Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The Oread Daily will now take a well deserved rest. See you next week. In the meantime have fun or die.

"Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union.”
----Uncle Joe Stalin

Monday, November 19, 2007


Richmond, California, a city plagued by violent crime, is acting to post Gun Free Zone signs around its 30 schools.

The Richmond City Council voted unanimously to work with schools to post the signs in an effort to discourage shootings in the areas.

"The actual sign, the visual signage will make the individual who is in possession of a weapon think twice," said Ken Nelson, a member of Richmond’s NAACP.

I'm sorry but I ain't buying it.

Gun Free Zones have got to be one of the most ridiculous ideas ever put out there by gun control (or anti-crime) activists. I mean really folks, can you picture someone heading out to commit a gun crime seeing such a sign and deciding to take their gun home and look for something else to do.

Virginia Tech was a gun free zone.

It is a violation of federal law to bring guns within 1,000 feet of schools. That's helped...not.

Now I'm not a right wing nut who thinks everyone should be packing heat every minute of every day, but I really don't think signs are the answer to gun crime.

The truth of the matter is its hard to find outspoken supporters of gun free zones (so maybe this post is unnecessary), but if you look around the Internet you certainly find the right hitting the left over the head with them. It fact that's almost all you find...that and examples of gun crimes in gun free zones.

Now, let's move on to those "drug free zones." They don't make any more sense to me then "gun free zones." But you know what I found interesting when I googled "drug free zones," it seems unlike when you google "gun free zones" the right doesn't seem at all riled about this. No gazillion right wing sites lambasting the idea. No ridiculing anyone. No right wingers wailing with examples of kids doing drugs in drug free zones.

Odd don't you think?


The following editorial opinion is from the Contra Costa Times (California).

'Gun-free zone' signs
Contra Costa Times
Article Launched: 10/23/2007 03:01:26 AM PDT

You can't blame Richmond (California) for grasping at anything that seems like it might help curb crime. After all, the violence in certain neighborhoods is out of control. Despite crime summits, Tent City protests and much hand-wringing on the part of elected officials and community leaders, street killings continue unchecked.

The most frightening thing is that police can't even discern a pattern other than violent youths are taking to the streets with guns to settle grudges.

Yet we find the City Council's vote last week to spend $35,000 to put up "gun-free zone" signs around the schools a ridiculous waste of money.

The program's misguided supporters -- including the Richmond NAACP -- somehow believe that erecting signs will remind people of an existing state law that imposes stiffer criminal penalties for possessing or firing guns within 1,000 feet of a school and that being privy to this information will be a deterrent to the gun-toting youths responsible for much of the city's violence.

Having "gun-free zone" signs around the city's 30 public schools certainly can't hurt. But we agree with former City Council candidate Corky Boozé that the City Council could have found a better use for $35,000. It isn't a huge amount of money, but it's still $35,000.

Wouldn't that money be better spent on programs that offer training and substance abuse treatment for parolees and other violent people in Richmond?

Would a "gun-free zone" sign have deterred the thugs who killed a 4-year-old woman in a drive-by shooting last week across from Lincoln Elementary School or given pause to the hoodlums who decided to shoot it out outside Nystrom Elementary last year, sending bullets flying through classrooms and whizzing across the playground during recess? We highly doubt it.

The sign ordinance is an empty gesture that does little meaningful to address street violence. Richmond can put up "gun-free zone" signs all over the city. But it's naive to think that would make the streets any safer.


I doubt that you know anyone who lives in northern Alberta. I mean, how many people are up there.

Well, however many there may be it turns out that a bunch of them are not interested in a proposed nuclear power plant in their neck of the woods.

Energy Alberta Corporation has chosen Peace River as the site for the plant.

Northern Albertans caravaned to the provincial legislature today to express their distaste for a nuclear neighborhood.

Trudi Keillor’s house in the Peace River Country is on an unassuming spit of land, vacant save for wildlife, water and weeds. The fact that its status might someday change scares the hell out of her.

“We do not want this. We don’t want it for the rest of Alberta or for Canada,” Keillor said, as she joined other Peace Country residents outside the legislature today, protesting a company’s plan to build a nuclear power plant. “I live six miles west of the proposed site. And this is all happening behind the scenes. Nothing is being done to keep residents informed.”

“It was all done hush-hush, and people were very upset when they found out. And a lot of the municipal councillors did not get voted back in that were involved in that. The people have not been consulted. Keller told the Sun.”

The Edmonton Sun reports Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC), which is owned by Calgary liquor magnate Wayne Henuset, has the only license from the Atomic Energy Company of Canada to built a reactor in Alberta. It sees 10 to 15 years of hearings, license applications and approvals before that can happen.

But the process is already moving too quickly for residents to keep up, said Keillor, and given that the company has met numerous times with government to push the deal already, they’re not taking EAC’s word on the issue.

The presence of drilling rigs on property designated for Alberta's first nuclear power plant has not helped quell residents fears that events are moving faster then expected. Amongst those who was outraged when the drilling rigs appeared was John Plett.

Plett, who lives in the county where the plant is proposed to be built, told the Edmonton Journal Albertans should first be allowed to vote on whether or not nuclear power can establish itself in the province.

While some polls have shown a thin majority of Albertans favor the building of the plant, they also show support is higherst the farther away from the site you get. People living in the small towns around the site are the least enamored with the idea. Further, the overall results showed the storage of nuclear waste was a huge concern with nearly nine in 10 Albertans, while the possibility of an accident was a worry with seven in 10 Albertans, the poll found.

Aboriginal leaders in Alberta also have told the company that plans to build the nuclear power plant that they don't like the idea either.

One such leader, Driftpile First Nation Chief Rose Laboucan says she totally rejects the idea of a nuclear plant. Laboucan says she has lived next door to toxic waste before, a reference to the province's waste treatment facility at Swan Hills.

Mark Winfield of the Pembina Institute warned about the dangers the plant presents to the area. "There are all sorts of different ways in which material can leave the plant under both normal operating conditions, accident conditions or the possibility of a security incident."

The plant has its supporters.

Energy Alberta Corporation recently flew Whitecourt Mayor Trevor Thain and a number of councillors from the area to the East Coast to tour a reactor. The trip seems to win over the mayor who now says he is feeling comfortable about the possibility of a nuclear reactor in his backyard.

The proposed site by the way is near the border with British Columbia (B.C.) and the province's New Democratic Party (NDP) leader says B.C. should say loud and clear that the province is opposed to a proposed nuclear power plant in the Peace River.

Carole James says she was surprised and shocked at news that the Alberta government may proceed with a $6.2 billion nuclear plant near northeastern B.C.

She says B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell must voice British Columbia‘s opposition to nuclear energy.

James notes there has been no consultation with people in B.C., despite the proposed project‘s close proximity to the provincial border.

James says the issue is one of basic safety and one people in B.C. have been clear about over and over again.

James says until B.C. residents are consulted, nothing should happen with the nuclear proposal.

NDP environment critic Dave Eggen pointed out the project was originally slated to be built further south, near Whitecourt.

"I found it interesting that once the people of Whitecourt started to learn a little bit about the scope of the plan and asked for more time and information, this company packed up and went to another place," he said.

Apparently not everyone in town were as "comfortable" as the mayor, eh?

The following is from CBC News.

Nuclear protest convoy dumps on Alberta reactor

A group of protesters drove almost 500 kilometres from northern Alberta to deposit fake leaky barrels of radioactive waste on the steps of the legislature in a demonstration Monday against a proposal for the province's first nuclear power plant.

However, the eye-catching convoy ran into a roadblock at the legislature's security gates when guards refused to let the fake barrels through. Despite the setback and the morning chill, about 150 people stayed for a rally, with many holding large protest signs.

The demonstrators, arriving in Edmonton from northern communities including Peace River, Valleyview and Slave Lake, oppose plans for a nuclear reactor to be built on private land near Lac Cardinal, about 30 kilometres from Peace River.

Calgary-based Energy Alberta Corp. embarked on the long licensing process in August. Pending approvals, the $6-billion project is slated to produce 2,200 megawatts of electricity when it opens in 2017.

Organizers of Monday's rally said they want to raise awareness about the dirty and dangerous impact of nuclear energy and to ask Premier Ed Stelmach to keep Alberta nuclear-free.

The group will present an anti-nuclear petition signed by 1,300 people in northern Alberta to the energy and environment ministers as well as the MLA for the Peace River region.

We have over 1,300 signatures, which is quite significant considering this is a sparsely populated, rural area and a lot of the signatures are concentrated in the 20or 30 kilometres right around the proposed site," said Brenda Brochu of the Peace River Environmental Society.

"So we hope this will cause the politicians to sit up and take notice and to start consulting with Albertans on energy policy instead of just rubber-stamping every economic development project that comes along."

Brochu says the proposed site is on a fault line that has a history of earthquakes, and she hopes the provincial government rejects the request to build the plant.

Trudi Keillor, who lives in Grimshaw, the town closest to the proposed reactor, is uneasy with an option for the plant to use reprocessed fuel from other countries.

"So do we really want that? We become the nuclear dumping ground for other countries," Keillor told CBC News.


Remember when we used to like Daniel Ortega. Well, if you are a right to lifer, you really like him now.

Danny boy is the power behind one of the world's cruelest anti-abortion laws. You asked how such a thing might have happened to a guy we used to think was, at least, progressive. The Guardian newspaper gives us one answer.

It says in the run-up to last November's election, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo spearheaded a campaign for a blanket abortion ban. Ortega, desperate to regain power, mobilised the Sandinistas behind the cardinal's campaign and helped get the ban through the parliament just days before the poll. The former revolutionary, now reinvented as a devout Catholic, was rewarded with the presidency.

With that parliamentary vote Nicaragua last year became one of 35 countries that ban all abortions, even to save the life of the mother, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York. The ban has been strictly followed, leaving the country torn between a strong tradition of women’s rights and a growing religious conservatism. Abortion rights groups have stormed Congress in recent weeks demanding change, but President Daniel Ortega, the alleged former leftist revolutionary and a Roman Catholic, has refused to oppose the church-supported ban.

The absolute ban on abortion in Nicaragua drew cries of outrage from some 30 local medical bodies, Central American human rights organisations, foreign diplomats, the World Health Organisation, the Pan-American Health Organisation and other United Nations agencies.

Danny wasn't moved.

Far from it. In fact this September Ortega whipped Sandinista assembly deputies into voting with rightwing parties 66-3 to uphold the ban.

Nicaragua’s blanket ban on abortion, which criminalizes life-saving medical treatment, has had a devastating impact on women’s health and lives.

In fact, its killing them (One women who died of an abortion is mourned by her family in the picture above).

According to IPS nearly 90 women have died in Nicaragua as a direct or indirect result of the repeal(Women's rights organisations say those documented deaths are the tip of the iceberg. The Pan-American Health Organisation estimates one woman per day suffers from an ectopic pregnancy, and that every two days a woman suffers a miscarriage from a molar pregnancy. That adds up to hundreds of obstetric emergencies per year).

Ana María Pizarro, the head of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Sí Mujer, and Latin American coordinator of the 28th September Campaign for the Decriminalisation of Therapeutic Abortion, told IPS that the reform of the abortion law has driven up the number of fatalities reported in Nicaragua.

Studies by Sí Mujer indicate numerous young pregnant women died from lack of care in health centres where personnel were afraid of the penalties of up to eight years in jail and loss of their medical licence for doctors who carry out or assist in abortions, even when the action is taken to save the expectant mother’s life.

"In practice what is happening is a government death penalty imposed on women," said Pizarro, a gynaecologist.

Women who undergo abortions, whether self-induced or performed with their consent, also face prison terms of one to two years, says the controversial criminal code, which was approved by PLC and FSLN votes.

Patricia Orozco, coordinator of the Feminist Movement fighting for the reinstatement of therapeutic abortions says public protests of the draconian law have been met with police violence.

"Apart from having our right to life undermined, we have been attacked in the streets when we protest -- they have sent the police after us, have beaten us and have harassed us with legal charges of disturbing the peace," she complained.

The legal strategy to overturn the ban is to ask the supreme court to declare the law unconstitutional . No one expects that to happen. However, that would clear the way for a campaign involving the UN and international courts of human rights.

For the Nicaraguan rich, a problematic pregnancy need not be a death sentence, of course. They can fly to Miami or bribe a discreet private clinic in Managua. But in a wretchedly poor country like Nicaragua most young women do not have money. (For those of you to young to remember, it used to be a similar situation here).

The Guardian reported that during September's assembly debate a clear line of demarcation was easy to see. It was a boisterous affair with dozens of girls and women in the public gallery chanting in protest. Separated by just a sheet of glass, the two sides were a study in contrasts. One comprised mostly elderly men in suits, some of whom opened their speeches by saying "I am a Catholic". The other comprised mostly young women in jeans and T-shirts. "Shame, shame, shame on you all," shouted one teenager. "Daniel Ortega is a rapist," shouted another, a reference to allegations the politician raped his stepdaughter.

The challenges, however, to the fight to overturn this deadly law are complicated by the conservative Catholic nature of the country...especially in rural areas.

I might add that as noted above Nicaragua is not alone. And the results of abortion bans are always the same.

Latin America, a region with some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, also has the world's highest rate of unsafe abortion: the World Health Organization estimates 3.8 million illegal abortions are performed every year in Latin America and the Caribbean, causing 4,000 deaths.

In El Salvador where a law very similar to the one in Nicaragua is in effect women live in fear. Women coming in to clinics with uterine lacerations indicating an unsafe abortion are required to be reported to the police. Several women have been charged with homicide.

An estimated 2,000 Brazilian women die every year due to complications from illegal abortions.

Abortion in Argentina is strictly limited by law. As of 2007, the Argentine Penal Code establishes severe sanctions for those who cause abortion, either willingly or not, and for women who consent to it, and special punishments for physicians and other healthcare agents. The result, abortion complications are the first cause of maternal death in that nation.

Give a thought to the US Supreme Court. I know many of you consider voting a waste to time, but what if...

The following is from Human Rights Watch.

Abortion Ban Killing Women
By Lance Lattig and Angela Heimburger

Managua - A year after elections in Nicaragua returned Daniel Ortega to power, scores of pregnant women have died, many as a consequence of a new law that prohibits doctors from providing lifesaving treatment.

In the run-up to the hotly contested elections last November, Sandinistas in the National Assembly helped to overturn a legal provision that had permitted lifesaving abortions since 1893. Nicaragua thus joined the handful of countries in which abortion is a crime punishable by prison for both a woman and her doctor - even in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is at risk.

During the past year, the new law has had a devastating impact on women in Nicaragua.

* Pregnant women suffering from illnesses such as kidney failure have died because they were not allowed to interrupt their pregnancies to treat their conditions.

* A poor, single mother died of a heart attack after doctors refused to treat her severe hemorrhaging because the fetus was still alive. Neither the fetus nor the woman survived, and her 3-year-old son now lives with his indigent grandmother in precarious conditions.

Human-rights organizations have come under fire for addressing the issue of abortion, but many critics have simply missed the point. The issue isn't abortion per se but the human-rights violations that occur when access to safe and legal abortion is restricted. Freedom of religion is a basic right, but the Nicaraguan government should not use religious doctrine as a pretext for violating women's fundamental rights to life and health.

Untreated Ectopic Pregnancy

In many other countries, even Catholic hospitals perform therapeutic abortions necessary to save a woman's life. Although Nicaragua's health ministry issued protocols on emergency obstetric care, it has since failed to follow up by clarifying what other procedures could be considered therapeutic abortion.

Even according to the government's own figures, maternal mortality has shot up by 100percent in the past year. One woman died in April from an untreated ectopic pregnancy - that is, when a fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus and has no chance of survival. Normally, doctors around the world intervene as soon as the ectopic pregnancy is detected. But Nicaraguan doctors are now reluctant to act out of fear that their interventions might be considered criminal.

Another reason women are dying in Nicaragua is that they are afraid to seek medical help. Women seeking abortions fear mistreatment and discrimination by medical personnel, as well as the threat of prosecution by the authorities. Human Rights Watch interviewed several women who were able to obtain safe but illegal abortions. None of them was able to obtain the procedure in the public sector, however, despite the medically certified risks to their health posed by their pregnancies.

Here, traffic intersections feature giant posters of Ortega with the slogan, "Arise ye poor of the world!" Under Ortega's government, however, the sad irony is that richer, better-informed women can fly to Miami or seek a costly and illegal abortion in Managua, while poor women often die preventable deaths after they are rejected from public health services or denied emergency obstetric care.

Ortega has made many promises to end the misery of the disenfranchised in Nicaragua. A good place to start would be to guarantee the state's obligation to ensure the health and lives of Nicaraguan women. The Sandinista government should inform women about their right to procure emergency obstetric care in the public-health sector and remind doctors of their obligation to treat them.

Nicaragua has a long history of struggle for social justice. But the total ban on abortion denies equality and protection to women in the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of Nicaraguan society.