Friday, December 21, 2007


This news comes to us from InfoShop and concerns a damn good organization located in Lawrence, Kansas, the birthplace of the original Oread Daily. The post manages to not mention anywhere you could send money to or what you could do if you don't happen to live in Lawrence. Go to (their web site) for information that will help.

Keeping Solidarity Open in 2008 Fundraising Update

Howdy all!

Just wanted to send out a weekly update on where we are at with our
fundraising efforts!

Our goal is to raise $30,000 for our 2008 operations of the Solidarity
Revolutionary Center and Radical Library by February 15, 2008.
This amount of money works out to an average of 250 people pledging $120
for the whole year. (This works out to $10 a month)
This amount will allow us to pay all of our rent and bills, start a
building purchasing fund, pay renter's insurance, and buy new books and
resources for the center. None of this money pays anybody! This is an all
volunteer run space, and all the money goes to keep us running!

After our second week of our 2008 fundraiser, nearly 40 people have
pledged a combined total of $6,000!! We're well on our way to
accomplishing our goal!

This is the time we need your help! If you have not made a pledge yet, we
need you! Think about how far your $120 will be going to keep a
progressive and radical community run project in Kansas operating! And not
only does your donation keep the important work of the Solidarity Center
afloat, but it also frees up the volunteers and organizers here to do more
work outside of the space... that time that would be spent doing monthly
fundraising could go into a countless amount of projects! More gardens,
anti-war organizing, countering of military recruitment, organizing
against paramilitary racist organizations operating in our communities...
Your small donation will go a long way!

So, please, if you haven't pledged yet, take the time to do so. If even
half the people on our e-mail list could come up with an average of $10 a
month, we'd hit our goal!

Please, if you can support our work... if you've supported our work in the
past... if you want to see the Solidarity Center continue to make a
positive change in the Lawrence community, let us know!

You can e-mail us and make a pledge at:

In love and solidarity!
Soli Funds Crew


Unfreaking believable, but yet not.

A teen age girl is dead because her insurance company - CIGNA - denied payment for a liver transplant until protests by nurses and others forced them to change their mind.

Unfortunately for seventeen year old Nataline Sarkisyan (seen here) that decision came too late.

She died.

And that my friends is just one more reason why the insurance companies must be removed from the whole health care equation.

I know many Americans fear a government run universal health care program such as we find in virtually every other industrial country in the world, but come on people, could anyone do a worse, more unfair, and more deadly job than a bunch of big companies whose interest is dollars not you?

How can you not get it already? How dumb can you be to not see this? I don't care how much propaganda there is out there, wake up and smell the coffee.

No! A thousand times "no", I don't trust the federal government to do a bang up job with much of anything it touches, but ask your aging parents if they'd rather have Medicare and Social Security available or not - warts and all.

Now all those conservative types out there are always complaining that in a system of universal health care choice will be taken away from you and from health care professionals. Hogwash! You ain't got that choice now and neither does your doctor, your nurse or anyone else besides your health insurance company. A good system of universal care will in fact give choice back to you and health care professinals and take it away from a bunch of greedy blood suckers.

The free market is not about keeping you alive...get it?

The most trusted group in America is nurses. They get it. You trust them. Listen to them already.

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee released a statement today about the murder (my word, not theirs) of Nataline Sarkisyan. It reads in full:

"The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today blasted insurance giant CIGNA for failing to approve a liver transplant one week earlier for 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, who tragically died last night just hours after CIGNA relented and agreed to the procedure following a massive national outcry."

On Dec. 11, four leading physicians, including the surgical director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at UCLA, wrote to CIGNA urging the company to reverse its denial. The physicians said that Nataline “currently meets criteria to be listed as Status 1A” for a transplant. They also challenged CIGNA’s denial which the company said occurred because their benefit plan “does not cover experimental, investigational and unproven services,” to which the doctors replied, “Nataline’s case is in fact none of the above.”

“So what happened between December 11, when CIGNA denied the transplant, and December 20 when they approved? A huge outpouring of protest and CIGNA’s public humiliation. Why didn’t they just listen to the medical professionals at the bedside in the first place?” asked Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who works in a transplant unit at the University of California San Diego Medical Center."

On Thursday, CIGNA was bombarded with phone calls to its offices across the country while a rally sponsored by CNA/NNOC, with the substantial help of the local Armenian community, drew 150 people to the Glendale offices of CIGNA – all of which produced the turnaround by CIGNA to finally reverse its prior denial of care."

CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro called the final outcome "a horrific tragedy that demonstrates what is so fundamentally wrong with our health care system today. Insurance companies have a stranglehold on our health. Their first priority is to make profits for their shareholders – and the way they do that is by denying care."

"It is simply not possible to organize major protests every time a multi-billion corporation like CIGNA denies care that has been recommended by a physician," DeMoro said. “Having insurance is not the same as receiving needed care. We need a fundamental change in our healthcare system that takes control away from the insurance giants and places it where it belongs – in the hands of the medical professionals, the patients, and their families."

Geri Jenkins of the California Nurses Association told ABC News the Sarkisyan had insurance, and medical providers felt comfortable performing the medical procedure. In that situation, the the insurer should defer to medical experts, she said.

"They have insurance, and there's no reason that the doctors' judgment should be overridden by a bean counter sitting there in an insurance office," Jenkins said.

Nataline grieving family is rightfully blaming the insurance company for her death."They're the ones who caused this. They're the one that told us to go there, and they would pay for the transplant," Hilda Sarkisyan said. "She had a 65% chance of survival if she had gotten the liver," Nataline's mother Hilda Sarkisyan added from her home this morning. She pointed out the company was trying to save themselves money. "They just like to collect. They don't want to deliver."

"They took my daughter away from me," said Nataline's father, Krikor, who appeared at a news conference with his 21-year-old son, Bedros.

The family isn't done with CIGNA.

They have contacted Attorney Mark Geragos. Gergos says that CIGNA "maliciously killed her" and that he hopes to press murder or manslaughter charges against CIGNA HealthCare for the death of Sarkisyan.

Someone should be locked away for a long long time.

What do you think the chances of that happening are?

The following is from
The Raw Story.

Family of dead teen to sue insurer that dallied on liver transplant
Filed by David Edwards and Jason Rhyne

California nurses group says insurer CIGNA has 'blood on their hands'
The family of a 17-year-old California girl who died after being initially denied payment for a liver transplant is suing the teen's insurance company, an attorney for the family said Friday.

Nataline Sarkisyan, who died Thursday night after her family removed her from life support, had been in a vegetative state for weeks due to complications following a bone marrow transplant. Insurer CIGNA HealthCare had first denied a doctor-recommended liver transplant for Nataline, who suffered from leukemia, but had reversed course yesterday in the face of mounting public pressure.

The girl had been hospitalized since mid-November, but her condition had recently worsened due to a lung condition, reports the Los Angeles Daily News. It was not immediately clear when Nataline entered a vegetative state.

Noted defense attorney Mark Geragos told reporters at a Friday news conference that the girl's family will file a civil lawsuit against CIGNA, as well as urge a California district attorney to seek either manslaughter or murder charges against the company.

"CIGNA Health Corporation literally, maliciously killed her...they conciously disregarded her life," Geragos said of CIGNA. "And they did that for one specific reason: they did not want to pay for her after-care."

Doctors at UCLA determined she needed a transplant and sent a letter to CIGNA on Dec. 11 stating that patients in similar situations who undergo transplants had a six-month survival rate of about 65 percent. The Philadelphia-based health insurance company denied payment for the transplant, saying the procedure was experimental and outside the scope of coverage.

On Thursday, about 150 teenagers and nurses protested outside CIGNA's office in Glendale, Calif. As the protesters rallied, the company rethought its earlier decision and said it would approve the transplant.

But the reversal didn't come early enough to help Nataline.

Liz Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the California Nurses Association -- one of the groups that had pushed for CIGNA to change its mind -- told RAW STORY that it was fair to hold the the insurer at fault.

"This is a tragedy that could have been prevented," said Jacobs, who is a registered nurse. "They have blood on their hands, they were responsible."

Jacobs added that it was unfortunate that the family had to resort to outside efforts to convince CIGNA to grant the transplant.

"For them to have to go through what they've had to go through, calling a press conference, a rally. CIGNA was inundated...people shouldn't have to go to these lengths" she said. "We have dedicated our mission as nurses to advocate for patients -- and often, more and more, that means taking it beyond the hospitals and into the marble lobbies of the insurance companies."

Despite their late change of policy, CIGNA said in an e-mail statement before the girl died that there was a lack of medical evidence showing the procedure would work in Nataline's case.

"Our hearts go out to Nataline and her family, as they endure this terrible ordeal," the company said. " ... CIGNA HealthCare has decided to make an exception in this rare and unusual case and we will provide coverage should she proceed with the requested liver transplant."

In emotional statements at Friday's press conference, Nataline's father and brother spoke out against the insurance company.

"These CIGNA people," said Nataline's father, "they cannot make people's decision whether they're going to live or die."


As you should have heard somewhere by now a group of Lakota Sioux Indian representatives from various reservations and states said yesterday that it is declaring sovereign nation status and withdrawing from all treaties with the U.S. government.

A press release from the group stated in part:

"The withdrawal, hand delivered to Daniel Turner, Deputy Director of Public Liaison at the State Department, immediately and irrevocably ends all agreements between the Lakota Sioux Nation of Indians and the United States Government outlined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties at Fort Laramie Wyoming."

"This is an historic day for our Lakota people," declared Russell Means, Itacan of Lakota. "United States colonial rule is at its end!"

"Today is a historic day and our forefathers speak through us. Our Forefathers made the treaties in good faith with the sacred Canupa and with the knowledge of the Great Spirit," shared Garry Rowland from Wounded Knee. "They never honored the treaties, that's the reason we are here today."

"...The Lakota reservations are among the most impoverished areas in North America, a shameful legacy of broken treaties and apartheid policies. Lakota has the highest death rate in the United States and Lakota men have the lowest life expectancy of any nation on earth, excluding AIDS, at approximately 44 years. Lakota infant mortality rate is five times the United States average and teen suicide rates 150% more than national average. 97% of Lakota people live below the poverty line and unemployment hovers near 85%."

"After 150 years of colonial enforcement, when you back people into a corner there is only one alternative," emphasized Duane Martin Sr. "The only alternative is to bring freedom into its existence by taking it back to the love of freedom, to our lifeway."

"We are now a free country and independent of the United States of America," Means said in a telephone interview with the Rapid City Journal. "This is all completely legal."

Means said a Lakota delegation on Monday delivered a statement of "unilateral withdrawal" from the United States to the U.S. State Department in Washington.

The State Department did not respond. "That'll take some time," Means said.

The move to form an independent nation will focus on property rights in a five-state area where the treaties in question were drawn up. The states include South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana – areas that the group say have been illegally homesteaded for years despite knowledge of Lakota as the historic owners. Lakota representatives say if the United States does not enter into immediate diplomatic negotiations, liens will be filed on real estate transactions in the five state region, clouding title over literally thousands of square miles of land and property.

“In order to stop the continuous taking of our resources – people, land, water and children- we have no choice but to claim our own destiny,” Phyllis Young, a former Indigenous representative to the United Nations and representative from Standing Rock, said.

Young added, “The actions of Lakota are not intended to embarrass the United States but to simply save the lives of our people.”

The group has been meeting all week with foreign leaders in an effort to gain political support for sovereign nation status, including Bolivia Indigenous President Evo Morales. Morales said his country is “very, very interested in the Lakota case.”

The following is written by and from the web site of
Kathryn A. Graham .

And So It Begins - Lakota Sioux Prove The Bravest and Best of America

In an incredible irony, the very people that the United States have most oppressed throughout our history may hold the key to freedom for all of us.

Few Americans remember the siege at Wounded Knee in the mid-1970s, but perhaps they should. Members of the AIM, or the American Indian Movement, occupied parts of Pine Ridge in protest over the brutal killings of two of their own, the disgustingly mild prosecutions for those murders, and the beating of the mother of one of those two when she attempted to seek justice from the U.S. government. The AIM were seeking their rights under U.S. law and for the U.S. government to honor treaties with the American Indian that had been ignored for more than a century. It was a lawful - and a peaceful until attacked - protest.

In response, the FBI fired almost 200,000 rounds at the protesters (the protesters did fire weapons in their own defense, but only over their attackers' heads) in an illegal show of force that betrayed every ideal of real freedom. The siege at Wounded Knee lasted 71 days. This was Waco decades before Waco, largely ignored by the U.S. population due to media indifference and the fact that the victims were not white Americans.

Later, the defense team for Russell Means and Dennis Banks was infiltrated by a government informant, which led to perjured testimony and a very angry judge who stated that the government was more interested in convictions than in justice. South Dakota Judge Nichols was quoted as saying, "It's hard for me to believe that the FBI, which I have revered for so long, has stooped so low," and dismissed all charges against the defendants.

Apparently, all those years ago, at least a portion of our justice system still operated as it was designed to do.

Leonard Peltier was not so lucky. He was tried in North Dakota, and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison. He remains there today, even though evidence recovered after the siege clearly showed that the two FBI deaths were attributable to friendly fire. During his years in prison, through his art and letters, Peltier has continued to work for oppressed people everywhere.

Russell Means has remained free, and he has not been idle in the intervening decades. A committed libertarian, he has written several books, run for office on the Libertarian ticket, and continued to pursue a film career that has made him a household face and name. Apart from that, he has bided his time, waiting for just the right moment in history.

That moment has come. In September of this year, the United Nations passed a non-binding Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Naturally, Canada, the United States and Australia refused to sign, but this resolution paved the way for a move that has been waiting in the wings, so to speak, since the 1970s.

On Wednesday of this week, Russell Means led a delegation of the Lakota Sioux people to the U.S. State Department and the embassies of Bolivia, Chile, South Africa and Venezuela, declaring their secession from the United States of America.

Means stated, "We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us." The lands of the Lakota Sioux encompass portions of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. In the coming weeks, they will take their diplomatic mission overseas to seek further support.

Means also stated that anyone willing to renounce their U.S. citizenship would live on Lakota land tax free, and that the Lakota would issue their own passports and driving licenses. Since a large group of libertarians have recently moved to Wyoming, this opens up some interesting possibilities for a free society growing up right in our midst.

The coming road will not be an easy one. I cannot see the U.S. neo-conservatives leaving this alone. I imagine that there will be another bloody and vicious siege taking place on Lakota land, but I also believe that Means has timed his move correctly. If this happens as I fear it will, the neo-conservatives will be the clear authors of their own destruction. The American people have had enough!

You go, Russell!! You are the bravest and best of us, and the sanest and best of America stands with you in the trials you will face over the coming months and years.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Santa and the Center for Constitution Rights delivered an early Christmas present to President Bush today.

The Prez got tens of thousands of copies of the Constitution.

It wouldn't hurt him to read just one.

But then this is President Bush.

A letter which accompanied the gift read:
Dear President Bush:

Enclosed please find a copy of the U.S. Constitution. I wish you'd make some time in your busy schedule to read it.

I would have hoped that you'd be pretty familiar with it already, because you have at least three times in your life taken a solemn oath to uphold, protect and defend it, but all the signs indicate that you either don't know what's in it, or you don't care.

For example, do you recall what the Constitution says about habeas corpus? It's only 26 words, and they are very clear: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

So, what were you thinking when you signed the Detainee Treatment Act, which does precisely what the Constitution forbids by suspending habeas corpus?

And while you're at it, why not take a look at Article VI, part of which seems to have escaped your notice: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land."

If you understand that treaties are the law of the land, where do you get the nonsense you put out on a regular basis about torture? Because, as surely someone in the White House must be aware, the U.S. is a signatory to the international Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The convention against torture makes a clear statement, which (according to the Constitution) is the "Law of the Land:" "For the purposes of this Convention, the term 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."

Just read it, Mr. President. And then uphold, protect and defend it, like you swore you would.

The following is from AlterNet.

Santa Delivers 37,000+ Copies of Constitution to Bush

December 20, 2007, Washington, DC - This morning, Santa Claus (in the person of noted constitutional lawyer Bill Goodman) drove his sleigh to the White House to deliver thousands of copies of the U.S. Constitution to President Bush.

Americans from all over the country - more than 37,000 of them - asked that a copy of the Constitution be delivered to the President in their name and cordially requested that he make time in his busy schedule to read it.

"While I was going over the list of who's been naughty and nice," Mr. Claus said, as he prepared for his visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, "I heard from many people who feel the President hasn't been doing a very good job of upholding his oath to 'preserve, protect and defend' the Constitution."

Responding to an urgent request from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Claus stepped in to bring messages from Americans who felt the President might need a refresher course in the Constitution. Citizens want to remind President Bush that the Constitution forbids torture and spying on Americans without a warrant, requires that prisoners get a fair hearing of the charges against them before a real court and makes the government's treaty obligations, such the Geneva Conventions, the law of the land.

"These Constitutions will make great holiday reading," Claus continued. "I want to be sure that the President has plenty of time to look at them before he decides on his New Year's resolutions."

The complete text of the letter that accompanies the Constitutions is available here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.


It shouldn't be like this.

A recent study found that one in three older New Yorkers lived in fear of going hungry. Many didn't know where they would find their next meal.

The Council of Senior Centers and Services says their study in New York City found that 35 percent of those surveyed worried that they would not have enough to eat.

The council adds predicted growth in the aging population will put further stress on programs.

Amazingly this is the first comprehensive report since the early 1990s to examine hunger among the elderly in the city said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Not so amazingly in this country of ours Black and Latino senior citizens were more adversely affected with nearly twice as many of them then whites saying they faced food insecurity.

This in the United States of America.

Jeez, you work all your life and this is what you get. How can a society treat its elderly like this. It's a shame all of us must deal with.

America's Second Harvest, maybe the largest food provider for the poor in America, put it this way:

"As a nation, we have a special responsibility to vulnerable populations such as the elderly. Older Americans have built the economy and national infrastructure from which we now benefit. Raised during the Great Depression, they went on to defend our freedom in the Second World War and won the cold war. America's older citizens have rightly been called the "greatest generation." It is morally reprehensible that the people that built this country should suffer hunger in a land of plenty, which they helped to create."

"Being hungry is a subtle, personal, chaotic, unpredictable, but often systematic experience," where welfare policies may provide a meal but don't go far enough to help poor Americans rise above welfare says Amy Glasmeier, director of Penn State's Center for Policy Research on Energy, Environment and Community Well-being in University Park, Pa.

National reports on hunger in America amongst all ages say 35.5 million Americans are in the same boat as those older New Yorkers.

But those numbers are considered by activists and anyone with a brain as low.

The statistics undercount the number of Americans who have experienced hunger in a given year, Kathleen Gorman, director of the Center for a Hunger-Free America in Kingston, R.I. told the Christian Science Monitor earlier this month.

For one, America's 744,000 chronically homeless are not counted in the food security survey, and neither are people living on Indian reservations. Hunger among the elderly may also be underreported, experts say, in part because of how older people experience and explain the physical effects of hunger.

The Monitor reported surveys among school nutritionists in Appalachia show that, in some districts, children come to school in the fall weighing 10 percent less than they did when they left school for the summer. "These aren't small groups of people going hungry. These are big groups of people," says Christine Olson, a human ecology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

“The U.S. is the only industrialised nation that still allows hunger within its borders,” said David Beckmann, president of the advocacy group Bread for the World.

Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Centre, warned the situation likely has worsened since the agriculture department surveyed the populace in December 2006.

“As costs for food, energy, and housing continue to rise and wages stagnate or decline, households are finding themselves increasingly strapped,” Weill said. “This may mean even worse numbers in 2007. We need to do more to make sure that households have access to healthy food by improving and expanding proven programmes that help.”

Of all the folks running for President this year, the only one I've heard say much about hunger in America is John Edwards. Everyone else is apparently out to lunch.

The following was taken from the web site of Global Action on Aging.

Study Finds 1 In 3 Elderly New Yorkers Fears Going Hungry
NY 1 News December 11, 2007

One in every three senior citizens in the city is either going hungry, or worried about where they'll find their next meal, according to a new study funded by the City Council.

"Not having enough resources to eat in a nutritious way – which is called food insecurity – is a problem throughout the city,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Researchers say black and Hispanic New Yorkers reported the most serious levels of hunger, ranging from skipping meals to going hungry altogether.

The report also found that seniors ages 60 to 64 worried the most about their next meal and were more likely to report weight loss.

Those surveyed said existing food programs are inadequate.

City leaders say changes must be made within the senior citizen community, such as making Meals on Wheels a fully funded program and a guaranteed right for every senior.

"Enough with waiting lists! We have hundreds of people on waiting lists – they're 80, 90 years old and over. Why would anyone in this city want a senior to be on a waiting list for a home-delivered meal? We actually don't think that anybody would," said Bobbie Sackman of the Council of Senior Centers & Services.

Another recommendation was to allow senior centers to provide meals off site, anywhere seniors congregate.

"I think that we're at a point, when it comes to senior nutrition, that we have to bring the meal to the senior,” said City Councilmember James Vacca.

The study said seniors may be reporting hunger because thousands don't receive Social Security or Medicaid. The study also found a widespread under-utilization of food stamps.

The City Council funded the study, which was performed by the Council of Senior Centers and Services. About 800 people over the age of 60 took part. All of their data was gathered last winter in 15 different communities across the five boroughs.

In the months ahead, Quinn promises the council will look at the study's recommendations, trying to find a solution to the city's hunger problem.


Police shut the gates of City Hall in New Orleans today against protesters who were attempting to enter a City Council meeting that was expected to approve the demolition of 4500 units of public housing. When about 100 protesters broke through, police began using pepper spray and tasers and physically assaulted the protesters.

WWLTV reported the clash happened at an iron gate that separates the council chambers from City Hall grounds. On the grounds, protesters had been chanting, calling for the council to reject plans by the Department of Housing and Urban development to demolish the housing projects.

Then, protesters tried to storm the gate with a few able to squeeze through a narrow opening before police began using the spray and stun devices.

A woman identified by bystanders as Jamie Bork Laughner, was sprayed and dragged away from the gates.

She was taken away on a stretcher by emergency officials on the scene. Before that, she was seen pouring water from a bottle into her eyes and weeping.

Another woman said she was stunned by officers, and still had

what appeared to be a Taser wire hanging from her shirt.

"I was just standing, trying to get into my City Council

meeting," said the woman, Kim Ellis.

Inside, a scuffle also occurred in the City Council chambers as the meeting opened. Several protesters were forced out, including a woman who was carried, and a recess was called. The room was calm once the meeting resumed.

The Council meeting was delayed several times due to the shouting matches and skirmishes that broke out inside of the chamber.

On Wednesday, a woman chained herself to an outdoor stairwell at the B.W. Cooper housing development for hours while protesters marched and chanted outside of the development gates.

New Orleans police eventually broke the chains and carried the woman down.

She and two others were charged with trespassing. In recent days, a variety of arrests have been made as protesters attempted to block the demolition.

The New Oreleans Times-Picayune is reporting right now:
By a 7-0 vote, the New Orleans City Council approves the demolition of the city's four largest housing developments, agreeing with HANO's sweeping plans to transform the complexes from neglected, blighted homes into modern-day residences.

The paper adds in its live coverage of the meeting that Council President Arnie Fielkow, " the final statement of all seven council members, who each pontificate that public housing must change and that in order to redevelop the battered HANO sites, demolition must go on.

The 7-0 council vote comes after nearly six hours of debate, during which the council mostly listened to a host of speakers during more than three hours of "public comment."

And so it goes...

For earlier stories and background information go to

The following was taken from IMC/New Orleans.

Police Attack Protesters With Mace, Tazers to Keep Them Out of City Hall
by Darwin BondGraham Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007 at 4:16 PM

The scene was described by many as a microcosm of everything that’s wrong in the city and America. The whole situation has been referred to as “high noon,” and “do or die time.” It’s decision day for public housing in New Orleans.

Underneath New Orleans City Hall, a huge office building topped with a neon casino-style sign, milled a growing group of public housing residents and supporters. They had arrived for the 10am Council meeting to speak against the demoltion of affordable homes. They were locked out and told to “go home.” The City Council is expected to vote in approval of demolishing more than 5000 public housing units in 4 developments across the city today. The majority of the council has already pledged publicly to rubber stamp HUD’s highly controversial plans.

Locked out of the council chambers the protestors were quickly surrounded with dozens of police. Behind them stood eight horse-mounted police, and behind the gate keeping them out of the hall were many more heavily armed officers. Right in front of City Hall, behind the protesters is Duncan Plaza, which has been turned into an enormous homeless camp. Many Duncan Plaza residents came over to show their support for the cause. There are more than 12,000 homeless in the city today. Inside the chambers, the City Council proceeded.

First locked out of their homes for more than 2 years, and now locked out of the very City Council meeting in which the city’s politicians are set to vote for tearing down their homes, many of the residents began pleading with the officers to be allowed in. Pleading turned quickly to outrage as it was clear that the process would move forward without their voices or even witness. Receiving phone calls from their allies inside the chambers, the protesters were told that the Council meeting was being held up by chants and clapping until everyone was allowed inside. The Council members refused and called on their security forces to clear out the chambers.

In the desperation the group outside began shaking the large metal gates locking them out. The gate was easily broken open. Police moved in with pepper spray and batons, quickly beating back anyone near the entrance. Chants of “housing is a human right,” and “justice!” filled the air along with the putrid smell of the chemical weapons used by the NOPD. The gate was re-secured with handcuffs this time. Again the protesters chanted and demanded entrance. Some called into question the legitimacy of a “public” meeting in which the public was excluded.

As they pushed against the gates it suddenly became clear that something was happening inside the chambers. Dozens of police quickly sprinted into the building with their hands on their weapons. Outside this sparked concern among those gathered who began to slam against the gate once more. An ambulance arrived in the compound and a stretcher was taken into the building. Police would not communicate with those outside as to what was happening in the chambers. Protesters in the building began calling their allies and reporting that the police were forcefully clearing the room. It is confirmed by housing advocate Jay Arena that he, Malcolm Suber, Sess 4-5, and Endesha Jukali were arrested along with others. It is reported but not yet confirmed that Sess was tazered.

Outside the protesters again managed to break through the gates and pulled one side of it away from the officers. The police moved in and attempted to pull the gate back. Then came the pepper spray and tazers, this time much more forceful. At least two women were struck with tazers. On of them was simultaneously hit with spray and tazer and then smashed between the pavement and metal gate. She was rushed away from the scene by friends who treated her nearby until an ambulance could be found. Here medical condition is unknown at this time. Another woman, Bork, the same activists who yesterday chained herself to a building at BW Cooper was tazered and taken away in an ambulance. The police fanned chemical weapons out over the entire crowd hitting dozens in the face and eyes.

Activists from the Coalition to Stop Demolition have put out a national call to allies: come to New Orleans, help stop demolition, take nonviolent direct action. The struggle, after today continues, but it has become glaringly apparent the lengths to which the City Council and their allies will go to tear down homes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Okay, this isn't a standard Oread Daily sort of article, but since an asteroid impact just might be a bad thing for you, me, and your little dog, too, I'm going to plow right on with it.

It turns out that a much smaller asteroid then previously thought likely caused the huge explosion that tore apart a large part of Siberia just about one hundred years ago. At least, that what scientists at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico are telling us today (see article below).

Now I know we can't go through life worrying about things falling from the skies, but in an age when we really could do something to increase our chance of survival if a big one came a'callin, you'd think some big shot somewhere might be thinking about it.

It turns out some people are, but they're not people with any real power (just like in global warming).

Michael Gaffey, professor of space studies at the University of North Dakota, and widely recognized by his peers for his studies on asteroids and meteorites, says the risk of dying from an asteroid strike is about 1 in 2 million. The problem is that the consequences are tremendous; a half-mile-wide asteroid or larger, of which there are more than 700 that come close to Earth’s orbit, could have an impact equal to 60 billion tons of TNT. While it is not likely to happen, you still want to be prepared he thinks. “You don’t panic, you don’t have to run around screaming and waving your hands,” Gaffey says. “But you do need to devote resources to it."

Gaffey explains: a 1-kilometer (5/8 mile) object hitting the Earth would explode with a force of 50,000 megatons, the equivalent of about twice the entire arsenal of atomic weapons held by the United States and the Soviet Union at the peak of the Cold War.
But, come on, is there really that much danger out there?

“In 1995, there were about 350 known objects approaching the Earth,” Gaffey says. “Now, we know that there are at least 4,000, and more are being discovered each month.”

It was such a large object that basically sterilized the planet 65 million years ago. “It was a real bad day for dinosaurs,” Gaffey quips.

According to an accepted hypothesis, a hit by an asteroid at least 10 km in diameter circa 65 million years ago excavated a mammoth crater measuring 180 km across and 100 km deep. Pieces were thrown into space, and those with insufficient escape velocities ignited upon reentering the earth's atmosphere and kindled a global firestorm. Dark clouds of dust and smoke enveloped the earth, blocking solar radiation and prompting murky nights that lasted for weeks. Several life forms, including the dinosaurs, became extinct.

But then, as far as we know, there wasn't much the dinosaurs could have done. Tough cookies for them though.

We could though.

But we're not.

NASA, with many other mandates on its plate already, did not jump at the chance to develop ways to deflect approaching asteroids even though there is an unfunded (no money) 2005 mandate telling them to do so.

As NASA's head of Program Analysis and Evaluation Scott Pace put it, we can't do more to detect Near Earth Objects "given the constrained resources and the strategic objectives NASA already has been tasked with."

Still, it seems somebody ought to do it. Some agency has to decide to do this and fund it. This isn't about ducking a bullet going past your head; this is about seeing what is coming your way decades ahead and believing in the laws of gravity.

And it turns out there are folks with reasonable ideas to prevent such a calamity.

Edward T. Lu is a NASA astronaut and he has developed a plan of action for deflecting an asteroid. He and fellow astronaut Stan Love have come up with the concept of a space tug. A space tug is a rocket that would launch to the same orbit as an asteroid threatening to hit the Earth and alter the asteroid's orbit by pushing in the direction of its orbital motion.

Lu told ABC News, "You don't have to change much -- one hundred thousandth of a mile an hour is enough, 10 years ahead of time, to cause an asteroid to miss the rendezvous with Earth."

Massimiliano Vasile, a lecturer in aerospace engineering at the University of Glasgow, recently concluded a two-year study comparing nine asteroid-deflection methods, rating them for efficiency, complexity and launch readiness.

The best method, he found, called “mirror bees,” entails sending a group of small satellites equipped with mirrors 30 to 100 feet wide into space to “swarm” around an asteroid and trail it, Vasile explains. The mirrors would be tilted to reflect sunlight onto the asteroid, vaporizing one spot and releasing a stream of gases that would slowly move it off course. Vasile says this method is especially appealing because it could be scaled easily: 25 to 5,000 satellites could be used, depending on the size of the rock.

Again, I'm not telling you to lose sleep tonight worrying about an asteroid strike, but still I'd like to think we had leaders who once in a while thought in the long term.

Yeah, right, that'll be the day.

Our leaders are more concerned that undocumented workers might get a driver's license.

Oh my.

The following is from the Sandia National Laboratories.

Sandia supercomputers offer new explanation of Tunguska disaster

Smaller asteroids may pose greater danger than previously believed.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The stunning amount of forest devastation at Tunguska a century ago in Siberia may have been caused by an asteroid only a fraction as large as previously published estimates, Sandia National Laboratories supercomputer simulations suggest.

“The asteroid that caused the extensive damage was much smaller than we had thought,” says Sandia principal investigator Mark Boslough of the impact that occurred June 30, 1908. “That such a small object can do this kind of destruction suggests that smaller asteroids are something to consider. Their smaller size indicates such collisions are not as improbable as we had believed.”

Because smaller asteroids approach Earth statistically more frequently than larger ones, he says, “We should be making more efforts at detecting the smaller ones than we have till now.”

The new simulation — which more closely matches the widely known facts of destruction than earlier models — shows that the center of mass of an asteroid exploding above the ground is transported downward at speeds faster than sound. It takes the form of a high-temperature jet of expanding gas called a fireball.

This causes stronger blast waves and thermal radiation pulses at the surface than would be predicted by an explosion limited to the height at which the blast was initiated.

“Our understanding was oversimplified,” says Boslough, “We no longer have to make the same simplifying assumptions, because present-day supercomputers allow us to do things with high resolution in 3-D. Everything gets clearer as you look at things with more refined tools.”

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

The new interpretation also accounts for the fact that winds were amplified above ridgelines where trees tended to be blown down, and that the forest at the time of the explosion, according to foresters, was not healthy. Thus previous scientific estimates had overstated the devastation caused by the asteroid, since topographic and ecologic factors contributing to the result had not been taken into account.

“There’s actually less devastation than previously thought,” says Boslough, “but it was caused by a far smaller asteroid. Unfortunately, it’s not a complete wash in terms of the potential hazard, because there are more smaller asteroids than larger ones.”

Boslough and colleagues achieved fame more than a decade ago by accurately predicting that that the fireball caused by the intersection of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter would be observable from Earth.

Simulations show that the material of an incoming asteroid is compressed by the increasing resistance of Earth’s atmosphere. As it penetrates deeper, the more and more resistant atmospheric wall causes it to explode as an airburst that precipitates the downward flow of heated gas.

Because of the additional energy transported toward the surface by the fireball, what scientists had thought to be an explosion between 10 and 20 megatons was more likely only three to five megatons. The physical size of the asteroid, says Boslough, depends upon its speed and whether it is porous or nonporous, icy or waterless, and other material characteristics.

“Any strategy for defense or deflection should take into consideration this revised understanding of the mechanism of explosion,” says Boslough.

One of most prominent papers in estimating frequency of impact was published five years ago in Nature by Sandia researcher Dick Spalding and his colleagues, from satellite data on explosions in atmosphere. “They can count those events and estimate frequencies of arrival through probabilistic arguments,” says Boslough.

The work was presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on Dec. 11. A paper on the phenomenon, co-authored by Sandia researcher Dave Crawford and entitled “Low–altitude airbursts and the impact threat” has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Impact Engineering.

The research was paid for by Sandia’s Laboratory-Directed Research and Development office.


UPM Kymmene announced Tuesday that it would permanently close its Miramichi paper mill in New Brunswick, Canada. The move will cost more than 500 people their jobs. The workers were actually laid off last August in what was then described as a temporary move.

It's temporary no longer.

The Duluth News reports the Miramichi mill closing was part of a larger announcement of reduction in production capacity by the Finnish paper giant that includes temporary and permanent closings in Finland, Austria and Australia.

With the company's announcement that the mill will be closed permanently, many workers say they have little choice but to go out west.

"I'm at the age — too old to move, I'll just commute. Find work here if I can, but not much chance of that," Kendall Hubbard told CBC News. He's already working in the Alberta tar sands.

"Twenty and eights. I go out for 20 days and back for eight. They fly me home every 20 days," Hubbard said.

Chris Allison, president of Local 689 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, told the Telegraph-Journal (Canada) he wasn't surprised by the permanent closure announcement.

"I'm not surprised ... not one bit, UPM wanted to shut down in the first place," he said.

The provincial government should "kick" UPM out of the province and find a new owner for the Miramichi mills, he said.

"Those mills are still viable, they can still make money," he said. "That's why UPM doesn't want to sell them, it wants to dismantle them."

And the problem isn't just this one mill.

In November, AbitibiBowater Inc. permanently closed the paper mill that had been in operation in Dalhousie since the 1920s. It left 330 people out of work.

In fact, of 85 mills that were running in the province in 1995, only 16 are fully operational today. The others have permanently or temporarily closed or are running at reduced capacity.

The following, I must admit, is from Forbes.

Canada: Former Mill Workers Protest

MIRAMICHI, New Brunswick - Recently laid-off mill workers in northern New Brunswick want the provincial government to expropriate the UPM paper mill in Miramichi and stop the company from cutting wood off Crown land.

About 150 former employees of the mill marched through the streets of Miramichi Wednesday, and plan to meet later with Premier Shawn Graham.

Some 540 people lost their jobs Monday, when UPM officials announced the mill would be closed permanently.

The company said the high value of the Canadian dollar has hurt exports and made the mill unprofitable.

UPM officials, who plan to remove the mill's equipment, refuse to sell to a competitor because they say there is a glut of product on the market.

Chris Allison, local president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, said the company is being hypocritical because it is still cutting wood from Crown land and selling it to competitors.


Protesters have been demonstrating outside Pruitt's furniture store in Phoenix for the past eight Saturdays against the arrests of illegal immigrants in the area. Counter-protesters also show up every week.

Pruitt’s furniture store has become known as “ground zero” for the immigration debate after complaints were made two months ago about alleged undocumented workers gathering outside the store on a daily basis, looking for work.

At one of the protests, eight illegal immigrants were arrested. Last Saturday, a demonstrator was arrested on an assault charge after police say she approached the president of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens and pulled on a microphone cord she was holding, then pushed her in the chest.

Today some of protesters marched to city hall. The group wants Mayor Phil Gordon and the Phoenix City Council not to change a policy that prevents Phoenix police from asking about a person’s legal status.

Marcher Rev. Liana Rowe, Interfaith Worker Justice of Arizona, told the Arizona Republic she was walking for immigrants' basic right to make a living.

"I am here to stand in solidarity of the workers and their rights to seek work without harassment," Rowe said.

There are other reasons for the march as well.

Protest coordinator Salvador Reza told News 5 Sheriff Joe Arpaio (pictured here) should stop targeting illegal immigrants and that people should leave day laborers alone.

"He's bankrupting the county going after illegal immigration when he should be fighting criminals."

Speaking of Sheriff Arpaio World War Four Report writes:

"A Mexican citizen who is in the US legally has filed the first lawsuit challenging the aggressive immigration-enforcement efforts of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona's Maricopa County, charging unlawful detainment and racial profiling. The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that Arpaio's actions are unconstitutional, and injunctions prohibiting the use of Arpaio's anti-immigration hotline and directing the Sheriff's Office to disband its Illegal Immigration Interdiction unit."

"Our investigations show that the Sheriff's Office has routinely exceeded their authority and shown a blatant disregard for the civil rights of individuals in Maricopa County," said Lou Moffa, a lead attorney in the case. "With this suit, we hope to demonstrate that no matter how politically popular an issue is, the Sheriff's Office does not have the right to trounce haphazardly over an individual's rights."

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 12 in federal court, outlines several instances where Arpaio and his deputies are accused of overstepping their authority to conduct "immigration raids," targeting people solely based on race, and detaining persons who are legally in the country. Although only one plaintiff is identified, the lawsuit is a class-action suit filed on behalf of "all others similarly situated."

The following is from the East Valley Tribune (Arizona).

Immigration activists march in Phoenix

Protesters chanted slogans in Spanish and carried signs with pro-immigration messages Wednesday morning in a six-mile march to Phoenix City Hall.

About 100 participants chanted slogans such as, "Se ve, se siente, el pueblo es presente," which means: "You see, you feel, the people are present."

The march started at 9 a.m. at Pruitt's furniture store near 35th Street and Thomas Road, where weekly immigration rallies have heated up in recent weeks. Phoenix police arrested one protester Saturday outside Pruitt's on suspicion of shoving the president of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said his deputies have arrested more than 50 people near the store on suspicion of violating federal immigration laws.

The friction at Pruitt's has been going on for at least two years. Tension flared in recent weeks when Pruitt's owner Roger Sensing started hiring off-duty sheriff's deputies to patrol the property and ward off day laborers who gather near the store.

Phoenix resident Sylvia Herrera, 64, joined Wednesday's march down Thomas Road. She said she wants the sheriff to stop arresting people in her neighborhood, and she wants Pruitt's to stop hiring off-duty deputies.

"This walk is for human rights," Herrera said. "It's a prayer for peace and justice."

M. Fulton, 31, who practices holistic medicine in Tempe, said sheriff's deputies are guilty of racial profiling.

"I'm not supportive of anything that would support racial profiling," he said. "Our people have been put down long enough."

Some protesters made noise with shakers while others sang "We Shall Overcome." Phoenix police reported no incidents of violence.

About five counter-protesters voiced support for Arpaio, who spoke to the media at the start of the march. He said immigration activists have refused to meet with him to discuss their concerns.

"These people don't want to listen to the sheriff," Arpaio said. "I tried to talk to them."

Arpaio said he would not let the protesters intimidate him or sway him from enforcing immigration laws.

He said a $2 million allocation from the state Legislature has funded his crackdown on illegal immigration, and the money has not come out of his regular budget.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007