Friday, January 11, 2008


There is always some big time developer out there who wants to make a few bucks and destroy what little piece of nature may be left in the neighborhood, isn't there.

In Hawaii a an entire neighborhood has been fighting one such plan since the 80s and they are still at it.

QRM LLC developers wants to build 180 "cabins" on one of the last bits of undeveloped land in the area. This is the developers second try. The city rejected the developer's proposal in 2006 because it failed to meet requirements under the land's preservation zoning.

These are not quaint little cabins. Greg Knudsen, chairman of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, said the plans show structures that look like two-story townhouses, along with tennis courts, swimming pools and clubhouses.

KHNL reports hundreds of people (some of whom are pictured above) packed in a Hawaii Kai elementary school were nearly unanimous Tuesday night in a show of hands rejecting the proposal by developer QRM LLC. "It would spoil the natural beauty of the valley for what? The developer will build then pocket their money then move on," said Hawaii Kai resident Franco Mancassola.

"We don't want it. The neighborhood board has rejected it already and they're apparently trying a new route in order to try and still have it built," said Hawaii Kai resident Sasha Kadona.

Sensing defeat at the community meeting, QRM and landowner Maunalua Associates, a subsidiary of Zurich Insurance, would give land mauka of Queen's Rise to a nonprofit conservation organization instead of building 98 cabins on it -- if the community would agree to 83 cabins on a second parcel in Mauuwai Valley, which is near Kalama Valley.

The folks weren't buying it. According to the Star Bulletin the unexpected offer received no support when there was a call for a show of hands. A later call for a show of opposition had nearly all attendees raising hands.

Phil Estermann, of the Save Sandy Beach and Ka Iwi Coast coalitions, called the attempt "deja vu all over again." He said the proposal evoked past battles to stop condos at Queen's Beach and a hotel near Sandy Beach.

"It's sort of a sophisticated, but not too sophisticated, effort" to call the development "vacation cabins," he said. "Even us common people can see through this one."

And these "common people" should serve as an example that it is possible to stop the big buck developers from ruining our lives. They have not only been fighting, they've been winning. This issue was preceded, as mentioned above, by successful opposition in the 1980s to proposals to construct condominiums at Queen's Beach and a hotel near Sandy Beach.

Hang in their folks.

The following is from the Honolulu Advertiser.

Hawaii residents protest proposed cabins

HAWAI'I KAI — A developer last night offered to scale back its proposal to build vacation cabins near the Ka Iwi shoreline to address community concerns, but East O'ahu residents said they remained opposed.

The offer was made at a Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board meeting attended by about 250 people at Haha'ione Elementary School.

Developer QRM LLC had proposed building 181 800-square-foot cabins with recreational facilities including tennis courts, swimming pools and lodges on two stretches of land along the Ka Iwi Coast.

The first, called Manu'uwai, would be built above the Hawai'i Kai Golf Course and the other, called Queen's Rise, would sit mauka of Kalaniana'ole Highway, across from the entrance to the Makapu'u Lighthouse trail.

But last night attorney William McCorriston, QRM's representative, told the crowd that if residents were willing to support the development at Manu'uwai, the developer would turn over the 98-acre Queen's Rise parcel to a nonprofit or other group for the purpose of preserving the land.

"I challenge you to find any developer who is willing to do this — to give away hundreds of acres of land worth millions and millions of dollars," McCorriston said.

But nearly everyone who spoke at the meeting seemed unreceptive to the offer.

"This is a magnificent natural resource that we have in our neighborhood," said Phil Estermann of the Save Sandy Beach Coalition. "Don't let a proposal like the one he (McCorriston) has made divide us. Stay strong all the way."

After the meeting, questions also lingered about the details of the proposal.

"Some major questions arise, such as we don't know specifically what proposal was presented," Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board chairman Greg Knudsen said. The board will vote Jan. 29 on the proposal, he said.

QRM first announced its intention to build the cabins in June 2006. But the application was never processed by the city Department of Planning and Permitting because it was incomplete and had failed to answer the secondary-use provision.

The community has fought since the 1980s to preserve the Ka Iwi Coast, the scenic shoreline from Hanauma Bay to Makapu'u. It's one of the last accessible stretches of open coastline on O'ahu, and proposals for private development in or near the area have been met with fierce opposition.

The original QRM proposal met strong opposition last year at a standing-room-only meeting of the Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board and at a town hall meeting at Kaiser High School. The Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board ultimately voted unanimously against the proposal.

Neighborhood boards are advisory panels only, and their decisions carry no weight of law. However, they are considered a barometer of public opinion in the areas they represent, and they can influence city decisions.

Last night, residents squeezed together at the cafeteria tables. Others passed out fliers and petitions against the development.

"They need to leave some things as nature made them," Liz Matthews, a member of the Ka Iwi Action Council and the Sandy Beach Initiative Coalition, said before the meeting.

"We're just little folks, and all we can do is say 'no,' " she said.

"I'm here because I'm so opposed to this project," Hawai'i Kai resident Carla Connell said. "I've lived in this area for 35 years and watched it deteriorate with continued construction. There are very few open areas left, and we have to stop this (project)."


A group calling itself the "Wreath Underground" has declared war on the University of British Columbia. The group who released a communique (printed below) apparently takes its name from the Weather Underground. The Wreath Underground has been smashing windows and painting walls in protest over on-campus development (see picture".

Many students, besides the Wreath Underground, at the university oppose the University Blvd Development Plan in its entirety and essence. They argue the development plan's purpose is to make the center of campus a corporate/private space to which students only have access as customers or condo owners/renters. They want to replace this plan with one that maximizes public space and green space (keeps the grassy knoll), emphasizes student controlled space, makes the centre of campus car-free, and actually increases bus-ridership across the campus community.

While the University claims that student input has always been apart of the development process, others disagree including members of the local SDS chapters whom police indicate they will be investigating.

Nathan Crompton, an organizer with the UBC chapter of Students for Democratic Society (SDS), called the recent acts of violence "a bad tactic." But, he said, he can empathize with the motivations of those who carried them out.

"Some folks are just very frustrated and feel that no matter what we do, the administration has its own agenda," Crompton said. "And the only solution, I guess, is to do these crazy things."

Crompton also said that the attacks needed to be taken in context, saying that the University became the first aggressor when it demolished the ‘Trek Park’ which had been built by students near the Grassy Knoll.

“The University, in its own way, has kind of launched into a type of war against the park in destroying [it],” said Crompton, “I hope that if this is at all depicted as a form of violence or something, that it’s done in the context of the University’s own aggressive bulldozing of the park.”

On her site "I'm Not That Kind of Whore" blogger whomever helps explain the actions of the Wreath Underground for Mr. Crompton and all those who can never figure out why anyone or group resorts to "violence" or property destruction in such situations. She writes:
"Much has been made about UBC being a commuter school with great apathy towards campus life and politics. And this is certainly why the Wreath Underground resorted to vandalism: because they are underground. There is currently zero chance of a student strike, rejecting the administration's development policies around campus. Given the circumstances and the administration's comportment, I can certainly see why some might think that throwing rocks through windows is the next step. Students must do better to force the administration to change the nature and goals of their campus redevelopment."

Trek Park organizers Stefanie Ratjen, Jasmine Ramze-Rezaee, and Nathan Crompton, told the Ubyssey that they did not know who was involved in the vandalism, but while they indicated that they were somewhat concerned about Wreath Underground’s decision to vandalize University property, they agreed with the group’s demands. The rhetoric used is a bit stronger,” said Stefanie Ratjen, who emphasized the University’s role in the conflict.

Trek Park, is a space "liberated" as a protest of the re-development project. The park, consisting of some grassy areas, a large checkerboard, and some benches and furniture, was set up to create a student-friendly, free public space, and raise awareness and opposition to the underground bus-loop that the UBC Board of Governors is planning to give final approval to this year. The 'park' was set up by a group of students loosely affiliated with The Knoll newspaper and AMS resource groups on the first day of school this September. Over the semester, those involved laid down sod, painted a checkerboard, set up tents, put on a concert, and attempted to create dialogue about the development.

Last month, as students were busy writing their exams, Trek Park was bulldozed. The destruction of the park is a brazen act of disregard for students.

“We looked outside and it was gone,” said Stefanie Ratjen, a key Trek Park activist. “What happened was, during exam period, when students were not on campus as much at the end of the term, the powers that be went to the Trek Park area, and demolished it.”

The whole thing reminds me of my youth.

The following was taken off the web site Ubyssey. The Ubyssey is the official UBC student newspaper.

The Declaration by the Wreath Underground

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

This declaration was sent to the Ubyssey verbatim as shown above to explain the actions and motivations of the Wreath Underground.

We, the warriors of the Wreath Underground claim responsibility for the recent acts of targeted vandalism on campus. To avoid UBC Security deeming these actions random violence, we will declare ourselves here, our ethos and our aims.

The first of these attacks hit at the old Administration Building where the Board of Governors and higher administration have their offices. We demonstrated that we are absolutely prepared to take this fight to the bastards’ front door. Toope and his cronies do not speak for the students or listen to them; they are leaders in a system of oppression.

Our second target was the central building in the Ponderosa complex where the Board had its last significant meeting It was there that they refused entry to student representatives and without dissent, approved a $400,000 increase in spending for development purposes. We spray painted both locations and busted the windows in the latter. Our reasoning was simple. Close the door on us and we will find another way in.

And that idea is us in a nutshell. We will always find another way in. We signed petitions. They were trashed. We laid grass and built ourselves a paradise. It was paved over and SUVs stand on Trek’s grave. We put on a festival and invited President Fucker but he never showed. And we tried to play their game. We let them suck us into their process. We went to their consultation sessions. We sat and waited our turn to speak. It never came.

We now turn to the logical next step, direct action. As other groups have arisen from the peaceful campaigns of resistance, ours has been born in fire. We are those students who are tired of suppression. As they have tried to silence us, we will scream. As they have strived to pave over us, we will pave over them.

Our demands are threefold

Refinance—We will not pay for their development because we do not want it. We will not pay for the underground bus station and its mall or for the destruction of our knoll. We have little to gain from the former and the latter breaks our hearts. We will not pay for the Olympic skating facilities at school. We oppose what the games have done to our city and we will not let them turn students into Olympic hosts. We will make you realize how inconvenient a source of funding we really are.

Reconsult—Do not presume the right to tax us without representation, without allowing us a voice. Thus far, consultation has been a joke, limited and non binding. We recognize that this failure to listen is influenced by not only the pigheaded personalities of many members of the board and administration but the inherent lack of democracy in the system. We therefore demand mechanisms be put in place for current and future students to direct the affairs of their campus on at least an equal level with other interested parties (note: these parties with legitimate interest do not include developers).

Rezone—The plan is a lie. It has been from the beginning. If any construction is going to take place on campus it needs to back up to ground zero. The minor concessions given after the last official “consultation” campaign are not enough. The project cannot be improved. It has to be torn down and rebuilt. The plan is an anachronism. An underground bus station is nothing less than a crime if the skytrain is indeed coming to campus in the next few years. Go back to square one. Give us our seat at the table and let us write something that satisfies those parties the project really effects.

We will push these fuckers until they concede every inch. This is our declaration of war, declared here in public.


Demonstrations took place around the world against the illegal detentions at Guantanamo Bay today. Protests took place from Sydney, Australia to outside the U.S. Consulate in Edinburgh, Scotland (pictured here). In Washington at least 81 demonstrators have been arrested so far outside the Supreme Court. In New York's Times Square, activists marked the sixth Guantanamo anniversary by staging a demonstration of waterboarding in the middle of a rainstorm.

Meanwhile, U.S. appeals court ruled today that four former Guantanamo prisoners, all British citizens, have no right to sue top Pentagon officials and military officers for torture, abuse and violations of their religious rights.

Here is one for the books. The panel found that, even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantánamo had any constitutional rights.

And here is another one for you to ponder. Judge Janice Rogers Brown, an evangelical, while concurring in the court's opinion, wrote a separate opinion, criticizing the majority for using a definition of person “at odds with its plain meaning.” She wrote, “There is little mystery that a ‘person’ is an individual human being…as distinguished from an animal or thing.” Brown said the opinion “leaves us with the unfortunate and quite dubious distinction of being the only court to declare those held at Guantánamo are not ‘person[s].’ This is a most regrettable holding in a case where plaintiffs have alleged high-level U.S. government officials treated them as less than human."

The decision by a three-judge panel to dismiss the lawsuit came exactly six years after the first detainees arrived at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Eric Lewis, the attorney who argued the case for the detainees, vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court Reuters is reporting.

"It is an awful day for the rule of law and common decency when a court finds that torture is all in a days' work for the secretary of defense and senior generals," Lewis said.

The following is from AFP.

Protests mark Guantanamo prison's sixth anniversary

Protesters in prisoner-style orange boiler suits staged demonstrations around the world Friday to mark six years since the US prison camp opened at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

From London to Sydney, activists mobilized by human rights organization Amnesty International and others called for the camp to be shut, six years to the day since it received its first prisoners seized in the "war on terror."

Around 200 people turned out in the drizzle in Washington for a march from the US Congress to the nearby Supreme Court, called by numerous rights groups.

"Shut down Guantanamo, counter terror with justice," they chanted.

The Supreme Court is to rule in the coming months on whether prisoners at Guantanamo Bay can challenge their detention in civilian courts. Currently they face special military tribunals at the base, outside US soil.

In London, about 100 people assembled near the US embassy, wearing the orange suits similar to those worn by detainees. Protestors took turns overnight in steel cages before the heavily-fortified embassy.

"Guards" in military uniform, some with dogs, barked orders at the "detainees."

"This is really to show our rage against the fact that this black hole facility continues to exist, that there are still 275 people outside any rule of law, and to demand its immediate closure," Amnesty's international campaigns director, Sarah Burton, told AFP.

Hundreds have been released from Guantanamo to various countries after being seized abroad in operations sparked by the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

Some 275 remain, according to the US Department of Defense.

In Sydney, hundreds of people in orange jumpsuits and white face masks carried placards through the central business hub of Martin Place on Friday.

Another protest in the Australian city of Adelaide included Terry Hicks, whose son David -- the recently-released so-called "Aussie Taliban" -- is one of only three Guantanamo detainees to have faced formal charges.

At a US military commission hearing last March he admitted providing material support for terrorism and completed his sentence in Australia last month.

"His views are the same as mine," his father said. "The best thing is to shut the place. The bottom line is: the place needs shutting, put people through proper processes of law."

Demonstrations were more low-key elsewhere.

About 30 to 40 people gathered in Rome waving placards saying "Close Guantanamo Now" and "End Illegal Detentions."

In Athens, about a dozen people -- blindfolded and chained -- protested outside the Greek parliament, with a banner saying: "Guantanamo: 50-star hotel."

A similar small protest took place in freezing central Stockholm.

In Madrid, Amnesty's Spanish branch presented the US embassy with a petition containing the signatures of 170 Spanish lawmakers demanding that the camp be closed.

In Africa, several human rights groups staged an hour-long sit-in outside the Mauritian justice ministry in Nouakchott to demand the government do more for the release of two nationals still held in Guantanamo Bay.

Nine rights groups were due to protest in the Moroccan capital Rabat Friday evening, calling for guarantees of the fair treatment and trial of two nationals sent back from Guantanamo.

In Washington a petition, signed by 1,100 parliamentarians from across the world, and 100,000 other signatures from US citizens, was to be handed in to the White House.

A US court also on Friday turned down a claim by four British former detainees claiming they were tortured at the prison, saying accused officials acted as part of their jobs.

"The alleged tortious (wrongful) conduct was incidental to the defendants' legitimate employment duties," Judge Karen Lecraft Henderson wrote in the ruling.

The four -- Ruhal Ahmed, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Jamal Al-Harith -- were released in 2004 without charge.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


A rookie police officer in Vancouver, British Columbia, has contradicted the testimony of a former sergeant in the case of a Native man who died after being dragged out of a jail center. The testimony came during a public inquiry underway in Vancouver.

Vancouver Police Const. David Instant (pictured here), who is believed to be the last person to have seen Frank Paul alive, told the inquiry he thought Frank Paul was clearly intoxicated when he found the First Nations man passed out on a vegetable stand on Dec. 5, 1998. But he was surprised to be told by his superior officer, a VPD sergeant in charge of the jail, that Paul wasn't drunk at all.

The Vancouver Sun reports Instant's superior then ordered the junior officer to drive Paul, who was unable to move and had to be dragged into the jail, to the Broadway and Maple area of Vancouver. Paul's body would be found the next morning in a Downtown Eastside alley. It was ruled he likely died from hypothermia due to exposure and alcohol intoxication.

Instant had just graduated from a training academy a few months prior to the incident.

Instant also gave this testimony about what went down that night. The Globe and Mail writes Instant said he drove directly to jail, donned his rubber gloves and tried to rouse Mr. Paul, who was lying on the floor of the wagon.

" 'Frank, we're here,' " he said. "I reached in and touched his shoulder. 'C'mon, time to go. Get out,' " he said. But there was a barely mumbled response.

He then "grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him out of the wagon... dragged him along the [jailhouse] floor."

Constable Instant said it was not uncommon to drag people who were drunk because if they tried to walk, they could fall and hurt themselves.

When the elevator doors opened on the fifth floor, where the drunk tank was, he was greeted by Vancouver police sergeant Russell Sanderson, the officer in charge of the jail, who refused to accept Mr. Paul.

Constable Instant said Mr. Sanderson, a veteran officer who has since left the force, told him Mr. Paul couldn't be drunk because he'd been released just a few hours earlier.

"I advised Sgt. Sanderson, 'Well, he was found lying on a vegetable stand'... Sgt. Sanderson said, 'He's homeless, that's where he sleeps.' So I say to Sgt. Sanderson, 'He can't even walk.' "

Constable Instant said the sergeant's assessment was that Mr. Paul was lethargic because of a disability that made it difficult for him to stand, not because of alcohol.

He said he was told Mr. Paul, a 47-year-old Mi'kmaq, wouldn't be accepted.

"I was confused by it. It was something I didn't see coming," he said of the decision not to put him in the drunk tank. "His assessment was that this man was not drunk... It was a little confusing."

Constable Instant said he asked the sergeant: " 'What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to breach him?... He said, 'Yes, take him to Broadway and Maple.' My understanding was that Broadway and Maple was the best guess as to where Mr. Paul might live on the street... I think it was fairly obvious what I was supposed to do when I got there. Take him out of the wagon and release him."

Constable Instant said with the help of others, he dragged Mr. Paul back to the police wagon.

Instant's superior, the former officer in charge of the Vancouver Police jail, refused to offer an apology to the family of Frank Paul for his part in the series of decisions made by police which resulted in Paul's death. The former police sergeant, Russell Sanderson, in testimony given earlier denied any responsibility.

Sanderson maintained that Paul was not drunk when he saw him despite video evidence that showed him being dragged along the floor into the jail and then into an elevator.

Kelliher said forensic examination of Paul determined he was suffering from hypothermia when he was brought into the jail and that he was also drunk but Sanderson rejected both scenarios arguing he was at the scene while the pathologist who made those finding wasn't.

Sanderson maintained that something must have happened to Paul in the interval between leaving the jail and his body being found.

"So one of your ways of explaining what happened to Mr. Frank Paul was that after he was dragged out of jail, dragged into an alley he got up and drank himself to death. Is that your explanation?" said Kelliher.

"I don't know," said Sanderson.

"What possible explanation could there be?"

"I can't think of any."


By the way, no one was ever charged in the matter.

For an earlier OD story go to

The following is from the CBC.

Vancouver cop contradicts former sergeant's testimony at Frank Paul inquiry

A Vancouver police officer has contradicted testimony given by a former senior sergeant who was in charge of the jail where Frank Paul was taken almost 10 years ago.

Const. David Instant, the wagon driver who delivered Paul to the jail and later dropped him off at an intersection at the request of ex-police sergeant Russell Sanderson, testified Wednesday afternoon at the inquiry into the death of the 47-year-old First Nations man.

Instant's testimony conflicted with statements made on Monday by Sanderson, who told the inquiry that Paul wasn't drunk enough to be put in the drunk tank. Instant testified that he thought Paul was intoxicated.

Sanderson also denied knowing Paul was homeless in his testimony Tuesday, which was also contradicted by Instant.

"I advised Sgt. Sanderson he [Paul] was found laying on a vegetable rack at Dunlevy [Avenue] and Hastings [Street] and Sgt. Sanderson said, 'He's homeless that's where he sleeps,'" Instant said.

Paul, a former resident of the Big Cove First Nation in New Brunswick, died on Dec. 5, 1998, of hypothermia because of exposure due to alcohol intoxication.

A police video recording shown at the inquiry last November showed a limp Paul being dragged into an elevator at the police station the second time he arrived there, his wet clothes leaving a mark on the floor.

Instant testified that Sanderson didn't want to hold Paul in jail that night and that's why the senior officer told him to drive Paul to the corner of Broadway Street and Maple Street.

"What I felt it was is: Let's get this guy out of the Downtown Eastside and somewhere where he is safe and he says he lives in this area. Let's drive him out there," Instant said.

Sanderson wrapped up his testimony on Wednesday after three days on the witness stand.

Instant will continue testifying when the inquiry resumes Friday.

No charges laid in Paul's death
The aim of the public inquiry is not to find fault but it can make recommendations on changes to police policies and procedures.

Crown lawyers reviewed the case in June 2004 and determined charges were not warranted.

Two Vancouver police officers were disciplined internally and the police department considered the case closed.

A corrections officer who was working the night Paul died claimed the internal police investigation was a sham and took his concerns to the police complaints commissioner in 2003.

Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld recommended a public inquiry into Paul's death but his recommendation was rejected by the provincial government.

The B.C. government reversed its decision last February after CBC News reported on the corrections officer's claim.


The Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission Major General Lars Johan Solvberg on Thursday met Liberation Tigers Political Head B. Nadesan in Ki'linochchi, following the Sri Lankan government's announcement of unilateral withdrawal from the Ceasefire. Noting that the government has withdrawn from the ceasfire without any justifications, Nadesan said that the Tigers, even at this juncture, stood ready to implement every clause of the agreement and requested Norway to continue with its facilitation role with the support of the International Community. He urged the IC to recognize the right of the Tamil people to live with self-determination in their homeland and remove the bans it has placed on the LTTE.

There was no immediate reaction from the government. However, it is to be noted as the year began Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse ruled out any negotiations with the Tigers before crushing them militarily. Sri Lanka's military began the New Year with a vow to crush the Tigers by June. They set a target to kill 3,000 guerrillas in the first six months and dismantle the rebels' mini-state in the north.

At almost the same time an international journalist organizations called on the Sri Lankan government to protect the safety of reporters operating in the country. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) protested against a Sri Lanka Army official's labelling of some journalists as traitors and urged the government to take steps to ensure the safety of all media persons working in the country while pointing out that Sri Lanka has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

Earlier this week Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association President Sanath Balasuriya told a press conference on the island action must be taken to ensure media freedom, good governance and social justice as they are hard to find in today’s political situation. "People are looking forward to live in a society free of political violence and it is time for justice to prevail."

Attempts by the international community to find peace have basically been too little and too late.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) says the failure of the peace process underlines the inherent weaknesses in small country peace brokerage. The ACHR says Norway never had the necessary leverage in the peace process, nor is it ever likely to have. In Sri Lanka (pictured above), Norway has been little more than a messenger.

The ACHR adds:
"The United States has never been able to look beyond the Al-Queda prism. In the Oslo conference in November 2002, the US representatives refused to share dais with the LTTE representatives. The US also did not allow the LTTE representatives to attend the April 2003 Washington Development Conference on Sri Lanka – the preparatory conference for the Tokyo conference."

India, the most important player with a stake at the national level, has always been unsure of its own role, but very certain about its veto on any external attempts to resolve the conflict. It refused to join the Co-Chairs. It participated in the Washington Development Conference but not the Tokyo conference itself that laid down the framework for development and the peace process. India is not a formal participant in the Colombo donor's group. Yet, it wants to be informed of each and every development on the issue. Norway had to brief New Delhi either on the way to Colombo or while returning from Colombo."

The ACHR adds the government's current strategy is, "...likely to provide the environment for a further deterioration in human rights."

The London based Minority Rights Group International agreed and said Colombo's decision to formally withdraw from the ceasefire deal with the rebels would result in escalating violence and lead to more rights abuses against minority Tamils and Muslims.

"There is now going to be a greater void in the monitoring and reporting of human rights abuses in the conflict zone," Minority Rights Group's director Mark Lattimer said in a statement received here.

"The need for international human rights monitors is now ever more crucial," Lattimer said.

Sri Lanka has rejected previous calls for a UN rights mission here.

The rights group accused the Sri Lankan government of reducing security of key minority politicians and called on Colombo to ensure proper protection for minority political leaders.

AFP reports the statement came after opposition Tamil lawmaker T. Maheswaran was gunned down earlier this week in Colombo as he prayed at a Hindu Temple.

Maheswaran had declared in parliament that the government would be responsible if anything happened to him.

The following is from TamilEelamNews.

Sri Lanka Ends CFA; IFJ Calls to Protect the Safety of Journalists

Brussels - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) which represents more than 600,000 journalists in more than 110 countries alarmed at the new development in the country as the government of Sri Lanka unilaterally scrapped the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) which was signed in February 2002 between the government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelm (LTTE) under the guidance and mediation of Nordic countries, especially Norway, calls on Sri Lanka's Government and its President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to take urgent and necessary action to protect the safety of journalists and media personals in Sri Lanka.

Full Text of the IFJ report on January 10, 2008:

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Sri Lanka’s Government and its President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to take urgent action to protect the safety of journalists and uphold the rights of the media to report on issues of public interest.

A serious deterioration in the press freedom environment and safety of journalists in Sri Lanka since January 2, when the Government formally withdrew from a ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is of grave concern to the IFJ and its local affiliates, the Free Media Movement (FMM), the Sri Lankan Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA) and the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU).

The IFJ’s 2007 annual report on journalists killed around the world, Tragedy Unlimited, highlights Sri Lanka as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for practicing journalists, with six killed there in 2007. In Sri Lanka, the killing of a media worker is most likely to be an act of murder. This toll does not reveal the equally dark reality of journalists who are reported missing and whose whereabouts remain unknown.

In the past two years, mainly journalists from the Tamil community have fallen victim to acts of violence that go unpunished. FMM reports that in one of the most serious cases, Jaffna-based newspaper Uthayan has received threats to cease its operation. Four Uthayan employees have been murdered, while others have been kidnapped, threatened and censored. The editor, M.V. Kanamailnathan, has not left the newspaper office for more than a year for fear of being killed.

As the violence between government forces and the LTTE escalates, several attacks on journalists, including attacks instigated by government officials, have raised the concerns of all journalists and media workers across the regions and increasingly in Colombo.

According to FMM, an unknown gang failed in an attempt to abduct Silumina senior journalist and SLWJA secretary Poddala Jayantha at his home on January 7.

The attack occurred just days after two separate incidents in which government officials publicly attacked journalists physically and verbally. On December 27, Labour Minister Mervyn Silva forcibly entered the offices of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and assaulted the state-run television network’s news director, T.M.G. Chandrasekara. The attack was reportedly because SLRC did not telecast one of the Minister’s speeches.

FMM reports that three leading media personnel of the MBC TV and Radio network who covered the incident, Chevaan Daniel, Kingsley Ratnayaka and Susil Kedelpitya, have since received death threats.

FMM is also alarmed at reports that the lives of other senior journalists, media activists and journalists’ leaders, including SLWJA president Sanath Balasooriya and FMETU general secretary Dharmasiri Lankapeli, are at risk because of their involvement in condemning the SLRC incident.

At a press conference on January 7, the Social Services and Social Welfare Minister, K.N. Douglas Devananda, also put the safety of journalists at risk by condemning the Shakti TV Minnal program and its presenter, Sri Ranga Jeyarathnam. Minister Devananda labelled the presenter a traitor and accused him of being a terrorist working with the LTTE.

On January 2, a commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Major General Sarath Fonseka, accused sections of the media and journalists of treachery and being unpatriotic. Such statements undermine the role and function of the media to hold to account those in public office.

It is clear that increasing attacks on journalists and the media put any journalist or media worker at risk if they challenge, question or criticise the actions or policies of power-holders, said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

“The IFJ condemns any attack on journalists conducted by either side of the conflict. But as the major power-holder, the Government must lead the way in making a commitment to uphold journalists’ rights and put an end to the practise of ministers taking matters into their own hands,” Ms Park said.

“The latest attacks on journalists are indicators that the Government is failing to respect all media workers as non-combatants in war zones and failing to ensure the right of the media to report on the conflict. Now the broader journalism community is also in danger.”

The IFJ strongly urges Sri Lanka’s Government to enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolution to Protect Journalists Reporting in War Zones and Crisis Areas, adopted by the UN Security Council in 2006.

The Resolution stipulates “that all parties to an armed conflict comply fully with the obligations applicable to them under international law related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including journalists, media professionals and associated personnel”.

The IFJ reiterates its call to Sri Lanka’s Government to abide by its commitments to international law, including under Article 79 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention to respect the safety of journalists as non-combatant civilians and refrain from deliberate attacks that endanger their lives.

All members of the international human rights and press freedom community are encouraged to assist media professionals in Sri Lanka in defending press freedom and democratic process in the face of the threat of murder, abduction harassment and politically motivated violence.

End of the Report of IFJ, and for further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919.

New York-Based the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Executive Director Joel Simon, sent a letter yesterday to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa calling to ensure that members of Rajapaksa’s government to refrain from regarding violence, intimidation and harassment against journalists and media personals in Sri Lanka.

Number of International and local media rights groups including CPJ, RSF and FMM expresses serious concerns regarding the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression of the media in Sri Lanka aftermath of the CFA and urging the Sri Lankan government to respect the vital role journalists play in an open democratic society as verbal, written, and physical assaults on journalists are attacks on the very fabric of a democratic society.

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It's happening again. A Health Insurance Company has decided that a person's life isn't worth their time...and especially their money.

This time its Blue Cross of California that against the advice of doctors, nurses, and family members wants to kick Scotty Eveland, a young man seriously injured during a football game and now in a coma, out of the hospital.

Hospital spokesman Andy Hoang says, ""We've been advocating for him to stay since this whole negotiation process began. He's progressing well and responding quite well to the treatment plan."

The hospital's opinion, however, means squat to Blue Cross.

At a skilled nursing facility, doctor visits could plummet to as few as once a month and therapy could be cut back to a maximum of an hour or two a day with less sophisticated equipment, Keyvan Esmaeili, Eveland's primary doctor during his rehabilitation and medical director of the rehabilitation unit at Palomar Hospital where Scotty is being treated says.

But Blue Cross doesn't agree with the good doctor's assessment, or that of family members, friends. Blue Cross wants Scotty out of the hospital and warehoused as soon as possible.

Supporters are outraged as well they should be.

Wielding signs that read "Don't Stop the Progress" and chanting "Let Scotty Stay," nearly 50 friends, family members and neighbors of the injured Mission Hills High School linebacker marched in front of the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido Tuesday morning.

Eveland's girlfriend, Amanda Tucker, 17, told the North County Times she organized Tuesday's rally as an attempt to send a message to the insurance company.

"We feel Scott deserves as much rehabilitation as he can possibly get," said Tucker, resting on her sign. "It's like a broken leg -- they're sending him home without a cast."

Blue Cross of California says tough toenails to all that.

The Union Tribune of San Diego writes:
"The director of the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at Palomar Medical Center believes Scott's slow but encouraging recovery will continue if he remains on the hospital's ninth floor and keeps receiving intense physical therapy three hours a day."

Nevertheless, Blue Cross of California has decided to cut short the expensive hospital treatment. Twice, they've ordered Scott transferred to his own home or a nursing home, where his therapy would be much less rigorous and far cheaper."

The first Blue Cross ruling was temporarily reversed after an appeal. A second appeal was denied yesterday. As a last recourse, the family will petition a state oversight agency, said Diane Luth, Scott's mother."

'It's disappointing,' Luth said of the setback."

In a letter, Luth had implored Blue Cross not to write off her son. She has seen a growing light at the end of what four months ago seemed a caved-in tunnel. "

'I know that Scotty's recent progress has amazed and exceeded the expectations of several of his doctors, nurses and therapists,' she wrote. 'I also know that he has only just begun to scratch the surface of what he can and will accomplish if given the resources."'

The latest denail by Blue Cross likely means Scotty will be released from the hospital's acute rehabilitation unit on Friday, the last day the insurer has agreed to pay for the intensive, specialized care, and be transferred to a less-costly skilled nursing home.

But his family and supporters are trying to fight on. The family plans to appeal the decision to the state's Department of Managed Health Care on Thursday, said family friend Jeb Butler. Butler spoke for the family Wednesday, he said, because Eveland's mother, Diane Luth, was too distraught after the phone call, which came at about 4 p.m.

We pay these health insurance maggots our hard earned dollars and when we really need them, they tell us to take a hike.

Any American with any brains should be rising up now and demanding the total end of the this whole private heatlh insurance con. They are killing and maiming us and we're paying them to do it.

It's absurd.

And yet every single Presidential candidate with a "new" health care plan but one still wants to work with the insurance industry on one level or another.

Only John Edwards has the guts to stand up and say it's nonsense to sit down and negotiate with these goons. He is straight up when he says they aren't about to be nice and diminish their profits. He is right on when he says that anyone who thinks we can fix this mess by sitting at the table with the health insurance industry or by keeping them in the system is out to lunch. For that reason alone I'd vote for Edwards and I'd encourage you to do the same (even if you, like I, don't have much hope in the electoral process). I'd add that Edwards is the only real candidate out there who understands that this is the case not only with the health insurance industry, but the oil industry, the defense industry...all of them. He's the only one who understands class (which is why his chances of ever getting nominated for anything is virtually nill).

It's way past time for hard working Americans to once and for all take on these corporate suits and send them packing. It's time to put an end to their huge saleries and bonuses and treat them like the criminals they really are.

In the past two days I've been writing about dealing with senseless violence and crime in the Oread Daily. Well, friends what Blue Cross of California is doing to this young man and his family is just that and needs to dealt with as such.

The following is from XETV in San Diego.


The family of injured high school football player Scotty Eveland is said to be devasted. Late Wednesday afternoon, they received final word that their insurance company, Blue Cross of California will not pay for Scotty to stay in the Acute Rehab Unit at Palomar Hospital.

On Tuesday, Scotty's family allowed him to be photographed by the media for the first time since he suffered a critical brain injury during a game last September.

The teen had spent weeks in a coma and on life support. He's now awake and breathing on his own.

His family and docters say he's making progress, thanks to the intensive therapy he gets at the hospital.

But Blue Cross doesn't share that assessment, saying Scotty's "insufficient progress" warrants his being moved to a skilled nursing facility.

His family and doctors fear that move will destroy any chance of further improvement and may even cause Scotty to regress.

They've pledged to appeal the matter the State Insurance Commissioner.

Supporters of Scotty protested outside his Escondido hospital Tuesday over Blue Cross of California's decision to suspend further acute rehabilitation care.

The insurance company wants to discharge Scott Eveland from the Palomar Medical Center's Acute Rehabilitation Unit to a less-costly skilled nursing facility, according to the linebacker's mother, Diane Luth.

In a statement, Blue Cross of California said on Tuesday that Eveland's family has the right to appeal the decision.

Internal and external medical specialists, including a neurological rehabilitation expert, will now review the case, according to Blue Cross.

"In the meantime, Scott Eveland will remain in Palomar Medical Center and Blue Cross continues to cover his medical care," the statement read. "We are committed to having him stay until the completion of the appeal process. Since this injury occurred to Scott Eveland in September, Blue Cross of California has been and remains committed to providing the most appropriate coverage towards his recovery."

In a letter to Blue Cross of California, Luth said her son has "shown leaps and bounds progress" in his treatment at the facility.

"I think it would be detrimental, if not tragic to my son if you didn't at least allow him four additional weeks to show his continued progress at Palomar acute rehabilitation," Luth wrote.

The 18-year-old has been at the Escondido hospital since he collapsed during a game in September, just after starting his senior year at the school.

Eveland suffered a subdural hematoma, which causes blood to collect around the surface of the brain and swelling of the brain, and was in a coma when he arrived at the hospital.

He has since emerged from the coma, is off life support and is undergoing daily therapy, according to his mother. She said he continues to make progress, including moving his legs, interacting with family and speaking.

About a dozen family members and friends protested outside the hospital, carrying signs in support of Eveland and chanting "Let Scotty Stay."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Since the 2003 occupation of Iraq, the women of Iraq have been a main target of "Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice- PVPV" Islamist militant squads, gangs and individuals.

A report, released December 31 by the Basra Security Committee at a conference on women’s rights in the city says one hundred and thirty-three women were killed last year in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, either by religious vigilantes or as a result of so-called “honour” killings.

“The women of Basra are being horrifically murdered and then dumped in the garbage with notes saying they were killed for violating Islamic teachings," Bassem al-Moussawi, head of the committee and a member of Basra’s Provincial Council, told the Bara conference.

IRIN reports before the US-led invasion in 2003, Basra was known for its mixed population and active night life. Now, in some areas, graffiti messages threaten any woman who wears makeup and appears in public with her hair uncovered: “Your makeup and your decision to forgo the headscarf will bring you death,” reads graffiti in the city centre.

"Militiamen approached us to tell us we must wear the hijab and stop wearing make-up," college student Zahra Alwan who fled Basra for Baghdad recently told IPS. "They are imitating the Iranian Revolution Guards, and we believe they receive orders from the Islamic Republic (of Iran) to do so."

Thamer Al Fereji, a political researcher, told Gulf News: "The southern Iraqi areas are on the verge of establishing a political regime as Taliban in Afghanistan but this one is Shiite Taliban which is supported and planned by Iran. "The regime tends to target women [along with] Iyad Alawi, the Muslim Scholars Association, Kurdish and Islamic Parties."

The People's Weekly World writes, "According to Basra police chief Abdul Jalil Khalaf, the bodies of 50 women were found in different areas of the city during recent months. This may not be the real figure, as families of victims are often reluctant or too frightened to report these horrific crimes."

Residents of Basra say police have not been investigating. “Everyone knows the militias are doing this, but the police live in fear of them. We all do,” said a middle-aged businessman who was too afraid to give his name to a investigating woman journalist from the London Times.

Yet last week British Prime Minister Gordon Brown responded angrily in the House of Commons when challenged over the security situation in Basra. “Iraq is now a democracy,” the prime minister said. “Millions of people have voted. When I went to Basra, only two days ago, I found that there had been a 90% fall in violence over the past few months. We are now able to hand over Basra to provincial Iraqi control . . . This is Iraqis taking control over their own security.”

Tell it to the dead.

The following is from MADRE.

Who is Killing the Women of Basra?

In Basra, Iraq's second largest city, 2008 was ushered in with an announcement of the 2007 death toll of women targeted by Islamist militias. City officials reported on December 31 that 133 women were killed and mutilated last year, their bodies dumped in trash bins with notes warning others against "violating Islamic teachings..." But ambulance drivers who are hired to troll the city streets in the early mornings to collect the bodies confirm what most residents believe: the actual numbers are much higher.

The killers' leaflets are not very original. They usually accuse the women of being prostitutes or adulterers. But those murdered are more likely to be doctors, professors, or journalists. We know this because activists from the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) have taken on the gruesome task of visiting city morgues to try and determine the scale and pattern of the killings. According to OWFI, most of the women who have been murdered "are PhD holders, professionals, activists, and office workers."

Their crime is not "promiscuity," but rather opposition to the transformation of Iraq into an Islamist state. That bloody transition has been the main political trend under US occupation. It's no secret who is killing the women of Basra. Shiite political forces empowered by the US invasion have been terrorizing women there since 2003. Within weeks of the invasion, these groups established "Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" squads, which many Iraqis refer to simply as "misery gangs." They began by patrolling the streets, harassing and sometimes beating women who did not dress or behave to their liking. Coalition forces did nothing to stop them, and soon the militias escalated their violence to torturing and assassinating anyone who they saw as an obstacle to turning Iraq into an Islamist state.

The Culture Card
Despite the clearly political nature of these killings, US media generally portray violence against Iraqi women as an unfortunate part of Arab or Muslim "culture." For instance, journalist Kay S. Hymowitz has catalogued the "inventory of brutality" committed by men in the "Muslim world," railing against "the savage fundamentalist Muslim oppression of women." Hymowitz echoes a commonly held assumption, namely that gender-based violence, when committed in the Middle East, derives from Islam.

Of course, pinning violence against women on Islam is politically useful: it helps to dehumanize Muslims and justify US intervention in their countries. It also deflects attention from the many ways that US policy has ignored and enabled violence against the women of Iraq (like championing political leaders with an openly-stated intent to unravel women's legal rights). But in fact, culture alone explains very little. All human behavior has cultural dimensions, but culture is merely a context, not a cause or a useful explanation for violence, whether in Iraq or anywhere else.

It makes much more sense to examine gender—a system of power relations whose number one enforcement mechanism is recourse to violence against women. There is nothing "Muslim" about that system, except that its Muslim proponents, like their Jewish, Christian, and Hindu counterparts, use culture and religion to rationalize women's subjugation.

In fact, shifting the focus from culture to gender reveals a system of power that is nearly universal. Yanar Mohammed, the founder of OWFI, describes this year's killings of women in Basra as a campaign "to restrain women into the domestic domain and end all female participation in the social and political scene." Compare her comment to Amnesty International's conclusion about the ongoing mass killings of women in Guatemala. According to Amnesty, that wave of violence, "carries with it a perverse message: women should abandon the public space they have won at much personal and social effort and shut themselves back up in the private world, abandoning their essential role in national development." This certainly captures the intent of Iraq's Islamists, who have little in common with the killers of women in Guatemala, other than a rigid adherence to a gendered system of power.

Instead of lamenting the "brutality" of Islam, the US media should start connecting the dots between the US occupation and the empowerment of people who use violence against women as a strategy to pursue their political agenda. We can start with the fact that the Pentagon has trained, armed, and funded the very militias that are killing the women of Basra.


I wanted to follow up on yesterday's Lawson File posting about senseless violence. So today we'll take a look what folks in Cleveland are trying to do about it.

Last night at a community meeting in Cleveland activists and residents called for more money for community organizations, personal responsibility and pooling of resources in a broad plan aimed at stemming the city's gang-related problems.The meeting - Gang Ties: The Untold Truths - was sponsored by the Cleveland American Civil Liberties Union.

In Cleveland activists are trying to move beyond vigils, prayer groups, and police tip lines.

All of this is in contrast to the official city plan which was to re-up the police gang unit. This is a unit that many say accomplished next to nothing in its previous incarnation and add that its new 7 member squad will fare equally poorly. Seven cops to take on over 100 gangs...gimme a break.

Anyway, if the police could (or wanted) to stop random violence which especially afflicts communities of color and poor white neighborhoods they already would have done that. But really since the people with the power and the money are the least affected and since divide and conquer has always been a good strategy the STATE isn't likely to take care of business when it comes to street violent crime...and since those are the same folks who tell the cops what to do, the cops aren't going to take care of the problem or even approach it in a manner likely to be acceptable to you or me or the man or women living on the block.

We, the people, are going to have to be the ones to turn things around. We are going to have to find new and radical solutions to what is happening in our cities and towns. Or it is not going to be done.

It is necessary to get down and dirty. It is necessary to take to the streets on a continuous basis, to walk those streets, to talk to youth, to offer something, to watch for what's going down. It will take people who know those streets. It will take the work of people who have been there and who can be trusted. It can't just be a group of good hearted ministers and church goers, of social workers, and the like.

Along these lines last October Mayor Ron Dellums announced that Oakland intended to deploy 25 street outreach workers in the city's toughest neighborhoods in an effort to ease the violence that had claimed more than 90 lives so far that year.

"These are high-crime areas," Dellums said. "We want young people who are indigenous to these communities to go out and resolve conflicts before they start. Crime and violence is a cry for help, and this is one way that we can help."

"The best way to reduce homicides is to have street outreach workers," Dellums' spokesman Paul Rose said. "By being on the front lines, offering alternatives, jobs and counseling to the youth, we can resolve a lot of these conflicts before they escalate. These workers will offer a first line of contact with the city and the resources at our disposal."

Thing is 25 outreach workers is far from enough. Someone has to be willing to commit real money to pay lots of outreach workers...for the duration.

I've worked outreach myself and for a time went with some truly indigenous outreach workers (unlike me) to some of the meanest neighborhoods in Philadelphia (one of which is shown here). I saw close up and personal the ability of these workers to relate to those on the streets and vice versa. I saw them make changes in individuals lives. But there weren't, as always it seems, enough and their wasn't the long range commitment and funding necessary to make much of a dent.

And, again, when I talk about outreach workers I'm not talking about a bunch of social workers (white, black, brown, red or yellow) here. I'm talking real people, tough people, people who aren't afraid. People who have street cred. They're hard to find, but they exist.

Of course, to really rid our society of senseless violence, gangs and crime would take more than even a revolution. I know that, but don't talk to me about that right now. Right now talk to me about ideas to empower, really empower, local folks to fight back and regain some control over their neighborhoods and their lives.

I keep harping on it, but this is an "issue" that can't be left to right wing law and order nuts, or anti-gun advocates. This is an issue that must be taken up by us.

Its gritty, its dirty, its not the topic that left wingers like to sit around and talk about in any but the most generic political "talk to the choir" manner.

But, folks, I'm telling you this is a working class, anti-racist, youth, human rights issue and we should freaking be there.

The following is from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Far be it from me to say the programs mentioned in the article are the best or only solutions, but I offer this as an example of people getting fed up with the violence around them and trying, at least, to do something about it.

Cleveland activists try to end gun violence
John Caniglia and Jesse Tinsley

Cleveland activists are plotting ways to prevent the violence that killed Randell Hardy and 133 other slaying victims in 2007.

Last year was the bloodiest year in Cleveland in 13 years. Hardy was the last to die by a bullet in the city and community activists hosted a vigil in the 19-year-old's memory Wednesday night.

"We know that he didn't do nothing wrong to nobody," said Victoria Cooke, Hardy's aunt, as she stood be fore a crowd of about 75 peo ple gathered outside the Central Recrea tion Center where Hardy was shot. "It was not fair to him, and it's not fair to us."

Cooke and Khalid Samad, head of Peace in the Hood, pleaded with the group of mostly young people to help end the kind of violence that took Hardy's life and to provide any information that would help track down the killer.

"I am angry because this is another senseless black life that has been taken," Samad said. "This is straight-up murder, and we need to stop harboring and protecting and acting like we don't know what happened. Somebody in this neighborhood knows what happened. We want to get this murderer off the streets and locked up."

To prevent another year of triple-digit homicides, police vow to work with residents. Mayor Frank Jackson plans to work to stamp out illegal guns.

Activists want to get closer to the problem, telling at-risk teenagers about the perils of guns and drugs. They also want to push for more activities so youths can learn and grow.

"Not everyone is LeBron James," said Kevin Bell of Peace in the Hood. "Kids need more than just basketball."

Group leaders said they have attended scores of vigils in 2007, and they must become more proactive. The groups want to:

Meet with troubled, at-risk teenagers as much as possible, in their homes, schools and jail cells. Peace in the Hood is pushing to find 1,000 men and women who will walk through the city's neighborhoods, not as vigilantes, but as mentors.

They are seeking people youths can look up to. People who come from similar backgrounds and understand the challenges kids face. The group already has about 300 people ready to go through neighborhoods.

Mothers Against Youth Violence will offer panels at detention centers called "Mothers of Pain," where women will discuss the trauma of being told their sons and daughters are dead.

Streamline the activist network.

Samad said too many groups are more worried about getting credit than helping the city. By working together, the groups can accomplish much more. Activists worked closely in the early 1990s when homicides soared. As homicides fell, their ranks dropped by half by 2000 and the groups fragmented, he said.

Keep an open dialogue with police and politicians.

It is easy to appear at photo opportunities, but it is more difficult to speak with city leaders on neighborhood issues, Samad said. His group is looking into a plan to set up a phone line where residents with concerns or problems can call, without fear of criminals getting back at them.

The complaints or information would then be turned over to police or council members. Neighborhood residents are more likely to call people they know then call the police, Samad said.

The suggestions, the activists say, could help stem the violent trend in the city.

"I never would have believed you if you told me 20 or 30 years ago that the city would be this dangerous," said Patricia Tinsley, the president of Mothers Against Youth Violence. "It's going to take us, the people, to bring the city back."


Nazis are hoping to disrupt Australia Day commemorations this year. The dopes called on everyone to keep it all secret as they broadcast it on their web sites.

Personally, I have a feeling this so called plan being promoted by a bunch of bozo bonehead types is going nowhere beyond the dim minds of a few individuals, but I figured I'd run the article anyway.

And the seriousness of the 2005 Cronulla mob action was certainly real and something to keep in mind before totally dismissing the "plan" as farce. At that time 5,000 white Australians wearing t-shirts and chanting racist slogans attacked persons who appeared to them to be of middle eastern origin.

Anyway something that I found interesting is that while researching this I went to the main Stormfront web page and found two interesting advertisements some of you might find of interest. They were as follows:
Click Below to Hear the Stream Live:
Stream Here - Live NOW: Dr. David Duke & Don Black discussing their perspectives on the Ron Paul campaign. TUNE IN! Phone calls are accepted at (214) 329-97

and on the bottom of the page:
Ron Paul for President

Any of you Paul backers out their might want to check it out, you think?

The following is from the Herald Sun (Australia).

Nazis plot Australia Day riots

WHITE supremacists are plotting to use Cronulla riot-style tactics to hijack Australia Day celebrations across Sydney - including a plan to push their racist views at the sacred Anzac Cenotaph at Hyde Park.

The attempt to co-opt the war memorial to create the impression "Hitler is coming to Sydney" has disgusted veterans, with the RSL calling it an appalling slur on the memory of our Diggers.

Other rallies will be held near the scene of the Cronulla riot and in Camden to protest the construction of an Islamic school.

The far-Right groups even promote an online handbook on how to combat police and avoid detection and infiltration when holding such meetings.

In an embarrassing display of incompetence, much of the material includes warnings about the need to keep such material secret from the media.

The racist material, which condemns migrants for not being able to speak English, is riddled with spelling mistakes and poor grammar.

Much of the activity has been co-ordinated through the neo-Nazi website Stormfront, whose Australian arm is moderated by 18-year-old Newcastle resident Rhys McLean.

Mr McLean said he was aware of the plans but said it was a matter for the individual organisers, not the website.

The main organiser is a semi-literate man from southwest Sydney who posts under the name "Aussie Nationalist".

After taking a poll of preferred locations, including Cronulla, the Central Coast and Bondi - because of its large Jewish population - the group appeared to settle on one of Sydney's most sacred sites.

"The location is Hyde Park, preferably near the Cenotaph which is a place of eternal honour and the epitomy (sic) of the Australian Spirit," Aussie Nationalist wrote.

RSL president Bill Crews said the plan was disgusting.

"We'd be appalled by any attempt to use any memorial or the Anzac memorial in Hyde Park to support any prejudiced political group," he said.

Another organiser promotes using tactics similar to the 2005 Cronulla riot, when en masse text messages were used to swamp the beach with violent thugs intent on bashing anyone of ethnic appearance.

"Organise flyer drops two weeks before the rally in Sydney and its surrounds, and start a Cronulla style SMS campaign five days before the rally," the poster identified as "Awake at last" wrote.

"Hopefully by the time the rally starts the media will have everyone thinking Adolf Hitler is coming to Sydney."

The threads also encourage users to consult a manual entitled How to Combat the Political Police.

An electronic newsletter distributed by the far-right Australia First Party employs the tactics, promising a rally near Cronulla and in Camden but refusing to disclose the exact location until the morning of January 26.

One meeting will be held in "a club in the Sutherland Shire" and be addressed by convicted race-hate criminal Jim Saleam.


Seven Iraqi men and an Iranian threatened to throw themselves off a 14-metre fire tower in a British military base on Cyprus today in protest at not being given asylum status or a British passport, officials told AFP.

The eight single men, who have lived illegally in the sovereign base areas for seven years, climbed the tower at around 7 am at Episkopi garrison on the outskirts of the southern port town of Limassol.

The men have taken food and water with them and have unfurled a banner demanding passports, after British immigration officials rejected their application late last year.

"They don't give us our rights. Nobody cares about us, we demand British passports. We're serious about jumping," Nabil Naji, 36, told the Associated Press by cell phone from atop the fire service training tower. Naji, who said he was from Babylon, said British authorities had told him he had to leave by January 14. "I have nowhere to go," he said.

A special UK immigration team flew to Cyprus last year to review the men’s case but they now face eviction from the bases for illegal entry via the Turkish-controlled north of the Mediterranean island.

British Forces Cyprus spokesman Captain Nick Ulvert told AFP, ""Any thought of them getting a British passport is out of the question, they don’t meet the criteria."

The British military says the Cyprus government has agreed to examine any application from the men for asylum or refugee status as a matter of priority. The men have so far refused this offer.

A local immigration support group has criticised the British military, saying it has tried to remove the problem by shifting responsibility to the Cyprus government.

The following is from the Famagusta Gazette (Cyprus).

Illegal Iraqi immigrants protest at British army base

A group of Iraqi illegal immigrants who have scaled a 14-metre tower at one of Cyprus' British army bases are demanding British passports.

The eight Iraqi immigrants scaled a police garrison's abandoned 14-metre fire personnel training tower at the British Sovereign Base Area (SBA) in Episkopi this morning and threatened to jump off unless they were granted passports.

The protesters, who according to reports are still on the tower, appear to be well-stocked-up on food and water. They have been hosted at the Dhekelia base for the last seven years after arriving on the island illegally by boat from the occupied north.

An SBA spokesman said that no effort would be made to bring them down from the tower. It was made clear to the protesters that the British bases do not have the authority to issue passports and that they should instead present themselves to the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, he added.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Today as I was looking around for a local article suitable for the OD's Lawson File I ran across this story in the Wichita Eagle about a young man (whose father is pictured here) gunned down as he sat in his car because his killers didn't like the way he looked.

I simply cannot understand how we have reached a state where human life means absolutely nothing to some people.

Before you fire back emails telling me about how we kill and maim in Iraq, or about the lousy lives so many lead, I get that folks.

I don't excuse the Presidents, Kings, and potentates who take send their young people off to kill others an be killed to satisfy their egos or some bizarre policy, or greed, or profit or whatever.

And I do know many lead lives in which their own worth is minimized.

But still, I fortunately can't get how one person looks another person in the eyes and just ends their life...and then goes on about their day.

Take the case of Derreck Burruss, a sixteen year old from Tuscon who was gunned down Saturday maybe because he was from the wrong side of town or something.

"He was an average teenager. He always showed up to school. He liked to dance, he liked music," said Burruss' stepfather, Bruce Culver, 53. "And, he never did any drugs or smoked. He liked computer games."

He said, "He just wanted to bring his grades up. He wanted to go to a vocational college."

Culver said his stepson's friends told him that Burruss and his pals, one 15 and the other 16, had stopped at a bus stop to rest.

The stepfather said two teens approached and the older of the two asked, "Where you guys from? The East Side or the West Side?"

"Derreck said, 'We're East Side.' That's when the 18-year- old pulled the gun out and said, 'No you ain't. I know everybody from the East Side' " and he shot Burruss, Culver said.

"He shot him and ran away. Point blank," Culver said.

Shot dead because he answered "East Side."

Or how about Charlene McIntosh Amrhein, 46, and the mother of two. She had just stepped outside her apartment building in Sanford, Florida to take a smoke and got stabbed to death for her troubles.

Why was she killed? Well Solim Kolassiba, the twenty year old who has confessed to the crime, told the cops he was "mad and angry." Not at her mind you. He'd never met Charlene. Heck, he was mad so he went out and killed a total stranger.

Or how about Corey Krueger of Glendale Heights, Illinois. who was out walking his brothers dog not long ago when some creep ended his life.

Corey was a hardworking guy who was described as generous to a fault.

"He worked very early, so he would go start the car up and take the dog for a walk," said Shaun Krueger, who added that his brother was a sanitation worker in Joliet and usually left for work at around 2 a.m.

Corey's wife, Kristin, added, "He was getting ready to go to, just warming up the car, and taking our dog out and making sure that the vehicle was warm for my son and I, so we could take him to work and we weren't inconvenienced."

Isaias Beltran didn't care about that, didn't care about anything apparently. Beltran had never met the man he murdered.

Krueger suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Rescuers rushed him to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where he died from his injuries.

Police described the murder as a random attack. They say the killer may have been attempting to rob Krueger. Well, there is a reason...need a few bucks...might as well shoot someone in the head while you're at it.

I don't get. I don't want to get it. I don't know what is to be done about it, but I think senseless acts of individual violence iare worth the attention of those of us who call ourselves leftists, progressives, anarchists.

The following is from the Wichita Eagle.

Police say dirty look led to homicide

The Rev. Riccardo Harris spent New Year's Eve praying for God's protection over youth in his Resurrection Community Church, including his 19-year-old son, Robert Ridge.

Now Ridge is dead -- shot Saturday night over a supposed dirty look, police said.

"Never in a million years would I have thought that I could say his name and say 'murder' and 'gunshot' in the same sentence," Harris said Monday. "And that reality is hard for me to wrap my mind around."

Two men, ages 18 and 23, were arrested on suspicion of homicide in connection with the shooting, police said. Police identified both as documented gang members.

Ridge was a passenger in a car that stopped for a light at Murdock and Hillside at about 11:15 p.m., Capt. Randy Landen said. A second car pulled up to the intersection with four people in it.

Because the car that Ridge rode in was waiting for four friends in a third car, the driver pulled over on Murdock at Lorraine. The second car pulled over next to the first, "some words were exchanged between the two cars," and then the driver fired several shots toward the first car, Landen said.

Through the course of the investigation, police learned the shooting occurred because the driver didn't like the way Ridge looked at him.

"There's never a good reason why people are killed," Landen said. "But this is particularly... I don't even know how to describe it."

Ridge was not a gang member, family and police officers said. No one he was with at the time of the shooting was a gang member.

"I'm hurt," Harris said. "I am. I'm hurting because my son is not coming home. And, I'm going to be totally honest, as it relates to the other young people, they are lost. Especially our young men."

Harris said he's been preaching against violence to his son, his two teenage daughters and other young people as a full-time substitute math teacher at Southeast High School, where he also coaches sophomore basketball and track team.

He said he and his son repeatedly talked about how "people will shoot people over nothing."

Service arrangements are pending. The Robert Ridge Memorial Fund was established at Bank of America to help cover funeral expenses.

Relatives and friends gathered Monday at the family's home.

There were tears but also laughter as they told stories about Ridge, a 2006 Metro-Boulevard graduate. He was an avid illustrator. He loved reptiles, especially snakes. He believed strongly in the Lord. He held several jobs since graduation, but quit working to devote his attention to launching a clothing line.

"He was a good kid," said his mother, Rosaland Harris.

"He had a big smile and loved to laugh," said his grandmother, Cynthia Ridge.

"And he loved his family," said his great-grandmother, Marian Ogletree. "Every family outing he was right there. You know how some kids try to stay away. Not Robert."

Their grief is coupled with a lingering anger, some family members said.

"Faith is the only thing getting us through this," said Cheniia Holloway, another grandmother. "It's the only way we'll be able to get through this."

Ridge's death feels like a call to action for Harris, though it's too early to say what he plans to do.

"His life has to mean something," Harris said. "We have to stop this mess, this violence, this killing each other."

Reach Christina M. Woods at 316-269-6791 or


George Bush is headed to Israel.


Snipers posted on rooftops, entire city blocks sealed off, thousands of police on duty - Israel and the Palestinian Authority are going on full alert for US President George W. Bush's visit.

According to the Herald Sun Israeli police say 10,500 officers and border guards will be on duty and all intelligence services in the security-obsessed country placed on high alert for operation "Clear Sky" when Air Force One touches down on Wednesday.

On the Palestinian side, 4000 law enforcement officials will be deployed in Ramallah alone, with additional personnel in the city of Bethlehem.

"This is the largest operation since the pope's visit in 2000," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports police in Jerusalem declared a "Gimmel" terrorist alert Tuesday, the second-highest level, to allow for Israeli security forces and American agents to intensify their scouring of the capital for potential threats.

Bush's visit, which begins Wednesday, has stirred concern that he could be targeted in a Palestinian attack. Israel also fears attempts by right-wing Jewish activists to sabotage the visit in protest at the Olmert government's supposed policy - welcomed by Washington - of curbing West Bank settlement activity.

On the other hand yesterday, Peace Now activists held a protest near the West Bank outpost of Migron, and called on the government to halt all construction in the settlements and evacuate the illegal outposts in the area.

One of the organization's leaders Mossi Raz said that all illegal outposts "must be evacuated now, and the settlements as well. This government's promises are worth nothing, and outposts and settlements keep expanding all the time."

Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer added, "On the eve of President George W. Bush's visit we came here to express what the Israeli public believes in, and that is that Israel should evacuate the illegal outposts and adhere to its international commitments."

Americans For Peace Now sent a letter to the U.S. leader Friday urging him to immediately establish a U.S. mechanism to monitor the process, clarify that the "road map" requires both sides to honor their obligations, press both sides to formalize their negotiating teams, and insist that Palestinians fight violence and terror.

The group also asked Bush to demand that Israel not jeopardize the peace process as well as transparency and accountability from the Palestinian Authority, and urge Israel to facilitate an economic recovery in the West Bank. It also asked the president to intervene in the growing conflict between Israel and Egypt along the Gaza Strip-Egypt border.

“The desire to pressure Hamas notwithstanding, the dramatic deterioration in the health and welfare of civilians in Gaza over the past year represents an entirely man-made, and entirely avoidable, humanitarian tragedy,” Americans For Peace Now said in urging the president to address the humanitarian crisis there.

“As we have said before, the pursuit of Middle East peace is not for the irresolute or faint of heart,” the group added. “It requires courage, vision, determination, tenacious leadership and a clear focus on the end-game.”

Meanwhile, it is also reported that thousands of members of the Islamic Jihad marched through Gaza City on Tuesday, shouting "death to Israel and America" in protest at US President George W. Bush's Middle East tour.

"Bush, you will never halt the march of Islam or the march of the Palestinian people," Jihad leader Abdullah al-Shami said in an address to protesters on the eve of Bush's arrival in Israel.

Hundreds of other Palestinians in Gaza had earlier protested at Bush's visit while calling for international pressure on Israel to end punishing sanctions and military strikes aimed at stemming near daily rocket-fire from the increasingly isolated territory.

AFP says among the demonstrators were around 100 Gazans confined to wheelchairs, rolling down the potholed streets of the city to protest Israeli border closures, which have cut the territory off from all but vital goods.

"Help Gaza or you condemn it to a slow death," one sign said. "We are killed by American weapons and we are besiege because of American decision," read another.

"We are calling on the international community and the US administration to adhere to international law and put pressure on Israel to open the crossings," said Abdel Majid al-Aalul, head of a Hamas-linked charity.

And again, not to be forgotten, are right wing Jews in Jerusalem who are taking to the streets to protest Bush as well. Demonstrators' carried placards which read: "Bush. Read your Bible. God gave Israel to the Jews!" and "Bush: Founding father of Hamastine." Today thousands of Israeli nationalists formed a human chain around Jerusalem's Old City to protest peace talks with the Palestinians ahead of the visit by Bush.

"This human chain unites generations whose souls and bodies have been tied to Jerusalem," organiser Yehiel Leiter told AFP.

"We want to show on the eve of President Bush's arrival that Olmert does not represent this nation that wants to keep its eternal capital united," he said.

These protesters say that Ehud Olmert does not have a national mandate from the people to divide Jerusalem.

Later in the day, starting at 6:00 PM, a coalition of activist groups will gather in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa to declare that building in the settlements will continue in defiance of the Olmert/Bush freeze on further expansion. From there, groups will set out to establish new hilltop communities throughout Judea and Samaria.

But we're not done.

The Almagor Terror Victims Association has announced a series of protest vigils outside the main locations where President Bush will hold meetings. They are planning to erect a gigantic poster, pictured below which shows President Bush as the founding father of “HAMAStine."

Of course, this would surprise Hamas which has stated the visit was not more than an attempt by Bush "to put his final touches and enhance his image before he quits the White House."

"Bush's promises of creating a Palestinian statehood are illusions that won't come true," said Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoom.

Barhoom implicitly slammed President Abbas and some officials of his Fatah movement for welcoming Bush, saying "those are a few people who only represent themselves and put themselves among the American-Zionists."

Personally, if I were Bush, I might think about just going down to Crawford and clearing some more Brush instead.

And if I were the people of Israel and Palestine, I'd encourage him to do just that.

And, by the way, God help us all if anything happens to Bush on this trip.

The following is from Al Jazeera.

Protest in Gaza against Bush visit

Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have gathered to protest against the visit of the US president to the occupied West Bank in a bid to push forward talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The protesters gathered in Gaza City on Tuesday, saying that George Bush is indifferent to their condition.

Bush will not visit the territory as part of his tour of the Middle East which starts on Wednesday.

The protest was also against the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza. Protesters carried 62 coffins symbolising those who have died because they have been unable to leave the area for medical treatment.

Humanitarian crisis

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna said: "If the US president's motorcade ever travelled in Gaza City, he would see young school pupils and their parents and teachers demonstrating against the ongoing Israeli siege.

Jerusalem spruced up for Bush visit

"He would see the medical supplies that have stopped coming in to Gaza, the shortage of fuel following the Israeli decision to reduce the amount of fuel piped across the border and the periodic shutting down of the power stations.

"If George W Bush ever came to Gaza, he would see the ordinary people who do not fire Qassam missiles over the border into Israel. He would experience the darkness of an existence that Gazans believe results from the collective punishment of a civilian population supposedly prohibited by international law."

Negotiating sessions since the gathering in Annapolis, Maryland, in late November have been marred by Israeli construction plans in disputed territory and violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Olmert-Abbas talks

On Tuesday, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, will discuss procedural matters, including which negotiators will be assigned to thrash out the various issues that divide the two sides.

Olmert is to host Abbas at his Jerusalem residence for their second meeting since they relaunched peace talks at a US conference in late November.

Israeli settlements and army operations against Palestinian fighters - key sources of discord - are due to feature prominently in Tuesday's meeting and during the Bush visit.

So far in January, the death toll among Palestinians has risen to 19 while 25 have been injured. Israel recently completed a raid on Nablus in the West Bank during which it arrested several Palestinians.

Israeli forces moved into Gaza after a series of rocket attacks from the territory into southern Israel.

Palestinian charge

Mustafa al-Barghouti, the head of the political movement the Palestinian National Initiative, blamed Israel for the deadlock at a news conference on Tuesday.

"Israel's impunity has increased after Annapolis, and we fear further Israeli military escalation after Bush's visit," al-Barghouti told a news conference.

"Nothing will change and the situation will not improve as long as Israel maintains its 562 checkpoints, continues the building of thousands of housing units in more than 800 settlements, and continues building the segregation wall and has not dismantled a single settlement."

The Israeli view

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Monday, Mark Regev, spokesman for Olmert, defended the Israeli military operations.

He said: "We've got a situation where the Palestinian security services need to get their act together need to rebuilt, need to be retrained. They need to have their capabilities improved.

"That's not just the Israeli position, that's the position of the Arab world, the Europeans, of everyone who has following this process. And so I will say publically and clearly: when Palestinain security is ready to meet the challenges, then Israeli security will not have any need to act.

"If Israel, were to allow a security vaccum to develop in the West Bank ... who would enter that security vaccum? Only the extremists.

"And not only would innocent people be killed, but you would see the peace process be killed."

'Report suppressed'

In another development, Haaretz, the Israeli daily, has reported that the government had refused to publish a report containing full details of settlement constructions, including outposts and neighbourhoods built across the Green Line.

In response to a high court petition on the matter, the defence ministry is arguing that publication would harm state security and Israel's foreign relations.

Haaretz and Maariv also said that the Israeli housing ministry was pushing for the construction of more than 1,000 units on lands "held by absentee Palestinians" from the Bethlehem area to expand the settlement of Har Homa.

Har Homa is built on confiscated Palestinian land in Jabal Abu Ghnaim in occupied East Jerusalem.