worry about.

By One People's Project

The anti-Semitic band Poker Face, who was scheduled to play the annual conference of the New Jersey Libertarian Party this weekend at Rutgers University, will not be allowed to perform. This comes after a group of students voiced outrage to University officials about the band coming to their campus.

The reason that University officials have given for the cancellation said that the Rutgers University Inn, where the conference will be held, was not prepared for a band to perform, and the Libertarians are not being allowed along those lines. The planned appearance, however, was reported on in the most recent issue of the school publication Rutgers Review, and for weeks beforehand, some students reportedly had been contacting administrators because of the questionable stances the band had taken in the past.

Allentown, Pa.-based Poker Face has been seen among more mainstream circles as a patriotic musical act, and has performed at rallies sponsored by Free Republic as well as numerous Libertarian Party events. The band, notably its lead singer Paul Topete has also maintained hostile positions against Jews. On the band's forum, one can find a number of articles to that end posted by Topete under the name "pokerkid", among them, articles denying the holocaust, and suggesting a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, some of them written by known white supremacists like attorney Edgar Steele. Topete also maintains a hatred for African Americans and other non-whites, although he is reportedly partly of Mexican decent. The band made its name when jailed militia fixture Mark Korneke included their music on his shortwave radio program. Topete has recently been showing up on the forum of white supremacist internet radio host Hal Turner's website.

The Libertarian Party conference will still go on as scheduled, but Poker Face has been removed from its website announcement. Neither the Libertarian Party nor Free Republic has ever publicly distanced themselves from the band and its anti-Semitic views.


Indians from North America joined recently with their brothers and sisters from Central and South America at the World Social Forum gathering in Venezuela. They spoke of their own particular struggles as well as the 500 year long battle of indigenous peoples from throughout the Western Hemesphere for their rights. The story below comes from Indian Country Today.

Indigenous from Americas unite in Venezuela
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today

CARACAS, Venezuela - United by the common bond of the 500-year struggle for indigenous rights in the Americas, an indigenous delegation from North America to the World Social Forum joined with indigenous from Central and South America to demand protection of indigenous rights.

''Once the people saw our pictures of confrontation struggles and heard the many stories of our problems, the tribal elders got up and spoke of similar problems and saw that we were a people under the same 500-year struggle to maintain land, culture and sovereignty,'' said Robert Free Galvan, Indian activist from Seattle and organizer of the delegation.

''We challenged the progressives everywhere to work in their own countries to ensure indigenous respect, rights and self-determination, as Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has instigated.''

During sessions at the World Social Forum, Sarah James, Gwich'in from Alaska, spoke of the battles and victories to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil exploration.

''My elders have instructed me to share the Gwich'in peoples' struggles in a good way,'' said James, who left weather that was 60 degrees below zero to travel to Venezuela's 93-degree climate.

James and Casey Camp, Ponca Nation from Oklahoma, were asked by the Karina and Wayuu women to participate in the opening of the conference on women's struggles at the forum, which took place in January. James and Camp helped clan mothers and women leaders bless the sessions.

Camp spoke on the industrial environmental damage in her territory, where carbon black production and oil drilling have left a dark stain on the land and water while plumes of toxic smoke fill the air. Camp said Ponca struggle to retain their rich culture.

During sessions for indigenous, Alex Louie, Okanagan from British Columbia, Canada, spoke on the choice for the future, between confrontation and compromise with Canada in relation to indigenous land claims and sovereignty.

Galvan focused on the academic, non-governmental organization and progressive movements. Galvan said racism and the exclusion of indigenous participation are obvious in the agendas of the global arenas.

''Great speeches of solidarity were delivered, and many invitations to their lands were extended. The tribes then proceeded to invite us to dance with them at several of the tribal dances,'' he said. Tribal members from Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela, including Yakuana, Picaroa, Yukuana, Jivi, Yaua Mauri and Panare, performed several dances to everyone's delight.

The North American delegation was hosted by Dr. Noly Fernandez, Venezuela's director of the Ministry of Health for Indigenous People, and her staff.

Galvan said, ''We each spoke of building exchanges of visits to each others' territories to promote friendship and solidarity with each others' struggles. Several tribal elders spoke of the great change in attitude and respect for indigenous peoples during the presidency of Chavez.

''We were told stories of their medicine healers, women and men, being pursued tirelessly for years by academics from universities across the globe for their medicine knowledge and to participate in their medicine gatherings.

''They told us the academics are refused, but continue to persistently stalk them,'' said Galvan, adding that the delegation spoke of the current lawsuit against institutional racism at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine for similar attitudes.

The delegation spoke at several sessions with indigenous movement leaders of Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.

''We were honored to speak and to share our stories,'' Galvan said. ''The need to build economic, cultural and solidarity ties between indigenous people of [the] north and south continents continued to be repeated by the speakers.''

The indigenous delegation challenged Brazil's progressives to take action concerning the 520 Guarani and Kaiowa tribes camped along the MS-384 highway in the interior Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The tribes were violently evicted from their traditional lands in the Nhande Ru Marangatu reservation during attempts to access diamonds in other tribal lands. Brazil made a commitment to set aside 12 million acres for tribes back in 1995, but has set aside only 1 million acres and continues to evict tribes from promised lands, Galvan said.

The North American indigenous delegation participated in closing ceremonies, which included youth group music and dance performances as well as demonstrations of Indians histories.

''Several tribal groups shared beautiful dances of friendship, which brought the crowds to their feet,'' Galvan said.

Camp, with experience in the arts and entertainment industry in the United States, joined James and Louie to sing an American Indian Movement song urging the release of Leonard Peltier and other political prisoners, which brought the crowd to their feet.

Describing the daily marches, music and parades at the forum, Galvan said, ''We were surrounded by beautiful mountains, and tens of thousands of participants crowded the many sites and streets with World Social Forum activities.''

Reflecting on those days at the forum, Galvan said the delegation began their stay in the best possible way.

''The Karina tribal elders happened to also be staying in the same apartment, and on the second day were preparing food for the 100 indigenous [delegates] from the Amazonian and Bolivian provinces arriving that day after a 20-hour bus ride. We delivered the food to the group staying near the Hippo Dome and housed at the racetrack dormitory quarters. Our host gave us several necklaces and arm bracelets for our protection and welcome.

''As visitors, we had asked the elders and any indigenous people who wanted to participate, if we could speak in their territories. The clan mothers and tribal leaders from several regions of Venezuela proceeded to invite the many tribes and indigenous peoples that had traveled to the WSF to join and welcome us and participate.

''So we had the clan elders of the Karina Tribe and several of the Wa po yu and Wayuu tribes honor us by opening our presentation with prayers, songs and blessings.''


The following is reported by New Jersey Independent Media Channel

Police Brutality Strikes Filipino Youth in Jersey City
Groups Tag Cops Racist, Anti-Immigrant

Jersey City, NJ-- Filipino groups are outraged over what many are calling "a blatant act of police brutality, racial discrimination, and anti-immigrant sentiment" on the part of two Jersey City police officers who arrested and detained a young Filipino who was about to file a complaint against an erring cab driver.

Alan James Alda, 25, a Jersey City warehouse worker originally from Manila, was startled when police suddenly "arrested and threw him into a detention cell" at approximately 3 am on Saturday after he asked for the names of the two police officers who rudely dismissed his complaint against cab driver for overcharging fare.

The two police officers were later identified as Sgt. Dennis Halleran and Officer A. Nunez of the Jersey City Police Department.

Alda and two of his young Filipino friends had gone to the Jersey City Police Department Precinct near Manila Avenue to report on a cab driver for overcharging fare and demanding upfront payment.

"We went up to the two police officers in order to file a complaint against the cab driver but instead we were rudely told to start walking home," stated Arcy Yuson, Aldaís companion at the time.

After dismissing their complaint, Alda asked the police officers for their names. It was then that the tide shifted. "Alan was physically grabbed by the cops and arrested", Yuson explained. "We were shocked."

The two police officers threatened Aldaís companions with arrest but eventually left them standing outside the police precinct as they took Alda in.

"We didn't know what was going on. We stood there waiting for Alan to come back out. After a while 2 unidentified officers came out without Alan, but this time holding batons. It was an intimidation meant for us," Yuson recalled.

Once in custody of the Jersey City police, sources claim that the Nunez and Halleran continued to intimidate Alda, with another unidentified officer even going as far as asking if he was a "terrorist" after they found foreign currency in his pocket.

During this time, Alda remained uninformed by the authorities of the charges against him, even as he sat in jail. He would later be released later that morning. When asked by an attending officer what he had learned from the whole experience, he was told to shut up immediately by surrounding officials upon his attempt to answer.

When asked by Alda if this would affect his right to find work, the officers shouted, "Hell, yeah!".

It was shortly after that Alda became aware of his charges upon receipt of a slip of paper that stated police complaints of so-called "disorderly conduct" and "resisting arrest".

"Alan never resisted arrest or created a physically threatening situation for the cops. Why would he? We went to the police precinct to file a complaint. We went there looking for help!" Yuson stated.

"The police seemed to be more interested in insulting these three Filipino immigrants rather than helping them. Alan and his companions were simply asserting their right to police protection, a move which landed Alan a night in a jail cell," stated Nicholas Cordero, an organizer for Anakbayan, a Filipino youth group based in Jersey City, of which Alda is also a member.

"The police were out of line. Alan's only crime was that he was Filipino, brown-skinned, and obviously foreign-born. Like many other immigrants of color, this is the treatment we receive from the public servants whose paychecks are supplied by our tax dollars to protect and serve. But more often than not, it is the police that end up threatening our rights and welfare." Cordero said.

"The police must be held accountable for this. Their conduct was absolutely unacceptable and must not be tolerated." stated Cristina Godinez, New York attorney and Immigrant Rights Coordinator of the Philippine Forum, an immigrant rights advocacy organization in Queens. ìI am concerned about the reckless disregard for an immigrantís civil rights and the rash suspicion that he is a terrorist.î

Cordero asserted that "criminal brutality and racial profiling" by the Jersey City police officers against Alda that night is not an isolated case. "It's a common reality for young Filipinos in Jersey City. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, especially in light of the immigrant-scapegoating climate post 9/11. What's important is that we unite as a community to speak out against these injustices when they happen. We will not stay silent as long as this type of repression exists."

Anakbayan, along with allied local organizations Philippine Forum and the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines are convenors of the Justice for Immigrants Coalition,, which is embarking on a campaign to 1) have the charges against Alda dropped 2) file counter-charges against the police for criminal misconduct and 3) educate and facilitate community action with more Filipino youth and immigrants on police brutality, racial profiling, and anti-immigrant conduct.

"Filipinos are largely a low-income minority group, and over 60% of all the Filipinos in the US are foreign-born. Alan's abuse by the police is every young Filipino's concern. It could have happened to any one of us." Cordero continued.

When asked about coming forward about his story, Alda mentioned "hindi para lang sa akin eto, para sa mga ibang kabataang migrante din. [this is not just for me, but for all migrant youth]."

An emergency Anakbayan meeting where Alda will be available to discuss the details of his arrest to the public and to the media is scheduled on Saturday, February 25, 1pm-3pm at 605 Pavonia Avenue, #42 (near Summit Avenue) in Jersey City. THIS IS AN OPEN MEETING AND ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND, ESPECIALLY FILIPINO YOUTH AND IMMIGRANTS.

For more information on the Justice For Immigrants campaign for Alan James Alda, email Anakbayan at anakbayan_ny @ or call 646-479-1605. ###


This is one of those believe it or not articles that call your attention both to the specific incident and the wider implication. Out in California, their castrating live pigs in school classrooms as part of the kids education. Some education. The defense of this action, which occurs with no anesthesia I might add, is that it happens every day, that it is do different than dissecting frogs, and that this is no worse than what happens in the production of food. Some defense. I could do without dissecting frogs and torturing and killing animals for people to eat. But that's just me.

Anyway, the following comes to us from the Bakersfield Californian.

Animal activists protest classroom pig castration

Animal activists nationwide are directing their fury at a small Kern County high school where a teacher castrated a live pig in front of her class.
Letters of protest from across the country have been pouring in to Rosamond High School and the Southern Kern Unified School District offices since People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted an alert about the incident on its Web site.

District Superintendent Rod Van Norman said such animal castrations are merely a reality of managing livestock and a valuable skill to teach students taking the agriculture elective.

PETA officials and other animal activists disagree, calling the classroom castration, which was done without anesthesia, cruel and disturbing.

“We’re concerned not only because animals suffer during these routine castrations but also because of the message it sends to students who are still forming opinions about treatment of animals in our society,” said Stephanie Bell, a cruelty case worker for PETA.

She declined to say how PETA found out about the castration, citing reasons of confidentiality, but she said it was someone with firsthand knowledge of the event.

A secretary at Rosamond High School said Tuesday the principal and agriculture teacher did not wish to comment on the issue.

Van Norman said animal castrations have been happening in the classroom as long as he can remember. He said the lesson is in the same vein as those that involve dissecting frogs and cats, and students can leave if they don’t want to participate.

“It goes on every day. If you think about where your food comes from, this is what happens,” Van Norman said. “I don’t know why they’re picking on a little school district.”

Charles Parker, assistant state Future Farmers of America adviser at the California Department of Education, said Rosamond is not the only school that does live animal castrations in the classroom.

He said pig castrations are extremely commonplace in the livestock industry. Castrations are used to calm male animals, prevent them from breeding and improve meat quality, he said.

Parker said castrations cause no long-term harm to pigs, and anesthesia is not normally used during pig castrations.

Pig castrations aren’t a required part of agriculture education curriculum, Parker said, but it can be taught at school districts’ discretion.

“There are some teachers that will enhance the basic curriculum with some hands-on skills that are done in the industry,” Parker said.

Still, many animal activists aren’t buying the district’s explanations.

“Clearly, slicing into an alert pig’s scrotum to extract his testicles while he writhes in distress is merciless and brutal,” Jason Williams of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., wrote in a letter to district and Kern County officials.

“Pigs are highly intelligent, sensitive creatures,” wrote another letter writer, Carol Hobbs, from Michigan. “The mutilation of sentient animals does not belong in our classrooms ... and we wonder why so many young people display so much violence!”

Bell said PETA is “heartened” that the issue has gained so much attention. She said PETA hopes the district will reconsider teaching castration in the classroom.

Van Norman said he has no such plans. The district has received letters about the castration from activists throughout the country, but no complaints from parents of children in the district, he said.

“They’ve been doing it since probably before I was in school,” Van Norman said. Bell said tradition is no excuse.

“Just because this is the way it has always been done as a part of agriculture programs,” Bell said, “does not mean it has to continue to be way it is done.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Protest the Racist Minutemen in Valley Forge, PA
Monday, February 20 2006 @ 02:09 PM PST

From InfoShop News

On Saturday February 25, 2006 the Minutemen Project, a Conservative anti-immigration group with strong links to, and overlapping membership with, violent white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations, has announced plans to hold a recruitment meeting at the Valley Forge Convention Center, 1160 First Avenue, King of Prussia, PA, 19406.




Where: Valley Forge Convention Center - 1160 First Avenue, King of Prussia, PA, 19406

When: 11AM - Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Why: The Minutemen are a far-right anti-immigrant vigilante group, who
promote an an extremist policy of stopping all non-white immigration into this country and who have ties to various fascist and racist organizations with long histories of violence.

On Saturday February 25, 2006 the Minutemen Project, a Conservative
anti-immigration group with strong links to, and overlapping membership with, violent white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations, has announced plans to hold a recruitment meeting at the Valley Forge
Convention Center, 1160 First Avenue, King of Prussia, PA, 19406.

The members of Philadelphia Residents Against Racism will be at the convention center to demonstrate against the hate-filled rhetoric of the Minutemen, and are inviting all like-minded people who believe in freedom and equality to stand together against this fascist threat.

The Minutemen are a far-right reactionary vigilante group who promote an extremist policy of stopping all non-white immigration into this country. While their website claims they only observe activities along the border and notify the proper authorities, the Minutemen have been featured patrolling the border armed, and have openly talked about setting up sniper posts along the Mexican border and shooting anyone who tries to cross. Further evidence of the Minutemen's racist ties
can be found with the group's co-founder Jim Gilchrist. He has been involved with the neo-Nazi affiliated Council of Conservative Citizens. In addition, members of the infamous National Alliance have claimed membership in the Minutemen Project and were identified participating in border "patrols" last spring and summer with the
group. Over the years, the National Alliance has been tied to numerous violent crimes, such as the assassination of a Jewish radio host in Denver. The National Alliance has the dubious distinction of claiming Timothy McVeigh – the man responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing – as a supporter.

We will not stand idly by while hate groups are allowed to organize in our community. We will not allow hate groups and white supremacists to control the debate or attempt to represent the views of those of us who actually live in this community. Please join us at 11AM on February 25th at the entrance to the Valley Forge Convention Center parking lot. Bring banners, signs, and posters - in English and
Spanish. Don't forget noisemakers to drown out the Minutemen, and of course your anger and your friends.

United together, WE WILL WIN!

For more information, please contact Philadelphia Residents Against Racism -

In solidarity,
Philadelphia Residents Against Racism


The following article from the Los Angeles Times concerns the racist murder of a French Jew and its follow up. The only positive in the story is the news that the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples and SOS Racism (two groups which work primarily within the French Muslim community) are showing their solidarity with the beleaguered French Jewish community.

The second article is from the European Jewish Press.

Anti-Semitism Is Alleged in French Torture-Killing
By Sebastian Rotella, Times Staff Writer

PARIS — In a new case of strife and brutality in France's immigrant neighborhoods, authorities alleged Monday that anti-Semitism influenced a gang that kidnapped a Jewish store clerk, tortured him for more than three weeks and killed him.

An investigative magistrate ruled Monday evening that some of the seven suspects would face hate-crime charges in addition to kidnapping and murder in the death last week of Ilan Halimi, 23, according to French officials and media reports. The suspects, five men and two women, were still being questioned late Monday night.

The decision came after days of fury in France's Jewish community, which held an angry street protest Sunday and accused politicians of minimizing the crime to avoid increasing tension that lingers from riots by predominantly Muslim youths late last year.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin promised Jewish leaders at a previously scheduled community banquet Monday night that investigators would "shed light" on "an odious crime." He expressed condolences to the family of Halimi, who lived with his mother and two sisters and worked selling cellular phone equipment in a store in a middle-class neighborhood.

"I want each one of [his relatives] to know that I share their pain," De Villepin said.

The kidnappers, who called themselves "The Barbarians," beat, burned and mutilated Halimi during 24 days of captivity in the cellar of a tough housing project in Bagneux, southwest of the capital, according to investigators.

The gang taunted Halimi's family and a rabbi with anti-Semitic epithets and recited Koranic verses during telephone calls and e-mails demanding wildly diverging amounts of ransom that never were collected, investigators said. The kidnappers also sent photos of the victim with a gun to his head, bound and blindfolded, apparently mimicking images of hostages and abused prisoners in Iraq.

Those actions and others led prosecutors to add aggravating circumstances of anti-Semitism to the charges sought against some of the suspects.

"When the family said they didn't have money, they told them to go to a synagogue to get the money," said Sammy Ghozlan, a Jewish leader who is a retired police chief and has campaigned against anti-Semitic crime here in recent years. "This gang massacred this young man. They cut off ears and fingers. It was like they had a trophy, a Jewish kid, and everybody abused him."

According to Monday's edition of Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Halimi's mother criticized the police for moving too slowly and for ignoring the anti-Semitic motives.

"If Ilan hadn't been Jewish, he wouldn't have been murdered," Ruth Halimi told Haaretz.

Police insisted that they had worked the case around the clock, but were stymied by the suspects' convoluted and evolving demands. They are still hunting for the suspected ringleader, Youssef Fofana, an ex-convict who may have fled to his native Ivory Coast, Justice Minister Pascal Clement said.

So far, the investigation suggests that the gang targeted Jews because its members believed that Jews were rich, officials say. The gang's victims in at least three previous attempted kidnappings were Jewish, but several other victims were not, a French intelligence official said.

"You have a kind of confusion that results in great cruelty," the intelligence official said. "It starts as a kidnapping for money, but ends up focusing on his religion because they found out he wasn't rich. And you end up with the murder of a Jew in horrible circumstances."

The gang used attractive young women as bait. Halimi disappeared Jan. 20 after telling his family he was going out with a woman who had come to the store, engaged him in conversation and made a date with him.

On Feb. 13, he was dumped near railroad tracks, naked, bound and with 80% of his body burned and bruised, but still alive. He died of his wounds in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

The gang first demanded half a million dollars ransom, but kept changing demands, and ended up asking for $6,000, officials said. The captors' perceived lack of effort to collect the money suggests to some investigators that the gang was taunting the family, officials said.

The apparently mixed motives of the kidnappers are symptomatic of the violent mentality of high-crime housing projects, where riots have left a smoldering, semi-politicized rage that at its worst is sweepingly anti-Western and hostile to Jews, Americans and the French state, observers said.

But police have found no ties between the suspects and the Islamic extremist networks active in France, authorities said.

On Monday night, two civil rights organizations that work mostly with Muslim communities condemned the killing of Halimi.

The Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples and the SOS Racism group said they planned to show solidarity with the Jewish community by joining forces with the prosecution as civil plaintiffs in the case.

During the last decade, France's Jewish community has been hit by periodic arson and vandalism against synagogues and schools, but incidents of serious physical violence have been infrequent.

The perpetrators are generally Muslim youths, police say. Some of the rioters who rampaged nationwide in October and November painted anti-Jewish graffiti alongside slogans insulting the police and the French state.

If the Halimi killing turns out to have been driven by anti-Semitism, it will be one of the worst such crimes in recent memory.

"There is a lot of emotion in the community tonight," said Joseph Zehrin, vice president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France. "We hope that the justice system will do everything it takes, and that these barbarians, as they themselves call themselves, will be punished."

Ilan HalimiÂ’s murder dominates annual CRIF dinner meeting

By Yossi Lempkowicz and Rebecca Assoun in Paris Updated: 21/Feb/2006 17:08

Traditionally the annual dinner organised by CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish organisations, has been dominated by the French governmentÂ’s Mideast policy regarding the Middle East, especially Israel.

Every year, the French Prime minister delivers his speech to some 800 invitees, FranceÂ’s top political, social, religious, business, diplomatic and communal leaders.

But this year, while statements about Hamas and Iran were expected to top the agenda, the atrocious murder of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jewish Parisian man, radically changed the priorities of the dinner meeting, Monday night, at the Pavillon d'Armenonville in Paris. “It is not a festive meeting. Never France has known such a grave moment of crisis. We must find solutions to live together and find again a fruitful dialogue beyond the differences,” chief rabbi of Paris, David Messas, told EJP.

Writer Marek Halter claimed that “there is a real malaise about the dangerous relation people still make between Jews and money,” in a reference to information that Ilan Halimi’s kidnappers targeted Jews because they thought “that all Jews are rich.”

Communal shock

French Jews have been shocked by HalimiÂ’s killing and suspicions of the anti-Semitic motivation of the perpetrators were confirmed by Prime minister Dominique de Villepin himself.

Members of the Jewish community asked the representative body for a strong and clear stand at a march last Sunday in memory of the murdered man.

This led the CRIF to ask for a “clear response” from the authorities during the dinner. “Is Ilan dead because he is Jewish? Mr Prime Minister you owe the truth to the country,” Roger Cukierman, the CRIF’s president, who attended Ilan Halimi’s burial last Friday, asked the guest of honour outright.

An emotional Villepin responded that “all light has to be shed" on the odious and brutal murder of Halimi and declared that the judge investigating on the gang that kidnapped tortured and murdered the young phone salesman decided to retain the thesis of a racist crime.

“Barbarous crime”

“I want to tell Ilan’s family that all my thoughts go to them. I want them to know that we are going to do all what we can to arrest the authors of this barbarous crime and bring them to justice,” the Prime minister said.

“Allow me to convey tonight a message to Ilan Halimi’s family and tell them how much I share their sorrow,” Villepin added.

French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who attended the dinner, was due to meet Tuesday afternoon with Ilan HalimiÂ’s family members and the CRIF leaders.

News that the murder has had anti-Semitic motivations came as the reported number of anti-Semitic acts in France has sharply declined last year.

“This evolution does not mean that the roots of evil have disappeared,” said Cukierman. “The level of anti-Semitic acts is seven times higher than six years ago,” he stressed. “It’s the result of the mobilisation of all,” Villepin said, hailing the determination of interior minister Sarkozy who, he said, “is particularly devoted to this fight.”

“Fight against anti-Semitism is an absolute priority and a moral duty. It must help us build a society of the Republic and not of communities,” the Prime minister stressed.

Villepin announced that Education minister Gilles de Robien will work out a « reference dossier » to help teachers and schools directors “who have to face with the scourge of anti-Semitism.”


Can you pick out the President?

Monday, February 20, 2006


The press release below from the highly respected Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution deserves a good read. It is just been previously forecast.

Hello President Bush. Is anybody home?

Warmer than a Hot Tub: Atlantic Ocean Temperatures Much Higher in the Past

Study Suggests Climate Models Underestimate Future Warming

Contact: Shelley Dawicki
(508) 289-2270 or 3340 or February 17, 2006
Media Relations Office
Fenno House MS #40
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Scientists have found evidence that tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures may have once reached 107°F (42°C)—about 25°F (14°C) higher than ocean temperatures today and warmer than a hot tub. The surprisingly high ocean temperatures, the warmest estimates to date for any place on Earth, occurred millions of year ago when carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere were also high, but researchers say they may be an indication that greenhouse gases could heat the oceans in the future much more than currently anticipated. The study suggests that climate models underestimate future warming.

“These temperatures are off the charts from what we’ve seen before,” said Karen Bice, a paleoclimatologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Bice reported the findings Feb. 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis and is also lead author of a study to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Paleoceanography, published by the American Geophysical Union.

Bice and a multi-institutional team of scientists studied three long columns of sediment cored from the seafloor in 2003 off Suriname, on the northeast coast of South America, by the drillship JOIDES Resolution, operated by the international Ocean Drilling Program.

The sediments contained an unusually rich and well-preserved accumulation of both carbon-rich organic matter and the fossilized shells of microscopic marine organisms that had settled and piled up on the seafloor over tens of millions of years. The deeper down in the core the scientists analyzed, the further back in time they went.

The team analyzed the shells’ isotopic and trace element chemistry, which changes along with temperature changes in the surface waters where they lived. They determined that ocean temperatures in the region ranged between 91° and 107°F (33° and 42°C) between 84 million and 100 million years ago in an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Temperatures range between 75° and 82°F (24° and 28°C) in the same region now. The approximate uncertainty in the paleotemperature estimates is +/-2°C.

Using organic matter from the sediments, the group also estimated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations during the same time span. They were 1,300 to 2,300 parts per million (ppm), compared with 380 ppm today.

The findings, if confirmed, create a dilemma for scientists seeking to forecast how Earth’s climate and environment will change in response to the rising amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused by deforestation and the burning of oil, coal, and other fossil fuels. When 1,300 to 2,300 ppm of carbon dioxide is factored into current computer models that simulate global climate, it does not produce such high ocean temperatures.

“The climate models underestimate temperatures and the amount of warming that would accompany an increase in CO2 of more than 1,000 ppm above today’s level.” Bice said..

If the scientists’ interpretations of past ocean temperatures and carbon dioxide levels prove accurate, actual future warming from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations may be much greater than predicted by the models, the scientists reported.

“One of the most important impacts this evidence suggests is the change to the Earth’ hydrologic cycle,” Bice said. “Higher tropical temperatures will increase the intensity of hurricanes and winter storms. In addition, precipitation patterns will change, moving even more rain that now falls on the central U.S. - an area known as the breadbasket of the U.S. for its food production - to higher latitudes where the quality of the soil may not be as conducive to agriculture”

“Policymakers use these models to predict likely climate change with increasing CO2 levels, and if the models are not right, society is not well informed or well served.”

Alternatively, the models used to predict future climate may be missing a critical factor that amplifies heating, Bice said. During past warm periods, oceans and wetlands may have released much more methane gas to the atmosphere. Methane traps heat 10 times more effectively than carbon dioxide.

However, extraordinarily high concentrations of methane in the model still fail to produce the tropical Atlantic and Arctic Ocean temperatures inferred for 91 million years ago. This supports the idea that the model’s response to increased greenhouse gas concentrations underestimates the actual climate system’s response.

The research team included Bice and Kristina Dahl of WHOI, Philip A. Meyers of the University of Michigan, Daniel Birgel and Kai-Uwe Hinrichs of the University of Bremen, and Richard D. Norris of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Bice’s work was supported by private funding from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution through the Ocean and Climate Change Institute and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowed Fund for Innovative Research. Funding for this research was also provided by the Joint Oceanographic Institutions U.S. Science Support Program and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft through the DFG-Research Center Ocean Margins.


For seven years they have languished in a Libyan jail on absurd charges. They are accused of infecting over 400 children with HIV at Benghazi hospital.

In May 2004, dozens of the world's leading virologists and AIDS doctors sent an open letter, organized by Physicians for Human Rights, to Colonel Gaddafi protesting the death sentence of the health professionals. Signers included the co-discoverers of HIV, Professor Luc Montagnier and Dr. Robert Gallo, as well as virologist Dr. Ashley Haase, chair of University of Minnesota's Department of Microbiology. Professor Montagnier and Italian microbiologist Vittorio Colizzi sampled viruses from the infected children and determined that many of the victims had been infected with HIV before the arrival of the nurses and doctor in 1998. Furthermore, the presence of co-contaminants Hepatitis B and C suggests that the victims had been infected by unsanitary conditions at the hospital rather than by any deliberate action.

Last month a Libyan court overturned their death sentences, but they still face the very real probability of another show trial. It is way past time to end the madness.

Three articles follow. The first is from the Sofia News Agency. The second is from the Focus News Agency. The third is from the Sofia Echo.

Bulgarian Medics in Libya "In Grave Psychic Condition"

A French lawyer has called for the immediate release of the five Bulgarian medics jailed in Libya because of their "grave psychological condition".

During a three-day visit to Tripoli, Emanuel Altit and his colleague Ivan Panef visited the medics for about an hour.

They have spent in jail for seven years, Altit reminded after the meeting. Though the revocation of their death sentences in December, the medics are seriously troubled in the face of another endless period of trials, the French lawyer said.

Yet, Altit interpreted as a sign of good will by Libyan authorities the permission he was given to visit the jailed medics.

He was scheduled also to meet Libya's justice minister, but the meeting was cancelled arguing with the wave of protests in Benghazi over the row with cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Families of over 400 Libyan children with HIV have asked for EUR 4.4 B from donors.

Libya's supreme court overturned death sentences against the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor last month, but they still face a retrial and could be re-condemned for deliberately infecting the children.

Seeking to end this standoff, donors from Bulgaria, its EU and US allies, and the Qaddafi Charity Foundation, a charity run by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al Islam, formed a fund to organise aid for the children.


French Lawyer Emanuel Altit Met with Bulgarian Nurses in Benghazi Prison

Prominent French lawyer Emanuel Altit held a long meeting with the Bulgarian nurses in the prison in Benghazi, the editor’s office of Paris News told FOCUS News Agency.

“I have visited the Bulgarian nurses for one year, but it’s the first time that I have seen them so sad and dejected”, Emanuel Altit said after the meeting. "The Libyan authorities should consider the poor physical and psychological condition of the nurses and respect the request for their release, which French lawyers submitted on Feb. 9”, Altit said.

It is concerning that the prison administration does not allow relatives to visit the nurses under the excuse that a new investigation has been launched, the French lawyer said. Apart from the nurses, he also met with Libyan officials.

The request has been received and will be considered, Altit said. He stressed that Libya showed positive signs and gave as an example the country’s quick permitting his visit.


Developments in Libya
Petar Kostadinov

A TOTAL of 100 HIV-infected Libyan children will be sent to France for treatment. This was agreed on February 13 after a meeting of the governing board of the Benghazi International Fund, Bulgarian news agency BTA reported.

The fund was established in connection with the case of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of deliberately infecting 430 Libyan children with HIV at Benghazi Children’s Hospital in 1998.

At present, the medics are still in Libyan custody awaiting a new court hearing: Libya’s supreme court referred their original scheduled court date of December 25 2005 to a lower court for retrial.

The fund was formed after obtaining the formal authorisation of the Secretariat of the General People’s Congress of Libya as part of the international efforts to find a solution acceptable to all parties concerned in the trial.

The meeting took place at the office of the Gadaffi International Foundation for Charity Associations. It was attended by Bulgaria’s representative Dr Ivan Chomakov, mayor of Plovdiv and head of the non-government organisation Association for Promoting Bilateral Relations with Libya; Dr Mark Klein from the US; Abdelfatah Shibani of the Libyan Red Crescent; and the chairman of the fund’s governing board, as well as Marc Pierini, the European Commission head of delegation to Libya.

The officials made an assessment of the operation of the fund so far, and then met with the Association for the Families of the HIV-infected Children of Benghazi. The second meeting was presided over by Gadaffi Foundation executive director Salah Abdessalam, and took place in the presence of Pierini. Bulgaria was represented by Chomakov and Maxim Minchev, head of BTA - and Libya by Omar al-Amismari and Mohammed al-Emshiti of the Association for the Families, and Idris Laga, head of the association.

The officials drew up a strategy that was centred on three principal areas in the global action package.

The treatment of the HIV-infected children abroad was decided on as the priority task.

It was suggested that each of the patients in Benghazi be entitled to examination and treatment at five hospitals in Europe: one in Rome, one in Florence and three in Paris.

The procedure is already underway, with the sending of 34 Libyan children to Italy and with the next 100 children to be sent to France. The French government, together with the Benghazi International Fund, is financing the treatment in France.

According to another decision, all children will be accepted for 10-day-long examinations at European hospitals before the end of May 2006. The fund’s centre in Benghazi and the Association for the Families will shortly compile a definitive list of the infected children, which should be certified by an official Libyan institution. It was also proposed that the association would set up a trust fund in Benghazi to channel material support to the families.

The second task was agreed to be the comprehensive establishment and functioning of the fund’s centre in Benghazi.

IT experts are already working on this, and a sufficient quantity of medicines for this year has been procured. Other countries and donors have proposed to participate within the framework of international partnership.

Financial support for the families of the infected children was set up as third priority. At the proposal of the Association for the Families, the discussion on the specific financial parameters will be resumed when the resources for the fund are specified.

Association head Idris Laga reaffirmed that an early favourable solution must be found to two tragedies: the tragedy of the 400 infected children, and the tragedy of the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor.

In addition, Laga once again confirmed that the parents demand compensation of 10 million euro for each infected child. The Bulgarian Government has so far denied several times the possibility of such compensation because its official position is that the nurses are innocent.

The next meeting of the governing body of the Benghazi International Fund will be held in Tripoli on March 13 2006. The fund is a non-profit non-government organisation that will be working to assist the provision of sustained medical attention and humanitarian aid for the families of the HIV-infected children.


The following notice is from West Virginia Patriots for Peace.

February 23th, 2006 - Karl Rove Is Coming To Town! Let's Welcome Him!!

Karl Rove will be in Charleston for the 2006 Lincoln Day Dinner, sponsored by the Kanawha County Republican Party:

Where: Charleston Civic Center

When: Thusday, February 23 - 5:15-6:30 pm

West Virginia Patriots for Peace will gather outside the Quarrier Street side of the Civic Center at 5:15 p.m. to call his attention to the more than 2000 dead American troops listed on our Wall of Remembrance.

Mark your calendar and plan to join us.

Lincoln's words ring true: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."

West Virginia Patriots for Peace is here to say, "We will not be fooled."

Afterward the video, Bush's Brain, will be shown at Taylor Books 226 Capitol St. from 7:00 to 8:20 PM. Food is available at Taylor's or across the street at Ellen's.


West Virginia Patriots for Peace ♦
For more information, email, or call at 304.546.2346.