Saturday, June 24, 2006


First Nations leaders in Manitoba last week unanimously voted to block rail lines later this month in hopes of pressuring the Canadian government to settle land claims.

Fifty tribal leaders at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs supported the blockade. Plans are still being finalized but the First Nations will give advance notice to prevent anyone from being harmed.

The blockade will take place June 29. The Roseau River First Nation plans to block two rail lines coming from the U.S. Several other tribes plan to blockade other lines.

According to Chief Terrence Nelson of Roseau River First Nation, more than 6,000 land claims haven't been settled.

A Press release from Chief Terrence Nelson of Roseau River First Nation, Manitoba reads as follows:
Ultimatum meets Ultimatum! As Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister of Indian Affairs Jim Prentice pull out of the Six Nations/Caledonia land claim with ultimatums that the "barricades must come down," First Nations across Canada are issuing their own ultimatums. Last week, 100 Ontario Chiefs walked to the site of the land claim dispute and issued their own warning to Canada. Today Union of British Columbia Chiefs issued full support to Six Nations. In Manitoba, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, representing 64 First Nations, passed a resolution supporting a 24-hour railway blockade set for June 29th 2006, "to force the Canadian government to establish a reasonable time-frame for settlement of land claims."

Chief Terrance Nelson moved the resolution to "send a message, that resource wealth of our lands are what supports every Canadian." Canada is the third largest producer of diamonds, has 10 per cent of the world's forests, and mines 60 metals and minerals. Oil is now over $72 a barrel, up from $10 a barrel in 1999, and there are 1.4 trillion barrels of oil in the tar sands plus hundreds of other oil and gas producing areas. Canada had eight straight federal government budget surpluses, a 2005 reported net worth of $4.5 trillion, and GDP over a trillion dollars. Today the federal government raises far more revenue from its share of resource royalties than it does from income taxes.

Roseau River will block two railway lines going into the United States. At least six other Manitoba First Nations have vowed to block railway lines at the same time. The financial cost of the railway blockades will be in the millions but the real impact is likely to be the international image of Canada. Canada was the United Nations choice as the "best country in the world to live in" for seven straight years, but while Canada was number one on the index, Canadian First Nations communities mired in extreme poverty were set at the 63rd level on the UN scale. Over 6,000 First Nations land claims are now in limbo.

"What pisses me off when I watch the Caledonia violence" said an angry Chief Nelson, "is the immigrants to our lands didn't bring the diamonds or other resources from Europe in their little wooden boats, yet they have the gall to demand we, the owners of the land and resources, must now pay taxes to them on top of their theft." Treaties 1 to 11 representatives went home last week from a Winnipeg conference to seek support in their regions to initiate railway blockades in traditional territories.

The resolution of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs reads:
Resolution - Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
MAY 30-JUNE 1, 2006


WHEREAS, the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation will initiate a railway blockade on Thursday, June 29th at 4 p.m. and will end on Friday, June 30th at 4 p.m. to force the Canadian government to establish a reasonable time-frame for settlement of land claims; and

WHEREAS, the purpose is to send a message to the federal government and all Canadians that resource wealth of our lands are what supports every Canadian; and

WHEREAS, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation is asking for other First Nations to support in a national railway blockade to demand an answer from Canada.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Chiefs-in-Assembly support the one day blockade by the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation.

Moved by: Chief Terry Nelson, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation
Seconded By: Chief Morris Shannacappo, Rolling River First Nation

The following is from the CBC.

CN asks court to prevent rail blockades in Manitoba

Canadian National on Thursday sought an injunction in a Manitoba court seeking to block First Nations in the province from blocking its rail lines.

The railway said it filed the application with the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench.

First Nations leaders in the province said last week they are planning to blockade rail lines this summer to pressure the federal government to settle outstanding land claims.

During a general assembly of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, 50 representatives of First Nations voted unanimously in favour of blocking rail traffic on reserves this summer.

The bands involved plan to block the rail lines for 24 hours on June 29 in southern Manitoba.

"CN has no authority to resolve First Nations' land claims disputes with the federal government, and said rail blockades would be unsafe and unfairly harm CN, its customers and their employees, and the national economy," the company said in a release.

CN Rail also said it has asked First Nations to reconsider their blockade plan and urged them to pursue alternative dispute-resolution mechanisms with the government.


The following comes from the San Francisco Bay View.

Help political prisoners Hugo Pinell and Seth Hayes win parole

Hugo Pinell

Hugo is scheduled to go before the Parole Board on July 10, 2006. Please write letters to the Board of Prison Terms to encourage them to grant Hugo parole. You may mail your letters to Gordon Kaupp, Attorney at Law, who will be representing Hugo at the parole hearing. See below for details or visit

Please tell as many people as you can to write letters to the Parole Board. All letters should include specific offers of help and/or support for Hugo to re-enter society. The Parole Board commissioners are interested in the following offers:
job training

offers of employment, including temporary work

assistance in writing a resume

help with networking and job searching

a temporary or a permanent place to live, preferably in San Francisco or the Bay Area

monetary support (He’ll be released after 42 years with $200 gate money.)

In addition, describe other ways you can support Hugo’s transition back into society after spending over 42 years in prison, 34 in solitary confinement. Please mention your relationship to Hugo, what impact he has made on your life, how long you have known him or about him, and any other positive comments you might have.

For those of you with job offers, please be aware that Hugo is fluent in English and Spanish, which should be a feather in his cap in regard to employment. Also, Hugo is very personable, intelligent and athletic and is in tip top physical condition. Highly disciplined, Hugo is a vegetarian and continues to work out regularly. He would be an excellent mentor for at-risk youth.

Please include the date and the subject of your letter, which should be Hugo L.A. Pinell (A88401), and use his prison number, e.g.:


Dear Parole Commissioners:

Re: Hugo L. A. Pinell (A88401)

Please send your original letter to: Gordon Kaupp, Attorney at Law, 115 1/2 Bartlett St., San Francisco, CA. 94110.

Robert ‘Seth’ Hayes

Robert “Seth” Hayes is a U.S. political prisoner and former member of the Black Panther Party who has been imprisoned in New York state for more than three decades. When Seth was convicted in 1974, his sentence was 25 years to life. The implicit understanding at the time of his sentencing was that Seth would serve 25 years as a minimum, after which time he would be eligible for release based on his record and conduct in prison.

In July, 2006, Seth will be going before the parole board for the fourth time. Seth’s prison record is exemplary, and if a decision about Seth’s parole were to be based on his conduct and personal growth, he would have rejoined his family and his community years ago.

Please write a letter to the parole board to let them know that you think Seth deserves to be released. Write your own letter, or use the sample letter that has been included in this document.

If you have a personal relationship with Seth, please consider writing about this relationship in your letter. If you work with a community organization or union, have a professional job or are a rock star, please consider mentioning this in your letter (or writing on letterhead, etc.).

If you decide to personalize your letter, you may choose to include information drawn from the short biography on his website, where some of Seth’s accomplishments are highlighted. The site, at, has been put together by his supporters, or you may email them at

All letters should be mailed or faxed to Seth’s lawyer no later than June 30, 2006, as Seth’s parole hearing is taking place on July 15, 2006. Please send all letters to: Susan Tipograph, Attorney at Law, 350 Broadway, New York, NY 10013, fax (212) 625-3939.

Note: for further information on Seth, go to

Friday, June 23, 2006


A Cuban exile acquitted of plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro admitted in an interview published Thursday that he had indeed planned to kill the Cuban leader in 1997.

Jose Antonio Llama, the former head of the Cuban-American National Foundation (FNCA), told Miami's El Nuevo Herald newspaper that he his buds planned what can only be called acts of terrorism on Cuba.

So as all the news is of the arrest of the poor jloobs in Miami yesterday, it kinda makes you wonder, huh?

The following was reported in the Miami Herald, not generally known as rabid Fidel supporters.

Exile: We plotted attacks on Cuba

A former board member for a prominent anti-Castro group went public with accusations that leaders of the Cuban American National Foundation plotted attacks in Cuba.
El Nuevo Herald | Read the story in Spanish at

A former board member of the Cuban American National Foundation says he and other CANF leaders created a paramilitary group to carry out destabilizing acts in Cuba and do away with Cuban ruler Fidel Castro.

Jose Antonio Llama, known as Toñin, told El Nuevo Herald that the arsenal to carry out these plans included a cargo helicopter, 10 ultralight radio-controlled planes, seven vessels and abundant explosive materials.

''We were impatient with the survival of Castro's regime after the fall of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp,'' said Llama, a key financial backer of the plot in the early 1990s. ``We wanted to accelerate the democratization of Cuba using any possible means to achieve it.''

The plans failed after Llama and four other exiles were arrested in Puerto Rico in 1997 on charges of conspiracy to assassinate Castro during the Ibero-American Summit on Margarita Island, Venezuela. A jury acquitted them after a federal judge threw out one of the defendants' self-incriminating statements.

Llama, a close associate of the late CANF leader Jorge Mas Canosa, left the group's board in 1999. He said he quit CANF because it refused to pay his codefendants' legal defense costs after the trial. Llama also went bankrupt.

CANF spokesman Alfredo Mesa -- speaking for members and leaders -- told El Nuevo Herald: ``In this case, we consider that it is extremely irresponsible for a press organization to echo what clearly represents an extortion and defamation attempt.''


The Cuban government has long claimed CANF planned armed attacks on the island, but up until now, none of its claims have been documented. Llama has been handing out pamphlets in Miami detailing the purported plot. On Wednesday, Granma -- Cuba's government newspaper -- published a story on the pamphlets.

Llama -- who says he made his fortune building air conditioners for Soviet vehicles -- said he's going public because he contributed $1.4 million of his own money to the cause and several CANF members bilked him.

He is currently writing his memoirs, titled De la Fundacion a la fundicion: historia de una gran estafa (From the Foundation to Meltdown: Story of a Big Swindle).

''This is the truth -- The only thing I have left at this point in life is the truth,'' said Llama, 75. ``I am asking for what's due to me, nothing more and nothing less, to take it to bankruptcy court. Where are the vessels and planes I financed with my money? Where did they end up? Who has the original titles?''

Llama said he is also going public because his statements don't affect old friends who are implicated in the plot, such as exiles Arnaldo Monzon Plasencia, Raul Lopez and Manuel ''Nolo'' Garcia, who have died.


According to Llama, between 1994 and 1997 he personally spent more than $1.4 million to finance the purchase of radio-controlled planes and other supplies, under the cover of Florida-registered Nautical Sports Inc. and Dominican Republic-based Refri Auto.

Llama showed El Nuevo Herald financial records used to buy the equipment.

Llamas paid Nautical Sports $869,811. The purchase of the seven vessels equipped with satellite radio and phones, including the Midnight Express fast boat, was guaranteed through this front corporation, created in 1993, he said. That 40-foot motorboat was meant to take Mas Canosa to Cuba if Castro died or there was a sudden change of power, he added.

Another vessel, La Esperanza, was confiscated by the Treasury Department in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, after the 1997 federal indictments against its crew.

Llama remembers that the project started to take shape during CANF's annual meeting in Naples in June 1992. He said businessman Miguel Angel Martinez of Puerto Rico proposed the idea of ''doing more than lobbying in Washington'' to overthrow Castro. About 20 of the foundation's most trusted leaders agreed and designated Jose ''Pepe'' Hernandez, the current CANF president, and Mas Canosa to choose the armed group.

''It was agreed that since this was a delicate matter, details about the paramilitary group would be discussed in petit comite [a small committee],'' Llama said. ``At the meeting that board members and trustees held the following year [1993] in Puerto Rico, the chosen ones started to meet and consider everything that needed to be bought.''

The foundation's general board of directors didn't know the details of the paramilitary group, which acted autonomously, Llama said. He added that current CANF board chairman Jorge Mas Santos was never told of the plan.

''It was debated whether the group should be led by Miguel A. Martinez or Pepe Hernandez,'' the activist said. ``We chose Pepe for his known record as a fighter in the 2506 Brigade and the Marines.''

Among the group members, Llama said: Elpidio Nuñez, Horacio Garcia and Luis Zuñiga, who left the Foundation in 2001 to establish the Consejo por la Libertad de Cuba (Council for the Liberation of Cuba, or CLC); Erelio Peña and Raul Martinez, all of Miami; Fernando Ojeda, Fernando Canto and Domingo Sadurni of Puerto Rico; and Arnaldo Monzon Plasencia and Angel Alfonso Aleman of New Jersey.

Former CANF members Garcia, Zuñiga and Nuñez declined to comment. Ninoska Pérez Castellón, a CLC spokeswoman, said the three men have referred the matter to attorneys.

Llama also gave this account of the operation:

The 10 small remote-control planes were financed by Llama for $210,000 through the International Finance Bank of Miami, which paid Flight Rescue Systems, a company owned by Luis Prieto and Rafael Montalvo. The equipment was stored in a Miami-Dade warehouse to be used against Cuban economic targets or against Castro. Llama said Pepe Hernandez sold them after 1997.

Sadurni donated the cargo helicopter, but Llama said he financed $85,360 for it through Republic National Bank, per instructions from Hernandez. The helicopter would be used as an operation base for the small planes and was parked at the International Flight Center in southwestern Miami-Dade.


To buy explosives, the group used businessman Raul Lopez, an anti-Castro exile involved in infiltration operations in Cuba in the 1960s, Llama said. Lopez owned a company authorized to purchase explosives to open up sewage canals for South Florida's sugar industry.

Eulogio Amado Reyes, alias ''Papo,'' a retired car mechanic, said he assembled the ultralights in a Miami-Dade warehouse with the help of a Texas instructor whose last name was Graham.

''All that was said was that it was a foundation project,'' said Reyes, 73.

Jose Pujol, a veteran sailor, said that in 1993 the foundation started using him as an advisor to purchase vessels.

''El Pelican [a vessel] was put in my name,'' said Pujol, 76. ``The procedure was that I would look for vessels, Toñin made the down payment and Elpidio Nuñez was the backer.''

According to Llama, most of the explosives were kept in Miami, but late in 1996 they were dropped to the ocean bottom from a vessel at a reef near the Bahamas. The shipment was being transported by ''Nolo'' Garcia in Nuñez's yacht when a Bahamian patrol boat approached them so they feared a search.

''For logical reasons, they threw the shipment into the ocean,'' Llama said. ``Soon after we went there to recover it but didn't find it.''


As most of you know the Oread Daily first appeared in the summer of 1970 on the hot and sweaty streets of Lawrence, Kansas. So it is with a great deal of pride that the OD reports today on it's home town and the folks there who just keep on keeping on!

Editor's Note: The whole thing calls to mind George Kimball who in 1965, was expelled from the University of Kansas in Lawrence for picketing the local draft board while carrying a sign that read "fuck the draft." The same incident led to his arrest on a charge of committing an act of gross public indecency. "They treated it like a sex crime," he explained. Ultimately, he served two-and-a-half days in jail for the offense if you can believe that one. By the way, George, who was also one of the most obnoxious people I've ever met went on to become a sports writer in Boston. Boxing is his specialty. He also writes basketball, golf and football. Probably best remembered for an incident where Roger Clemens threw some bread rolls at him after a game.

The following comes from the Lawrence Journal World (Lawrence, Kansas).

War protesters arrested
Chanting Iraqi names, group refuses to leave Army center

A group of war protesters covered themselves in tomato paste, walked into a local Army-recruiting office Thursday afternoon, linked arms and refused to leave.

They were protesting the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in November at the hands of U.S. Marines in the city of Haditha, an incident that remains under investigation. As protester David Strano read each name of those killed, the others in the group shouted, “Killed by the U.S. military.”

“We’re here to remind you. Every day these people are dying,” Strano said.

The group chanted for about five minutes in the lobby of the recruiting center, 2223 La., then walked toward an office where the station’s camouflage-clad manager stood talking on the telephone. As they neared his office, he slammed the door and shut himself inside. The group pounded and kicked at the door and kept chanting the names of the dead.

When the first Lawrence Police officer arrived moments later, the group immediately dropped to the ground face-down with their arms still linked. It took about a half-hour for officers to separate them, carry them from the building one by one and load them into a waiting prisoner-transport vehicle.

Two Lawrence Police Officers take one of several protesters Thursday afternoon from the Army recruiting office at 2223 La. The group members had covered themselves in tomato paste, linked arms and refused to leave the recruiting center as they chanted the names of slain Iraqi civilians.
One or two walked, but most went limp and forced the officers to drag them. Overall, the removal went without major incident.

“They were resisting, but they weren’t throwing punches or anything,” Lawrence Police Sgt. Craig Shanks said.

All were arrested and taken to the Douglas County Jail on charges including disorderly conduct, trespassing and obstruction. Afterward, the recruiting station’s manager declined comment.

About 15 of the protesters’ supporters stood around the building videotaping the scene, writing down officers’ names from their badges and holding signs with messages such as “Support all war resisters.” One woman strummed a ukulele.

The Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines all have recruiting offices in the strip mall where the protest happened; the protest itself took place inside the Army’s office.

Some of the people involved were also involved in a previous incident in December at the same address, in which seven people locked themselves to the outside of the building with bicycle locks.

Lawrence resident Patrick Tyrrell, who helped organize the protest, said the linking arms was a deliberate strategy to show solidarity, prolong the protest and make the group harder to separate.

“This will be one more reminder that people are still dying. Unarmed civilians are dying because of this unjust war,” he said.


A group of African American students are accusing the Santa Barbara Police Department of racism and brutality after an incident there last week.

Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez says that there is an investigation underway to determine what happened on that night, and the mayor asked for a full report once it is complete.

Students, on the other hand, don't think that is good enough, and want an independent investigation instead.

"To the people out there that did this to us, that beat us with a baton, that poured pepper spray in our face, you know who you are, we are coming, you will hear us, so don't think you are going to get away with it," said Ashleigh Rucker, eyewitness.

The following article comes from the Santa Barbara Independnet.

Street Fight
SBPD Accused of Police Brutality
by Ethan Stewart

Emotions ran high this week at City Hall as several UCSB students — a majority of them black — publicly accused the Santa Barbara Police Department of brutality during a late-night arrest gone terribly wrong last week. With Police Chief Cam Sanchez looking on, a dozen witnesses gave their accounts of the scene outside Cooney’s Bar late last Thursday night, relaying teary and outraged stories of unwarranted pepper spraying, excessive use of batons, and a woman being “dragged by her hair across the street with her breast hanging out.” While the council was prevented by state law to take any action on the ordeal, several board members looked visibly shaken by the testimony. After the meeting, a de facto spokesperson for the students — biology major Ashleigh Rucker — alluded to the future of the issue. “Contrary to what was reported, there was no riot,” she said. “We were attacked. … The people who did this to us must know that we will not be silent. We will be heard and we are coming.”

Speaking before the council meeting, police spokesperson Paul McCaffery said, “We can’t always do our jobs perfectly, but that was a very difficult night and I think a lot of people had misperceptions about what was going on.” Police Chief Cam Sanchez promised the City Council that his department was already looking into the matter, admitting that the skirmish — which lasted nearly an hour and effectively closed down the 500 block of Anacapa Street — “just got out of hand.” According to the police report, the trouble started just before 2 a.m. when officers on regular bar patrol witnessed a fight between two men — both black — on the sidewalk outside of Cooney’s. As the officers arrested 22-year-old Donald Blivens — a U.S. Air Force serviceman currently stationed in Kansas — for assaulting UCSB student Reggie Smith, they were surrounded by angry friends of Blivens who hurled insults and threats at the officers, demanding that they release their friend and accusing them of racial bias. Outnumbered by an estimated 300 people in the streets, the cops called for backup and about 15 officers — including sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol — responded. In the ensuing chaos, the report continues, the police used pepper spray, batons, and a dog to control the crowd; they arrested two young women for interfering and another young man for challenging them to a fight.

However, Tuesday’s City Council testimony — which included comments from one of the arrested women — presented a far different account. According to witnesses, the young women were out celebrating their upcoming college graduation at hip-hop night when they saw a classmate of theirs unconscious on the ground with “three cops just standing there, laughing.” They approached their friend to see if he was all right, and were told by the police to “move along.” When they refused and tried to return to their unconscious friend, they were hit with batons and pepper sprayed. “I feared for my life and for what? Because I wanted to see if my friend was okay?” said Rucker, who was hit in the chest and arm with a baton and pepper sprayed in the face. Meron Meshesha — one of the women arrested — added, “I was terrified. I couldn’t breathe … there was a baton or a knee jammed in my back and I was crying. … My shirt fell down in front of hundreds of people and I was being dragged by my hair across the street and I didn’t know why. … When my friends tried to help me, they were beaten and pepper sprayed. It was a nightmare.” As for whether or not the women were in fact defending Blivens, Rucker said she didn’t know him and never saw him or the punch he allegedly threw. Police representatives met with several of the students after the meeting in hopes of getting their official testimony for the ongoing investigation.


Residents of Belfast's Springfield Road have reacted angrily to a Parades Commission decision to allow a limited Orange Order parade through their neighborhood in west Belfast.

The Commission says, that a single lodge, along with district officers, will be allowed to make its way through the gate at Workman Avenue and onto the Springfield Road on Saturday.

The rest of the parade has to go through the old Mackies factory site.

There were serious disturbances last September when the whole parade was banned from going through the gate.

Sean Murray from the Springfield Road residents` group accused the Commission of giving in to the threat of loyalist violence.

A commentary in the Irish News read:
In case any one is in any doubt about the purpose behind Orange marches the decision by the Parades Commission in relation to an Orange march on Belfast's Springfield Road this weekend is a timely reminder of what they are about.

Orange marches have one purpose and one purpose only – to remind Catholics and nationalists of their second-class status.

Whether it was Orangemen marching on the Longstone Road, Annalong in the 1950s, Obin Street in Portadown, Derry's Walls or the Springfield Road, Orange marches exist to remind nationalists of their lack of power and their lack of political rights.

The marches are public demonstrations of political domination by unionists of their Catholic neighbours.

Unionist and Orange political power might be waning in the face of the peace process but the Parades Commission's decision proves the Order still retains the capacity to impose its will on society and in particular on the Catholic community on the Springfield Road.

The Orange Order still has the power to dictate to and mobilise the forces of the British state to ensure it is protected. This will be demonstrated when the Parades Commission's decision is policed with the usual military tactics which amount to a curfew. Residents will be hemmed in their homes; their lives disrupted living in a climate of fear.

The Order still has enough influence and strength inside the political and military system to secure decisions which undermine the peace process and do irrevocable damage to community relations.

The parade on the Springfield Road is even more offensive because it is a march associated with the UVF who are responsible for killing many Catholics from that area.

All shades of unionism, political and paramilitary, are involved in this march – the Ulster Unionists, the DUP, the Orange Order, PUP, UVF and UDA. It was this sectarian coalition which justified the mayhem last September when the Parades Commission correctly re-routed the Orange march away from Workman Avenue.

Before making his decision did Roger Poole, chairperson of the Parades Commission, bother to assess the involvement by Orangemen in last September's street violence? They were clearly involved at every stage of the disturbances.

Orange Order violence set the scene for a week of mayhem which spread across Belfast. It involved 150 gun attacks, blast bombs, hundreds of petrol bombs and vehicles being hijacked. Belfast's daily life came to a halt.

The Orange Order and unionist politicians blamed the Parades Commission and absolved themselves from any responsibility.

The new Parades Commission, which includes Orange Order members and sympathisers, have rewarded those behind last September's violence.

The commission also includes, Joe Hendron, former SDLP MP for West Belfast. He needs to publicly explain to his former constituents if he supported the Orange Order's application.

The statement from the Parades Commission chairperson defending his decision is breathtakingly naive.

He described last September's violence as "savage and shameful" and then incomprehensibly says this violence will not be allowed to hold back progress towards a "shared future".

For Poole the "shared future" is allowing unwanted Orange parades to march through Catholic and nationalist areas.

In what can only be described as a bout of wishful thinking to bolster his decision Poole described low-level contact between both sides as "courageous, real and meaningful" dialogue.

Meaningful dialogue is what is needed. Low-level contact should not be exaggerated to fit into the commission's agenda.

The Orange Order should be judged on their intentions. And their intentions are to cause offence to people in places like the Springfield Road. On that basis Orange parades which apply to go through areas where they are not wanted should be banned.

The Orange Order is a secret, oath-bound, sectarian, anti-Catholic organisation. It forfeits any rights it has when it seeks to march through Catholic areas where it is not welcome.

No-one should try to balance out the rights residents have to live free from sectarian intimidation and those of Orangemen. There is no equivalence.

Residents should be protected by the state against the Orange Order which is the aggressor.

No-one would suggest that racists or anti-Semites have rights over those they seek to trample over.

The same attitude should apply to the Orange Order.

The following comes in from Sinn Fein News.

Whiterock March: Orange Order raises tensions

Tensions are extremely high on the nationalist Springfield Road in West Belfast with the news that the Orange Order has rejected a Parades Commission determination for this Saturday's Whiterock Parade.

The Parades Commission ruled that 50 Orangemen and one band could march through the Workman Avenue interface while the remaining 700 Orangemen and 16 bands would be re-routed through the old Mackie's complex.

It has now emerged that West Belfast Orangemen voted unanimously on Monday night, 19 June to reject the Parades Commission determination. A spokesperson said that it is a district parade and not a lodge parade and therefore Orangemen believe the whole district should be allowed to march through Workman Avenue.

However the Orange Order could be overruled by a combination of unionist paramilitaries and politicians on the North and West Belfast Parades Forum.

Speaking to An Phoblacht on Wednesday local Sinn Féin councillor Tom Harley said people's fears are justified given the violence orchestrated by unionist paramilitaries last year. "Last summer the people of Belfast were subjected to days of unionist violence orchestrated by the UDA and UVF. The excuse given by the unionist political establishment for the violence was that for the first time the rights of the nationalist population of the Springfield Road were recognised."

Hartley appeals for calm in the coming days

The Parades Commission decision to allow the controversial Orange Order parade to go ahead had already been described by residents as "shameful". "They have rewarded violence. Loyalists rioted, bombed and fired shots last year and now they have been rewarded," said a spokesperson for the Springfield Road residents.

Residents described themselves as "bitterly disappointed" by the commission's decision and accused the Commission of undermining the very process of engagement it was established to encourage.

They also contend the decision elevates unionist bullyboy tactics while undermining progress towards dialogue and accommodation, so successfully deployed around the "Tour of the North" in North Belfast last weekend.

"Residents who tried to find a resolution through dialogue are being ignored and shunned. The Parades Commission has made things very difficult. Unionist violence of last year was deliberate and planned and has now received a huge reward from the Parades Commission", said Springfield Road Residents Action Group spokesperson Sean Murray.

"The message this sends out to nationalists is that the only thing the Parade Commission listens to is violence and intimidation," he said.

Last September the Orange Order orchestrated some of the worst rioting seen in Belfast for over a decade. The Order rejected a Parades Commission's ruling to re-route the Whiterock march a few hundred yards away from nationalist residents. When the Parades Commission reiterated its decision three months later the Order ensured its rejection would be played out in violent street confrontation.

Orgy of Orange violence

According to the PSNI's own statistics, during the ensuing riot 115 gunshots were fired, 146 blast bombs packed with shrapnel thrown and 116 vehicles hijacked and burnt. The media estimated that over 1,000 petrol bombs were also thrown in an orgy of violence and destruction that cost the taxpayer £3 million.

At the time DUP leader Ian Paisley denied prompting rioting by saying that rerouting the parade "could be the spark which kindles a fire there would be no putting out", while Belfast's senior Orangemen Dawson Baile refused to condemn the rioters and blamed the Parades Commission for the violence.

It's against this backdrop that nationalists will be assessing this week's determination by the Parades Commission to allow the Orange march along a contested route through nationalist West Belfast.

Three possible routes

There are basically three possible routes. The preferred option of nationalist residents is for the march to avoid nationalist homes by marching via the West Circular road.

The Orange Order insists on parading through a peaceline gate at Workman Avenue. The gate divides nationalist Springfield from loyalist Shankill and is only opened twice a year at the insistence of Orangemen determined to march into a nationalist area.

The route through Mackies is a difficult compromise for nationalists. Although avoiding the heart of the nationalist area, there are still a majority of nationalist homes beside the entrance.

Last year Orangemen emerging from Mackies attacked nationalist homes. Despite this, residents were willing to accommodate this compromise.

"Sectarianism on parade"

Loyal Order spokesperson Tommy Cheevers had said he would "reserve judgement" on the decision until "a series of meetings". The DUP challenged the Parades Commission's decision.

An international observers' report published recently characterised the Orange Order parades they had witnessed over a four-year period as "sectarianism on parade".

Sectarian displays witnessed by observers included "Orange supporters dresses as Roman Catholic nuns", bands playing "anti-Catholic and anti-Irish sectarian songs while passing Catholic churches and communities" and a myriad of unionist paramilitary displays "promoting several outlawed loyalist terror groups".

Identifying Orange marches as "anti-Catholic political theatre" the observers concluded, "these displays clearly violate Parades Commission guidelines, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and other laws". The group called on "the British and Irish governments to uphold the Good Friday Agreement's basic guarantee of "freedom from sectarian harassment".

Commission refuses to review decision

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP led a party delegation including West Belfast Councillor Tom Hartley and senior Assembly member Alex Maskey to meet with the Parades Commission on Tuesday after its original decision.

Speaking after the meeting Adams said: "Last year we witnessed widespread violence and intimidation across Belfast and elsewhere as a result of this parade. This violence was widely blamed on the Orange Order and the loyalist paramilitaries.

"Yesterday the Parades Commission capitulated to this violence and the threat of further violence and they rewarded the Orange Order and the loyalist paramilitaries who orchestrated last September's mayhem on the streets.

"This determination has the effect of forcing two parades onto the Springfield Road into two adjoining nationalist areas. They have compounded the problem. Rather than seeking to promote an accommodation through dialogue, the Parades Commission has instead promoted the idea of a parade through the threat of further loyalist violence. This is entirely the wrong approach.

"Sinn Féin has asked the Parades Commission to review what we believe is a deeply flawed determination."

But on Wednesday afternoon the Parades Commission announced that it would not review its decision. Tom Hartley said this compounded the wrong decision already taken and he appealed to the Orange Order leadership to engage directly with local residents to resolve the issue. "The original determination by the Parades Commission directly rewarded the Orange Order and the unionist paramilitaries for the violence they engaged in last September", he said.

"I am disappointed that the Parades Commission have decided to refuse the request to review their decision. This is the wrong approach and compounds the wrong decision already taken by the Parades Commission with the initial determination", said Hartley.

"Even at this late stage I would appeal to the leadership of the Orange Order to remove their bar on talking with local residents on the Springfield Road and sit down face-to-face and try and to seek a resolution to this issue", he said.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Traditional Sufis in Somalia aren't interested in anything resembling a Taliban style government. Organized by Ahlu Suna Wal-Jamma'a they have taken to the streets to emphasize that.

Somali Islam has historically been a Sufi-mystical variant, with scant regard for politicization or militancy. Somali society is renowned for its openness and oral culture.

Ahlu Sunna wal Jama'a (ASWJ) is a modern Islamist group created in 1991 as an offshoot from Majma'(whose main goal is the establishment of a Sharia-based government) to counter the influence of the most radical Islamist trends. The ASWJ movement brings together politically motivated sheikhs whose primary goal is to unify the Sufi community under one unified leadership capable of consolidating the powers of the three primary Sufi Tariqas—the Qadiriyya, Salihiyya and Ahmadiyya—into one front whose sole mission is the rejuvenation of the "traditionalist" interpretation of Islam and the de-legitimization of the beliefs and political views of al-Ittihad and other radical Islamic movements.

The following news comes from Aljazeera.

Somalis march against Islamists

Hundreds of Somalis have marched in Mogadishu denouncing their new Islamist rulers.

Thursday's march was the latest protest since the Islamic courts militia ousted US-backed warlords earlier this month.

About 700 protesters, including children from Koranic schools, marched through the capital's streets in the central Sinai district in a demonstration organised by the traditional Sufist group, Ahlu Suna Wal-Jamma'a.

"We are Muslims and we do not want these fundamentalists who seized Mogadishu," said demonstrator Muumina Ali during the three-hour march and rally.

"Sheikh Sharif's group are fundamentalists," shouted another protester, referring to Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, chairman of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which controls Mogadishu and other towns across a swathe of southern Somalia.

The protest comes as Somalia's interim government and the Islamist movement are holding direct high-level talks in Sudan, mediated by the Arab League and the Sudanese president.

'Taliban' claims denied

While the ICU has brought relative peace and stability to Mogadishu for the first time in years, residents say some Islamist militia are imposing hardline practices, such as forcibly cutting hair and making women cover their heads and faces.

Ahmed, the moderate face of the ICU which also includes more radical Muslim leaders, has denied accusations his organisation wants to establish a Taliban-style rule in Somalia.

The Islamist takeover of Mogadishu has further complicated the attempts to restore central rule to Somalia since the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

A weak interim government, formed in Kenya in 2004, is currently based in the provincial town of Baidoa. However, it retains little control over the rest of the country, including the capital.

Previous protests

Abdullahi Yusuf, Somalia's interim president, said this week the Islamist militia could not have succeeded without support from Muslim fundamentalists across the world.

But the ICU says the government was formed without the consent or consultation of the Somali people and is conspiring with Ethiopia to launch an offensive against them.

Thursday's march followed other anti-Islamist protests, including one organised by a defeated warlord and another by people protesting the breaking up of World Cup viewing in some cinemas.

The ICU said it was preparing a massive demonstration for Friday in Mogadishu to show the superior popular support it has and the people's opposition to a government plan to invite foreign peacekeepers into the Horn of Africa nation.


Amnesty International says an estimated one in three women in Albania have been hit, beaten or subjected to other physical violence within their families. Some have been raped, some have been killed.

Husbands, former husbands and partners are responsible for most of these acts of violence against women - abuses which are often condoned by the wider community. Violence against women is widely tolerated on grounds of tradition, even at the highest levels of the government, police and judiciary.

But it isn't just at home that women are the victims of violence.

"Violence happens everywhere: at the police station, at home, at school - there is a cycle of violence in the whole society," an NGO activist told Amnesty International. "Most women do not usually report such violence to the police: they don't understand that it is a criminal act, and many of them are violent to their own children - they see it as a tool for education".

There is no specific legislation against domestic violence in Albania. A general acceptance of violence in the family embedded in Albanian society, and thus many women do not understand the concept of domestic violence as a criminal offence. An activist from an Albanian non-governmental organization (NGO) said: "They have seen their mothers beaten, and they think it is normal to be beaten, or to be shouted at by the husband or brother or mother-in-law, and that it is their husband's right to beat them."

The following is from Le Monde diplomatique.

Albania: the women's story

"He came home and threatened to kill me with a pistol in front of the children, and the children protected me, came and stood in front of me and said, 'You have to kill us first'." This testimony, from a woman, aged 37, mother of two children, illustrates the legacy of Albania's cultural past and the effects of gun proliferation.

Hundreds of thousands of Kalashnikovs, pistols and other weapons were looted from military and police depots as law and order broke down after the collapse of financial pyramid selling schemes in 1997. Despite successive collection programmes, some 200,000 illegal weapons still circulate among Albania's 3.3 million people. A recent survey found that more than one in 20 Albanian families had experienced an arms-related crime in the past year.

A resurgence of Albania's ancient customary law, the Kanun, which allows a man to beat and publicly humiliate his wife, and the continued failure to investigate and prosecute cases of violence against women, has led to high levels of domestic violence. About 70% of the Tirana Forensic Institute's caseload involves family violence and 68% of the victims are women.

Another victim, Dardana (not her real name), told Amnesty International she had been beaten almost every day of her marriage until, one night, "after I met his brother, my husband started to beat me and punch me in the face and body; I was covered in blood and lost consciousness. He took the Kalashnikov and put it to my head, while the children were in the next room." Dardana had previously called the police but they never came. It's not surprising that only 15% of those who reach one of Albania's two women's shelters have ever contacted the police.

The lack of justice and protection for women sometimes provokes desperate reactions. Dardana took matters into her own hands. Later that night: "I was in bed; there was a curtain separating the bedroom from the living room and he was behind it. I tried to hide and ran past him into the next room, and took a gun from the closet, and ran out to the outside toilet. I knew how to put the bullet in and I had seen in a movie how to release the safety catch. He was screaming at me to come out. He had a pistol behind his back, and I came out and I killed him. I don't know how many times I shot, but I shot him until the bullets had run out." Dardana was convicted of the murder of her husband and illegal possession of his weapon.

Although Albania has begun to tackle its glut of guns, the situation of women has yet to improve. Meanwhile, a national problem has become an international one: between 1997 and 2002, some 150,000 weapons were smuggled out of the country, fuelling violence elsewhere.


The Humane Farming Association (HFA) is confronting head-on a major agribusiness corporation that has demonstrated a willingness to subject tens of thousands of animals to the most heartbreakingly cruel treatment.

We're talking about a place called Threemile Canyon Farms.

Threemile Canyon Farms, Boardman, OR is situated on 93 thousand acres of land owned by the State of Oregon. The State has provided the operators $20 million in private activity bond monies to help establish the dairies. Three of nine planned dairy farms are operating. Two of the dairies operate under the name Columbia River Dairies; the owners are John and A. J. Bos and R. D. Offutt. Gary Te Velde (son-in-law of John Bos), operates the other dairy, Willow Creek Dairy.

An HFA report about Threemile Canyon Farms stated, "...evidence indicates a pervasive pattern of abuse potentially affecting thousands of animals." Workers at the farm who themselves are treated like crap told investigators potentially thousands of dairy cows endure unconscionable suffering at Threemile Canyon Farms.

In addition to animal cruelity the farm is noted for it lousy treatment of workers. Conditions for workers are extremely filthy and exhausting. Workers have complained about having to work while sick, laboring long hours without getting paid for all their time, and dangerous working conditions. Of course, the workers poorly compensated.

And that is not all.

The Farm’s size has also caught the attention of many in the environmental community. The Farm recently reported that it releases over 5 million pounds of ammonia into the atmosphere every year, making it the third largest reporting emitter of ammonia in the United States, inclusive of all industries. The Farm emits more than double the amount of all reporting Oregon industries combined. Workers, fearing for their health, have requested that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) come on sight to conduct an investigation into the effects of long term exposure to ammonia and other potentially dangerous gasses emitted from the Farm.

The following is from the United Farm Workers.

Stop Animal Abuse at Threemile Canyon Farms
Demand Oregon’s attorney general act to protect cows

A report prepared by the Humane Farming Association (HFA) documents cruel and inhumane treatment of cows at Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman, Ore., including statements from workers. Months ago, HFA filed a formal petition with Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers formally demanding criminal charges be brought against Threemile Canyon Farms for animal abuse. Yet in spite of extensive documentation, Myers has yet to take action. The extensive report documents widespread animal abuse.

The report documents how some of the male calves are separated from their mothers at birth and left to starve to death. A worker reports, "Supervisors usually shoot unwanted male calves. They don’t die right away. Some lie on the floor and bleed out. Some have lied for three hours and are still alive." The dairy reportedly also kills calves by bashing their heads in or by swinging the calf by its hind legs and pounding its head against the concrete floor.

The report also documents how workers are told to slice off a section of a cow's teat without anesthetizing the animal. The cows' teats are susceptible to infection due to the concrete floors being covered with manure, urine and standing flush water. To make matters worse, workers report the massive farm continues to milk cows with infected teats, something workers first reported in a February 2005 article in the Portland Oregonian newspaper. One worker says "the blood and pus draining from the teat will go into the milk when the cow is milked." Another worker states, "The boss tells us to milk the cows even if they know the milk is bad. The milk will look like pieces of cheese."

Yet in spite of worker statements, pictures and even video that the Humane Farming Association provided to Attorney General Myers, he has yet to take action to stop abuse at Threemile. The fact the state of Oregon previously provided $20 million to Threemile makes the state's inaction even more outrageous.

The abuse has to stop now. Please join the United Farm Workers in supporting the Humane Farming Association's call to stop the cruelty at Threemile by demanding the Oregon attorney general initiate criminal charges against Threemile.

Send an email to Attorney General of Oregon at or call (503) 378-4400 or fax(503) 378-4017.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Native Hawaiians are celebrating a victory this week.

Hawaiian activists and farmers announced yesterday victory in a five-month campaign to force the University of Hawaii (UH) to abandon its patents on three varieties of Hawaiian taro it first obtained in 2002.

The agreement to abandon the taro patents was reached in a June 12th meeting between Walter Ritte, a Molokai activist who spearheaded the campaign and Gary Ostrander, UH Manoa Vice-Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. At the meeting, Ritte delivered a letter signed by him and Kaua'i taro farmer Christine Kobayashi with instructions on the procedure for abandoning, or "disclaiming," the taro patents.

Ritte and Kobayashi first demanded the patents be dropped in a January letter to UH officials. Their demands soon found widespread support in the native Hawaiian and taro farming communities. Three high-profile demonstrations at the University of Hawaii finally forced UH officials to confront the issue.

"University officials never consulted with Hawaiians before obtaining the taro patents in 2002, and it took them a while to realize we were serious about wanting them dropped," Ritte told the Molokai Island Times , who noted that his request to have the issue discussed at a UH Regents meeting on May 18th was rejected.

"A few weeks ago, University officials announced they would transfer the patents to the native Hawaiian community," said Ritte. "We rejected that because we object to anyone owning kalo, even ourselves. Now the patents will be dropped. Haloa instructs us to malama (reverence and protect) kalo, not own it. This concept of turning life into 'intellectual property is foreign to Hawaiian culture, and that's why we need to have a voice in future decisions on Hawaiian biodiversity."

"The taro patent controversy shows the need for UH and other organizations to first consult with the community before genetically modifying or patenting organisms in Hawaii," said Sarah Sullivan, director of Hawai'i SEED, a statewide coalition advocating sustainable agriculture

Activists are now demanding a voice in future decisions by UH and other organizations on intellectual property arrangements involving Hawaiian biodiversity.

For background information see

The following story is from the The Star Bulletin (Hawaii).

Activists tear up 3 UH patents for taro

"It is as if the patents were never filed," said Gary Ostrander, vice chancellor for research at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who attended the event. "Anyone throughout the world may now plant them, may propagate them, sell them."

Since January, Hawaiians have been pushing the university to give up patents it had obtained on three varieties of disease-resistant taro it developed. The Hawaiians argue that kalo as the "elder brother" of the Hawaiian people should not be owned.

"Today is a victory," said activist Walter Ritte of Molokai, who helped lead the effort to end the only patents on Hawaiian taro. "The university has taken a big step by listening to the people they should be listening to. It's a huge example for other people to follow."

After a leaf blight wiped out 90 percent of the taro in Samoa in the 1990s, Ostrander said, University of Hawaii scientists were asked to help.

They used traditional breeding techniques to cross Palauan and Hawaiian taro to produce three strains resistant to the disease, and the university obtained plant patents on them in 2002.

In January, Ritte and Kauai taro farmer Christine Kobayashi sent a letter to the university demanding that the patents be dropped. Their protest grew, and on May 18, Hawaiians clad in malo padlocked the entrance to the university's medical school in an effort to make their point.

"UH did not invent taro, and they had no right to own it or license it to farmers," Kobayashi said in a written statement yesterday.

After behind-the-scenes negotiations, the university filed "terminal disclaimers" with the U.S. Patent Office that dissolved its proprietary interests as of last Friday. It had issued 13 licenses to use the plant, but licensees no longer owe royalties or any other obligation to the university, Ostrander said.

"I hope this is an opportunity to continue to develop our existing relationship based on mutual trust and respect, as undoubtedly we will face other issues as we go forward," Ostrander said, adding that he had come to appreciate the Hawaiians' point of view on the issue.

"The Hawaiian people have been modifying and growing taro for 1,000 years, and probably 5,000 years before that in Polynesia," he said. "What seems counterintuitive now is that a faculty member can make an improvement now and patent it."

At yesterday's event at the UH Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaii-Manoa interim Chancellor Denise Konan handed the copies of the patents on three varieties of taro to Kobayashi, Ritte and Jon Osorio, director of the UH Center for Hawaiian Studies. In unison, the three tore them in half.

The patents were on taro plants named "Paakala," "Pauakea" and "Palehua," all known for their vigorous growth, good taste, and resistance to taro leaf blight.

Manu Kaiama, director of the Native Hawaiian Leadership Project, welcomed the university's move, but said it wasn't making a big financial sacrifice.

"They don't have much of a market," she said. "I wonder if the administration would have been willing to give up a patent that was going to make millions of dollars."

Ostrander acknowledged that the patents are "not a big money maker right now" but said interest had been expressed in using the kalo varieties in baby food.

Graduate student Kelii Collier called the patent fight just the first step in a broader movement against other UH undertakings such as a proposed military research center on the campus.

"It is the beginning for the university to do the right thing," he said. "The next time we meet it will be to rip out the UARC (University Affiliated Research Center) contract."


Over ten thousand species live in the Mediterranean Sea, representing eight to nine percent of the world’s marine biodiversity whilst taking up only 0.7 percent of the marine area. Many species are found nowhere else – at least one in four is unique to the Mediterranean and some like the monk seal, green turtle and leatherback turtle are critically endangered.

The Mediterranean Seas resources are under pressure from a variety of threats. Amongst them are overfishing, drift netting, aquaculture, alien species, pollution, drilling for oil and gas, dredging, commercial shipping, climate change, tourism and population increases.

Greenpeace says immediate action is needed to save the Mediterranean Sea. What is needed is a network of fully protected, large-scale marine reserves to cover the range of Mediterranean marine ecosystems – the equivalent to national parks on land.

The group and its allies have launced the Defending Our Mediterranean campaign in an effort to save the Sea.

The first article below is fromItaly Magazine. The second is from ANSA.

Greenpeace and Grillo join forces to protect Mediterranean

Greenpeace teamed up with cult Italian comedian and environmental activist Beppe Grillo on Thursday to launch a campaign to protect the Mediterranean Sea and prevent destructive overfishing.

Grillo, who was named one of Time magazine’s European heroes for 2005, joined the international environmental organisation on its flagship Rainbow Warrior docked in the port of Genoa. Together, they called for 32 marine reserves to be set up in international waters in the Mediterranean where all fishing would be banned.

In sounding the alarm over the damage inflicted by overfishing, Greenpeace stressed that the Mediterranean’s bluefish and red tuna populations had fallen by 80% over the past 20 years. It also condemned the continued use of drift-nets, which were banned by the European Union in 2002. The nets, which can be as long as eight kilometres, are blamed for causing widespread damage to sea life.

Dubbed the “walls of death” by critics, the nets are left to drift at sea entangling everything that swims into them, including non-targeted fish, dolphins, whales and sea turtles which die as a result. Before the 2002 ban, up to 8,000 dolphins died every year from being caught in the nets. Alessandro Gianni’, head of Greenpeace’s Sea Campaign for Italy, said that the “worst illegal fishing practices” continued unabated in the Mediterranean.

“In Italy, in order to confiscate drift-nets, the law states that you have to catch the fishermen using them. “But they fish at night, in high seas, dozens of kilometres from the coast. That means it would cost millions of euros to carry out the necessary inspections when instead it would cost nothing and be more effective for checks to be allowed in the harbours,” he said.

“We want fishermen to continue to work using past traditions and innovative techniques but in a fair and sustainable way. We don’t think this is possible without protected areas,” Gianni said. He said that nine of the 32 marine reserves proposed by Greenpeace would affect Italian fishermen.

In undescoring the need to protect the Mediterranean, Gianni’ said that although it accounted for less than 1% of the world’s body of sea water, it was host to 9% of the globe’s marine life. Karli Thomas of Greenpeace International said that “with
a network of marine reserves, everyone benefits. The number of marine species grows, fish stocks in and around the reserves are regenerated and both commercial and conservationist interests are satisfied”.

The Rainbow Warrior will tour the Mediterranean for the next three months trying to muster support for the marine reserve proposal, with stops planned in other Italian ports, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. Grillo gave his backing to the campaign saying that “the problem here again is that everyone knows what’s happening but they all pretend nothing is wrong”.

“It’s just like the soccer,” said the irrepressible 58-year-old comic referring to Italy’s match-fixing scandal. In October 2005, Grillo was named a European hero by America’s Time magazine, which praised him for carrying his work from apolitical stand-up comedian to denunciation-by-humour.

Describing the burly Genoa native as a cross between John Belushi and French environmental activist Jose’ Bove, Time dubbed him “that rare class clown who has done his homework”.

Grillo’s sell-out shows on shady politics, environmental perils and commercial scandals have brought his message home to Italians despite being barred by state and private terrestrial TV since the Craxi jibe, the magazine said. Grillo’s Internet blog site in Italian and English, where the comic writes one topic a day, is one of the top world blogs in terms of the number of daily links.


Fishermen lashed over banned nets

Rome, June 21 - Environmental groups joined forces on Wednesday in condemning the continued use of banned drift nets by Italian fishermen .

The Italian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Greenpeace and Italy's Legambiente all called for tougher penalties for those caught breaking the ban after the environment ministry revealed that 400 kilometres of drift nets had been seized since the start of the year .

The ministry said that inspections carried out in the ports of Naples, Palermo and Reggio Calabria led to the confiscation of 50 kilometres of drift nets on Tuesday night alone .

Eight fishing vessels were impounded during the operation and their owners reported, the ministry said .

Italy's new Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio subsequently said the government would clamp down on the phenomenon with stepped-up controls and sanctions .

"The scale of illegal fishing going on, particularly in the seas between lower Campania and Calabria, has reached alarming proportions," said the minister, who heads the Green party .

Drift nets, which can be up to 20 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide, are blamed for causing widespread damage to sea life and were banned by the European Union in 2002 .

Dubbed the "walls of death" by critics, the nets are left to drift at sea entangling everything that swims into them, including non-targeted fish, dolphins, whales and sea turtles which die as a result .

Before the 2002 ban, up to 8,000 dolphins died every year from being caught in the nets .

WWF Italy said on Wednesday that up to 80% of the catch yielded by drift nets had to be thrown away .

The association appealed to Italian fishing associations to "act more responsibly" and help the authorities in catching the lawbreakers .

Legambiente said the situation was "drastic", noting that 800 kilometres of nets had been confiscated in 2005 .

Greenpeace called for more inspections to be carried out in Italian ports and harbours .

Alessandro Gianni', head of Greenpeace's Sea Campaign for Italy, said: "In Italy, the law states that you have to catch the fishermen actually using the drift nets .

"But they fish at night, in high seas, dozens of kilometres from the coast. That means it would cost millions of euros to carry out the necessary inspections when instead it would cost nothing and be more effective for checks to be allowed in the harbours" .

Earlier this month, Greenpeace launched a campaign aimed at protecting the Mediterranean Sea and preventing destructive overfishing .

The organisation is calling for 32 marine reserves to be set up in international waters in the Mediterranean where all fishing would be banned .

In sounding the alarm over the damage inflicted by overfishing, Greenpeace stressed that the Mediterranean's bluefish and red tuna populations had fallen by 80% over the past 20 years .

Greenpeace's flagship Rainbow Warrior will tour the Mediterranean for the next three months trying to muster support for the marine reserve proposal, with stops planned in other Italian ports, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel .


Residents of Butovo, 5 km outside the Moscow's ring road, set up a tent camp Tuesday, and several dozen people intend to keep a vigil there day and night, resisting forcible attempts by the authorities, bulldozers, and riot police to remove them.

Local authorities are trying to evict the residents from their houses, which they plan to raze to make way for high-rise apartment blocks. But promises of compensation and new apartments have been rejected, and residents say they were notified of the plan too late, and that the new housing on offer cannot compensate for the houses and land plots currently in their possession.

The evictees are determined to fight to the end. “This event has caused a lot of reverberations. We can even file a suit with the Hague Court,” one of the activists said, adding that there are only a few dilapidated houses in the village. All others are in good condition and people do not understand why they have to be demolished.

A convoy of seven trucks and a bulldozer arrived at the scene on Wednesday morning. They left 20 minutes later.

The following article is from the Moscow Times.

Furious Villagers Take on Moscow City Hall

A ramshackle plywood house on a plot worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on the edge of Moscow is at the center of a fierce battle that is pitting its residents and several federal officials against the seemingly omnipotent Moscow government.

The outcome promises to show how far and for how long politicians are ready to support a real grassroots protest. The case could also help raise the status of the Public Chamber as a defender of public interests.

"This is the barbaric persecution of us here. My mom had to be treated by doctors and is now resting at the neighbors' after two sleepless nights," Mikhail Prokofyev, a 19-year-old student, said Tuesday. The frail house he shares with his mother in the village of Butovo, located some five kilometers south of the Moscow Ring Road, barely escaped being razed by authorities a day earlier.

Dozens of villagers whose houses were targeted for demolition fought off riot police officers and court marshals who tried to clear the way for bulldozers Monday. Television footage showed police clubbing and beating men and women, shocking viewers across the country.

Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena and television anchor Nikolai Svanidze, both members of the Public Chamber, spent a sleepless night with the villagers in the Prokofyevs' yard, ready to deflect any new attempt to raze their house with three tiny, dingy rooms.

On Monday, the marshals managed to break in and move all of Prokofyevs' belongings to a one-room apartment on Ulitsa Kadyrova, a Butovo street named after the slain Chechen president.

City Hall has long angered residents by evicting them from their homes and resettling them, usually in new apartments far from the city center. But rarely has an eviction turned violent.

The Butovo saga began several months ago when the authorities began moving residents from their houses, offering them new apartments and $50,000 in compensation, said Viktor Damurichev, head of the City Hall department for land resources. The city wants to build high-rise apartment buildings on the land.

Some people agreed to move, including Prokofyevs' neighbors, the Semyonovs, who received three apartments for their extended family. In April, City Hall filed a case against those who were refusing to leave in Moscow's Zyuzino District Court. The court ordered the residents to move and told the city to provide them with housing, without specifying any details about the quality of the housing.

Zyuzino prosecutors unsuccessfully appealed on behalf of the residents to the Moscow City Court last month.

On Monday, dozens of riot police and marshals stormed Prokofyevs' house, the first on their eviction list.

Prokofyev, an athletic teen wearing a red baseball cap, showed a reporter the bare rooms of his home. He said he and his mother, Olga Prokofyeva, had not been given keys or ownership documents for the new apartment their belongings had been moved to.

About 60 people wandered around their yard of trampled grass, offering emotional interviews to dozens of reporters.

"I am ready to die on my land, and I will not go anywhere," said Nikolai Ryzhenkov, 58. "It is enough that my parents got evicted by Stalin."

Most residents of the village lived in central Moscow until the 1930s, when they were moved to Butovo for various reasons, such as the resettlement of communal apartments.

A teetering fence in front of the Prokofyevs' yard was serving as a makeshift barricade, aided by old tires, planks and round brushes from a street-sweeper. Four colorful tents stood in the yard for residents to keep watch at night.

Three policemen sat lazily in the sweltering heat in their patrol car outside the Prokofyevs' home.

The residents said they had lived there for about seven decades, and some built houses and registered them with the authorities. All said they paid taxes for their homes and the land. A few said they had tried to get ownership rights for the land over the years but that local municipal authorities had blocked their attempts.

When Moscow decided to tear down the houses, the residents had no documents to prove in court that they owned the plots. The land at the center of the dispute is worth several million dollars today.

Kucherena would not criticize the court decision Tuesday, focusing instead on its poor implementation. He accused the riot police and marshals of being cruel and the authorities of acting in negligent haste.

"Local authorities do not have any documents justifying why the Prokofyev family -- the mother and son -- should move from their place in Butovo to their own apartment," he told reporters. "It appears that they are being evicted from their home in exchange for no-one-knows-what."

Alexander Lebedev, the billionaire State Duma deputy who ran against Mayor Yury Luzhkov in 2003, called for a parliamentary investigation into the eviction, saying it violated the constitutional right of Butovo residents to housing.

Lebedev, who arrived in the village in a sleek black Mercedes, told residents that court decisions should be respected "but Moscow courts -- against the law and the Constitution -- are being financed by the city authorities."

"In this situation, people who find themselves in a legal conflict with them should have the right to seek justice in other places," he said.

Lebedev has repeatedly accused city authorities of corruption, and he made those allegations the centerpiece of his mayoral bid.

A group of Butovo residents drafted a letter to President Vladimir Putin and the Brussels-based European Court on Human Rights on Tuesday, saying the courts had violated their constitutional rights and acted "in the interests of corrupt Moscow officials."

First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin, who oversees construction and development, defended the eviction at a City Hall meeting Tuesday.

He said most residents had willingly moved and that those who had thought the compensation was unfair had lost their cases in court. "The judicial system treated them tougher than the Moscow city government," he said.

City Hall spokesman Sergei Tsoi told Ekho Moskvy radio that the court, not the city, had ruled to evict the people. He also called on Public Chamber members not to encourage people to disobey the law. Putin set up the Public Chamber in January to provide public oversight of the authorities. Critics have said the chamber will serve as little more than democratic window-dressing.

The country's ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, also stepped into the fray Tuesday, slamming Moscow officials for "improper use of force" and for "the soulless treatment of people." He urged them to negotiate with the residents.

"Butovo residents should be resettled in proper housing and not in the intensive care wards of the nearest hospitals," Lukin said, Interfax reported.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Police blew up suspicious-looking packages, took up positions on virtually every street corner and made sweeping passes with helicopters over downtown Vienna on Tuesday as Austria prepared for its first visit by a US president in 27 years.

Up to 10,000 people are expected at a mass demonstration against US President George W Bush as he attends the US-European Union summit in the Austrian capital Vienna police said yesterday.

The demonstrators – under banners saying “Bush Go Home” and “Stop Bush” – plan to set off from the city’s West Station and march toward the city centre, ending up at the Votivkirche church on the fringe of Vienna’s First District.

"The name George Bush, the name of the American president, has become a symbol for war crimes, for Abu Ghraib, for Guantanamo, for Jenin, said organizer Michael Proebsting, a member of the Austrian faction of the League for the Fifth International.

The first sign of anti-Bush feeling has already been visible in Vienna since last week. Demonstrators climbed onto the roof of a tall apartment block close to the city centre and fixed a huge white-lettered sign pointed skywards: “Bush Go Home.”

Details were published yesterday of Bush’s arrival at 9.30pm (1930 GMT) today. The convoy taking him from the airport to his residence at the Vienna Intercontinental Hotel is expected to consist of 60 vehicles including Bush’s own armoured stretch limousine, flown in specially.

The airport-city motorway is due to be closed to all other traffic. Bush is expected to be accompanied by US Secret Service agents and members of Austria’s elite Cobra police overseeing his personal safety.

After Austria Bush will head to Budapest where he will be greeted by yet more protests.

A Hungarian anti-war group planning to protest George W. Bush's Thursday visit to Budapest said the US president is a politician who stands for war, invasion and torture.

Civilians for Peace called on Hungary's government not to support the American president's "warlike" policies. The group is planning a demonstration in Budapest to coincide with Bush's visit, which will follow an EU-US summit in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday.

"The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture of prisoners and the abuse of human rights figuratively stand for Bush," a statement released by the organization said.

A force of 2,000 Hungarian police officers will joint US security staff at event venues to protect the US president and additional police will be transferred to Budapest for the day from eleven county forces, said Major General Jozsef Hatala of the national police force.

The following is from Wiener Zeitung (Austria).

Maximum security in Vienna

Vienna. An extensive security operation was locked into place yesterday hours before US President George W. Bush was due to arrive in Austria on board Air Force One.
Four security alerts were issued in the First District due to suspicious-looking packages and luggage. All four instances turned out to be harmless, though in three of the cases police bomb experts blew up the suspect items as a security measure. The fourth item contained what police described as a "political message” related to the Bush visit, but would not elaborate.

Today’s summit in the Hofburg is being protected by up to 3000 police, paramilitary and security agents from Austria and the United States. Public access to many areas in the city centre will be restricted for the duration of the summit.

Bush becomes the first sitting US leader to visit Austria since 1979 when Jimmy Carter met Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev to sign a limited nuclear arms agreement.


Alcohol sales at Whiteclay, Nebraska devastate South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and should be stopped, Sheridan County commissioners were told March 6 by Indian activists, elders and others. The County commission ignored the warning. So did the Nebraska court system.

Indians have decided to deal with the situation themselves and plan a road blockade beginning next week.

Whiteclay is the infamous northwest Nebraska village which lies on the border of the dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol have been prohibited since the 1960s. Whiteclay with a population of only 14 has since the early 1970s been the site of four offsale alcohol dealers responsible for the sale of over 12,000 cans of beer a day, largely to the residents of Pine Ridge, who have virtually no legal place to drink them. The licensing of dealers has continued under conditions of inadequate law enforcement and in the face of overwhelming evidence of dealer violations of liquor laws, including numerous sales to minors.

The Whiteclay liquor stores are so infamous that a gang used them in an internal business plan to market meth on various Indian reservations.

Assistant Wyoming U.S. Attorney Robert Murray, an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, helped prosecute and break up the drug gang's distribution ring. Murray said he was amazed and disturbed when he learned of the business plan used by the drug ring gangsters.

"It actually started with a news article they read in the Denver Post a few years ago," Murray said. The article described how liquor stores in the tiny town of Whiteclay, Neb., were profitably selling huge quantities of alcohol to American Indians from the nearby Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.

Gleaned from several sources in the investigation, the following picture emerged, Murray said. The drug gang business plan was based on the following information:

* The Whiteclay liquor stores sold $4 million a year in beer and malt liquor primarily to residents of the nearby Pine Ridge reservation -- 18,000 Oglala Lakota Sioux.

* The reservation had an alcoholism problem of epidemic proportions.

* Liquor sales peaked each month shortly after monthly per-capita checks were sent in the mail.

* Gang members reasoned that if people who were addicted to alcohol could be given free samples of meth, the addicts would quickly switch over to being addicted to meth.

* The Mexican-national gang members figured they wouldn't stand out among American Indians.

According to Murray, the plan identified a potential consumer base (Indians living on reservations or nearby); successful businesses that already preyed on addicts (the liquor stores); a regular source of income their customers could use to buy meth (the monthly checks); and the conviction that alcohol consumers could be switched over to being meth consumers (free samples of meth).

"It was all there," Murray said, referring to the elements of a classic business plan. The gang led by Cruz and his brother, Julio Cesar Sagaste-Cruz could distribute the meth via customers who would be forced to become dealers to support their own habits. The meth could be supplied by "super labs" in California and Mexico, controlled by the Sinaloan Cowboys gang.

Law enforcement officials traced the connections from the Sinaloan Cowboys (headquartered in Sinaloa, Mexico) to the Los Angeles-based 18th Street Gang, to the Cruz brothers' cell in Ogden.

"They realized that if they could convert the addiction from alcohol to meth, they could reap the profits," Murray said.


The following is from the Lakota Times.

Whiteclay road blocks to start June 28
Dr. Archie B. Beauvais, Correspondent

PINE RIDGE - A number of organizers, including Nebraskans for Peace, Strong Hearts Civil Rights Movement, and supporters from the Cherokee Nation, are planning to set up a blockade on the South Dakota side of the state line to stop people who buy beer and transport it back to the Pine Ridge reservation.

June 28 is the target date when activists will set up the blockade with hopes to quell the purchase of an estimated 12,000 cans of beer a day in Whiteclay. The plan is to continue the blockade through the summer and into the fall.

Organizers would have their members posted in Whiteclay at any one of the four liquor establishments and would inform those at the blockade as to who was purchasing beer. The activists would then stop the car at the state line and proceed to confiscate their liquor purchases which are illegal on the Pine Ridge reservation.

Duane Martin, Sr. of the Strong Hearts Civil Rights movement is a fluent Lakota speaker and is at the forefront of the activism that seeks to make a change in the tremendous impact that alcohol is continuing to inflict on the social and health conditions of the Pine Ridge reservation. He said, "The elders came to me and asked. I and Russell Means took the fight to the Nebraska Liquor Commission. Frank LaMere and Mark Vasina also helped. They said we were bluffing. I presented the complaint to a couple of liquor stores and only one took me seriously, because I know him. This avenue will bring about change. Pine Ridge has the highest rate of involvement and activism. Senator John Thune called right before you did. The treaties are intact and give us a right to take a stand."

The March 13 decision by the Sheridan County Board of Commissioners to automatically grant liquor license renewals in Whiteclay and a March 31 by the Nebraska Supreme Court to allow a liquor license to the Arrowhead Inn prompted the decision to undertake the blockade, according to the Lincoln Start Journal. The Journal also included a "viewer comment" in which one reader wrote, "What about Native Americans in South Dakota who are also getting wealthy from selling packaged liquor to people from the reservation such as those who own bars in Oelrichs and Martin?" Another reader, Jon, wrote, "Well, good luck with that. The problem is free enterprise versus the disease of alcoholism. You can't really say that it's a moral issue because anyone who's willing to sell alcohol so close to the reservation doesn't have any."

Furthermore, Martin, Sr. said, "If we don't take a stand today, there won't be a stand tomorrow."

Mark Vasina, the President of Nebraskans for Peace is equally as committed to seeing the blockade succeed. His organization is relying on the Strong Hearts Civil Rights group as they seek to interpret treaty law as it applies to such questions as the legality of confiscating beer purchases and whether or not those in the blockade need to be deputized in order to stop vehicles at the border.

Vasina said, "The need to be deputized is a question for the Indians to resolve. We support what they are doing. We, of course, don't want to see violence. We hope the tribal police will support the blockade. Knowing responsible law enforcement, they have to be there."

Furthermore, Vasina said, "People are going to be stopping an illegal action.., my hope is that no other commercial traffic is impeded. People will not be detained or arrested, but simply to prevent alcohol from going in, which is unlawful."

Finally, Vasina said that Nebraskans for Peace support the blockade and are raising money which will be needed to feed people and provide other amenities, while a camp will most likely be erected. He said that his organization is also arranging for celebrities, politicians, and candidates to be at the blockade on June 28. Vasina, himself, will be at the blockade at least two weeks out of each month that it is in effect.

Alex White Plume, Acting President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe said, "This is a grass roots movement at Whiteclay. There will no more alcohol on the reservation. The Oglala Sioux Tribal council passed a tribal resolution declaring Whiteclay a public nuisance. Under the IRA, there is a 12 mile buffer zone to keep bootleggers and alcohol sales from the reservation. I am thinking of deputizing everyone on the blockade. We are inviting everyone from Rosebud and Pine Ridge."


On June 16th, Malainin Lakhal, S.G of Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union, addressed more than 50,000 South African youth who were attending a Rally organised by the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Soweto massacre and the national youth day. His remarks are found below.

The following arrived to us thanks to "Sahara-Update · News from and about Western Sahara."

Speech Delivered by Malainin Lakhal, S.G of Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union, on the 16th of June in Durban, South Africa

Comrades and brothers South Africans,

Let me first of all pass you the best wishes and sentiments of brotherhood from your brothers, Africans, the people of the Western Sahara, and comrades in Polisario Front.

We are here today to share with you, like brothers and comrades usually do, the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the world-famous uprising of Soweto, the legend and the turning point in the South African struggle for freedom and dignity. We are here to pay tribute, with you, to all those who made the history of this beautiful African land, to all those who left us sacrificing their lives for the sake of the one thing that count most for all Africans and for all human being, FREEDOM.

Dear South Africans, your brothers Africans in my Country, Western Sahara, had always been by your side since the early 70. We have always believed in your rights, in your power, in your faith and in your determination. For that we supported your movement from the beginning, using all moments of contacts and all meetings with international actors to raise the claims and struggle of the African National Congress, to condemn the Apartheid, and to inform our interlocutors about the sufferings of our brothers Africans in South Africa.

Now, in 2006, let me tell you that we are proud of saying: Yes we participated as we could in our brothers' South Africans struggle against racism, against oppression, and dictatorship. Yes we are proud that our brothers are giving the proof to the entire world that when the people get power, when they get their freedom and dignity back, they can build real democracies. More than that you proved to the entire world that when the people get power, even after bitter struggle and sacrifices, they can forgive, they can build a society on tolerance, coexistence, and on equality of opportunities, rights and duties, Yes, Your brothers Saharawis, my people, are proud of you and will always be.

Going back to the event that is gathering us here and now, let me tell you that there is a tremendous and striking similarity between the struggle you once waged for freedom, and the struggle for self-determination and independence my people are still undertaking, now in 2006.

My country, Western Sahara is still colonised by the Moroccan kingdom. Moroccan colonial authorities are daily oppressing demonstrators, arresting innocent Saharawis, including kids and old persons, torturing people in the middle of streets, deporting hundreds Saharawis outside their land. The Moroccan colonial authorities killed hundreds Saharawis, buried people alive in common graves, imprisoned babies and their mothers for years in secret detention camps, used internationally banned bombs such as Napalm and other weapons against civilians. All these atrocities are practiced by the Moroccan oppressive forces in front of a deaf and dumb international community, I have to say.

Like you, brothers, the Saharawi people refused this injustice and decided to struggle for their legitimate rights with all means and in all places and locations. We waged an armed struggle since 1973 against Spain then against Morocco which is backed by France. After 16 years of war we forced Morocco to negotiate and accept a UN-African Unity Organisation supervised peace process in 1991. The UN is planning to organise and monitor a democratic and transparent self-determination referendum for the Saharawi people. BUT Now after 15 years of obstacles erected by Morocco and France, the territory is still under occupation, Morocco is still rejecting all peaceful solutions, refusing to respect international law and is rejecting all UN Security Council resolutions.

Now, your brothers in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara are waging since the 21st of May 2005 the biggest popular uprising the region ever witnessed, it is since then called the Intifada of independence. The coincidence is that, like you, we have our own Soweto, a Saharawi neighbourhood called Maatallah, in the occupied capital of the Western Sahara, which is the field of daily demonstrations for freedom and daily confrontations with Moroccan colonial police and Army. And like you we have now our Saharawi Hector Robertson, a Saharawi Youngman, Hamdi Lembarki, who was beaten to death, by the criminal Moroccan police last October the 30, 2005, in the middle of the street in Maatallah. Like your experience, this uprising in the Saharawi occupied cities is making the deference and is shaping the turning point of the Saharawi struggle for freedom. Moreover, the Saharawi people in the occupied territories unilaterally decided to nickname their neighbourhood, Soweto.

Dear Brothers and comrades,

Your struggle for freedom inspired us for years and inspired all the oppressed people around the world, and now your struggle for development, prosperity and democracy is giving us the faith that with the determination, faith, hard and serious work and strong will, Africans can build real democracies and can be an example to the world on tolerance, and on success.

Thank you very much for having allowed us to share with you this great moment and long live South Africa, long live South Africans. Long live African Brotherhood.