Saturday, November 10, 2007

SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT RON PAUL


I know it's Saturday and I don't do the OD on Saturday, but I wanted to 1) inform you that the nazis were pretty much smashed in their Prague march today (see article below), I'll print more on Monday and, 2) I ran across the article below at the One People's Project site and wanted to print it and send it out.
By the way the One People's Project is worth you checking out every now and then.

GOODBYE, RON PAUL
Written by One People's Project

With damn near every white supremacist in the country swearing by Rep. Ron Paul during his presidential run and a few anti-war activists on our side too stupid to pay closer attention to the guy as they blindly ignore everything but his anti-war stance, it was only a matter of time before we got to him. Thing is, we had to do more than just complain about the usual suspects at Stormfront suppoting him. Sure it is something to note, but if Paul isn't being receptive, anything they have to say is pretty much irrelevant anyway. He just became receptive, and just in time for him to come to our stomping grounds this weekend in Philly. Stormfront webmaster Don Black donated $500 to his campaign - and Rep. Paul isn't giving it back. Well, Ronnie, you just killed your run. Stormfront is bad news for any politician who is supposed to represent people of all races, and if you can't see that or even try to kep these people at a distance, the rest of us will most certainly keep you there. For the record, this is not the only thing of note about Rep. Paul that suggests he is a little too confy with America's fascists. Norm Singleton, Rep. Paul's legislative director, has been known to hang with well know anti-Semite and Washington insider Joseph Sobran, a guy who among other things, one complained of "a more or less official national obsession with a tiny, faraway socialist ethnocracy." - a line that helped get him canned from National Review. We doubt that we are going to spend too much time on Ron Paul, because he won't be in the race long, but it is good to take note of this clown. Mad Props to LoneStarTimes.com for finding this.


LoneStarTimes.com
A LoneStarTimes.com investigation has conclusively established that a leading figure in the American neo-Nazi / White-Supremacist movement has provided financial support to Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign.
The individual in question is Don Black, the founder, owner and operator of Stormfront, a “white power” website that both professional journalists and watch-dog groups have identified as the premier English-language racist/hate-site on the Internet.

Previous LST posts have focused on banner “widgets” appearing on the front-page of Stormfront. It is important to emphasize that these are NOT “advertisements” placed on Stormfront BY the Paul campaign, but rather publicly-available graphics that Stormfront’s owner has chosen to place himself, with links directly to Paul’s donation page.

Nevertheless, LST has in the past several weeks raised a series of questions for the Paul campaign; specifically–

Can Paul confirm that the donation widgets appearing on Stormfront are the result of the site owner’s actions, not the campaign’s?
Will Paul take measures to block Stormfront as a referring URL to his own website, so that no future donations can possibly flow into his campaign from a site that serves as the on-line nexus of neo-Nazism?
Will Paul ask his own web-staff to trace past donations that were made by anyone arriving at his campaign’s webpage from Stormfront, so that these contributions can be rejected?
Will Paul explore if there are any legal actions available to try to remove his donation widget from Stormfront, and if so pursue them?
At the very least, will Paul personally state publicly, vigorously and unmistakably that he rejects the support of white supremacists, and that he will not knowingly tolerate their involvement with his campaign in any form or to any degree?
LoneStarTimes.com’s managing editor Matt Bramanti left multiple messages last week for officials in Paul’s national campaign press office seeking comment. None were returned.

In the interim, a number of grassroots supporters of Paul’s campaign– including many honorable and regular readers of LST– have argued that…

It is unfair to hold Paul responsible for receiving political support from racists/neo-Nazis if that support was unsolicited by Paul;
Paul hasn’t, in fact, solicited white-supremacist support; AND
Paul’s campaign has no practical way of knowing whether or not a specific financial contribution made has come from a neo-Nazi.
These abstract debates are now moot– a contribution to the Paul campaign by a known white-supremacist has been identified.

The evidence is as follows:

Black proudly and openly identifies himself as Stormfront’s guiding hand, and publishes a contact address on the Internet– PO Box 6637, West Palm Beach, FL, 33405
A search by LST of public databases indicates that there is only one “Don Black” residing in West Palm Beach, Florida, zip code 33405
A 7/16/01 USA Today article identifies Black’s wife as being named “Chloe”
That same article identifies Chloe as being the ex-wife of close Black associate and former “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke
Minutes of a 9/7/07 City of West Palm Beach code-compliance hearing identify “Chloe H. Duke” as owning a residential property located at 203 Lakeland Drive
According to Federal Election Commission records, on 9/30/07 the Ron Paul presidential campaign received a $500 contribution from a Mr. Don Black, who lists his address as 203 Lakeland Drive and identifies his occupation as “self-employed/website manager”
In light of these facts, we believe our previously asked questions continue to have merit.

A final note– it is traditional in political campaigns for candidates to return contributions from “toxic” donors once sufficient public scrutiny and outcry has been generated.

The difficulty in this instance is that if Ron Paul returns these funds to Mr. Black, all he will have done is given a neo-Nazi $500 more dollars with which to spread his psychotic bile.

We would therefore like to suggest that the Ron Paul campaign donate Black’s $500 to any of the following worthy recipients–

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum ($500 would make Dr. Paul a “sustaining member”)
One Family Fund (which works to rebuild the shattered lives of Israeli victims of Arab terror; $500 would make Dr. Paul a “healer”)
Aish Ha’Torah (dynamic Jewish educational foundation; Aish donations are set according to funky Kabbalah-based giving levels–$18, $36, $180, etc.–but for $500 Dr. Paul could simultaneously become a “Friend of the Wall” and a “Gate of Wisdom,” which would entitle him to both a Sterling Silver Menorah bookmark with certificate of authenticity from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and a Western Wall Images CD with over 500 unique photos of life at the Western Wall– perfect “re-gifting” items for the fast-approaching Hanukkah season)
We try to be helpful.

Matt Bramanti, Managing Editor (Gentile Stooge)
David Benzion, Publisher (Z.O.G. Chapter #1948 President)
LoneStarTimes.com

NOTE: For interview requests, contact us at “lsteditors AT gmail DOT com”

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 November 2007 )

Friday, November 09, 2007

NAZIS' PLANNED MARCH IN PRAGUE ON ANNIVERSARY OF KRISTALLNACHT WILL NOT GO UNOPPOSED


Groups of neo-nazis plan on marching through the old Jewish Quarter of Prague on November 10 exactly 69 years after the massive pogroms of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, swept through Hitler´s Germany in a gloomy prelude to the Holocaust. Between November 9th and 10th of 1938, over 30,000 Jewish men were hauled off to concentration camps throughout the Reich, almost 1,700 synagogues were ransacked, and over 260 of them razed to smithereens.

The march is organized by Erik Sedláček as a march against Czech military involvement in Iraq. Experts and anti-fascism activists however consider this a mere cover-up. The 26-year-old Sedláček is known to have connections to neo-nazi groups, including the most radical Národní Odpor (National Resistance). The police detained Sedlacek at a neo-Nazi May Day protest this year, and he had also been charged with hate crimes involving his anti-Semitic texts, the police said.

The march announcement on neo-nazi web sites and related online discussions also suggest the march is about something other than Iraq.

One, for example, invited protesters to bring flags in Third Reich colours of black, white and red.


The neo-nazis allegedly plan to bring outside reinforcements on the day of the march, including from Hungary, Germany and Slovakia.

"It is a provocation ... Why would anyone who wishes to protest war walk twice around the synagogues?" Prague Jewish Community president Frantisek Banyai told DPA. "It is a message for the Jewish community."

On Tuesday, October 23rd according to Czech media sources, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged the Czech president Václav Klaus to prevent the neo-nazi march.

"To do otherwise would taint the Czech Republic's history of courage and fortitude in the face of Nazism and its proud commemoration of its Jewish past," read an appeal signed by Shimon Samuels, Simon Wiesenthal Center's Director for International Relations.

Various groups of Czech citizens are getting ready for a showdown.

"Take buckets of water and get ready to put out the fire," the Czech weekly Reflex invites their readers to come to the Jewish Quarter on the date of the march and form emergency fire fighter groups.

"When a Nazi comes with his torch close to a synagogue, it can hardly be expected that he just uses it for light." says Jiří X. Doležal, a Czech journalist who has written extensively about the right-wing extremists in the Czech Republic.

The Prague Jewish community has announced plans to organize a gathering nearby which would commemorate all victims of the Night of Broken Glass on the same day.

The Jewish community is more than ready to move beyond a mere vigil. "We will not attack the neo-nazi groups, but we intend to prevent them from entering the Jewish Quarter's streets at the cost of physical clashes," the Jewish Liberal Union says. "We are not afraid of them," Jewish Liberal Union deputy chairwoman Jirina Novakova adds.

Anarchist and other anti-fascists in Prague are among the groups organizing against the nazis and the cops would like to portray the whole thing as a potential battle of extremists.

In fact, one Prague paper parroted that line and wrote, "The right-wing extremists and anarchists allegedly want to stir up a conflict. The police are prepared for all alternatives.

Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) in the Czech Republic in a statement released recently said in part:
"We have already stood up against such an attempt in the past when the local neo-Nazis tried to march through the Jewish neighbourhood in 2003. They did not pass. And now we are prepared to stop them again. The authorities, the police and the populist gestures of politicians will never curtail the activities of the neo-nazis. We believe that only day-to-day active resistance by all those who oppose neo-nazism and any other totalitarian ideology can stop their followers.

Let’s confront the neo-nazis together and show we aren’t indifferent to what’s happening on our streets.

The blockade of the neo-nazi march starts on Saturday November 10, 2007 at 2:30pm at Náměstí Republiky in Prague."


AFA describes the organizers of the nazi march as,
"...well known activists of the prominent "National Resistance - Narodni Odpor" organisation, a loose structure of the most active neo-nazis responsible for organising dozens of marches and public actions in the last 10 years. These Combat 18 wannabes showed their strength last time on May Day 2007 when 600 of them attempted to march through the city of Brno. This time they have come with this carefully planned provocation."


SCHEDULED EVENTS

1:30pm: Jewish Liberal Union-organized assembly outside the Old-New Synagogue, Červená 2, Prague 1

Jewish Liberal Union March Route: Červená — Kaprová — Old Town Square

Pařížskou (včetně spojnice vedle parku za Staronovou synagogou) a dále ulice Červenou, Kaprovu a celé Staroměstské náměstí.

2pm: Prague Jewish community meeting at Old-New Synagogue and the nearby Jewish Town Hall.

2:30pm: Anti-Fascist Action-organized march begins on Náměstí Republiky square, Prague 1

3pm-4pm: Illegal neo-nazi march begins on Břehová street, Prague 1

Neo-Nazi March Route: Břehová — Maiselova — U Starého hřbitova — Břehová — Maiselova — Široká — Žatecká — Platnéřská — náměstí Franze Kafky

3pm: Jewish Liberal Union-organized rally on Old Town Square

5pm: Tolerance and Civic Society-organized rally outside Old-New Synagogue

• Given the unpredictable nature of tomorrow’s events, this schedule should only be used as a guide

The following is from CeskeNoviny.CZ (Prague)

Police patrolling Prague streets over planned extremists' march

Prague- The police are on alert in Prague streets, railway stations and roads to Prague due to the planned Saturday march of rightist extremists through Prague, police spokeswoman Eva Brozova told.

On Saturday, over 1,000 police will ensure law and order at a number of sites, Brozova said.

The right-wing radicals, the Young National Democrats association, want to march through Prague's former Jewish Town on November 10 in spite of the official ban on the march. They will meet in Brehova street at 15:00.

Anarchists have reported a march in the centre starting at 14:30 that will end in the Jewish district in Bilkova street. They call for blocking the "neo-Nazi march" on their website.

Members and followers of the Jewish Liberal Union and other organisations will hold their rallies from 13:30 on Saturday in the Jewish district at the crossing of Maiselova, Parizska and Brehova streets. They announced on their website that the venue may change "according to the neo-Nazis' location."

There will be 1100 members of the Prague city police and 300 members of the national police in the streets.

Some police from outside Prague will be in reserve in the event of major clashes between the protesters.

The Prague City Hall said it wanted to establish a free phone line 800 100 991 over the security measures.

The police will also watch further alternative routes of the marches the City Hall has banned. City Hall officials will be ready to dissolve any illegal rallies right on the scene.

Border police have reinforced patrols on the border crossings since this morning. The police said on Thursday the arrival of "undesirable persons" to the Czech Republic would be prevented.

So far, no one had to be returned as there is quiet and normal traffic on the border, police spokeswoman Katerina Jirgesova said.

"The foreigner police are collaborating with their counterparts in the neighbouring countries," Jirgesova said, adding that they supplied the information on the extremists who would like to go to the Czech Republic.

The police today again called on Praguers and visitors to Prague not to go uselessly to the streets in question.

It is on the Kristallnacht anniversary, November 10, that Czech right-wing extremists want to hold a march through Prague's historical Jewish Quarter.

The organisers maintain, however, that the march is to be held in protest against the Czech military presence in Iraq, but Czech authorities still have banned it.


ARRESTS MADE AT "SHELL TO SEA" PROTEST IN IRELAND TODAY


Several hundred police overpowered about 300 protesters Friday as they tried to block construction with a sit-down blockade of a Shell natural-gas processing plant in remote western Ireland. The protest was organized by the Shell to Sea campaign to mark the first anniversary of what they say was a violent attack on them by the Garda.

Last year when protesters gathered for a commemoration march on the 11th anniversary of the state execution of Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight comrades, who were high-profile opponents of Shell's environmental destruction of their homeland, clashes with gardaí occurred.

Speaking about the commemoration Sister Majella McCarron, who worked closely with Ken Saro-Wiwa in the Niger Delta, told the Mayo Advertiser: “It is appropriate that we commemorate Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Eight in Ireland, because we are presently witnessing Shell's campaign in County Mayo, and the tactics being used are markedly similar to what we have seen the company do in other countries, including Nigeria.”

In a statement issued this week Shell to Sea campaigners have said they always accepted and employed the legitimate use of non-violent direct action as a tool of opposition to the proposed project, and acknowledges the right and duty of every individual to seek justice and show opposition to the project in a responsible way.

The people of Ireland have not only a right but a duty as Irish citizens and human beings to come out and voice their opinions in a peaceful protest and they shouldn’t be stopped, Mary Corduff of Shell to Sea told the Advertiser.

“If Shell would only accept that they don’t have community consent,” Mary said. “We are only saying no to the project as it is. We are saying yes to all things a normal community would say yes to but no to the way it’s being done. This is an abuse of power. A decision made against us in the west of Ireland. They want us to disappear in the west altogether. It’s not about the one pipe line or one gas line any more. No agreement has been written in stone that Shell will have to supply gas to Ireland,” explained Mary.

“If we have to keep protesting day after day, month after month, we will do so. There is no community consent,” she reiterated.

For further information see the OD article "SHELL TO SEA" from September 14 by clicking here.


The following is from the Irish Times.

Three arrested at Corrib gas protest

Three protesters were arrested today as scuffles broke out at a demo at the controversial Corrib gas project refinery site in Co Mayo.

A large number of gardaí removed campaigners who were sitting on the roadway in an attempt to block trucks travelling to the construction site at Bellanaboy.

About 200 supporters of the Shell to Sea campaign briefly delayed workers entering the site shortly before 7am. Gardai later removed a number of demonstrators who had been standing in front of vehicles.

Opponents of the project were staging a demonstration to mark the 12th anniversary of the death of Nigerian writer Ken Saro Wiwa, who protested against Shell operations in his home country.

It is also almost a year since clashes broke out between protesters and gardaí at the site on November 10th last year.

A protest is also being held at Shell's Dublin headquarters on Lower Leeson Street at noon today.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

WALK AGAINST WARMING


The annual and growing Walk Against Warming is happening again this weekend in cities across Australia.

Coastwatchers president, Mark Fleming says, “Walk Against Warming provides a platform for all Australians to be united in calling for greater government action on climate change. If we don’t do something now to halt human-induced climate change, then who will?”

Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokeswoman Keryn Jones says: “If we don’t do something to stop climate change now, it will be too late for our kids.”

National walk organiser Cate Faehrmann says, “Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. Without community pressure our political parties will not take the action needed to make real cuts to our greenhouse gas emissions."

The 2007 Walk Against Warming will highlight the need for laws in place to reduce Australia’s greenhouse pollution, through:


-a reduction in energy use
-increased energy efficiency
-a shift to renewable energy
-better public transport systems
-an end to land clearing and logging of old growth forests
-a price being placed on carbon pollution


This isn't the most radical action ever, but what the hey if you're down under it's worth the walk.

For information click here.

The following is from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald.

80,000 to descend on Sydney

Organisers call it Walk Against Warming but, ahead of a federal election, it could prove a useful public opinion poll on climate change.

Sydney's Domain on Sunday will be the setting for a public rally calling on the Federal Government and the Opposition to take tough action to tackle climate change. More than 80,000 people are expected to turn up, according to the organisers, the Nature Conservation Council.

The environment movement has criticised both parties for falling far short of the commitments needed to address Australia's rising level of greenhouse gas emissions and the damage the pollution will do to global temperatures and sea levels.

In an environment debate between opposition environment spokesman, Peter Garrett, and Federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, yesterday, both failed to outline how Australia would cut its climate change pollution by 2020, said NCC's executive director, Cate Faehrmann.

"There was no commitment from either side of politics to a short-term 2020 target to reduce Australia's greenhouse emissions," said Ms Faehrmann.

"The last chance either side has to meet the community and scientific community's expectations on setting a 2020 target is now this Sunday, in front of tens of thousands of voters at Walk Against Warming," she said.

"Scientists both here in Australia and those behind the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change all point to the need for deep cuts to emissions by 2020 if we are to have any chance of preventing the worst impacts of global warming later this century," she said.

The Climate Institute's latest polling of about 900 voters in marginal seats, conducted between November 3 and 5 in NSW, Queensland and South Australia, showed the influence of climate change on voting intentions had increased to 73 per cent from 62 per cent since a similar poll taken before the election campaign.

However, the standing of both major parties had slipped, the poll found.

Of those questioned, 54 per cent said they would be more likely to vote for a party that ratified the Kyoto Protocol and "more than half of voters in these marginal seats believe that Australia should sign an international climate change treaty regardless of whether or not it is signed by India and China".

"Just 22 per cent believe that Australia should not sign an international treaty until it is signed by India and China," said the institute.

Organisers hope to attract up to 250,000 to Sunday's nationwide event. In Sydney, Mr Garrett and Mr Turnbull were invited to speak to the crowd but so far only Mr Garrett has accepted.

Other speakers include Australian Greens leader, Bob Brown, political activist group GetUp's Brett Solomon and John Connor from the Climate Institute.

The walk starts at 1pm, and will be duplicated in 24 other towns and cities in NSW, including Grafton, Port Macquarie, Bowral and Lismore.

LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE


Okay, I now that some Americans still get all bothered by gays and lesbians. Why, I can't quite figure out, but they do.

And lots of religions are at a lather when it comes to what to do with their gay members. Again, why I can't quite figure out, but they do.

However, in the good old USA, land of the free and home of the brave, you'd think folks would be free enough to at least discuss a a book and you'd think the Catholic Church would be at least brave enough to allow it.

You'd be wrong.

In Minneapolis, of all places, a lesbian Catholic and her father (pictured here) were shut out of Church where a book discussion had been scheduled.

The Star Tribune writes that Carol Curoe and her father, Robert, had hoped that their book about their personal struggle to reconcile her being a lesbian with his staunch Roman Catholic faith would be a conduit for healing. It probably is for many, but not for the local archdiocese.

Two weeks ago the Curoes were "uninvited" to appear at St. Francis Cabrini Church to share the story behind "Are There Closets in Heaven?"

“Obviously, we’re disappointed, and we are still trying to understand it,” said Carol Curoe. “Our book, Are There Closets in Heaven? talks about an 82 year-old, life-long Catholic father trying to understand and practice his faith within his Church while also loving his daughter as he does her siblings. Neither our journey, nor writing the book, was an easy task.”

Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese said, "We welcome gay and lesbian members into the church, but they have the same rules as heterosexuals" in terms of sexual activity outside of marriage."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anyone was planning on any sort of sexual activity inside or outside of marriage at the book discussion. Least wise I've certainly never been to a book discussion that got quite that heated.

Ironically as Carol points out there are few Catholics as Catholic as her father, an 82-year-old retired farmer from Bernard, Iowa, south of Dubuque. As he tells it, he didn't have any other option.

"There were two kinds of people in Bernard," he said: "Irish Catholics and German Catholics. When two of them got together, we considered that a mixed marriage."

I mean outside of the fact that Carol is a lesbian, these two are just about as regular a Middle America father and daughter as you can find these days.

Now I would think that the number of true blue or true red Americans out there really and truly feel threatened by a book discussion or by a father-daughter tandem like the Curoes is pretty damn small( Rev. Phelps and his god hate fags bunch aside - gay people really terrify them - it's odd don't you think. I mean have you seen Phelps? Is their a gay man alive who would find him in the least attractive on any score? What's he so scared of anyway. Reminds me of this guy I used to know who considered himself quite the urban liberal. He was sure that gay men at his health club were eyeing him in the shower. To quote the Beatles, "Well I just had to laugh,I saw the photograph").

And now back to the OD story currently in progress...

Then there are those poor warped souls like the author of the blog "A Faithful Rebel" who wrote before the event took place:

"I was quite shocked when I got an email saying, "Father Leo Tibesar cordially requests that you announce this wonderful loving GLBT lecture on your boards, in homilies and in your bulletins and other communication means."

The email goes on to describe how a very scandalous lecture will be given at a Catholic Church in Minneapolis by an openly practicing lesbian who has written a book on her experience along with her supposedly conservative Catholic father who has come to terms with his daughters sexuality."

...the scandal develops even further, as a Catholic Church, which is supposed to be consecrated to the worship of the True God, is to be used as a pulpit from which to preach acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle."

I strongly urge those who read this to spread the word on blogs and by other means to prevent this blasphemy and scandal from taking place in a Catholic Church."

I guess the archdiocese agrees with this nut.

Fortunately many, I would bet most, Catholics do not.

Michael Bayly, executive coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM)said, "The Archdiocese’s decision to ban the Curoes is very sad and misguided.” The Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) is a grassroots, self-supporting, and independent coalition dedicated to promoting ministry to, with, and on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) persons -- primarily of a Roman Catholic background -- and their families and friends.

Retired Catholic bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton of Detroit has endorsed the book, noting that father and daughter’s “willingness to share their journey will help break down many barriers of prejudice and discrimination facing the homosexual community.”

Loretto Sr. Jeannine Gramick, who advocates for ministry to and inclusion of sexual minorities in Catholic life, also has endorsed the book.

Me, just some poor Heeb nabob (as Agnew used to say), I continue to be totally at a loss why so many live in such fear of gays and lesbians. I mean no one is interested in forcing these scardy cat heterosexuals into anything they deem an "abomination" (I just love that word and never get to use it).

With everything there is to be afraid of in this world of ours a book discussion featuring a lesbian and her pop would seem to me, at least, to be pretty near the bottom of the list.

And anyway, again I ask, what about that land of the free and home of the brave stuff. What's that all about?

The following comes from the Advocate.

Gay Book Discussion Halted By Catholic Archdiocese in Minneapolis

A book discussion at a Roman Catholic parish that was to be led by a lesbian Catholic and her father was canceled after objections from the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Carol Curoe of Minneapolis and Robert Curoe of Bernard, Iowa, were to speak at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church about their book, Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story.

But after conservative bloggers were critical and contacted the archdiocese, spokesman Dennis McGrath contacted St. Francis Cabrini and St. Joan of Arc, the church where Carol Curoe, her partner, and their children worship.

The talk went on at a different location: Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ in Minneapolis.

McGrath said he advised St. Francis Cabrini that ''it wasn't a good idea'' and that Archbishop Harry Flynn would not approve of a lesbian who is ''in an actual full sexual relationship'' speaking at a church.

He added: ''We welcome gays and lesbians in the church, and there are many, I'm sure, who go to many of our parishes. But they have to follow the rules ... they cannot be sexually active.''

Michael Bayly, executive director of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, an independent group seeking greater church acceptance for gays and lesbians, called the archdiocese's actions disappointing.

''This understanding of church as an exclusive country club with a set of rules that everyone's got to follow -- I don't think that's reflective of the type of community that Jesus was all about,'' he said.

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING TORONTO


Gaetan Heroux of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) told a news conference yesterday in Toronto the city's police surveillance cameras are, "A total waste of money." He and a number of community residents protested the cameras yesterday.

Indicating one such camera, Heroux said, "This camera will capture images of hundreds of poor people going into the church looking for warmth, looking for food. These cameras will not feed us. They won't keep us warm and they won't give us housing."

Heroux said $2 million given to the city by the province to erect cameras should be allocated elsewhere.

"There are serious issues here and there's a pretence that police and cameras can deal with them," he said.

A statement on the OCAP website read:

"The Toronto Police are installing several cameras in the area of Dundas and Sherbourne to monitor any "criminal activity" or "anti-social behaviour" that takes place. In the heart of one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods and surrounded by drop-in centres and shelters that are seeing their budgets transfered to the police, it is hard to see how these cameras will put food on the table or roofs over the heads of those in the community. Instead the cameras will record people going hungry and struggling to survive."


Zoe Dodd of Street Health Community Nursing Foundations said, "Basic survival needs are not being met."

"You have lots of money, Toronto," said homeless man Steve Boss. "This is no help for poor and homeless people."

Expressing a different point of view was Anastasia Kuzyk, of the Sex Workers' Alliance of Toronto, who said the cameras could be a good thing for prostitutes.

"If I was a street prostitute ... you better believe I'd work as close as I could to the camera to make sure the license plate of the car I'm getting into, in case I don't come back, is recorded," Kuzyk said.

Toronto police, who have been experimenting with surveillance cameras in certain high-crime areas around the city, say that cameras are useful in investigations and that footage has helped lead to arrests in killings, sexual assaults, armed robberies and even the rescue of abducted children.

In addition to the police surveillance cameras, the Toronto Transit Commission, which provides 1.4 million rides each weekday, is in the process of installing up to 10,000 security cameras in its buses, streetcars and subway system, adding to its current network of about 1,500 cameras.

That prompted London-based Privacy International to lodge a complaint Wednesday with Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian, denouncing the project as an "unnecessary" waste of resources that violates Canadian privacy laws.

The $21-million project, which was approved by the TTC last spring and received $6.5 million from the federal government under its $80-million Transit Secure program, will be able to snap photos of thousands of daily commuters as well as record audio and video. The system is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2009, Cavoukian said.

"Anything that happens in Ontario ... and in Toronto in particular, will be closely examined in other jurisdictions in Canada," Ariane Siegel, a privacy expert and partner at Gowlings law firm in Toronto told the Canadian Press.

According to the Canadian Press, studies of similar transit camera projects in Europe that suggest the cameras don't have much of an effect in deterring criminal activity - in one case in Berlin, crime actually increased - and have even led to abuses.

The following is from Torontoist. Note: the editor of the Torontoist has requested that I post a link to the article below, so if you'd like to read it again at the original site please click here
.

Feed Me / See More

Poor OCAP. They can't even complain about the police watching them without the police watching them. At noon Wednesday, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty held a press conference (not a rally or an action or a march but a press conference) at the northeast corner of Dundas and Sherbourne, and there was about one police officer for each person in attendance (around twenty). As eight or so cops casually observed the conference from across the street, Beric German of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee speculated on how much each one was being paid: "About fifty dollars an hour?"

Such was the theme of the conference: couldn't the $2 million being spent on CCTV cameras be put to better use, you know, feeding and housing people, rather than simply surveilling their hunger and homelessness? OCAP spokesperson Gaetan Heroux observed that two of the six cameras installed in the area in the past week have been strategically placed in front of Canada's first- and second-largest men's hostels, and that all of them are within a neighbourhood that has "one of the largest concentrations of homeless people in Canada." In the past year, five major hostels have been shut down by the City (partially due to a supposed lack of funds), meaning 300 fewer shelter beds, and "service reductions" have resulted in 341,000 lost meals. And yet "we're told somehow that these cameras are going to keep us safe."

Zoe Dod from Street Health spent three months interviewing homeless men and women. "Cameras and police surveillance are not among the solutions to homelessness....Cameras displace people into alleyways and streets that are less well-lit." And without even any public consultation, "the police can [now] collect whatever information they want without a watchdog" overseeing them.

Mark Bill lives down the road from the intersection and stated perhaps the most important point: "On top of everything else, they don't work. A study by the British Home Office [PDF] showed them to be a near-complete failure in Britain."

German held up the TDRC's Street Health Report 2007 [PDF], stating that 69% of homeless people in their survey had experienced hunger at least one day per week in the previous three months, exclaiming, "This camera doesn't provide food! $2 million could provide a lot of food and keep two shelters open for the winter!" As the first snow of the year fluttered down around us, this last point took on extra gravity.

The city shut down the 300 beds, the province's welfare rates haven't kept pace with twenty years of increases in the cost of living, and the federal government has no housing strategy. "After you've given us these things," said German, "and you want cameras, we'll talk."

A reporter observed that, given the number of people living on the street, having the cameras in the area is "similar to having cameras in people's living rooms." Unlike people visiting the Entertainment District to club or the Yonge and Dundas area to shop (but very much like the people living in Malvern and Jane-Finch), "people here don't have a choice," said Heroux.

Not that anyone really had the option to decline cameras in the first place. The supposed "consultations" that were held essentially consisted of the police stating, "Here's what we're going to do. Any questions?" Indeed, one of the police's own reports on the outcome of the "consultations" referred to the members of the public who came out not as "participants" or even "attendees" but as "the audience." And because it's all a "pilot," the police take this to mean that most of the Privacy Commissioner's guidelines [PDF] don't apply. At this point, there's no accountability mechanism. They haven't demonstrated that every other method for reducing crime has been tried or that the loss of privacy is minimal and proportionate. Hell, they haven't even said how many cameras there are. They just keep putting them up. The original deal, and the premise of the first round of "consultations," was that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services had granted the Toronto Police Service $2 million for fifteen cameras to be spread across the Entertainment District, the Jane-Finch area, Malvern, and one other section of Scarborough. But since the cameras put up along Yonge Street to watch Caribana still haven't come down and the six new ones have gone up in the east side of the core, doesn't that take the count to at least twenty-five? Or have some come down?

Many governments ignore social problems in the hope that they'll magically go away; passively observing them instead isn't much of a step up.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

ASBESTOS DUMPED INTO SOUTH PACIFIC


TVNZ reports residents of the Cook Islands are outraged after a ship and its deadly load of 500 tons of asbestos was scuttled in the middle of a whale sanctuary.

Locals say the toxic material was dumped just off the coast of Rarotonga after New Zealand refused to help get rid of it.

New Zealand denies any involvement.

Environmentalist Ian Karaka says tourists visit the region because it is a pristine environment but for more than two years the vessel has held unwanted asbestos removed from local schools and government buildings.

Of late, its been leaking.

"We asked Australia and New Zealand for help with the disposal...and they have done that but as far as this particular chemical they both don't want it back," says Tangata Vavia, Minister of the Cook Island Investment Corporation.

However, no sooner had the government rushed to okay the dump and scuttling last week that countless truck loads of asbestos wrapped in black plastic were taken from Cook Islands Investment Corporation stockpiles around the island to the wharf for loading on to Miss Mataroa.

The entire episode was done without any public consultation, without disclosure of how maritime and legal issues have been dealt with and without any proactive communication.

Several months ago, an expert from one of the United Nations agencies regarding the safe disposal of asbestos visited the Cook Islands.

At the time, the relevant Minister and various departmental heads including Ministry of Works, Energy, and Physical Planning, and Cook Islands Investment Corporation, showed him the Recycle Cook Islands complex in Ngatangiia where the asbestos was being temporarily being held.

The plan as told to the visiting consultant was for the asbestos to be wrapped and then buried in a suitable watertight site.

Obviously someone decided otherwise.

Concern for the Pacific centers around whether the scuttling of the Miss Mataroa could open the flood gates as a cheap option to get rid of unwanted waste.

The Cook Island News put it this way:

"The sinking, by government, of the asbestos laden ship, will become an epic Pacific story akin to the drama of nuclear testing. Only time will tell if, on another day in the future, history and the rest of the world will appreciate the significance of this first South Pacific scuttling of a ship containing asbestos waste."


The following is from Pacific Magazine.

Cook Islands Defends Asbestos Dumping Decision

A Cook Islands government department has defended the decision to dump asbestos laden building materials in the ocean reports Radio Australia.

The dumping has been condemned locally, with local environmentalist Ian Karaka telling Radio New Zealand International that tourists visit the region because it is a pristine environment but for more than two years the vessel has held unwanted asbestos removed from local schools and government buildings.

The ship Miss Mataroa was filled with 300 tonnes of cement sheeting, containing asbestos and scuttled five nautical miles off the Cook Islands.

It's now 4000 metres below sea level.

The Legal Manager for the Cook Islands Investment Corporation, Lloyd Miles says the dumping was legal.

"Under the London Convention, there are six exceptions to dumping of industrial waste and one of them is uncontaminated, inert geological material and we believe this fell under that exception."

LANDLESS WORKERS BLOCK RAILWAY LINE IN BRAZIL


Members of the leftist Movement of Landless Rural Workers in Brazil, brandishing machetes and sickles, invaded the tracks near the town of Parauapebas in northern Para state in the lower Amazon basin early on Wednesday. The action blocked railroad traffic on an important route owned by Brazilian mining giant CVRD on Wednesday.

The blockade is a part of a series of protests to demand the company's re-nationalization.

The Landless Workers' Movement also said 3.6 million people voted for the return of CVRD to state hands in last month's informal, nonbinding vote organized by it and other groups.

A spokeswoman for the group said earlier this month the blockades of railroad tracks was "part of a series of actions of the nationwide movement to annul the company's privatization."

Unions and social rights groups that promoted the CVRD plebiscite last month in 4,000 Brazilian municipalities say the CVRD privatization was fraudulent.

The control of CVRD, which had been profitable as a state-owned company since its foundation in 1942, was sold in auction in May 1997 for 3.3 billion reais (at that time worth about $3.3 billion).

The organizers of the plebiscite argue that CVRD's market value at the time was in tens of billions of dollars. CVRD is now worth around $150 billion and its second-quarter net profit alone was $4.09 billion.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has ruled out the re-nationalization, even though his ruling Workers' Party backed the plebiscite.

The following is from the International Herald Tribune.

Landless activists block railway owned by Brazilian mining giant CVRD

Landless activists blocked a key iron ore export railway for global miner CVRD on Wednesday, demanding the company fund social programs and give activists a say in decision-making.

It was the third time in less than a month that protesters from the Landless Workers Movement, or MST, invaded the railway to block CVRD's shipments, the company and authorities said.

Companhia Vale do Rio Doce SA, the world's largest iron ore miner, uses the railway at the Carajas mining complex to transport 250,000 metric tons (275,600 tons) of iron ore daily from its sprawling Amazon mine to Atlantic ports for shipment overseas.

CVRD said the iron ore — the key ingredient in making steel — transported daily on the railway is worth US$11.2 million (€7.6 million).

The company said the blockade is also keeping 1,300 passengers from using the railway and stalling fuel shipments to small cities in rural Para state.

CVRD said in a statement that about 300 MST members — some of them armed — surrounded two trains near the northern city of Paraupebas and cut brake lines. It said four workers and a train operator were held for about half an hour, then released.

There were no reports of injuries.

The MST said 6,000 people invaded the railway, which cuts through a camp of about 520 MST-affiliated families. Police numbered the protesters at fewer than 500.

"We want to put land reform and the management of our natural resources at the center of the political debate" in Para, said Ulisses Manacas, coordinator for MST and the peasants rights group Via Campesina in the northern Amazon state, in a prepared statement.

The activists also demanded CVRD invest in local educational and health programs and allow more public participation in company decisions.

CVRD was previously owned by Brazil's government but went private in the 1990s. Activists and left-wing politicians have recently being lobbying for the state to retake control of CVRD and other formerly state-owned companies.

Soaring iron ore prices have meant record profits at CVRD. The company recently posted third-quarter profits of US$2.6 billion (€1.8 billion).

CVRD has invested heavily to boost production at its Carajas mining complex, but the railway that carries its ore to the Atlantic has been periodically shut down by protesters seeking concessions from CVRD and Brazil's government.

CVRD's U.S. traded shares were down 3.2 percent at US$36.56 (€24.83) on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

OLD MCDONALD MOVES TO TOWN


You think you got problems. What if you were living in town somewhere and the neighbors had a couple of horses and a few pigs wondering around the their yard doing what horses and pigs do?

That is the dilemma people living in the town of Alva, Oklahoma are facing.

It's a stinky issue to be sure.

In Alva we're talking about, it is just the guy next door who likes to have some farm animals on hand...for whatever reasons.

Even the Oread Daily doesn't know exactly where to come down here. I'm not sure I'd want a bunch of cows living next door, but I would hate to come down on some rabbits (actually next door to me are some zany neighbors who have turned their property into a natural wildlife preserve...but that's another story).

Now a miniature horse or a pot bellied pig I could live with, but a big old hog might be a bit much to put up with. Although they tell me pigs are clean, so I guess it comes down to how much waste they put out...so to speak.

But then again a recent German study discovered that children who have regular contact with farm animals may be less likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) than other children.

Not only that but the study also indicates children who had spent regular amounts of time visiting or living on farms during their first year of life were 50 percent less likely to develop Crohn’s as they got older and 60 percent less prone to ulcerative colitis.

Being exposed to cattle appeared to cut the odds of Crohn’s by 60 percent and colitis by 70 percent.

Hmmm.

Anyway not to long ago in the great state of Kansas following the enactment of a county ordinance that prohibited farm animals in the city, some folks who had been keeping horses in the city for resale purposes went to court and argued that they were entitled to continue such use under the state right-to-farm statute.

Don't ask me about "right to farm." Maybe its like "right to life." I just don't know.

Whatever the case, a state appellate court dismissed the suit saying the state right-to-farm statute was inapplicable to the county ordinance since the state statute addresses limitations on nuisance abatement for agricultural activities on farmland. Meaning, that neighbors who come to a nuisance on nearby property may not sue to abate it.

So there.

But hold on their pardner.

No less then the New York Times reported not too long ago:

"City dwellers who raise chickens are springing up around the country. Groups organized on the Internet in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Austin, Tex., are host to chicken-centric social events, and there are dozens of books — a whole new form of chick lit — on raising chickens, including Barbara Kilarski’s “Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs and Other Small Spaces,” and related titles like “Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker,” by Herrick Kimball."

Meanwhile, in Seattle, city Council member Richard Conlin wants to make it legal for Seattleites to keep pygmy goats.

Finally, it is to be noted that something called the Municipal Research and Service Center of Washington points out the keeping of farm animals is generally regulated under zoning, including the number and kinds allowed in urban areas. The underlying premise of most of the restrictions on livestock within urban areas relates to keeping them off public property, controlling noise and smell, and providing for adequate living conditions. Livestock is generally defined to include horses, mules, jackasses, cattle, sheep, llama, goats, and swine.

"...providing for adequate living conditions," I mean what real goat, cow, horse or pig wants to live in a city - full of the dirtiest most dangerous and most obnoxious of all animals - us.

The following is from the Alva Review Courier (Alva, Oklahoma).

Council sidesteps manure problem – temporarily

Emotions ran high on both sides of the issue of banning horses and other livestock from within the city limits.

Since Alva has no ordinance on the books outlawing anything except stallions, stud horses and swine, farm animals in back yards have become a … well, stinky problem, to say the least. That doesn’t even begin to take into consideration the nuisance and health factors involved.

The Alva City Council, for the most part, sidestepped the deepening manure problem by tabling action on the proposed ordinance until the next meeting.

As proposed, the ordinance would have made it unlawful for any person to keep, maintain, or permit or suffer to be maintained any cows, goats, sheep, swine, hogs, horses, shoats, pigs, poultry, rabbits or any miniature or dwarf variety of agriculture animal upon any property or premises within the corporate limits of the City of Alva, except as provided in this (ordinance).

The ordinance would have allowed agricultural animals to remain in areas zoned for agriculture as long as the pen, lot or enclosure was maintained in sanitary condition and not offensive or dangerous to the public. It would have required 1 acre of land for every horse or cow kept in these zoned areas.

Exceptions to the ordinance could be obtained by requesting a variance from the Board of Adjustments.

PROCEDURE FOR EXEMPTIONS

To obtain an exemption, the livestock owner would have to request a hearing before the Board of Adjustments and pay the fee of $150.

City Inspector Tim Nelson said the process usually involved spending two or three days locating all the surrounding property owners within a 300-foot radius, then giving a 20-day notice for a hearing.

“The $150 fee is not excessive by any means considering the time and effort that goes into the process,” Nelson said.

THOSE IN FAVOR

Jeff Cahoj spoke first in favor of the ordinance. Cahoj presented photos of a neighboring yard containing several horses along with many dogs and their resulting waste.

“My wife and I have been redoing our back yard, and we’re almost done,” he said. “Now we can’t go out and use it because of the horses and the smell. We can’t even open our windows!”

Cahoj asked the council to show them some consideration and change the law.

“I think if every member had the situation I have, you would be standing where I am,” Cahoj said.

Aaron Gottsch explained his dilemma.

“I’m trying to sell my house, and I had some rodeo team people that lived by me that have horses and goats tied up in the front yard. It’s making it really difficult to sell my house right now,” Gottsch said.

Gottsch said when he moved into the neighborhood, there were not farm animals there.

“Now I’ve got four or five houses that have animals,” he said.

THOSE OPPPOSED

Jim Stewart was the first to speak in opposition to the ordinance. Stewart said he keeps one horse on Mill Street, but before he put it there, he asked the neighbors if they objected.

“If you put a law on the smell of a horse, we also need a law on the smell of dogs,” Stewart said. “If we’re going to have laws, let’s make them fit everybody.”

Jim Scribner suggested rather than having an ordinance, why not make it like the storage pods that require permission from all the neighbors.

Mayor Arden Chaffee interjected that “A nuisance is a nuisance wherever it is.”

City Manager Steven Brown said the ordinance would allow exemptions like Scribner was suggesting by going before the Board of Adjustments. If the owner disagreed with the Board of Adjustments, he could protest their decision through the court system.

Yvonne Thilsted also spoke against the ordinance.

“Of course I’m going to stand up for the horses,” Thilsted stated. “I’m a little concerned about people like Mrs. Mathes’ chickens. Are you going to do away with all the chickens in town.

“I’m wondering if we’re going to meet and tell everybody you’re going to have to get your chickens and rabbits out of town.”

Thilsted blamed the city’s generosity for the problem with horses.

“We’ve given scholarships and have the largest rodeo team in history,” Thilsted said. “The people of Alva can’t get boarding at the fair grounds.”

Thilsted proposed making owners get permits for their animals which would require the city inspector and the animal control officer to conduct an annual inspection.

THE COUNCIL DEBATES

Councilman Bryce Benson asked, “If we pass this ordinance, the people that have had chickens for 50 years, do they have to move them immediately? Do they have to move them, ask for the variance, then move them back?”

City Manager Brown said depending on the council’s wishes, once the owner asked for a variance, they would have until the meeting to move their animals.

Councilman Murl Wilkins said, “We have a health code that we can take care of issues immediately. I’m concerned about someone that has a pet rabbit. $150 is a pretty stiff fee for someone with a pet rabbit.”

Council Trent Goss stated his position succinctly.

“I’m for this ordinance,” Goss said. “If I wanted to live on a farm, I’d go live on a farm. I think it’s ridiculous that we have farm animals in this city.

“I think there’s no reason to allow cattle and horses next to houses. It smells. It’s a public nuisance.” Benson agreed, sort of.

“As a whole, I am for this ordinance myself,” Benson said. “I don’t think we ought to have horses, cows, goats or pigs in back yards. I’m concerned about pet rabbits or chickens that have been here longer than any of us have been. I wonder if there’s any way to waive the fee to have the board of adjustment meet.”

Steve Brown explained the efforts involved in having a hearing for one rabbit or five horses is still the same.

“I don’t think we have a problem with rabbits,” Benson said. “I had three goats and a bunch of geese living beside me for awhile, and I didn’t like it!”

Councilman Monty Pfleider said, “It looks to me like it’s a problem and we need to take care of it on a complaint basis. I think he (the city inspector) ought to inspect what people complain about, not run around looking for anything.”

“Then you’re in favor of having horses in your back yard?” Goss asked.

“No, I’m not,” Pfleider said. “I don’t understand. It’s an ordinance now, how come it hasn’t been enforced?”

Once again it was explained to Pfleider and others that there is no ordinance now. The only ordinance that can be used is the public nuisance or the health code, neither of which have any teeth.

THE FIRST MOTION

Murl Wilkins moved to table the ordinance until the first council meeting in December. Lehl provided the second.

During the roll call vote, Goss, Meyer, Jordan, Benson, Brown and Pfleider voted no because most favored bringing it back to the floor at the next meeting.

Before a second motion was entertained, Scott Brown asked, “In postponing this ordinance, are we going to enforce the complaints that brought this issue to the table?”

“Yes,” Manager Brown said, “the health issue.”

Pfleider said, “The house on Maple is really a problem.”

Councilman Bruce Meyer said, “I heard someone hit a horse that was loose on Choctaw and did some damage to their vehicle. The rodeo person involved said there was no law against having horses in town so they weren’t liable.

Wilkins made a second motion to table this ordinance until the second meeting of November.

“We can modify this ordinance and come back,” he said.

Lehl again provided the second. Goss voted no. The others voted yes based on the new conditions.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

WHERE HAVE ALL THE LITTLE BOYS GONE


What, me worry?
-----Alfred E. Neuman


Twice as many girls as boys are being born in some Arctic villages because of high levels of man-made chemicals in the blood of pregnant women, according to scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (Amap).

In one village in Greenland only girls have been born.

The Guardian reports scientists, who say the findings could explain the recent excess of girl babies across much of the northern hemisphere, are widening their investigation across the most acutely affected communities in Russia, Greenland and Canada to try to discover the size of the imbalance in Inuit communities of the far north.

Note: Similar sex-ratio changes and other neo-natal problems occurred in the northern Italian town of Seveso in 1976 when an accident at a chemical plant exposed local people to high levels of dioxins.

Lars-Otto Reierson, executive secretary for Amap, said: "We knew that the levels of man-made chemicals were accumulating in the food chain, and that seals, whales and particularly polar bears were getting a dose a million times higher than that existing in plankton, and that this could be toxic to humans who ate these higher animals. What was shocking was that they were also able to change the sex of children before birth."

During an interview on the show Living Earth, Reierson said, "The most interesting and surprising result was that we saw a change in the sex ratio that we could correlate to the levels of PCB in the mother's blood. And we saw that if the mother had more than four micrograms per liter in her blood the average was to change two girls per boy in the population that we studied. And that's a quite dramatic change from a normal situation where there are more boys than girls born."

Another study found that more than one in a hundred polar bears investigated were hermaphrodites.

The following comes from Native American Times.

Disappearance of indigenous baby boys tied to industrial pollution

In indigenous communities, babies that should be born boys are being born girls. Research released this month of only girls being born in the villages of northern Greenland has brought to light earlier studies that found indigenous mothers living in the northern most reaches of the Arctic Circle are having girls – but not boys. The studies linked the skewed sex ratios with human exposures to PCBs and other persistent organic chemicals.

The Indigenous Peoples Organization initiated the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program project in 2004, following a report that some Arctic indigenous communities are among the most exposed populations to persistent toxic substances.

The AMAP report concluded, “Any threat to continued consumption of their foods, including chemical contamination, is not only a potential threat to the health of the individual, but also to the social structures and entire cultural identity of these indigenous peoples.”

Toxic pollutants travel from industrialized countries and accumulate in the marine food chain of the Arctic region, and in the traditional diet of indigenous peoples. Blood levels of such pollutants as PCBs and mercury were several times higher in residents of Arctic Canada and Greenland than measured in residents of industrialized areas of North America.

Perhaps an even darker legacy of the industrial contamination is what has happened to the baby boys in Canada on the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, an Aanishinaabek community.

Normally about 106 boys are born for every 100 girls – it’s nature’s way of compensating for males more likely to perish through hunting and conflicts. For years, scientists have been reporting declines in male births worldwide. But the most startling is the sharp drop of boys among the Aanishinaabek of Aamjiwnaang, “a greater rate of change than has been reported previously anywhere,” noted a 2005 study that was published in the prestigious journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

It’s the kind of attention the 850 members of their community never wanted. They could not even conceive what was happening, least of all in their tiny community. Their pain and their questions began five years ago, when the biologist Michael Gilbertson, upon finding elevated levels of PCBs, pesticides and heavy metals on the reserve asked if they had more girls than boys.

Tribal members were first baffled, and then aghast following the realization that yes, they had enough girls for three baseball teams, but not enough boys for even one team. They began to take pay attention. Their anger soon turned to action.

An accidental catalyst release from the Imperial Oil facility in 2002 had prompted Imperial Oil to sample their homes. Then they cleaned tribal homes inside and out. They even cleaned the cars inside and out. Don’t worry, they told tribal member Ron Plain while stirring up dust as they cleaned. “The dust won’t hurt you.”

But Plain did worry, asking incredulously, “If it’s harmful to our houses and cars, what’s it doing to our lungs and our bodies?” Plain and other tribal members began organizing their own environmental investigative committee, a grassroots effort. Meanwhile Imperial Oil offered $300 to each homeowner if they agreed to waive any damages and legal counsel, and many accepted their offer. Last year the company paid $125,000 in fines.

The Aamjiwnaang environmental investigation team uncovered studies done of their lands years before. One scientific report by the University of Windsor in 1986, showed that mercury, a neurotoxin, was present on their reserve at a 100 times greater amount than the Severe Effect Level, set by the Canadian government.

Soon after Sun Oil – now Suncor – announced they planned to build the largest ethanol plant in Canada across the street from the tribal community. Plain and other members of the tribal environmental committee, angry and fed up, closed their roads. For six weeks, they cut off access to the proposed site. Sun Oil trucks could not get through.

“We won,” says Plain. “They agreed not to put the plant in. We shut down a multi-million dollar industry.” The battle had begun.

The Aanishinaabek people of the Aamjiwnaang have occupied their lands at the southernmost tip of Lake Huron for thousands of years, long before the discovery of oil and the boom “oil rush.” Their homelands are integral to their social structure and their entire cultural identity. Today their land, at the border between Ontario and Michigan just south of Sarnia, Ontario lies in the shadow of Canada’s largest concentration of petrochemical and manufacturing facilities. It’s been dubbed “Chemical Valley.” Their land adjoins the St. Clair River Area of Concern, so designated because of its long history of air and water pollution.

Two new reports this month are a dramatic indictment of the industry’s impact on the Aamjiwnaang community. “Exposing Canada’s Chemical Valley,” identifies 62 facilities in Canada and the U.S. that have made the area Ontario’s worst air pollution hotspot. Particularly striking, says Ecojustice Canada, who commissioned the study, is the staggering amount of toxic pollutants released.

“What is particularly striking about the air pollution in the Sarnia area is the immense quantity of toxic chemicals emitted,” said Ecojustice senior scientist and report author Dr. Elaine McDonald. “There is growing evidence that the health of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation members and the local environment has been severely compromised.”

New findings from researchers at Ontario’s IntrAmericas Centre for Environment and Health confirm that more girls than boys are born in some Canadian communities. The cause of the phenomenon is airborne pollutants called dioxins that can alter normal sex ratios, even when the source of the pollution is kilometers away.

Industry spokesmen failed to respond to the Ecojustice Canada report, while the industry-funded Sarnia-Lambton Environmental Association initially responded with no comment. Following their period of silence, the association’s Dean Edwardson was quoted as saying, “We want an open and transparent process…something that is scientifically valid, peer-reviewed and is meaningful.” He said industry would help pay for such a study.

But Plain says there has already been a scientifically valid, peer-reviewed study done. “The 2005 study was reviewed by top scientists and was published in the highly regarded scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.”
Edwardson said data released in September from the County of Lambton Community Health Services Department shows that the birth ratios of the Sarnia-Lambton area are similar to those for the rest of Ontario. To that, Plain answers, “For years, we have been asking the County of Lambton for a research program establishing the birth ratios by affected regions as opposed to the blanket wide study where those farthest from the plume are blended into the ratio.” So far, the county has refused, he said.

The findings by Ecojustice Canada reveal pollutants are having significant impacts on the cultural lifeways of the Aanishinaabek, impacting hunting, fishing, medicine gathering, and ceremonial activities.

The Aanishinaabek have reported chemical releases and spills as a primary concern. Their most common concern, however, was fear.

RETIREES IN WEST VIRGINIA GET SCREWED


There are some unhappy folks in West Virginia who after toiling away all their lives working for the state or as teachers have suddenly been told that their state-run health insurance isn't going to be quite what they've expected or quite what they've been receiving.

You see the state decided to switch their insurance (those covered by medicare) to Kentucky-based Advantra. Now the retirees find their insurance card isn't recognized by a number of states, and their coverage is costing them more out of pocket cash. A number of the retirees also discovered that because of the change tie in health insurance which they'd purchased was no longer acceptable. And, of course, the new insurance also limits the hospitals available to the lucky insured former state workers.

There's more.

In some cases, the new plan has threatened the lives of some retirees. For example, the cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor which many take is not on the new plans drug list. Lipitor has only received a No. 3 rating, which drastically raises the cost of the drug from $45 for a three-month supply to $50 a month for a one-month supply. The Register Herald writes: "A study due to be published soon by the British Journal of Cardiology shows that Heartland Institute found patients switching from Lipitor to a generic were 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack."

Once again the former and current state workers had no involvement in the change, hadn't been accurately informed in advance what it would mean, weren't listened to when they raised concerns, and aren't getting what they'd been promised.

Promises don't seem to mean much anymore.

Former Delegate Sally Susman, D-Raleigh, says the new plan is senseless and imposes penalties on retired teachers, school personnel and low-paid government employees.

“The state has forsaken those who have worked all their adult lives for West Virginia and deserve, in fact were promised, a comfortable retirement in lieu of a salary increase,” Susman said.

“The changes penalize the sickest and the frailest of our citizens.”

West Virginia citizen George Ballard of Bolt wrote the Register Herald recently:
"West Virginia was the first state to privatize Medicare and PEIA (Public Employees Insurance Agency). The finance board of PEIA, appointed by the governor, was the approving force in the privatization of PEIA and Medicare. Advantra gets all of the premiums retirees pay into Medicare and PEIA and it was stated that PEIA added some money to this premium. Put those figures in your calculator and you will see some real money. I know you have heard the statement “Follow the money.”

The finance board is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Of course, they listened to the governor when he said that West Virginia could save millions of dollars by going with this privatization route. But they forgot to look at how many additional dollars it would cost the retirees.

As retirees we got shafted by the finance board of PEIA and the governor who appointed them....

We were lied to by PEIA when they put in the 2007 handbook that we had nothing to worry about in Medicare Part D and we have constantly been lied to in every other publication that has come from PEIA. Remember that we received the notice of the change that took place on July 1 in a publication from PEIA on July 25."

Right on George!

Another West Virginian Charleen Bailey also wrote a letter to her newspaper in which she pointed out:

"Recently, Gov. Joe Manchin moved all state retirees with Medicare to a new program. First, I'll say this will allow all businesses to follow suit. I've heard one company is considering this plan also. I do not mean any harm to that company, but if this is true, everyone with retirement and Medicare, this could happen to you.

...We pay Medicare premiums and PEIA premiums. I now have doctor co-pays. This new plan refuses to pay on two medications I've taken for years, which I don't take anymore because of cost.

The new plan, Advantra Freedom, doesn't cover it. If this is not discrimination, I don't know what is! Your deal cost us more money. Isn't Advantra Freedom a form of Medicare? Why are we paying two premiums when you did away with our secondary insurance? You act like you still gave us insurance, but you did not.

Now my husband will be receiving Medicare in November. He was medically disabled two years ago. Social Security has you wait two years before you get a Medicare card. First, we had to wait six months before receiving a Social Security check; we did not receive back pay. Then we go to the retirement board and never received a full check. They said, "Sorry, but retirement was revised 30 days ago."

My husband has been going back and forth to the Cleveland Clinic for a heart transplant. We owe Cleveland thousands. We need PEIA now to become secondary to help us medically and financially. Now, it's all gone.

You don't even care about the stress that you have put on all of us. My husband worked for the state for 19 years. He had a retirement plan. He didn't make a lot of money. He stayed because of the retirement plan, not for the money. Governor, when you promote business for the state, you need to make money for the state. Your deals are as good as you. Stop trying to run the state like a business.

Slogan? You want to change everything. It's too bad we can't change you. You have the power to fix the mistakes. But we all know you're only for business and not for people."

Charleen, you've pretty much summed up the situation and you've done it in a much more human way then ever I could.

I hope somehow you and all those in your situation get some relief. It isn't right what is happening to you and it isn't fair that you have to try and deal with all this now that you've retired or been forced to leave work for health reasons.


Oh, by the way, the gov, Joe Manchin III, is a Democrat - the party of the working people. He'd make a fine Republican.

The following is from the State Journal (Charleston, West Virginia).

Angry Retirees Question PEIA Changes
Some PEIA subscribers are unhappy with changes in the state-run health insurance program

HUNTINGTON -- Hundreds of retired state workers are lashing out at the Public Employees Insurance Agency after the insurance provider changed carriers.

Between 175 and 200 retired and soon-to-be retired state workers and teachers gathered Oct. 29 at Huntington High School to learn why PEIA decided earlier this year to allow Kentucky-based Advantra to provide health care coverage for retirees who are eligible for Medicare.

One of the biggest complaints the retirees had is that the new card and provider are not accepted in some other states, including parts of Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. They also complained the new system was costing them a whole lot more and providing worse coverage than what they had before.

"I feel like PEIA sold us out," said Imogene Parrish, a retired Cabell County Schools worker.

The group was so bothered by the changes that attendees began bombarding the PEIA representative with questions as soon as the meeting started. And the questions continued, one after another, sometimes being asked directly over another, for two hours. PEIA's representative, Gloria Long, deputy director for insurance programs and services, tried to answer questions and calm people. But by the end of the meeting, people were just getting madder and blaming everyone from Gov. Joe Manchin to President Bush for the health insurance changes.

"The intention was never to stick you out there without insurance or to make you feel uneasy about your insurance," Long said.

She told the group the PEIA board decided a while ago to allow Advantra to handle insurance for all PEIA members who were eligible for Medicare. Advantra then set up a plan based on PEIA's requirements, as well as specifications Medicare demands. PEIA's board accepted the proposal, and the new benefits went into effect July 1.

She said PEIA has heard about problems, particularly with finding providers in other states.

"There are some pockets of the U.S. that don't accept Advantra," she said. "We are calling providers to ask them to start accepting (it). We are trying to help out."

She said every doctor or health care provider that accepts Medicare payments should be accepting Advantra as well. But some areas just aren't willing to accept the new carrier. She said that has caused lots of problems for retirees who travel a lot or spend several months in warmer climates. As a remedy, she said PEIA has agreed to let some retirees who do spend a lot of time out of state rejoin the old plan for the time being.

Another common complaint was that some retirees under the new carrier were losing the supplemental insurance they had purchased for themselves and their spouses over the years.

"I'm just wondering if you are aware how this is impacting other plans," one man called out from the audience.

"Painfully aware," Long said. "The issue there is Medicare considers any plan with a Plan D (or prescription drug coverage) as double dipping, and they kick you out."

That was not the answer the man wanted to hear.

"I paid for this insurance while I was working, and now I have less than before," he said.

Long told him one solution would be for him to maintain his PEIA life insurance but drop his PEIA health insurance and sign up under his wife's plan. She said if he did that, he could rejoin PEIA at any time.

The new coverage also is limiting where some people can go to the hospital. Long said she's heard of cases where hospitals have turned away patients with Advantra. Her recommendation to those in the group was to call the hospital before any planned procedures to make sure they accept that carrier.

Some of the biggest complaints, however, were about retirees having to pay co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles, something they didn't have to pay under the old system. That's a big change for some former state workers. And it's a bitter pill for them to swallow.

Long said while many people are blaming Advantra for the problems, she said Advantra designed a program to meet PEIA's requirements and specifications.

"The plan design we have to take credit for at PEIA," she said.

The plus side of the changes, Long said, is that it won't raise premiums. In addition, retirees will have a maximum out-of-pocket expense for health care per fiscal year of $500. However, she said retirees who make less than 250 percent of the federal poverty rate are eligible to have that maximum out-of-pocket amount reduced.

Money spent on prescriptions is not included in that maximum out-of-pocket amount.

She said despite the retirees' complaints, she believes the program is good and provides retirements with the same excellent level of health care. But she admitted that it's different, a bit confusing and that adjusting to the new system could take some time.

"I believe you have a good health plan; if I didn't, I wouldn't be here," she said.

Cabell County Delegates Kelli Sobonya and Carol Miller, both of whom are Republicans, called the meeting, which was attended by the county's two senators, Robert Plymale and Evan Jenkins, both of whom are Democrats. All four not only listened to complaints but also tried to answer questions, or at least help them find someone who could answer their questions.

"There were so many questions we couldn't answer, so we figured we'd bring PEIA here to answer them for you," Sobonya told the audience.


Monday, November 05, 2007

ONE DEAD AS DESPERATE CONGO REFUGEES CALL FOR HELP


More than 30 people, including several "peacekeepers," have been wounded during a demonstration by hundreds of civilians displaced by fighting in North Kivu province, according to MONUC, the UN mission in Democratic Republic of Congo. At least one person died.

IRIN reports about 300 people began demonstrating outside the MONUC base early in the morning.

They had travelled from the nearby village of Jumba to air their grievances about the government's lack of assistance and delays in deliveries of humanitarian aid. When they came across a MONUC patrol some sort of clash ensued.

MONUC spokesman Colonel Pierre Chareyron said numerous other civilians had been hurt in a separate scuffle with police some four kilometres from the MONUC base in Rutshuru. It was in this demonstration, according to MONUC-run Radio Okapi, that a civilian was killed.

"There are 11 wounded and one dead, a 6-year-old child," Dominique Bofondo, the administrator of Rutshuru territory where Kiwanja is located, told Reuters.

"They had been here for three weeks now without any (humanitarian) assistance. They were demanding food," he said.

More than 160,000 Congolese have abandoned their homes in North Kivu since January 2007, when Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda began deploying troops across the province.

Rick Neal and Sayre Nyce from the Washington-based organisation Refugees International (RI) said last July humanitarian organisations are "ignoring the crisis in North Kivu." Quick action had brought immediate relief for some civilians in the province, "but few humanitarian organisations, despite the availability of funding, have stepped forward to help as the crisis deepens and needs grow more acute," they said.

The RI activists also told Afrol News there are a number of humanitarian agencies, such as CARE International, Action Against Hunger, and Catholic Relief Services, that work in other parts of the Congo - and even other parts of North Kivu - but they "have not bothered to respond to the needs of the newly displaced."

Apparently the people are getting tired of waiting for help.

The following is from AFP.

Police kill one, injure others in eastern DR Congo demo

GOMA, DR Congo (AFP) — Police killed one person and wounded at least 11 others Monday when they opened fire on a demonstration by displaced people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said.

"One demonstrator, probably a school pupil, was killed and at least 11 were injured by police called in to break up the march," the official at Rutshuru told AFP, saying that schoolchildren had joined the protestors.

The army was called in to back up the overwhelmed local security forces when several hundred people displaced by regional conflict marched on offices of the UN mission in DRC (MONUC) to demand that UN troops restore peace, according to local authorities.

The demonstrators were from among thousands of displaced people wanting aid and to be able to return to their homes, while younger people among them were calling to be able to go to school like people in Rutshuru, the main town in the region about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the capital of Nord-Kivu province, Goma.

Christophe Tawite, a resident of Kiwanja, where there are MONUC facilities five kilometres outside central Rutshuru, said the demonstrators had blocked roads, smashed the windscreens of UN vehicles and put a halt to normal business in the region.

The MONUC spokeswoman in Nord-Kivu, Sylvie van den Wildenberg, said that UN peacekeeping troops and local authorities had gone out to talk to the angry mob and ask them to calm down.

"We've learned that people have been hurt in this violent demonstration, but we don't have details on how many or where they have been taken," van den Wildenberg told AFP, while sources close to MONUC said shops had been shut and traffic halted on the Rutshuru-Goma road.

More than 5,000 families have recently been displaced in the region of Jomba by clashes between insurgents loyal to renegade ex-general Laurent Nkunda and local Mai-Mai tribal militia fighters, swelling the numbers of displaced in a volatile province wracked by conflicts.

Since the end of August, the regular army has deployed about 20,000 troops in Nord-Kivu to fight Nkunda's men or persuade them to surrender and demobilise with a chance to join a national military undergoing reforms after successive civil and rebel wars ended in 2003.

Hundreds of thousands of villagers are displaced in Nord-Kivu by fighting not only between the army and Nkunda, who claims to be protecting the minority Congolese Tutsi population, but also involving Mai-Mai forces and Rwandan Hutu rebels from the neighbouring country who are hostile to Nkunda.

SECRET MEETING IN CANADA OF WORLD HEALTH EXECUTIVES DRAWS PROTEST


A bunch of proponents of the privatization of health care from around the world are gathering in Canada and they are meeting protests.

The meeting will bring together a hundred leaders of fifteen countries and is organized by the World Health Executive Forum, whose headquarters are in Montreal. "This organization is to health what the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is to the economy," says a document "strictly confidential" attached to the invitation.

In fact, the meeting says one if its great attributes is its secrecy.

I wonder why these people don't want to discuss privatizing public health care out in the open...in Canada????

The following is from CBC (Canada).

Protesters pull out welcome mat for private health-care meeting

Hundreds of protesters descended on the Quebec resort town of Saint-Sauveur on Monday for a meeting this week of health administrators from around the world.

The World Health Executive Forum — dubbed the "health Davos" — has gathered hospital administrators, doctors and health workers from 15 countries to talk about the private sector's role in medicine.

The closed-door meetings sparked protest from Quebec's main health-care organizations, which organized a day-long rally in front of the Manoir Saint-Sauveur.

The meetings reflect a growing appetite for privatizing public health care, and that can be dangerous, expecially if discussions are carried out behind closed doors, said Michelle Boisclair, vice-president of the Quebec Nurses' Federation.

"Nobody will be able to question their goals. The only goal they have is to get more privatized people coming in — the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry.

"That is anti-democracy."

Debates about the role of the private sector in public health care should be made in the open, said Claudette Carbonneau, president of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), one of Quebec's most powerful unions.

"It's fairly odious to carry on such meetings when, at the heart of the debate that concerns the general public, we have the future of our health-care system.

"To talk about that behind closed doors, far from public debate, far from journalists, it suggests those people have something to lose," she told CBC's French-language service.

Privatizing health-care services is a huge concern for workers, said Michel Arsenault, president of the Fédération des travailleurs du Québec (FTQ).

"FTQ workers in the private sector are watching their American colleagues who are forced to fight to negotiate for health benefits in their work contracts.

"If we open the doors to privatization, the same thing will happen here," he told Radio-Canada.

CORN DUST FALLING LIKE SNOW ON SMALL WISCONSIN TOWN


Some folks up in Blair, Wisconsin decided they'd had enough and blockaded a corn storage facility in protest.

Say what?

Well, I'm sure they'd ask you what you would think about having corn dust falling like snow coating everything in your neighborhood. And after you'd done what good citizens do, taken the matter politely to the local authorities to no avail to local authorities, then what?

I mean sweeping three buckets of dust off your car seems cause for concern to me. In addition to wondering what the stuff was doing to my property and why I had to be out shoveling, I'd start to worry about my health.

That's when some folks set up the blockade and lo and behold that got some attention...finally.

The new storage facility (pictured here) is owned by the Wisconsin Rapids Grain and the it holds one hell of a lot of stuff. The company blamed corn dust blizzard on the wind and said it would die down soon and maybe they'd wet the corn down to keep the dust from going up residents noses.

They couldn't have foreseen the problem?

No one could figure out that placing the facility in the middle of a residential district near a park might not be a great idea!

No one thought of health problems for those living nearby?

Jack L. Runyan, Agriculture and Rural Economy Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture wrote that in 1832, some dude named Charles Thackrah "described a relationship between asthma and inhalation of corn dust." That was only about 175 years ago. By the way, numerous recent studies have also implicated corn dust in respiratory dsyfunctions including acute respiratory inflamation, and powder derived allergies.

But the big company just couldn't be concerned with the 1500 or so residents of tiny Blair.

How about the town government? It couldn't maybe have taken some action sooner...maybe listened to the residents of the town...maybe looked out the window?

I'd say its time to kick out the yoyos running the city government and start anew with some people who pay attention to their constituents.

Last June Wisconsin Rapid Grain ran the following notice on its web site:

"Looking for a place to store or dry your grain?
Blair Grain is coming to Blair, WI this Fall!
Call Us to Book your New Crop Corn or For Further Questions!
Blair Office 608-989-2061

We will offer:
Grain Drying at 3,000 Bushels/Hr.
1.5 Million Bushels of Dry Storage
100,000 Bushels of Wet Storage
On scale dumping for convenience
25 Car Raliroad Loadout System

Coming in 2008:
500,000 Bushels of Soybean Storage"

Oh what a joy their arrival has been.

Someone commenting on the situation emailed the following the the La Cross, Wisconsin paper:

" Ahhhhhhh... it has been 38 years since I left Blair. It seems they have not updated their zoning laws - allowing a plant like this to be located so close to a residential area. I have to wonder what the plant owners told the city council when they asked to build this plant. But then, perhaps the council couldn't wait to have a new plant - one paying low wages and few benefits? "

One last thought. Let's hope the facility never blows up.

Just about a week ago a huge explosion ripped part of the roof off a grain elevator in southern Minnesota early Oct. 25, sending up a fireball that one witness briefly mistook for the sun. It was the second explosion at a Minnesota grain elevator since Oct. 22, when the Wendell Farmers Elevator was heavily damaged.

Of grain dust explosions Robert Schoeff, a professor emeritus from Kansas State University and a national expert on such explosions, said, ""It's very intense heat--1,500 to 2,000 degrees--in the middle of the fire ball."

Dust from corn is among the most dangerous. "Corn dust, corn starch is some of the most explosive stuff that we've got," he said.


Why do we have to put up with this kind of crap?

Yeah, under the circumstances these everyday Americans living in Blair faced, I might be inclined to carry out a few blockades myself.

The following story is from the La Cross Tribune (Wisconsin).

Frustrated neighbors blockade Blair Grain

BLAIR, Wis. — Tempers flared Saturday as Trempealeau County authorities and Blair officials responded to frustrated neighbors who temporarily blockaded a controversial corn elevator to protest corn dust coating the neighborhood.

After some heated exchanges, authorities and tow trucks were called, but Harold “Punk” Olson and his son Brady, who own the mobile home park across the street from Blair Grain, agreed to move their vehicles after discussion with Sheriff Richard Anderson and Blair Mayor Ardell Knutson. No immediate arrests were made or citations issued.

Knutson and Anderson went into the elevator office and came out to announce to a group of neighbors that the plant was going to shut down its drying operation over the weekend in hopes that it would eliminate some of the dust. Knutson told the neighbors the company said it would also start to work on a containment unit around the dryer. A city meeting with plant officials also is being planned to discuss the neighbors’ concerns, Knutson said.

Knutson said he doesn’t believe the city has the authority to shut the operation down, but he wants the conflict resolved.

“I hope it can be corrected so everyone can settle down,” Knutson said, referring to the upset neighbors. “I don’t blame them. I would be too if I lived there.”

This is the first year of operation for Blair Grain, which recently finished construction on a 1.6 million bushel corn storage facility at Park Road and Center Street near a residential area downtown. The elevators are used to store shelled corn. It is the dust from the shelled corn, called “bees wings” that is being released into the air and into the neighborhood.

Harold Olson said he has complained to the city and Blair Grain owners several times over the past two weeks about the dust. He showed up Saturday after several residents in the 35-unit mobile home park called him after waking up to find another coating of fine corn dust on their roofs, cars and over the ground.

One of those neighbors is Charlene Greenwold, who said she thought snow was falling Friday night when she stepped outside her home. She grabbed a flashlight and quickly realized it was not snow but corn dust.

“Look at this (expletive),” Greenwold said, wiping her hand in disgust across her dusty windshield.

Nearby homes also are affected. Randy Ekern, who works for the city of Blair, said he filed a complaint with police three weeks ago after sweeping off a bucket of corn dust from his three collector cars stored inside his garage. Ekern said he’s worried about the value of his property decreasing and the potential damage the dust could cause to cars, equipment and furnaces.

Knutson said the city has contacted Wisconsin Rapids Grain, which operates Blair Grain. Company president Douglas Weinkauf said in a letter sent Monday to the city that the end of the corn drying will be soon as the harvest winds down. He also said the company will try to wet the corn to keep the dust down.

“Once the facility is filled, we will not be drying corn anymore this season and thus not generating anymore bees wings this season,” Weinkauf’s letter said. The containment unit around the dryer and another around the scale will be complete by next year, he said.

“We feel that these changes will vastly reduce the problems we have encountered this year,” Weinkauf’s letter said. “Please keep in mind, as we explained from the beginning, there is no completely dust-free or bees wings-free solution. However, we are going to do our best to reduce the problems and come up with a livable solution.”

Harold Olson said Saturday’s blockade was a way to get more attention to the problem.

“I fear for the health and welfare of the public in the city of Blair,” Olson said.

Mobile home park resident Dawn Peterson said her son has asthma and is concerned about his health. Peterson said she takes five different medications to deal with various allergies she says have been aggravated by the dust.

Possible health concerns are being addressed by Trempealeau County. Cherie Rohde, who works with the county’s environmental/health department, told residents Saturday that an investigation by her department is underway. “Until we can do the investigation, there’s nothing we can do,” she said.

Residents also complained about large grain trucks driving on the street, which has a five-ton weight restriction. Knutson said the company agreed to have trucks exit at the other entrance, which is accessible by streets built to handle the heavier loads.