Saturday, April 29, 2006


Thousands of workers are expected to march in El Salvador on May 1st in a resurgence of a strong social movement. William Huezo, Public Employees Association director says International Workers´ Day will mark an important milestone as all the nation´s unions will march together through the principal cities of the country. This signals a reuniting of Salvadoran progressive forces in the social struggles against poverty, economic and social problems, corruption and the deterioration of the environment, Huezo said.

The following reports comes from Prensa Latina.

Fear Campaign Denounced in El Salvador

San Salvador, Apr 28 (Prensa Latina) Salvadorian progressive leaders denounced Friday that security officials are conducting a "fear campaign" to prevent the success of the national mobilization scheduled for May Day.

"The International Workers' Day march will be a massive demonstration of the people´s power, and the rightwing does not like that," said Robert Lorenzana, FMLN leader (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front).

He emphasized that the political mobilizations on May Day are a global tradition and said he could not recall any violent acts committed in previous marches.

Lorenzana ratified the attendance of his organization to protests on Sunday when they will go to the Los Ilustres Cementery where FMLN leader, Schafik Handal, is buried, but said local FMLN elected officials would not attend because they will be sworn-in that day.

Minister of Interior Rene Figueroa contradicted Lorenzana's statements, saying he recalled criminal acts committed in 2005 in San Salvador.

Figueroa said "If private property or the rights of other people are violated, we will apply the law," referring to the marches planned by all unions of the nation in every major city on Monday.


More then one billion people in the world lack access to clean water, and things are getting worse. Over the next two decades, the average supply of water per person will drop by a third, possibly condemning millions of people to an avoidable premature death.

This interview I grabbed off the Water Conservation Portal.

Not a drop to drink
Source: Copyright 2006, Salon
Byline: Katharine Mieszkowski

Leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, and you're dumping four and a half gallons of water down the drain, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

That's the kind of shiny stat trotted out to inspire profligate water-wasters to conserve. Just shut off the tap, save water. It's easy! Huzzah! Yet, as British science journalist Fred Pearce makes crystal clear in "When the Rivers Run Dry," the water we consume -- and waste -- in everyday life is hardly limited to what comes out of our own faucets.

Pearce, a longtime editor for New Scientist, who is now an environmental consultant for the magazine, calculates that it takes 40 gallons of water to grow the ingredients for the bread in a single sandwich, not to mention 265 gallons to produce a glass of milk and 800 gallons for a hamburger. And that's just what's for lunch. Don't get him started on what you wear to this water-rich feast. Even a simple cotton T-shirt bearing some hopeful green slogan like "Save the Bay" is a huge water user. Pearce figures it takes 25 bathtubs-full of water to grow the scant 9 ounces of cotton for such a shirt.

Water is the ultimate renewable resource, literally falling from the sky back to earth after it evaporates. And since it's so heavy and cumbersome to move great distances, it's also a local resource. Yet, start quantifying the water embedded in foods and goods, the "virtual water" as economists call it, and water is fast becoming a global commodity like oil. There's Brazilian water in the coffee beans grown for an American latte; there's Pakistani water in the cotton in that T-shirt.

In "When the Rivers Run Dry," Pearce finds a growing strain on many local water resources around the globe, as the world's population grows. As he visits dozens of countries, he sees rivers that have been so diverted, depleted and dried out, such as the Rio Grande, that they no longer conform to their original map locations. Pearce reports that the fallout from the competition for water resources is enormous, exacerbating tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and even accidentally poisoning villagers by the millions in India and Bangladesh.

Yet, Pearce also finds hope in the way some communities around the world are harvesting and using water. Salon spoke with the writer by phone from England about why he thinks we need a "blue revolution."

If there are 650 gallons of water in a pound of cheddar cheese, is it futile to make small gestures like turning off the water when you brush your teeth in the name of saving it?

It helps with water bills, so it makes sense in that way. And it may make sense with local water resources, which may be constrained, just within a small town, or even a community.

At the global scale, no, it doesn't make much difference. Most of the water that each one of us uses comes from the water used to irrigate the crops that we consume. That's principally food, but not only. Cotton for our clothing is a major user of water around the world.

We don't really know as we pick up the food from the store whether our purchases are responsible for making some local crisis elsewhere worse, but it is often the case. Many countries are facing serious water shortages; often their rivers are running dry, or their water tables falling very fast, and in many cases much of that water is being exported by those countries in the form of goods. Yet, when we pay market price for those goods, that price doesn't usually include any estimate of the cost to the water resources. We still think of water as an unlimited resource rather like the air we breathe.

Now some countries are entirely dependent on water from elsewhere to feed their people, on this "virtual water."

Many countries have run out of water for growing their own crops and are now importing water in the form of food. Egypt really, for instance, lost the ability to feed itself perhaps 30 years ago. It now imports a large amount of water in the form of food. That is the only way it can do it. Water is pretty heavy stuff to move, but the trade in products produced with water is huge, and in many ways can be seen as a trade in water.

What are some of the rivers around the world that have run dry, or are most in danger of it?

There are two rivers in a bad way in the U.S., one of which is the Colorado. There's a U.S. treaty with Mexico to deliver water over the border, and the U.S. has considerable difficulty in providing any water over the border to meet its minimum treaty requirement, because all the water is used up essentially by farmers and increasingly by cities along the Colorado.

The water goes off to Southern California, Phoenix, Tucson [Ariz.]. By the time the river crosses the border into Mexico, which is close to its delta, it is really very dry. There's not a lot of water left.

The Rio Grande is another interesting example. It essentially dries up about a thousand kilometers from the sea near El Paso [Texas]. The riverbed is virtually dry for 300 kilometers before some more water comes back in from tributaries coming in from Mexico.

So, whatever it looks like on the map, really the Rio Grande is two rivers. There's a river that gives out at El Paso, and there's the tributary that comes in and replenishes the last run to the Gulf of Mexico. There are very serious economic repercussions from the drying up of the Rio Grande. I met farmers who simply no longer have water to irrigate their crops, and that's on both sides of the border, on the Mexican side and on the Texas side.

If you look around the world, virtually no water flows from the Nile into the Mediterranean; very little water flows from the Indus through Pakistan into the Arabian Sea; the Yellow River in Northern China, one of the world's longest rivers, is essentially dry for much of the year. A little flow goes down to the sea, but very little. So, this is close to becoming a global phenomenon, some of the world's largest rivers, and longest rivers, simply not reaching the sea.

One response to rivers running dry is to move water enormous distances, at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. What do you make of such grand projects?

There are plans now for huge transfers of water across some of the world's biggest, most densely populated countries in order to provide water for the new mega-cities, and for farming. China's got one of the largest, and that's going to take a large amount of water out of the River Yangtze, which runs through the south of the country, and deliver it into the northern plains, to the Yellow River, which has essentially run dry for much of its course.

Essentially, the Yangtze is going to replenish the waters of the north of China. This project is already underway. Two of the three branches that are planned are already under construction. China hopes to be delivering water from the Yangtze to Beijing in time for the Olympics in 2008. This project will probably cost something like $60 billion. It's a major enterprise in order to keep northern China from running dry. India has talked about something even larger.

Yet, in these vast projects to move water around, aren't incredible amounts of the water lost through evaporation or seepage from canals?

Many large engineering projects suffer from a huge range of inefficiencies, which is why -- in general -- I'm not in favor of them. It's much better to do things locally, because you can control the water more. One thing that surprised me greatly was discovering that with Lake Nasser behind the Aswan High Dam in Egypt -- one of the world's kind of totemic dams -- that the evaporation from the reservoir behind that dam annually amounts to, in metric, 15 cubic kilometers of water [3.6 cubic miles], if you can imagine a vast amount like that.

That is roughly the amount of water that is used by the whole of the United Kingdom in a year. In other words, you could fill every tap, meet every water demand in the U.K., a country of more than 50 million people, simply by the water that evaporates from the surface behind the Aswan Dam.

Now, that's an amazing statistic, but there are other reservoirs that lose similar amounts of water, especially in the hot tropical regions. That can't make much sense, if you have a country which is desperately short of water, and desperately trying to collect it up to deliver it to farmers. There are also huge evaporation rates from some of the distribution canals. Also, seepage from beneath distribution canals can be a major loss of water.

What's the solution?

With seepage, often, farmers, being rather practical people, simply sink some drilling rigs into the ground, and stick a pump in and pump that water up again. So, they tend to recycle it. But evaporation is a real loss. I'm not quite sure what you do about it other than manage water more locally. One of the most heartening trends I've seen traveling around the world -- and I've seen it in China and India and in other places -- is the effort by farmers and villagers to harvest the rain as it falls. They don't let the water go into the rivers and run away to perhaps a large dam, or run away to the sea. They simply capture it locally, and even pour it back down their wells, creating a storage system so that they can pump it up later in the year. So, particularly in India where most of the rain falls in 100 hours over 100 days, you simply have to capture that and store it locally in ponds, or even underground in wells. That's a rather efficient way for a local community to manage its water supply. It's being very effectively applied in thousands of villages across India.

Are you optimistic that there will be a kind of "blue revolution" of innovative ways to conserve and capture water?

I'm an optimist, not a pessimist. I'm a pessimist in the sense that we use water so inefficiently and so carelessly now that it makes you despair, but I'm an optimist also because there is so much potential for doing things better. When you find that irrigation systems waste 60 or 70 percent of their water it does make you despair, but you realize that there is a huge potential to do things better. I find that given the chance farmers and local communities, and even towns and countries, will and can do a lot of things better.

Still, conserving water in one location can mean just donating it to someone else to squander.

Unlike many of the resources that we rely on, water does move -- down rivers and between countries -- in ways that we can't do much about. When water gets short, the conflicts that arise over water do get very complicated.

On the West Bank, for instance, the Israelis and the Palestinians are almost as much in conflict over water as they are over land. The Palestinians are very angry that they are not allowed to sink more wells and drill more boreholes on the West Bank region, because the Israelis say that the water is already fully used, when most of that water is in fact used by Israelis not only in their settlements, but also in Israel proper.

While we often see water as a kind of free resource, provided by nature, once it gets in short supply the powerful do have an ability to grab hold and keep water -- whether behind dams, or by sticking pumps into the ground. We haven't quite reached the situation where water wars are breaking out, but we're getting quite close in some parts of the world.

Where do you see potential for future water wars?

The River Nile is one, which is often talked about. The Egyptian government has said in the past that if a war is likely to be fought in their region, in North East Africa, it is almost certainly going to be about the River Nile. Egypt is absolutely and totally dependent on the Nile water to survive. The Nile flows through 10 countries before it reaches Egypt, which is very concerned that a country upstream, like Ethiopia, might start to build large dams, which would interrupt the flow of water down the Nile to Egypt.

People have also rattled their sabers over the Tigris and the Euphrates, both of which flow out of Turkey through Iraq on their way to the sea. In fact, during the first Gulf War, Turkey threatened to stop the flow of water down into Iraq as an act of war, using the dams it was building. It never did it, but it threatened to, and that caused a great deal of unease in that region.

India and Pakistan have a treaty over the River Indus, which flows through India. In fact, it collects most of its water in India, and then flows on into Pakistan, which is heavily dependent on that river for its survival. There is an agreement about who can have what water from that river, but if that treaty would break down then that again could be the basis for a very nasty water war. Of course, now you're talking about two countries that are both nuclear powers.

Is the American lifestyle more consumptive of water than other counties, as it is of energy resources, like oil and natural gas? And do you think the U.S. might end up importing water from Canada in the future?

It's an issue that keeps coming up. Canada has a great deal of water, particularly in the West, and America has quite a lot of demand for water, particularly in the West. So, you can imagine circumstances under which the U.S. would like to get its hands on Canadian water. Canadians are adamantly opposed to this, and I think that you'd have a great deal of difficulty getting any water out of them. They are prepared to use their rivers to generate hydroelectricity to sell electricity to the U.S., but they're not prepared to sell their water.

Domestically, American users are among the highest water users in the world, but you [Americans] stabilized your water consumption in recent years, principally by having more efficient toilets that use much less water in the flush. Canadians have not changed their toilets in the same way. They are probably now the No. 1 domestic users of water in individual homes. But neither the U.S. nor Canada reaches anything like the per capita water consumption of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Both of those use absolutely vast amounts of water to irrigate their cotton crops. It's a system set up by the Soviet Union, which has been carried on through today. They produce huge amounts of cotton grown using water taken out of the rivers in what is in many ways an arid region. The main consequence of that huge use of water is that they've dried up the Aral Sea, which was once the fourth biggest inland sea. It's sitting in Central Asia not far from the Caspian Sea, which is even bigger. They dried up the rivers that fed that sea, virtually no water reaches the sea anymore, and the sea has retreated fantastically.

I have been to see it, and you stand on the shoreline or what was the shoreline of the Aral Sea, and look out towards what once were waters where fishing boats got good catches, and all there is is desert. The water is over the horizon 60 miles away. It's one of the most extraordinary sights you'll see in the world -- how the Aral Sea has disappeared. People call it one of the great ecological catastrophes in the world, and I really think that's true. It has happened entirely as a result of misuse of water to pour the contents of what were large rivers onto fields to grow cotton, and it destroyed a sea in the process.

[Editor's note: A recent report in the New York Times found that the Aral Sea is being brought back in some places.]

Aside from rivers and seas, how is water disappearing that we can't so readily see, underground water?

As rivers are running dry, in many countries of the world, and I've seen this especially in India, farmers are beginning to rely more and more on pumping out underground water reserves. There is usually a lot of water underground one way or another, some of it recent from rainfall, some of it essentially fossil water that's been there for thousands of years. Farmers are pumping this water out, which is lowering the water table.

That is causing an emerging water crisis in a number of Asian countries, but India is probably the worst example. They call it a creeping anarchy because nobody has any control over what the farmers do. They simply get a private drilling rig. They drill down, and they stick a pump into the ground, and start pumping the water up.

In some parts of India where they're relying more and more on underground water, they're bringing up unexpected poisons, perfectly natural poisons, but ones which have lain in the rock beneath them undisturbed for hundreds of thousands of years. The two big examples are fluoride and arsenic. Both of these turn out to be absorbed by underground water. Because there is no great tradition of using underground water, until recent years, nobody really knew. But as farmers and people start pumping this water up, they're finding that there are huge rates of poisoning -- especially in Bangladesh and in West Bengal in India.

What are some of the effects of those poisons?

Well, they kill ultimately. They're slow-acting poisons, so you can drink the water for a number of years and then you slowly start having effects. Scientists from the World Health Organization have said that they believe this is one of the world's worst poisoning epidemics ever seen, because it involves tens of millions of people in both Bangladesh and parts of eastern India.

What impact will climate change likely have on water supplies around the world?

Nobody knows exactly what is going to happen to rainfall under global warming. We're fairly certain that climate change will make most of the world warmer. There are uncertainties about how weather systems are going to change, but the bottom line probably is that the wet places will get wetter, and the places that are dry will get still drier.

Originally posted at:


Often times, out of the blue, I think that for the luck of the draw (or jury pool) I could be sitting in prison today enduring, say, my 35th year behind bars. I'm not and I'm thankful. However, some of those who fought the same battles way back when are locked up right now. Those of us who were active then and those of you (and us) who are active today must never forget about these folks. We must never forget the line which runs directly from COINTELPRO to the Patriot Act. Same struggle, same fight!

Oh, and by the way, Leonard Peltier just lost another appeal.

Anyway, read the inteview below.

The following interview comes from the San Francisco Bay View.

Still being hunted: an interview with Black Panther Richard Brown

by POCC Minister of Information JR and West Coast Chairwoman Ra’shida

On our radio show, POCC Radio: The Block Report, our guest was Richard Brown, a Bay Area resident and one of five Black Panthers who were incarcerated in September 2005 during a secret Homeland Security initiated grand jury investigation of a 34-year-old police murder.

This has been a trend around the country in regards to freedom fighters. Kamau Sadiki, the father of political exile and freedom fighter Assata Shakur’s daughter was locked up on some trumped up charges a few years back in Atlanta and given a life sentence. Imam Jamil Al-Amin was convicted in ‘01 for a police murder that he didn’t commit.

As people who benefit in society from these souljahs’ sacrifices, we owe it to them to aid them in any and all ways, as well as to teach our young people about the war this government is waging on us and the history of the warriors who fought back. As we saw in Haiti during their 200th anniversary of independence, the white power structure doesn’t want us to know anything abut our people’s history of resistance.

The year 2006 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party. We have to realize that this is a protracted war and that this is the same government that enslaved us and today either wants to exploit us or destroy us. Check out the words of Black Panther Richard Brown.

JR: You were recently locked up from September to October 2005. Can you tell us about this grand jury that had you and your four co-defendants locked up?

RB: The secret grand jury investigation was investigating an incident – a crime that was committed in 1971. A couple of police stations were attacked. I understand that a police officer lost his life and a couple of people was shot. And this incident, our grand jury questioned us in 2005 … Along the way, though, in 1973, in New Orleans, three of the five people – it was Harold Taylor, John Bowman and Ruben Scott – were arrested. These people were tortured in New Orleans for five days.

They were brutally treated and mistreated, and all kind of criminal acts were committed against them. And they were forced actually to confess to crimes that they knew nothing about and implicate people like myself, Hank Jones and Ray Boudreaux. And all of this extends from way back then. The grand jury investigation was asking us questions about the so-called incident that happened in 1971.

R: Can you talk about the torture you all endured while in the concentration camps in 1971?

RB: During the five-day period in New Orleans, they systematically went about torturing people. They would use three brothers. … They utilized beatings of course. They would have them blindfolded and handcuffed, shove them into walls and local furniture. They used cattle prods, they used electrical instruments on their genitals, they scalded them with hot water – they did the whole gambit.

At the same time you have to remember that they had one man’s wife and his children, and another man’s children, and they were threatening to do the same to their families if they did not confess. This is the type of torture that they had to endure for five days.

JR: I understand that the same officers that interrogated and terrorized you over 34 years ago are the same ones that came to pick you and your co-defendants up, and are the ones that are working on your case currently.

RB: That’s correct. Frank McCoy and Ed Erdelatz: These were two San Francisco police officers who left San Francisco and went to New Orleans and conducted and participated in the torturous treatment of my friends. They would come into the room, ask questions. If they weren’t answered in the manner that they wanted them answered, or they couldn’t get the information, they would leave out the room.

New Orleans police would come in and do their brutal tactics, and when they left, the officers would come back in. And this was repeated over and over for days, until the men cooperated.

These same men, Frank and Ed, who had retired, they came out of retirement, joined Homeland Security and were the same officers that knocked on our doors and served a subpoena for the secret grand jury investigation. The first words out their mouths were, “Do you remember me?” So, yeah, it’s the same people all over again.

R: How is Cointelpro involved and today’s Patriot Act affecting those cases and the struggle today?

RB: Cointelpro is the main runner of the Homeland Security, and I find it ironic that this government, once they target you, they will bring about an agency like a Counter Intelligence Program, which is Cointelpro. They will release these people on you; they will violate your rights, kill you. Cointelpro was found guilty of over 300 criminal activities.

They’ve also by Senate investigation been determined to be unconstitutional after they destroyed Black Panther Party … after they had committed assassinations and jailed people with trumped up charges. They did all this for over three years, and then they were unconstitutional. So now we have the same people who were in Cointelpro coming out of retirement, helping and assisting Homeland Security to do the same thing to us all over again.

JR: Would Black Panther political prisoners Mumia Abu Jamal, Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Marshall Eddie Conway, the New York 3, Seth Hayes, Abdul Majid, the list goes on and on, do you think that Cointelpro should be investigated?

RB: It was investigated. It was condemned. They were accused of like I said committing over 300 criminal acts themselves. It was documented by Congress, and they were a rude constitutional agency and disbanded.

JR: If they closed the book on it, why weren’t those political prisoners released? All of those political prisoners I named including Leonard Peltier and a number of other ones are still on what we call death row because they are trying to make them die in prison. Do you think that it should be reinvestigated? Do you think that these cases should be opened, in terms of looking at the innocence that is there, in all of those cases that I just named?

RB: That’s one of the reasons that the five of us – and when I say five, I mean myself, John Bowman, Ray Boudreaux, Harold Taylor and Hank Jones – it’s one of the things we wanted to do; we’ve been enduring this for over 30 years. They have attacked us several times; 2005 was just the latest. We continue to endure these attacks and allow them to keep it secret. Well, we can’t afford to do that anymore. We wanna try to bring it to the attention of the Amerikkkan people.

And we wanna try to do something and show them that the Homeland Security is just an extension of Cointelpro and that the Patriot Act is just a legal way of going about doing what was illegal at that particular time. Perhaps, the best thing in the world that we would be able to do would be to focus enough attention and to get an investigation so that all blows up and we could revisit people’s case and it be shown that they were framed.

JR: With you being a member of the Black Panther Party specifically, what do you think particularly about the case of political exile Assata Shakur, who’s also a member of the BPP, who the government on May 2 of ‘05 put a $1 million dollar bounty on her head?

RB: Her and all the other political prisoners ... you know once Cointelpro, once they target you, once they put you on the list, then they can label you. They labeled us as terrorists. They labeled us as criminals. They labeled us as hoodlums. (They labeled us as) any negative thing they could label us as in order for them to get away with the illegal treatment that they forced upon us at that particular time. So that the Amerikkkan public would be able to accept it, everything was done in the name of the Amerikkkan people for national security.

You have to remember that with Nixon’s approval, J. Edgar Hoover labeled the Black Panther Party the biggest threat to national security in Amerikkka, period. At that time, that’s when they unleashed the dogs on us. And all the illegal facts that we’ve been talking about, it’s been happening to every Black Panther, male and female. And their job was to undermine and destroy the Panther Party by any means necessary; so (that means) framing people, driving people out of the country.

You know when you attack someone, and they know for a fact that they’re not going to have a fair trial, you know, you leave them no choice; they have to leave. In order to keep from being locked up for the rest of their lives for crimes that they did not commit, people leave. And, you know, that’s what’s happening with a lot of prisoners who are in exile, or people who are in exile.

R: Do you have any further comments?

RB: What I would like to get out is to the Amerikkkan people. You have to open your eyes and understand what’s going on in Amerikkka today. I believe that a majority of Amerikkkans are decent people who believe in justice and equality. We’re divided by all kinds of barriers. It’s the “divide and conquer” game.

I want the people to understand what Bush is doing when he asks for unlimited power, when he asks for the Patriot Act to be reinstalled, when he wants the ability to do anything and everything whenever he gets ready, however he gets ready, and doesn’t have to be held accountable to Congress or the Amerikkkan people. We no longer have democracy or a president; we have a dictator. And that’s what I want to get out.

Email JR at

Friday, April 28, 2006


Following last weeks police raid on the Six Nations camp at Douglas Creek in Canada, support poured in from around the world. (see
and for earlier articles).

The International Indian Treaty Council filed a notice with the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

E-mails and Web blogs provided intense coverage, as did Canadian national newspapers. Opposition parties raised questions in provincial and federal parliaments.

This morning supporters slowed traffic in Winnipeg.

The following article comes from First Perspective.

Caledonia protesters delay Winnipeg downtown traffic
by FP/Drum Staff

WINNIPEG -- Four-dozen demonstrators showed their support for Six Nations Mohawks on Friday morning by partially closing a Winnipeg bridge prior to police intervention.

They closed off the right hand lane on the Midtown bridge for a very short period of time ­ likely less than a minute or two ­ before police, who were stationed nearby, moved in and ordered the demonstrators off the roadway portion of the bridge.

"Nobody got arrested and nobody got hurt, so we will live to fight another day," said Peter Kulchyski, who was carried off the traffic portion of the bridge by three members of the Winnipeg police.

"I think it went pretty good considering people were not trained properly," said Kulchyski, an Aboriginal studies professor who is on sabbatical and was acting as picket captain.

He was a veteran of protests dating back to the 1970s, but many of the demonstrators were new to this type of activity. With more experience, they could have held up traffic a while longer, he explained afterward.

The evening before, when planning strategy, they decided their goal would be to slow traffic but leave one lane open while pamphlets were passed to drivers and passengers in other lanes. During the demonstration, police ordered the picketers onto the sidewalks and walkways, saying loudly that they were doing this to keep demonstrators from being hit by vehicles.

After the police intervened, the demonstrators mostly confined themselves to the sidewalks and meridians, although occasionally they walked into the traffic lanes to hand out pamphlets while cars were stopped by red traffic lights. Close to a dozen cops watched.

The demonstration began around 8 a.m. and lasted about a half hour. Some motorists opened their car windows to take the pamphlets that were being handed out, but other drivers in the morning rush either refused to open windows or yelled at the demonstrators. Most of the verbal hostility occurred before police cleared the bridge.

"Some people did not want any information, but those who took it were supportive," said Shelagh Pizey-Allen, who estimated that 30-50 motorists took her pamphlets.

When the demonstrators returned to their drum circle on grass near the foot of the bridge there was general discussion of participation in future events. Heather Lightning, one of the organizers, said the extent of future actions would largely depend on what happens at the Caledonia camp site near Hamilton.

Lightning said the First Nations organizations in Manitoba haven't been active on the issue. That is why individual citizens ­ both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ­ decided to act. "The chiefs' organizations in the province haven't done anything," she said.

The only chief at the demonstration was Chief Terry Nelson of the Roseau River First Nation. Speaking prior to the demonstration, he said that it was a mistake for First Nations organizations, like Union of Ontario Indians, to tell people to stay away from the Caledonia site saying that they didn't want people going into an area that could be unsafe.

UOI had called for cooler heads to prevail, but Nelson said the Native people who were standing up for their rights were not responsible for cranking up tensions. "They should be condemning the police and courts."

He also said that people across the country would respond with railway blockades if the police or military move against the Six Nations camp at Caledonia and kill people.

The demonstration held Friday morning (April 29) is among a series of events being held across the country to show solidarity with the Six Nations and to deter governments and police from using force to evict demonstrators at a sub-division construction site at the town of Caledonia.


The AP is reporting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called his U.S. counterpart, George W. Bush, "a terrorist" on Friday, and criticized Washington's decision to free two dissident Venezuelan military officers accused of playing roles in two Caracas bombings.

Chavez told a crowd: "We have requested extradition because it's been demonstrated that it was these two terrorists, manipulated and paid by the gringos and by the Venezuelan coup-plotting, terrorist opposition, were the ones that placed the bombs."

Former Army Lts. Jose Antonio Colina and German Rodolfo Varela were both freed Friday in Houston. They have denied any involvement in the Feb. 25, 2003, bombings at the Spanish Embassy and Colombian Consulate that left four injured. They said Chavez accused them because they belonged to a group of officers who occupied a Caracas plaza in 2002 and futilely called for rebellion against his government.

They had been detained by U.S. immigration officials since 2003 after they requested asylum in Miami. Neither were granted that request, but they instead will be placed under supervision requiring weekly telephone calls and monthly meetings with U.S. immigration agents, their lawyers said.

This, however, isn't the only case where the War Against Terror seems limited only to certain terrorists.

There is the pesky case of Luis Posada Carrile and Orlando Bosch who worked together to blow a Cuban passenger plane out of the sky. Last week Miami's Channel 41 provided a unique glimpse into the mind of a terrorist when it interviewd Bosh about the plane bomging.

Here are some excerpts from the television interview:

Juan Manuel Cao: Did you down that plane in 1976?

Orlando Bosch: If I tell you that I was involved, I will be inculpating myself . . . . and if I tell you that did not participate in that action, you would say that I am lying. I am therefore not going to answer one thing or the other.

Juan Manuel Cao: In that action 76 persons were killed (the correct figure is 73, including a pregnant passenger)?

Orlando Bosch: No chico, in a war such as us cubans who love liberty wage against the tyrant, you have to down planes, you have to sink ships, you have to be prepared to attack anything that is within your reach.

Juan Manuel Cao: But don´t you feel a little bit for those who were killed there, for their families?

Orlando Bosch: . . . Who was on board that plane? Four members of the Communist Party, five north Koreans, five Guyanese, (JP: there were really 11 Guyanese passengers) . . . concho chico, four member of the Communist Party chico!!! Who was there? Our enemies . . ..

Juan Manuel Cao: ¿And the fencers? The young people on board?

Orlando Bosch: I was in Caracas. I saw the young girls on television. There were six of them. After the end of the competition, the leader of the six dedicated their triumph to the tyrant etc etc. She gave a speech filled with praise for the tyrant. We had already agreed in Santo Domingo, that every one who comes from Cuba to glorify the tyrant had to run the same risks as those men and women that fight alongside the tyranny.

Juan Manuel Cao: If you ran into the family members who were killed in that plane, wouldn't you think it difficult . . . ?

Orlando Bosch: No, because in the end those who were there had to know that they were cooperating with the tyranny in Cuba.

Bush refuses to extradite any of these terrorists. Some "War on Terror."

The following comes from VHeadlines

So, why isn't Bush extraditing Posada Carriles back to Venezuela to face justice? commentarist Mary MacElveen writes: This past Tuesday at the Tribeca Film Festival, located in New York City, the special airing of Flight 93 occurred and, by all accounts, it was met with many different emotions. Jan Snyder who lost her daughter, Christine, on that fateful flight had this to say: ''It's time for this. The public needs to know, they need to remember and know what the families have gone through.'' She even stated that she sees these visions in her head everyday.

I can fully understand that since a child is not supposed to die before their parent.

According to the AP: "the screen went dark after the stomach-turning sequence showing the plane's nosedive. The theater was silent except for the gut-wrenching sobs and wails from the loge, where the relatives were seated together." That must have been so hard for those left behind to see what it was like just minutes before their loved ones died at the hands of terrorists.

When someone says "try walking in my shoes" in order to understand any loss they have gone through ... this one I cannot. While I have lost children, it was by an act of God, not at the hands of hateful people.

Ken Nacke whose brother Louis died on that flight had found himself "rooting for a different outcome." That is a very natural feeling to have especially as one live on going through the different levels of grief. It can take years to go through each and every stage, only to find through viewing a movie of how your loved one died, going through all the stages yet again.

I do not know how the psyche of the American people will fair once this movie is shown to a much wider audience on A&E (Arts and Entertainment) network here in the United States. Each person's reaction will be different since psychology can not state exactly how each and everyone of us will react.

But, I am of the opinion that all family members left behind of those killed on Flight 93 want some form of justice and so far the Bush administration has not delivered it by capturing Osama bin Laden. That is the most important thing we have to remember. Isn't his capture still important to the American people? If his capture means nothing to you, then you really need your head examined.

If we as Americans still want justice done for anyone who dies at the hands of terrorists, we do have a terrorist residing here in the United States and his name is Luis Posada Carriles.

In October, 1976, the midair explosion of Cubana Airlines plane flying out of Barbados killed all 73 people aboard.

He (Carriles) was later implicated in this bombing by two Venezuelans, Herman Ricardo and Freddy Lugo. Ricardo worked for Carriles security firm where he stated that it was Carriles who masterminded this bombing.

Sound familiar? When Luis Posada Carriles was arrested he was found with a map of Washington showing the daily route of to work of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean Foreign Minister, who had been assassinated on 21st September, 1976. In 1985 Carriles escaped a Venezuelan prison with the help of Jorge Mas Canosa, the head of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), an organization created under Ronald Reagan.

Carriles is to Venezuela and Cuba what Osama bin Laden is to us.

While Bush has stated in the past of bin Laden: "I do not know where he is" those family members who lost loved ones thirty years ago and still go through their stages of grief know where their terrorist is. He (Carriles) is in Miami, Florida.

So, why isn't Bush extraditing him back to Venezuela to face justice?

The Sun-Sentinal reported: "In September, an immigration judge ruled that Posada should be deported, but said that the aging militant could not be sent to Cuba, where he was born, or Venezuela, where he is a naturalized citizen, because of the potential that he would be tortured."

So, here we are the United States whose pledge of allegiance states: "With liberty and justice for all" ... yet we also tortured alleged terrorists in Abu Graib and at Guantanamo Bay.

I first find that hypocritical to be worried if he will be tortured and he is a proven terrorist. Where is the justice for those who died on Cubana Airlines? I am sorry, but this does not make sense, but maybe it does and I am about to go out on a limb here. Are these American lives more precious than the lives of those on Cubana Airlines?

Answer that in your heart.

The Sun-Sentinal also reported of Carriles that he "was set to be interviewed Wednesday by immigration officials after he applied to become a U.S. citizen, his lawyer said."

Why are immigration officials even entertaining letting him apply for citizenship?

Why are they even meeting with him in the first place?
Bush once said after 9/11: "You are either with us or with the terrorists" and this action by the United States immigration department clearly shows that we are on the side of terrorists.

With the full airing of Flight 93: Will it bring forth our anger at terrorists?

If it does, the productive thing for all of us to do is to demand of our elected officials that Luis Posada Carriles is extradited back to Venezuela. We must also demand that Osama bin Laden be captured once and for all to bring justice for those on Flight 93.

Both Carriles and bin Laden took the lives of innocent human beings.

If this piece finds its way into the hands of anyone who lost a loved one on September 11th, 2001, you will see that you are connected with those who died on Cubana Airlines. I am asking you as a fellow American to use your voice to demand justice for those on Cubana Airlines. You are the voices that people in power will most likely listen to ... you are after all kindred spirits.

The thing that separates both groups of victims is that we know where Carriles is ... he is evading justice at the hands of the United States government.

The commonality is what Jan Snyder said: "they need to remember and know what the families have gone through.''
We must state in a united voice that this terrorist Carriles be sent back to Venezuela to face the justice he has evaded. Let that be our reaction when Flight 93 airs.

Mary MacElveen


The Great American Boycott 2006, A Day Without An Immigrant” calls for a nationwide general immigration strike on May 1 to protest the current anti-immigration bill.

While there are debates about the exact nature of how the actions on May 1 should go, there is little doubt something is blowing in the wind.

This ought to be a May Day unlike any seen for a long time in the USA.

The following article comes from the New Standard.

Support Builds for Immigration Protests, Boycott
As May 1 action looms, undocumented workers discuss their power, solidarity
by Kari Lydersen

Chicago; Apr. 28 – In the 2004 independent film A Day Without a Mexican, Californians woke up and all the Mexicans had disappeared. Lawns went untended, hotel rooms sat uncleaned, and countless other jobs performed by low-paid immigrants were left undone.

Immigrant-rights groups have frequently mentioned this film and the larger concept behind it during the past six weeks of massive pro-immigrant marches. In Chicago, where the first of the large demonstrations took place, a central theme has been waking the American public up to the economic importance of immigrants. Organizers say they want to show how much immigrants, including close to 12 million undocumented ones, contribute with their labor and with their buying power.

At the March 10 Chicago demonstration, during which more than 100,000 immigrants and their supporters hit the streets, a group handed out flyers for a hastily organized boycott of Miller beer. Demonstrators targeted Miller Brewing Co. because the company's PAC had donated $2,000 to Wisconsin Republican Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., sponsor of the harshly anti-immigrant bill that passed the House of Representatives last year.

Merchants on 26th Street, Chicago's main Mexican commercial drag in the Little Village neighborhood, said that by evening customers were refusing to buy Miller. The message reached beer distributors quickly, and by the following week officials from the company's Milwaukee headquarters had met with coalition organizers and put out a statement opposing the House's legislation.

"A lot of immigrants are not eligible to vote, but we have the purchasing power," said Salvador Cervantes, a member of the Chicago organizing coalition.

The idea amplified on April 10, when immigrant marchers in scores of cities and towns across the country pledged to refrain from shopping, working or going to school, wearing white T-shirts to symbolize their unity in creating a "day without immigrants."

A boycott on May Day has likewise been called in many cities across the country as part of pro-immigrant demonstrations. Called a paro in Spanish, the term is generally understood to mean both refusing to buy and refusing to work or go to school.

But the plan for a paro is not universally endorsed by all immigrant-rights groups. In Chicago, the organizing coalition known as the Movimiento 10 de Marzo, or the March 10 Movement, decided not to call for a boycott or general strike in the city, largely because of the involvement of labor unions that said they could not legally endorse such an action because their contracts prohibit them.

The question of whether to participate in nationwide calls for a May 1 boycott was hashed out at a contentious April 22 meeting, where the local coalition decided to support calls for boycotts in other cities, but refrain from a boycott in Chicago.

"We consider it a matter of wording," said Jorge Mujica, Illinois secretary general for the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), a Mexican political party and one of the central coalition organizers. "If people are marching all day, they're not working, buying things or going to school. But since we have the unions, we can't call a boycott or a strike. We'd rather have labor on our side than call for a boycott. As for the national and international boycott, we think it's beautiful."

But some organizers described this as caving in to unions and politicians that were pushing for a more moderate stance.

"I wish the unions had stayed out of it and let people celebrate May Day the way they wanted," said Rafael Cervantes, an activist from Monterrey, Mexico who has lived in Chicago for decades. "The boycott was a symbol for people, an icon, a way to say we matter, we are an important cog in this machine, we produce and we consume. It's ironic that the unions are saying they could not support it because it would be illegal, but the whole reason we're marching is that people are here 'illegally.'"

Tom Hansen, founder and director of the Mexico Solidarity Network, a grassroots organization working for social change on both sides of the US-Mexico border, said the boycott is only one example of the larger ideological battle that is going on in the immigrant-rights movement. "The reformists want to 'manage' the movement with a lot of US flags and a discourse about family values, et cetera," Hansen told The NewStandard. "The more progressive elements want to move the discussion to one about exploitation, labor rights and the meaning of citizenship."

On April 24 union leaders held a press conference supporting the march and framing it as not only about immigration but about rights for all workers. They said a boycott was beside the point for the labor issues they wanted to highlight.

"We're not even putting it into the equation," said Moises Zavala, a Chicago organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). "This is the day to recognize our labor history and bring it full circle. In Chicago we're not endorsing a boycott; we're out to march to show our numbers and recognize the importance of May Day."

Teamsters organizers said that rather than discussing a strike or boycott, they were trying to get employers on workers' side; helping employees petition their employers for time off or paid holidays to attend the demonstrations.

In Los Angeles, where other mass protests are planned, some groups will be carrying out work stoppages and boycotts and attending a daytime downtown march. Others who plan to go to work and school will attend a separate demonstration in the late afternoon.

Thousands of truck drivers working out of the Port of Los Angeles and cab drivers who serve Los Angeles International Airport are expected to strike for the day or possibly the week.

"If truckers aren't trucking, the port isn't working," said Los Angeles attorney and organizer Jim DeMaegt. "If cab drivers don't drive, LAX will be shut down. Nobody knows precisely what will happen, but there is a lot of support."

DeMaegt thinks a massive strike would force policy change faster than some other types of actions. "We say a day without shopping is good; going to speeches, going marches is good," he told TNS. "But stopping work – a day without workers will close the country. A day without goods going in and out of the ports and airports of the US, and we'll have a policy change within a week."

The truckers and cab drivers are organized but are not members of official labor unions, giving them the freedom to strike without worrying about legal issues binding unions.

The truckers and cab drivers are protesting against rising fuel prices and low pay, along with calling for immigration reform.

DeMaegt said local Teamsters officials are not supporting a work stoppage but support the overall mobilization.

Aquilina Soriano-Versoza, executive director of the Pilipino Workers' Center, noted that many of their members are home-healthcare workers, so they don't want to endanger their clients by skipping work; but they will support the mobilization nonetheless.

"They can't leave their patients, but they're in solidarity," Soriano-Versoza said. "There are a whole range of ways people can participate."

She noted that many employers, particularly in the Koreatown garment industry, have given their workers the day off thanks to organizing by community groups and employees.

Alexis Lanza, an activist with the Chicago group La Voz de los de Abajo (The Voice of Those Below) and an immigrant from Honduras, said he supported the call for a one-day boycott. "I think it would have been good if the US united on that," he said. "But there are lots of interests, unions and different groups, and it's not easy to balance those things."

Lanza would prefer long-term boycotts of products from companies that donate to anti-immigrant politicians or promote policies that hurt Latin Americans through international trade or employment policies. The Chicago committee discussed proposals for a long-term boycott of Coca-Cola, with its notorious human-rights record, and a local Mexican cheese company that buys from Rep. Sensenbrenner's state, Wisconsin. But those proposals were not adopted.

"Calling a boycott for just one day strategically doesn't have that big an impact; it's symbolic," said Lanza. "The next day you'll be buying the same products again."

Lanza thinks even without an official boycott, the demonstrations will make immigrants' economic power clear. "If you're calling on people to close their businesses during the march, that's like a boycott, except you're not calling it that," Lanza said.

Some groups in other cities have not endorsed the boycott out of fear there will be a backlash against immigrants or that workers will lose their jobs for skipping work. But in Chicago, where many workers fired for participating in the March 10 demonstrations were reinstated after immigrant organizers threatened to protest workplaces, advocates say they are not that worried.

"I really feel this time around nobody is going to get fired," said Mujica. "We have prepared this so well with the letters for employees to give to their employers." He noted the group is distributing letters in several languages for workers to download and use to explain their cause while formally requesting time off.

In Arizona, the coalition that organized a 100,000-strong protest on April 10 in Phoenix waffled about supporting a boycott. Last week, the Somos America (We are America) coalition announced it was supporting demonstrations and other forms of protest, but not endorsing the boycott due to fear of a backlash and concern for immigrants' job security.

But, according to the group's chairman, Roberto Reveles, who spoke to the Arizona Republic, the recent arrests of 1,187 undocumented immigrants in federal raids on pallet maker IFCO Systems locations in 26 states including Arizona, spurred the group to change its mind.

Reveles told the Republic that his group wanted "to make a statement against the latest raids," which came "at a time when they should be working toward immigration reform rather than instilling additional fear in the lives of undocumented workers and their families."

The success of the boycott, according to Hansen of the Mexico Solidarity Network, will depend "on how many people participate, what the impacts are and, most importantly, the kind of political consciousness that accompanies the tactic."

"The idea is to change hearts and minds," he said, "and to give immigrants a sense of their power. This is particularly important for a group that has been repressed and exploited for so long, on both sides of the border. A change in the collective appreciation of what is possible is the real goal of the boycott."

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Wealthy Westerners who don't want to wait for an organ donor are travelling to poorer countries to find the organ they need.

Every day, 17 Americans die of organ failure. In Canada, a patient can wait seven years for an organ transplant. In Israel, the average wait for a kidney transplant is four years.

As a result, many are travelling to countries like the Philippines where they can buy a kidney and have the transplant done in a modern hospital. These people are called "transplant tourists".

The illegal trade in organs is growing.

For some time the practice of luring poor people with money to sell their organs, especially kidneys, has been associated with India along with other Asian countries and Brazil.

But no more.

Egypt is a regional hub for the human organs trade. Wonder why? There are no official statistics, but this is a country where social inequality is high and a quarter of the population is believed to live under the poverty line.

The "liberation" of Iraq has opened a new market. With unemployment in Iraq at about 60 per cent, the chance to earn money by touting body parts is a more calculated risk than, say, becoming a $150-a-month rookie policeman at the mercy of suicide attackers.

While most donors who sell their organs are poor and hoping (against hope) for a better life, authorities think that not all are volunteers but are merely victims of an elaborate extortion rings that capture and forcefully remove organs which they sell to wealthy buyers.

And even considering the sacrifice, most of those who willingly sell their organs get paid peanuts while the doctors and brokers get the lion share.

Bill Berkowitz takes a look at what is the hell is going on.

The following piece appeared originally at Inter Press Service.

"Transplant Tourism" Flourishes in Developing World
Bill Berkowitz, Inter Press Service

OAKLAND, California, Apr 27 (IPS) - While stories about the illegal trade in body parts -- often obtained by traffickers for measly sums paid to the donor or for nothing at all -- may seem better suited for the big screen, episodic television or science fiction novels, they are occurring in the real world with disturbing frequency.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, knows this all too well. She is the co-founder and director of Organs Watch, a project that originated in widespread rumours of body snatching and organ theft in the urban shantytowns of Brazil in the mid-1980s.

In a new essay published in the March/April 2006 edition of the Nacla Report on the Americas, titled "Biopiracy and the Global Quest for Human Organs", Scheper-Hughes says that, "U.S. or Japanese medical agents working for large hospitals abroad... abducted bodies", harvested the parts they wanted, especially eyes, kidneys, hearts, and livers, and then unceremoniously dumped the remains "on the sides of country roads or in hospital dumpsters".

Although medical professionals denied this was happening, in 1997 Scheper-Hughes began following the trail of rumours about the grim trade. Over the years, she has traveled to 12 countries and visited more than 50 scenes of illicit organs and tissues procurement.

Legislation has been passed in several countries to crack down on the trade in body parts, but Scheper-Hughes told IPS that "things are still quite unstable".

"China is preparing a new law making transplant tourism illegal. There will be no payment for organs and no foreign transplant patients," she said.

"It's too early to say whether it will stick or give rise to a shadow transplant economy. A new law was passed in Israel, making it illegal for Israeli transplant patients to be reimbursed by their national health insurance carriers for illegal transplants."

"Despite all this legislative activity, transplant tourism grows stealthily on the margins, as patients are 'voting with their legs' to solve their problems. Eventually, I see paid kidney donors becoming routine and eventually legal so that the trade will occur nationally rather than transnationally. That would be a sad outcome, but perhaps it is inevitable now that the cat is out of the bag," she concluded.

One of her more shocking realisations was that the underground body parts industry had gone from being something that "evoked shock and revulsion bordering on nausea" to becoming a "fait accompli -- an accepted medical fact defended on pragmatic grounds".

As a member of the panel on Ethics, Access and Safety in Tissue and Organ Transplant at a 2003 World Heath Organisation meeting, Scheper-Hughes witnessed an official from a private eye bank "defend the 'necessary' commercialisation of tissue banks in the developing world".

Without government support for "subsidised tissue banking", the argument went, poor countries had to resort to international trading/selling of body parts that were not being used locally and that could be transported through informal agreements to the developed world, where they are in great demand for orthopedic and other high-tech surgeries.

And, in what on the face of it appears to be a win-win situation, "In exchange, the poor donor-institutions could receive a steady supply of scarce corneas."

Organs Watch discovered a "large, unregulated, multi-million-dollar business in human tissues, taken without consent or procured from the naïve family members of brain-dead donors who believe their 'gifts' would be used altruistically to save lives and reduce human suffering".

Instead, these "gifts" were turned into commodities that were bought and sold, processed and transported, picking up additional value as they moved toward the market. Organs Watch found that bone and skin grafts were sold and processed by private biotech firms in the U.S. and turned into expensive commercial products for dentists, orthopedics and plastic surgery.

In South Africa, official documentation revealed that "human heart valves [had been] taken without consent from the bodies of poor blacks in the local police mortuary and shipped for 'handling costs' to medical centres in Germany and Austria", the group says.

In 2002, Scheper-Hughes apprised the South African Ministry of Health of a scheme originating at a national tissue bank that involved "the transfer of hundreds of Achilles tendons that were removed without consent from the bodies of the victims of township violence and shipped by the director of the tissues bank to a corrupt U.S. businessman who paid 200 dollars for each tendon".

Shipped to the U.S. via South Korea, they were ultimately repackaged and sold locally and abroad to private medical and biotech firms for 1,200 dollars each.

As is most often the case, everyone, except the poor people from whom these tendons came, benefited handsomely from the deal.

The rise in "illegal transplant tourism" -- a term coined by Scheper-Hughes -- was "developed to meet an insatiable demand for organ transplants that rises exponentially against a flat supply of organs donated through traditional and regulated means," she writes in the essay.

While donations have remained flat -- increasing only 33 percent over the past decade or so -- the number of patients on national waiting lists has increased by 236 percent.

With the increased need, poor people are recruited or entrapped into donating their body parts to satisfy the demand from rich patients who can afford to travel abroad and, Scheper-Hughes says, to break national laws and international medical regulations to get the organs and medical procedures they need.

Scheper-Hughes told IPS that she continues to be very active with Organs Watch, and is currently working with the World Health Organisation on several "black spots" in illegal transplant tourism -- China, Pakistan -- as well as with the ministry of health and the federal police in South Africa and Brazil with respect to arrests and trials of "transplant surgeon outlaws".

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Protesters have stopped traffic in Seattle demanding that more African-American workers be hired for a major light rail project in the city.

Millions and millions of dollars are being put into projects all over the city of Seattle, but a small amount — something like one percent — has gone to to disadvantaged businesses. And black workers are not being hired. The Sound Transit Project is a major example of the problem.

The story below is from the Seattle Times.

Protesters stop traffic, demand more black workers on Sound Transit light-rail project

Demonstrators entered a Sound Transit job site and briefly blocked traffic on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle late this morning to protest what they called a lack of African-American workers on a light-rail project that runs through their community.

There were a few confrontations when irritated motorists tried to inch through groups of protesters, but there was no violence. About 70 people held hands in a circle at Rainier and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and concluded the protest about noon. They planned to gather again when the politicians on Sound Transit's governing board held their regular meeting today.

The dispute has been simmering for three years, as black ministers and activists have urged the agency not to forget small, black-owned businesses when it awarded nine-figure contracts in 2003-04.

"Sound Transit presented us with a cutting-edge contract that promised to incorporate African Americans into the work force," said James Kelly, the director of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. "Well, the results are in, and of the 91,000 labor hours recorded in the last four months, only 1,900 hours were accumulated by African Americans."

Sound Transit's light-rail director, Ahmad Fazel, said the agency is barred by federal regulations from targeting contracts based on race. Sound Transit does set and meet goals for broader participation by minority, female and disabled business owners.

"I hope that you know Sound Transit is serious about this issue and will continue to work with you," Fazel told Charles Rolland, one of the demonstrators.

Rolland cautioned him, "Contents under pressure -- if you don't relieve it, it's going to escalate."

The transit agency says that based on data it collects from major contractors, 11 percent of work hours have been performed by African Americans since 2004, but protest leaders are skeptical of the numbers. The Community Coalition for Contracts and Jobs, leading the protests, said that fewer than 2 percent of contracts go to African-American businesses.

The regional transit agency is building a $2.7 billion, 16-mile line from Westlake Center in downtown Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Earlier today, the demonstrators chanted, "No black contracts, no black jobs, no light rail!" outside the gate of another job site, along Airport Way South, where a tunnel through Beacon Hill is being drilled.


Tensions in the Solomon Islands have eased, a day after its embattled prime minister resigned. A dusk to dawn curfew was lifted in the capital of Honiara, more than a week after Snyder Rini's election as prime minister sparked two days of burning and looting amid allegations of official corruption.

The first item below is from NZTV (New Zealand).The second article below which is an analysis of the whole situation comes from the blog site Reading the Maps.

Honiara calm after curfew lifted
There have been no reports of trouble in the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara overnight, following the lifting of an eight-day curfew imposed last week.

The scene on the streets last night was markedly different, with police roadblocks and military patrols making way for locals to go about their lives.

A 6pm - 6am curfew was imposed on April 19 after riots and looting which destroyed most of Chinatown in the capital.

The riots began after the secret election of a new prime minister who finally resigned on Wednesday.

Radio New Zealand's reporter in Honiara says there is no doubt the curfew took a toll, with businesses losing earnings and many people left frustrated.

New Zealand Defence Minister, Phil Goff, who is in Honiara, will this morning meet local MPs before returning to New Zealand.

Australia's Justice Minister Chris Ellison will visit Honiara today.

He will meet MPs from all parties to discuss recent developments and the way forward for the Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).


The Solomons: it's about imperialism

Most of the media coverage of recent events in the Solomon Islands has focused on the sensational details of riot and disorder: burning buildings, beaten-up cops, and looted shops have all been paraded across our screens. Explanations of the reasons for the riots in Honiara have been hard to find. Some commentators like Russell Brown have resorted to racist stereotypes of an uncontrollable 'communalist' people; others like the Herald's Audrey Young have ventured the slightly more sophisticated opinion that the riots were caused by resentment of Chinese and Taiwanese interference in Solomons politics.

Missing from the mainstream media has been any sort of account of the role that the United States, Britain and their South Pacific deputy sheriffs Australia and New Zealand have played in creating and maintaining the manifold troubles of Solomon Islands society. The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has faced various criticisms of its handling of the riots, but no one has suggested that the Mission and the regional powers that back it are part of the Solomons' problems, not their solution.

When mainly Australian and New Zealand troops occupied the Solomons under the banner of RAMSI in 2003 the country was in the grip of a crisis that had been manufactured in the offices of the International Monetary Fund. Under pressure from the Australian and New Zealand governments, the Solomons had implemented IMF 'reforms' that devastated its economy and profoundly destabilised its society. RAMSI's occupation has only exacerbated the crisis.

After gaining independence from Britain in 1977, the Solomons found itself with a primitive infrastructure and an economy fashioned by the selfishness of a colonialism that prefered plunder to sustainable economic development. Always heavily dependent on the prices it could get for exports of its raw materials, in particular timber and gold, the Solomons economy took a big hit when the 'Asian flu' of 1997 led to a drop in demand in its key export markets. In 1998 alone, the GDP of the country declined by 10%.

Pressured by Britain, Australia, and the US, the government of Bartholomew Ulufa'alu responded by implementing a programme of drastic economic 'reforms' drawn up by the International Monetary Fund. The country's currency was devalued by 20%, and hundreds of public employees were sacked. Conflict between the country's different ethnic groups followed, and at the beginning of 2000 a coup put Ulufa'alu into 'protective custody'. Continuing violence left the country's economy in ruins.

Instead of admitting the role that IMF policies had played in the collapse of the Solomons, the Howard government in Canberra used the chaos in its neighbour to demand even more brutal 'reforms' as the price of humanitarian aid. In November 2002 the government of Sir Allan Kemakeza began a new programme of spending and job cuts, sacking a third of public sector employees. Even worse, Kemakeza was forced to cede control of his government's Finance Ministry to Lloyd Powell, the Australian head of a New Zealand-based multinational company called Solomon Leonard. At a conference held in Honiara in June 2002, the IMF had demanded Powell's appointment as Permanent Secretary of Finance as the price of any new financial aid to the Solomons.

The second round of IMF reforms had predictable consequences. Even rudimentary health and education services collapsed in the slums of Honiara and in the provinces; power blackouts became frequent even in the capital; law and order broke down as police and judges went unpaid; and competition for scarce government funds renewed conflict between ethnic groups.

By the middle of 2003 it was clear that the reform of the Solomons economy by imperialism could only take place at gunpoint. The Howard government had become the US's most loyal ally in the Asia-Pacific region, having just participated in the invasion of Iraq. Proclaiming the Solomons a 'failed state' that like Iraq could become a base for terrorists and the cause of regional instability, Australia organised a force of 2,500 troops to occupy the country.

The real reason for the invasion was two-fold. In the first place, Australia and New Zealand feared that the chaos in the Solomons could damage their own economies, by ruining the many Australasian companies that do business in the islands. In the second place, the Howard government's masters in Washington had become alarmed by the prospect of the Solomons turning either to China or to France for aid money and help in restoring law and order. With colonies in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, France still maintains a strong presence in the Pacific, and early in 2003 it had offered military aid to the Solomons government. Neither the US nor Australia wanted to see an expansion of French influence in an region they considered their own backyard. After the formation of RAMSI was announced in July 2003 the French offered troops for the force, but were brusquely turned down by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

With its economy booming, China is seeking energetically to expand its influence in the Pacific. The country's drive to build trade and diplomatic ties has become particularly urgent since the government of Taiwan began using 'chequebook diplomacy' to bribe small countries with votes in the UN and similar international bodies to recognise the government in Taipei rather than its rival in Beijing. With its view of China as an emerging rival superpower and potential medium-term military foe, the Bush government was concerned by the possibility of increased Chinese involvement in the Solomons.

The government of New Zealand had extra reasons of its own for involving itself in the occupation of the Solomons. After tacking away from Australia and the US by siding with France and China over the invasion of Iraq, the Clark government was desperate to assuage anger in Canberra and Washington by proving that it could still 'play ball' in the Pacific. In addition to making up with its old allies, the Labour government believed that it could moderate the unilateralist tendencies of Australia and the US. Clark and her Foreign Minister Phil Goff trumpeted the multinational make-up of RAMSI and the consent of the Kemakeza and Solomons parliament government to RAMSI's intervention as triumphs of multinationalism over the 'Iraq approach'. In reality, the RAMSI force was dominated by Australia, and the Kemakeza government had already been stripped of most of its ability to make independent decisions. The Australian government treated the vote of the Solomons' parliament as a fait accompli: it had dispatched some 2,000 troops to Honiara before the vote had even been taken.

In the two and three quarter years it has occupied the Solomons, the RAMSI force has made it abundantly clear that it acts on behalf of the Pacific's big states and international capital, not on behalf of the people of the Solomons. Like the army occupying Iraq, RAMSI's soldiers are exempted from prosecution or even investigation under Solomons law. They have authority over the Solomons' own police force. Soon after landing in the Solomons RAMSI had begun making sweeping arrests - by the anniversary of the occupation it had detained 700 people, most of whom had not faced any sort of trial. In August 2004 eighty of these detainees staged a rebellion at Rove Prison in Honiara. After breaking out of their cells and overpowering guards, the prisoners shouted slogans condemning their 'inhuman treatment'. Most had been held in solitary confinement for a year. Despite the protest, hundreds of people are still detained without trial in the Solomons.

RAMSI has also felt free to intimidate the population of the Solomons and over-rule the country's government whenever it has felt the interests of international capital have been threatened. In March 2004, for instance, the Solomons' remaining public sector workers voted to stage a national strike to demand a pay rise. In an effort to avert a strike, the Solomons government announced a meagre increase of 2.5%. RAMSI's response was swift: the head of the Solomon Islands Public Employees Union was summouned by RAMSI staff to the Australian embassy, where he was warned that he was 'destabilising' the country. Shortly afterwards a RAMSI representative handed the same union leader a written warning that if he did not revoke the pay claim Australian aid to the Solomons would be suspended. Eventually the union capitulated.

The riots that have destroyed large parts of Honiara in the past week can only be understood against the backdrop of the history of imperialism's exploitation of the Solomons. The underdevelopment left by British colonialism has been exacerbated by brutal IMF policies which Australia and New Zealand have shown themselves prepared to implement at the point of a gun.

The rioters have accused Taiwanese and Chinese businessmen and diplomats of interfering with the electoral process by bribing key politicians, and condemned the new Prime Minister Snyder Rini as corrupt. But it is imperialism and RAMSI's occupation of the Solomons which has created the environment for such corruption. The arbitrary, arrogant, and self-interested behaviour of RAMSI has created an atmosphere in which graft can flourish. IMF policies and RAMSI occupation have greatly weakened the institutions of the Solomons state and cowed the trade unions, which might have acted as watchdogs against corruption. The Chinese and Taiwanese dealmakers and chequebook diplomats have stepped into the economic vacuum created by the failure of IMF policies and Australasian businesses to deliver prosperity.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have responded to the riots in Honiara by sending more troops to prop up RAMSI. The left and labour movement should respond by demanding the withdrawal of all occupying troops from the country.


The following announcement is from the Western Shoshone Defense Project.

* International Indian Treaty Council * Western Shoshone Defense Project * Indigenous Environmental Network * Shundahai Network * Nevada Desert Experience * Citizen Alert * Western Shoshone National Council

The “Stop Divine Strake Coalition” Calls for an International Day of Action

The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) plans to detonate a 700-ton ammonium nitrate and fuel oil explosive on June 2, 2006 at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), a federal facility 65 miles north of Las Vegas. They are calling this test “Divine Strake.”

While this test is not nuclear in composition, its purpose, according to DTRA documents, is to “simulate a low-yield nuclear weapon.” Given that previous nuclear tests have occurred only a few miles away from where Divine Strake will occur, this test raises the specter of kicking up previous radioactive contamination and sending it downwind. We have been told too many half-truths and outright lies to believe in the “safety” of this test. Furthermore, no full environmental impact statement has been done to verify that there is no radioactive contamination at the particular site.

It must be stressed that the presence of the United States military on Western Shoshone land is uninvited. In fact, the Western Shoshone have been fighting for sovereignty over their ancestral and treaty-recognized lands, and to shut down the NTS for years. Most recently, their efforts brought them to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which found the United States in violation of recognized fundamental human rights standards and international law, and ordered the United States to “freeze”, “desist” and “stop” their activities on Western Shoshone land. All this while the DTRA was preparing for the “Divine Strake” test

As tensions increase with Iran, speculation has increased in the media and elsewhere that this test, in conjunction with other military projects, is building up to an imminent attack on the peoples of Iran, possibly in the form of nuclear bombardment. This test is seemingly a “war game” to initiate a U.S. led invasion of Iran. Many media articles about Divine Strake and its possible role in the escalation of tension with Iran may be found on and

Because our goal is to stop the test, and to not expose anyone to undue health risks from the actual blast, our focus will be an International Day of Action on Sunday May 28, 2006 (Memorial Day Weekend) at the Nevada Test Site Peace Camp, located across Highway 95 from the Test Site. We are looking for allied organizations to join our coalition, and either join us at the Nevada Test Site on the 28th, or stage actions in their own communities throughout the following week.

Some of our anticipated activities will be:
¨ Delivering eviction/deportation notices to the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Energy as illegal, non-respecting immigrants to indigenous lands.
¨ A rally with speakers from indigenous, immigrant, nuclear abolition, and peace and justice communities.
¨ Non-violent direct action training
¨ Peacekeeper training
¨ Workshops on the history of the test site and radiation compensation, indigenous sovereignty, and the escalation with Iran.
¨ Spiritual ceremonies to remember those who have suffered or died as a result of war and nuclear weapons testing.
¨ Brainstorming workshops on what common actions folks can do later in the week in their respective cities
¨ Vigil activities at U.S. Federal Buildings and Bechtel Corporation offices on June 1 and June 2, if the test has not been canceled.

Some of our anticipated needs are:

¨ Getting the word out to sympathetic communities
¨ Development of fliers and other outreach materials
¨ Optimizing media participation both before, during and after the event
¨ Providing shelter, food and water to participants
¨ Organizing workshops
¨ Providing “peacekeepers” to keep the event on message and free of violence.

Ongoing activities – Please keep the phone calls, letters coming!
The test detonation can be cancelled. We call for the United States Government to do so immediately. Concerned citizens can call or write to express their opinions to their Congressional Representatives and:

President George W. Bush 202-456-1111
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

James Tegnelia (800) 701-5096
Defense Threat Reduction Aagency
Attn: James Tegnelia
8725 John J Kingman RD Stop 6201
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-6201

Please contact us if you would like to join our coalition. We will then proceed with detailed plans based on the coalition’s collective abilities.,

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Although the following resolution from the Workers Communist Party of Iran was adopted in February, I have never seen it published anywhere (which doesn't mean it wasn't, just means I didn't see it). Anyway, I am publishing it in full.

The “Nuclear Crisis” of the Islamic Republic and the Western Powers

1- With Iran on the verge of being referred to the UN Security Council, the nuclear crisis of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IR) and the Western powers, has taken a dangerous turn that can sink the Middle East and the world into another horrendous war with catastrophic consequences. This new development calls the working class and people of Iran, as well as people of the region and the world, to follow this crisis with open eyes and keep abreast of the events and by closing their ranks take a clear stance.

2- The escalation of this crisis is the result of the perseverance of both sides of this crisis over their wider reactionary aims. In the wider context, the nuclear crisis is the manifestation of the confrontation between the two poles of world terrorism; the terrorism of the US and its allies and the Islamic terrorism over the redrawing the political and ideological map of the region, helped by the resurgence of the Political Islam and Islamic terrorism in Iraq in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq. Under such circumstances, this nuclear crisis has become the battle ground to establish who has the political and ideological upper hand in the region and elsewhere.

3- The US descend into the quagmire created by the invasion of Iraq; the emergence of the political Islam in Iraq and the victory of Hamas in Palestine have enticed the IR to attempt to put up a more strategic challenge against the US and Israel. After two decades of efforts to establish a closer relation with the West, the IR now seeks its survival through confrontation. For the IR return to the Islamic fascism against the West and Israel and its insistence on heightening the nuclear crisis serve as a means for bargaining for a better share for the Political Islam in the region and also a means to expand and intensify the suppression of the escalating workers’ movement and disenchanted masses of people. The IR will not hesitate, to commit any crimes against humanity, in pursuit of extending the influence of the political Islam in the region and the consolidation of its power. This is the reason why this nuclear crisis is so critical. The IR armed with atomic bombs present a real danger for the people of Iran, the region and the world.

4- For the US and its allies, the escalation of the nuclear crisis provides an opportunity to justify their military bullying under the pretext of safeguarding the world against the threat of the IR armed with atomic bombs and also offers a way out of the quagmire that they are in. In these desperate times the camp of the US and its allies and in particular Israel will not refrain from resorting to the use of force and atomic bombs. The logic of the US and its allies, just as in the case of the war against Iraq, is based on a preference for military action rather than attempts to find a political solution, bearing in mind that the condition for confrontation with Iran has, since the invasion of Iraq, worsened for the US.

5- The IR is rigorously pursing acquisition of nuclear weapons. In the face of this reality the US and the West are unable to intervene. Legally, the West can not prevent the IR from acquiring the atomic bomb and lacks practical means to stop them. They can not force the IR to retreat and the IR is unwilling to voluntarily abandon its nuclear programme. In the final analysis the military options will prevail. But the Iraqi experience has shown that the US warmongering will lead to the deterioration of the situation for the people of the region and the world. The IR and the West can not put an end to this impasse.

6- The real solution lies with the people of Iran. Only through the revolutionary overthrow of the IR can the world get rid of the IR armed with atomic bombs. People of Iran do not want the IR to acquire atomic bombs. People of Iran are keen to get rid of the IR. The world, the civilised humanity and the peace loving and progressive people of the world can and should, by putting up a clear and resolute opposition to the warmongering and the dangerous atomic confrontation and by supporting the movement of the Iranian people to overthrow the IR, secure a resolution to this crisis.

7- The framework of a clear and radical policy to end the stand off between the IR and the West is as follows:

a- People of Iran, at the forefront of the people of the region with the support of the progressive people around the world, can and should offer their own independent solution and the final say against both sides of this confrontation.

b- Neutralising the threat of the IR armed with atomic bombs, and putting an end to its misadventures can only come about through its overthrow at the hands of the people of Iran. People of Iran by raising the demand for freedom and equality based on the “Charter for the Overthrow of the IR” must mobilise their forces in places of work, districts and universities and by joining the “Freedom Guards” must take their affairs into their own hands.

c- People of Iran and the world must resolutely oppose the imposition of economic sanction. Sanction will primarily hurt the people of Iran rather than the Islamic regime. The economic sanction will leave damaging consequences on the livelihood of people and will intensify the police and military grip over people’s lives.

d- People of Iran must oppose any threat of military action, albeit localised, against Iran. Military action against Iran will not remove the threat of IR or lead to its overthrow but will rather prolong its life and will lead to the militarization of the society; constricting political environment for the workers and people to carry out their struggle against the IR; Iraqization of Iran and the destruction of the fabrics of the society.

e- With the escalation of the current crisis and on the verge of a military conflict, gangs of the ethnic and federalist groups, political and armed gangsters, fanatic Arian patriots and various Hezbollah thugs will emerge and by inciting reactionary intimidation and creating division amongst people will push the entire society towards a catastrophe and will cause the disintegration of the civil life. Such a scenario must be opposed by a united and consorted effort.

f- It is clear that legally every country should be able to benefit from nuclear energy technology. The interest of the working class and people, in general, rests with the universal nuclear weapons disarmament and the destruction of all weapons of mass destruction. Till such a time there can not be any monopoly over nuclear weapons for certain countries and it is not acceptable that a number of countries have access to nuclear weapons and the rest be deprived. But the current nuclear confrontation is not a legal conflict and should not be viewed as such. This is part and parcel of a wider confrontation between two poles of terrorism. The interest of the people of Iran and the world demands that IR should not acquire nuclear weapons. This can only be achieved through overthrowing the IR.


The danger is very real! We must consciously, openly and actively enter this arena and mobilise our forces against both sides of this dangerous conflict. The resolution of this conflict is in our hands. The solution is the revolutionary overthrow of the IR through our insurrection and uprising. Let us turn our opposition against this nuclear crisis into a decisive struggle to overthrow the IR through our united action.

Worker-communist Party of Iran - Hekmatist

Political Bureau

February 9, 2006


It will come as no surprise to anyone that arrests were made at the West Point Military Academy when Equality Riders showed up to talk with cadets about the army's "don't ask, don't tell policy" and other related issues. Such open discussion is not allwed even though U.S. Military Academy is also an institution of higher learning.

The Equality riders say, "At military and religious colleges around the nation bans on LGBT enrollment force students into closets of fear and self-hate. These bans devalue the life of LGBT people and slam the door on academic freedom."

Apparently the United States Army is afraid of allowing its cadets to be exposed to such wildly radical ideas.

Last October despite warnings to the contrary a similar group from SoulForce was allowed on the grounds of the US Naval Academy where they conversed with cadets over pizza at a dining hall and between classes in the yard.

The Navy survived the visit.

We get the following up to date news from SOULFORCE.

Twenty-one arrested at West Point Equality Ride action

(Highland Falls, NY) - Military police arrested fifteen Equality Riders and 6 community members as they attempted to step onto the United States Military Academy at West Point to speak as citizens and taxpayers opposed to the military's 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy. The policy prevents openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from serving in the military or attending West Point.

"We are here as LGBT people to pose one important question to the future military leaders that attend West Point," said Haven Herrin, Equality Ride co-director. "The question is, 'Would you serve with me?' If the answer is 'yes,' then we need to tell Congress that military members are open to LGBT people serving with them. If the answer is 'no,' then we need to sit down and have a conversation with cadets that is 13 years overdue."

As they have at military campuses around the country, Equality Riders wore t-shirts with the question, "Would you serve with me?" printed on them. At the front gate of the Academy, Riders and community members stepped up to a line of Military Police who informed them that if they trespassed onto campus, they would be charged with a federal offense. The Riders and community members stepped past the MP's one-by-one and were escorted back to the front of the gate. Undeterred, they returned and stepped past the MP's again and were arrested and escorted onto the campus for processing. All those arrested were given a summons and immediately released.

Equality Rider Monica Carmean spoke as one of the organizers the West Point visit. "I am here as a straight ally because so often policies like 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' are put in place in the name of heterosexual people," Carmean said. "This policy reflects not just individual prejudice, but government-sanctioned discrimination."

Around 10,000 service members have been discharged under the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy at a cost of 364 million dollars to the U.S. government. Several of those discharged have been trained in crucial skills such as Arabic language.

Prior to the stop at West Point, Equality Riders were contacted by closeted cadets at the school. Although the cadets were unable to make an appearance at the action for fear of being expelled, one informed Riders that several cadets had pooled a donation and contributed to the Equality Ride.

A West Point professor, Richard Schoonhoven, watched the events unfold from the front gate. "I think it's a shame that the Academy isn't willing to enter into a constructive dialogue with Soulforce on this issue," Schoonhoven said. "'Don't Ask Don't Tell' is a problematic policy that needs to be addressed."

The Equality Ride has been hosted during its stay in New York City by Soulforce New York City. On Tuesday night, Soulforce NYC hosted a reception and fundraiser for the Equality Ride at the Hasted-Hunt Gallery in Manhattan. More than 150 people attended the event, including Soulforce founder Mel White, Neil Giuliano, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Ted Allen of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The morning of the action at West Point, Soulforce NYC hosted a breakfast for the Riders at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan.

The West Point visit is the final stop on the Equality Ride. Riders will have a chance to enjoy New York City on Thursday and then will return to Washington for a weekend of discussion and planning for the future.

For more information on the Equality Ride stop at West Point, see: