Friday, May 18, 2007

"IF YOU'RE NOT READY TO DIE FOR IT, PUT THE WORD 'FREEDOM' OUT OF YOUR VOCABULARY" ----MALCOLM X


Tomorrow would have been the 82nd birthday of Malcom X. Would have been if he had not been shot dead February 21, 1965. That shooting wounded all of us who fight against racism and for social justice. We must never forget.


"I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation."
-----Malcolm X


MALCOLM X'S EULOGY
Eulogy delivered by Ossie Davis at the funeral of Malcolm X
Faith Temple Church Of God
February 27,1965


"Here - at this final hour, in this quiet place - Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes -extinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought - his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are - and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again - in Harlem - to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought her, and have defended her honor even to the death.

It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us - unconquered still. I say the word again, as he would want me to : Afro-American - Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a 'Negro' years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted - so desperately - that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans too.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain - and we will smile. Many will say turn away - away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man - and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate - a fanatic, a racist - who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.

Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: 'My journey', he says, 'is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States. I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.' However we may have differed with him - or with each other about him and his value as a man - let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.

Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man - but a seed - which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is - a Prince - our own black shining Prince! - who didn't hesitate to die, because he loved us so."

ANNOUNCEMENT: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DIRECT ACTION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE G8

Just today we read the alarming report that the southern oceans have or are losing their carbon sink abilities decades earlier than was even expected. This would indicate a much more rapid rise in global warming than had up to now been predicted.

Climate change itself is weakening one of the principal "sinks" absorbing carbon dioxide - the Southern Ocean around Antarctica - a new study has found.

The four-year study by scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA), British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry reveals that an increase in winds over the Southern Ocean, caused by greenhouse gases and ozone depletion, has led to a release of stored CO2 into the atmosphere and is preventing further [ocean] absorption of the greenhouse gas.

Lead author Dr Corinne Le Quéré of UEA and the BAS said, "This is the first time that we've been able to say that climate change itself is responsible for the saturation of the Southern Ocean sink. This is serious."

Folks, it's up to us!



The following is from Rising Tide.

Friday 8th June 2007
International Day of Direct Action against Climate Change and the G8.
Direct Action for Climate Justice – Resistance is Self Defense!


We all know the terrifying statistics: a million species extinct by 2050, 19 of the 20 hottest years on record since 1980, Greenland and Antarctica melting, droughts, floods, famines … the G8 have had over 30 years to address climate change and only succeeded in providing trillions in subsidies to the very industries that are destroying our planet and our future. And while the G8 continues to line their pockets, island states disappear and hundreds of thousands die as a result of the freak weather conditions caused by their irrational and uncontrollable obsession with never ending economic growth.

We have a ten-year window to act. As the megalomaniac G8 leaders meet in Germany, masked behind a barrier of fences and soldiers, intent on leading us further towards catastrophic and irreversible climate chaos, we must shout, scream and roar ‘no more’. Now is the time to take direct action and shut them down, them and their climate criminal industry friends!

The 8th of June International Day of Action Against Climate Change and the G8 has been called by the International Rising Tide Network. This is a call for autonomous, decentralized actions appropriate for your town, city, or local area. Use this international day of action to support local struggles against oil refineries, gas pipelines, strip mines and coal-fired power plants. Disrupt the financial backers of the fossil fuel industry. Organise workshops to spread sustainable post-petroleum living skills. Find a weak point in the infrastructure of resource exploitation and throw a literal or symbolic wrench in the works. It’s time to visit your local polluters and give 'em hell!

We already know of actions planned across the UK, North America, Germany, Canada and Australia and that’s just the start! By 8th June actions will be planned around the world. Pass this call out on to all environmental justice, climate action, radical sustainability and related movements in all the G8 countries and the Global South.

Rising Tide will create a collection of outreach and agit-prop materials (including this call out in five different languages) that can be used by groups around the world to organise locally. These materials will be downloadable from www.risingtide.org.uk and http://risingtidenorthamerica.org.
Direct action and civil disobedience are the rational response in this time of crisis. Support the 8th of June International Day of Direct Action against Climate Change and the G8! Tell us about planned actions for climate justice being planned in your community. Contact us - info@risingtide.org.uk and contact@risingtidenorthamerica.org

In June 2007 the G8 will understand the meaning of rebellion, revolt and revolution. Their recipe for catastrophe will be met with our worldwide resistance!

Also, this from Rising Tide/North America.

Convergence For Climate Action August 8-14th
The Convergence for Climate Action will be a week of workshops, strategizing, networking, and direct action aimed at uniting and furthering a no compromise climate justice movement. There are currently convergences planned for the pacific northwest, the northeast, and the southeast with other locations possible as well. The convergences are timed to coincide with the UK’s Camp for Climate Action.

West coast contact: cascadia@risingtidenorthamerica.org
Southeast contact: risingtide@mountainrebel.net
Northeast contact: northeast@risingtidenorthamerica.org
Other locations: contact@risintidenorthamerica.org

UC STUDENTS DEMAND "NO MORE NUKES IN OUR NAME"


Protesters disrupted a University of California (UC) Board of Regents meeting yesterday demanding that the regents sever connections with two nuclear labs UC runs. Amonsgt those protesteing were a group of hunger strikers who have gone without food for more than a week now. The hunger strikers are demanding that the UC Board of Regents withdraw from their contracts to operate Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratories based on, “the grounds that the Reliable Replacement Warhead program and Los Alamos Labs’ ongoing preparations to conduct plutonium pit manufacturing both clearly violate Article VI of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Santa Cruz IndyMedia reports that anchored by the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Labs and the small circle of corporations who run these and other weapons facilities for the federal government, the US nuclear weapons complex is hurriedly working to finalize designs for and to begin building a new nuclear weapon, called the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW).

The web site "No More Nukes In Our Name" reports at the Regents meeting:

...so many people had signed up to speak during the public comments period the regents elected to extend the time alloted from 20 minutes to a full half hour. Despite the extra 10 minutes not even close to everyone had the opportunity to have their voice heard. A number of the hunger strikers – for whom this was the ninth day without food – spoke out, as well as many supporters, including Jackie Cabasso of the Western States Legal Foundation, Professor Charles Schwartz of UC Berkeley and representatives from Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The comments were amazing to listen to. They exhibited the students’ depth of understanding of the issue with their detailed critic of RRW. They attacked the regents for continuing to choose to involve the university in the immoral nuclear weapons’ business. They conveyed the broad community support for severance. And, most importantly, they spoke of the passion and commitment of the students. One hunger striker reminded the regents that “We are not starving for fun”. Another described his aching body and then explained that the ache in his heart every time he thought about the University’s role in the creation of nuclear weapons was far greater. As he spoke the students – spontaneously – all held up peace signs.

After the public comments period everyone left the hall and gathered outside on the grass in a giant circle. One by one, going around the circle, everyone spoke. Unlike inside, there was time for everyone. Students expressed their joy of being part of this group that was fighting to steer the university towards a new, conscientious, path. They reminded each other that they – the students – were the real university; and, that they held the power to bring about a better future.

Next came the nitty-gritty, the planning. Everyone bunched up close together and, through consensus, decided how to proceed should the regents ignore the demands of their constituents and choose to continue with their regular business: the nuclear weapons business.

The group filtered back into the meeting around eleven. At first we were told that there weren’t enough seats but eventually everyone was allowed inside. We listened to the tail end of a presentation by the faculty senate which explained that the only way to maintain the quality and character of the university was increased state funding. Many in the audience were dismayed that the regents seemed unaccepting of this news.

Finally, the Committee on Oversight of the Department of Energy Laboratories convened. It was quickly clear that the regents did not intend to even acknowledge the moral quagmire they drag the university into, let alone resolving it by severing ties with the weapons labs. A group of hunger strikers stood up and demanded the regents respond to their demands. Regent Norman Pattiz assured the group that the regents had heard their message and that “[The regents] need to go forward with the business of the university.” Up on the screen was the first slide of a presentation entitled “Report on the National Nuclear Security Administration Vision for the Nuclear Weapons Complex of 2030” – i.e. the plan to revamp the nuclear weapons complex in order to restart production and create new nuclear weapons, the first of which (RRW-1) is already being designed at the Livermore lab.

The hunger strikers made it clear that so long as the regents chose “to go forward with the business of the university” when that business was creating new nuclear weapons and refused to even discuss the matter, the hunger strikers and their supporters were going to continue to demand accountability and moral responsibility from their university.

The regents brushed off the protest by saying it was not through proper channels. They seemed to think they were not responsible for nuclear weapons in any way. Someone shouted out to the regents “what would you do?” Pattiz told the hunger strikers “I hope you will go and have some lunch.” A chant of “Give Peace a Chance” was taken up by the crowd. Intermittently people would shout out things such as: “You don’t need to be a subsidiary to Bechtel.” “Listen to your students.” “The University’s business is the nuke business” “Don’t build new nukes.” Most of the chanters were still sitting peacefully in their seats, hoping the regents would at least discuss their role in nuclear complex and consider the demand for severance. Instead the regents eventually left and called in the police to clear the room. After the police announcement all, but thirteen, of the hunger strikers and their supporters left the room. The thirteen that remained locked arms and waited to be arrested.

Outside the room the energy continued with chants of “Whose university? Our university!” and “UC Nuclear Free!” as well as informal teach ins and in depth discussions of the issue. Liaisons kept in close touch with the police and a representative of the regents to keep track of the arrestees. The regents eventually resumed their meeting, but now without any public to witness it. The students moved outside the building, making themselves, and especially the hunger strikers, available to the media. A car was quickly dispatched to pick up the arrestees who were being cited and released at a nearby jail.

The hunger strikers and their supporters took some time to talk amongst themselves on the lawn behind the building. The mood was jubilant because they knew they had just exercised their power as students. But, it was also serious because the threat of nuclear weapons remains, the university continues to be part of that threat and there is still much organizing and work to be done. As everyone dispersed to return to their communities and campuses one hunger striker remarked, “I was really ready to go into the meeting, and I’ll be ready for the next one in July.”

The following is from the UCLA Daily Bruin.

Protest staged at regents meeting

SAN FRANCISCO — Thirteen audience members were arrested during the UC Board of Regents meeting Thursday after leading a protest and refusing to leave the room.

Of the 13 people arrested, 10 were students from UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley. The protesters attended the meeting to ask the regents to sever connections with two nuclear labs the University of California manages.

Some protesters said they believe an academic institution such as the UC should not be associated with weaponry research.

Students sat down on the ground and went limp when police officers tried to hand-cuff them with plastic ties, and they eventually had to be carried from the room. The board was evacuated from the room, but a number of regents re-entered to watch the arrests.

All 13 individuals were taken to the county jail in downtown San Francisco to be booked for charges of trespassing and failure to disperse, said Chris Harrington, a UC spokesman.

Darwin Bond-Graham, who participated in the protest, said he believes students had to be “disruptive and combative” for the regents to listen to their opinions, since he believes the regents have been ignoring students.

The UC currently manages two nuclear labs: the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Last week the UC was awarded a new management contract for the Lawrence Livermore lab after managing it for over 50 years.

Bond-Graham said students came with the specific purpose of stopping the regents from discussing the labs. Audience members began shouting out and hissing once the discussion began, including one student who said “we want actions, not words.”

Though almost 60 individuals participated in the protest, many peacefully left the room when the police told them to leave. Several of the protesters were also participants of a hunger strike and had not eaten for nine days.

Regent Norman Pattiz told the audience that he believes the regents understood their concerns and asked them to allow the committee’s business to continue without interruptions.

“Many of us on the (Board) of Regents share your feelings and concerns in the debate that goes on in this country about the ethics of nuclear weapons,” Pattiz said.

Pattiz said the regents must talk about the nuclear labs as their duty to carry out the business of the UC. At the end of his remarks Pattiz urged the participants of the hunger strike to “go out and have lunch.” Many of the arrested students spoke during the morning’s public comment period, telling the regents of the effects of nuclear warfare, though they were each given a one-minute time limit per board policy.

“My heart aches when I think of kids that can’t take nutrients into their systems because of the cancer because of the toxins we’re putting into the environment,” said Adrian Cole, a fourth-year UC Santa Barbara student and hunger strike participant.

The regents also postponed a vote Thursday on a policy that would restrict the UC from receiving research funds from the tobacco industry. Because regent John Moores – a proponent of adopting the policy restricting tobacco funds – could not attend the meeting, the board chose to postpone the vote until July.

The policy was originally supposed to be voted on during the regents meeting this past January, but at that meeting several board members requested more time to further research the policy because of differing moral and ethical positions.

The UC Berkeley School of Public Heath banned the use of tobacco industry funding for its research in 2004.

The regents committee on compensation also presented the results of an audit that addressed past compensation practice violations and corrective actions that occurred in response.

Regent Judith Hopkinson, chairwoman of the compensation committee, called the audit a huge overhaul of procedure in order to hold the UC accountable. Hopkinson said some UC employees were given discipline for violating compensation policy, ranging from letters in personnel files to salary penalties.

The board also approved the approximately $400 million budget for the UC Office of the President for 2007-2008. This marks the first time the budget was voted on by the regents separately from the general UC budget.

Regent Russell Gould said he considers changes made to the budget, such as the separation of voting, a “work-in-progress,” since he believes the regents have an “obligation” to continually improve on budget matters.



Thursday, May 17, 2007

HONEY BEE DISAPPEARANCE NO LAUGHING MATTER


Have you noticed a lack of bees this spring. If so, you aren't alone. Honey bees seem to be disappearing altogether. Kinda weird.

Entomologists are working to determine if it's due to pesticides, environmental or disease-related factors. The degeneration is widespread enough to warrant its own nomenclature - colony collapse disorder - by the U.S. National Bee Colony Loss Survey.

A theory that has been kind of hush, hush is cell phones. Cell phones are constantly commutating with towers and satellites. Using electromagnetic waves (EMF).

It could be that the constant electromagnetic background noise seems to disrupt intercellular communication within individual bees, such that many of them cannot find their way back to the hive. this conclusion is confirmed with a recent study, which has found that cell phone towers could well be the cause behind the mysterious disappearance. German research has long shown that bee's behavior changes near power lines.

How about climate change?

Wayne Esaias, a biological oceanographer with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in his personal life is a beekeeper. Lately, he has begun melding his interest in bees with his professional expertise in global climate change. Esaias has observed that the period when nectar is available in central Maryland, for example, has shifted by one month due to local climate change. He is interested in bringing the power of global satellite observations and models to bear on the important but difficult question of how climate change will or does already impact bees and pollination.

Whatever it is, it would, as the older Bush used to say, "be prudent" to find out what's up.

May Berenbaum. An Entomology professor and department head at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently wrote an Op-Ed article in the New York Times about the collapse of honey bee populations. She wrote, "What makes the situation particularly critical is the fact that the demand for pollination services – not honey, per se, but pollination services – is exploding."

Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80% of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.

"This is the biggest general threat to our food supply," Hackett said.

Marty Russell writes in the Daily Journal (Mississippi):

No one seems to know what's happening to all the bees and why they're all disappearing but the consequences are scary. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating almost all of our fruits, vegetables and flowers which means that, after we all die of starvation, we can't even send flowers to the funeral.

...I have my own theory about what's going on with the bees. I've been saying for years that this planet is trying to shake us off like so many bad parasites, hence all the weird weather and natural disasters.

Remember the fourth book in Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" trilogy, (I know, but there's no such thing as a quadrilogy)? In the book, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish," all of the dolphins flee the planet when they learn that Earth is about to be destroyed to make way for an interstellar bypass.

Maybe the bees know something we don't.


Overstated? Maybe not.

Maryann Frazier, M. S., Honey Bee Extension Specialist, Dept. of Etymology, Penn State University, College Park, Pennsylvania in a recent interview stated:

I’ve had several people in Washington, D. C., in the last several months telling me that honey bees are a canary for the human race. The canary is what was used in mines to see whether there was oxygen, or not enough oxygen, for the miners. If the canary fell over, why it was time to get out. And Penn State has already found it looks like the immune system has been broken down on these honey bees. So, if the immune system is broken down and this stuff is going into our food supply, how much does it take to take out humans?

You know, I hate to be pessimistic about the situation, but it just doesn’t appear good.

Later in the interview She continues:

First of all, a third of the food supply in the United States – and actually the world – a third of the food supply is directly related to the honey bee: fruits, vegetables, nuts, just a lot\ of stuff that we eat, that we’re accustomed to have every day, the honey bee is directly responsible for it. And then, there is probably another 30% of what we consume that honey bees are indirectly responsible for. Take the milk we drink. The cows have to have hay. They’ve got to eat clover and alfalfa to produce milk. And if you go back and listen to what (Albert) Einstein told us – he said if the honey bees disappeared off the face of the Earth, within four years, all life would be gone. Even the wildlife depends on plants pollinated by the honey bees for berries and so on. So, it’s not just humans not being able to get apples and carrots. We’re talking about a real big, serious problem!

By the way, the bees aren't just disappearing from the USA. Similar reports have come in from around the globe.

This story may not interest you, but it does me. And since this is my blog...

The following is from Blogger News Network.

Where Have All The Flowers Gone Since Our Bees Are Disappearing

This post was written by ponyman on 16 May, 2007 (23:51) All News, Country News, Science News, Business News, US News, Economic News, Environmental News

Where have all the flowers gone?/Long time passing/Where have all the Bees gone?/Not so long ago not so long ago/Where have all the flowers gone?/Bees have picked them every one/When will we ever learn?/When will we ever learn?

All apologies to Pete Seeger; however his Vietnam Era anti war song could well serve as an anthem for the American beekeeper.

Researchers are scrambling for clues, any clues, into the recent, baffling disappearance of honeybees across the United States, a potentially catastrophic trend that threatens the hundred or more food crops dependent on bees for pollination.

Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of America’s honeybees could have a devastating effect on the country’s dinner plate, perhaps even reducing its people to a glorified bread-and-water diet.

The almond trees are blooming and the bees are dying, and nobody knows why. All up and down California’s vast San Joaquin Valley, nearly 2,500 square kilometers of small nut trees arranged in laser-straight rows are shaking off the cobwebs of winter.

They’re gearing up once again to produce nearly half a billion kilograms of nuts, worth US$3 billion to the U.S. economy.

The trees cannot produce the bounty on their own, however. They need bees - a million hives worth - trucked in from nearly forty U.S. states to move pollen from one tree to another, fertilizing the blooms in the largest managed pollination event on Earth.

But even as the beekeepers reap record fees for renting their hives, their livelihood is now threatened by the largest loss of honey bees in the history of the industry.

Since October 2006, 35 per cent or more of the United States’ population of the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) - billions of individual bees - simply flew from their hive homes and disappeared.

What’s causing the carnage, however, is a total mystery; all that scientists have come up with so far is a new name for the phenomenon - Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - and a list of symptoms.

In hives hit by CCD, adult workers simply fly away and disappear, leaving a small cluster of workers and the hive’s young to fend for themselves.

Adding to the mystery, nearby predators, such as the wax moth, are refraining from moving in to pilfer honey and other hive contents from the abandoned hives; in CCD-affected hives the honey remains untouched.

The symptoms are baffling, but one of the emerging hypotheses is that the scourge is underpinned by a collapse of the bees’ immune systems. Stressed out by cross-country truck journeys and drought, attacked by viruses and introduced parasites, or whacked out by harmful new pesticides, some researchers believe the bees’ natural defenses may have simply given way.

This opens the door to a host of problems that the bees can normally suppress.

What’s surprising is that mysterious declines are nothing new. As far back as 1896, CCD has popped up again and again, only under the monikers: ‘fall dwindle’ disease, ‘May dwindle’, ’spring dwindle’, ‘disappearing disease’, and ‘autumn collapse’.

Even the current outbreak has possibly been going on undetected for two years, according to the CCD Working Group - a crack group of U.S. researchers from institutes including the Pennsylvania State University and University of Montana, who are trying to unravel the mystery.

What has made the members of the Working Group - as well as conservationists, beekeepers, and farmers - really sit up and notice is the scale of this year’s decimation; something in the environment has allowed CCD to reach an unprecedented scale that threatens the very survival of the pollination industry.

“We have never seen a die-off of this magnitude with this weird symptomology,” said Maryann Frazier, a bee researcher at Pennsylvania State University. “We’ve seen bees disappear over time and dwindle away, but not die-off so quickly.”

A problem preventing clear identification of CCD is that honey bees are already under threat from manifold foes.

Even without CCD, the number of managed hives in the U.S. has dwindled by nearly 50 per cent since the industry’s peak in the 1970s. The main culprit for the die-offs is a tiny Asian mite. Known as Varroa destructor to scientists and the ‘vampire mite’ to beekeepers, these tiny parasites - circular, crab-like arachnids about the size of a bee’s eyeball - have been quietly parasitizing the Asiatic honey bee (Apis cerana) in Southeast Asia for millennia.

Some time in the early 1980s, though, the mites hitched a ride to America and hopped on new hosts - spreading like wildfire throughout the defenseless Western honey bee population with the help of migratory beekeepers who obligingly trucked them around the country.

The mites suck the vital juices out of both developing and adult bees, and left unchecked can kill a hive within 12 months.

In addition to the damage that the mites do themselves, they also spread viruses. Furthermore, the mites appear to assist the viruses by somehow sabotaging the bees’ immune system.

“There’s something about a mite feeding on a bee that just knocks its immune system out. [Then] the viruses can take over,” said Eric Mussen, a bee researcher at the University of California, Davis.

But mites and their viruses have been infecting U.S. honey bees for nearly 30 years. What has experts worried is that CCD kills bees even more efficiently than mites - destroying a healthy colony in a matter of weeks.

As if having its bodily fluids sucked out by a parasite wasn’t enough to weaken a bee, some suspect its immune system is also under attack from plain old stress.

Just as humans fall ill more readily after draining tasks or emotional upheavals, Mussen said stress is a sure-fire way to compromise bee immunity too.

The lives of commercial honey bees are filled with stress. A typical year for a hive might entail up to five cross-country truck trips, chasing crops to pollinate and clover fields to make honey in. Banging the bees around during cross-country journeys can take a heavy toll.

“Some of the beekeepers you talk to will tell you that they’ll lose 10 per cent of their queens” on every trip, Mussen said. Besides transportation stress, many of the hardest-hit beekeepers have reported that their hives underwent extraordinary stresses like drought, overcrowding, or famine, in the months before die-offs occurred.

Stress alone won’t kill a bee, but Mussen thinks that it’s just one more factor conspiring against them. “It’s the knocking down of the immune system, it’s having mites around - everything is just piling up - they haven’t got much of a chance.”

Pesticides are designed to kill bugs and other pests on crops without causing harm to humans or the environment. But in a never-ending biological arms race, miscreant insects develop resistance to new pesticides nearly as fast as chemists can create them.

In this tit-for-tat exchange, scant attention is paid to effects that new pesticides have on beneficial insects like honey bees.

While many pesticides are downright lethal to bees, some new studies have pointed to other strange effects found at low doses. For example, low doses of new compounds called neonicotinoids might be interfering with bee minds. Potentially, this prevents them from remembering their colony’s location and causes them to get lost and never return.

According to Pennsylvania State University entomologist Diane Cox-Foster, another possibility is that neonicotinoids are a factor in impairing bee immunity.

Yet another hypothesis is that sick adult bees may be self-sacrificing: flying away to die in order to protect the hive from further infection.

When the Working Group first examined samples of CCD-killed bees from across the country, one factor they found in common was fungal growth in the bees’ guts. The fungi may be from the genus Aspergillus, a group of fungi that produce toxins which can kill young adult bees.

Studies published in the past have reported that bees infected with the fungus fly away from the colony to die.

Not that Aspergillus is the only possibility. “We’re asking if there is anything new that may have been brought in accidentally,”said Cox-Foster. “We know that there are a couple of potential routes for introduction of new pathogens.”

When a colony is weakened other bees or insects usually move in to take advantage of the gap and score a free lunch in the form of honey.

Not so in CCD-killed hives; wax moths and other predators stay away, at least for much longer than they would normally.

According to Cox-Foster, it could be that insects’ keen sense of smell may be keeping them away from dangerous chemicals present in the dead hive. “We know that insects are very good at detecting chemicals in their environment.

There are studies that have taken caterpillars and shown that they’ll actually feed around a droplet of pesticide on a leaf because they can detect it”

“One of our hypotheses is that the fungus itself is producing toxins that are being detected by the other insects. Likewise, it could be one of these environmental contaminants [like pesticides],” she said.

That’s as far as the research detectives have gotten to date. Are bees, under stress from many sources, succumbing to pressure from new pathogens or chemicals? Between mites, viruses, fungi, stress and new pesticides, the insects are under threat like never before.

Honeybees do not just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops such as: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers and along with lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, Americans could end up being “stuck with grains and water,” said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA’s bee and pollination program.

“This is the biggest general threat to our food supply,” Hackett said.

While not all scientists foresee a food crisis, noting that large-scale bee die-offs have happened before, this one seems particularly baffling and alarming.

U.S. beekeepers in the past few months have lost one-quarter of their colonies — or about five times the normal winter losses — because of what scientists have dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder.

The problem started in November and seems to have spread to 27 states, with similar collapses reported in Brazil, Canada and parts of Europe.

Scientists are struggling to figure out what is killing the honeybees and early results of a key study this week point to some kind of disease or parasite.

Even before this disorder struck, America’s honeybees were in trouble.

Their numbers were steadily shrinking, because their genes do not equip them to fight poisons and disease very well, and because their gregarious nature exposes them to ailments that afflict thousands of their close cousins.

“Quite frankly, the question is whether the bees can weather this perfect storm,” Hackett said. “Do they have the resilience to bounce back? We’ll know probably by the end of the summer.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning insect biologist E.O. Wilson of Harvard said the honeybee is nature’s “workhorse — and we took it for granted.”

Beginning this past fall, beekeepers would open up their hives and find no workers, just newborn bees and the queen. Unlike past bee die-offs, where dead bees would be found near the hive, this time they just disappeared. The die-off takes just one to three weeks.

USDA’s top bee scientist, Jeff Pettis, who is coordinating the detective work on this die-off, has more suspected causes than time, people and money to look into them.

The top suspects are a parasite, an unknown virus, some kind of bacteria, pesticides, or a one-two combination of the top four, with one weakening the honeybee and the second killing it.

A quick experiment with some of the devastated hives makes pesticides seem less likely. In the recent experiment, Pettis and colleagues irradiated some hard-hit hives and reintroduced new bee colonies. More bees thrived in the irradiated hives than in the non-irradiated ones, pointing toward some kind of disease or parasite that was killed by radiation.

The parasite hypothesis has history and some new findings to give it a boost: A mite practically wiped out the wild honeybee in the U.S. in the 1990s. And another new one-celled parasitic fungus was found last week in a tiny sample of dead bees by University of California San Francisco molecular biologist Joe DeRisi, who isolated the human SARS virus.

However, Pettis and others said while the parasite nosema ceranae may be a factor, it cannot be the sole cause. The fungus has been seen before, sometimes in colonies that were healthy.

Recently, scientists have begun to wonder if mankind is too dependent on honeybees.

The scientific warning signs came in two reports last October.

First, the National Academy of Sciences said pollinators, especially America’s honeybee, were under threat of collapse because of a variety of factors. Captive colonies in the United States shrank from 5.9 million in 1947 to 2.4 million in 2005.

Then, scientists finished mapping the honeybee genome. It was discovered the insect did not have the normal complement of genes that take poisons out of their systems or many immune-disease-fighting genes.

A fruit fly or a mosquito has twice the number of genes to fight toxins, according to University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum.

What the genome mapping revealed was “that honeybees may be peculiarly vulnerable to disease and toxins,” Berenbaum said.

University of Montana bee expert Jerry Bromenshenk has surveyed more than 500 beekeepers and found that 38 percent of them had losses of 75 percent or more. A few weeks back, Bromenshenk was visiting California beekeepers and saw a hive that was thriving.

Two days later, it had completely collapsed.

Yet Bromenshenk said, “I’m not ready to panic yet.” He said he does not think a food crisis is looming.

While many experts think this is a new type of die-off, it may have happened before.

Bromenshenk said cited die-offs in the 1960s and 1970s that sound somewhat the same. There were reports of something like this in the United States in spots in 2004, Pettis said. And Germany had something similar in 2004, said Peter Neumann, co-chairman of a 17-country European research group studying the problem.

“The problem is that everyone wants a simple answer,” Pettis said. “And it may not be a simple answer.”

Unlike the great bee die-offs of the past, when mites or other deadly pathogens left mounds of bee corpses lying by the hives, in the newest crisis there are as yet no bee bodies to forensically explore.

The bees are simply flying off by the billions as though into the void.

CLERGY ARRESTED SUPPORTING JANITORS


Several clergy members were arrested during a protest over wages for janitors in downtown Indianapolis Thursday afternoon. The protest near Monument Circle disrupted traffic as a group of janitors rallied for better wages and benefits.

Father Tom Fox and others from the Indianapolis Clergy Committee were arrested after blocking the entrance of the 10 West building downtown.

"We need to lend our moral voice to a really important issue which is people who work full time are still in poverty. This is one particular issue but we're addressing the broader issue here," said Fr. Fox to WTHR news.

The committee is supporting the janitors who clean the 10 West Building. The company that cleans the building is called EMS. EMS also cleans the buildings at Market Tower, the Children's Museum, IPL and others, according to Interfaith Worker Justice.

Darnale Tillman, an EMS employee, said workers have been struggling for two years to get better wages and that the company has resisted workers' efforts to form a union.

"I guess this is the message we have to take to get them to understand that the employees [need to make] proper wages. This is what needs to happen," he said.

The following is a press release from "Three Cities One Future."

Indy Religious Leaders Arrested at Market Tower Today
Thursday, May 17, 2007 at 02:45PM
Kevin O'Donnell in Press Releases
For Immediate Release Contact: Kevin O’Donnell, 312-401-7598

Clergy’s Civil Disobedience Sparked by Leading Cleaning Firm’s 2-Year Opposition to Job Improvements for Poverty-Wage Janitors

Indianapolis—In a plea for dignity and economic equality, a half dozen local clergy members were arrested at Market Tower as they ramped up their support for janitors employed by Executive Management Services, a cleaning company that for two years has refused to allow its janitors to choose a voice on the job by forming a union. EMS janitors, other service workers, and their community supporters in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Columbus are seeking to lift themselves out of poverty through the Three Cities One Future Campaign.

“It is our calling to keep before this city a vision of God’s justice and mercy,” says Rev. Darren Cushman-Wood, pastor of Speedway United Methodist Church. “After much prayer and deliberation and after two years of meeting with decision-makers, we have to take dramatic action to safeguard basic human rights.”

Unlike other regional cleaning companies, EMS has thus far refused to allow its workers to participate in a process that will create a new economic standard for as many as 165,000 service workers in the Midwest. On March 27, janitors in Cincinnati began negotiating with their employers over a historic model contract that will initially impact more than 4,000 janitors in Cincinnati, Columbus and Indianapolis in the coming months by setting minimum standards in pay, access to health care, and working hours for janitors employed by ABM, Jancoa, Professional Maintenance of Cincinnati, Aetna Building Maintenance, Scioto Corp, CSI, and One Source. The contractors provide janitorial and other services to commercial office buildings, mall, banks, universities, airports, museums, and municipal, county, and state offices throughout the region.

The religious leaders belong to the Indianapolis Clergy Committee, which has collected more than 125 signatures from area clergy calling on business leaders to support good jobs with health care and the freedom of workers to choose to form a union. EMS provides janitorial services at well-known Indianapolis properties such as Market Tower, the Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Power and Light, and HDG Mansur. According to a complaint issued this month by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), EMS has illegally intimidated, threatened and interrogated janitors who support their union in the workplace.

Background

Today’s action evidences the growing level of support enjoyed by janitors and other service workers seeking a better life through the “Three Cities One Future Campaign.” With the American Dream under fire in the Midwest, working families and community leaders launched the Three Cities, One Future Campaign earlier this year to call on the corporate leaders of Cincinnati, Columbus, and Indianapolis to support jobs that allow workers to own a home, save for retirement, and go to the doctor.

Despite being home to eighteen Fortune 500 companies and other major corporations with combined revenues of more than $1 billion per day—including Western and Southern, Convergys, and Conseco —the region’s high number of low-wage, no benefit jobs is increasingly stifling working families’ ability to lift themselves out of poverty. Ohio is the only state in the nation with two of the country’s most-impoverished cities—fully 24 percent of workers in the state earn poverty level wages—while in Indianapolis twenty one percent of the city’s workers earn poverty level wages. In particular, janitors in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Columbus are paid as little as $26 a day—with few paid more than $64 a day—and most have no health or other benefits.

At many junctures in our nation’s history, people of good will have courageously refused to cooperate with injustice by engaging in nonviolent protest and civil disobedience—including the Boston Tea Party, Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad, and the fight for women to gain the right to vote.

For more information, visit www.ThreeCitiesOneFuture.org or www.DispatchFromTheFront.Blogspot.org.

SO WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING IN VANCOUVER, YOU ASK?


Those of you who read the story about the possible people's eviction of the Olympic planning committee up in Vancouver are probably wondering what ending up taking place. Well, the big shots didn't get tossed out.

The Globe and Mail reports opponents of the 2010 Olympics were defeated Thursday in their attempts to force their way into the headquarters of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, but are vowing to hound board members at their homes and workplaces.

Protesters planned to storm a VANOC board meeting but when their bus pulled up to the Graveley Street headquarters, the building was cordoned off with a metre-high fence and about three dozen uniformed police officers were standing guard.

The following is from the Vancouver Province.

Vancouver Olympic officials targeted by Anti Poverty Committee

Anti-poverty protesters vowed to "evict" Vancouver Olympic officials from their homes after their protest fizzled in front of VANOC's headquarters yesterday.

Key APC members control the board of directors of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, a multi-million dollar social housing agency.

BC Housing is currently investigating DERA over allegations APC members have received social housing at DERA facilities despite having full-time jobs. It is alleged APC members have also jumped housing waiting lists.
The report will be completed within a month.

On Wednesday, about 30 APC protesters marched away chanting slogans when confronted by more than 50 Vancouver police and security officers posted behind a riot fence.

"What we plan on doing is targeting each and every member of the VANOC board and holding them individually responsible for what they have done to hundreds of people in the Downtown Eastside," said David Cunningham of the Anti-Poverty Committee.

"We have found where their offices are and we have found where their homes are . . . When they feel safe in their . . . palaces, we're going to show up and we're going to bring the class war to their offices and their doorsteps."

Vancouver 2010 CEO John Furlong said he was saddened to hear of the personal threats to board members, who met yesterday.

"When you make people feel unsafe and there's a threat, it's unfortunate and it's uncomfortable and it doesn't make anybody feel good," he said.

He defended the decision to build the fence.

"We basically secured our facility the way we thought we should, based on what we had heard might happen today," added Furlong. "We were informed by people that they were going to try to enter the building, try to invade the boardroom."

Police officers patrolled VANOC's Gravely Street HQ and checked under parked cars for stashed missiles.

Vancouver police spokesman Const. Tim Fanning said of the threats to board members: "They will be investigated and if there is any possibility of putting charges forward, then that's what we'll do."

He denied the show of force was an overreaction: "It always appears that way, but for everybody's

safety, we have to have what we feel is an adequate number."

Fellow VPD spokesman Const. Howard Chow said costs are always "significant" when policing protesters like those in the APC. Policing the March Olympic flag-raising ceremony at city hall, for example, cost Vancouver taxpayers an estimated $30,000, he said.

Maureen Bader, the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a group highly critical of Olympic spending, said anyone who targets the homes of VANOC board members should be dealt with quickly. "We should not be spending millions of dollars to set up security around people's homes -- we should be arresting the criminals," she said.

The APC protest was planned, in part, to oppose VANOC's policy of keeping board meetings closed.

The issue of open meetings was discussed by the VANOC board but a unanimous decision was made to keep them closed to the public.

Board member Rusty Goepel, chairman of the VANOC corporate governance committee, said the decision was made because "we cannot expect to have open, candid and constructive debates in a fishbowl." dinwood@png.canwest.com

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

VANCOUVER: IT''S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW OR IT'S NOT


A call from the Anti-Poverty Committee (Vancouver) reads:

PROTEST CORPORATE INVASION OF INDIGENOUS TERRITORY!!
PROTEST OLYMPIC GENTRIFICATION!!
PROTEST VANOC'S BULLSHIT BUDGET!!

The Vancouver Olympics Committee (VANOC), the ruling elite of the 2010 Olympic games, have been allowed to conspire in peace behind closed doors while outside people?s homes and land are destroyed.

At their next secret meeting join us in confronting them face-to-face at their headquarters.

BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT OPEN UP - DRIVE THEM OUT!

It's scheduled for today. In fact, something should be going on right about now.

Members of the Anti-Poverty Committee, a local group that wants to cancel the 2010 Olympics, vowed to force their way into Wednesday's VANOC board meeting.

There have been a series of clashes surrounding the Olympic Games preparations

After a rally downtown at 1 p.m. today, protesters plan to take a bus that can seat 62 people to VANOC's Graveley Street headquarters, APC organizer David Cunningham said.

He said the APC warned VANOC more than a month ago that if its meetings weren't opened to the public, protesters would storm in.

"We are willing to do whatever it takes. We do have tricks up our sleeves to force our way in, or force them out," he said, adding the group has a list of grievances they plan to read aloud. The money spent on the Olympics should be directed toward social housing and alleviating poverty, he said.

The Anti-Poverty Committee is an organization of poor and working people, who fight for poor people, their rights and an end to poverty by any means necessary.

The following is from Canada's Globe and Mail.

Protesters target VANOC board members
ARMINA LIGAYA

VANCOUVER — Protesters who are threatening to storm their way into a meeting of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee today say they will start “evicting” individual board members at their workplaces to get their message across – including tossing their belongings into the street.

The Anti-Poverty Committee — a local activist group that wants to cancel the games and direct Olympic funding towards social housing — plans to target VANOC board members at their workplaces.

Committee organizer David Cunningham said protesters intend to “symbolically evict” the VANOC board members in the same manner people have been displaced from the downtown lower east side.

“It would be just going in with a very confrontational attitude, much like the police go in to people's hotels,” said Mr. Cunningham. “When those places are evicted, people's belongings are just literally thrown into the streets. We'd be looking at doing about the same thing.”

In recent months there have been a series of protests surrounding the Olympic games preparations, including a February clash where activists stormed the stage of a VANOC ceremony, vandalism of the Olympic clock and today's planned protest.

The APC will go to board members' offices if protesters aren't able to force their way into VANOC's board of directors meeting. These regular meetings are traditionally closed to the public, but greater transparency and accountability is on the meeting agenda, said VANOC vice-president of communications, Renee Smith-Valade.

The APC is scheduled to meet at Pigeon Park at 1 p.m. PDT, before taking a bus which can seat 62 to VANOC's Graveley Street headquarters.

“Hopefully, they'll let us into the meeting today and we won't need to do this,” Mr. Cunningham said. “Otherwise, we'll start immediately... it will be a campaign of escalating office invasions.”

Constable Tim Fanning of Vancouver police said it's too early to speculate, but if the APC commits a crime, they will be dealt with.

“It's a no brainer... they're talking about a criminal offence, whether be it mischief or disturbance,” he said. “We won't know until we get there, or if it happens.”

SAN FRANCSICO 8 UPDATE/HEARING SET FOR JUNE 11


The Committee for the Defense of Human Rights states:

Eight former Black Panthers were arrested January 23rd in California, New York and Florida on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Similar charges were thrown out after it was revealed that police used torture to extract confessions when some of these same men were arrested in New Orleans in 1973. Richard Brown, Richard O'Neal, Ray Boudreaux, and Hank Jones were arrested in California. Francisco Torres was arrested in Queens, New York. Harold Taylor was arrested in Florida. Two men charged have been held as political prisoners for over 30 years – Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim are both in New York State prisons. A ninth man -- Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth – is still being sought. The men were charged with the murder of Sgt. John Young and conspiracy that encompasses numerous acts between 1968 and 1973.

Harold Taylor and John Bowman (recently deceased) as well as Ruben Scott (thought to be a government witness) were first charged in 1975. But a judge tossed out the charges, finding that Taylor and his two co-defendants made statements after police in New Orleans tortured them for several days employing electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation. Such "evidence" is neither credible nor legal.

The mission of the Committee for Defense of Human Rights is to draw attention to human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of the United States and law enforcement authorities which were carried out in an effort to destroy progressive organizations and individuals. By building coalitions with organizations and groups that advocate for human and civil rights, CDHR hopes to bring an end to these abuses. CDHR's basic principles are set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture.

On May 5, over the strenuous objection of their attorneys seven of the eight former Panthers were brought into court in shackles (a reminder of the treatment of Black Panther Bobby Seale during the Chicago 8 Conspiracy Trail almost four decades ago).

The San Francisco Bay View reports for the hearing the Sheriff’s Department had set up a walk-through metal detector, identical to the one at the building entrance. More officers were stationed at the courtroom doors, with more metal detector wands than at previous hearings. As the brothers filed into the courtroom, they still bore full wrist and ankle shackles. The courtroom was about two thirds full of observers.

The defense attorneys at the hearing stated that none of their clients was entering a plea, and a couple are filing demurrers, a legal document that challenges the legal sufficiency of the charges. The men are refusing to enter pleas because they dispute the legitimacy of the entire case, which is based on misleading and inflammatory “evidence” – confessions extracted by torture similar to the worst imposed on prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

The following announcement comes from
the Jericho Movement.

Next Hearing June 11, 2007

The next court appearance for the brothers will be June 11th at 9am in Department 21 at 850 Bryant Street in San Francisco. The proceedings will likely commence with individual bail reduction motions. All the brothers (except Herman Bell who still awaits a decision on his challenges to extradition in New York) looked strong and in good spirits. There will be a rally in support of the San Francisco 8 at 8am June 11th before the hearing.

LESBIAN NURSES WIN BIG IN UK


Two highly-respected nurses who transformed the fortunes of a Westcountry care home have won record compensation after a tribunal ruled they were sacked because of their sexuality. Margaret Durman and Penny Smith, partners for more than three years, were dismissed by Barchester Healthcare in September 2005 despite their exemplary work at Kernow House in Launceston, North Cornwall.

They were dismissed in September 2005 over anonymous allegations that they had allowed sexual and physical abuse of the residents.

The scathing verdict of an employment tribunal was that their sackings were "patently unfair" and based on spurious allegations.

They won their tribunal in June 2006 but Barchester Healthcare unsuccessfully appealed, which delayed the ruling becoming public knowledge.

Following their dismissals, both women were put on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list, which meant they could no longer work as nurses.

Smith, a mother-of-one, said: "I've developed various physical disorders - we have seen counsellors and we are going to be having some more treatment. We are definitely not the same people."

Durman said: "It has been an extremely traumatic event for us and for our families. What has caused us the biggest distress is the damage Barchester have caused to our reputations."

"This has ruined our lives - both our professional lives and our private lives," Durman told the Plymouth Herald.

"Because of the ongoing hearings and appeals we have not been able to work at all.

"We have had no apology from Barchester Healthcare."

Sue Matthews, regional officer for the Royal College of Nursing, the UK nursing organization, which represented the couple, said, "I'm delighted for Margaret and Penny that they have the recognition that they were completely inappropriately treated by Barchester, although the personal damage they have suffered won't be compensated by any amount."

The following is from Gay.com.

Wrongly dismissed lesbian nurses win payout
Hassan Mirza, GAY.COM

A pair of lesbian nurses from Cornwall have been awarded with awarded at least £350,000 in compensation after a court ruled they were wrongly dismissed for the sexuality.

Partners Margaret Durman, 55, and Penny Smith, 41, of Kelly Bray were employees as Kernow House, a care home in Launceston. They were dismissed in September 2005 over anonymous allegations that they had allowed sexual and physical abuse of the residents. On May 23, 2005 the pair were suspended while Barchester began an investigation.

But after reviewing their case and the findings of Barchester's bogus investigation, an employment tribunal called their dismissal "patently unfair". Tribunal chairman Paul Housego said that in the thirty years of his career, he had never seen a case so unfair.

"It is hard to see how any dismissal conducted by an employer of such size, and with a dedicated human resources department, could be so very bad unless sexual orientation discrimination was the root cause of it,” Housego said.

"We are not satisfied that a heterosexual couple would have been treated the same."

The tribunal accused Barchester of hastily and irresponsibly responding to the initial complaints.

Durman, a registered nurse for 35 years, said: "It has been extremely traumatic for us and our families. What has caused the biggest distress is the damage Barchester has caused to our reputations."

"I felt so ashamed, despite knowing we were innocent,”Durman's partner Smith admitted. "We used to shop in Launceston but we no longer go there because we would rather not see people that we know. I felt humiliated at having to explain to people what had happened."

The names of the couple had even been referred to Protection of Vulnerable Adults list, associated with child and adult abuse. Durman claims that their names will always be on that list.

"This was never about taking Barchester Healthcare to court for money - it was about taking them to court for justice,” Durman continued. “ It was about proving to Barchester that they can't just do what they like to people."

Sue Matthews, regional officer for the Royal College of Nursing, who represented the nurses, said: "Barchester had a total disregard not only for employment law and good practice, but also the health and welfare of their staff who they assumed were guilty from the outset."

Barchester Healthcare denied that the company is homophobic and said the company “"prides itself on the treatment of its staff".

A spokesman said, “"We are an equal opportunities employer and we do not discriminate on any grounds."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW: KANSAS ANARCHISTS REPORT FROM GREENSBURG, KANSAS


I just read this on InfoShop and wanted to get it right out. For those of us around here this is a pretty telling article. Read it!

Somewhere over the Rainbow: Kansas Mutual Aid Report From Greensburg, Kansas
Monday, May 14 2007 @ 11:58 AM PDT
by Dave Strano

On Saturday May 12, four members of Kansas Mutual Aid, a Lawrence based class struggle anarchist collective traveled to the small South Central Kansas town of Greensburg. Our intention was to go as a fact-finding delegation, to report back to the social justice movement in Lawrence on what exactly was happening in the city.

On Friday May 4, 2007 Greensburg was almost completely destroyed by a F5 tornado. 97% of the buildings in the town of 1500 were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Nearly every single resident was left homeless, jobless, and devastated. At least eleven people died in the storm, and hundreds of companion animals, livestock, and wild animals were killed as well.

According to the 2000 census, 97% of the population of Greensburg was white, and the median income of the population was a meager $28,000. The city was and still is comprised of overwhelmingly poor, white working people.

Shortly after the tornado, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took control of the recovery efforts in Greensburg. The United Way became the coordinating organization for relief volunteers but, after orders came from FEMA, halted the flow of volunteers into Greensburg. FEMA demanded that Greensburg needed to be "secured" before the area could be opened to real recovery efforts.

So, as hundreds of recovery volunteers were told to not come to Greensburg by the United Way, hundreds of police from dozens of Kansas jurisdictions were mobilized to enter the city and establish "control."

Reports coming from the recovery effort in Greensburg had been woefully short of information. We made multiple phone calls to the United Way and other aid agencies, and were told repeatedly not to come, that “We don’t need volunteers at this time.” We were told that if we wanted to help, we should just make a financial donation to the Salvation Army or United Way.

With the experiences of Katrina and other major disasters fresh in our collective conscious, we decided to go anyway, to assess the situation and be able to present a better picture to those people in Lawrence that were rightfully concerned about the effectiveness of the relief efforts.

On the night of Friday May 11, in the spirit of offering solidarity to the working class population of Greensburg, members of KMA traveled two hours to Wichita and spent the night there. A mandatory curfew had been imposed on Greensburg, with no one being able to be in the city between 8pm and 8am. So after a nearly sleepless night, we piled into our vegetable oil burning car and made the final two hour drive to Greensburg, careful to not arrive before 8.

Multiple news agencies had reported that because of FEMA, all volunteers were being denied entry at the checkpoints set up outside the city. As we approached the checkpoint, we became really nervous, and tried to make sure we had our story straight.

We were stopped by an armed contingent of Kansas Highway Patrol Officers. We explained that we had come to help with the relief efforts, and after a quick stare and glance into our car, the officer in charge directed us to a red and white tent about half a mile into the town.

It turned out that on Friday the 11th, a week after the tornado destroyed Greensburg, the Americorps organization was finally given permission to establish and coordinate volunteer recovery efforts. Americorps members from St. Louis had set up their base of operations in a large red and white canopy tent that was also being used a meeting place for the residents of the city.

Americorps volunteers proved to be pretty reliable for information, and good contacts to have made while we were down there. Despite the hierarchical and contradictory aims of the national organization, the Americorps people on the ground were the only people really offering any physical recovery aid to the residents of Greensburg.

The four of us from KMA, signed in to the volunteer tent and were given red wristbands that were supposed to identify us as aid workers. We decided not to wait to be assigned a location to work, and instead to travel around the city on foot and meet as many local people as we could.

Our primary goals were numerous. We intended to analyze the situation and assess how our organization could help from Lawrence. If long term physical aid was needed from us, we had to make contacts within the local populace that could offer a place to set up a base camp. We also intended to find out what happened to the prisoners in the county jail during and after the storm, and what the current procedure for those being arrested was. In a highly militarized city, the police and military were the biggest threat to personal safety.

As we traveled further into the ravaged town, it became clear that the photographs I had seen had not done justice to what truly had happened here. All that could be seen was endless devastation in every direction. There wasn’t a single building in this area of the town that had been left standing. The devastation was near complete. Every single house we came across in the first moments we entered the town had completely collapsed. Every single tree was mangled and branchless. Memories of watching post-nuclear warfare movies filled my head as we walked around the city.

This was a post-apocalyptic world. The city was eerily empty for the most part. National Guard troops patrolled in Hummers and trucks. Occasionally, a Red Cross or Salvation Army truck would drive by. Very few residents were there working on their homes.

After a short while, we met with several people evacuating belongings from their home. They told us that FEMA had been there for a week, and that all FEMA could offer them was a packet of information. The packet, however, had to be mailed to the recipients, and they had no mailing address! Their entire house had been destroyed. Their mailbox was probably in the next county. All they were left to do was evacuate what few belongings could be saved from their house, and then pull the non-salvageable belongings and scraps of their house to the curb for the National Guard trash crews to haul away.

No agency in the city besides Americorps was offering to help with the removal of this debris, or the recovery of people’s homes. FEMA’s mission was to safeguard the property of businesses in the area and offer “low interest” loans to property owners affected. The National Guard was on hand along with the local police, to act as the enforcement mechanism for FEMA, while occasionally hauling debris and garbage out of the city.

The only building in the city that FEMA and others were working in or around was the County Courthouse. When we approached this area, we quickly took notice of the giant air-conditioned FEMA tour buses, along with dozens of trailers that were now housing the City Hall, police dispatch centers, and emergency crews.

The media had reported that residents of the city would be receiving FEMA trailers similar to the ones in New Orleans. The only FEMA trailer I saw was being occupied by police.

At this location, we tried to formulate some answers as to what had happened to any prisoners being housed in the county jail during the storm, as well as the fate of the at least seven people that had been arrested since the storm.

Not a single person could offer us a real answer. As of the writing of this article, we are still working to find the answer to that question. We have ascertained that any prisoners that were in Greensburg during the storm were sent to Pratt County Jail immediately after the storm had subsided. However, we still don’t know how many people that accounts for, nor do we know the fate of any arrestees in the week since.

Several of the arrestees after the storm were soldiers from Fort Riley that were sent in to secure the town. They have been accused of “looting” alcohol and cigarettes from a grocery store. The residents I talked to said that they had been told that the soldiers had just returned from Iraq. Is it a wonder that they would want to get drunk the first chance they could? The social reality of this situation was beginning to really set in. The city was in chaos, not because of the storm, but because of FEMA and the police.

In the immediate recovery after the storm, FEMA and local police not only worked to find survivors and the dead, but also any firearms in the city. As you pass by houses in Greensburg, you notice that some are spraypainted with how many weapons were recovered from the home. This is central Kansas, a region with extremely high legal gun ownership. Of the over 350 firearms confiscated by police immediately after the storm, only a third have been returned to their owners. FEMA and the police have systematically disarmed the local population, leaving the firepower squarely in control of the state.

Later in the day we traveled with an Americorps volunteer that turned out to be the sister of one of the members of the Lawrence anti-capitalist movement. She gave us a small driving tour of the rest of the devastation that we hadn’t seen yet, and then deposited us in front of a house of a family that was busy trying to clear out their flooded basement.

Two days of rain had followed the tornado, and with most houses without roofs, anything left inside the house that may have survived the initial storm, was destroyed or at risk of being destroyed. The casualties of the storm weren’t just structures and cars… they were memories and loved ones, in the forms of photographs, highschool yearbooks, family memorabilia and momentos. People’s entire lives had been swept away by the storm.

We joined in the effort to help clear the basement, and listened to the stories of the storm that the family told us. They explained that they had just spent their life savings remodeling the basement, and now it was gone. It had survived just long enough to save them and some neighbors from the storm.

We removed whatever belongings were left in the basement, and sorted the belongings into five piles. The smallest of the piles by far, as the pile of things that were salvageable and worth keeping. The other piles included one for wood debris, one for metal, one for hazardous waste, and another pile for anything else that needed to be removed. From under one of the piles, a scent of rotting flesh wafted through the air. The family was afraid to look and see what may be hidden under the metal.

As we were preparing to leave the work site after clearing the entire basement, we were thanked heartily by the family and their friends. “Next time,” one of them said, “bring fifty more with you.”

Next time we will. It should be obvious to most by now, that the federal, state, and local governments that deal with disasters of this magnitude are not interested in helping the poor or working people that are really impacted. Only through class solidarity from other working people and working together with neighbors and community members will the people of Greensburg be able to survive and rebuild.

Kansas Mutual Aid is in the midst of organizing a more permanent and structured relief effort. We are continuing to make contacts to secure a base camp for our work. We hope to have things organized and solidified by Memorial Day Weekend when we plan to travel back with as many people, tools, and supplies we can take.

Our goals are three fold:

1) To provide direct physical relief support to the residents of Greensburg by being on hand to help salvage their homes, and provide any other physical support they ask of us.

2) To offer solidarity and aid in any future organizing or agitating efforts that will be needed to retain possession of their homes, or to acquire any other physical aid they demand from the government or other agencies.

3) To provide support and protection of human rights during the police and military occupation of the city. We will work to document arrests and ensure that human rights of arrestees are protected.

If you live in Eastern Kansas, or are willing to travel, we need your help and experience. We also need a laundry list of supplies including:

Money for fuel for our vehicles
Respirators and filtered face masks
Headlamps and flashlights (none of the city has power, and there are a lot of basements that will need to be worked in)
Shovels, pickaxes, prybars, crowbars, sledgehammers, and heavy duty rakes
Gloves, boots, goggles, construction helmets and other protective clothing
First Aid supplies
Water and Food (non-perishable) for volunteers heading down
Chainsaws and Gasoline
Portable generators
You and your experience

Please, if you have anything you can offer, or want to help in the relief, e-mail us at kansasmutualaid@hotmail.com

We will be hosting a presentation on Monday May 21st at the Solidarity Center in downtown Lawrence (1109 Mass Street) at 7pm on our experiences in Greensburg, and on our plans to offer relief in the form of solidarity and mutual aid, and not as charity. Please join us if you can.

There seems like there is much more to say, but with the experience fresh in my mind, it’s hard to keep typing. Action and organization is needed more than a longer essay at this moment. In love and solidarity,
Dave Strano
Kansas Mutual Aid member
Lawrence, Kansas

POPE THINKS INDIANS WERE WAITING FOR CHRISTIANITY TO ARRIVE


Such arrogance is absolutely breathtaking. That is what I was thinking as I read an article about the Pope saying that Indians welcomed Europeans because they were longing for Christianity.

The pope said Sunday that indigenous people of Latin American and the Caribbean were seeking Christ without realizing it. "Christ is the savior for whom they were silently longing," Benedict told a regional conference of bishops in Brazil.

"It's arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs," said Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, chief coordinator of the Amazon Indian group Coiab. Mawe said the Pope's remarks made no mention of the violent history that followed or the documented decimation of native cultures in favor of the Christian model Conquistadors and other Europeans colonizers.

Benedict not only upset many Indians but also Catholic priests who have joined their struggle, said Sandro Tuxa, who heads the movement of northeastern tribes.

"We repudiate the Pope's comments," Tuxa said. "To say the cultural decimation of our people represents a purification is offensive, and frankly, frightening.

"I think (the Pope) has been poorly advised."

Paulo Suess, an adviser to Brazil's Indian Missionary Council (of all things), which is supported by the Roman Catholic Church said the Pope "is a good theologian, but it seems he missed some history classes." He said that the comments of the Holy Father fail to account for the fact that Indians were enslaved and killed by the Portuguese and Spanish settlers who forced them to become Catholic.

Suess added, "The Pope doesn't understand the reality of the Indians here, his statement was wrong and indefensible,"

Marcio Meira, who is in charge of Brazil's federal Indian Bureau, said Indians were forced to convert to Catholicism as the result of a "colonial process."

"As an anthropologist and a historian I feel obliged to say that, yes, in the past 500 years there was an imposition of the Catholic religion to the indigenous people," Meira said.

In Guatemala, where 42 percent of the nation's 12 million people call themselves Indian, the former presidential commissioner on racism said the pope's comments were a step backward.

"To say that there was no imposition is a falsification in light of the history if those that do not accept the faith were flagellated," said Ricardo Cajas

By the way Benedict added that any return by those indigenous populations to their original religions "would be a step back."

Several Indian groups sent a letter to the Pope last week asking for his support in defending their ancestral lands and culture. They said the Indians had suffered a "process of genocide" since the first European colonizers had arrived.

I'd guess there won't be a positive answer forthcoming anytime soon.

The following is from Indianz.

Pope: Indians were 'silently longing' for Christianity

Pope Benedict has angered Indian leaders in Brazil for saying their ancestors welcomed Europeans because they were "silently longing" for Christianity.

On the last day of his visit to Brazil, the Pope spoke to Latin American and Caribbean bishops on Sunday. He cited the "rich religious traditions" of Indian people but said their ancestors were seeking God "without realizing it."

The Pope also suggested that Christianity was not detrimental to Indian culture. "In effect, the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture," he said.

Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, the chief coordinator for Coiab, an Indian rights group in Brazil, called the comments "arrogant and disrespectful." Dionito Jose de Souza of the Makuxi Tribe said the Pope was trying to erase the "dirty work" of colonization. Sandro Tuxa, another Indian leader, called them "offensive, and frankly, frightening."

GOING DOWN


The Hill is reporting Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was the first of the major Republican presidential candidates to issue a statement of condolence following the news that the Rev. Jerry Falwell had died.

“I join the students, faculty and staff of Liberty University and Americans of all faiths in mourning the loss of Reverend Jerry Falwell,” McCain said in a statement. “Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country.

Are you kidding me?

Some years back Jimmy Carter made a statement about old Rev. Falwell, one Christian to another, that went something like this:

"In a Christian way, I would say he can go to hell."

I can't imagine Jerry anywhere else. Can you?

As for John McCain, well, the guy has obviously finally and completely lost his marbles.

POSADA CARRILES ON "TRIAL" IN CUBA


At a "trial" underway in Cuba powerful testimony marked the first day of hearings in Havana against Luis Posada Carriles and the government of the United States. Expert witnesses, investigators and relatives of the victims of the many acts of terrorism masterminded and even executed by Posada Carriles with the consent and backing of the U.S. authorities were called to testify before the prosecution in this public hearing in the José Antonio Echeverría Center in the Cuban capital.

The first person to testify reports Cuba Trabjadores was Dager Aguilar, a Cuban Law student who has carried out a thorough study of the criminal profile of Posada. He called his recent release in the United States without charges a danger for Cuba and others.

Major Misael Fonte, an expert at the Central Crime Laboratory, and First Lieutenant Yohan Lopez, a criminal investigations instructor at the Ministry of Interior both detailed the role of Posada in the mid-flight sabotage of a Cuban airliner off the coasts of Barbados in 1976, killing 73 persons.

Rosalba Alvarez Garcia blamed "Comisario Basilio" --Posada's code name when he worked for the Venezuelan secret police-- for the death of her father Ramon Antonio Alvarez and other Venezuelan revolutionaries.

Barbados leading newspaper, The Nation, in an editorial opinion stated:

To free a man like Posada Carriles, is another example of the Bush Administration's confusing position on terrorism, or is there really one?

...It seems that once you claim to be an exile from Cuba and you happen to live in or on your way to Miami, then you can commit acts of terrorism, be labelled a "freedom fighter" and live happily ever after therein. Just ask Orlando Bosch as he has been doing it for over 20 years.

Meanwhile, Prensa Latina reports that Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro has confirmed his government is evaluating a possibility of taking the Posada Carriles case to the International Court in the Hague.

The following is from the Spanish News Agency ETE.

Cuba putting Posada Carriles on "trial"

With an audience of young people and a court comprised of law students, Cuba began on Monday its peculiar "trial" of anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, a man both Havana and ally Caracas accuse of terrorism.

There is no defense team or doubt about the sentence that the court will hand down in absentia against Posada, free in a Miami safe house since last week a federal judge in Texas threw out immigration charges against him.

The Union of Young Communists, which organized the trial, has taken pains to ensure that the proceedings resemble a real trial.

Dressed in judicial robes, a prosecutor and four law students comprise the court. State prosecutors are putting on the case against Posada and two young people dressed in civilian clothing act as bailiffs and escort the witnesses to the stand.

On Tuesday, the verdict will be announced on the Anti-imperialist Platform located opposite the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, but not before investigators from assorted government entities, Interior Ministry officials, relatives of victims, journalists and youths who have prepared some "specific" presentations have taken the stand at the trial.

In addition to reviewing his training as an agricultural engineer, his lifelong love of fishing, drinking and making explosives, the witnesses and the secretary of the court, upon reading the list of charges, gave an account of all the misdeeds and crimes attributed to Posada.

"Yes, I consider him to be a danger to humanity," said one student who contributed to the "characterization of Posada" with a speech he read on the court's projection screen.

Rolando Yero, a member of the Ideological Office of the Young Communists, told Efe that the idea for the trial arose as a "response to the trial that was going to happen in the United States, that judicial farce," a reference to the proceedings originally set for May 11 for immigration fraud.

"But there wasn't any trial and because of that, the concept changed," he said.

The process begun on Monday is "strictly political," with judicial elements, presentation of evidence, real witnesses and experts with long careers of work in the investigation of terrorism against Cuba, Yero said.

"Neither terrorism nor imperialism are defensible for either the peoples of Latin America or for our people," he said in justifying the absence of defense counsel.

"There are many deeds that there is no way to defend, to justify, because they go beyond political systems, they go against humanity," he added.

Despite the unlikelihood that a Cuban court would acquit the 79-year-old Posada, Yero said that Cuba has in place the "technical conditions to provide a fair trial."

One of the first witnesses to appear was Andres Zaldivar, of the Cuban State Security's Center for Historical Research, who said that "as a professional, it's important to contribute to clarifying" the condition of Posada as a terrorist.

Zaldivar said that his testimony presented on Monday would be the same he would give at a real trial.

Along with Zaldivar, several other people were called to testify on attacks Posada is accused of, including blowing up a Cubana de Aviacion jet in 1976 killing 73 people and planting a series of bombs in Havana hotels in 1997, the blasts from which killed an Italian tourist.

All this was undertaken in accord with typical trial procedures, and the head of the court, Iala Rodriguez, warned the public that "during the working (court) sessions, there will be no talking, exclamations or demonstrations; discipline will be maintained in keeping with ... the act under way."

Venezuela is seeking Posada's extradition in connection with the 1976 airliner bombing, but a U.S. immigration judge has ruled that the Cuban-born Venezuelan citizen cannot be sent to Caracas or Havana because he might be tortured.

Posada, a former CIA operative, escaped from custody in Venezuela in 1985 while awaiting a second trial for the bombing.

In 2004, a Panamanian court sentenced Posada to seven years in prison on lesser charges in connection with the plot against Castro, but that country's outgoing president, Mireya Moscoso, pardoned him and his accomplices in August of that year.

Posada, who headed Venezuela's secret police for a time in the 1960s and 1970s, disappeared soon after leaving prison and did not resurface until March 2005 in Miami.

The Miami Herald recently reported that FBI agents traveled to Havana to investigate the 1990s hotel blasts which killed the Italian tourist and that a federal grand jury in New Jersey could indict Posada in connection with those attacks.

Cuba's government said last Friday that the release of Posada was part of a plan approved by President George W. Bush to spare the militant a trial on terrorism charges and thereby avoid his revealing "the destructive actions" he carried out in the Americas when he worked for the CIA.

Repeating earlier allegations, Havana linked Posada's activities with former President George H.W. Bush, the incumbent's father, who headed the CIA in 1975-1976 and was vice president when Washington was backing the Contras against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Posada is known to have played a role in supplying the Contras, and declassified U.S. intelligence documents highlight suspicions that he was involved with the 1976 airliner bombing.

SPANISH AUTO WORKERS TAKE TO THE ROAD


Workers from Delphi's autoparts factory in Puerto Real, Southern Spain, have launched a one-week march to protest plans to shut the factory and dismiss over 3,000 workers. Yesterday they started the second phase of the long march to company offices in Seville.

CGT trade union representative,Ididro Jiménez, described the announcement on the 22nd February by the US multinational, Delphi, of their decision to close the factory on the grounds that it was making an operational loss, as an act of "industrial terrorism," because their intention was to transfer production "to countries like Morocco, where human rights are systematically abused, and where everything costs less."

Last month tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of workers in the Spanish province of Cadiz joined a general strike to support employees of Delphi.

The plan to close the plant was a tremendous blow to the 1,600 workers directly employed there, and the 2,500 others that work at auxiliary plants.

Delphi has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since October 2005. Several investor groups have banded together to invest in a reorganized Delphi, but their support depends on reaching cost-cutting pacts with Delphi's unions and former parent General Motors Corp, which remains Delphi's biggest customer.

The following is from Typically Spanish.

Delphi workers continue with their protest march to Seville

Workers from the Delphi car parts factory in Puerto Real, near Cádiz, started the second leg of their protest march to Seville on Tuesday, on a journey which began on Monday and which they expect to take six days to complete.

They are expected to reach the offices of the Junta de Andalucía in Seville on Saturday after covering a distance of 119 kms.

The 150 workers spent Monday night in a sports stadium in Jerez de la Frontera, and set off again at 9 the next morning. They covered 25 kms on their first day and say that spirits are high and no-one has dropped out so far.

The march is part of their campaign of protests against plans to close the plant, which would mean the loss of more than 1,600 direct jobs.