Friday, November 16, 2007


"The agencies’ warnings and precautionary steps were never distributed to residents."

You really don't have to read anything much beyond the above quote to be aghast once again about the total disregard for the health and safety of the people living in working class American neighborhoods by "elected" officials.

However, I hope you read on and get the latest on one such neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale where people have no doubt gotten sick and died because those officials had better things to do.

Walter ''Mickey'' Hinton is a resident of the Durrs area. He told the Miami Herald a while back he knew when he bought his home that it was built on a former dump site, but he had no idea it was toxic. "I'm very upset about this community and its contamination and they are trying to pacify us by fixing the park for the kids to have a place to play," Hinton said. "But the point they are missing is long-term." Hinton has long argued that the incinerator, which operated from the 1920s to 1953, contaminated far more than just Lincoln Park across the street.

Hinton thinks the old incinerator's pollution has caused cancers in his family and others. He said there is no way to prove that without a comprehensive health study.

"There are people that do have specific cancers and I think, if the study is done well, it would be proven that some of these contaminants have been responsible for some of these cancers," Frank Estock, an environmental consultant, told the Herald back then.

Now, 46 years later, armed with a study from the state health department showing Fort Lauderdale's Durrs neighborhood has unsafe levels of arsenic and other chemicals, Hinton and 115 of his neighbors have filed a lawsuit against the city.

''They wouldn't have bought the homes had they known there were toxins in the yard,'' said Coral Gables attorney Reginald Clyne, who filed a lawsuit in Broward County Court last week.

But no one bothered to tell them.

The majority of people in Durrs, and nearby neighborhoods like Homes Beautiful Park are filled with families who used to be called the working poor and are now considered as the 'workforce' population. They do the jobs that are needed, like collecting garbage, patrolling streets as beat cops, caring for people as nurse's aides, etc, but can't afford housing in the communities where they work.

So they live in Durrs.

Lucky them.

The city operated a garbage incinerator in the neighborhood from the late 1920s to the mid-1950s.

The incinerator spewed ash from burned garbage into the air. Residents who lived there at the time said they saw the ash fall on their yards and automobiles as if it were snow.

But it was the 50s and, of course, it was a simpler time in America. Racism was cool. The Beaver didn't know any Blacks. No Latinos lived in the Nelson's neighborhood and Father Knew Best.

Anyway, back to the story.

Neighborhood residents have complained to the city for some time and asked for help. The city's response was...they'd look into it. Don't worry. Be happy. All is well.

Well, of course, all wasn't well and last August when attorney Reginald Clyne notified Mayor Jim Naugle and Florida’s chief financial officer that he intended to sue the city over the toxic chemicals found in the Durrs neighborhood.

He stated in his letter that he intended to sue the city on behalf of residents Mr. Hinton, who is president of the Durrs Homeowners Association; Hope Sheppard; Frank Sheppard; Gloria Royster; Timothy Knox; Jermaine Strickland and other residents of the Durrs neighborhood.

“Due to the City of Fort Lauderdale’s use of the Lincoln Park Complex as an incinerator site, landfill, and wastewater treatment plant, and waste separation and transfer site, the above named individuals as well as other residents of the Durrs neighborhood, their families, guests and neighbors have had to endure continued exposure to excessive levels of toxins emitted and discharged from the property,’’ Clyne wrote in the letter, addressed to Naugle and Alex Sink, Florida’s chief financial officer.

“As a result of continuous exposure to the toxins and hazardous substances, the above named individuals...have been inflicted with various medical problems and expenses,’’ Clyne continued in the letter. “In addition, due to the City’s actions, these individuals have suffered impaired and decreased property values as a result of contamination on their properties.’’

Clyne went on to say in his letter, “The City was aware of the existence of toxins in the soil but took no steps to correct the problem or notify the individuals exposed to the contamination. Other residents, property owners, and visitors of the Durrs neighborhood have suffered the same or similar injuries and intend to assert their claims in the immediate future.’’

In other words, for years the city knew it was putting peoples lives at risk and for years they said little and did less.

Did I mention that ash from the garbage incinerator was used as fill for the foundations of homes constructed throughout the area?

Residents believe that may be the reason for such high concentrations of toxins in some locations, such as the site of a former elementary school there.

Did I mention that the neighborhood's residents are primarily African-American?

The city sealed off the contaminated soils under Lincoln Park last year but that recent state and federal report mentioned above showed soil samples taken throughout the neighborhood are contaminated with arsenic, lead and dioxins at up to 37 times the levels accepted as safe by the state of Florida.

Fort Lauderdale's Mayor, Jim Naugle, said last spring the city had no intention of sweeping its old dirt under the carpet any more.

Get this. Mayor Naugle before the suit caught everyone's attention announced he had a plan. No slouch His Honor said the short-term solution was to warn people not to go barefoot and not to dig in the dirt unless they were wearing gloves.

Mr. Mayor, I'm thinking you are going to have to do better than that.

The following is from the Broward Times (Florida).

SICKNESS IN THE SOIL: Business joins lawsuit over neighborhood contamination

FORT LAUDERDALE – Gloria Royster says she probably would not have bought the Downbeat Club in the city’s Durrs section if she had known about the toxic pile of ash behind it.

She has taken on additional costs to provide bottled water for patrons, fearing that city tap water at the night club may be tainted.

A health study earlier this year concluded that there are higher than normal levels of cancer-causing substances in the soil around the club, including lead, arsenic and dioxin.

“I want to see that this problem is corrected because I could be out of business,” said Royster, one of 115 people, most of them residents, who have filed a lawsuit against the city for damages stemming from an incinerator in the area that they say caused the problem.

“It’s long overdue,” said Royster, 50, who bought the night club at 623 N.W. 15th Way in 2003.

Coral Gables attorney Reginald J. Clyne and Louise Caro, an environmental attorney with Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc. filed the lawsuit on Nov. 9.

“Right now, the number is at 115 people, but it could eventually include as many as 20,000,” Clyne said.

“It’s hard to estimate, but damages could amount to $25 to $40 million depending on the final number of plaintiffs, but we are not placing any amounts on the case.”

City officials say they have yet to be served in the case, and declined to comment on it.

“I have seen an unsigned version of what purports to be the lawsuit in question that was provided to me by a reporter,” Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Harry Stewart said. “I do not believe that the city has been served with the suit, at least it has not reached my office.”

The complaint spans 38 pages of allegations related to toxins that have been confirmed in the Durrs neighborhood.

Durrs is a predominantly black, lower-income community that is a mix of single-family homes and subsidized rental complexes. The lawsuit seeks testing, health monitoring, compensation, damages and attorneys fees for the plaintiffs.

The city operated a garbage incinerator in the Durrs neighborhood, located north of Sistrunk Boulevard and east of Interstate 95, from the late 1920s to the mid-1950s.

The incinerator churned out ash from burned garbage and other materials, and spewed it into the air during that period, sometimes for 24 hours a day. Residents who lived there can recall how the ash fell like snow, covering their yards, clothing, homes and cars.

Many of those same residents believe that the ash is the source of the higher-than-normal rates of cancer, and other ailments afflicting them.

Royster, the Downbeat Club owner, grew up in the Durrs area, attended Lincoln Park Elementary, and still has a brother and other relatives who live in the area. Most, if not all of them, are suffering from various cancers and other conditions that are not common in her family, she said.

“Nobody cares, they simply don’t care,” she said. “Maybe this is the key. My brother has all of these ailments, like asthma and other things, and I just think it’s a shame we were not told anything about the dangers here.”

The lawsuit places direct blame on the old city-owned incinerator and the ash it spewed for decades. It also states the city knew of the dangers the contaminants presented, but took no action to address the issues.

In addition to Royster, the plaintiffs include current and former residents, people who attended Lincoln Park Elementary – a school once located in the neighborhood – property owners, users of Lincoln Park, and individuals who may have been otherwise exposed to the area’s toxins.

City officials stand by their position that there are no definitive studies that link residents’ ailments to the operation of the incinerator or toxins in the area.

The case stems from the results of a joint study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Health. The study was released on March 27.

In the study, health officials warned area residents not to eat certain vegetables grown in their gardens, to thoroughly wash other vegetables, to dust themselves off before entering their houses, and to refrain from breathing dust from the area because of toxins in the soil.

The agencies’ warnings and precautionary steps were never distributed to residents.

Many say they first learned about the warnings in an April 27 story in the Broward Times.

During an Aug. 7 community meeting on the issue, city representatives and health officials acknowledged they had not disseminated the information, and had not settled on any concrete solutions to the problems.

“I want to apologize,” said Craig C. Clevenger, a city environmental consultant, at that meeting. “I don't have an answer to your questions.”

Fort Lauderdale city commissioners did not attend the meeting. Clevenger and Albert Carbon, the city’s public works director, said at that meeting that the city had an action plan that would be made public.

Area residents such as Walter “Mickey” Hinton, the Durrs Homeowners Association president, say they have yet to see any such plan.

Hinton said his wife and daughters are all suffering from various health ailments, including cancer. Hinton and his wife have lived in the Durrs neighborhood since the 1960s and are among the increasing number of people who have signed on as plaintiffs to the lawsuit.

During the Aug. 7 community meeting, city officials proposed to conduct further tests, and to fence off and clean up areas where elevated levels of toxins have been found.

When a reporter visited the area earlier this week, however, he noticed that fences had been torn down at some of those locations, and that no cleanup had begun.

Mayor Jim Naugle said that before any major efforts are undertaken in the area, the first step is to determine who is responsible for the costs. That’s a step that took place before the cleanup of the larger Wingate landfill nearby.

“We would have to identify a funding source,” Naugle said. “The cleanup of the Wingate site was funded by the PRPs [potential responsible parties], for something that happened over 50 years ago. The federal government was one of major users of the Lincoln Park incinerator, so I would think they bear some responsibilities.”

Caro and Legal Aid have also battled Fort Lauderdale over the cleanup of the toxic Wingate landfill. Legal Aid wanted the toxins removed from the Wingate site, instead of the plastic cap that was placed over the contaminants.

Legal Aid also recently settled a federal lawsuit against the city over an intensive code enforcement program that targeted three predominantly black neighborhoods, including Durrs.

Litigation in the current toxins case is expected to be costly.

Stewart would not say whether Fort Lauderdale officials have hired an outside law firm to represent the city in the case, but he suggested that the defense would be vigorous.

“The city will use both internal and external resources to defend this lawsuit,” Stewart said. “The city will respond to the specific allegations in the complaint in accordance with the rules governing litigation.”


Members of Congress on Thursday panned the Bush administration's handling of the case of anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, wanted by Cuba and Venezuela in the 1976 bombing of a Havana airliner that killed 73 passengers and crew.

Two and half years after the renowned violent Cuban exile and former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles returned to the United States, and six months after he was freed from immigration detention, Congress took up the case.

U.S. Rep. William Delahunt told a congressional subcommittee that national security laws are being unfairly applied to favor Luis Posada Carriles, who is wanted in Cuba and Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.

Among the witnesses who appeared were Peter Kornbluh, principal analyst at the National Security Archive at the George Washington University, who presented to the panel a large collection of declassified documents concerning Posada’s links with criminal acts. Kornbluh stated bluntly, "I dare say that had this crime been committed more recently and if Posada's first name was Mohammed rather than Luis, this evidence would have been more than sufficient to get him rendered to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Other testimony showed that in September 2005, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deliberately rejected the use of a recorded confession by Luis Posada Carriles, obtained in Caracas in 1977 by U.S. journalist Blake Fleetwood, in the presence of Orlando Bosch.

Fleetwood testified, "In 1977 I interviewed two of the most deadly terrorists of the 20th century."

According to Fleetwood, Posada told him textually: "I was on a CIA draw of $300 plus all expenses. "The CIA helped me set up my detective agency from which we planned actions."

As reported in Cuba's Granma, Fleetwood told how the two prisoners "spoke about the murder of two Cuban diplomats in Argentina, the bombing of the Mexican embassy in Buenos Aires, the bombings of the Air Panama office in Bogotá, the Cubana Airlines Office in Panama and, finally, the Cubana Aviation sabotage which killed 73 civilians."

Posada and Bosch also confirmed how "everything" had been planned in a meeting in Bonao in the Dominican Republic, where it was believed that CORU would then mount attacks throughout the continent.

Fleetwood explained that on returning to his hotel, the Anauco Hilton, he immediately communicated with Eugene Propper, the U.S. Assistant Attorney in Washington, who was investigating the Orlando Letelier murder in Washington, D.C.

Propper called him back nine minutes later: "The CIA told the secret police everything. They are out to get you. You are in great danger."

The reporter discovered later on that Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Pérez had personally ordered his capture by the DISIP (secret police).

"In September of 2005 I offered this information, notes and tapes, to the Department of Homeland Security. I was contacted by Jo Ellen Ardinger, an attorney with DHS. She seemed excited by my information and phoned and emailed me," recalled Fleetwood.

Ardinger told him that this information was "exactly" what they needed to prevent Posada from entering the United States, by clearly demonstrating that he was a terrorist.

"She asked me if I was willing to testify. I said that I was."

A few months later, the immigration trial in El Paso began before Judge Kathleen Cardone.

"I waited for the Department of Homeland Security to get back to me to ask for my notes and tapes. They never did."

Rep. Delahunt said there was ''compelling evidence'' implicating Posada in the airplane bombing and that he was ''bewildered'' by the administration's reluctance to invoke the Patriot Act and arrest Posada as a terrorist.

I'm not bewildered one bit.

The following is from NarcoSphere.

Panel Told Evidence 'Sufficient' to Detain Posada Carriles
By Stephen Peacock,

Evidence linking Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles to the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner was "more than sufficient" grounds to have detained the suspected terrorist under the Patriot Act, National Security Archive Senior Analyst Peter Kornbluh testified before a House subcommittee yesterday (11/15). “The United States now finds itself in the frankly inexplicable position of having not one but both men who our own intelligence agencies identified as responsible for bringing down a civilian airliner living free and unfettered lives in Florida,” Kornbluh told the panel.

Kornbluh's testimony -- as well as five declassified documents that include a CIA intelligence report on Posada Carriles and alleged co-conspirator Orlando Bosch -- are now available for download via the National Security Archive website.


Less than a month after up to 40 arrests were made when Mexican police attacked a traditional ceremony in memory of the lives lost in the Oaxaca's popular struggle against the local authorities another protest today prevented the state's Governor from reading a report to the legislature.

In 2006, I am sure you remember, strikers from Section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) and community activists in the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) occupied most of downtown Oaxaca and paralyzed the state government for five months. Thousands of Federal Preventive Police (PFP) agents took control of the city on Oct. 29, 2006, two days after an outbreak of violence that left three people dead, including US independent journalist Brad Will.

The following is from Prensa Latina.

Oaxaca Succeeds in Governor Protest

Leaders of the Teacher's Union and Oaxaca People's Assembly (APPO) called successful on Friday a protest in that Mexican state that prevented Governor Ulises Ruiz from presenting his report to the legislature.

Thousands of people started in three points of Oaxaca's capital, to arrive at the legislative palace, where the governor's report had to be presented in a document written by his Government Secretary Teofilo Manuel Garcia Corpus.

APPO head Ermeterio Marino and SNTE Section 22 leader Ezequiel Rosales asserted that the march denounced the assassination of 27 teachers and activists, of which they accused Ruiz' government.

In the demonstration, both organizations demanded from the Institutional Revolutionary Party governor's resignation, and protested detention of around 500 of its activists, after the protests in 2006.

They also denounced the situation of some families, the children of which have remained orphans, due to execution of their parents, as well as torture suffered by the detainees, practiced by police agents.

Deputy Zenen Bravo Castellanos, an APPO supporter, said the mobilization represents the voice of thousands of citizens of that state in the Mexican southwestern area, who have felt affronts in Governor Ruiz' repressive actions.

The Oaxaca legislator said repression there has caused in a year dozens of deaths and hundreds of detainees, besides missing people.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


What is this, the 60s?

Well, not exactly, but it'll have to do for now.

Students at three universities (Columbia University, the University of California­­-Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts­-Amherst) went on strike this week to advocate for a variety of causes­—including increasing curricular diversity, reducing student fees, and halting environmentally-unsound campus construction.

At UMass/Amherst even student government leaders urged students to strike to protest a range of grievances they say university administrators have consistently ignored.

"This has been a long time coming," said Jeff Napolitano, president of the Graduate Student Senate at UMass-Amherst. "These are chronic issues that are not being addressed. There really is not any dialogue between the people who run the school and the people who study here."

The strike seems to have widespread support. WBZTV reports about five hundred student protesters shut down the Whitmore administrative building at UMass-Amherst today, demanding an end to high student fees and a resolution to other complaints. Students occupied the building after a noontime rally in the student union ballroom.

Police then closed down the Whitmore building because it was overcrowded.

Napolitano said that after the protesters were threatened with arrest, they moved outside and shut down North Pleasant Street, one of the campus's main roads.

Napolitano said 1000 students were involved in the protest.

The following is from the Boston Globe.

Striking students surge into UMass administration building
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff, and Katie Huston

AMHERST -- Hundreds of students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst boycotted classes and surged into the school's administration building today as part of a two-day strike.

Student leaders had called for students and graduate student teaching assistants to skip classes today and Friday to protest increased student fees and aggressive police patrols of dormitories, and to call for stepped-up efforts to recruit minority students.

Around 1 p.m., more than 1,000 students marched from the Student Union and surged into the main administration building, playing drums, trumpets, and cowbells and chanting "Whose university? Our university!"

Joyce Hatch, the vice chancellor for administration and finance, told protesters that the administration would like to negotiate with a group of three student leaders. But student organizer Elvis Mendez said that the demands are ones students have been making for years, and that negotiations have proven ineffective. "It's been four, five years that we have been doing this," he said.

Police eventually blocked more students from entering the building and asked students to evacuate at approximately 2 p.m. Students complied and marched along the main road to the campus center, where they continued the rally.


More than a month after Vancouver police dumped Frank Paul in a downtown alley where he died, police told Paul's Mik'maq family in New Brunswick that he'd been killed by a hit-and-run driver.

That was a lie.

On December 6, 1998, the body of Frank Joseph Paul, a Mi’kmaq from Big Cove, New Brunswick, was found in an alley in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. He died of hypothermia while "in custody" of the Vancouver Police Department. Officers dragged him out of the police station and into a van, even though he was obviously unconscious, and then dumped him in an alley. The Vancouver Police Department imposed a two day suspension on one of the officers involved for discreditable conduct and a one day suspension on the other for neglect of duty, and decided not to lay criminal charges. Former Police Complaint Commissioner Don Morrison advised the Vancouver Police Department that a Public Hearing would not be appropriate, citing “extended delays” and “other public interest considerations”.

The British Columbia (B.C.) Coroners Office chose not to hold an inquest into Paul’s death — arguing that he was not in custody when he died — even though as the present Police Complaints Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld points out, all Vancouver Police Department’s internal investigations were referred to as “in-custody death.”

Nine years later an inquiry has finally begun.

Yesterday, Commissioner William Davies, a retired judge, heard opening statements from 15 lawyers acting for the Vancouver police, ambulance, coroner's service, the criminal-justice branch and four major aboriginal groups.

He also heard that Paul was "dumped like you put out a bag of garbage for the night," in that alley by those cops.

“It was systemic, institutionalized racism that led to Frank Paul’s Death.” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “This inquiry is about exposing the investigation, or rather, lack of investigation into Frank Paul’s death” he added.

Dana Urban, former legal counsel to the B.C. Police Complaints Commissioner’s Office, in an article last summer in the Vancouver Sun described Paul as a “Mi’kmaq first nations man from New Brunswick who was a long-term resident of the East Hastings area of Vancouver.”

“This man died needlessly on the evening of Dec. 5, 1998, or in the early morning hours of Dec. 6. He was a drunk. He was unemployed. He was homeless. He had crippled hands and crippled feet.

“Though he had little, perhaps, to offer our society, he was, in fact, a human being.”

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine said yesterday:

"Nearly 9 years after Frank Paul froze to death shortly after being released by Vancouver Police, we are finally seeing a public inquiry begin. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. There have been many cases of First Nations people who have died while in custody or shortly after being released under questionable circumstances. I am hopeful that this inquiry can uncover the truth and deliver some form of justice and closure to the family and friends of Frank Paul.

Events such as the deaths of Dudley George, JJ Harper, Connie and Ty Jacobs, and the "Starlight Tours" in Saskatoon are examples that have spawned past public inquiries. Despite these tragedies, First Nations remain committed to working with the justice system to resolve the difficulties that many First Nations people face when they come into contact with the law."

In British Columbia alone, there have been 267 in-custody deaths since 1992, according to the BC Coroners Service. "In-custody" refers to deaths of civilians whether they are being pursued or are incarcerated by policing authorities.

The Coast Salish, Indigenous Action Movement announced a rally to support the Paul family is to take place at 9:00 am before the next Frank Paul Inquiry session begins, Friday. The solidarity rally will take place outside of the Federal Court building at 701 West Georgia. (across from the TD Bank, kitty corner from London Drugs.)

The following is from the Globe and Mail (Canada).

Allegations of racism loom on first day of inquiry

VANCOUVER -- Before Frank Joseph Paul was dragged out of a city jail like "garbage," and left in a back alley, where he died of hypothermia, he had been picked up by police 230 times for drunkenness, assault and disturbing the peace.

Now, nine years after he was left lying in the rain on a cold December night, instead of being housed in the Vancouver Police Department drunk tank or sent to a detoxification centre, some big and troubling questions are being raised about Mr. Paul's last time in custody.

As an independent commission of inquiry began yesterday into Mr. Paul's death, it became clear the issue is not just the mechanics of how the alcoholic, 47-year-old Mi'kmaq died on Dec. 5, 1998, but whether the police actions and a broader social safety net failed him because of racism.

"Why was Frank Paul left in an alley to die? Was it because he was aboriginal?" asked Kimberley Murray of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, who is attending because the issue is of national interest.

"Why was Frank Paul dragged on his back, soaking wet, into [and out of] a police station and not given medical attention? Was it because he was aboriginal?"

Ms. Murray said Mr. Paul's death is not an isolated event, but is one of many that have occurred across Canada in which native people have died while in police custody.

She said the inquiry will probably not hear any direct evidence of racism, and will have to rely on inference.

"When it comes to finding racism we rarely find a smoking gun," she said.

Commissioner William Davies, a former British Columbia Supreme Court justice, said the inquiry will be wide ranging, exploring not only the events leading up to Mr. Paul's death, but also the provision of health care and social services in Vancouver and the role of several public bodies in his life.

Peggy Clement, the first witness in what is expected to be a six-month inquiry, set the stage by describing her cousin's difficult childhood. His father drank heavily, he spent six years in residential school and he began drinking himself at the age of 15, before wandering away from his home in Elsipogtog (pronounced "ell-zi-book-took"), N.B., to become a migrant farm worker in the United States.

In 1983, he ended up living on the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and was out of touch with the family for more than a decade - before officials called with news of his death.

Initially the family was told he died in a hit-and-run accident, she said, and it wasn't until Dana Urban, then a lawyer with the B.C. Police Complaint Commissioner's office, called some time later that she learned he'd died after being "dumped" in an alley.

Mr. Urban also told her about a police surveillance video that shows a limp Mr. Paul being dragged out of jail, his wet clothes leaving a stain on the floor.

"He said he couldn't forget the image of Frank. ... He kept seeing an image of garbage being put out for the night," she said.

Later the family watched the video.

"For about half an hour we couldn't stop crying. My mother kept saying, 'How come they do that to him?' " she said.

"I just want to know what happened to him. I know he had a hard life but I don't think he deserved to die the way he did," she said.

Mr. Paul was taken into police custody twice on the night he died. The first time police gave him dry clothes, sent him to the drunk tank to sleep it off, then gave him a coffee before releasing him.

But a few hours later he was back, after police found him collapsed from consuming a bottle of cheap rice wine. This time he was unable to walk and a provincial corrections officer was told to drag him to a waiting police wagon, which was going to take him home.

Instead Mr. Paul, too weak to stand, was left in an alley.

George Macintosh, counsel for the VPD, said police had Mr. Paul in custody so much, including 160 times between 1990 and 1998, they knew him by his first name. "They were concerned about him."

But he admitted "the department is regrettably aware of its failure" to safeguard him on the night he died.

"At the jail, at that time, Frank Paul was ill-served," he said, describing as "unusual and unprecedented" the police decision not to admit him to the drunk tank.

"Two police officers did not provide the required care to Mr. Paul," he said.


There was a time when I used to think being a schoolteacher was the greatest job you could get. I mean you got those summers off. The school day ended at 3 or 4 PM. It seemed so simple.

I apologize to every teacher out there across America for ever thinking such a thing.

And today, being a teacher, may be one of the last jobs I'd want. Just ask the teachers in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. They'll give you an earful (see article below).

Today's teachers need more time for students, more time for planning, and more time for teaching. They're getting less.

Between the No Child Left Behind Act (which leaves lots of children and a whole helluva lot of teachers behind), all the meetings school administrators and Boards of Education members seem to think are necessary for teachers, all the email that requires answers (remember there didn't use to be email), all of the "thises" and "thats" that someone has to monitor, all of the helicopter parents that have to be dealt with, all of the violence, all of the practice exams for that Act mentioned above, all the data that now has to been collected and analyzed, longer school years, more summer programs and then, of course, teachers sort of have to an ever increasing number of students, and with no increasing compensation for any of it, I could think of better things to do.

Now, I'm not saying I'd rather be a coal miner, I'm just saying we always talk about the importance of education, and some of us keep coming up with more and more ways to "help" all the little ones, it wouldn't hurt to figure out some ways to make the job a little more attractive. Would it?

The Asheville Citizen-Times pointed out recently the necessity of increasing efforts to retain good teachers. This is something everyone says. The Citizen-Times went a little further.

The editorial concluded by noting, “Teachers who feel empowered and supported, who have time to prepare for their classes and have the resources they need and who have opportunities for stimulating professional development, are the most critical factor in student achievement...They are more likely to remain in teaching.”

Duh. But does that sound like what's going down.

Paul Hubbert, executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association, told a crowd at the University of Alabama yesterday too many teachers are leaving the classroom before retirement, creating problems in keeping experienced educators teaching students.

Hubbert said that 43 percent of teachers leave by their third year. That means training that was paid for by schools is lost.

“There are worlds of teachers in Alabama with a valid teaching certificate who are not teaching,” he said.

The leader of the state’s largest teachers union said inadequate pay wasn’t the primary reason teachers quit.

While salary was part of the reason teachers leave the profession, reasons that weighed heavier in the mix were workloads, lack of support, limited resources and almost no ability to influence working conditions, according to a national survey of teachers who have left the classroom.

How many "Education Presidents" have we had?

The following is from the Annapolis Capital (Maryland).

Teachers: We have too much work
Hundreds picket Board of Education meeting as contract negotiations loom

County teachers turned out en masse last night to tell the Board of Education they're buckling under an increased workload of data entry, extra meetings and too many practice exams.

About 300 teachers lined the walls of the board room, carrying signs that read "Our families miss us," "Test proctors or teachers?" and "Should I enter data or TEACH?"

"I was stunned by the number of teachers who came out," said Tim Mennuti, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, which organized the protest. "I've never seen the anger this high for non-economic issues. Teachers are burned out and they don't know where to go next."

TAAAC is beginning negotiations on the teachers' contract today, and the protest was partly to ask the board to look at teachers' workloads in those negotiations.

The workload is increasing in different ways at different schools, TAAAC representatives said.

Teachers are being asked to attend more meetings, answer more e-mail, serve as lunch and recess monitors and compile data on standardized tests.

"In my career as a teacher, I have never seen a time when teachers were so stressed," Robert Silkworth, the TAAAC representative for North County High School, told the board. "The basic problem is there are too many well-intentioned people who make demands on teachers' time. Our teachers care so much that they're willing to risk their health and family ties."

The requirements take away time that teachers need to research and plan their lessons and time they need to actually teach, they said.

Many now have to administer practice exams about four times during the school year to prepare for the state's standardized tests. Teachers who have 200 students have to grade 200 essays for those exams, which is roughly 30 hours of work on top of their usual load, Mr. Mennuti said.

"It's test after test after test, and we don't have enough planning time," said Kari Biles, a second-grade teacher at Arnold Elementary School.

Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell said teachers' workloads are increasing nationwide, caused in part by the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires more data and testing, he said.

"I know that our teachers are concerned and we plan to work with them in any way possible," he said, adding that last year he asked for more money in his budget to hire registrars and test coordinators, but that request wasn't funded by the county.

School board member Eugene Peterson said the school system's hands are tied by this year's tight budget and reduced funding from the state.

TAAAC could have taken the protest to the state government, he said, "to say you cannot balance this budget on the backs of children."

Vic Bernson, also a school board member, said he's not particularly sympathetic to the teachers.

"By contract they (work) 37 hours a week," he said. "I think this is simply a 'have your cake and eat it too' situation for many of these folks."

Mr. Mennuti said a task force on teachers' workload three years ago showed that the average teacher is working a 58-hour week. Teachers are getting burned out and leaving at a time when there's a critical shortage in the field, he said.

"Look around at the young people here - when they leave, we're toast," Mr. Mennuti told the board. "When this gang leaves, there's no one standing outside waiting." Dr. Maxwell said he would look again at the report from that task force.

Tom Tully, a sixth-grade science teacher at George Fox Middle School in Pasadena, said social studies and science teachers at George Fox are teaching twice as many students this year as they did last year - about 180 compared with 90.

"This is on top of everything else, and there's no compensation for the increase," he said. "The overall goal of this is beneficial: We need to make changes to help students do well. The old system wasn't working, but this one isn't either."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


It's hard to imagine a plight much worse than that of being an Afghan women stuck in prison.

The number of women behind bars in that country is growing. But never fear Afghanistan is building new jails for the women.

According to Al Jazeera one of the reasons for the increase in jailed women is that in a nation lacking in transitional houses for released prisoners, a suggested solution includes using jails as secure places where women can stay until they are reintegrated into society.

Funding for building jails is much easier to come by then funding for housing.

That makes sense, doesn't it?

By the way it is estimated that more than half the jailed women would qualify as victims rather than criminals under any interpretation of international human rights laws, including those to which Afghanistan is a signatory.

Once released from prison women face victimisation yet again. This can take the form of, at best, the family leaving the woman to fend for herself, and at worst, a so-called honour killing.

What a deal.

The following was taken from the site of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. It is from the Persian language edition of the BBC.

Afghan parliamentarians: "Women prisoners are raped in a Kabul prison"
The delegation of Afghan parliament believe the situation in the Afghan prisons is worse then that is reflected in the Amnesty International report

Members of Afghanistan parliament accuse some officials of Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul for raping women prisoners.

A delegation of Afghan parliamentarians who recently visited the prison say some women become pregnant after being raped.

The number of children staying with their mothers in Afghan prisons is extremely high, almost equal to the number of their mothers, according to UNODC. (IRIN Photo)
MPs say they are concerned about the conditions of Afghanistan's prisons and are afraid such violations are going on in prisons in the other provinces.

These concerns are stated a day after the Amnesty International report warned about possible abusing of prisoners in Afghanistan.

The findings of parliament delegation suggest that prison officials first give medicines to prisoners to stupefy them and then sexually assault them.

Fouzia Kofi, one of the MPs who meet these victims in the prison, says in some cases victims have been forcibly raped.

Ms. Kofi says: "they (prisoners) say when we are ill and ask for medicines, they gave the medicines to make them unconscious, and then they are sexually abused. In some cases they are forcibly taken to the offices of prison officials, few women have got pregnant."

She says, fearing Afghan traditions and prison officials have made some victims silent, so it is difficult to find out a statistic about the number of abuses.

She says: "the numbers of women who are ready to talk about these issues are few and unfortunately they don’t have the gut to expose the truth. Because when we (the fact-finding delegation) leave the prison, they become defenseless."

The Amnesty International had already warned about torture of prisons in Afghanistan, but the delegation of Afghan parliament believe the situation in the Afghan prisons is worse then what is reflected in the AI report.


A series of protests continued today in Olympia, Washington where activists battle on in a campaign to end the militarization of Olympia's port.

Last night a crowd of nearly 150 protesters gathered to blockade the main gate of the Port while simultaneous decentralized direct actions took place elsewhere throughout the city. Police arrested 43 people Tuesday night. Seattle Indymedia reported:
"At 9:00 pm on November 13th the continued campaign to end the militarization of Olympia's port reached a crescendo tonight when nearly 40 women contained military equipment at the Port of Olympia. The women chanted, “No force is necessary, we are non-violent, no weapons on our bodies, we are non-violent,” linked arms, and placed their bodies in the road blocking the main gate as Olympia Police moved in in full riot gear."

Shizuno Wynkoop, one of the women on the frontline said, “I went to the port tonight in solidarity with women globally who struggle to stop human rights abuses and to support soldiers by keeping them home with their families instead of sent off to war.” After the women were taken away, another blockade formed, and police used pepper spray and dragged protesters out of the streets."

Demonstrator Noah Sochet reported, 'As Strykers left the north gate nearly a hundred people rushed down Marine Drive to block them. Demonstrators ran in front of the vehicles, blockaded them and immediately police used concussion grenades and pepper bullets on the crowd.'”

Matt McVay, videographer from The Olympian newspaper, was shot directly in the face with a pepper bullet. This is the third Olympian worker to be assaulted by the police. The Olympian has yet to report on the assaults on its own workers.'

...Witnesses report dozens of instances of police brutality across Olympia throughout the past week. Peter Cooper says, “When I talk to my family who live in Texas, I try to describe what’s been happening, but there’s been so much violence against peaceful demonstrators, so many instances that are so horrible, that I can’t describe it all in one conversation on the phone.” Still, Olympia resident and community activist Anna-Marie Murano says, 'Despite the horror of the police response to our peaceful demonstrations, OlyPMR will continue resisting the use of the soldiers and resources of our community to support an unjust, immoral war.'”

According to the Olympian about a dozen people expressed their opinions at Tuesday's Olympia City Council meeting about the police response to Port of Olympia protests, and most criticized the police actions. They said the police went too far in using tactics that included pepper spray and the use of batons to move people from the street.

Ken Schwilk of Olympia said police removed protesters' goggles and sprayed them in the eyes.

"I am very disappointed; it's a tragedy what occurred. ... These are nonviolent people. They are not attackers," he said.

Sandy Mayes of Olympia characterized police behavior as "excessive in the extreme" and said she is alarmed that young people are "taking the brunt of the abuse."

Mayes, who also criticized police actions while attending an Olympia port commission meeting earlier Tuesday, added that she thinks police seem intent on oppressing dissenting opinions.

"As public opinion has grown against the occupation, the police tactics have become more aggressive," she said.

Andrew Yankey, a spokesman for Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, said today that demonstrators weren't protesting soldiers — just the equipment that he said is likely being sent back for repair before being shipped out again.

"The soldiers have made it home, and we're really glad about that," he said. "This is about the military equipment. As long as the government refuses to listen to the will of the vast majority of people who want an end to this war, it's not safe to allow the military to have its hands on this equipment because it will continue to support the war in Iraq."

Olympia Port Militarization Resistance (OlyPMR) was founded in May of 2006 when Olympia peace activists attempted to block outgoing Strykers and other military equipment in advance of the deployment of the 3rd Brigade Stryker Team from Ft. Lewis. Activists united under the banner of Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, declaring a common mission to "end our community's participation in the illegal occupation of Iraq by stopping the military use of the Port of Olympia."

For updates I suggest Seattle IndyMedia.

The following is the latest report I could find from Indymedia.

50 arrested in Olympia blocking Stryker return

Protesters were still present early Wednesday morning in downtown Olympia during the multiday demonstration against the Stryker brigade. The Strykers are returning, rather than being shipped out, but there was a call to oppose any movement of supplies through Olympia streets. Concrete was poured on train tracks, a bank window was broken, and several dozen were arrested. Rubber bullets were fired and pepper spray was used.


Okay, this is another of those "not the most important issue in America today" articles which will no doubt tick off someone out there in virtual land.

Call me a curmudgeon. Go ahead. Get it over with. Now read on.

You know those memorials with all the teddy bears and candles that spring up every time someone dies in a wreck or is gunned down on the street somewhere?

I say enough already.

At least, if something ever happens to me, no "Elvis" style memorials, PLEASE.

Do the people who bring all the junk and pile it up next to a tree or a brick wall somewhere ever take into account the person who died...or their family and loved ones? Not everyone wants to remember their child via a makeshift shrine of stuffed animals and notes signed by folks they never heard of. Not everyone wants dying flowers tacked to a tree as a way to be remembered. Not everyone wants to be memorialized via an aesthetic blight of Mylar balloons and stuffed baby bunnies covered in grime.

Some people would like to remember their loved ones in dignity.

Some of us are satisfied to know that when we die, however we die, someone will remember. Even more importantly, some of us would like to be engraved in eternity by how we lived even if no one does remember that we lived.

On top of all this is the practical yet seldom discussed fact that roadside memorials are distracting and dangerous. More and more states are trying to regulate them. Some, like Montana and California, allow the memorials, but only if alcohol was a factor in the crash.

I'm not sure why that makes them less dangerous.

I think maybe the people who like the memorials most are the people who bring all the stuff. I'm not sure what it does for them, but they seem to exist everywhere. I wonder is it a way to deal with a world they don't understand and aren't willing to even make an attempt to...or is it a way to pat themselves on the back and let themselves know how much they "care" without doing anything about the ills of the world.

If you've got the energy and time to hang out at the corner, then how about using that energy and time to do something truly constructive and leave the mourning and the ways of mourning to those truly doing the mourning. Get it!

I mean like maybe your intentions are swell, really swell, but someone else's death is not about you. Everything is not about you.

The following comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Marking where life was lost
Street-side memorials hold great meaning to those who set them up; others may regard them as eyesores or too-painful reminders.
By Susan Snyder

Inquirer Staff Writer

It breaks Tracey Schwartz-Corsey's heart.

Without interference, she and her family for two years maintained a memorial for her niece Nicole Lee Schwartz around a tree at the State Road site in the Far Northeast where a drunken driver struck and killed the woman in 2004, just shy of her 22d birthday.

When it snowed, they shoveled. When people littered, they cleaned. At the holidays, they strung tree lights. They nailed pictures and sports jerseys to the tree and placed flowers and teddy bears around it.

"I feel like I can talk to her when I'm there. I feel like a part of her is there," said Schwartz-Corsey, 40, of the Parkwood section of the Northeast.

Then, a year ago, neighbors complained, and the Fairmount Park Commission, which owned the tree, got involved. Everything on the tree had to be removed. And now, the flowers and candles placed nearby often are stolen - even a five-foot cross.

"That's all we had, and they took it from us," a tearful Schwartz-Corsey said.

The number of makeshift memorials around the city has grown in recent years, fueled by the increase in the homicide rate. The one for slain Police Officer Chuck Cassidy grew so big in front of a West Oak Lane Dunkin' Donuts, where he was shot, that a canopy was erected over it.

Though that fresh memorial has brought positive sentiments, others - such as the one for Schwartz - have stirred controversy.

In the summer, District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham publicly expressed frustration over the memorials, saying that the energy would be better spent giving tips to police to help catch the killers. She clarified her position last week through spokeswoman Cathie Abookire: "It's all well and good when people erect a memorial in somebody's memory. However, solid information about the perpetrators of a crime is better."

That fortunately happened in the Cassidy case, Abraham said.

One grieving mother, Kisha Bivines, 34, hates how teddy bear memorials have become a routine, accepted response to an abnormal demise - the killing of a child.

She became so angry about the memorial that sprang up for her 17-year-old son, Ivan Simmons, shot to death last year in Nicetown, that she dismantled it the very next day and spray-painted "peace" on the wall that bore his name.

"To have to drive by the spot in which my son was murdered and to be reminded constantly what happened, it's like reliving the nightmare over and over again," she said. "So many memorial sites go up, it makes the city look like a graveyard."

A local cemetery is developing a new way to channel the grief. With $100,000 in seed money from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Laurel Hill Cemetery plans to launch "The Urban Mourning Project" next fall. By engaging children in art and studies on mourning across cultures, the project aims to help them cope with losing a loved one to homicide.

"Seeing the memorials in our neighborhood, they struck me as creative expressions of grief, modern urban mourning rituals," said Ross Mitchell, executive director of Laurel Hill Cemetery, a national historic landmark in East Falls.

"Let's take these naturally occurring urges and channel them in a creative and constructive way to help [children] work through their grief and break the cycle of violence in some small way."

Street-side memorials first emerged in other countries and have become more popular in the United States over the last few decades - first surfacing for car-accident victims and then for other types of deaths, local academics said.

And the 19th century had its own "teddy-bear memorial of the day," Mitchell said.

Then, he said, a broken urn on a gravesite meant a violent death. A broken column signified an untimely death.

Academics have noticed the local proliferation of public memorials, which are designed to honor people at the spot where they met their demise.

"There is something afoot in America . . . what I believe to be an increased willingness to carry our heart on our sleeve or to reveal our inner feelings publicly," said Frank Farley, former president of the American Psychological Association and a professor at Temple.

He likes the memorials, but understands there may be a need to regulate the length of time they remain, their content, or their location.

"Maybe municipalities should write rules so it doesn't get horribly messy," he said.

Some have made attempts. Delaware's department of transportation created a park at the Smyrna rest stop of the Dupont Highway to memorialize accident victims statewide in place of roadside shrines.

In Philadelphia, some memorials remain for years.

Affixed to a pole at Queen Lane and Greene Street in Germantown are statues, stuffed animals and a flag, in memory of Adam Hammer, who was shot to death on Sept. 28, 2004.

Others naturally disintegrate.

Victoria Yancey, a Philadelphia School District employee who helps families of children who die, sees memorials where "the teddy bear is just fading away, like a person's spirit might be fading away."

From family to strangers, some find comfort in them.

On Tuesday, the day before Officer Cassidy was buried, Maria Breyman stopped at the corral of stuffed animals, balloons, flowers in cellophane, and handwritten cards.

The 20-year-old La Salle University student set down a teddy bear and a card.

"It made me feel like I can say I added something to show my appreciation for what he did," Breyman said.

Jessica Checchia, finance manager for Tri-State Auto Inc., which is next to the Dunkin' Donuts, said placing balloons at the memorial gave her "closure."

"It is some kind of peace for people to have somewhere to go and say goodbye," said Checchia, who added that she knew Cassidy.

Melvin Figueroa, 40, whose pregnant daughter La'Toyia was killed by her boyfriend in 2005, keeps an entire wall in his living room as a memorial, with a poster-size picture of La'Toyia, her obituary, and mementos.

"It helps me to know she's there by my side," he said.

City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski is trying to mediate the dispute over the State Road memorial for Nicole Lee Schwartz. Some neighbors had found the memorial morbid, said Patty-Pat Kozlowski, legislative aide to Krajewski.

"It's a hard case," she said.

One way or another, the family wants to have a plaque there, at least.

"If one person sees that and decides, 'I'm never going to drink because that beautiful girl was taken here,' " Schwartz-Corsey said, "then it served its purpose."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The recently concluded “Indigenous Peoples’ Border Summit of the Americas II” provided the opportunity for Indigenous peoples of the border regions to exchange experiences and information about how the international borders impact their respective communities. The Summit hoped to build awareness and educate all peoples about the impacts of polices and practices being carried out along the borders.

Mike Flores, Tohono O'odham summit organizer, said before the gathering, "It is necessary for Tohono O'odham and other Indigenous Peoples of the border regions to collectively address the adverse impacts that are increasingly occurring on tribal lands. The Border Summit of the Americas II will provide us the opportunity to do just that."

Speakers and testimony focused on militarization of the border, Indigenous Peoples’ right of mobility in ancestral territories, regardless of national borders, environmental protection, women at the border, imprisonment of migrant children and adults, humanitarian aid at the border and more.

During the Summit, Narco News reports, delegates meeting on Tohono O'odham Nation land were outraged by the federal agents, hovering customs helicopter, profiteering contractors, federal spy tower, federal "cage" detention center and watching the arrest of a group of Indigenous Peoples, mostly women and children, by the US Border Patrol on an Indian Nation.

In addition, the blog AngryIndian reported, A delegation of Yaquis from Sonora, Mexico, were detained at the US/Mexico border for 11 hours without food or water, as they traveled to the Indigenous Peoples' Border Summit of the Americas 2007. The delegation persevered and arrived to share their critical information on how pesticides banned in the United States are killing Yaqui in Rio Sonora, six hours drive south of the border. 'Jelly babies,' babies born without bones, have been born in the Yaqui Pueblos. The other place the 'jelly babies' are found is in the Pacific Islands, where mothers are the victims of extensive nuclear testing.

The following is from
Break the Chains.

End of the game: Indigenous Peoples' bringing down Apartheid wall
by Brenda Norrell

Mohawks were among 19 Indian Nations at the Indigenous Peoples' Border Summit of the Americas 2007. The four-day summit concluded Saturday with a challenge from Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham who puts out water for migrants. Lenny Foster, Dine', spoke on Native inmates' ceremonial rights and freedom for Leonard Peltier. Petuuche Gilbert, Acoma Pueblo, shared insights into law and the border, with the summit culminating in a Blackfire resistance concert.

Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, said it is important to dispel the myth of sovereignty. "We have no sovereignty. We only have the sovereignty that the US Congress allows us that day."

Wilson said if the Tohono O'odham Nation was truly sovereign, it would not have an occupying army and unchecked police power on its land, including the Border Patrol, National Guard and Immigration and Customs agents. Wilson said children as young as six-years-old have been imprisoned in the unit known as "the cage" on O'odham land at San Miguel.

Wilson described searching for the bodies of migrants who have died. Since 2006, 246 migrants have died in the Tucson Border Patrol sector, where the Border Patrol's inhumane border policies are enforced.

On the Tohono O'odham Nation, 65 people perished in the desert. Wilson is now searching the desert for the remains of another five human beings.

"Where is the moral outrage?" Wilson asked. In July, Wilson found the remains of a 17-year-old who was seven-months pregnant.

Wilson said the Tohono O'odham Nation spent $16 million to build a new cultural center. "Not one penny was spent to prevent migrant deaths."

It is time, he said, for Native people to stop the romantic myth of sovereignty and the cloaking and choking on victimization. It is time to emerge from silence about the women, men, children and unborn children who die on Indian lands for want of a drink of water.

"Do not think your silence honors me as a Tohono O'odham person. It dishonors me." Wilson said it is time for all people to become a voice for the mummified migrants found dead in the desert.

Singing with a strong voice a song for Leonard Peltier, Foster called for freedom for Peltier. Foster said he visits Peltier three times a year for the sweatlodge ceremony. "They gave him the Pipe, but they will not let him have tobacco."

"Leonard's health is not good. We miss him and pray for him," Foster said as he described the hope of Peltier's release. "Leonard sends his love and support and is in solidarity."

Petuuche Gilbert, Acoma Pueblo from New Mexico, described the colonized thinking that the border delegation experienced on Tohono O'odham land on Thursday, during a tour of where the border barrier is being built.

Gilbert recalled the words of an Acoma Pueblo referring to the Catholic Church.

"They made slaves out of us to make this church. I guess that's why we are Catholics now."

Gilbert said the border wall is going up on Indian lands because Indian Nations are not functioning as true sovereign nations.

"Because we do not have that sovereignty over our lands, territories and natural resources." Gilbert said that one day, Indian Nations would be sovereign nations again.

Jay Johnson Castro described abuses at the prisons for profit. Those include Don T. Hutto Detention Center near Austin, Texas, where migrant babies and children are imprisoned, and Raymondville migrant internment camp near Brownsville, Texas.

"Near the Texas capitol, there are hundreds of children in prison for profit," Castro said of Hutto. Describing conditions before the protests began, he said children were kept in cells separate from their parents, wore prison uniforms and given out-dated milk to drink at Hutto.

"If they were to take a cookie to their cells, they would be punished." In the cells, when they used the toilet, anyone walking by their cells could watch them.

One woman was sexually assaulted by a guard in front of her child and was never charged. "We don't know what happened to the mother and child," Castro said.

Homeland Security denied entry to the United Nations' Rapporteur on migrants, Jorge Bustamante, in May. At Raymondville internment camp, a prison guard exposed the fact that migrants were being fed food with maggots in it. The United States is one of only two countries in the world, the other one being Somalia, who does not ensure the rights of the child and has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Castro also described the "Endgame," a United States policy to remove all "aliens" that is now in its fourth year.

The Border Summit concluded with the chicken scratch sounds of Gertie and the TO Boys, followed by the resistance vocals and chords of Blackfire, sounding out the need to keep San Francisco Peaks sacred from waste water. Blackfire's Navajo family band of Klee, Jeneda and Clayson Benally called for justice for the political prisoners: migrants at the border and Leonard Peltier.

Klee Benally told the gathering that the arrest of Maoris in New Zealand, organized for self-determination, was both a test and an indicator for what is to come here.

Standing in solidarity with Maoris and Apaches protecting Mount Graham in Arizona, Blackfire joined the summit in declaring an end to borders, discrimination against migrants and a new era of human rights. Jones Benally joined his children onstage for traditional Dine' songs with the drum.

The Border Summit, emboldened by the delegation of Mohawks, renewed their determination on Saturday to halt the border wall and hold the Tohono O'odham Nation responsible for the deaths of men, women, children and unborn children who have died on O'odham lands "for want of a drink of water."

After traveling to the Tohono O'odham Nation border with Mexico, an Indigenous Peoples' delegation from the summit unleashed a new movement to honor the lives and deaths of migrants.

Diana Joe, Yaqui, among the Indigenous women present who worked the fields as a child, said, "May the farm worker people live long!"

Indigenous Peoples called for action to bring down the wall and stop the deaths of Indigenous Peoples' walking to a better life. This land, all of Turtle Island from the north to the south, is the home to Indigenous Peoples.

As Indigenous Peoples here stood in solidarity with those walking, Native people said it is the white people in the United States who are the invaders. They arrived here without papers, visas or passports.

As one Mohawk warrior put it, "It doesn't take a lot of people to bring down this border wall!"


I hardly know what to say about the news that Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia (and is that a great name for a Georgia governor or what) led a group of his state's prayerful in a prayer for rain the other day in Atlanta.

Do you really think Sonny thinks the One True God was waiting to hear from him and his buds? Do the prayerful really think the Almighty makes up his (her) mind on what to do based on who is praying for what. I mean what if someone else was praying for it not to rain that day? Don't their prayers count,too? And how does this prayer for rain stuff fit into the whole notion of "God's plan." I mean He either has a plan or She doesn't.

I don't know, but Sonny probably does since he figured out the whole drought thing was just God's way to get our attention.


On the other hand, who are the twenty-two folks who had nothing better to do then come down and protest the prayer. Come on everyone, get a grip, are we all really imperiled if the governor of Georgia, who goes by the name of Sonny, and a few hundred of his closest friends pray for rain? I and state...slippery slope...all that, but really, do you feel that if someone prays for rain the next step will be Taliban rule.

Can't we all just get along?

Someone should tell Sunny, I mean Sonny, and the protesters that us Jews have a special time, and I won't tell you when it is because you may not be one of the tribe (and you know this is part of our secret plan to take over the world) to pray for dew and rain (tal umatar). Now, its true that us Hebrews have never been that big on public prayer fests, well not since Sinai (pictured here). To tell the truth from my perspective and strike me down if I'm wrong, but all the praying we've done for five thousand years or so hasn't done us all that much good - it's like the old joke about us as the Chosen People, sometimes we'd like someone else to be chosen for a change of pace.
Speaking of prayer and the plan, whenever I asked a rebbe about, say, what was up with the Holocaust anyway, where was Hashem during that business, they always just told me I didn't understand the plan. They were sure right about that one. I still don't.

But I digress.

What I want to repeat before ending this philosophical/theological tract is we've all got better things to worry about then a southern governor, even if his name is Sonny, praying for rain. If it makes him and some others happy, let them feel good about themselves. What do I care? Why should you?

Hey, maybe, the dudes right. Maybe Her Holiness is just waiting for someone to ask. What do I know?

I gotta admit to you all that when I'm out walking the doggie at night I look up into the infinite and put in a few requests to the great Out There myself. Figure it can't hurt...and I enjoy the conversation.

And since if you've ever read any books like "The Fabric of the Cosmos" (look it up),you'd know that there are so many different dimensions that you're doing just about anything you could be doing somewhere anyway.

Have I lost you yet? Have I said "anyway" enough yet?

The truth is, I'm just trying to keep Bill O'Reilly off my back with this piece.

The following is from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Perdue asks crowd to 'pray up a storm'
Drought is message from God to conserve better, governor says

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

More than 250 faith-filled Georgians joined Gov. Sonny Perdue outside the Capitol this morning to pray for the rain needed to end the area's historic drought.

The governor was joined by several ministers; his wife, Mary; Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle; and many other state elected officials.

Gil Watson, senior minister of Northside United Methodist Church, prayed, "Lord, have mercy on your people, have mercy on us and grant us rain. Oh God, let rain fall on this land of Georgia."
About a dozen TV cameras representing local and national stations and more than a dozen print reporters and photographers captured the ceremony. At one point a TV helicopter threatened to drown out much of the sound.

Twenty-two protesters were forced to stay more than a block away, out of earshot and out of sight of the prayer service, on Martin Luther King Drive. They were members of the Atlanta Freethought Society. Signs include "Hail Priest-King Perdue" or "Pray on the Church Steps, not the Capitol Steps."

A lone demonstrator in front of the Central Presbyterian Church, directly across the street from the Capitol, was arrested minutes before the prayer service.

Police pulled a small sign from his hands ” which on one side read "Ten Commandments" and the other side "H.R. 536." The latter was a reference to a measure before the state Legislature that would declare human life to begin at the moment of conception.

Perdue said after the event that Georgians have not done "all we could do in conservation" and that the drought was an attempt by God to "get our attention."

"Hopefully we will be better conservators of the blessings God's given us as he gives us more (rain)," the governor said.


Tired of Lou Dobbs incessant racist chatter about immigrants from Mexico? I know I am.

You and I are not alone. Old Lou got the treatment yesterday at a book signing in San Diego.

In Sarasota, Florida where Dobbs met protests last week, Jose Manuel Godinez Samperio, an organizer and New College student, spoke for most of us when he commented about Dobbs. "Lou Dobbs has been one of the instrumental factors in the propagation of hate and lies against immigrants."

Hispanic News says of Dobbs:

"Promoted as journalist reporting, Lou Dobbs is a self interest demagogue who makes use of popular prejudices, false claims and promises in order to gain ratings. Instead of unbiased journalistic reporting, Lou Dobbs' "Broken Borders" is a theatrical show with props and guests who are of the same opinion and state half truths who do not fully disclose known facts."

I don't have much else to say except, "Lou, enough is enough already."
ps: The picture is from a rally in Milwaukee some time back

The following is from The Raw Story.

Lou Dobbs protested as 'racist' at book signing
Filed by David Edwards and Mike Sheehan

CNN host Lou Dobbs faced a boisterous protest Monday at a book signing in San Diego, a local CBS affiliate reports.

Activists accused Dobbs of prejudice against immigrants because he supports the controversial Minuteman project, a militia-style group seeking to prevent illegal border crossings. "He is, without question, a racist," said one protestor at the San Diego campus of the University of California. "He is against the Hispanic people from everywhere, especially Mexico."

Dobbs took the protest in stride, telling a reporter, "I think it's great that the university supports the Constitutional right of assembly and free speech." Yet when asked about the accusations of racism, Dobbs "would not discuss the matter."

Monday, November 12, 2007


The sort of thing described in the article below really gets my dander up.

Older Americans deserve far better treatment then they are getting at some assisted living center in Washington state. Residents, their families, and loved ones got the word out of the blue. The Milwaukee-based parent company Assisted Living Concepts Inc., which owns Victoria House in Port Townsend, would no longer honor Medicaid for nine residents there. Nine human beings who are just trying to live out their lives as best they can are to be tossed out of the place they call home. It may not be a home you are I would like to be living in right now, but it is a home all of us might someday find ourselves fighting to stay in.

You know I don't much care who is at fault, the state, the feds, the company, whoever. It doesn't much matter to me. What matters to me is the lack of respect and care for those who cared for all of us which this action demonstrates.

It happens all the time.

My mom had Alzheimer's Disease. After my father died, she lived alone in the place they'd called home since the late 60s. I lived a few miles away. My sister lived in another city. I quit my day job, spent a considerable amount of time with her, and was able to keep her in her in that home as long as humanly possible. Probably too long.

Finally the time came when it was just too dangerous. The possibility for any subsidized long term in home care was not there.

Now maybe you will argue that one of us should have taken her into our home and continued her care there. But that is a personal decision and we decided another way. Neither of us felt that was a safe or reasonable option anymore. We did find a very nice place (see picture) that specialized in caring for people with Alzheimer's near where my sister lived. She visited mom every single day for hours on end. It cost just about everything my folks had saved in a lifetime of work for mom to be there. She was fortunate to have some savings to make the payments necessary for more than a year. Many don't have that option.

As the time approached when the money was running out and she'd have to shift to medicaid coverage, the place let us know there wouldn't be a bed available. They had only a very few for medicaid patients. Not all nursing homes even accept medicaid. Many others restrict the number of Medicaid "beds" in the nursing home. That was the case here.
She had to move out to another facility.

The new place mom went wasn't bad, but the last thing a person with Alzheimer's needs is to be moved.

She died not much later.

We, the people, should do something about this. It isn't right.

The following is from the Peninsula Daily News (Port Angeles, WA).

Elderly face critical change of rules at PT center

By Jeff Chew, Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND - At 96, legally blind and nearly deaf, Luella Campbell had every expectation of living her final days in the Victoria House assisted living center.

Her son, Doug Campbell of Port Townsend, expected to continue visiting her in the senior living community of 39 units on Discovery Road.

"The doctor told me I should put her in a place where she wouldn't be moved again," he said, remembering when he placed his mother there in February 2006.

"So it was paramount that I not move her again."

He said that the facility's former director assured him that Medicaid would pay for his mother's care if her own money ran out.

That was before the assisted living center's most recent residence director, Wayne Pattison, got the word on Nov. 1 that the Milwaukee-based parent company Assisted Living Concepts Inc., would no longer honor Medicaid for nine residents, including Luella Campbell.

Only private pay residents are to be accepted after that date.

The company's action at Victoria House does not affect Medicaid-covered residents at Assisted Living Concept's Prairie Springs center in Sequim or Laurel Park in Port Angeles, said Laurie Bebo, company president.

Pattison cited the Washington Center for Assisted Living's written position that the state "shortchanges assisted living care" when it comes to Medicaid.

"There's nothing personal with this," he said. "This is just business."

Doug Campbell said it's an extremely personal business.

He watched painfully as his mother's $70,000 life savings dwindled in 18 months, while she paid nearly $4,000 each month for her care.

Threatened with the possibility of eviction, she had to seek Medicaid.

Her son vehemently opposes moving the residents in their twilight years, especially his mother.

"I am concerned it will be too much of a shock for her," Doug Campbell said.

He also doesn't want his mother moved hundreds of mile away to a company facility in Kelso, about 200 miles south of Port Townsend.

"I check in with her at least three times a week, but I can't do that if it's in Kelso," said Campbell, a Tacoma native who has lived in Port Townsend since 2000.

"It might as well be on the moon some place."

Campbell plans to contact Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, this week to seek legislative help for people like his mother.

Campbell and others in Port Townsend are planning a 1 p.m. Saturday protest in front of Victoria House.

Help available
Kevin Krueger, the state's Department of Social and Health Services regional administrator for Home and Community Services, said help is available.

"We're just sad about this situation, and we're going to be working with the residents affected by this situation, and will try our best," Krueger said.

He refers the families of those in need at Victoria House to see the agency's Web site at medicaid.htm.

"They need to contact a DSHS home and community services case worker or nurse assigned to their facility," Krueger said.

"Our responsibility in the process is to help Medicaid clients in need of care to find placements for their needs."

Pattison said the facility is already in the process of relocating several of the residents.

Bebo said that Assisted Living Concepts discontinued honoring Washington state's Medicaid program at Victoria House because it covers only assisted living care residents.

Residents in need of dementia care or skilled nursing care, she said, require at least five hours of direct supervision a day, compared to about two hours a day under assisted living.

"They'e demanding that we would take care of these patients, and we're saying, 'No, it's too much of a risk,' " Bebo said.

The Victoria House staff of about 20 is trained only for the assisted living care level.

"These people are no longer safe in our environment because they require far more care than we can provide, and are a risk to our employees," Bebo said

Doug Campbell said that his mother does not fall into the dementia or nursing skill level categories.

She can still move around quickly on her walker and is capable of bathing herself in a shower, he said.

Another remarkable fact about his mother, he said, is that she does not take any medications.

Victoria House has been accepting Medicaid payments since Victoria House opened 10 years ago, according to Bebo.

"Unfortunately, the state disagreed about moving these folks on, and it basically comes down to the cost of the state," Bebo said.

The state Medicaid waiver program pays about $65 a day for assisted living, compared to $110 a day for skilled nursing care.

"Medicaid amounts to about 65 percent of what we charge," Bebo said.

Pattison agreed, saying, "It doesn't help a corporation that's trying to stay viable."

WCAL, the state's residential-care advocacy organization, calls for the Legislature to boost daily reimbursement for Medicaid recipients to $71.44 from $59.58.


Striking nurses in West Virginia and Kentucky are up in arms over escalating violence against picketers (see article below).

For almost six weeks the nurses at Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) hospitals in Kentucky and West Virginia have been on the picket line to gain better care for their patients at great personal cost. The 700 nurses, members of the United American Nurses (UAN), have been on strike at nine ARH hospitals in Kentucky and West Virginia since Oct. 1. The nurses are concerned that management’s staffing decisions and rampant mandatory overtime are preventing them from giving patients the best possible care. In contract negotiations, ARH is proposing modest pay raises but then is demanding to cut holiday pay and increase health care premiums, effectively wiping out the raises.

Geri Jenkins, RN of the National Nurses Organizing Committee says, "These nurses in Kentucky and West Virginia aren't striking for themselves or for their patients," said Geri Jenkins. "They are striking to improve the care that every patient in this country receives. When a patient enters the hospital, they should know that there will be adequate staff and safe patient care procedures to take care of them. Whether they're in Appalachia or anywhere else, we will not stand by and watch hospital owners cut corners on patient care in order to pad their bottom line."

"We don't like sitting out here anymore than the people that are inside like to look out and see us out here," nurse Elizabeth Mills said.

"We average six patients per nurse, and we average eight in the evenings," Mills, a nurse at Harlan Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital said. "It has been up to 10 or 11."

"The personal attention, you can't give it to them, because you don't have time during your shift," Mills said. "You don't have time to sit and talk and discuss and find out what's really going on with them, because you're too busy."

To show support for the striking nurses representatives from nursing organizations in several states demonstrated at Appalachian Regional Healthcare's corporate offices in Lexington, West Virginia on Friday.

The Lexington Herald reported nurses from California, Washington state, New York, Oregon and Ohio, waved signs and chanted outside ARH's offices on Executive Drive, and made an unsuccessful attempt to speak with company officials. They later left in a caravan, bound for various ARH hospitals in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

The nurses stopped in Hazard, where tensions have been running high between those inside the hospital and those on strike.

A skeleton sitting in a lawn chair wearing a Santa hat greets cars as they drive into or past the hospital. The sign it holds reads: "My nurse was a scab."

The traveling nurses joined those on the picket line -- holdings signs and chanting messages in support. They waved at passing cars who honked in support.

"It's been tough," said Wilma Jones, president of the Hazard unit of the Kentucky Nurses Association. "It's so uplifting to have their support."

Other unions including the United Mine Workers and the United Steel Workers have been out in support and provided bag loads of food to the strikers.

This is the second strike against Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospitals this year.

Back in April, nurse's assistants, lab technicians, and other support staff walked out.

The following is a press release from United American Nurses, AFL-CIO.

BECKLEY, W.Va., Nov. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The nearly 700 striking nurses at Appalachian Regional Health Care (ARH), represented by the Kentucky and West Virginia Nurses Associations/United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, are speaking out to call public attention to the underhanded and violent tactics exhibited against them by the hospital during their strike, which began Oct. 1. ARH has escalated its intimidation of striking nurses from hired security guards on the picket lines who routinely harass nurses to video surveillance of striking nurses to, it now appears, orchestrating the burning of the car of one of the union staff on hand to assist the nurses.

A union representative left the picket line at the Beckley, WV, ARH facility Sunday night for his car and discovered after driving a short distance that he had a flat tire. He returned to the picket line for assistance, and when he and others returned to his car, they found it ablaze with brush that had been doused in flammable liquid. Attempts to report the incident to police were met with a response that the department was closed for the Veterans Day holiday and that the detective was not available. Nurses are demanding the mayor provide more protection for the RNs on the line -- protection the police so far have not provided.

"We are stunned. Violent, threatening actions like this are beyond the pale," said Ocie Helton, RN, who is the local president of the West Virginia Nurses Association union at Beckley-ARH. "Registered nurses who are out on this picket line to stand up for patient care are being repaid with threats to our lives. What if next time someone is in the car that is set on fire? Working women and men are literally under attack in Beckley and risking our lives to speak out for our patients.

"The word on the picket line is that this must have been the work of someone associated with ARH. We don't have evidence yet that that's the case, but we call on the police to make a full investigation of this and prosecute whoever the guilty party is to the fullest extent of the law. We also call on ARH to disavow this kind of criminal behavior and get rid of security forces that are harassing nurses on the picket lines."

The United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, the collective bargaining affiliate of the American Nurses Association, is the nation's largest RN union, representing more than 115,000 nurses and including 27 state nurses associations or collective bargaining program affiliates.

web page:
United American Nurses, AFL-CIO


The attempted nazi march through the old Jewish Quarter of Prague left numerous nazis with knots on their skin heads.

Brandishing yellow stars and red flags, upwards of 2000 people rallied in Prague's old Jewish quarter Saturday to block the far-right march on the anniversary of a notorious Nazi-era pogrom against Jews.

Anarchists also clashed with police in other parts of the city, injuring several people.

Six of almost 400 detained by the Czech police in connection with their participation in the demonstration in Prague on Saturday face accusation of crime, Prague police director Petr Zelasko told CTK today. Five of the six are anarchist anti-nazis.

Somewhat confusingly, CTK also reports there are some three dozens of anarchists among the detained and the rest are neo-Nazis, according to Zelasko.

"The police operation was aimed against right-wing extremists," Zelasko said.

Petr Kalinovsky, spokesman for the far right National Resistance group, is among the persons to be accused, he said.

Kalinovsky fired a shot from a gas pistol outside the Law Faculty building in Prague on Saturday morning.

All 396 detained persons have been released, Zelasko said. He said that the number of detained persons was extraordinarily high.

Meanwhile, in Spain Indymedia is reporting that an antifascist activist was stabbed in the heart by a nazi while on his way to a demonstration in Madrid.

A nazi group called Democracia Nacional had organized an action against immigration in a popular neighborhood in town, where many foreign nationals live, mainly Latin American workers.

A report from the scene adds:

"Another demo was called by antifascist groups to defend the area. While on his way there, the comrade, only 16 years of age, together with some friends, spotted a guy sporting nazi paraphernalia on the underground. When "called to attention", the bastard pulled out a knife, stabbed Carlos, the comrade, in the heart, and another antifascist militant in the lung, while trying to run out of the tube station. Carlos died, the other guy has been badly hurt, but doctors say he will live."

The others in the group of antifascists chased the bastard, and beat him within an inch of his life, until the police arrived and attacked the antifascists. The nazi is (was) a service person, in the Spanish army."
The following is from Haaretz.

Anti-fascists block Nazi march in Prague's Jewish Quarter
By Yehuda Lahav, Haaretz Correspondent

A large group of Czech anti-fascist activists prevented hundreds of neo-Nazis from marching in Prague on Saturday on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Three people were injured in clashes between the two camps.

The 2,000 members of the group, which also included young Jews and anarchists, positioned themselves at the outskirts of the capital's historic Jewish quarter, where they warded off some 400 Czech and German neo-Nazis.

The members of the Young Nationalist Democrats (MND) received backup from two busloads of German supporters.

The clashes broke out after one of the young fascists used pepper spray against one of the anarchists. The anarchists then attacked the neo-Nazis, injuring one of them. Two other activists were injured in other incidents.

Police arrested over 40 neo-Nazis. Law enforcement sources said some of them carried weapons such as iron rods and even explosives. Police also sealed off a number of subway stations to prevent neo-Nazis from reaching the quarter.

The neighborhood also saw a mass prayer in memory of the victims of the Kristallnacht pogrom, which took place in 1938. Several of the speakers, among them 80-year-old novelist and Holocaust survivor Arnost Lustig, warned against the reemergence of Nazism in Europe.

Lustig said he was happy to see so many Czechs gathering in downtown Prague to protest the far-right extremists. "It is great because I remember when we went to the concentration camp, some people just crossed over to the other side of the road," he told DPA.