Friday, April 18, 2008


Okay, I will come out and admit it now, least it come up in any future debate. I will tell you upfront I have a personal disclosure to make before I begin this angry and sarcastic diatribe.

I have, on more than one occasion, spent time in the company of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. On several occasions I even stayed in their walk up in NYC when they lived there while I was in the Big Apple on political business of one nefarious kind or another.

I haven't seen them for a few years now, but what can I say the truth is out there.

Of course, if you know anything about me, which most of you really don't, the fact that I have known them also proves that they have known me. Maybe that could be used against them.

And the fact that they know me and they know Obama means that Obama almost knows me...or something.

And the fact that they may have known some people who Bill Clinton pardoned, and I know them means that I almost know some people who Bill Clinton pardoned.

Holy cow!

Does this mean I know Bill Clinton?

You know what I do know. I know exactly what Bill (Ayers not Clinton) meant when he said one regret he had was that we hadn't done enough.

I get that! I've even said that myself!

Hell, we're not doing enough right now...are we?

Bill (Ayers not Clinton) and the Weather Underground being bantered about in a McCarthy (not Gene, the other one) like Presidential Debate ticks me off. First, its the moderators with the "have you now or have you ever been associated with..." question. Then it's the Clinton (Hillary, not Bill) "and you know what else" add on. Finally, there is the heroic Obama "yeah, well, so's your old man" retort.

Such courage on all sides is hard to take.

May I point out just for the record that the only people who died in any Weather action were Weatherpeople. No one else, no innocent civilians or not so innocent officials were ever injured. The Weatherpeople made sure of that...unlike those who directed the dropping of a gazillion bombs on the people of Vietnam during the criminal war going on at the time...unlike the police who gunned down Panthers while they slept...unlike etc. etc. etc. (you get the point).

I never knew Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon by the way. I'm proud of that.

Does anyone happen to remember what was going on back in the days of SDS and the Weather Underground?

I do.

Apparently neither George Stephanopoulos, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama ("I was only eight...") does.

Did I and I'm sure Bill Ayers (and a good many others on our "side") do or say anything stupid back in the day? I know I did and I'm sure they did, too.

But I gotta tell you it was a time to be angry. If you weren't, well, you should be ashamed not proud. And when you are angry, well, sometimes you get stupid for a minute...sometimes for that matter you have to get stupid for a minute.

We weren't the real criminals (although many of us, including yours truly spent time behind bars anyway).

Which reminds me of my own moment when while I was behind those bars the FBI dropped by to ask me for the millionth time if I knew where Bernardine Dohrn was "hiding out?" Always before, true to my policy of nothing good comes from saying anything to the poliiice when they came calling and asked that question, I stood mute. That last time though, at Leavenworth, I couldn't resist smilingly responding, "She's not here."

By the way Barack, Hillary, and George weren't there either.

So yeah the debate pissed me off. And not because I felt sorry for poor Barack.

No, that certainly wasn't the reason.

I was pissed that George played McCarthy.

I was pissed that Hillary chimed in.

I was pissed that Obama displayed a total lack of courage or character and just tried to "out McCarthy" them by his crack about the pardons of Susan Rosenberg (served over 16 years in prison) and Linda Evans (served over 15 years in prison).

By the way that is a long time to be in prison.

Enough is enough already.

I'm not going to be able to write any more today. Don't feel like it.

Instead, I gotta go take a shower before I turn into one of those "bitter Americans" you hear so much about these days.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


They're coming for the last. Well, maybe.

I'm talking about the infamous Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon asked U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey this month in a letter to task the Justice Department's civil rights division with finding out whether Maricopa County deputies have engaged in unlawful conduct in what he termed discriminatory harassment and improper stops, searches and arrests by deputies.

"Over the past few weeks, Sheriff Arpaio's actions have infringed on the civil rights of our residents," Gordon wrote. "They have put our residents' well-being, and the well-being of law enforcement officers, at risk."

Gordon told one local radio station, ``He's (Arpaio) targeting individuals based on ethnicity and color."

Sheriff's deputies and trained volunteers have taken to the streets in recent weeks stopping motorists for routine traffic violations and in some cases asked them about their immigration status, Gordon noted in his letter.

The mayor also cited Arpaio's crime "saturation patrols" in certain neighborhoods launched at the request of a few business owners who complained of rising crime.

Gordon noted the most recent sweep in Guadalupe. He said the town usually ranks near or at the bottom of violent crime (see statement from Guadalupe below).

"His expansion of these roundups, with no end in sight, has compelled me to write this letter today," Gordon said.

Recently, several other groups have lambasted the Sheriff Department's sweeps. They include the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, the Arizona Ecumenical Council and American Jewish Committee. They denounced the sweeps which they said “evoked a ‘police state’ atmosphere.”

Last Friday, a group of eight church leaders from a variety of faiths released a letter urging Arpaio to reconsider the morality of his "crime-suppression operations."

Also not pleased with the Sheriff is Mesa Police Chief George Gascón who cited a “growing concern that people are being stopped because of the way they look,” and said he is fearful that this type of police behavior could continue into the future.

“I’m extremely concerned if we create generations of police officers who don’t understand the 14th Amendment.”

Gascón said he has seen incidents, including one in his city, where people were held for hours by the sheriff's department because they were believed to be in the country illegally, when in fact, they were not. He also cited studies which made clear that so-called illegal immigrants are less likely than others to commit crimes.

Neighborhood leaders in north Phoenix's Palomino neighborhood are also upset with the Sheriff. They fear much of that work they've done to turn around their neighborhood could come undone as a result of Sheriff Arpaio's recent immigration sweep of their neighborhood.

They say the sweep resulted in thousands of dollars in lost business, hundreds of schoolchildren staying home and an overall disruption of the neighborhood.

"His efforts have taken away from all of the positives that we have created," said Vice Mayor Peggy Neely, who represents the Palomino area. "I'm afraid that if he keeps this up, someone is going to get hurt."

By the way it isn't just these "sweeps" that make this Sherrif a bad guy. He has a long history of outrageous behavior and conduct.

A recent panel discussion organized by the National Lawyers Guild at Arizona State (ASU) law school's Armstrong Hall heard from several attorney who represented clients who have sued the Sheriff. One of the lawyers, Michael Manning, a commercial attorney happened into litigation against Arpaio after a friend's son died in one of the county jails.

Before the suit, he knew little about the sheriff reports the Web Devil, the ASU student newspaper.

"I thought he was a pretty silly caricature of the Wild, Wild West," he said. "He gave a good sound bite."

A judge ruled in favor of Manning's client, affirming the man had been killed after jail guards stunned him 13 times with a Taser and kicked him in his larynx.

The man's family won $8.25 million, Manning said, the highest wrongful-death settlement in Arizona's history.

Manning said that a month after Arpaio took office, the lawman told employees in a newsletter that the jails are meant to be places of punishment.

"Our jails aren't for punishment," Manning said speaking of the county jail. "Our jails are for detention."

About 75 percent of the inmates in county jail haven't been convicted of a crime, but simply can't make bail, Manning said.

"A culture of cruelty has been established in this county in respect to our jails," another of the attorney JoeRobbins added.

Robbins noted a case in which a man wearing a pair of pink boxers, an "I love Arizona" shirt, military boots and a hat was arrested by a county officer for impersonating a Department of Public Safety officer.

"When one person can be arrested for wearing that on Halloween, you can arrest anyone," he said.

The Arizona Republic wrote yesterday demanding action to curb Arpaio:

"If the Justice Department accepts Gordon's request to investigate Arpaio's illegal-immigration interdiction unit, as it should, the feds already are late for the train."

At least one federal lawsuit has been filed against Arpaio's sweeps. Last fall in Cave Creek, Maricopa County deputies stopped a vehicle driven by a White man and, in the process, detained a Mexican citizen who happened to be in the car."

Even though Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres had documentation, including a stamped visa, proving he was in the country legally, the Mexican tourist was forced to endure nine hours of custody before being released in downtown Phoenix."

This is the sort of appalling treatment of citizens and visitors alike that is guaranteed to multiply unless the feds take action now. Even one of Mayor Gordon's own staff - a Hispanic, needless to say - has been scrutinized by sheriff's deputies in one of the "sweeps."'

The following is from Latina Lista.

AZ Mayor Sees No Justice in One Sheriff's Hunt for Undocumented Immigrants

The state of Arizona has enacted some of the most punitive legislation targeting undocumented immigrants. One man, Joe Arpaio, the Sheriff of Maricopa County, has made it his mission to root out the undocumented in the Phoenix area.

The Sheriff conducts "crime suppression sweeps" which means that he gathers a "posse" of law enforcement officials and they choose a likely spot where they might apprehend an undocumented immigrant.

One town that Sheriff Arpaio has taken his brand of justice is the Town of Guadalupe. Yet, while most political officials where Sheriff Arpaio has conducted these operations have refrained from challenging the Sheriff, one has not.

Her name is Rebecca Jimenez and she is the Mayor of the Town of Guadalupe.

Jimenez made headlines when she had a showdown with the Sheriff when he came to Guadalupe to conduct one of his infamous sweeps.

In the following post, Jimenez outlines the reasons why she nor the Town of Guadalupe want or need the Sheriff's help.

My name is Rebecca Jimenez and I am the current Mayor of Guadalupe, AZ. Guadalupe is a Yaqui and Latino community of about 6,000 residents between Phoenix and Tempe at the base of South Mountain. The town proudly maintains a strong cultural and ethnic identity. It is named after the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. Guadalupe was founded by Yaqui Indians around the turn of the century. The Town of Guadalupe is approximately one square mile in area. Although Guadalupe did not incorporate until 1975, our history dates back to 1907.

Guadalupe is a dual-culture community, those cultures being of Yaqui and/or Mexican descent. The Yaqui Indians have endured many turbulent times beginning with wars fought among the Spanish and Mexicans. When Porfirio Diaz’ regime persecuted them, the Yaquis fled North into the United States for safety.

Many of the Yaquis came up to the Salt River Valley to work on the construction of canals in the area. A community sprung up here – where we became Guadalupe. Over the years many Latino families have settled in Guadalupe and added their cultural heritage to the community as well.

Guadalupe does not have its own police department. Over the last two decades, the town has had a $1.2 million contract with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).

It has been a tumultuous relationship from the start.

The Town of Guadalupe has many issues that it struggles with daily and the MCSO is one of them. Because the town is composed mostly of residents who are Yaqui Indian or of Mexican descent, the Sheriff deputies view us through a colored lens and treat us accordingly.

When our townspeople call Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies for help, even for Priority One calls, it has taken up to 45 minutes for them to arrive, even as recently as two weeks ago.

Once the deputies do arrive, they treat the victims as if they are the criminals. This has been a challenge to our town and council because it is such a close-knit community that word quickly spreads about the insensitive and even abusive behavior of the deputies when they interact with our people.

Even before I became Mayor in December 2007, I had several encounters with deputies that illustrate the ignorance and prejudice of the Sheriff’s deputies.

I would often call their superior, Lieutenant Shephard, and ask why their deputies always came into town with “their guns drawn,” and treating our people as sub-human.

Once, he answered that one of his deputies’ cars had been vandalized, so they felt threatened in the community. Another time, one of the deputies called me a “fat pig,” when I called to report this to Lt. Shephard, he said, “You must have deserved it.” I wonder if he remembers me now.

Although the council has tried repeatedly to get out of this contract with Sheriff Arpaio, we have been unable to garner interest from other police departments in the Metro Phoenix area. No one was interested in serving Guadalupe in this capacity.

Until now.

Last week, April 3rd, 2008, changed all that and Guadalupe is on the verge of something fabulous.

Because of the increased media attention, the City of Phoenix has communicated to us that they are now willing to consider entering into a law enforcement contract between their police department and the Town of Guadalupe.

So, out of something negative came a positive.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is using these sweeps as a way to campaign and garner support from like-minded voters. He is using taxpayer money for these purposes and is able to do so by pandering to a chosen few and disguising his “Gestapo”-like tactics as valid law-enforcement against the “illegal” immigration problem.

From my own perspective, I see Sheriff Arpaio as a danger to the future growth and prosperity of the Phoenix Metro area, especially in Guadalupe.

His tactics not only drive a wedge between mainstream America and Latinos, they also cause a rift between Americans of Latino descent and the undocumented, as some may feel they have to create a separation between “us” and “them.”

It’s also dangerous because he does not care about the overt discrimination present in his tactics. One of the undercover patrol cars had a Sinaloa, Mexico license plate, which just reinforces who he is targeting and who he views as the enemy.

The problem with this is that all Latinos are viewed through the same distorted lens and we have to constantly justify our existence in this country.
Maybe Sheriff Arpaio needs to be reminded that he is a Sheriff in the year 2008 not 1888.

Everyone can do something to combat him, and people like him.

Other than voting him out of office, one way is to stand up to him. Our town, and neighboring community members, came out in force to protest his particular brand of covert racism.

For the first time, Sheriff Joe had to retreat and move his command post out of the community he was targeting. I hope that this event can serve to motivate other leaders and “ordinary” citizens to do the right thing and stand up to this type of modern-day, racialized scare tactics.

Hon. Rebecca Jimenez
Mayor, Town of Guadalupe


E-Mine asks what would you do if you had to worry about landmines every time you went to the store, took a drive in the countryside or went to see your doctor?

That’s the reality for millions of people in about 80 countries. With such large numbers of people affected by landmines in countries that may seem very far away, it’s sometimes easy for those of us in the USA to forget about the problem.

Landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to kill or injure thousands of people a year. According to UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund, children account for more than one-third of civilian casualties. Children are particularly prone to injury as they are naturally curious and often try to open or play with explosive items when they find them in and around their communities. Children are more likely than adults to die from their injuries.

The UN's Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said earlier this month, "...millions of people in nearly 80 countries still live in fear of landmines and explosive remnants of war. These devices continue to claim 15,000 new victims each year. They take an unacceptable toll on lives and limbs. They wreak havoc on people’s livelihoods. They block access to land, roads and basic services." The Secretary General urged greater support for the nearly half a million survivors of landmines and explosive remnants of war around the world to enable them to realize their rights and be productive members of society.

Without such support, survivors may face “a lifetime of poverty and discrimination, lacking adequate health care or rehabilitation services,” he said.

All over the world these left overs from wars past and present kill and maim indiscriminately.

Landmines have killed or injured more than 70,000 Afghans in the last two decades, and they continue to cause hundreds more casualties each year.

Angola is considered one of the most mined countries in Africa, as the result of 30 years of civil war. The residuals of war and ordnance still indiscriminately take lives and mutilate men, women, soldiers, civilians and innocent children. At present, more than 2 million people or 400,000 households are affected by various levels of mine risk. There have been 300 to 400 mine victims per year in recent years.

According to national level one survey results released in 2002, close to half of Cambodian villages are affected by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), with a suspected contaminated area of 4,466 square kilometres. The overall number of people killed, injured or disabled tops 62,000, with an estimated 43,000 people injured or disabled. Mines and ERW are major obstacles to human security and national development in Cambodia.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government signed and ratified the anti-personnel mine-ban treaty in 2002, but this has made little real difference on the ground and at least 892 people have been killed and 1,118 injured around the country by landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) since 2001.

Since the end of the 2006 conflict, unexploded ordnance (UXO), particularly cluster munitions, continues to maim and kill civilians in southern Lebanon, with an average of two civilian casualties per month. Unexploded ordnance and cluster munitions clearance combined have led to 27 civilian fatalities and 209 civilian injuries, as well as 14 mine clearance fatalities (including one UNIFIL peacekeeper) and 34 mine clearance injuries. “The presence, or even fear of, a single landmine lurking in the backyard or a tiny cluster bomb hovering in the village orchard, can hold an entire community hostage,” said UNIFIL Force Commander Major General Claudio Graziano. “We are acutely aware of the deleterious effects this can have on a society, both in real and psychological terms.”

Presently, 31 of Colombia’s 32 departments are reported to be affected by landmines and UXO, as is 62 percent of all the country’s municipalities. Antioquia, Bolívar, Caquetá, and Norte de Santander are the most affected departments. The most impacted communities in general are those in remote rural areas where access to and delivery of the most basic medical and rehabilitation services is limited. Between 1990 and 2006, 5,717 victims of landmines and UXO were registered

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines leftover from decades of conflict continue to threaten civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories. The current situation, augmented by inter-factional fighting and Hamas assuming full control over Gaza, has increased the risks of injury and death among civilians, especially children. In parallel, recurrent Israeli incursions have taken place. Between January and July 2007, 184 Palestinians (including 31 children) were killed due to the conflict and 1,126 (including 140 children) were injured.

The UN estimates that 19 of the Sudan's 25 states have been affected by landmines and or ERW, but the true extent and impact of Sudan's landmine problem remains unknown. The reported and registered number of landmine casualties over the past five years totals 4,025. There is, however, no systematic casualty data collection and verification.

Tajikistan has the largest landmine problem in Central Asia, with more than 25,000 square kilometres of land in need of mine clearance - an area more than half the size of Switzerland. Most of the mines were laid during the country’s five-year civil war, which ended in 1997. Mines were laid both by the opposition and government sides.

A 2006 study of Iraq categorized the country as one of the most mine-contaminated countries in the world, with more than 4,000 parts of the country impacted by land mines. “They inflict lifelong injuries, deny access to productive land and undermine freedom of movement, including for the delivery of humanitarian relief,” said the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, David Shearer. “We need to increase efforts to reduce the harm they cause, and treat their victims.”

Eritrea’s mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination is the result of the country’s long struggle for independence (1962-1991) and border war with Ethiopia (1998-2000). The recently completed Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) indicates that 481 out of Eritrea’s 4176 communities are affected. These include 914 suspected hazard areas covering an area of approximately 130 square kilometres and affecting 655,000 persons. The LIS identified over 5,000 mine and UXO victims, including 295 new victims, within 24 months of LIS interviews.

I could go on and on, but I suppose you get the drift.

Landmine Monitor estimated that more than 160 million antipersonnel mines are stockpiled by states not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. The vast majority of these stockpiles belong to just three states: China (estimated 110 million), Russia (26.5 million) and the United States (10.4 million). Other states with very large stockpiles include Pakistan (estimated 6 million) and India (estimated 4-5 million).

The UN's Secretary General this month again called on States that have not yet ratified all disarmament, humanitarian and human rights laws and protocols related to landmines and explosive remnants of war to do so, stressing that it is “only through the widest possible ratification and full compliance will the international community succeed in preventing new injuries and fatalities while ensuring that victims and their families fully realize their rights.”

Said Lora Lumpe, coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines,“We were appalled when the U.S. government refused to sign the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and we are outraged that the administration is now refusing to participate in negotiations to prevent civilian casualties that result from cluster munitions.”

The following is from IRIN (UN).

DRC: Hidden killers on the loose

The full extent of the threat posed by landmines and other unexploded ordnance in the Democratic Republic of Congo is unknown but the deadly weapons are a daily concern for tens of thousands of displaced people in the east.

"Mines and UXOs [unexploded ordnance] are strewn all over the countryside," Francesca Fontanini, external relations officer for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in DRC, said. "They are among the most pernicious consequences of the armed conflict."

The mines and UXOs, according to the agency, could affect the return and reintegration of an estimated 800,000 people displaced by years of fighting in North Kivu.

They are also a danger to those who may return home to areas with unmapped minefields. Children are particularly vulnerable because some of the weapons look like toys.

"In Dongo, five children who had just [been] repatriated died after a grenade exploded as they were playing with it," Philippe Sondizi Dombale, head of Humanitas Ubangi, a local NGO in Molegbe, northern DRC, told IRIN in the capital Kinshasa.

"Another boy died in Gbadolite after a landmine he had been using for several days as a hammer - out of ignorance - blew up in his face."

More than 892 people have been killed and 1,118 injured by these deadly weapons since 2001, say activists.

The DRC government ratified the global anti-personnel mine ban treaty in 2002, but activists say very little has been done to implement it. And no comprehensive impact surveys have been conducted because of the volatile security situation across the country in addition to logistical difficulties.

"Up to now little has been done ... a choice has to be made [between] the mines continuing to cause casualties and the most urgent thing - to try to stop it," Harouna Ouedraogo, programme director of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC), said.

The government says work is ongoing to address the plight of victims. "Legislation regarding the rights of victims to assistance is being drawn up," interior minister Denis Kalume said during the International Mine Action Day celebrations on 4 April in Kinshasa.

"A focal point will be created for coordination and we will work closely with our international partners so that national competency in this area can be achieved," he added.

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
De-mining is an expensive business
The government, he emphasised, was committed to fulfilling its obligations under the Ottawa (Mine Ban) treaty.

Clean-up programmes

According to Mine Advisory Group (MAG) country director Marc Angibeaud, de-mining efforts through international NGOs such as MAG, Handicap International and DanChurchAid, have cleared the countryside of thousands of anti-personnel mines and UXO, especially in Equateur, Maniema, Katanga and South Kivu provinces.

Work has also been done by the commercial de-mining company, Mechem.

From June 2007 to January 2008, more than 28,000 sqkm of land was cleared; over 3,500 weapons, 5,000 UXO and 35,000 items of ammunition destroyed, and mine education sessions conducted for over 10,000 people. De-miners have also been trained.

"Clearance activities have not only prevented accidents from explosions but also freed land for agriculture and rendered safe many roads and a water source crucial to the villagers’ daily activities," MAG noted in a 31 January statement.

"The destruction of the ammunition also means it will not be available for trafficking - a significant problem in the Great Lakes region - thus contributing to regional peace-building."

Another NGO, Synergie pour la Lutte Anti Mines (SYLAM), is teaching internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in North Kivu how to spot half-buried or fully exposed explosive devices and what to do.

SYLAM has recorded 111 deaths and 127 injuries caused by these weapons in North Kivu since 2003 - though none yet inside IDP camps. Together with the UNMACC and other NGOs, it has identified 51 polluted sites.

Ouedraogo, however, said the achievements so far were merely the tip of the iceberg. As long as much of the country remained inaccessible and the people remained poor and ignorant, the problem would prevail. There were reports, for example, of some people using the explosives for fishing.

According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), both rebel and government forces used anti-personnel mines during the DRC’s numerous conflicts. There have been no reports of use of anti-personnel mines by government forces, however, since the DRC signed the landmine treaty.

Since May 2006, an increasing number of small arms and ammunition, UXO and mines have been handed over to authorities. From 2003 to May 2006, some 2,244 mines were destroyed.

But the problem remains huge. Surveys by DanChurchAid covering 153,000 sqkm in Katanga, So uth Kivu and Maniema, for example, found 171 mined and 583 UXO-contaminated areas.

De-mining is an expensive business and in DRC, where infrastructure is lacking, it becomes even more difficult.

The UN Mission in Congo (MONUC) says work has been slowed down by several key challenges - survey and mapping sites, provision of adequate assistance to victims, awareness-raising and the creation of mine legislation. As a result, landmines and UXOs continue to hamper economic development, and maim and kill hundreds in the vast country every year.

"Millions in the DRC continue to live with the daily fear of being killed or disabled," Ross Mountain, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the DRC, said on 4 April. "Much has been done, but a lot of challenges remain."


A militant and spirited protest continues today near Marty, South Dakota home of the Ihanktowan or Yankton Sioux. Tribal members and other area residents are opposing a hog farm in Charles Mix County. There have been multiple arrests, according to those at the scene, including minors, as protesters sought to block front loader bulldozers from breaking ground on a new pig farm that will be occupied by thousands of pigs and their waste near a Head Start Program filled with Native children.

The protesters say they're concerned about the effects a large hog confinement operation might have on their community. The proposed site is on deeded land, but is surrounded by tribal land. On Monday, a judge sided with the tribe and said the Iowa hog farm developers could be kept off reservation land.

Tribal member Mike Archambeau said the protesters are trying to enforce the tribal judge's ruling that removes and excludes the operation from tribal land.

"We will continue protesting until those people are out of there," Archambeau told the Yankton Press and Datkotan.

John Stone, tribal vice president, told the Associated Press the Highway Patrol and county authorities were the ones who escalated things at the protest. "When the Highway Patrol sent 30 officers in, it escalated into something we never intended."

Archambeau also said law enforcement "provoked" the protesters. "They (authorities) aggravated the situation," he said.

Despite the Tribal Court's ruling excavation already is under way at the hog farm site. Two pits have been dug, and large mounds of soil can be seen.

According to the South Dakota Peace & Justice Center, the confined hog operation would house 7,620 animals.

Joan Olive, who lives near the proposed hog farm, told the Argus Leader last week that Longview Farms began breaking ground at the site in late March, and its building crews have largely been working at night. The project was a surprise to many, she said.

When she first saw the work under way, "I thought maybe somebody was going to build a home, and I did not think more about it," she said. "It began looking large, and I thought, 'Maybe it's an ethanol plant.' Last week, I asked and found out it was a hog confinement and thought, 'Oh no.' "

A former resident of Iowa, where the feeding operations are more common, Olive has become a latter-day Paul Revere warning her neighbors against the potential environmental harm the hog farm could cause. A major concern is waste runoff. The town of Marty is downhill from the site, and "if there is any kind of rain, it will wash that down on Marty," she said. "There is an area in front of the middle school where the water pools, and an area across the road between the tribal hall and the school where the water pools," she said. "That could be hog waste pooling down there."

Allen Hare, a tribal member and transportation planner for the tribe, said "when we found this hog farm was being built about two weeks ago, our concerns were over health issues with the waste and stuff this farm will produce and what it will do to our children and elders today. People don't really understand what this thing can do to our health."

Charles Mix County, where the hog farm would be located, has been divided in recent years by an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that has forced the county to redraw voting districts to increase the strength of a Yankton Sioux tribal voting bloc in county elections. But despite that a coalition of tribal members and concerned residents has come together in opposition of the proposed hog farm.

"They are finding ways to work together. It's pretty cool," said Deb McIntyre of the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, which is providing logistical support to the effort.

The following is from the Argus-Leader (South Dakota).

Protesters: About 40 state troopers at scene of hog farm protest

A protest against a planned hog farrowing operation in Charles Mix County near Yankton Sioux tribal land continued into a second day today.

It was marked by the presence of about 40 South Dakota Highway Patrol officers, some in riot gear and displaying weapons, according to protesters. Rumors of an escalating law enforcement response swept through the gathering, and a man who says he was knocked down by a piece of earth moving equipment and subsequently arrested Tuesday disputes Gov. Mike Rounds’ claim he was not injured.

Long View Farms, LLP, a group of Hull, Iowa-area farmers, hopes to build facilities about five miles west of Wagner to house about 3,350 sows and produce 70,000 pigs annually.

YST members and landowners around Marty and Pickstown are concerned the farm will be a source of air and water pollution and a health hazard especially for children at a nearby Head Start program.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I mentioned the holiday of Pesach or Passover just yesterday. Pesach is all about the Israelites fleeing oppression in Egypt. With that in mind the plight of refugees from the Ivory Coast, Sudan, and a few other African nations trying to get into Israel via Egypt is more than ironic.

In recently months Israel and Egypt have been playing hot potato with these African immigrants. Both countries wanting the other one to take them.

The Chicago Tribune reports at an Israeli Cabinet meeting last week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the wave of African migrants a "tsunami" that could grow even larger, and he ordered the army to return the infiltrators as soon as they cross the border.

How will the PM feel as he sits down to his Passover Seder this year? As he reads what his Jewish ancestors went through to obtain their freedom will it dawn on him that his "order" is in contradiction with what the holiday is all about?

Anat Ben-Dor, director of the Refugee Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University, said his government has failed to set up an effective mechanism to review the migrant cases and determine who were refugees with the right to protection in Israel and who could be legally deported (as if).

"Israel must follow the convention it has signed and carry out an orderly, professional examination of these cases," Ben-Dor said, referring to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. "Under international law there is a minimum requirement to check if the person reaching you deserves protection."

Turning the migrants back at the border, as ordered by Olmert, would violate a government commitment to the Supreme Court and the convention's prohibition against returning asylum seekers to countries where they might be at risk, or from which they could be sent back to places of danger, Ben-Dor said.

Romm Lewkowicz, from the Hotline for Migrant Workers in Israel also wants the government to come up with a policy for dealing with refugees and for considering each individual on a case-by-case basis.

In the meantime, Lewkowicz' group and others are calling on the government to issue work permits to the refugees so they can support themselves and take the financial burden off the government.

Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Yael Dayan criticized her own government for not dealing with the issue and also called on the government to let the refugees to work so they can provide for themselves.
"These are young, healthy people who are able. The weak ones were killed or stayed behind," she said.

And in Egypt where once Pharaoh, the Pharaoh of Exodus, himself reigned we see a growing stream of casualties from shooting incidents at the border with Israel as the Egyptian police have cracked down on migrants.

"It is wrong that they kill people trying to have a better life," Tawer Ali, a Sudanese refugee community leader in Cairo, told Panapress.

"If they want things to change and if the government wants refugees to stop trying to go to Israel, then the Egyptian government needs to do better with the refugees here in Egypt," Ali said.

Of course, the government doesn't want the refugees to stay in Egypt either.

And the people of Egypt have been less then hospitable to their darker skinned "guests." Human rights workers say African refugees in Egypt are subject to taunts, discrimination and violence.

Over the last two years, about 6,000 refugees have entered Israel. More than 2,800 Africans have crossed the border since the beginning of the year. Right now, more than 1,000 African refugees, including women and children, are housed in a prison in southern Israel. Hundreds more are living in shelters in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv.

Israel says it is a small country and there is only so much it can do.

Egypt says pretty much the same thing.

And that argument is not totally without merit.

Still these two countries alone or with others need to come up with something better than deportation, imprisonment or death.

Tel Aviv's Dayan says the international community needs to come up with a plan.

The Western world has been very good at highlighting the genocide in Africa. There should be some kind of international authority that not only saves them but helps them get their feet on the ground, she said.

You think?

The following is from Inter Press Service (IPS).

Africans Lost in 'The Promised Land'
By Zack Baddorf

TEL AVIV, Apr 15 (IPS) - The young man who agreed to be called Hamed has come a long way to do nothing. The Ivoirian would prefer to work but, after sneaking into Israel from Egypt about a month ago, he's got nothing better to do than sit in a park everyday in central Tel Aviv, wait, and hope for a government decision on his refugee application.

Hamed, 22, who asked to remain anonymous fearing retribution from the Israeli government, joins about 7,000 African refugees who have arrived in the Jewish state since 2005. Steven Wolfson from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Tel Aviv told IPS that about 2,200 Africans have arrived in the past three months, creating a "crisis situation".

Hamed said he fled Cote d'Ivoire because his father was murdered and he feared the killers would come after him. His family spent about 3,000 dollars to get him to Egypt and then paid another 800 dollars in late February for a Bedouin smuggler to sneak him into Israel's southern Negev region. After travelling for three days by jeep and on foot through the Sinai desert, he heard a gunshot along the border.

"I was thinking at that (moment), maybe that's an Egyptian. They are going to kill me or not?"

His fears are not without reason. Since the start of the year, Egyptian border guards have killed 10 African asylum-seekers trying to enter Israel, including two Ivoirians.

Amnesty International has called on Cairo to investigate the killings. The human rights organisation claims the Israeli government has pressured Egypt to reduce the number of Africans entering Israel illegally. Ilan Lonai, director of Activism and Campaigns for Amnesty's Tel Aviv office, told IPS the result has been the disproportionate use of force by Egyptian border guards.

"When somebody is asked to stop and he's not threatening you, there's no reason in the world to shoot him, especially people who are running away from you," Lonai said. "There are different ways of stopping them."

Most of the asylum seekers are from Eritrea and Sudan. Human Rights Watch reports that thousands of young men have fled Eritrea to avoid "endless military conscription." The U.S.-based group has documented torture against military deserters there.

In Sudan, 2.5 million people have died in the country's 22-year-long civil war, and another 2.5 million have been displaced in the western region of Darfur alone since 2003, according to HRW. Sudanese who visit the Jewish state risk execution if they return home.

Lonai says Israel should not be using Egypt to stop people that need protection from entering the country.

"This is a very sad issue in a country that has built itself on this notion of protecting refugees to so easily forget all of our history and push it all away," said Lonai, referring to the creation of the Zionist state after the Nazi Holocaust nearly 60 years ago. "This is a very, very sad issue."

The "main problem", according to Shevy Korzen, executive director of the Tel Aviv-based Hotline for Migrant Workers, is Israel doesn't have an established system in place to manage incoming refugees. Korzen told IPS that Israel needs to set clear guidelines and provide appropriate protection to refugees.

"If someone reaches the border and asks for asylum, then according to international law their claim has to be assessed," she said. "Israel cannot say, 'Oh, we're ok. We're not shooting. We're just asking the Egyptians to do this.' This is wrong."

When it comes to deciding who can stay and who will be sent south, back to Africa, Korzen said, Tel Aviv's decisions are made "ad hoc". Korzen cited the example of Israel's August 2007 return of 48 Sudanese asylum seekers to Egypt, which then sent 20 back to Sudan.

When the refugees first started arriving in Israel a few years ago, the State granted temporary residence to 600 Sudanese from Darfur, and gave work permits to 2,000 Eritreans.

About 5,500 African asylum-seekers crossed the 160-mile wide Israel-Egypt border last year alone, according to UNHCR. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the refugee influx at a Feb. 24 Cabinet meeting as a "tsunami that could grow." Olmert ordered his ministers to immediately deport about 4,500 "illegal infiltrators", according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release.

But this hasn't happened. Instead, Tel Aviv decided in March to take over the evaluation of claims of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees from UNHCR. Wolfson said the Israeli Ministry of Interior is registering but not yet assessing the claims "due primarily to the volume of them." Africans from elsewhere, like the Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria, are still evaluated by the UN, which submits its recommendation to an Israeli committee. While Israel has no quotas, typically the committee grants asylum to about 10-20 Africans a year, Wolfson said.

"In the long run, obviously this can't work," said Korzen. "In the long run, Israel has to accept the fact that it has become, like other countries, a country that accepts asylum seekers. It's not the only one -- it seems to think so but it's not -- and it needs to be able to handle this in accordance to its obligations, to international law, to the Refugee Convention, which Israel was the first country to sign and promote."

As for Hamed, he made it across the border, and was found by Israel Defence Force troops. They detained him in a military camp for two days and then released him into Israel. Like thousands before him, Hamed registered with UNHCR in Tel Aviv.

He now lives on the support of a non-governmental organisation that feeds and houses him in a shelter near the Tel Aviv central bus station. Neither the UN nor the State of Israel provides food, water or shelter. Without a work visa, he can't work, legally, to support himself.

"Well, don't forget that Israel is a developed country," Wolfson told IPS at the UNHCR's downtown office in Tel Aviv, explaining why the refugee agency doesn't provide aid here. "We understand the worry that providing assistance to new arrivals will create a pull factor, but, at the same time, I think basic humanity requires a more comprehensive response from the various authorities, and at least cooperation among the various actors."

Wolfson said there are "excellent" NGOs doing a "very, very good job against tremendous odds. But they are sometimes working in isolation, and some government coordination at the very least if not actual government support would go a long way to making the job of everyone easier."

Until a definitive policy is established, Hamed will remain in limbo. He said he will continue to come to Levinsky Park each morning, like he has for the past month, to sit and talk with about 40 other African refugees who, like him, don't know their status in Israel or their future.

"What I have to do?" asked Hamed. "I have to be patient (and) wait for that. I can't do anything."


Neighbors complain about bars all the time, the noise, the rowdiness, the motorcycles. Then, as always there are the allegations of of public urination. Often I am in sympathy with the complainers. But this time my borthers and sisters the place in question, The Tokio Store, has been operating for a lot longer than any of the folks who live nearby have been in the neighborhood. Also, this time the local gendarmes don't seem to see the problem either. This seems just one of those "not in my back yard" issues.

It's true there is live music on weekends and there are motorcycles (god forbid). But the offending joint has been operating for 100 years. Seems a shame to shut it down now.

Try a fan and a white noise machine in your bedroom folks. Works for me when neighbors get noisy and I'm one lousy sleeper.

The owners of the Tokio Store in little Tokio, Texas are more than willing to try to work out whatever problems do exist, but the landowners nearby don't seem interested.

This is a place owned by a disabled Vietnam Vet who has suffered from traumatic stress syndrome and it is a place where numerous charity events are held each year.

Who amongst us can forget the Tokio Store Fish Fry and Music Festival Featuring Heart of Texas Road Gang, Texas Style, Taylor Brothers, Spivey Crossing and others held just last month with proceeds going to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

It's a hangout.

And its noted for its pie.

One of those who hang out there had this to say about the place:
"Nice little place for a beverage and a game of pool. VERY biker friendly. Opens at noon. If they don't look open, just pull up your bike. The owner lives next door and will come and open the place for you."

Another, some fellow named Richard said,
"We were at the Tokio Store last night, it was our daughters birthday, she is good friends of the new owner and his wife, they had the Nascar race on the TV for all the folks to watch, we had a blast, some of the best old country songs on the juke box I have heard in a long time and definitely the coldest beer to be found!"

Or there is this from Boyd Saller,
"I am glad to see the Tokio Store on your site, it is definitely a Texas Honky Tonk!! One that I know Willie himself would praise, since he's played there (If you have to ask who Willie is, then don't bother). Plus my ranch is just north on the other end of Old Railroad Road, so I have a soft spot for Debra and Charley, the current owners. If you ever get near there, just a few miles West off I-35 on FM185, stop and have a cold Shiner or just for some good ole' Texas talk!

By the way those bikers the neighbors are all riled up about - well, we're not talking vicious meth dealing bikers here, at least not for the most part. See the post below for a little on that.

I remember when my hangout, The Rock Chalk, a bar that catered to longhairs in Lawrence, Kansas back in the 60s was closed because the Attorney General of Kansas didn't like it. I was pissed. I kinda equate this with that.

Google Tokio Store and all kinds of interesting events and music stuff pops up.

Sounds fun to me.

There aren't enough good ol' joints left.

There are plenty of complaining neighbors left though.

The following is from the Waco Tribune.

Historic Tokio Store under fire from neighbors over noise, traffic
By Tommy Witherspoon

The Tokio Store has survived a major fire and a devastating tornado in the more than 100 years it has served as a general store and, more recently, as a unique place to down a cold brew and meet new friends in a cozy rural setting.

A threatening storm of another kind is brewing, however, around the northern McLennan County landmark that is pitting the store against 30 of its neighbors and involves the county and at least two state agencies.

The neighbors of the bar, located a few miles southwest of West, hope to shut it down as a public nuisance and have filed at least two petitions with county commissioners, a license protest with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and a complaint with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The bar’s detractors say it is a weekend haven for “wannabe Hell’s Angels” who race up and down Old Railroad Road and Tokio Loop and claim that bands playing there on weekends rattle their windows and shatter the serenity of their country lifestyle.

The neighbors also say that parking problems during busy weekend events at the bar choke off public access and threaten the safety of area residents and bar patrons, some of whom bring their young children with them.

They also claim that two long-abandoned underground gasoline storage tanks are in violation of environmental regulations.

Tokio Store owners Charles and Deborah Kirkpatrick said they are just trying to make an honest living and hope the problems with their neighbors can be worked out.

“I just wish they would do like we try to do — leave everybody alone,” said Charles Kirkpatrick, a disabled Vietnam veteran who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and complications from exposure to the defoliant known as Agent Orange.

Kirkpatrick’s mother and stepfather, Georgia and Blakie Kruger, ran the bar for 40 years before Kirkpatrick and his wife took it over 11 years ago. They said they are hoping to apply to have a Texas Historical Marker placed on the bar while they work with the various county and state officials to resolve their neighbors’ complaints.

“We’ve just got a unique situation here, and it seems like there is no fast or easy solutions,” Deborah Kirkpatrick said. “We are just leaving it up to all the other folks to help straighten it out.”

The Kirkpatricks said they have run off a few of the more undesirable biker groups who have tried to patronize their bar. Most who come now are groups such as the Iron Pigs or Blue Knights, clubs of motorcycle-riding police officers and firefighters, or the 100 Percenters, a group of disabled veterans who also ride.

Most of the groups ride their motorcycles on the weekend and stop off at the Tokio Store for a beer or other cold drink on their way home, the Kirkpatricks said. Live bands on the weekends shut down no later than 12:30 a.m., and the parking complaints have not been a problem before the neighbors’ most recent petition drive, they said.

The only time one of the two parallel roads that run in front of the store has been blocked off was when they had a benefit for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children and the street was used for additional parking with the permission of county officials, the Kirkpatricks said.

The bar’s closest neighbors, Mike and Joy Cook, have helped organize the petition drives and protests against the May renewal of the bar’s state license to serve beer. They said the problems, including litter, have gotten worse the past two years and contend that the Kirkpatricks’ claims to them that they can’t control the actions of their patrons is not acceptable.

“The loud, rowdy patrons which frequent the bar have no respect of our rights or feelings for our homes,” an open letter sent to the residents of Tokio says. “They come to drink, block traffic, throw trash on the roads, urinate outside and loudly race down the streets.”

Cook, who lived on the road for years but moved next door to the bar after his mother died in November, said he has been threatened by drunken bar patrons whom he confronted about throwing beer bottles in his yard. He says he can’t keep his windows open at night because of the noise emanating from the bar.

McLennan County Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Mashek and County Engineer Steve Hendrick have been trying to resolve the parking issue for a few months. The county right of way apparently runs right through the front porch of the store, and there is an issue of whether the underground storage tanks and the Kirkpatricks’ trash Dumpster are on private or county property.

Store patrons historically have parked in the median between two county roads, Old Railroad Road and Tokio Loop, Mashek said. Those matters are still under deliberation, he said.

“The Tokio Store has been part of the Tokio Community and its history for over 100 years,” Mashek said in a prepared statement. “However, the issue at hand is the traffic on the roadways surrounding the store, which I inherited when I took office as commissioner. Until now, the roadways represented in this matter had not been identified as a problem. I appreciate the concerns of the citizens in the community and am looking into their concerns.”

Andrea Morrow, a TCEQ spokeswoman in Austin, said complaints about the underground gas tanks are being investigated, including an attempt to determine the location and ownership of the tanks.

When it is determined whether the Kirkpatricks or the county is responsible for the tanks, they likely will be removed or filled in by the responsible party, she said.

McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch said his deputies go to the Tokio Store when they are called. However, he said, “they have always been compliant.

“They have live music. It’s a beer joint,” Lynch said. “But it hasn’t been anything that has been a major problem. They park up and down the road, but they have been doing that for years.”

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Lt. Tom Dickson summarized the situation with an acronym: NIMBY.

“We call that ‘Not In My Back Yard,’ ” he said. “That is not a legal reason to protest their beer license. You have to have legal facts to protest. But it is a real divided issue out there.”

Dickson said his agency investigates protests against a bar’s beer license. That is forwarded to the agency’s legal department. They review it, and if it warrants a hearing, it is referred to the county judge, who conducts a hearing and makes a determination.

Sometimes TABC officials try to mediate a dispute between bar owners and protesters, Dickson said. Those efforts frequently result in agreements to put up a fence, to redirect outside lighting, to turn the music down or shut down an hour or two early, he said.

“We will do everything we can with the protesters and the licensee,” Dickson said. “If we can work it out, that would be desirable. If it doesn’t get worked out, we will have to go to a hearing.”


It will be 15 years since Waco and 13 years since Oklahoma City and the nazis are coming to DC on April 19th. Their piggish march will be targeting non-white immigration and immigrants. They believe now is the time to cash in on all the anti-immigrant crap going down in this nation of ours. As they put it on their web site:

"In 2008 the Immigration issue will be at the forefront. Anyone with eyes and ears can bear witness to the changing face of our Nation. This will be the opportunity of a lifetime for Pro-White and Pro-American activists to make themselves heard."

These jackboots will be countered. Make no mistake about that. (See post below)

Truth is it makes perfect sense for them push forward with an anti-immigrant march. They've been part of that movement all along.

This would be a good time for "us" to expose that connection while shutting down hate speech.

Please don't sent in comments about "free speech." Nazis want me dead. I'm not interested in their right to spew forth their filth as part of their on going campaign to kill me and all us other other "non-aryans."

The following Call to Action comes from Washington DC Indy Media.

Confront the Nazis in Washington DC – April 19, 2008 – 11:30 AM

Youtube video:

Assemble at 11:30 AM on the Southwest corner of Constitution Ave NW and 14th St NW
Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement Plans to Rally on National Mall near Washington Monument

On, April 19, 2008, at 12 PM (noon) the neo-Nazi, white-supremacist organization known as the “National Socialist Movement” is planning to march and rally “against illegal immigration” on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on the North Side of the Washington Monument. The monument is located to the South of Constitution Avenue NW, between 15th St NW and 17th St NW.

Coming on the heels of the racist immigration ordinance passed in Prince William County, Virginia (and similar laws passed elsewhere in the US), and coupled with the alarming rise in the number of known hate groups in the United States, we feel that the march of these racist bigots must be confronted vigorously, and with strength.

Despite claims that those opposed to immigration are concerned about “the rule of law”, terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the National Socialist Movement have always attempted to blame immigrants, African-Americans, Jews, non-heterosexual people, and all people of color for what they perceive to be “societal problems”. It is clear that their hatred is based on racial prejudice, and the law is merely an excuse to spread their white supremacist beliefs. We believe that it is not any coincidence that xenophobes and white supremacists share views on immigration, and immigrants.

The National Socialist Movement, according to their website, are “America's Nazi Party”, and are “…inspired by our Fuhrer Adolf Hitler.” The group is currently, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States, largely due to the implosion of several other neo-Nazi groups.

They are the same organization that, in order to stir up hatred, marched in Toledo, Ohio (in 2005) in a neighborhood largely made up of people of color. They did indeed, get a reaction, as riots ensued, and the Nazis, and the police protecting them, were run out of the area for a time.

We invite all those opposed to fascism and racism to come and confront this very real, and dangerous neo-Nazi group. Gather at 11:30 AM on the Southwest corner of Constitution Ave NW and 14th St NW (the Mall side), to assemble before confronting the fascists.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Being a janitor isn't exactly glamorous. It's hard work though and everyone sure as hell notices when that work doesn't get done.

And the people doing that work ought to make a decent living.

But like so many jobs in America, the harder you work, the worse off you are. CEO's are making a mint in this country while the people who clean their offices are invisible to them...and get paid like it.

In Philadelphia, as in numerous other places, janitors are fighting back and fighting for a livable wage.

Members of the cleaning staff at City Hall who have been busting their butts for years trying to keep up with the mess there along with others working in the City of Brotherly Love have been around seven months without a contract.

Jeez, I'd say they've been pretty damn patient.

All of the cleaners in City Hall are Philadelphia residents, and the majority of them are black or Latino.

Philly Indy Media says after numerous bargaining sessions, Team Clean, one of the city's major cleaning companies, refuses to budge on basic issues. While other janitors in the city "enjoy" wage increases and better benefits, Team Clean holds its employees hostage.

Formed in Denver in 1985 by the SEIU, Justice for Janitors is in its 20th year. The campaign is about hard-working janitors uniting for fair working conditions with support from our communities. Over the years, Justice for Janitors has worked to provide better wages, basic benefits, and job security for janitors who clean buildings in major cities and suburbs.

If your in Philadelphia you ought to get your ass down to Paine Plaza on Wednesday to show your support for these hard working men and women.

The following is from Philadelphia Indy Media.


FOR INFO: Call Jeff Hornstein at 267-250-6480

Team Clean is the janitorial services contractor at many public buildings in
Philadelphia including the Municipal Services Building, One Parkway, City
Hall, the Convention Center, and several Philadelphia schools.

Team Clean's contract with Local 32BJ for their employees at MSB and One
Parkway expired on September 30, 2007.



Hong Kong flight attendants are accusing the government of failing to protect them from age discrimination. They say large airlines such as Cathay Pacific, British Airways and United are forcing Hong Kong-based cabin crew to retire at 45. The flight attendants want the government to enact age discrimination laws. Yesterday they staged a protest at Hong Kong's airport to dramatize their demands.

It wasn't the first time.

In 2006, flight attendants from Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Dragonair staged a protest urging the government to legislate against age discrimination.

Apparently no one was listening.

In Hong Kong there is no law on the books preventing age discrimination. Indeed, after losing a sex-discrimination case to one of its female flight attendants forced to retire at age 45, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's flagship carrier, responded by lowering the retirement age for its male attendants from 55 to 45; now male and female cabin crew are fully equal at Cathay Pacific - both must deplane at 45.

Asia Times has reported Japan Airlines (JAL), which employs hundreds of staff in Hong Kong, appears to be the most youth-oriented carrier in the city. JAL has asked its Hong Kong-based flight attendants to disembark as early as their 35th birthday, and it is fair to say that most of these forced retirees think their premature retirement has nothing to do with their ability to do their jobs.

In fact, experience is crucial for aviation safety. Experienced flight attendants are very important as they are very knowledgeable to deal with contingency and emergency.

Some airline administrators have argued mostly behind closed doors that passengers want young, good looking flight attendants. However, studies have clearly shown
that the most important criteria of most respondents in selecting an airline was its safety record and not age of its flight attendants. Therefore, there would be no economic impact on the airline industry in Hong Kong (or elsewhere) to adopt an anti age discrimination policy.

Polls have shown 71 per cent of workers in Hong Kong approve of raising the retirement age. A new international workplace survey by Kelly Services, a global staffing provider, found almost 29% of Hong Kong workers aged 45 or older felt they had been discriminated against on the basis of their age.

The following is from The Standard (Hong Kong).

Don't ground us at 45, say attendants

A dozen flight attendants from four airlines staged a 30-minute sit-in protest at the airport yesterday demanding their airlines extend the retirement age from 45 to 65.
Representatives from Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, British Airways and United Airlines said attendants at the first three airlines are facing age discrimination since the airlines' pilots and ground staff are allowed to work until the age of 65.

United Airlines does not have an age limit for flight attendants.

Chanting slogans and holding signs in the departure hall, the attendants demanded fairness with regard to retirement.

Hong Kong Flight Attendants Association spokeswoman Becky Kwan Siu-wah, who is also the chairwoman of Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants' Union, said almost 10,000 flight attendants are affected by the retire-at- 45 policy.

"It is unfair because, in Europe and the United States, there are flight attendants working until 84. There is also racial discrimination in Japan Airlines as its Japanese flight attendants can work until 65 yet its Hong Kong employees have an age limit of 35," she said.

One of the protesters, Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants' Union secretary Vera Wu Yee-mei, said 45 was too young for a retirement age, given that the life expectancy for women in Hong Kong is 89.

"What should we do with the second half of our lives?

"Moreover, experience actually helps with our work as flight attendants as safety is more important than the public perception of flight attendants being pretty," she said.

Confederation of Trade Unions lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, who was at the protest, urged the government to legislate against age discrimination in the workplace.

A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said the airline has been actively engaging the union and members of the crew community to discuss subjects of common interest, including retirement age.

"All staff were fully informed of the employment conditions, including the retirement age, when they accepted the company's employment," she said.

The spokeswoman maintained the extension of retirement age is a complex issue which has a significant impact on promotion prospects, pay and benefits, and is a decision that requires careful consideration.

A Dragonair spokesman said the retirement age for its cabin crew is broadly in line with that of its competitors.

"It is not uncommon for companies to adopt different retirement ages for different staff groups and different countries in accordance with the job nature and environment," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Equal Opportunities Commission said it is against discrimination on any ground.


The Jewish festival of Passover or Pesach is just around the corner. Many of the themes of Passover have social justice implications.

The text of the Pesach Seder is written in a book called the Haggadah. The traditional Haggadah tells the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and explains some of the practices and symbols of the holiday.

In past decades the traditional Haggadah has been updated by newer versions which attempt to combine the old with the present, and to focus on the social justice implications as they apply in today's world.

There are numerous progressive Haggadot out there to choose from (you can even download some off the internet.

Some of these Haggadot focus on the Exodus issues of class, race, ethnic oppression; some on feminism, women's liberation, and the full presence and empowerment of women in Jewish life and in the world; some address mostly issues of peace and war – especially conflict and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

If you don't happen to have one of these you can also take a simple step suggested in the post below to add more meaning to the holiday.

Now a note from just me that is sure to tick off some of you. For some reason also in the past few decades Christians have taken to having Passover Seders. To me this is a bothersome development, even a bit on the insulting side. Passover is a Jewish holiday. It does not need to be infused with a Christian interpretation. Leave it alone. Please even if you mean well, just let it alone. How would you feel if Jews created a Christmas story in which Jesus was just some nice Jewish Rabbi who happened along one day with a nice message (and without any of the Son of God stuff)? I doubt that Christians would like it all that much. The Pesach holiday means something special to us. You are often more than welcome to attend a Passover Seder in a Jewish home, in a Jewish environment. That can be very rewarding for all concerned. However, creating some new Christianized version is a lousy idea, thank you.

It strikes me as strange that Christians seem to have this desire to capture other peoples' religious traditions. Muslims, Jews, and no other religious faiths I know do this. Why do you suppose Christians do?

The following suggestions for Passover is from the American Jewish World Service.

We encourage you to incorporate this reading into the Four
Questions section of your seder.

At this time of year, we are reminded of the Jewish people's fight for liberation and our own fortunate circumstances - and the struggle for freedom that so many in the world still face on a daily basis. In particular, the people of Darfur who are experiencing their sixth consecutive year of oppression and violence, and the millions of people in the developing world who live under the shadow of HIV and AIDS.

MA nish-ta-nah ha-LAI-lah ha-zeh mi-KOL ha-lei-LOT?

How is this night
different from all other nights?

We know the traditional
answers to this question: On
this night, we eat matzah and
bitter herbs, we dip and we
recline. But this is not all, or
even most, of what Passover
is about.

On most other nights, we
allow the news of tragedy in
distant places to pass us by.

We succumb to compassion
fatigue – aware that we
cannot possibly respond to
every injustice that arises
around the world.

On this night, we are
reminded that our legacy as
the descendants of slaves
creates in us a different kind
of responsibility – we are to
protect the stranger because
we were strangers in the land
of Egypt.

Let us add a fifth question to
this year’s seder. Let us ask

Aych nishaneh et ha-shanah ha-zot
mi-kol ha-shanim?

How can we make this year
different from all other years?

This year, this Passover, let
us recommit to that sacred
responsibility to protect the stranger,
particularly those vulnerable
strangers in faraway places whose
suffering is so often ignored.

Let us infuse the rituals of the seder
with action:

When tasting the matzah, the
bread of poverty, let us find ways
to help the poor and the hungry.

When eating the maror, let us
commit to help those whose
lives are embittered by disease.

When dipping to commemorate
the blood that protected our
ancestors against the Angel of
Death, let us pursue protection
for those whose lives are
threatened by violence
and conflict.

When reclining in celebration
of our freedom, let us seek
opportunities to help those who
are oppressed.


Japan's whaling fleet is set to return to port on Tuesday after killing little more than half its intended catch in the Antarctic due to harassment by activists, officials said Monday.

"Sabotage by activists is a major factor behind our failure to achieve our target," a Fisheries Ministry official said

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says its campaign saved 500 whales.

Greenpeace Japan, which also carried out activities aimed at obstructing the hunt, said it was not satisfied with the reduced catch.

"They say that one reason for the lower catch is that they didn't see so many whales," said Junichi Sato of Greenpeace. "That is a good reason why they should not conduct lethal research."

He added that, despite the reduction, the number of whales actually killed was more than three years ago.

Japan kills whales under an internationally permitted research program, despite a 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Critics, however, say the program is a cover for Japan's ailing whaling industry, and demand it be stopped.

Greenpeace says the international convention that helped save the elephant and rhino from extinction at the hands of poachers is being ignored by the Japanese Fisheries Agency to continue whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

"Japan's research whaling program is a national embarrassment," said Greenpeace Japan Whales Project Leader Junichi Sato, "it is riddled with illegalities and instances where international law has been bent, broken, and bypassed; it continues to strain relations with our allies around the world and tarnish Japan's reputation. It's time for Japan to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean forever."

Greenpeace is also calling for an investigation into the refuelling of the fleet in the Antarctic treaty zone - breaching the spirit of the Antarctic treaty, to which they are a signatory, and using a vessel with no permit as part of the fleet to do so.

Meanwhile the Japanese fisheries agency said Friday up to 60 minke whales in the north Pacific Ocean will be caught in the coming month for "research."

Five boats will be dispatched today off northern Japan for the "research" mission that will run through late May. The agency said "researchers" will study the whales' dietary intake and the data will be used to analyze the whale population's impact on fishery resources.

Business Week says Japanese consumers' demand for whale meat peaked after World War II, when protein was in short supply; it has declined steadily since, although whale meat is still considered a traditional food.

By the way, it isn't only Japan. That other cruel and ecologically insensitive whaling nation Norway has set a kill quota of 1052 whales for 2008.

The quota is the same as last year despite the whalers being unable to find enough whales to meet that quota. The actual kill was 97 whales short of 1052.

The majority of these whales will be taken from the coastal areas around the Barents Sea, Svalbard and the North Sea.

The following is from TV3 News, New Zealand.

Japan catches fewer whales because of protestors

Japan's Antarctic whaling catch fell far short of its target in the season just past - because of the efforts of anti-whaling protesters.

Fisheries Ministry statistics released last night show the fleet caught only 551 minke whales - compared to a planned catch of 850.

No fin whales were caught at all, although the fleet had set itself a target of 50.

The ministry says sabotage by activists was the major factor behind the failure to achieve the target.

Greenpeace sent a ship to the Southern Ocean to disrupt the whale hunt, but most of the problems were caused by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which repeatedly confronted the fleet.