Friday, February 09, 2007


A confrontation taking place between housing activists and Miami cops ended on Thursday. Earlier at least a dozen police cars surrounded the site where the protest, organized by the Miami Workers Center, Low Income Families Fighting Together and former Scott-Carver residents, was taking place. Police shut down one block of Northwest 72nd Street between Northwest 22nd and 21st avenues near the building.

''Arrest the developers -- not our people,'' protesters shouted.

Miami has been suffering from a severe housing crisis due to city officials’ efforts at gentrification through the destruction of Black and Latino/a neighborhoods and giving away public land to erect condos for the new influx of richer, whiter residents. In one of the most blatant instances, Miami’s Hope VI Plan, which was meant to address the issue of low-income housing in Miami, actually ended up shutting down the Scott-Carver Project’s 851 units of public housing, replacing them with only 80 units.

Those driven from their homes were promised they would be given new homes. Despite spending$22 million in federal and local funds for affordable housing, only a
handful of Habitat for Humanity homes were built. Former residents and
community organizations have erected a wall at the last standing Scott
building as a way to remember the families who were displaced and as a part
of their struggle to bring back a loved community to the land where it once

The following article comes from the Miami Herald.

Standoff between police, housing protesters ends

A daylong standoff between Miami-Dade police and affordable-housing activists ended abruptly Thursday when top county officials backed off arrest threats.

Many of the 25 to 30 protesters said they were willing to be charged with trespassing rather than allow the Miami-Dade Housing Agency to build a construction fence around the last remaining building of the old Scott-Carver public housing complex in Liberty City. They spent much of the day chanting slogans and standing in the way of workers erecting a chain-link fence around the four-unit building at 7155 NW 22nd Ave.

The lawn of the boarded-up complex has become a memorial and gathering place for residents who were displaced six years ago when the housing agency promised to relocate hundreds of them and later return them to new, affordable houses. But until recently, little has been built.

''This is part of my heritage,'' said Clyde Jackson, who stopped to join the protest on his way to work. ``There were a lot of fine folks here that went on to do something great with their lives: football players, lawyers.''

Last month, activists built a plywood wall on the lawn to list the names of hundreds of former Scott-Carver residents, some of whom they believe fell through the cracks of the troubled housing agency.

Newly hired housing director Kris Warren agreed to leave the wall, but said activists could not use the site as a meeting place because the building was dangerous -- lead paint on the walls, asbestos in the ceilings and possible structural damage. Demolition will not begin until at least next month, Warren said.

Warren said she notified activist groups Feb. 2 that the fence would be erected, prompting Thursday's protest. She also asked for a police presence. By late morning, more than two dozen officers had cordoned the property with yellow police tape and closed a one-block stretch of Northwest 72nd Street. Protesters were warned over a bullhorn that they would be arrested, and a paddy wagon was on the scene.

Workers drove metal poles into the ground and began wrapping them with fencing. Shortly after 3 p.m., an aide to Mayor Carlos Alvarez arrived and agreed with police and housing officials to remove the fence and not make arrests.

''There's no immediate plan at this point to escalate the situation,'' said Victoria Mallette, Alvarez's spokeswoman. ``We're trying to work together to make progress.''

Mallette said Thursday's activity does not signal a change in plans. ''At some time, that area is going to have to be fenced in for construction,'' she said. ``We need to move forward, and there needs to be progress.''

Protesters said the houses, which are already under construction on other parts of the property, will be far costlier than the run-down units being replaced.


Thousands of Bulgarians from across the country started gathering in front of the National Palace of Culture to stage a major rally in support of the five nurses, sentenced to death in Libya.

The march and rally will mark the eighth anniversary of unjust arrest of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor on charges of knowingly infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV. It will be the highlight in a series of events showing the unity of the nation and support of the nurses.

The following is from the Focus Information Agency.

About 10,000 people join rally in support of Bulgarian nurses
2007 19:31

Sofia. A concert in support of the Bulgarian medics sentenced to death in Libya started in Sofia. The presenters reminded the history of the trial against the medics, a journalist of FOCUS news Agency reported. Some of Bulgaria’s most popular singers will express their support through their performances.

The square outside St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral is colored with the Bulgarian flags and flags with the motto “You are not alone”. All police requirements are being strictly observed. Dr. Zdravko Georgiev, husband of detained nurse Kristiana Valcheva, was contacted by phone. He said he was impressed by the fact that so many people had joined the rally. He thanked all for the support. Some of the people present were wiping their tears. They chanted “Freedom”.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Fessahaye Yohannes has apparently died in prison.

In September of 2001, Johannes and 16 other independent journalists were arrested during a crackdown against free expression. They have been held without charge or trial ever since. They have been denied legal counsel and officials have refused to provide any information regarding their health for more than four years.

Fessahaye Yohannes, also known as Joshua, was co-editor and co-founder of the weekly newspaper Setit, which had at one time the largest circulation of any newspaper in Eritrea. According to Amnesty International Setit through its exploration of poverty, land and housing concerns, the plight of handicapped war veterans, and other social issues confronting the country probed the boundaries of the government’s tolerance for alternative viewpoints.

In addition to his work with Setit, Fessahaye “Joshua” Yohannes, married and a father of three, had written wrote poetry, short stories and plays, and had directed a touring theatrical troupe.

The following comes from Reporters Without Borders.

Writer And Journalist Fessehaye Yohannes Has Reportedly Died in Detention
Reporters sans Frontières (Paris)
February 8, 2007

Credible Eritrean sources in Asmara and abroad have told Reporters Without Borders that poet and playwright Fessehaye "Joshua" Yohannes, who was a journalist with the now-banned weekly "Setit", died in detention on 11 January 2007.

"The death of Fessehaye Yohannes would be an appalling tragedy, one made all the more unbearable by the accommodating attitude of European governments towards Eritrea." Reporters Without Borders said. "This regime cannot be treated in a normal way as it is responsible for the disappearance and imprisonment of the best of its citizens. Firm demands are now needed."

The press freedom organisation added: "The Eritrean government must prove to us that Joshua did not die or, at the very least, it should hand over his body to his wife and two sons. It should prove to us that journalists Medhane Haile, Said Abdelkader and Yusuf Mohamed Ali are still alive, contrary to the reports we have received of their deaths. And it should tell us where it has imprisoned the journalists who are being held incommunicado, and explain the crimes it has committed with complete impunity since 2001."

Fessehaye was paralysed in one hand and had been walking with difficulty for years. He reportedly succumbed to the extremely harsh conditions in which he had been held since his arrest in September 2001. After being held at an Asmara police station and an underground prison and after spells in the Halibet and Sembel hospitals in Asmara, he was reportedly taken to a prison camp at Eiraeiro, in the Northern Red Sea desert province. According to the information received by Reporters Without Borders, he was being held in cell No. 18 of this camp, where at least 62 political prisoners are being held in complete isolation and in inhumane conditions, guarded by about 100 soldiers of the 32nd division.

From police station to prison camp

Fessehaye surrendered to the police during the week of 18-23 September 2001, after around 10 other journalists and many members of the political opposition had been arbitrarily arrested and the privately-owned press had been "suspended" by the authorities. Ten detained journalists were transferred to undisclosed locations in April 2002, after going on hunger strike to demand the right to appear in court.

Their hands permanently manacled, the detainees at Eiraeiro are just given bread, lentils, spinach or potatoes to eat. Their hair and beards are shaved once a month. All they have for beds are two sheets. They sleep on the ground. Any contact with other prisoners or with guards is absolutely forbidden.

On the basis of information from credible sources, Reporters Without Borders reported last November that Said Abdulkader, co-founder and editor of the weekly "Admas", Medhanie Haile, co-founder and deputy editor of the weekly "Keste Debena", and Yusuf Mohamed Ali, the editor of the weekly "Tsigenay", were among the nine prisoners who had died in this prison camp in the course of 2005 and 2006. The officer in charge of the Eiraeiro camp is Lt. Col. Isaac "Wedi Hakim" Araia, the former commander of the 29th division's second brigade, who replaced Maj. Gen. Gerezghiher "Wuchu" Andemariam.

Fessehaye was initially held at the Asmara No. 1 police station following his arrest. He was moved to an underground prison at Dongolo in April 2002 after taking part in the hunger strike to demand the right to be tried. A former political prisoner held there at the same time told Reporters Without Borders: "Dongolo is a prison with cells that measure 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres, and 2.5 metres tall. They are lit by a bulb that is never turned off. The prisoners are chained to the wall by their feet. Their wrists are manacled. The harm done to the prisoners' health by these conditions is indescribable. Insects buzz around the bulb in the ceiling." Already weakened by his hunger strike, Fessehaye was interrogated harshly by Col. Gaim Tesfemichael and Col. Simon Ghebregindil, the source said. His fingernails were ripped out.

Born on 19 September 1958, Fessehaye was married and had two sons, now aged five and six. A veteran of the independence war against Ethiopia, he was a leading figure in political and media circles. He led a dance and theatre troupe. He had a career as a poet and playwright. And he helped found "Setit", which was Eritrea's most popular weekly until the September 2001 crackdown on the media.

European favours and Legion of Honour

After being the target of sharp criticism from the international community, Eritrea seems to be respectable again, given its involvement in several regional crises, including the Somali one. France has played a key role in the normalisation of its relations with the European Union. Brigitte Girardin, the acting French minister for cooperation and development, made an official visit to Eritrea on 23 September 2006. It was "the first visit by a minister since independence," according to the French foreign ministry. There was no public mention of the detainees.

Eritrea's former ambassador to France, Hanna Simon, received the Order of Knights of the Legion of Honour in a ceremony staged by the French embassy in Asmara last December. The French foreign ministry told Reporters Without Borders it was above all in recognition for "her commitment to the cause of women." European development commissioner Louis Michel made an official visit to Eritrea on 1 February without publicly referring to the issue of the detainees.

The former colonial power in the Horn of Africa, Italy also maintains special links with the Eritrean government. Prime Minister Romano Prodi received Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki during a private visit to Italy on 4 December. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi invited President Issaias on several occasions to spend a few days of vacation at his villa in Sardinia.


For further information, contact Léonard Vincent at RSF, 5, rue Geoffroy Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 76, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail:, Internet:


The tar-sands of northern Alberta are touted globally by Canada (accurately) as the largest non-Saudi oil fields left in the world. The price to the earth of extraction would, however, be massive.

Now there are two outrageous proposals to quintuple the supply for US greed and consumption and to address the climate change issue by using nuclear power to fuel the oil sands production. Constructing new nuclear generating plants is not without environmental cost as we all know. Burying nuclear waste for thousands of years also leaves a legacy for future generations.

Just great.

In an interview with Forest News Watch Elizabeth May, the Leader of the Green Party of Canada and former Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada said,
It’s the single largest source of new greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 in Canada and represents a significant chunk of total emissions. By the year 2010, estimates are that the tar sands will be responsible for somewhere above 70 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, and when you realize that our Kyoto gap is around 280 million tons, 70 is a very large proportion of our gap! From a forests perspective, the Athabasca tar sand represents a complete removal—deforestation in a real sense—of thousands and thousands of hectares for every single mine, so it’s got an immediate impact on forests, an immediate impact on caribou habitat, an immediate impact on migratory bird habitat, and a very significant impact on the availability of water through the region as it’s a very large consumer of water, and it’s producing air pollution that’s resulting in acid rain and acidification in northern Saskatchewan. It’s producing toxic emissions which at this point some doctors believe is associated with the cancer spike of rare cancers in Fort Chipewyan. On top of all that, it’s a major greenhouse gas producer.

The following report is from the Polaris Institute and was printed today in Canadian Dimension.

Deh Cho leader calls for Tar Sands Moratorium

After completing a tour of the Suncor oil sands facilities north of here (Fort McMurray, Alberta), Grand Chief Herb Norwegian of the Dehcho First Nations, called on Canada and Alberta to support a moratorium on further development of the massive oil producing Athabasca Tar Sands “until some sanity can be brought into this situation.”

Norwegian led a delegation of 11 chiefs and elders from the Dehcho to view the operations of Suncor, and meet with leaders of First Nations groups in northern Alberta to discuss what he called “the serious decline of the quantity and quality of water in Mackenzie River watershed.” The Mackenzie River watershed flows through some 212,000 sq km of the land 5,500 Decho live on. Their claim to the land they have always lived on is currently being negotiated with Canada.

“Our people who saw this massive development from the air as we flew in from the North and again today from the windows of a bus, were shocked,” Norwegian told a press conference. He pointed out that 87 percent of the Mackenzie River flows through the Northwest Territories and yet the huge reductions in water levels and changes in the fish and wildlife come from here, south of the NWT, he told reporters while Suncor officials listened.

“We are all devastated by what we have seen these days. This so-called ‘development’ project is out of control and we have to tell the politicians that it is like a cancerous tumour and that the Mackenzie Gas Project is designed to feed that tumour.” The MGP has currently applied to the National Energy Board to build a pipeline to bring natural gas from the High Arctic down the Mackenzie Valley to the pipeline networks of Alberta. The Dehcho oppose the pipeline until their claims are satisfactorily settled and serious environmental questions answered. Elders and chiefs described how water levels have been fluctuating as much as 10 feet in some places along the mighty river and that fish and waterfowl are being negatively affected as well as wild game and the habitat they live on. The water is not fit to drink or swim in some places and fish have become soft and discoloured in others. The Dehcho rely on the water, fish, birds and game for food and trapping.

“Our elders have been telling us of these changes for a long time,” Norwegian said” and we think that these water problems are coming from here in this huge area around Fort McMurray. We live upstream from this and are severely impacted by this blowout of a development. The problems for us and our land and animals and people are here. We have to sit with the developers and the governments and other First Nations in open doors, not closed meetings and the federal government has to pay the major role in cleaning up this mess that affects all Aboriginal people.”

Ironically, as Norwegian was speaking, Alberta’s new Premier, Ed Stelmach, had been telling people of Fort McMurray the Athabasca tar sands project had only “a very narrow window of opportunity” to address, and fix, the problems fuelled by the massive and rapid growth.

There are more than $100 billion of work planned for the region in the next decade but, as Norwegian stated “the water and the environment we live in is in danger of destruction and we in the Dehcho are not even consulted. The tar sands are also Canada’s largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of frightening global warming and climate change.

Stelmach agreed with people, the latest being the Dehcho, who have said that the situation is critical. Fort McMurray, a city of some 50,000 has massive social problems, inadequate housing, three times the number of motor vehicle fatalities per capita than the rest of Alberta, drug abuse and four times the average of sexually transmitted diseases.

“With each project approved, the growing demands on water and the environment and the absence of any sustainable solutions weighs more heavily on the people of the north,” Bill Erasmus of Yellowknife, national chief of the Dene Nation, who accompanied the Dehcho delegation.

The DFN delegation held meetings in Fort McMurray to discuss with the Athabasca Tribal Council and neighbouring first nations the way forward. Last year, the Dehcho, at the urging of their elders held a large conference in Fort Simpson to discuss the serious water problems in their land and issued a declaration that First Nations are Keepers of the Waters”. Norwegian urged this meeting of key Aboriginal players to form an alliance to address the water issues and the issues of massive development.

They heard of the degradation of the boreal forest ecosystem, the “dewatering” of rivers and streams to support the tar sands operations and the threat to the cultural survival of the people according to their treaty rights. The areas of concern are under Treaties 8 and 11, Treaties that ensure that lands of First Nations should not be taken away from them by massive uncontrolled development which threatens their culture and traditional way of life.

Late last year, Norwegian told his people, Suncor, the oldest tar sands mine in the region was granted an expansion of its operations which already produce 225,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) and will reach 500,000 bbd by 2012. During the tour, the Dehcho were accompanied by two Suncor public relations people who would not allow the group to take pictures. Questions about the impact of large tailing ponds bursting toxic waste on the land, the proximity of the mining operations to the Athabasca River, in some places an estimated 150 feet, and destruction of the boreal forest were not answered.

The grand chief told his people of research done by pro-moratorium supporters across Canada that for every barrel of oil produced by Suncor that between four and eight barrels of water were used from the Athabasca River, which flows through the tar sands and is part of the Mackenzie Valley watershed. Using the latest figures available from the Alberta Energy Board, Suncor sucked up 45.5 billion barrels of water in 2004 although its claims to recycle 75 percent of this but its quality is questionable. Holding tanks for toxic waste, some of them as big as 15 sq km, are larger than many natural lakes in the area. It is estimated by the AEB that current and future projects will require an unimaginable 175 million litres of water a day.

“I cannot even imagine what figures like this look like, they are almost meaningless to the average person from Dehcho,” Norwegian said, “but I do know this whole place looks like a moonscape. “ And it will get worse. Imperial Oil and Shell Canada have been granted permission to build new sites, bringing the total of existing and planned tar sands producers to 11 with more leases opening up almost daily.

“The government and the oil companies talk about ‘balance’, a balance between the environment and the economy. But this is no balance, this whole scheme is unbalanced to the point it is out of control. We aboriginal people need to demand a stop to this until we can find out where the mess is going. We have to ask the hard questions: do we need this? Is this kind of development just a waste? What is going to happen to our land and our water? And our people? As Dene we do not differentiate between the land, water, air, earth, wildlife, birds, fish and people. The people and the land are inseparable. That is real balance, “he said.


Josh Wolf who refused to cooperate with a grand jury investigation became the longest incarcerated journalist in modern American history on Tuesday.

Government prosecutors have demanded that Josh give them raw video, some of which he has posted on his Web site as well as testify about the protesters at a San Francisco demonstration seen on the tape.

Journalists, civil libertarians and politicians gathered to mark the occasion.

Reporters Without Borders has stated,

"The Wolf case has absolutely no bearing on national security, the argument used in other tussles between federal courts and journalists who refused to name their sources or surrender their files. Confirmed contempt of court orders against Wolf would mean that the independence of the press - which is based among other things on the right to professional secrecy – is more than ever in danger in the United States. Keeping Josh Wolf in jail would be tantamount to denying the role that the media is supposed to play in a democracy, one of questioning and criticizing. Congress must quickly debate and approve a federal shield law that would uphold the right of journalists to protect the confidentiality of their sources."

What follows is an article from Inside Bay Area. Next is a press release written by Sara Olson (who herself continues to sit behind bars in a California prison).

Journalist sets record for jail time
By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER

SAN FRANCISCO — Freelance videographer and blogger Josh Wolf became a full-fledged media martyr Tuesday, surpassing the U.S. record for most time spent in jail by a journalist who refused to comply with a subpoena.
Tuesday was the 169th day that Wolf, 24, of San Francisco spent in a federal prison cell in Dublin after refusing to give a federal grand jury footage he shot of a 2005 political protest in San Francisco's Mission District. Journalists, civil libertarians and politicians gathered on the steps of City Hall to mark the occasion.

"Josh Wolf is in jail for every one of you out there who's holding a camera ... a notepad ... a microphone," said David Greene, executive director of the Oakland-based First Amendment Project. "This is not a selfish act, he has nothing to gain personally by being in jail. ... He's fighting for the press' right to be free."

"Surely any message the government wanted to send about the importance of complying with a subpoena has been sent," Greene added.

San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi decried "the thuggery of the federal government, the Bush Administration and Judge (William) Alsup" in this case, and blasted Mayor Gavin Newsom and other local politicos who've remained silent: "I'm angry as hell about this .... There should be a serious outcry that he's been in jail this long." Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Jake McGoldrick attended, too.

San Francisco Bay Guardian publisher and editor Bruce Brugmann proclaimed Wolf "a hero" and said he's never seen anything like this in his own decades in journalism. "Where are we? Are we in Bulgaria, or Korea?"

Julian Davis of the Free Josh Wolf Coalition said the support Wolf's cause has garnered proves "this is no fringe movement." Wolf is backed by state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, who'll soon introduce a resolution honoring and supporting Wolf; Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco; the Society of Professional Journalists; the American Civil Liberties Union; the National Press Club; Reporters Without Borders; the National Lawyers Guild; Media Alliance; The Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America and others.

Wolf, who works full-time as outreach director for Peralta Community College District's cable television station in Oakland, attended and filmed a G-8 Summit protest July 8, 2005, in San Francisco's Mission District at which a police officer was seriously injured and someone might have tried to set a San Francisco police car afire.

Prosecutors say grand juries have broad power to probe whether a crime occurred: perhaps the attempted car arson — potentially a federal offense, they say, as San Francisco police get federal funding — or perhaps something else. There's no federal "shield law" protecting journalists from federal grand juries' demands.

Wolf and his supporters say the attempted car arson is a pretense, an end-run around California's strong shield law so the FBI can gather evidence for a San Francisco police investigation while fishing for information about protesters and chilling independent news gathering. Journalists mustn't be co-opted as a de facto arm of the law, they say.

The case also has raised questions about who is and isn't a journalist. In an age when almost anyone can write, record or film events and post it online, past delineations between professional and amateur reporters are blurred, particularly when it comes to questions of objectivity; Wolf clearly was among and supportive of the protesters on whom he reported.

Davis and coalition activist Andy Blue were in Washington last week lobbying staffers to lawmakers such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer; and others to intercede on Wolf's behalf and spur passage of a federal shield law. Davis said Tuesday there's been no word yet on whether the lawmakers will act.

Carlos Villareal, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild's San Francisco chapter, berated Alsup for "a stroke of absolute arrogance" in refusing Wolf's motion for release last week without holding a hearing. Wolf's lawyers had argued he might as well go free because he'll never comply with the subpoena no matter how long he's jailed; Alsup's one-paragraph order said Wolf's lawyers' talk of a possible compromise "reveals a realistic possibility that Mr. Wolf's confinement may be having its coercive effect."

Josh Wolf Becomes Longest Jailed Journalist in U.S. History
Tuesday February 6, 1:05 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Josh Wolf, named northern California's 2006 journalist of the year by Society of Professional Journalists, broke the record for the longest amount of time a reporter has spent in jail protecting his sources. Journalist and professional organizations are denouncing his continued imprisonment.

"The 169th day of Josh Wolf's incarceration marks another alarming milestone in the struggle for press freedom in post-9/11 America," said Linda Foley, president of The Newspaper Guild/CWA. "What was once a cherished constitutional mandate that journalists operate free from government interference increasingly has come under attack."

"Josh is fighting a brave battle that an increasing number of journalists in the U.S. are facing today," said Jerry Zremski, president of the National Press Club. "Chillingly, many journalists must battle to keep their reporting from becoming a tool that prosecutors can use to further their cases."

"Keeping Wolf in jail is absurd and cruel," said Lucie Morillon, Washington director at Reporters Without Borders. "It is a bad signal sent to the rest of the world. We would have expected a democratic country such as the United States to put the bar higher regarding press freedom."

"Josh should be protected by the California shield law, and this should never have become a federal case. He has neither broken the law, nor been convicted of a crime," said Sarah Olson, an independent journalist recently subpoenaed by the U.S. Army. "The Department of Justice should release Wolf from prison immediately."

The 24-year-old independent journalist sold his footage of a 2005 San Francisco demonstration to the nightly news. The broadcast attracted the attention of local and federal law enforcement agents who later served Wolf a federal subpoena requiring his unpublished video footage and testimony. When he refused to comply he was charged with contempt of court and incarcerated.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Folks, there has been a large chemical plant explosion a few miles away from here, so I'm going to stop working on the Oread Daily and go watch the local TV news. When the explosion occured lights, including here, flickered etc. Lots of black smoke as the fire continues to burn away. At this time though all is well, but there are these unknown black tarry lumps falling from the smoke that are still being investigated as to find out of what they are made.

Later dudes and dudettes...


The trial of a Fort Lewis soldier who refuses to go Iraq is in jeopardy of a mistrial (See Oread Daily Monday, February 5). Leut. Ehren Watada was expected to take the stand this morning. But that's been put on hold until the judge can figure how the trial will go forward, or if it will even continue.His attorney wants to be able instruct the jury that Watada's intent wasn't specifically to miss a movement, but rather to avoid a war he said would make him party to war crimes. The judge now says he has to ask Watada about that, to see just exactly what his intentions were.The trouble is, Watada's attorney is objecting to that. So now the judge says he may not be able to accept Watada's earlier stipulation.This means the army may have to retry this case from the beginning.
The following comes article comes from the Tacoma News-Tribune.

Watada mistrial looms

ADAM LYNN; The News Tribune

The threat of a mistrial hung over the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada this morning after the Army officer's defense attorney sparred with the military judge over Watada's previous formal admission to facts in the case.

The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, said he was concerned that Watada did not understand portions of a "stipulation of fact" he signed earlier in the week. Head, who is presiding over the court-martial at Fort Lewis, said he wants to question Watada about what he signed.

Civilian defense attorney Eric Seitz objected to Head questioning his client, saying it was too far along in the process to reopen the stipulation.

Head responded that unless he was satisfied that Watada knew what he had signed, he would be forced to declare a mistrial.

The arguments came after Seitz, Army prosecutors and Head met behind closed doors for nearly 1 1/2 hours to discuss instructions that would be provided to the panel of military officers sitting in judgment of Watada when witness testimony ends.

Seitz apparently wants to include something in the instructions regarding Watada's reasons for missing his unit's flight to Iraq last June.

The defense attorney said in open court Wednesday that it was Watada's intent to avoid the entire Iraq war when he refused to board the plane, not just to miss that specific flight. He is charged only with missing that plane.

"That is why we did not plead guilty to that charge (of missing movement," Seitz said.

Head previously ruled that Watada could not call witnesses to bolster his claims that the war is illegal.

On Wednesday, the judge said he sees a contradiction between the proposed instruction and the stipulation and demanded to question Watada about that. If he could not resolve the contradiction to his satisfaction, or if Watada refused to answer questions, Head said he would throw out the stipulation. That would essentially halt the case and require Army prosecutors to refile charges

Seitz then asked for some time to consult with his client, and Head granted permission.

Court is scheduled to resume after lunch.

Watada is charged with three violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for refusing to deploy with his unit to Iraq in June and public statements he made about what he sees as the illegality of the war in Iraq.

He faces up to four years in confinement and a discharge from the Army if found guilty of missing movement and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer.

The 28-year-old officer contends he had a duty to refuse orders to deploy because he believes the war violates U.S. and international law and that his participation would make him party to war crimes. He has said he would fight in Afghanistan and potentially other conflicts.

At least five members of the panel must vote to convict him in order for him to be found guilty.

If he's found guilty, the court-martial would move into a sentencing phase, where prosecutors and defense attorneys could call more witnesses.

At least five panel members must also agree on a sentence.

Watada would have the right to fight a conviction in the Army's appellate court system and could possibly take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

His attorney wants to be able instruct the jury that Watada's intent wasn't specifically to miss a movement, but rather to avoid a war he said would make him party to war crimes. The judge now says he has to ask Watada about that, to see just exactly what his intentions were.

The trouble is, Watada's attorney is objecting to that. So now the judge says he may not be able to accept Watada's earlier stipulation.

This means the army may have to retry this case from the beginning. But now the question is: what did Watada intend to do when he missed the movement?


Activist Shareef Aleem was acquitted by a Colorado jury on Monday on charges of assaulting a police officer during a contentions contentious University of Colorado regents meeting last year. Aleem who was trying to make a public address (and who was also recording the event for Denver community television) was at the meeting showing support for students’ dissent against education cuts and fee hikes and their protest of attacks on Professor Ward Churchill.

The following report is from Denver CopWatch.

Shareef Aleem Found Not Guilty

A jury returned a verdict of not guilty for Shareef Aleem a local African- American activist. Mr. Aleem had been charged with a felony in an arrest that occurred just over two years ago at a CU Regents meeting. The verdict was read on Monday morning in court. This was the second trial in the matter, the first resulted in a hung jury. The Adams County District Attorney prosecuted both cases.

Mr. Aleem was arrested after he tried to speak at a CU Regents meeting about Professor Ward Churchill. The meeting was supposed to have a public comment period but the Regents decided not to allow public comment at the last minute. This provoked an outcry by members of the public that attended the meeting. A number of officers violently dragged Mr. Aleem from the meeting. The event was front page news and led tv news broadcasts.

During deliberations the jury closely reviewed video of the confrontation between police officers and Mr. Aleem. Defense witnesses included professors and students from CU. The prosecution relied on testimony of police officers, two of whom were at the back of the auditorium a considerable distance from the incident. Defense attorneys were able to poke holes in the officers testimony.

Notably absent from the proceedings was the heavy media presence that surrounded the arrest. Denver CopWatch found the reporting of the arrest to be sensational and biased against Mr. Aleem. The failure to cover or report on the results of the trial is a further indication of bias on the part of local media. Mr. Aleem, who has been very active around police accountability issues, has had two years of his life dominated by the charges against him.

Denver CopWatch is deeply concerned over the way the Adams County justice system operated in this case. The first trial did not appear to be fairly run, Judge DelGado appeared to be afraid of Mr. Aleem and appeared to be working in concert with the prosecution during the trial. She also sentenced Mr. Aleem to 45 days for contempt of court, a sentence that was later overturned. The decision by the Adams County District Attorney to try Mr. Aleem a second time was a waste of taxpayers money and very questionable.

Denver CopWatch believes that justice did finally prevail in this important free speech case.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Largely ignored, the "forgotten" war in Afghanistan continues right along bringing little but misery to the Afghani people, especially Afghani women.

As the journal "Socialism and Liberation" reports,

"Afghanistan’s Gender Development Index is the third lowest in the world, at 0.3. Afghan women suffer immensely from the effects of poverty. Only 20 percent of Afghan women have ever seen a doctor. In part because of this, Afghanistan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, and most deaths are from
preventable causes. Only 14 percent of Afghan women have experienced attendants with them during birth. In addition to this, the literacy rate for Afghan women has not improved—it currently stands at 9 percent. For women in Afghanistan, the occupation has not been a liberating force—rather, it has been another burden laid on their shoulders, as they now have to struggle against the daily trials of poverty and violence in addition to their struggle as women. "

Despite all the evidence to the contrary the Bushites continue to act as if they "liberated" the women of Afghanistan.


The article you will read below has been reprinted on many internet sites. Usually, I leave such articles alone since I figure you'll find them elsewhere. Not this time. This article really must be read...and acted upon.

The following was taken from the web site of the Global Sisterhood Network.

Not the Same as Being Equal - Women in Afghanistan By Ann Jones

Born in Afghanistan but raised in the United States, like many in the worldwide Afghan Diaspora, Manizha Naderi is devoted to helping her homeland. For years she worked with Women for Afghan Women, a New York based organization serving Afghan women wherever they may be. Last fall, she returned to Kabul, the capital, to try to create a Family Guidance Center. Its goal was to rescue women -- and their families -- from homemade violence. It's tough work. After three decades of almost constant warfare, most citizens are programmed to answer the slightest challenge with violence. In Afghanistan it's the default response.

Manizha Naderi has been sizing up the problem in the capital and last week she sent me a copy of her report. A key passage went like this:

"During the past year, a rash of reports on the situation of women in Afghanistan has been issued by Afghan governmental agencies and by foreign and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that claim a particular interest in women's rights or in Afghanistan or both. More reports are in the offing. What has sparked them is the dire situation of women in the country, the systematic violations of their human rights, and the failure of concerned parties to achieve significant improvements by providing women with legal protections rooted in a capable, honest, and stable judiciary system, education and employment opportunities, safety from violence, much of it savage, and protection from hidebound customs originating in the conviction that women are the property of men.

"I'd hoped for better news. Instead, her report brought back so many things I'd seen for myself during the last five years spent, off and on, in her country.


Last year in Herat, as I was walking with an Afghan colleague to a meeting on women's rights, I spotted an ice cream vendor in the hot, dusty street. I rushed ahead and returned with two cones of lemony ice. I held one out to my friend. "Forgive me," she said. "I can't." She was wearing a burqa.

It was a stupid mistake. I'd been in Afghanistan a long time, in the company every day of women encased from head to toe in pleated polyester body bags. Occasionally I put one on myself, just to get the feel of being stifled in the sweaty sack, blind behind the mesh eye mask. I'd watched women trip on their burqas and fall. I'd watched women collide with cars they couldn't see. I knew a woman badly burned when her burqa caught fire. I knew another who suffered a near-fatal skull fracture when her burqa snagged in a taxi door and slammed her to the pavement as the vehicle sped away. But I'd never before noted this fact: it is not possible for a woman wearing a burqa to eat an ice cream cone.

We gave the cones away to passing children and laughed about it, but to me it was the saddest thing.


Ever since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, George W. Bush has boasted of "liberating" Afghan women from the Taliban and the burqa. His wife Laura, after a publicity junket to Afghanistan in 2005, appeared on Jay Leno's show to say that she hadn't seen a single woman wearing a burqa.

But these are the sorts of wildly optimistic self-delusions that have made Bush notorious. His wife, whose visit to Afghanistan lasted almost six hours, spent much of that time at the American air base and none of it in the Afghan streets where most women, to this day, go about in big blue bags.

It's true that after the fall of the Taliban lots of women in the capital went back to work in schools, hospitals, and government ministries, while others found better paying jobs with international humanitarian agencies. In 2005, thanks to a quota system imposed by the international community, women took 27% of the seats in the lower house of the new parliament, a greater percentage than women enjoy in most Western legislatures, including our own. Yet these hopeful developments are misleading.

The fact is that the "liberation" of Afghan women is mostly theoretical. The Afghan Constitution adopted in 2004 declares that "The Citizens of Afghanistan -- whether man or woman -- have equal Rights and Duties before the Law." But what law? The judicial system -- ultra-conservative, inadequate, incompetent, and notoriously corrupt -- usually bases decisions on idiosyncratic interpretations of Islamic Sharia, tribal customary codes, or simple bribery. And legal "scholars" instruct women that having "equal Rights and Duties" is not the same as being equal to men.

Post-Taliban Afghanistan, under President Hamid Karzai, also ratified key international agreements on human rights: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Treaty of Civil and Political Rights, and CEDAW: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Like the Constitution, these essential documents provide a foundation for realizing the human rights of women.

But building on that paper foundation -- amid poverty, illiteracy, misogyny, and ongoing warfare -- is something else again.

That's why, for the great majority of Afghan women, life has scarcely changed at all. That's why even an educated and informed leader like my colleague, on her way to a UN agency to work on women's rights, is still unable to eat an ice cream cone.


For most Afghan women the burqa is the least of their problems.

Afghanistan is just about the poorest country in the world. Only Burkina Faso and Niger sometimes get worse ratings. After nearly three decades of warfare and another of drought, millions of Afghans are without safe water or sanitation or electricity, even in the capital city. Millions are without adequate food and nutrition. Millions have access only to the most rudimentary health care, or none at all.

Diseases such as TB and polio, long eradicated in most of the world, flourish here. They hit women and children hard. One in four children dies before the age of five, mostly from preventable illnesses such as cholera and diarrhea. Half of all women of childbearing age who die do so in childbirth, giving Afghanistan one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. Average life expectancy hovers around 42 years.

Notice that we're still talking women's rights here: the fundamental economic and social rights that belong to all human beings.

There are other grim statistics. About 85% of Afghan women are illiterate. About 95% are routinely subjected to violence in the home. And the home is where most Afghan women in rural areas, and many in cities, are still customarily confined. Public space and public life belong almost exclusively to men. President Karzai heads the country while his wife, a qualified gynecologist with needed skills, stays at home.

These facts are well known. During more than five years of Western occupation, they haven't changed.

Afghan women and girls are, by custom and practice, the property of men. They may be traded and sold like any commodity. Although Afghan law sets the minimum marriageable age for girls at sixteen, girls as young as eight or nine are commonly sold into marriage. Women doctors in Kabul maternity hospitals describe terrible life-threatening "wedding night" injuries that husbands inflict on child brides. In the countryside, far from medical help, such girls die.

Under the tribal code of the Pashtuns, the dominant ethnic group, men customarily hand over women and girls -- surplus sisters or widows, daughters or nieces -- to other men to make amends for some offense or to pay off some indebtedness, often to a drug lord. To Pashtuns the trade-off is a means of maintaining "justice" and social harmony, but international human rights observers define what happens to the women and girls used in such "conflict resolution" as "slavery."

Given the rigid confinement of women, a surprising number try to escape. But any woman on her own outside the home is assumed to be guilty of the crime of "zina" -- engaging in sexual activity. That's why "running away" is itself a crime. One crime presupposes the other.

When she is caught, as most runaways are, she may be taken to jail for an indefinite term or returned to her husband or father or brothers who may then murder her to restore the family honor.

The same thing happens to a rape victim, force being no excuse for sexual contact -- unless she is married to the man who raped her. In that case, she can be raped as often as he likes.

In Kabul, where women and girls move about more freely, many are snatched by traffickers and sold into sexual slavery. The traffickers are seldom pursued or punished because once a girl is abducted she is as good as dead anyway, even to loving parents bound by the code of honor. The weeping mother of a kidnapped teenage girl once told me, "I pray she does not come back because my husband will have to kill her."

Many a girl kills herself. To escape beatings or sexual abuse or forced marriage. To escape prison or honor killing, if she's been seduced or raped or falsely accused. To escape life, if she's been forbidden to marry the man she would choose for herself.

Suicide also brings dishonor, so families cover it up. Only when city girls try to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire do their cases become known, for if they do not die at once, they may be taken to hospital. In 2003, scores of cases of self-immolation were reported in the city of Herat; the following year, as many were recorded in Kabul. Although such incidents are notoriously underreported, during the past year 150 cases were noted in western Afghanistan, 197 in Herat, and at least 34 in the south.

The customary codes and traditional practices that made life unbearable for these burned girls predate the Taliban, and they remain in force today, side by side with the new constitution and international documents that speak of women's rights.

Tune in a Kabul television station and you'll see evidence that Afghan women are poised at a particularly schizophrenic moment in their history. Watching televised parliamentary sessions, you'll see women who not only sit side by side with men -- a dangerous, generally forbidden proximity -- but actually rise to argue with them. Yet who can forget poor murdered Shaima, the lively, youthful presenter of a popular TV chat show for young people? Her father and brother killed her, or so men and women say approvingly, because they found her job shameful. Mullahs and public officials issue edicts from time to time condemning women on television, or television itself.


Many people believe the key to improving life for women, and all Afghans, is education, particularly because so many among Afghanistan's educated elite left the country during its decades of wars. So the international community invests in education projects -- building schools, printing textbooks, teaching teachers, organizing literacy classes for women -- and the Bush administration in particular boasts that five million children now go to school.

But that's fewer than half the kids of school age, and less than a third of the girls. The highest enrollments are in cities – 85% of children in Kabul -- while, in the Pashtun south, enrollments drop below 20% overall and near zero for girls. More than half the students enrolled in school live in Kabul and its environs, yet even there an estimated 60,000 children are not in school, but in the streets, working as vendors, trash-pickers, beggars, or thieves.

None of this is new. For a century, Afghan rulers -- from kings to communists -- have tried to unveil women and advance education. In the 1970s and 1980s, many women in the capital went about freely, without veils. They worked in offices, schools, hospitals. They went to university and became doctors, nurses, teachers, judges, engineers. They drove their own cars. They wore Western fashions and traveled abroad. But when Kabul's communists called for universal education throughout the country, provincial conservatives opposed to educating women rebelled.

Afghan women of the Kabul elite haven't yet caught up to where they were thirty-five years ago. But once again ultra-conservatives are up in arms. This time it's the Taliban, back in force throughout the southern half of the country. Among their tactics: blowing up or burning schools (150 in 2005, 198 in 2006) and murdering teachers, especially women who teach girls. UNICEF estimates that in four southern provinces more than half the schools -- 380 out of 748 -- no longer provide any education at all. Last September the Taliban shot down the middle-aged woman who headed the provincial office for women's affairs in Kandahar. A few brave colleagues went back to the office in body armor, knowing it would not save them. Now, in the southern provinces -- more than half the country -- women and girls stay home.

I blame George W. Bush, the "liberator" who looked the other way. In 2001, the United States military claimed responsibility for these provinces, the heart of Taliban country; but diverted to adventures in the oilfields of Iraq, it failed for five years to provide the security international humanitarians needed to do the promised work of reconstruction. Afghans grew discouraged.

Last summer, when the U.S. handed the job to NATO, British and Canadian "peacekeepers" walked right into war with the resurgent Taliban. By year's end, more than 4,000 Afghans were dead -- Taliban, "suspected" insurgents, and civilians. Speaking recently of dead women and children -- trapped between U.S. bombers and NATO troops on the one hand and Taliban forces backed (unofficially) by Pakistan on the other -- President Karzai began to weep.

It's winter in Afghanistan now. No time to make war.

But come spring, the Taliban promise a new offensive to throw out Karzai and foreign invaders. The British commander of NATO forces has already warned: "We could actually fail here." He also advised a British reporter that Westerners shouldn't even mention women's rights when more important things are at stake. As if security is not a woman's right. And peace. Come spring, Afghan women could lose it all.

Ann Jones, who was a humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan periodically from 2002 to 2006, is the author of Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan (Metropolitan Books, 2006, and soon to be in paperback). The New York Times described her book as "a work of impassioned reportage… eloquent and persuasive." That's journalese for: What she saw in Afghanistan really made her mad.

[Note: This piece was adapted from a feature article that appears in the February issue of Brazil's leading women's magazine, Marie Claire Brazil.

Monday, February 05, 2007


"It is my duty as a commissioned officer in the United States army to speak out against grave injustices. My moral and legal obligation is to the constitution. Not to those who issue unlawful orders. I stand before you today because it is my job to serve and protect American soldiers and innocent Iraqis who have no voice. It is my conclusion that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong, but also a breach of American law," Ehren Watada, June 7, 2006.

Ehren Watada (born 1978) is a First Lieutenant in the United States Army, a member of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team, who in June 2006 publicly refused to deploy to the war in Iraq saying that he believed the war to be illegal and that it would make him party to war crimes.

He was the first commissioned officer in the U.S. armed forces to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq, Watada will face a court-martial starting today.

Win or lose, Watada's lawyer said the soldier is at peace fighting for what he believes in.

"He's accomplished a great deal. He's really sparked a debate and whether people agree with him or disagree with him, many, many more people have looked at the issues that he's addressed," said Eric Seitz.

KGMB (Hawaii) report Watada's looming trial hasn't stopped him from speaking out against the war. Hundreds crowded into a church in Ft. Lewis, Washington on Saturday night to hear his controversial message.

"Let us not forget that it was a failure, not through its conduct, but through its unconstitutional and immoral policy," Watada said.

Attorney Seitz said jury selection will start on Monday and later both sides will present their cases. He believes the entire trial will finish by Thursday or Friday.

For further information go to

The following report comes from KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon.

Portland groups rally for soldier who refused to go to Iraq
12:52 PM PST on Monday, February 5, 2007

Dozens of Portlanders voiced their support Monday for a soldier from Fort Lewis who refused to deploy to Iraq. The group of war protesters caravanned up to the military base in Washington Monday morning for the start of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada’s court martial.

The 28-year old refused an order to deploy to Iraq last June. He is charged with missing a troop movement and two counts unbecoming an officer for making public comments against the war.
Watada said the war is illegal and he has an obligation to refuse unlawful orders. A military judge has ruled Watada can’t base his defense on the war’s legality

“I think his action was totally justified. I mean, if your parent says to jump off a bridge, you’re not going to do that, or if your mom says to kill someone, you’re not going to do that,” said Anna Joy Gillis. She traveled to the support rally with her mother.

Members of the group said they support Watada for objecting to what they feel is an illegal war.
Several different Portland based anti-war groups organized the trip to the rally. It included college students, military veterans, and others opposed to the war in Iraq.

The Portland group joined other protesters outside Fort Lewis, including outspoken war critic, actor Sean Penn.

Lt. Watada faces four years in prison if convicted of the charges.


Amnesty International has expressed concern over the treatment of Western Sahara political prisoners Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai as their trial is about to begin.

Brahim Sabbar is the Secretary General of the Association Sahraouie des Victimes des Violations Graves des Droits de l’Homme Commises par l’Etat du Maroc (ASVDH). He was arrested with Sbai Ahmed, a member of the Advisory Council of the ASVDH and a member of the Comité pour la Protection des Détenus de la Prison Noire, on 17 June 2006 in Boujdour, Western Sahara, following an inaugural meeting of the Boujdour branch of the ASVDH.

Brahim Sabbar was sentenced to two-year imprisonment on 27 June 2006 for assaulting and disobeying a police officer. An appeal court confirmed this decision on 20 July. Brahim Sabbar has denied the accusations and he says that he is being denied the right to read and verify the police report that was used as evidence against him, which is in breach of Moroccan law. Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai are awaiting a separate trial on charges, which include belonging to an unauthorized association and inciting violent protest activities against the Moroccan administration of Western Sahara.

Both men were brutally assaulted while in detention in the Laâyoune Civil, ‘Black Prison’ on 19 January 2007 reports the human rights group Front Line.

Reportedly, a number of police from the Mobile Intervention Forces entered a cell where the two human rights defenders and 16 other political prisoners were being detained and violently beat the prisoners with batons.

Sabbar had his leg broken during the attack and was denied adequate medical treatment.

The attack followed a month of demonstrations by the human rights defenders and the political prisoners at the “Black Prison”.

The following statement comes from Amnesty International:

Morocco/Western Sahara: Stop the judicial harassment of Sahrawi human rights defenders

On the eve of the trial in Laayoune of Sahrawi human rights defenders Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai, Amnesty International fears that the two men are being subjected to judicial harassment on account of their work as human rights defenders and their advocacy of the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. Amnesty International calls on the Moroccan authorities to ensure that tomorrow’s proceedings meet international standards for fair trial.

However, it believes the two men, who have been in detention for over half a year, may be prisoners of conscience, in which case they should be released immediately and unconditionally.

The organization’s concerns are made more acute by the fact that Brahim Sabbar has already been sentenced in an earlier trial to two years’ imprisonment on the basis of charges which Amnesty International believes were probably trumped up.Brahim Sabbar, Secretary General of the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State and well known to Amnesty International as a long-standing human rights activist, along with his colleague Ahmed Sbai, face charges which include belonging to an unauthorized association and inciting violent protest activities against the Moroccan administration of Western Sahara. Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai appear to have been targeted for their role in collecting and disseminating information about human rights violations in Western Sahara, as well as their public advocacy of the right of the people of the territory to self-determination. They were arrested on 17 June 2006 at a police checkpoint at the entrance to Laayoune in Western Sahara, when returning by car from the nearby town of Boujdour, where they say they had been supervising the creation of a branch of their association. Shortly beforehand, in May 2006, their association had published a 121-page report detailing dozens of allegations of arbitrary arrest and torture or ill-treatment committed by Moroccan security forces in previous months. Brahim Sabbar’s previous trial took place shortly after his arrest. He was charged with assaulting and disobeying a police officer during his arrest, but denied the accusation, maintaining that police officers in fact kicked, slapped and insulted him. Other Sahrawi human rights defenders have reported similar or more severe ill-treatment during arrest or questioning. He was sentenced to two years in prison on 27 June 2006. In the same trial, two brothers, Ahmed and Saleh Haddi, who had been travelling with Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai at the time of their arrest were convicted on similar charges and handed down a three-year prison sentence and a one-year suspended prison sentence respectively. The decisions were confirmed on appeal on 20 July 2006. Amnesty International had a number of concerns about the fairness of the trial. In particular, it was concerned about the court’s dismissal of defence lawyers’ requests to call and question witnesses, despite this being a cornerstone of the right of defence. Furthermore, Brahim Sabbar said that he was never allowed to read and check the accuracy of the record of the police interview with him, in breach of Moroccan law. Finally, Amnesty International appeals to the Moroccan authorities’ to stop criminalizing the peaceful work of Sahrawi human rights defenders and to protect the right of all Sahrawis to peacefully express their views, including on the issue of Western Sahara, without fear of reprisal.


Some folks in New York like their bakery so much that they've taken to the streets to try to save it. Not exactly The Revolution, I know, but I found it interesting. The following review of the bakery from Healthy Living New York City also made me hungry.

This all-vegan bakery provides a variety of tastes for the vegan palate. Proud
to be 100% free of animal products and the refined sugar that sneaks into much
of their competition's dishes, this shop features some interesting products for
the organic and raw diets as well. The vegan pizza was surprisingly moist and
substantial. Topped with three kinds of peppers, onions, and tofu crumbles, we
practically had to fight over who would finish it. No blows were thrown, but
friendships were irreparably damaged. The vegan lasagna was also quite tasty and
relatively affordable for the portion. We closed out the meal with some
delectable treats. Their non-wheat oatmeal raisin cookies were sweet and crunchy
without being dry—just the way I like my oatmeal cookies. They also feature a
variety of fresh squeezed juices and smoothies—and shots of wheat grass so
potent my partner had to call in 'healthy' for work the next day.

The following articles are from NYC League of Humane Voters:

100+ turn out for our rally to save a vegan bakery

LOHV-NYC's rally this past Saturday to save Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen from eviction was truly inspiring. In spite of freezing cold weather, more than 100 vegans, vegetarians and neighborhood activists turned out in support of our efforts. Thank you! More information on what you can do to help this animal friendly bakery survive will be posted in the coming days.

LOHV-NYC, local pols try to save vegan bakery (This article is from late December)

Whole and Bakery and Kitchen has been a fixture on the Lower East Side for more than 15 years. That may change on March 31st, 2007, when the bakery's lease expires. Friedman Management, the bakery's landlord, has said it wants the bakery out. The League of Humane Voters of New York City (LOHV-NYC) along with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Martin Connor, Assembly Member-Elect Brian Kavanagh and Council Member Rosie Mendez are trying to make sure the bakery's doors stay open. With LOHV-NYC's help, the bakery has gathered the names and addresses of more than 3,000 supporters and a "consciousness-raising" rally is being planned for February.

"Long before Whole Foods landed in the city, Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen was serving New Yorkers delicious vegan and organic baked goods," said John Phillips, LOHV-NYC's Executive Director. "Now, this beloved community bakery may be forced out. It's not fair and it's not what neighborhood residents want to happen. No one wants to see this place close."

Peter Silvestri and his mom, the late "Earth Mother" Filomena Silvestri, opened the bakery together. Says Peter Silvestri: "My mom was a guiding light … One of the last things she said to me [before she passed away earlier this year at age 94] was that she wanted to get back to the bakery … Unfortunately, now that this neighborhood has become valuable, my landlord's telling me I gotta go."

New York State Senator Martin Connor said, "It is really a sad commentary that another small business is being forced to close as a result of the high cost of real estate and rent in our community. Peter Silvestri and his Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen have been a unique presence in our neighborhood for 15 years. He sells healthy and very tasty food at an affordable price. Whole Earth Bakery was a pioneer in the East Village long before the trendy bars and boutiques moved in. I urge Friedman Management to reconsider renewing Whole Earth's lease so that we can all continue to enjoy the food and the atmosphere that only a small neighborhood business can bring to a community. Don’t we have enough Starbuck's, McDonald's, and loud bars in this city?"

Assembly Member-Elect Brian Kavanagh said that Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen is "one of the unique local businesses that give our community its distinctive character but which are now being forced out by higher-rent and more generic uses. We need to find ways to protect the diverse storefront uses that make communities like this vibrant and livable--and in this case healthier too!"

In a letter to Friedman Management urging them to preserve the bakery, Council Member Rosie Mendez said: "[Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen] has been a well-loved eatery since 1978 … When we lose establishments such as this one, we lose a part of the Lower East Side community and the unique culture that has been established here."

To find out how you can help save the bakery, call (212) 889-0303 or email

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Organizers of "Migrant March II," led by immigrant rights activist Enrique Morones, say the event which is just getting underway is intended to rally support in favor of "fair immigration reform and demilitarization of the border."

"There is not one documented case of a person crossing the U.S. Mexican border that committed a terrorist act, not one," Morones told KFMB-TV. "There's three from Canada. Three different cases. Yet, the National Guard is sent to the Mexican border."

The group plans to drive a caravan of vehicles from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas and back, stopping at border cities along the way. The demonstration will culminate with an "All People's Immigration Hearing" in San Diego on Feb. 17.

MARCHA MIGRANTE II has scheduled special tributes to Oscar Garcia Barrios in San Diego (steps from where he was shot at San Ysidro port of entry May 18, 2006), Douglas, Arizona (where Francisco Javier Dominguez Rivera was shot and killed by border patrol earlier this month) and in Redford, Texas a tribute to Eziquiel Hernandez (shot by Marines in 1997)

“MIGRANT MARCH I” was a huge success as a caravan of vehicles crossed the country San Diego to DC and back (February 2-28, 2006) demanding justice for the migrants, no more deaths, asking the communities to take to the street and march against 4437 & support humane and comprehensive immigration reform.

The following article comes from the Whittier Daily News:

2nd Migrant March will get personal

By Araceli Esparza Staff WriterWhittier Daily News

Dozens of immigrant-rights advocates will depart today from San Diego to drum up support for immigration reform.

Called Migrant March II, the caravan of mostly Latino leaders will drive to Brownsville, Texas, and back, meeting along the way with community leaders and residents in cities along the border, organizers said.

Exactly one year ago, advocates led a similar caravan to push their agenda for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to legalization for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

This time the goals are the same, but "it's going to be more personalized," said Enrique Morones, who created Border Angels and Gente Unida, two pro-immigrant groups.

Organizers hope to put a spotlight on the hardships migrants endure while crossing the border by collecting accounts of people who died trying to cross the border, he said.

"We want to bring it home. We want to be able to take the stories from migrants themselves," he said, adding that organizers plan to deliver those testimonies to lawmakers in Washington.
"These personal stories could sway them," he said.

Over the next two weeks, members of the caravan will hold prayer vigils, educational forums and memorial services in border communities, while collecting accounts of migrant deaths, organizers said.

"We're raising consciousness about the border deaths," said Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association. Those deaths, he added, will remain "unresolved without major immigration reform."

"It's not getting any better; it's getting worse," Lopez said.

More than 4,100 people have died along the border since 1994, according to Morones. A federal plan to build a border fence has made the issue of immigration reform even more critical for Latino leaders, he added.

Although the caravan's itinerary is not yet fixed - some rallies in Phoenix and Tucson are planned so far - Morones said he has been flooded with phone calls from residents who want to host events.

"This is as grass roots as grass roots gets," he added. "We're taking it to the people and going in to the cities. It's up to the people to say where, when and what we will do during the march and caravan."

Last year's caravan set the tone for last spring's massive immigration marches, according to Lopez. But local immigrant advocate Victor Ledesma of the Hispanic Outreach Taskforce said marching is not enough.

He, too, believes the country needs to hear from those who have lost friends and relatives who died trying to cross the border into the United States.

"That would be a lot better than just marching," said Ledesma, a La Mirada resident. "Unless you put the human touch to it, it just becomes a matter of people blasting and using a lot of negatives."

It's a message that needs to get out, Morones said.

"Every day that passes, more people die," he said. "It's inhumane, and we're much better than that as a people and as a country."


The following is a letter written to the Appleton Post-Crescent, a Wisconisn newspaper.

Letters: Inappropriate headline deserves harsh words

As I flipped through the sections of the Sunday paper, a headline caught my eye.

Thinking that I must have misread it, I flipped back to find it but there was no mistake. The headline on a story about knee injuries becoming more common among female athletes really did say, "Battle of wounded knee."

Does the headline writer know anything about the history of that phrase? I'm not sure whether to hope that he or she does know or not.

"Wounded Knee" triggers intense emotions for many people, whether it refers to the 1890 massacre of hundreds of Native Americans by the United States Cavalry or the 1973 incident that resulted in the deaths of two Native American protesters.

Using the phrase in a headline is insensitive and in questionable taste, to say the least. I hope that The Post-Crescent will take this opportunity to educate its staff and to remind all of us about the lessons of the past and the importance of keeping those lessons learned fresh in our minds.

Janet Teska Veum, Menasha