Friday, June 29, 2007


Twenty year old Chad Sanchez was shot and killed in Midland, Texas this last April. Sanchez was shot by Det. Matt Fraley and Sgt. Michael Hedrick of the Midland Police Department. Reports show that one officer used his duty weapon, which is a Glock .45 caliber semi-automatic, and the other used a rifle, but it is unclear which officer was toting which firearm. Sanchez was hit in the torso and head. Sanchez was a suspect in a double homicide, police said. The department is still searching for the gun that killed the two men on April 23, the same weapon police believe was at some point in Sanchez's possession that day. They've never found it. When shot Sanchez was unarmed. Police continue to investigate the double homicide.

The two Midland police officers who did the shooting were first placed on administrative leave, but were shortly put back on the job although the investigation into the shooting continues. According to Midland police, an administrative review board concluded that the officers’ actions were in compliance with both state law and Midland Police Department general orders.

At least, three other officers were on the scene and did not discharge their weapons.

Armando Garcia, was shot by police in a separate questionable incident last September. Like Sanchez he was shot, at least once, in the head. Garcia was shot after police reported seeing a white Ford Mustang speeding. Police said Garcia fled on foot and was cornered while climbing a fence behind some trailers. They say he came down off the fence and charged the officers. Like Sanchez, the "suspect" was not armed. Patrol Officer John Chandler who shot Garcia was alone at the scene.

On May 19, LULAC presented MPD spokeswoman Tina Jauz with an open records request for information regarding any police-involved shootings from Jan. 1, 1987 to May 31, 2007. They want to find out information on police brutality in Midland, complaints against officers, and whether any suspects have died while in police custody as another step into questioning law enforcement conduct in recent incidents.

LULAC President Felipa Lara said the group's goal right now is to let the community know they will continue to pursue questions about police conduct and the use of deadly force until they are answered.

"We want the young adults to feel safe and to let them know they can trust the police; to do that, we need answers," Lara said.

Sanchez’s Aunt said last month, "What they did, to shoot him like that. That's why we have the court system to take it step by step."

Yesterday there was a meeting to further talk about what's next and what's past.
My guess is nothing will happen. What's yours?

The following article is from the Midland, Texas Reporter Telegram.

Midlanders express frustrations over police shootings

Tearful family members representing two Midland men who were killed during struggles with police spoke out about their beliefs of the local police department's misuse of power at a Thursday meeting with a mediator from the U.S. Department of Justice, officials said.

More than 100 Midlanders of all races were on hand for the three-hour closed-door meeting with Synthia Demons of the community relations service division of the DOJ. And many voiced similar sentiment as the families of Chad Sanchez, 20, and Armando Garcia, 20, with stories about police brutality and harassment by officers, according to , according to Lulu Corona, civil rights chair of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

"We are basically being protected by murderers," said Amanda Luna, Garcia's cousin. "And that does not make me feel safe at all."

Officers reported that the two men were both shot and killed while resisting arrest during different incidents during last 10 months. But Corona said the fact that neither man had a weapon is what caused concern for her organization. Both men's deaths were reported to have been due to gunshot wounds to the head.

"It's scary. (Teens) are not afraid of gangs anymore, they're afraid of the cops," said Christy Diaz.

While Demons, who spoke with Interim Police Chief Price Robinson earlier Thursday, was only in Midland to hear the concerns of residents, Luna said she wished she would have had more of a reaction to what people were saying.

"I was excited that a representative from the department of justice came to hear us, but I expected them to demand an inquiry into the police department," she said. "But I'm still glad she did come."

The CRS has no law enforcement authority and does not impose solutions, investigate, prosecute or assign blame and fault, according to information provided by the USDOJ.

There are plans for a future meeting between Midland Police officials, LULAC and Demons' office. It is likely to take place in Dallas.

While some attendees believed Hispanics have been targeted by police, others disagreed.

"It was an eye-opener," Corona said of the meeting.

Officials of the Permian Basin chapter of the LULAC said they invited Demons to help address and resolve the issues Midlanders may have with the MPD. But Corona said other agencies, such as the Texas Rangers and the Midland County Sheriff's Office, came up as well. The Reporter-Telegram was not told of any specific incidents involving the Texas Rangers or Sheriff's Office.

"It's not about officers who do their jobs," Corona explained. "It's about those few who feel they are above the law."

Corona said she and Demons spoke about what to do if no resolution is reached, but would not say what that next step would entail.

The meeting, while open to the public, was held behind closed doors. The media and police were asked not to attend because Demons said she was concerned about people being afraid to be fully candid about their dealings. Reporter-Telegram appeals to sit in on the meeting were met with threats by LULAC to cancel the meeting outright.


The Orleans Workers Justice Coalition says by some estimates, close to 100,000 new migrant workers--Latino, African-American, Asian, Native-American, and Anglo workers either recruited to the reconstruction zones or searching on their own for better economic opportunities--arrived in the Gulf Coast region after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Like so many others, they got screwed.

A hearing Tuesday before the subcommittee on domestic policy of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform shed light on what critics called the department's failed or non-existent reactions to complaints about immigrant worker labor injustices.

One critic, Saket Soni, co-founder and lead organizer for the New Orleans Workers Center for Justice, said the Labor Department had failed to investigate or follow up on several complaints filed by his organization.

While the hearings this week brought the abuse to the attention of some, its not like it hasn't been pointed out before.

Interfaith Worker Justice had earlier released a report titled "Working on Faith: A Faithful Response to Worker Abuse in New Orleans." Based on interviews with 218 workers -- domestic and migrant -- in New Orleans last summer, the report reveals that:

* 47 percent reported not receiving all the pay they were entitled to while working in the region since Katrina;

* 55 percent said they received no overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week;

* 58 percent said they were exposed at work to dangerous substances including mold, contaminated water and asbestos; and

* workers were unaware that the U.S. Department of Labor was an agency charged with protecting their rights.

In an article last September, Truthout, reported on a suit filed by the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of 82 guest workers from Bolivia, Peru and the Dominican Republic against Decatur Hotels, a downtown New Orleans chain. The suit alleged that the workers were recruited, went into debt to get here, then weren't given the work hours they were promised. By law, they aware not allowed to work elsewhere.

"It's a system of slavery," Luis Lopez, 34, who left a job in an architecture office in the Dominican Republic to come work for Decatur says in the article. "You belong to the person who contracted you."

In October, 2005, The Boston Globe reported on mistreatment of workers being brought into the gulf states in the aftermath of Katrina:

''There's not any housing, even for the people who are from there," said Tirso Moreno, director of the Farmworker Association of Florida, who toured coastal Mississippi to assess working conditions. ''Some labor contractors will bring our people up for two or three weeks of work and then leave them there. Sometimes they are paid too little and sometimes not at all. There's nothing they can do to fight it."

Two years later, Congress is still talking about it.


The following is taken from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

U.S. Labor Department Ignored Rampant Worker Abuses in Post-Katrina New Orleans

June 26, 2007 – Migrant workers who flocked to New Orleans to rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina were routinely cheated out of wages and faced other abuses while the U.S. Department of Labor made little effort to police the contractors employing them, a Southern Poverty Law Center attorney told a House subcommittee today.
The SPLC, which has spoken with more than 1,000 Gulf Coast workers as part of its outreach, advocacy and litigation, found that the majority did not receive overtime pay, despite the fact that many worked 80 to 100 hours per week. Many said they were sometimes not paid at all.

Workers who complained about wage theft and other abuses faced termination, threats of deportation and even physical assault, SPLC attorney Jennifer J. Rosenbaum told the House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy.

"The Department of Labor's response was shockingly inadequate given the extreme exploitation of migrant workers that occurred during the reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast," Rosenbaum said. "Many migrant workers remain unpaid or underpaid for their work cleaning up the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina."

Rosenbaum said the DOL:

failed to adequately staff its New Orleans office, despite billions in federal dollars awarded to contractors;

failed to make staffers available to speak with workers during nights and weekends;

failed to communicate with workers in their native language;

dismissed many complaints after little more than a cursory telephone interview, and frequently did not even record them;

focused on easy cases involving small groups of workers rather than investigating systemic problems involving large contractors and multiple layers of subcontractors;

failed to protect workers from employer retaliation for wage complaints;

failed to obtain adequate settlements on behalf of workers; and,

failed to ensure that damage awards reached workers.

"In most cases, workers were directly employed by subcontractors, sometimes several layers away from the general contractor, and often were uninformed about how to complain to the general contractor when their wages went unpaid or underpaid," Rosenbaum told the subcommittee in written testimony. "These major contractors thus lined their pockets with lucrative contracts while hiding behind a subcontracting system, the workers' fear of retaliation and the general chaos of the city."

The SPLC has filed three major lawsuits to help hundreds of foreign and domestic workers recover unpaid wages. Two of those cases, against major cleanup and reconstruction contractors, have resulted in settlements totaling about $900,000 that will be distributed to workers.

A recent report by Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), titled "Working on Faith: A Faithful Response to Worker Abuse in New Orleans," found that workers did not know about the DOL and did not view it as responsible for investigating unpaid minimum wage and overtime. "When we surveyed 218 immigrant and U.S.-born workers, not one knew that they could go to the U.S. Department of Labor for help," said Ted Smukler, director of public policy for IWJ.

The IWJ report revealed that the New Orleans DOL wage-and-hour division gained only two part-time investigators, who were rotated from other offices. The New Orleans DOL office initiated only 57 wage-and-hour investigations in the year following Hurricane Katrina – a 37 percent decrease from the year preceding the hurricane.

"The federal government utterly failed these workers by not enforcing our nation's wage laws," said Catherine K. Ruckelshaus, litigation director for the National Employment Law Project. "But the problems of New Orleans are only a microcosm of the Labor Department’s inability to protect the wage floor. We commend Rep. [Dennis] Kucinich and his committee for this investigation."

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Police in Sri Lanka rounded up 28 persons last week in Welikada, they added three hundred more yesterday (one of whom is pictured here). Welikada is an eastern Colombo suburb.

According to police they were on the lookout for members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who they believe have arrived in the city.

Recently the police raided temporary lodging houses in Colombo and evicted several hundred members of the Tamil community that they claimed were linked to rebel.

That move was heavily criticized by the international community, opposition parties and human rights groups, which led the Supreme Court to order those evicted be brought back.

The government said the move was necessary as the lodges were being used by the rebels to plot attacks in the city. Later the Sri Lanka Prime Minister issued a public apology to the people and the government launched an investigation into the eviction.

There have been many reports of Sri Lankan security forces carrying out search operations in Colombo and arresting large numbers of ethnic Tamils in recent past. These mass search and arrests involve: door-to-door search, regular roadblock checks and raiding lodges and other shelters randomly.

Mass arrests of people in Sri Lanka often accompanied by reports of "disappearances" and tortures while they were in custody in the past. A Human Rights group has said it had been unable to trace many people detained by security and police forces in the past.

The arrests and abductions are continuing unabatedly in Sri Lanka. The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization, working to prevent conflicts worldwide, urged the government of Sri Lanka to end the policy of extrajudicial killings and disappearances and take active measures to prevent abductions, killings and arbitrary detentions in government-controlled areas.

In a detail report it’s said, Tamils are increasingly fearful and alienated from a government that claims to be liberating them from the LTTE but has failed to promote any viable political solution to the conflict. The violence and abuse suffered by many Tamils has ensured increased support and funding for the insurgents.

The following is from TamilNet.

300 civilians arrested in Welikada

About three hundred civilians were taken into custody in a cordon and search operation conducted by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and Sri Lanka Police from midnight Tuesday till the dawn of Wednesday in Welikada division in Colombo district. They are currently being detained in police station and are being interrogated.
Majority of them are Tamil civilians, and residents of north and east and upcountry.

Majority of them had been employed in private trade sector.

Police sources said they were taken into custody as they failed to prove their identity with valid documents and give valid reason for their stay in the location.


Ahmed Bedier,the executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called an attack on an area Church more than just vandalism - he says it's a hate crime.

During a news conference Tuesday, Bedier called the incident a "deliberate act" targeting a congregation and pastor who have supported the local Muslim community on local and international issues.

"The writing's on the wall," Bedier said. "This was not some sort of random act."

The writing he referred to was "Traitors Support Terrorist" plastered in black marker on the wall.

The church's pastor thanked CAIR for speaking out against the vandalism, saying during the news conference, "Sometimes I feel that Muslims understand the message of Jesus better than we do."

The pastor had received hate mail after he appeared on the Bill O'Reilly Show in the past. O'Reilly called him out for supporting a drive to include Muslim holidays on the area school calendar.

Last April someone set fire to a Muslim school in the Tampa Bay area.

The following is from the St. Petersburg Times.

Vandals wreak havoc at church
Religious leaders say graffiti left on the wall constitute a hate crime

TAMPA - The Council on American-Islamic Relations and other religious leaders came to the defense of the Apostolic Catholic Church after the church was broken into Saturday. Graffiti that religious leaders called a "hate crime" was scrawled on the wall.

In the small Sulphur Springs church, the front door was broken down, a small amount of money was stolen, picture frames were broken and this message was left: "Traitors Support Terrorist."

A detective has been assigned to determine if the case falls under the state's hate crime classification, which would enhance the penalty if someone is found guilty of the vandalism, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

The church's leader, Bishop Chuck Leigh, has been outspoken on several issues involving local Muslims.

He advocated the release of former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian during the federal trial accusing him of terrorism ties.

Leigh also spoke in support of giving all religions school holidays during a contentious Hillsborough County School Board school calendar discussion.

The church is part of an independent Catholic movement not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

"An attack on any house of worship is like an attack on all houses of worship, " said Ahmed Bedier, CAIR-Tampa's executive director, who urged anyone with information on the vandalism to contact police.

Church members fixed the damage and painted over the graffiti before Sunday's service.


What follows is a statement form the Canadian Labour Congress. The Canadian Labour Congress is the largest democratic and popular organization in Canada with over three million members. The Canadian Labour Congress brings together Canada's national and international unions, the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils.

Standing together with First Nations on June 29, the National Day of Action

The Assembly of First Nations has called for a National Day of Action, to take place on Friday June 29th. This day of action is an opportunity for all residents of Canada to stand together in support of a better life for the first peoples of this land.

The Assembly of First Nations has set out a path for the way forward with four much needed actions that can truly create meaningful opportunities for change. Their action plan calls for governments to:

Resolve land claims disputes - There is a need for Canada to recognize that land - particularly long standing and unresolved land claims, provides a viable community and resource base for First Nations communities. With over 600 First Nation communities spread across the country and an estimated 900 specific land claims unresolved (breach of treaty rights) it is estimated at the current pace of negotiations it will be another century before these claims are resolved. Clearly this is an untenable time frame to wait for justice.

Reform self-government policy to enable a renewal of the relationship between First Nations and Canada.

Close the gap in socioeconomic status between aboriginal peoples, and other Canadians. Currently one in four First Nations children live in poverty, compared to one in six Canadian children. Employment and economic development are fundamental to the future prosperity of First Nations communities and Canada overall.

Apologize to residential school survivors who are still waiting for the Prime Minister of Canada to close the chapter on this shameful tragedy.

The Canadian Labour Congress representing 3.2 million workers joins in this four point call to action because the Canadian labour movement like First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples wants to build bridges not blockades with all the peoples of this land.

June 29th marks a day when workers can stand together with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in peaceful solidarity to call upon the governments of Canada to walk the way forward on an honourable path that will truly improve the quality of life for those who lives are intimately connected with the land.

For more information on the June 29th day of action check out:


It something we are going to have to get used to. Heat waves killing people, animals, and crops. It's the future now. This time it is southeast Europe. Next time it could be your neighborhood.

Greece is experiencing its worst heatwave in 110 years that has already killed seven people, with temperatures reaching 46 Celsius (114.8 Fahrenheit) during a scorcher that has lasted five days and showed no signs on Wednesday of letting up. Sizzling high temperatures yesterday helped spark at least 95 fires across the country and caused blackouts in many parts of Attica as the national power network struggled to meet increased demand. The increased use of air conditioners proved too much for the power network at times, with blackouts in parts of Attica, Crete and other islands continuing for a second day. The Greek military has suspended all exercises and public services were closed in the afternoon.

In southern Italy, after the hottest spring in nearly two centuries the on going heatwave has wiped out fruit crops and killed people.

Sicily is grappling with some 25 severe fires along with Puglia and Calabria, and strong winds are making things worse. Three elderly people died Tuesday in the on Sicily, taking the nationwide toll in the current heatwave to six.

In Romania 30 people died and 12 were reported injured as a heatwave was followed by storms that lashed the south of the country. In Bucharest, torrential rain disrupted power supplies and in Germany strong winds caused ferry services to be cancelled.

In Bulgaria ambulance services were besieged with calls to help people fainting in the street, officials said. Fourteen people have died from the heat in the city of Bucharest over the past week, according to authorities who have set up more than 30 first aid tents in Bucharest alone to cope with the casualties. Police have been handing out water in the street and the health ministry has warned the elderly and those with debilitating illnesses not to go out during the day.
By the way, Northern Africa was also affected by the heatwave with temperatures of over 105 degrees Fahrenheit recorded in Tunisia, where several fires were fanned by the heat and strong Sirocco winds. There were power cuts across the country, notably in the seaside capital Tunis.

Where it wasn't hot, there were other problems.

Britain continued struggling to deal with torrential rains and flooding which have killed four people in recent days. Parts of Britain, particularly the Yorkshire area of northern England, saw more than a month's rainfall in a day, and forecasters were predicting this month will be the wettest June since records began.

In Germany, winds gusting at more than 100 kilometres an hour disrupted maritime and rail traffic in the north of the country.

Heavy rains across southern Sweden caused several small dams to burst, flooding homes and industries and leading some 40 train cancellations yesterday.

The dramatic weather conditions across Europe, as well as flooding in Asia, prompted the United Nations' top disaster prevention official to call for better global preparedness to cope with the impact of climate change.

Salvano Briceno, the director of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, stated, “We cannot wait to be taken by surprise,” he said. “We know what is going to happen and we can prepare for it.”

The website Climate and Capitalism points out, just two months ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report on Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. It included this warning:

"In Southern Europe, climate change is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydropower potential, summer tourism and, in general, crop productivity. It is also projected to increase health risks due to heat waves and the frequency of wildfires."
And this:

“Projected climate change-related exposures are likely to affect the health status of millions of people, particularly those with low adaptive capacity, through … increased deaths, disease and injury due to heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts …”

The following comes from The Australian, but could have come from lots of other sources.

Five more die as southeast Europe sizzles

FOUR more Romanians have died from a heatwave gripping parts of southeast Europe, raising the region's death toll from the past few days to at least 30.
All four were elderly people who died of breathing or heart problems brought on by the heat, Romania's health ministry said.

In western Turkey, a 60-year-old man collapsed on a beach and later died in hospital as temperatures there hit 44C.

Turkey's western regions reduced working hours for state officials and authorities urged the elderly and children to stay at home, out of the heat.

In Greece, where the scorching weather has killed five people in the past two days, air conditioning systems working flat out pushed energy consumption towards an all-time high, and state offices closed early at noon to conserve power supplies.

Temperatures soared to 46C in some parts of the country on Monday, and authorities expected the heatwave to continue for at least another three days, making this Greece's hottest June ever.

With memories of a 1987 heatwave that killed hundreds, health officials said unnecessary travel should be avoided.

“We have 100 ambulances stationed and on full alert in the capital,” emergency services chief Nikos Papaefstathiou said.

“We have more emergency calls today than in the past days but we are urging people to call only if they are in real need.”

In Romania, where temperatures on Tuesday hit 41C, high schools scheduled athletics exams in early morning or evening to avoid the midday heat.

Bushfires and floods

In southern Italy, where temperatures were also above 40C, brush fires broke out.

In Palermo, a blackout caused by heavy use of air conditioning systems forced a court hearing to be adjourned.

It also knocked out traffic lights in deserted streets.

About 150 people have been admitted to hospital over three days in Turkey's Mugla province, popular with tourists.

Its governor told people to avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm.

By contrast, northern England struggled to cope with the aftermath of severe flooding, caused by torrential rain, which killed a 68-year-old man and a teenager in Sheffield and a man in his 20s in Hull.

About 250 people were moved from their homes near Rotherham after cracks appeared in the Ulley Dam.

Southeastern Europe was already suffering a drought, even before the latest heatwave.

Bulgarian farm ministry sources said a week ago that the wheat crop might be down 30 per cent from last year.

Grain producers say Romania might have to import a million tonnes of wheat this year to cover a domestic shortfall.

And in Ukraine, the Government has imposed stringent limits on grain exports for three months in an attempt to keep down bread prices.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


An interfaith coalition from Peru, with the support of some U.S. religious groups, is pressuring a U.S. corporation to control pollution at a Peruvian smelter plant that they say is endangering public health.

The campaign turned its attention to the United States because the plant’s holding group, the Renco Group, is based in New York, and an affiliated plant, run by a Renco subsidiary, Doe Run, is based in Missouri.

So far, the coalition members have not succeeded in meeting with Ira Rennert (pictured here), a New York businessmen who heads Renco. The delegation said it wanted to appeal to Rennert on ethical and moral grounds, noting that Rennert is the chairman of the prominent Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan.

“Money and ethics need to go together,” said Elias Szczytnicki, a member of the Israeli Union of Peru and the secretary of Peru’s national interfaith commission.

The coalition said that La Oroya has been named one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world by the Blacksmith Institute, an international environmental watchdog group, while Doe Run publicly declared profits of $125 million to $150 million in 2006.

The Nation reports:

Rennert has grown rich using a formula of buying dirty companies, taking out steep loans and paying himself princely dividends, as documented in articles in Forbes and Business Week. Several of his companies have filed for bankruptcy, allowing Rennert to buy back assets for pennies on the dollar. Rennert's empire of mining and manufacturing firms also includes AM General LLC , the maker of HUMVEE military vehicles and the gas-guzzling Hummer, as well as a magnesium producer and a steel manufacturer.

Rennert also gained fame with the company MagCorp. According to the EPA, on several occasions, its magnesium chloride plant has been the nation's worst air polluter. MagCorp released close to a hundred tons of chlorine per day from its stacks, in a cloud that could be seen from as far away as Nevada, the majority of total chlorine gas emitted into the air nationwide.

For the record Mr. Rennert seems to be doing okay for himself. His beachfront home in Sagaponack, New York, is the largest occupied residential compound in America. Real Estate magnates claim this if this house ever was put on the market -- it would be valued the most expensive home globally.

The other rich folk who lived nearby in his ritzy Hamptons neighborhood were ticked off. Although their houses are huge, his was huger and they didn't like it.

It's tough being a billionaire.

A related Oread Daily story can be found at

The following comes from the Jewish Daily Forward.

Peruvian Town’s Health Goes Up in Smoke
Calls Rise for Orthodox N.Y. Billionaire To Pay for Pollution
Marc Perelman

As far as Peruvian Rabbi Elias Szczytnicki could tell, Ira Rennert seemed like a guy with whom he could develop a rapport. Rennert, a controversial Orthodox billionaire, has served as chairman of the tony Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan and has been described by Elie Wiesel as “a deeply, deeply religious man.” But while on a mission to meet the reclusive Rennert in New York earlier this month, Szczytnicki quickly found out that there are limits to the faith that binds the two.

The Lima-based rabbi came to town as part of an ecumenical delegation to urge the Brooklyn-born billionaire to curb the massive health and environmental damages being caused by a giant Rennert-owned smelter in Peru. Rennert, whose Renco Group holding company owns the plant in the mountain town of La Oroya, refused a meeting, telling them to deal instead with the company’s local subsidiary.

Szczytnicki and his ecumenical delegation are far from the first to protest Rennert’s business practices, nor are they the first to be turned away. But buoyed by tighter regulation in the United States of a man whom Hillary Clinton once labeled “the biggest polluter in America,” the Peruvians are stepping up the fight to clean up La Oroya.

“I understand he runs a business, but this is not just any kind of business,” Szczytnicki told the Forward last month. “It has lethal consequences on the lives of people.”

Unlike most disputes over the environmental impact of multinational corporations on impoverished communities, this battle revolves not around the extent of contamination — on which there is broad agreement — but around the responsibility for cleaning it up. That there is consensus on the need to address the smelter’s impact on La Oroya is due in part to a series of health studies, as well as a legal and regulatory battle involving a similar Rennert-owned plant in Missouri during the 1990s, as a result of which he was forced to adopt stringent anti-pollution measures and pay tens of millions of dollars in cleanup and relocation.

Smoke, dust and contamination have long been part of the air in La Oroya, a town of 33,000 perched 12,000 feet up in Peru’s mountainous Huancayo region. Primarily because of the smelter, which is owned by the Renco-controlled Doe Run Company, La Oroya bears the dubious distinction of being among the 10 most polluted cities in the world, according to the environmental advocacy group Blacksmith Institute.

A large number of environmental and health studies conducted by Doe Run, the Peruvian government and independent experts, among them the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shown that inhabitants of La Oroya suffer from a number of illnesses caused by the emissions from the smelter’s giant smokestacks. Ninety-nine percent of children under age 6 have an unusually high level of lead in their blood, as well as high levels of cadmium, arsenic and sulfur dioxide, according to Doe Run and the Peruvian government.

When Doe Run purchased the plant from a Peruvian government-controlled company in 1997, it committed itself to a 10-year, $120 million plan to address the contamination of La Oroya. Since then, however, it has not implemented all the measures of the plan.

After prolonged discussions between the government and the company, the authorities eventually granted a three-year extension

Environmental and religious activists have charged the authorities with surrendering the well-being of the town’s citizens in order to protect a major source of income. The government has responded that it is trying to find a compromise between preserving jobs and improving the situation in La Oroya. The powerful mining labor unions, the government has noted, strongly opposed the idea of closing the facility, which employs some 4,000 workers and is the center of La Oroya’s economy.

“For us, it is difficult to denounce because we don’t want to be seen as destroying a source of revenue for the poor,” Szczytnicki said. “The Peruvian government is enforcing environmental and health regulations with a very low threshold in order to keep foreign investment in the country, especially in the mining industry.”

Last April, Doe Run announced that emissions from the plant’s main smokestack of particulate matter and heavy metals, including lead, had decreased to a level within Peruvian governmental limits. The company also stated that to date it had invested $116 million in environmental improvements, and it expects that by 2009, the total will reach $254 — more than twice the amount pledged in 1997.

The company’s announcement, however, did little to mollify its critics.

“They did not do the heavy investments; they preferred to provide assistance to the population,” said Rafael Goto Silva, a pastor who is president of the National Evangelical Council of Peru and a member of the ecumenical delegation that traveled to New York last month to meet with Rennert. “They invested in curing the symptoms, not the causes…. They have not done the hard part until now. Who can say they will do it in the next three years?”

Rennert, who is a generous donor to Orthodox causes in the U.S. and in Israel, did not respond to requests for comment.

For years, the company has argued that that the low prices of metals have resulted in less investment across the board and that most of the plant’s revenues have been used to pay back loans. A study commissioned by the Peruvian government, however, concluded that Doe Run could have completed its cleanup program in 2005 had Renco not taken an estimated $100 million from the Peruvian company between 1997 and 2004.

A pattern of maneuvering financial assets among a series of companies controlled by Rennert was one of the main reasons that the U.S. Justice Department filed a $900 million complaint against Renco, accusing it of siphoning off money that should have been used to clean up environmental damages caused by a giant magnesium plant in Utah. Those fighting to hold the corporation accountable for the Doe Run smelter’s impact on La Oroya have taken note of the precedent. With the rebound of the price of lead and other raw metals, they say, it is time for Renco to pay the price for its pollution.

“The company now has the money, and says it will fulfill its obligations,” Szczytnicki said. “But the record shows that they have only done so when confronted with pressure from government and local authorities…this is about the globalization of ethical solidarity.”


Well to Bush and Company it must seem like the world is going to hell in a handbag. I mean, come on, can't his Attorney General even go to Idaho without having to run and hide. I mean - Idaho.

Yesterday Alberto Gonzales figured he'd drop in for a brief visit to Boise, talk about gangs, have a nice little outdoor photo op and move on.

Didn't happen.

Instead of meeting with reporters outside the Fort Boise Community Center, Gonzales was forced to stage the event more than an hour later at offices of the local federal prosecutor.

When Gonzales was scheduled for a press conference outside the community center, an official approached a rostrum set up with a temporary attorney general’s seal and said the conference would be postponed, moved and open only to the press. The crowd booed in response. Some members of the protest chanted, “Coward, coward.”

And if you are wondering about the gang situation in Idaho. One local resident Phil Lansing had this to say, ''If he's here to talk about gangs, I say there's a gang running this country.''

The following article is taken from the Idaho Statesman.

Protesters force Gonzales to relocate news conference

About 100 Boise protesters forced U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to move and postpone a news conference on anti-drug efforts Tuesday in his first visit to Idaho.
The group of Democratic Party candidates, Idaho Peace Coalition members and others stood with signs criticizing Gonzales's stance on torture and civil rights. They sang and chanted outside the Fort Boise Community Center, which Gonzales had toured to see its programs and services aimed at keeping local teenagers off the streets.

When Gonzales did talk to Idaho media, in the protected confines of Idaho U.S. Attorney Tom Moss' office, he said the community center is a nice reminder to law enforcement officials like himself that "we do need to focus on prevention and education on the front end."

He met Tuesday with Moss' deputies and local heads of federal agencies, but also with local law enforcement officials on the Treasure Valley Metro Anti-Gang Task Force, which includes prosecutors, state police and police officers and sheriff's deputies from Ada and Canyon counties.

The federal government can help local fights against gangs by offering tougher sentences and prison assignments far away from a gang member's turf, he said.

As for the Treasure Valley's gang problems, Gonzales said he would go back with his deputies to see what tools and ideas could be shared to help the fight here.

"We need to see whether we have additional resources that can be shared with this community," he said.

Gonzales answered just a few questions more than an hour past his originally scheduled time.

For about an hour before his scheduled appearance at the community center, protesters gathered at the outdoor podium where Gonzales was set to speak. They sang the national anthem and "This Land" and "Dusty Old Dust (So Long, It's Been Good to Know You)" as they waited for the embattled attorney general.

Gonzales has been criticized for his role in memos giving interrogators leeway to perform what many have called torture on terrorism suspects and also for his role in supporting secret domestic wire-tapping policies.

Progressive activist and former Democratic congressional candidate Jim Hansen even talked for a few minutes at the podium, thanking the protesters for coming.

With far more protesters than media waiting for Gonzales to appear, an aide walked to the podium and quickly announced the news conference would be moved to Moss' office.

Then fellow Democrat and 2006 congressional candidate Larry Grant stepped to the microphone.

"I think he heard you," he told the crowd.

Gonzales said the protesters would have distracted from his message had he kept the original news conference plan.

Boisean Diane Roberts, a member of the Idaho Peace Coalition who led the protesters in the songs and chants, had a more colorful response. What she called Gonzales can't be printed in the newspaper.

"Just put ‘chicken' and the four little dots," she said. "Everybody in Idaho will know what I meant, believe me."

Hours earlier, a group of former Democratic congressional candidates called for him to resign.

Boise attorney Dan Williams, who ran twice against former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, said he thinks the Bush administration sent Gonzales to Idaho because the state is so Republican.

"We're here to tell you that people in Idaho also watch the news," he said. "They also watch people testify in Congress, and they know somebody is trying to mislead them."


Great news!

Late Friday afternoon at a meeting between UMKC Chancellor Guy Bailey and Garry Kemp , Business Manager of the Greater Kansas City Building & Construction Trades Council, and Missouri State Senators Victor Callahan and Chris Koster, Chancellor Bailey announced he would not close The Institute for Labor Studies for now. He committed to sit down with me to discuss a restructuring which will preserve what we have. What we agree to will then be put in writing for approval by the labor community.

The struggle to save ILS isn’t over, but I view this as a great step forward and appreciate the Chancellor’s willingness to engage in further discussion about the future of labor education at UMKC.

I also want to thank the hundreds of Kansas City labor union leaders and members, UMKC faculty and students, the many members of the KC community, and labor education supporters and scholars from across the country for their letters to the Chancellor and their messages of support to me. I also want to thank reporters at the Pitch, The Kansas City Star, EKC, and Inside Higher Education for their timely and accurate coverage of the issue.

One of the letters sent to the Chancellor was from Steve Murphy, a former plant manager who now teaches at Benedictine College . Murphy said, “The ILS. . . is a crown jewel of UMKC's cutting edge intellectual capital.....and cannot better exemplify - in my humble view - your official website's proclamation of what UMKC is all about: "We connect education with a dynamic city and its people, and we connect research with real societal issues." I sincerely hope that our current struggle to save labor education can reignite a dialogue within the university and between it and our community about UMKC’s role and responsibilities to greater Kansas City .

I will keep you informed of the progress in our discussions.

If you haven’t seen the media coverage, here are some links:

Pitch blog:

Inside Higher Ed:

Kansas City Star:

Diane Stafford blog:


KCStar Letter to Editor: (half way down page

In solidarity,
Judy Ancel

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Poor residents of Detroit's east side can say "so long" to hospital services.

The Detroit Free Press reports a secret deal conceived over champagne at the Detroit auto show in January led metro Detroit's best-known cancer program, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, to make plans to leave its home base at the Detroit Medical Center and move to St. John Detroit Riverview Hospital (pictured here). The move will effectively close the door on hospital service to Detroit's east side. Riverview's closing, already planned for June 30, has triggered concerns about the care of the hospital's mostly poor patients, including the 30,000 emergency patients and 1,500 mothers who gave birth there last year.

St. John's itself reportedly is wanting out of the area for the reason you'd expect. They ain't making any money...and healthcare in the USA is more and more only about the money.

The hospital has said it was losing too much money and earlier this month stopped accepting inpatients. Because roughly 90 percent of its 11,000 annual inpatients are covered under the Medicare or Medicaid public assistance programs, Riverview has struggled economically, said Bob Hoban, a senior vice president for St. John Health, Riverview's parent company.

Most of the hospital's 1,500 employees will lose their jobs. Janet Scott, a medical records clerk who has been at Riverview for more than 30 years spoke for many of those empolyees. "It's very devastating for me," she said. "It's going to be hard to find another job."

Officials at other area hospitals have complained that Riverview's closing will burden them.

"We're 90 percent full on average and there are many days where we're 100 percent full," said Nancy Schlichting, president and chief executive of Henry Ford Health System, which has a trauma center hospital in Detroit.

In Detroit the number of hospitals in the city has dwindled to seven or eight from 42 in 1960.

Albert Garrett, President of Michigan AFSCME Council 25 along with Inell Howard and Lorraine Fuque (sometime patients at St. John's Riverview) jointly petitioned Michigan Attorney General Cox to initiate litigation to stop the closure of St. John's Riverview Hospital. The Attorney General said there was nothing he could do. Cox wrote that while he is "troubled by the potential impact of this decision on Detroit residents in need of care," neither he nor the Michigan Department of Community Health has "specific authority to pursue the legal action you request."

The Detroit Medical Center and AFSCME filed a lawsuit to stop the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute from moving to St. John Detroit Riverview Hospital. Wayne County Circuit Judge Gershwin Drain has scheduled a July 2 hearing on a lawsuit filed May 4 by the DMC and AFSCME Council 25 -- which represents several hundred Riverview workers -- to stop Karmanos from buying Riverview and moving to the East Jefferson facility by next year. Legal observers say there is little reason to think the suit will succeed.

Experts say Riverview's decision to close fits a distressing, decades-long pattern of hospital closures in older cities across the nation. The trend has left large swaths of predominantly poor, black neighborhoods in cities such as St. Louis, Philadelphia and Cleveland underserved.

"This hasn't been happening in the suburbs and it isn't happening in Phoenix, Arizona, where they can't build hospitals fast enough," said Bruce Siegel, a research professor at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "This is occurring in older, urban inner-city areas."

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently funded an updating of an existing data set on US urban hospital closings, mergers, and other changes. In their final report to RWJF, the researchers concluded: "Our findings suggest … that the pattern of hospital closings in US cities in recent decades may have damaged access to care generally, may have had an adverse and disproportionate impact on minority Americans specifically, and may even have increased the cost of health care … Greater protections should be offered to hospitals that remain open today, unless it can be shown that their closing will not harm access, or that any harm to access will be offset by sure and substantial cost cuts … Public intervention might be … useful to conserve needed hospital capital … In one or two decades, use of hospitals is likely to rise substantially as baby boomers age and use inpatient beds at much higher rates."

Yikes...that's me they're talking about...

The following comes to us from the World Socialist Web Site.

Detroit Riverview Hospital to close: “Losing this hospital will devastate this community”By Charles Bogle

St. John Detroit Riverview Hospital has served east side Detroit since 1987. Earlier this year, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute announced their intent to transform the community hospital into a facility devoted exclusively to cancer patients.

On June 30, this intention will become a reality, and the area’s residents, many of whom are poor and/or elderly, will no longer have a community hospital. The hospital presently employs 1,511 workers, many of whom reside in Detroit. Only 400 of these workers will remain once the Cancer Institute opens.

Talking to the hospital employees and area residents, one gains an appreciation for the services provided by the hospital to the surrounding neighborhood and what the loss of these services will mean to both residents and employees. One also begins to grasp the devastating consequences of the domination of healthcare services by profit interests.

St. John Detroit Riverview Hospital has geared its services to the mostly poor and elderly who live in the surrounding area. Employee Terri Anderson stated that because “many of our patients are geriatrics who are unable to get to other hospitals, St. John provided transportation for them.” Kim Clark, another employee, added that because the nearest hospital is 5 to10 miles away, those area residents who do not have cancer “will have to depend on friends or public transportation.” She quickly added, however, that “no buses run from here to the remaining hospitals.”

St. John Hospital Reverend Nora Brown also stated that the hospital provided “dental and pediatrics services as well as medications.” “Losing this hospital,” she stated, “will devastate this community. Everybody in this community could use this hospital; not everybody in this community has cancer.”

Joe Morgan, area resident and husband of a hospital employee, added to the sense of impending devastation when he told this reporter, “A lot of patients don’t have insurance, and they depend on this hospital for care and medications.”

Losing St. John Detroit Riverview Hospital will also affect hospital employees, both present and future. An RN with 38 years of experience, who asked to remain anonymous due to the uncertain nature of her severance package, said that she had “planned on retiring in a few years,” but she knows that when she looks for another job, “no one will match my present pay.” She also added, “doctors will be displaced due to change in purpose [from community hospital to cancer treatment].”

Reverend Nora Brown told this reporter that of those employees who will be retained by the cancer treatment facility, many will move from “full-time to part-time” status, which means that while the employees may work 40 or more hours, their benefits will be determined by the part-time formula. And while severance pay will be provided for those employees who were unionized, the amount, according to employee Angela, will be determined by a formula of “one week’s pay for each year you’ve been here.”

The employees will also pay emotionally when they lose their jobs. Miss Johnson, an RN, said that when the closing was announced, “I kind of felt like I was being put out on the street from my own home.”

When asked why a hospital that had served its community so faithfully was being closed, those interviewed pointed to the privatization of healthcare and its demoralizing consequences. As Joe Morgan put it, “It’s the money.”

Miss Johnson underscored this statement when she reasoned, “St John’s wants to get out of the city in order to make more profits.” She also spoke to the sense of demoralization among those who have spent their working lives in healthcare: “Healthcare has really changed over the years. It used to be that hospitals took care of their patients. Now, it’s all about the numbers.”

Several employees saw evidence of this “all about the numbers” attitude in the present conditions at Riverview Hospital and the outlook for the nursing profession. Miss Johnson mentioned that the hospital has become “a corporation, so therefore they don’t think about the employees.” Apparently, they don’t think about the patients either. Employee Angela pointed out that due to a lack of available beds, “We’ve had people that have actually been in the ER for five days.”

For these and other reasons, including placing “too much responsibility on the nurses,” Angela declared, “Healthcare and nursing are not good professions anymore.”

Near the end of our conversation, Miss Johnson looked back toward the hospital and said with evident dissatisfaction, “We never see the CEO or management walking the halls.” Perhaps it is this disconnection from the reality facing hospital workers and patients that is behind the viewpoint of St. John Health President and CEO Elliot Joseph, who stated in a press release, “The sale helps St. John Health to be good stewards of its resources so we can continue to serve Detroit through our vibrant health programs and services.”


Max Gubski, a teenage member of Food not Bombs in the Belarussian city of Minsk, has been sentenced to hard labor after he was the vicitim of a fascist attack. Skinhead attacks are nothing new in Minsk and neither is police and judicial indifference.

The staff of the Food not Bombs collective is diverse and varies from anarcho-punk to Krishnaits, but they are united by the impulse to help those who are in need, and what is more important, to demonstrate, that it is possible to change the world by helping each other.

Anyway, I don't know anything more about this particular incident, but I thought it was worthwhile to pass the news along.

The following is from Anarchistyznei.

Max Gets Three Years in Work Camp

Maxim Gubski, a 17-year old activist from Minsk got three years hard labour in a Belarussian work camp. The sentence was the result of charges pressed by fascists who were trying to blackmail Max, a local Food not Bombs activist.

Max had been active in the Minsk radical scene for 3 years. At the end of last year, a fight broke out between some skinheads and some antifascists. As is often, unforunately, the case in Russia and, it seems, Belarus, the boneheads, who feel above the law and are not likely to get into any trouble with the police, asked for money from Max in exchange for not pressing charges. They demanded 1500 USD, which Max refused to pay.

After going to the police, another person came forward and tried to claim responsibility for the fight. Despite this, Max was sentenced.

Max is going to spend the next three years in rough conditions, so solidarity is needed. Send him letters - his birthday is July 24 and if you write now, he'll probably get your letters by then! Be careful about what you send; radical materials probably won't be allowed, but certainly cards with best wishes will be.

220050 Minsk, ul. Volorarskogo-2 K-78 Gubskomu Maksimu
220050. г.Минск ул. Володарского-2 К-78 Губскому Максиму

(ps - your guess is as good as mine on the address-ed)


Friday Canada’s “First Nations” are planning a day of protest to draw attention to unresolved land claims, poverty on native reservations and a plethora of other issues native leaders and their advocates are saying to be in a crisis mode.

Today some of them set up a teepee on the lawn of the Ontario legislature as a prelude.

Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, speaking about the planned June 29 nationwide protest, told Canadian Press, “We don’t want to cause a major disruption in the lives of Canadians, but at the same time, we also want to make sure they understand that this is a crisis.”

Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse said the day of action is more about education than confrontation.

"We want to provide education to the general public about the outstanding claims," said Toulouse in a telephone interview from Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, west of Sudbury.

"We're not talking about trying to gain more. All we're talking about is what is rightfully ours and getting the federal government and the provincial government to deal with those issues."

Some others are a little more direct.

Terrance Nelson, Chief of the Roseau River reserve near Winnipeg has vowed to block rail lines and disrupt the movement of goods and people across Canada. Nelson believes that the only way to get action is to force multinational corporations to force the Government of Canada to resolve the natives’ issues and the only way to achieve this goal is through the disruption of business. Nelson told the CBC, “There’s only two ways to deal with white people, to have an effective resolution of the issues. You either pick up a gun and deal with the issue, or you stand between the white man and his money. On June 29, we’re going to stand between the white man and his money.”

Shawn Brant, a Mohawk protester from the Bay of Quinte First Nation who led a 30-hour rail blockade near Deseronto, Ont., last month, agreed that direct action is the only way aboriginal people can make their voices heard, and he hopes the death of Dudley George (killed at the hands of police) will motivate people to "express their anger" during the planned day of protest.

"I think it's about demonstrating the power we have in our backyards. I think it's about saying ... we're never going to be disrespected, we're not going to allow for another situation like Dudley George, we're not going to drink poison water without there being consequences," said Brant

Stay tuned.

The following is from the Cornwall Standard Freeholder (Canada).

Activists erect teepee on lawn of legislature

Canada - Activists from two northern Ontario First Nations groups erected a nine-metre teepee on the front lawn of the Ontario legislature Monday, four days before a planned national aboriginal day of protest.

Members of the Grassy Narrows and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nations said they were using the teepee to draw attention to the continued logging and mineral extraction on their traditional lands. "Our traditional territory has been destroyed by forestry operations," said Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister.

"All the trees are gone, all the animals are gone, and there's been no compensation for our people."

Fobister also said the demonstration was intended to educate the public in advance of the day of protest on June 29.

John Cutfeet, a spokesman for the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, said the mining of minerals on traditional lands near Thunder Bay is illegal.

"What we're saying is it's now time for this government to recognize our rights and uphold the laws of this land," he said, noting a Supreme Court of Canada ruling stating that aboriginals must be consulted about resource development on their traditional lands.

David Ramsay, the province's minister of natural resources and aboriginal affairs, insisted his office does consult with aboriginal groups before issuing permits, and he called the matter "a difference of opinion."

He said aboriginal groups and the provincial government have been unable to fully agree over the definition of a consultation, but added his ministry has tried to avoid allocating logging permits near trapping grounds and species migration areas.

Leah Fontaine, a 20-year-old who lives on the Grassy Narrows reserve near Kenora, Ont., travelled to Toronto last week to take part in Monday's protest.

"Our trapping and our wildlife are being destroyed by the logging companies," she said.

Only a few minutes from her home, Fontaine said massive areas of the forest have been clearcut.
"It's depressing."

But while the area has seen an increase in logging activity, she said none of the economic benefits have reached the reserve, which suffers from 75 per cent unemployment.

"In Grassy, there's maybe only 50 jobs and there's about 800 people there," she said. "It's impossible to find a job."

Grassy Narrows resident Melissa Fobister, 26, said previous efforts by the band to deter logging on their traditional lands have resulted in the logging companies moving to remote locations less easily accessed by roads.

"It's almost like they're being sneaky," she said, adding that the recent birth of her child has motivated her to take action.

Monday, June 25, 2007


A coalition of local activist groups has found an issue to unite them: What they point out are human rights abuses at immigration detention centers in South Texas. Conditions in the Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville — where people awaiting decisions on their immigration status or deportation can live for months or years — are akin to those in tent cities - bad tent cities.

The coalition, which includes San Juan-based La Union del Pueblo Entero, the Peace and Justice Committee and Veterans for Peace, took to the streets to express their feelings yesterday.

Texas has the largest number of "immigration prisons" in the US to house the undocumented immigrants once they have been rounded up.

The Willacy County Detention Center is one of a host of new or expanded prisons, both public and private, that has been commissioned for an expected rush of illegal immigrant detainees. According to the Washington Post, about 2,000 undocumented immigrants are housed within the 10 giant tent city home for weeks, months and perhaps years before they are deported back to their home countries.

Flanked by two real prisons, the Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville, Texas is made up of 10 windowless, dome-shaped tents, each the drab color of sand and about half the size of a football field. The dorms have no windows, each housing 200 detainees. Inside, they sleep on bunk beds, there are no partitions in the showers and the toilets detainees have two hours a day to come out for recreational time

The complex is surrounded by chain-link fences topped with rolls of razor wire, and is protected by private guards.

Ain't that America...home of the free...ain't that America...

The following is from KGBT (Harlingen, Texas).

Detention center protest

Several valley organizations came together with the same passion and that is to protest local detention centers. They say the centers are separating immigrants from their families.

About 50 protesters lined the streets outside the Willacy detention center in Raymondville Sunday night. Elizabeth Garcia is one of the organizers of the protest.

Garcia believes this immigration processing center needs to be shut down.

Elizabeth Garcia said, "Not a lot of people know that here in Raymondville, Texas, we have the largest detention center in the United States. So, I think with this kind of movement, we're going to let our communities, locally here in the valley, to know about it."

Immigration and customs enforcement officials say the detainees are not being mistreated.

They say the detainees are being held at detention centers after breaking the law of being in the US illegally.


The British government was accused today of a scandalous cover-up after a decision not to prosecute police officers or soldiers in connection with the assassination of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

No police officers or soldiers are to be charged after a major investigation into collusion with loyalist paramilitaries involved in the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, it was revealed today.

Even though a marathon 14-year investigation by former Scotland Yard chief Lord Stevens established rogue elements within the Northern Ireland security forces collaborated with terrorist killers, the prosecuting authorities have ruled there is insufficient evidence to press charges.

Mr Finucane (39) was shot dead at his home by loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Defence Association, in 1989. He was targeted for representing IRA members and republicans in the courts - but his family categorically denied he was linked to the organisation.

Victims groups and Sinn Fein politicians are condemning the decision as a scandal and a cover-up.

Finucane's son Michael, also a solicitor, said he was extremely disappointed and very perplexed by the outcome.

He said: "I think the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) has taken a very soft and very submissive approach to the manner in which prosecutions would be mounted."

Alex Maskey, a Sinn Féin member of the Northern Assembly who survived a UDA gun attack at his home in west Belfast in which a close friend was shot dead in May 1993, told the Irish Examiner: "This is an absolute scandal that no action is being taken.

"People are being told that while the State was involved in the murders of their loved ones, no prosecution will be taken.

"It shows the British Government is incapable of facing up to their own responsibilities in all of this."

Jane Winter, British Irish Watch Director, said: "As a result, victims of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries have today received no justice whatsoever."

The following is from the Guardian.

No officers to be charged over Finucane murder

No members of the security services will be charged following the long investigation into the murder of the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, prosecutors revealed today.
Senior officers in British military intelligence and the Royal Ulster Constabulary will escape prosecution, Northern Ireland's public prosecution service confirmed.

Finucane's murder by loyalist gunmen remains one of the most controversial of Northern Ireland's Troubles because of the allegations of collusion between loyalists and the security services.

Today's announcement effectively marks the end of attempts to prove in court that there was organised collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries over the killing in February 1989.

Finucane, a Catholic civil rights lawyer who frequently defended republican suspects, was targeted by gunmen from the loyalist Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The 39-year-old solicitor, whose family denied had any links to the IRA, was shot 14 times in front of his wife and three children after two masked men burst into his north Belfast home.

The latest evidence considered by the prosecution services came out of the third inquiry by the former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Stevens into alleged collusion during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

That report, which came back in 2003, found that rogue elements within the Royal Ulster Constabulary and British army intelligence helped loyalist paramilitaries to murder Catholics.

The main thrust of the report, which was known as Stevens III, was the role of the army's surveillance operations in Northern Ireland, in particular the secretive Force Research Unit (FRU). Nine former members of the unit, including its former head Brigadier Gordon Kerr, were questioned, as well as seven police officers and one civilian.

Today the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said that, critically, there was not enough evidence to bring prosecutions. In a statement, the PPS cited missing records, problems of time elapsing, the death of potential witnesses and the difficulties of ascertaining "the role and responsibilities that individuals played in specific events".

The statement added: "In addition, the prosecution had to take account of potential abuse of process arguments by the defence that any trial at this stage would be unfair."

The UDA men who were working for the intelligence services at the time included: Brian Nelson, who supplied information to FRU; Ken Barrett, who later admitted shooting Finucane; and William Stobie, an RUC informer and former UDA quartermaster.

Today's statement from the PPS said: "There was insufficient evidence to establish that any member of FRU had agreed with Brian Nelson (an agent run by FRU) or any other person that Patrick Finucane should be murdered or had knowledge at the relevant time that the murder was to take place."

Barrett is the only man who was convicted of Finucane's murder. Stobie, who admitted supplying the guns used in the killing, was charged with aiding and abetting the murder but walked free after the court case against him collapsed. A few weeks later, Stobie was shot dead by loyalists in December 2001, apparently because they feared he would give evidence against them over the killing.

The PPS said today that a Browning pistol given to the police by Stobie had later been reactivated and used by "an unknown person [or persons] and used in two more loyalist killings in 1991 and 1992". Sinn Féin reacted angrily to today's PPS announcement. One of the party's assembly members, Alex Maskey, who was also targeted by Nelson, said: "This is an absolute scandal that no action is being taken. People are being told that while the state was involved in the murders of their loved ones, no prosecution will be taken."

Barrett, a former special branch informer, was jailed for 22 years in 2004 for Finucane's murder. He was released in May last year under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, after a ruling by the sentences review commission, despite opposition by the Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain.

Barrett, who is now thought to be living in secret outside the province, has described his emotions after killing Finucane, saying: "I lost no sleep over it. All is fair in love and war. I have to be honest, I whacked a few people in the past."

Finucane's family, nationalist and republican politicians, human-rights activists, including international lawyers' groups, have long demanded a public inquiry into the murder.

Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine said she had been informed of today's announcement but declined to comment until she had read the full decision and consulted with lawyers.

Earlier this year, Johnny Adair, a former UDA terrorist currently living in the west of Scotland after being expelled from the province by the UDA at gunpoint, claimed British soldiers had been a key source of intelligence for loyalist paramilitaries in the past.