Friday, August 01, 2008


In case you missed the news Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell (who on Feb. 9, 1971 set the record for the longest moon walk ever, spending an incredible nine hours and 17 minutes on the lunar surface) says we've been visited for years by aliens, not from Mexico, but from much further away.

He also confirmed an extraterrestrial craft crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.

On July 4, 2008, Dr. Mitchell appeared on the "Larry King Live" program on CNN and claimed that high ranking officials, both military and civilian, have told him that the UFO phenomenon is a reality and in part a non-human gathering of intelligence of Planet Earth and the human race.

On July 23, 2008, Dr. Mitchell made the same assertions on a London radio station interview, stating that he was aware of many UFO visits to Earth during his career with NASA.

Where've I been?

On the Roswell thing, Mitchell told interviewer Irene Klotz of the Discovery Channel.

"My major knowledge comes from what I call the old-timers, people who were at Roswell and subsequent who wanted to clear the things up and tell somebody credible even though they were under severe threats and things -- this was back in the Roswell days. Having gone to the moon and being a local citizen out in the Roswell area some of them thought I would be a safe choice to tell their story to, which they did. Even though the government put real clamps on everybody, it got out anyhow."

Subsequent to that, I did take my story to the Pentagon -- not NASA, but the Pentagon -- and asked for a meeting with the Intelligence Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and got it. And told them my story and what I know and eventually had that confirmed by the admiral that I spoke with, that indeed what I was saying was true."

In the same interview Mitchell discussed the Phoenix Lights incident of a few years back:

"Three humongous craft flew over Phoenix, very slowly in the middle of the night that clearly were not -- I happened to be on the phone with people out there when that happened and have had pictures of it -- clearly those were not, to those of us who know aviation and spacecraft, clearly those were not local stuff, home-grown stuff."

Of course Mitchell isn't the first astronaut to come forward with information connected to UFO's and aliens.

Astronaut Gordon Cooper (1927 -- 2004) wrote a book in 2000 titled LEAP OF FAITH. He described how he chased UFOs as an Air Force pilot while stationed in Germany in
1951. He also wrote about how he shot film of a UFO encounter from Gemini 5 that was quickly classified by President Johnson and confiscated.

In the final paragraph, Cooper wrote, "For many years I have lived with a secret, in a secrecy imposed on all specialists and astronauts. I can now reveal that every day, in the USA, our radar instruments capture objects of form and composition unknown to us."

Anyway, the media has made much fun of Mitchell and his comments, just as they have of everyone else who has ever come forth with such claims.

You can believe him or not, but me, I've always hoped some aliens would just land on our planet and say enough is enough, "We're here to straighten things out."

I mean it doesn't seem like anyone else is going to get it done.

But what if they ain't friendly, these outer space folk, you ask?

Well, Mitchel claimed our technology is 'not nearly as sophisticated' as theirs and "had they been hostile", he warned 'we would be been gone by now'.

And we're not.

The following comes from au.

NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell claims alien contact cover-up

FORMER NASA astronaut and moon-walker Dr Edgar Mitchell - a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission - has stunningly claimed aliens exist.

And he says extra-terrestrials have visited Earth on several occasions - but the alien contact has been repeatedly covered up by governments for six decades.

Dr Mitchell, 77, said during a radio interview that sources at the space agency who had had contact with aliens described the beings as 'little people who look strange to us.'

He said supposedly real-life ET's were similar to the traditional image of a small frame, large eyes and head.

He claimed our technology is "not nearly as sophisticated" as theirs and "had they been hostile", he warned "we would have been gone by now".

Dr Mitchell, along with with Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard, holds the record for the longest ever moon walk, at nine hours and 17 minutes during their 1971 mission.

"I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we've been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomena is real," Dr Mitchell said.

"It's been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it's leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it.

"I've been in military and intelligence circles, who know that beneath the surface of what has been public knowledge, yes - we have been visited. Reading the papers recently, it's been happening quite a bit."

Dr Mitchell, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and a Doctor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics claimed Roswell was real and similar alien visits continue to be investigated.

He told the astonished Kerrang! radio host Nick Margerrison: "This is really starting to open up. I think we're headed for real disclosure and some serious organisations are moving in that direction."

Mr Margerrison said: "I thought I'd stumbled on some sort of astronaut humour but he was absolutely serious that aliens are definitely out there and there's no debating it."

Officials from NASA, however, were quick to play the comments down.

In a statement, a spokesman said: "NASA does not track UFOs. NASA is not involved in any sort of cover up about alien life on this planet or anywhere in the universe.

'Dr Mitchell is a great American, but we do not share his opinions on this issue.'


I'll probably get shit from some of you for saying this but it appears to me that not too many people have shown up the last couple of nights at the Port of Tacoma to protest the return a Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade from Iraq and the militarization of the port.

When the equipment was shipped out in March of 2007, anti-war protests led to the arrests of 37 people while police agencies spent $1 million for security.

The News Tribune of Tacoma reports a handful of protesters from the Port Militarization Resistance group showed up Wednesday night and one was arrested for obstructing a police officer and two others were given trespassing warnings.

Two more activists, K-Tee-O (Katherine Olejnik) and Kelly Beckham, managed to get arrested for crossing a police line at the Port of Tacoma late Thursday night.

Indymedia from Seattle had one post from some guy lamenting the poor turnout, "Where was everyone? Where were all the brave posters from Tacoma and Olympia? Why was it left to Jeff and Wally to lead a cold, wet, hungry group of Olympia SDS on a log and difficult trek through the vastness of Tacoma?"

Oh well.

Don't feel bad guy, I've helped organization some demonstrations in the past where you could say the turnout was less than optimal (to say the least).

Sometimes even the people united are defeated...sometimes the State goes unsmashed...sometimes the bad folks who got to go, don't. Sometimes THE REVOLUTION isn't won...

Step back, figure out what went wrong (more than likely its something y'all did, although sometimes the "people" just don't care...sometimes they got something better to do), try to correct it (accept your responsibility) and try, try again.

Anyway, for you folks up there in Washington state here is the schedule for the days ahead:

Friday, August 1st

4-6 PM, Port Militarization Resistance Rally and Protest
(Family friendly event. Come & hook-in for later actions)
Federal Courthouse--1713 Pacific Ave

8 PM, Port Action Meeting Point
At Puyallup Avenue & East D St. (5 minute walk from courthouse)

Saturday, August 2nd

12-3 PM, No War on Iraq! No War on Iran Demo!
(A family-friendly demo and overpass rally)
At I-5's Exit 119, outside Fort Lewis
Brought to you by IVAW, G.I. Voice, and Olympia SDS
Olympia carpool will meet at the corner of Harrison and Division @ 11 am

(If military equipment remains in the port, then...)

4-6 PM, Port Militarization Resistance Rally and Protest
(Family friendly event. Come & hook-in for later actions)
Federal Courthouse--1713 Pacific Ave

8 PM, Port Action Meeting Point
At Puyallup Avenue & East D St. (5 minute walk from courthouse)

Sunday, August 3rd (If military equipment remains in the port)

4-6 PM, Port Militarization Resistance Rally and Protest
(Family friendly event. Come & hook-in for later actions)
Federal Courthouse--1713 Pacific Ave

8 PM, Port Action Meeting Point
At Puyallup Avenue & East D St. (5 minute walk from courthouse)

Sounds like a lot planned.

What do y'all think? Will anyone show up?

The following is from KOMO Seattle.

Protestors target port war shipments

Protestors hit the streets near the Port of Tacoma Thursday night, protesting the return of a Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade from Iraq.

More than 900 vehicles and hundreds of cargo containers are being returned to the fort for the 4-2 Brigade, the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The ship, the Brittin, arrived Tuesday at the port.

When the equipment was shipped out in March of 2007, anti-war protests led to the arrests of 37 people while police agencies spent $1 million for security.

This year, it was a different story. One reason there were so few protestors here was a strong police presence waiting for them.

Tacoma police lined the route, even cutting-off roads leading into the port.

Still, the small group had a message.

"We want to stop this cycle, anytime there is militarism in our community," said Jeff Berryhill.

One person was arrested during a similar protest Wednesday night. There were no reported arrests Thursday night.


The always precarious position of Roma throughout Europe is once again back in the news.

(pictured here is a Roma Child's depiction of persecution)

First, there is the issue of forced sterilization of Romani women which a UN committee is finally recognizing.

Then there is the tale of a fascist party in the Czech Republic with a proposed Final Solution for the Roma.

Take a deep breath and keep reading.

Romani women in Slovakia continue to be subject to grave violations of their human rights, particularly their reproductive rights.

Yesterday, finally, a UN committee has recognized and highlighted the forced sterilization of Romani women which has and continues to go on in the Slovak Republic.

This follows news earlier in July that a coalition comprised of the Ostrava, Czech-based Group of Women Harmed by sterilization, the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and the Peacework Development Fund, were launching a global campaign seeking support for Romani women victimized by coerced sterilization practices in Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

The coalition says the governments concerned have failed to react, through public apologies and compensation for the harms inflicted upon Romani women despite five years of targeted advocacy and lobbying by the victims and their supporters.

The latest campaign was launched around the 2008 Women’s Worlds Congress in Madrid, Spain, which brought together thousands of women’s rights advocates from around the world.

Meanwhile, a Czech fascist party which plans to be vying for power in future elections is releasing a "Final Solution" for the Romani.

The Czech National Party wants to succeed in the general elections in 2010 with radical anti-Romani rhetoric formulated in a 150-page study called "The Final Solution to the Gypsy Issue in the Czech Lands" that it will present this month.

The "nationalists" claim they do no want to kill the Romanies, but that they want to buy land in India and to relocate Romanies there.

According to the Prague Daily Monitor party spokesman Pavel Sedlacek says the word "final" that is connected with the study does not mean that the party would like to exterminate the Romanies, but because the matter should at last be tackled.

Ivan Vesely, deputy head of the Government Council for Romani Affairs and chairman of the Romani association Dzeno, has called on the the government to dissolve the ultra-right National Party (NS), the Romea association reported on its website Thursday.

Vesely at the same time filed a complaint against the National Party on suspicion of committing the crime of defamation of nation, race and conviction.

Vesely said the National Party committed the crime by publishing texts threatening the fundamental freedoms of Czech citizens of another nationality on its website.

He also criticised the paramilitary National Guard that the National Party established in February.

"The National Guard is organised on a strictly military principle. It is divided into separate units... the guard members are being trained and they receive a uniform and a knife," Vesely said.

The National Guard drew attention in June when its members were patrolling outside a school in Karlovy Vary, west Bohemia, allegedly to "protect" pupils from attacks by Romani children.

The National Guard members were also suspected of attacking the march of homosexuals in Brno in June.

Zdenek Marsicek (opposition Communists, KSCM), deputy head of the lower house defence committee, called on Interior Minister Ivan Langer (senior government Civic Democrats, ODS) in June to check whether the National Party violated the law on political parties by the National Guard establishment as the law bans parties from setting up armed units.

However, Langer said a month ago that he did not consider the establishment of the National Guard a reason for banning the National Party.

This is all news that would make a certain Mr. Hitler proud.

The following is from Roma Buzz Aggregator.


The UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee) calls the Slovak Government to take measures to acknowledge the complaints of forcibly sterilized Romani women and provide them with effective remedies.

The Slovak Government has failed to properly address and rectify the situation concerning Roma women who are exposed to constant pervasive prejudice and discrimination, in particular in reproductive and maternal health services. There is documented evidence showing that public hospitals segregate Roma women (placing them in Gypsy Rooms) and of verbal and physical abuse of Roma women by doctors and nurses, who refer to the women as dirty, stinky gypsies or young whores. Even more disturbing, Romani women have been subjected to forced and coerced sterilization. The Slovak government fails to respond or conduct an effective and transparent investigation into these practices.

Yesterday, the Committee issued its Concluding Observations on the Slovak compliance with the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which was reviewed by the Committee in July 2008. The Committee deplores the failure of the Slovak Government to recognize the practice of forced sterilizations and expressed its deep concern. The Committee recommended that the Slovak Government monitor sterilization procedures so as to ensure that the patient is able to provide fully informed consent before any sterilization procedure is carried out, and take appropriate sanctions in the event of a violation.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights (Poradna) and the International Federation on Human Rights (FIDH) welcome the findings and recommendations of the Committee that fully reflect the submissions of both organizations to the Committee. Vanda Durbáková, representative of Poradna commented: “the position of the Slovak Government on the practice of forced and coercive sterilization of Romani women must be changed. We call upon the Government to accept its full responsibility for the violations, provide remedies to the victims and punish the perpetrators. The Government must also adopt comprehensive measures to address the practice and our organizations are willing to assist the Government in the proc! ess. ”

Poradna has been assisting victims of forced sterilization since 2002 and initiated a number of legal proceedings on their behalf. It considers that the practice has never been effectively investigated, in violation of domestic and international legal standards.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Conceived by Jewish Community Action, a Minnesota social justice group, an interfaith rally Sunday in response to allegations of worker mistreatment at Agriprocessors in Postville, drew more than a thousand people to the small Iowa town.

A sizable number of the protesters were Jews from throughout the Midwest and beyond.

Agriprocessors (owned by a Jewish family) is the largest kosher meat producer in the US.

Agriprocessor Postville facility was also the target of a massive immigration raid May 12. In the wake of the raid, the plant’s workers claimed they were underpaid and mistreated.

Joining with Jewish Community Action to organize the rally was the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (Chicago, Illinois) and St. Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church (Postville, Iowa).

The InterMountain Jewish News reports among the groups which supported the rally were the the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish Labor Committee and Workmen’s Circle (created a century ago by Marxist Jewish immigrant workers in New York City and to whom I was introduced when I was just an infant by my grandfather).

Funds for transportation were provided by Mazon, a Jewish hunger relief group.

“There are two targets here,” Jane Ramsey, the executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, told the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA).

“One is a message to the government for comprehensive immigration reform on the one hand, and secondly to Agriprocessors for the permanent implementation of livable wages, health-care benefits and worker safety.”

Prior to a solidarity walk a standing room only crowd gathered inside St. Bridget's Catholic church where an ecumenical service of peace was held. Sister Mary McCauley of the parish said the peace walk was being held as a call for immigration reform after the May 12 raid at Agriprocessors. She said, "We are standing together in solidarity for those who were taken from us during the raid."

McCauley said the purpose of the march was to call attention to just labor practices, with no more raids that destroy families and destroy small towns like Postville.

She also said, "Our immigrant families are living in fear. They come to the church for help and we need to send a message to the rest of the country."

Rabbi Robert Marx, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, told those gathered at the church, "We are people of all faiths who have noble intentions; but, we must do more than simply gather her and say that we are the righteous. We must become righteous and demand of our country that the dreams are fulfilled."

At the company's gate Rabbi Harold Kravitz of Minneapolis stilled the crowd according to the Waukon, Iowa Standard as he spoke of the need for the ethical treatment of workers and the need for immigration reform.

He said, "The Jews that are here today are here because we care about the terrible state of the immigration system here in America and need to treat people fairly."

Citing the principles of kosher observance, the Jewish leaders present made clear that the obligations these placed on Jews did not just apply to the food that they ate, but the humane treatment of all humanity. The Jewish-owned plant in Postville as noted earlier is the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the United States. It produces about 60% of kosher meat, and 40% of kosher chicken in retail stores from Wal-Mart to Albertson’s.

A counter-protest group of about 150, organized by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, rallied for the immediate deportation of illegal immigrants. Chanting “Illegals go Home” and “American Jobs for Americans,” they waved placards that read, “Ask Me Why You Will Go To Hell” and “Stop the Illegal Immigration.”

Getzebel Rubashkin, the grandson of Aaron Rubashkin, the owner of Agriprocessors, denied claims that the plant acted illegally in any way.

On the undocumented workers and alleged reports of underage workers he said,“They deceived the supervisors and provided documents that looked good. ... People are being fed lies about my family.”

Getzebel and his family should be ashamed of themselves for their treatment of the plant's workers. Their actions are what we Jews call "a shanda fur die goy" and they defame the Jewish People.

The following is from the Wisconsin Jewish Post.

Jewish activists rally in Postville to support Agriprocessors workers
By Sue Fishkoff

Postville, Iowa (JTA) — When busloads of Jews from Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin started pulling up outside St. Bridget’s Catholic Church Sunday morning, and more than 350 people, some sporting yarmulkes, poured out to take part in a big immigration rally planned for the afternoon, locals noticed.

“We weren’t expecting so many Jews to show up,” said Alicia Lopez.

A Mexican native and former employee of Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher meat plant, Lopez was one of nearly 400 undocumented workers arrested in a May 12 immigration raid at the factory.

Like four dozen other women released to take care of dependent children, her right ankle is encased in a heavy tracking device that keeps her under virtual house arrest as she awaits trial and, likely, eventual deportation.

Lopez never met a Jewish person in Mexico, and the impressions she developed during her seven years here were not flattering. They were her bosses, the guys who didn’t give her raises, the guys she blames for not warning her and the other workers that La Migra — the immigration police — was on its way.

“I thought badly of them,” she said bluntly, speaking through a Spanish interpreter.

But after marching with Jews on Sunday afternoon, praying with them in her church and hearing their shouts of solidarity with her plight, Lopez changed her mind.

“I could see and feel they were different,” she said. “I really appreciated them. It was like an injection of adrenaline.”

That’s why 22-year-old Tamar Pentelnick came on one of the buses from Minneapolis.

“As Jews, hearing that other Jews treat people like this, I wanted to show that not all Jews are like this, that we care about others and human rights are important to us,” she said.

The interfaith service, march and rally represented the largest and most public demonstration of Jewish support for those affected by the massive raid two months ago by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. Police estimated the crowd at more than 900.

Agriprocessors first gained national attention in 2000 with the publication of the book "Postville," which described the tensions between the the local community and the company, owned by Lubavitcher Chasidim from Brooklyn.

Since then, Agriprocessors has come under fire over its slaughter methods and labor practices, as well as health and safety violations. The May 12 raid added new layers to the controversy, with federal authorities coming under criticism, the plant's former workers facing economic problems and the company scrambling to keep up production.

Through it all, the company has denied any wrongdoing and vehemently rejects the claim that it does not look out for its workers.

Sunday's events -- spearheaded by the Minnesota-based Jewish Community Action and the Chicago-based Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and supported by a number of other groups including the Jewish Labor Committee and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society -- focused on the affected workers and their families as a way of generating support for the larger goal of comprehensive, national immigration reform.

“The Agriprocessors raid is the legacy of a failed immigration system,” said Gideon Aronoff, the president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

Aronoff told the crowd that immigration reform is something “that matters” to the Jewish community.

“Instead of a national solution to a national problem, we have a mishmash of local responses, a border fence that doesn’t work and millions of dollars spent chasing down immigrant workers,” he said.

Athough virtually all the workers arrested in the Postville raid were from Mexico and Guatemala, the Jews who participated in the rally say this is a very Jewish issue. Text study and discussions of immigration policy were held on the buses coming in from Minneapolis and Chicago, emphasizing the Jewish values and teachings that informed the rally’s organization.

“We’re here because we care,” said Rabbi Harold Kravitz of Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minneapolis.

Working conditions are no better in many other industrial plants, he noted, but the fact that Agriprocessors is Jewish owned and produces kosher meat gives the case particular urgency to some Jewish activists.

“We’re here as Jews because we believe kosher means we must answer to a higher authority,” Kravitz said.

“We think a Jewish voice is critical,” added Vic Rosenthal, the executive director of Jewish Community Action. “Who else should be speaking up for workers' rights, especially when it involves kosher food?”

Jonathan Ribnick, 15, was on one of two busloads of teens from Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.

On one hand, Ribnick was upset that the allegations of worker mistreatment by Agriprocessors and its Jewish owners are giving Jews a bad name, fanning the flames of anti-Semitism and “messing it up for the rest of us,” as he put it.

“But we’re not here because we want kosher meat,” he said. “We’re here for the people. We care how people are being treated.”

Abby Seeskin, 20, a student at Macalester College in St. Paul, had been to a few rallies for immigrant rights, but this was the first time she went as part of a Jewish group.

“It’s important not just because it’s a kosher plant but because although I’m not particularly religious, the Jewish values I grew up with influence my outlook in life and have informed my interest in immigration issues,” she explained. “The idea of tikkun olam" -- reparing the world -- "is very important to me, probably more than any other Jewish value.”

The issue of caring came up repeatedly throughout the day.

Agriprocessor owners take issue with the claims that they, by contrast, don’t care.

Aaron Rubashkin, who founded the company two decades ago, in a prepared statement said he and his family were immigrants themselves, escaping first Soviet and then Polish communism to find “freedom and opportunity” in America.

The company has helped workers hurt by the raid, said spokesman Chaim Abrahams, providing food and subsidizing rent by allowing them to stay in Rubashkin-owned properties even when they are not up to date on payments.

No workers interviewed were aware of rent subsidies, although some said that company trucks handed out boxes of meat, chicken and sausages in their neighborhoods last week.

Earlier Sunday, Abrahams met with leaders of the Catholic and Jewish activist groups to address their major concerns, including help for the affected workers and back pay for those arrested. Talks should continue next week, participants reported.

For more than an hour, the blocks-long march snaked its way through town, past the front gates of Agriprocessors and a playground eerily empty of children. In some classrooms, locals report, more than half the students disappeared overnight.

Young Jewish activists used megaphones to lead the crowd in Spanish-language chants: “Nosotros todos immigrantes” -- “We are all immigrants.” They were answered by Guatemalans wearing traditional woven shirts and young mothers with electronic ankle bracelets wheeling babies in strollers, American flags flying from the handles.

Longtime Postville resident Norma Schlee watched it all from her front lawn. “I think it’s magnificent that they were able to come from all over,” she said.

And as for the Jews coming in from out of state to show their support for this tiny Iowa town ripped apart by the raid and its aftermath, Schlee nodded her head in approval, saying, “I think that’s very important.”


Citizens of Colorado are lashing out against a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lease of public lands on top of the Roan Plateau to the likes of EnCana Oil and Gas. These folks aren't interested in seeing the awe inspiring plateau turned into a giant industrial park.

Who can blame them.

The spectacular Roan Plateau is located a few miles northwest of Rifle in central Colorado. Rising 3,500 feet above the Colorado River valley, the dramatic Roan Cliffs give way to the broad and rolling Roan Plateau. Several streams drain the area and eventually form stunning box canyons. The area offers outstanding views of the surrounding landscape.

Grassroots folks have the support of their local governments in their opposition to a plan they say comes straight from Washington D.C. that will destroy this beautiful gift of nature.

"For a number of years now, the City of Glenwood Springs, Colorado has repeatedly requested that the BLM take a slower, more measured and environmentally friendly approach to the Roan,” said Bruce Christensen, mayor of Glenwood Springs. “We would have liked the federal government to acknowledge the wishes of local communities but in general we have been ignored, along with the Governor and members of our Congressional delegation. Our hope is that the federal government fully considers what citizens are telling them, again, today with these protests: the Roan Plateau deserves stronger protections than what the BLM is offering.”

The group Save the Roan Plateu (SRP) says on August 14 the BLM is planning to lease more than 55,000 acres of undeveloped, wildlife-rich public land on the Roan Plateau, a broad island of natural tranquility amid the vast expanse of industrial energy development between Rifle and Parachute, Colo to the energy industry.

They want to stop this from happening.

This week SRP supporters marched on the Bureau of Land Management offices in Glen Springs, Colorado in protest of the leasing plan and to deliver thousands of protest letters.

Opposition centers on the simple ugly truth that drilling will have permanent impacts on the area’s important wildlife habitat, watersheds, and the region’s air quality.

And there is no reason for this rape of nature.

SRP writes that most of the natural gas beneath the Roan Plateau can be developed without drilling public lands on the surface which is what the greedy energy bosses want to do. Directional drilling techniques, points out the SRP, are used elsewhere in the Piceance Basin and are a reasonable alternative to industrializing prized wildlife habitat.

Destroying the Roan’s prime wildlife habitat will degrade the quality of the air, water and recreational opportunities there, while having absolutely no effect at the pump.

Opposition also comes from Sportsmen for the Roan Plateau, which is comprised of the state's most prominent sporting organizations, including state chapters of Trout Unlimited, the National Wildlife Federation, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

“The Roan Plateau is prime hunting and angling ground, and drilling there will irreparably harm elk and deer habitat, industrializing one of the last unspoiled refuges for prized big game species,” said Bill Dvorak with Sportsmen for the Roan Plateau.

Drilling the Roan Plateau could also have serious consequences for water quality and trout streams.

"The Roan Plateau Planning Area is almost half owned or leased by the natural gas industry," said Ken Neubecker, vice president of Colorado Trout Unlimited. CTU has worked diligently to protect and enhance rare, genetically pure Colorado River cutthroat trout that swim in two streams atop the Roan. "Keeping the other half intact for deer, elk and trout is a small thing to ask of an industry that is changing the face of the region.

An editorial in the Aspen Times says:

"This latest move by the BLM represents just another slap in the face to all the local governments and communities that have expressed support for protecting the Roan Plateau for over seven years. Such destruction will only increase if the Roan Plateau — one of the few remaining undeveloped landscapes in the area — is opened to drilling. Such destruction will change the Roan Plateau forever, and the scars will remain long after the natural gas is gone and the workers have left the area."

"These natural-gas wells will benefit only a small few within Colorado, many of whom moved here only for the pay the oil fields provide, not for the love of the state and the beauty it offers. Once the profit in the Roan natural gas fields is gone, the oil and gas companies and their workers will undoubtedly follow the supply and the next paycheck to the next place they can destroy — all while the Western Slope’s economy will be left in a shambles, just as it was in the 80s. Let’s have the foresight to not repeat the mistakes of the past and protect our beautiful and important public lands."

The following is from the Vail Daily.

Protesters: ‘No rigs on Roan’
Crowd delivers over 1,600 letters opposing BLM lease sales to energy companies

By Pete Fowler

In his 11 years at the Bureau of Land Management’s Glenwood Springs Field Office, Steve Bennett has never seen as many protest letters as were delivered Wednesday.

The letters — reportedly more than 1,600 delivered that day out of over 17,000 total — protest the BLM’s Aug. 14 lease sale of land for energy development on top of the Roan Plateau. For a typical lease sale there’s usually about six protests, Bennett said.

He’s also never seen protesters picket a BLM office in his 30 years with the agency. The message was as clear as it was on a sign one of over 30 protesters held: No rigs on the Roan.

Protesters said they believed the decision was coming from a federal level in Washington, D.C. They behaved cordially from a coned-off “First Amendment area.”
But one man yelled, “The whole U.S. is a First Amendment area!”

“Basically we came to send a strong message to the BLM that most citizens in the state of Colorado as well as elected officials favor protecting the Roan Plateau,” said Joe Neuhof, with the Colorado Environmental Coalition.

Pete Kolbenschlag, of the Campaign to Save Roan Plateau, said, “We want the BLM to finally listen to what people have been telling them all along — we’d rather not turn (the Roan Plateau) into an industrial zone.”

He said President Bush’s Administration has a “gung-ho” approach to push through this lease sale and other drilling efforts before the administration loses power.

Bennett, a BLM associate field manager, graciously accepted stacks of protest letters. He said the BLM would respond to the protests and decide how to proceed with the planned Aug. 14 lease sale of 55,186 acres of land on the Roan Plateau. He said there is no specific timeline for a response.

Phasing plans
Bennett said the BLM believes that plans for phased development on top of the Roan Plateau are an environmentally responsible way to allow energy development there.

The phasing plans involve one operator working on the ground to limit disturbance to 1 percent of federal land at any time. More than half of the acreage in the Roan Plateau has a no-surface occupancy stipulation, which means that oil and gas companies will have to drill from other areas to reach the natural gas.

EnCana Oil and Gas spokesman Doug Hock, speaking generally because the company hasn’t decided whether to participate in the Roan Plateau lease sale, said,

“I think we’ve demonstrated very clearly that you can drill and still protect the wildlife, still protect the environment that’s there.”

He said the Roan Plateau should be developed to meet the country’s strong demand for clean-burning natural gas, which can act as a “bridge” until renewable energy resources are developed more fully.

The BLM’s plan predicts 1,570 wells drilled from 193 well pads on the Roan Plateau over 20 years, including 210 wells from 13 pads on top of the plateau. The BLM estimates the 9 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas in the plateau could generate over $428 million in royalties and lease payments for the state.

Conservationists says there’s probably not that much gas.

Opponents say drilling on the Roan Plateau would harm wildlife and traditional uses like hunting and fishing.

Mark Stevens, with the Roaring Fork Sierra Club Group, said the U.S. uses about 25 percent of the petroleum output in the world and has about three percent of the world’s oil and gas reserves.

“We are not going to drill our way out of this problem,” he said.

Ken Neubecker, of Colorado Trout Unlimited, said the BLM is contradicting itself by saying the genetically pure Colorado River Cutthroat Trout that inhabit the Roan Plateau are a “sensitive species” while at the same time “throwing trout to the winds” by allowing natural gas development on the Roan Plateau under the BLM’s current plan.

The organization is one of a coalition of 10 environmental groups that has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block the lease sale.

Sen. Ken Salazar and congressmen Mark Udall and John Salazar have asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to exclude the public land on the Roan Plateau from leasing so they can pursue protections for the Roan Plateau favored by Gov. Bill Ritter and other Coloradans. The BLM rejected a proposal in March by the Ritter administration for more drilling restrictions on the Roan Plateau and phasing in leases rather than offering them all at once.

Wednesday was the last day protests on the lease sale could be submitted to the BLM. The protest included environmentalists, sportsmen, citizens and recreationists interested in protecting the Roan Plateau. Local officials including Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen, City Councilor Kris Chadwick, Pitkin County Commissioner Jack Hatfield and Garfield County Assessor John Gorman also joined the effort.

Hatfield questioned why the BLM is planning to lease land on the Roan Plateau now when “thousands of leases on millions of acres” in the area are already held by energy companies.

“This is our heritage. Once we give this away — once this is leased — there’s no going backwards,” he said. “We need to just stand up and say, ‘No leasing on the Roan Plateau. It’s too special.’”

Gorman said, “It’s just remarkable to me that with thousands of leases on millions of acres already why this one little corner is so important. There’s just no reason to go forward with this at this time.”

Christensen said it’s frustrating that many in Colorado and local communities have long asked the BLM for stronger protections for the Roan Plateau but have generally been ignored.

Contact Pete Fowler: (970) 384-9121

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Russell Means (pictured here) says he will hold investigative hearings across South Dakota in upcoming months in an effort to expose “graft and corruption” on Indian reservations.

Means made the announcement at a press conference this week in Rapid City, South Dakota.

He said information gathered through the grand jury process would be turned over to state and federal officials. No arrests will be made, he said, since the Republic of Lakotah is a “peaceful, non confrontational” entity that would not use police powers.

Means said the corruption was so widespread, it was causing “the genocide of my people.” He said the dishonesty caused problems in housing, health, education and police service. Means said “police brutality” is rampant on reservations.

According to the Black Hills Pioneer Means said he also wanted to expose “racism and hatred” in communities bordering Indian reservations.

Means has in the past drawn attention — and was arrested — for leading so-called “beer blockades” in an effort to keep alcohol out of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where it is banned but still widely used. These blockades targeted border towns just off the reservation - towns which sometimes amount to nothing more then a whole bunch of liquor stores.

Earlier this month the Navajo Nation Council voted unanimously for legislation to establish a Human Rights Commission that will hear and address civil rights violations in reservation border towns.

According to the plan presented to the council, the Human Rights Commission will assist with complaint investigations, conduct hearings, and develop recommendations to address discrimination against Navajo citizens.

The commission will "serve as the primary Navajo Nation entity for issues involving race relations of the Navajo Nation," the plan states.

For an earlier OD article on reservation border towns
click here.

Meanwhile, Means also said he plans to hold a “fish-in” either at the Pactola Reservoir or at Sheridan Lake and will notify South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long in advance. Means said he wants to show that Native Americans have, under treaties signed by the U.S. government, the right to fish without licenses and can keep the fish.

The following is from the Rapid City Journal.

Russell Means: Lakotah grand jury will not indict
By Andrea J. Cook

Grand juries convened by the Republic of Lakotah on seven reservations in South Dakota will spend several months gathering evidence of alleged abuses against the Lakota people, according to organizer Russell Means.

The grand juries will investigate allegations of graft and corruption on the reservation, police brutality and of discrimination against the Lakota people in housing, health and education, Means said during a Monday morning news conference in Rapid City's Memorial Park.

Means said the grand juries will be small and will go from community to community, beginning on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, to hear testimony.

"This investigation is going to take a year or more to gather all the evidence to substantiate our charges of genocide against the United States of America," Means said.

Means said the grand jury will not issue indictments.

"We are a peaceful, non-confrontational republic," he said. "We don't attempt to use police power to brutalize anyone, either physically or mentally."

Means and others announced formation of the independent republic in December. The group has said its boundaries would encompass land in the Dakotas, Montana and Nebraska as outlined in the 1851 Fort Laramie treaty. The group does not have the backing of the Lakota tribes in South Dakota.

The grand juries will gather evidence that will be turned over to state and federal authorities, including Congress, Means said.

"More importantly, we're going to the international community," he said. "Even more important than that, we're going to the Web because that has been the Republic of Lakotah's strength."

Means said one hearing had been held in Chadron, Neb., and another is pending.

"We're going to be investigating the so-called border towns around the Sioux Indian reservations for racism and hatred," he said.

Statistics uncovered in Nebraska confirm there are income and education disparities for all racial groups. Incarcerations and police stops in Nebraska for Native Americans point to those disparities, he said.

With Means at the press conference were Earl Tall and Betty Janis of Manderson. The brother and sister's experiences with tribal law enforcement speak to the need for the investigation, Means said.

Tall said that he and other members of his family have been arrested and jailed on different occasions, but no charges have ever been filed against him.

Complaints filed against tribal officers have been ignored, Tall said, which is why he turned to Means for help.

After an accidental shooting at Manderson, Janis, who has rheumatoid arthritis, said tribal officers came to her home demanding to search the house for Tall's grandson. According to Janis, she was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer after she stepped between an officer and her grandson.

Tall's grandson was eventually located and spent eight days in jail before being released without any charges being filed.

People on the reservation are afraid to speak out against the abuses they have suffered, Janis said.

"They fear retaliation from police officers and their families," she said. "They're all tied together."

There are no checks and balances of tribal government of any kind or any of the programs the federal government sponsors on the reservations, Means said.

"There's lawlessness among the law," he said.

Some tribal police are running rampant, according to Means.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs refuses to live up to its federal responsibilities on reservations, Means said. "Congress is our only recourse."

Contact Andrea Cook at 394-8423 or

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


It's back.

The move to make 55mph the national speed limit is on the table again.

Lots of folks have lots of opinions.

I have to be honest with you (and I know this is totally politically incorrect), I don't like it. Maybe back east it works, but out here where there are miles and miles of not much keeping your speed down to 55mph, well, you just can't do it.

Have you ever driven I-70 across Kansas? If you have, try imagine doing it at 55mph.


Still the US Energy Department says fuel efficiency decreases rapidly when traveling faster than 60 miles per hour. The agency says every additional five miles per hour could cost motorists an additional 30-cents per gallon in fuel costs.

How could you not trust the US Energy Department?

Supporters say deaths from traffic accidents go down at 55mph, too.

In 1995, Ralph Nader said, “...history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life.” Why? Because Congress had just repealed the 55 mile per hour speed limit.

In the years following the repeal, 33 states raised their speed limits, and the average fatality rate actually fell in those states.

Meanwhile, Americans have saved some 200 million manhours in terms of less time spent on the road. The net economic benefit of that being between $2 and $3 billion a year.

At least that what it says at the RideLust blog site.

Still, I don't wanna do it.

And neither do or will a lot of others.

Bernie Arseneau, Minnesota's top traffic engineer with the Department of Transportation told WCCO in Minniapolis, "Current law says speed limits should be safe and reasonable. Lower speeds don't necessarily equate to safer speeds."

According to Arseneau, research indicates that when the government sets a speed lower than the reasonable speed the road was designed to handle, a "small percentage obeys the limit no matter what. The rest drive what they feel is comfortable."

"The goal is to have everyone driving the same speed," said Arseneau. "It may be less safe" to lower the limit.

"When you artificially lower the speed limit, you make a bunch of law breakers out of usually reasonable people," he said.

But Lou Guzzo begs to differ (I have no idea who Lou is, so don't ask). He says on his blog WhackyNation, "Frankly, I would welcome a return to the 55 mph speed limit on the highways and roadways. Speed belongs on the race track, not the city and rural roads. We have become a nation of speedsters, and it’s about time to restore some tranquility and safety to our transportation system."

Lou also wants to make sure no one under 18 can drive.

How old do you think Lou is? I'm just saying.

Hey, do you know who pushed the 55mph the last time around.

Richard Milhouse Nixon, that's who.

How can that be good.

Commenting on the article posted below Christian Probasco had an interesting thought. He wrote, "I am a truck driver. The American Trucking Association is backing the proposed 55 mph speed limit. So is the (large) company I work for. My theory is that they are backing it because the measure would favor large trucking companies, which the ATA represents. Getting a load to its destination faster is one of the few advantages owner-operators have over company drivers, whose speeds are often limited by governors (my truck is governed at 63). If everybody had to go the same speed, that advantage would be lost."

Finally, I cite the Radioactive Communist Zombies blog:
You know, there are some good reasons to have a lower national speed limit:

1) More revenue for governments. Instead of raising taxes in ways that people notice (and may vote against) simply set up radar and lidar traps and rake in the revenue. Photo radar works even better!

2) More insurance company profits. Since they raise your rates for getting speeding tickets (because they claim speeding is dangerous) they'll be able to raise your rates for driving safer! Yes, you'll get a ticket for going 65 where before you could go 70 without a ticket and then they'll raise your rates. So buy those insurance stocks now!

3) More community/police contact. As more people get more tickets for driving what once was considered slow, police and regular folks will have more contact helping relationships between police and the community. And people driving what is even now considered too fast will have less chance of getting caught because the police will be busy ticketing those going 65 whereas now they can ignore them.

4) Longer trips. Yes, people will get to enjoy more time on the road, more chances to fall asleep at the wheel, more time spent enjoying our nation's beautiful scenery and less doing what they would otherwise be doing.

For all these reasons, I believe a lower speed limit is good for the nation."

The following is from New West.

An Inconvenient Argument: 55 mph
Will Americans slow down? It depends on who they believe.
By Jill Kuraitis, 7-25-08

If you want to cause a hostage situation at a truck stop, try telling the drivers on a break that a mandatory 55 miles per hour speed limit is on the table in Congress.

It’s not – yet – but Sen. John Warner of Virginia thinks it should be. Warner has asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to investigate if current car technology would mean better gas efficiency with a lowered speed limit.

The last time a national speed limit was imposed by Congress was in 1974 during an oil crisis which had Americans lining up for what seemed to be a gas shortage. The limit was repealed in 1995. Warner pointed out there are studies showing that two percent of American highway fuel consumption a day was saved, and the speed limit saved thousands of lives.

Warner quoted the Department of Energy’s website data, which says, in part, that if a car is going faster than 60 mph, every five mph over that costs the driver an extra 30 cents a gallon for gas.

But according to WIRED, other groups such as the libertarian Cato Institute and the conservative America Heritage Foundation disagree, claiming that 12 years of the 55 mph limit cut fuel consumption just one percent.

The DOE website has other tips for saving gas, one of which is “use air conditioning only when necessary.” Here in the West, we think that’s like telling Easterners they should use mold-killer in their basements “only when necessary.” Driving an endless (dusty) Western highway with the windows down? And at a torturous 55 mph, when there isn’t a car two miles in front or behind you, and the open landscape seems to lend itself to “safe speeding”?

Some westerners would laugh their Stetsons off at that one.

However, and there are some big howevers to this idea, the National Safety Council tells us that higher gas prices which have resulted in fewer cars on the road, and higher seat-belt use have combined to lower traffic deaths significantly. Add a lowered speed limit and tens of thousands of lives might be saved, along with oil and money. And let’s not forget reduced air pollution.

Incidentally, higher gas prices have brought drunk driving rates down, too.

But since trusting information from the federal government these days is a national joke, and trusting information from politically-biased organizations like Cato and American Heritage is just as much, if not more dicey, I predict we’re in for a whole new genre of finger-pointing blame games.

Meanwhile, I am going to drive at a lower speed limit, try to use the A/C less, have the car tuned up, and keep singing at intersections.


EU Business reports six Moroccans living "illegally" in Belgium are perched on two construction cranes in front of the European Commission seeking to make a high profile protest against EU policy on illegal immigrants.

The six were among about 40 "illegal" immigrants that climbed construction cranes around Brussels early Tuesday in a growing campaign to win residency permits.

"We chose the European quarter to tell Europeans that we are against what Europe has in the works for immigrants," said Rachid Moumni, a young Belgian of Moroccan origin speaking on behalf of the six protesters.

While the Moroccans took to cranes in the heart of Brussels' European quarter, others chose cranes at the construction site of a casino in the city centre. The protesters said they were on a hunger strike and were not drinking liquids either.

"There's a European agreement that says that illegal immigrants must be deported," said Moumni.

"We're humans. Give us residency permits so that we can legally work on the construction sites where we are employed. We don't want to work like slaves," added Moumni.

Campaign groups that help illegal immigrants estimate that 100,000 foreigners reside "illegally" in Belgium, which has a population of around 10 million people.

These protests actually began earlier this month when three Iranian immigrants climbed atop a crane and began a hunger strike. Among their demands, the hunger-strikers want work permits for illegal immigrants who already have jobs in Belgium. A delegation lobbied Prime Minister Yves Leterme on their behalf. A protest backed by trade unions was organised on the ground to show solidarity with the hunger strikers.

Such hunger strikes and the like are not uncommon by "illegal" immigrants in Belgium.

"For these people, this is the only way to obtain a legal permit to stay", says a support group of the Francophone Brussels university, Université Libre de Bruxelles.

The Francophone christian democrats of CDH and the Francophone socialists of PS are taking a more moderate stand towards asylum seekers, contrary to the Flemish coalition parties.

Of these the worst has to be Vlaams Belang, a right-wing Flemish nationalist and secessionist political party. The party favors strong immigration controls in addition to a limit on the number of mosques in Flanders and the deportation of immigrants who fail to integrate. Philip Michel Frans "Filip" Dewinter, a party leader told Metro three years ago, "[Immigrants] turn themselves into self pity. They become hostile, they cause nuisance and show criminal behaviour. In Flanders the multicultural society led to a multicriminal society."

Dewinter recently attended a meeting of far right European anti-Islamist in Amsterdam. The groups attending the meeting say mosques act as catalysts for taking over neighborhoods and imposing Islamic ways of life on Europeans.

Dewinter agrees and told Radio Netherlands Worldwide at the conference, "We already have more than 6,000 mosques in Europe, which are not only a place to worship but also a symbol of radicalization, some financed by extreme groups in Saudi Arabia or Iran."

Dewinter criticized a mosque being built in Rotterdam, Netherlands: "Its minarets are six floors high. These kinds of symbols have to stop."

None of Dewinter comments should come as a surprise, of course. In June 1992 DeWinter published a program of 70 points on immigration issues, which included a call for the forced repatriation of all immigrants up to the third generation.

The reasons given for Vlaams Belang's success vary, but most researchers agree that immigration remains the party's strong point. One group of Flemish researchers state that immigration dominates contemporary right-wing platforms. According to research by political scientist Hans De Witte of Catholic University of Louvain and Bert Klandermans of the Free University of Amsterdam, Flemings who vote for Vlaams Belang do so based on their negative attitude toward immigrants.

The Migration Policy Institute says the percentage of foreigners from Turkey and Morocco — the majority of whom are Muslim — is twice as high in Flanders as in Wallonia. Individuals of Turkish or Moroccan nationality together make up 16 percent of the total foreign population in Flanders, as compared to 7.5 percent in Wallonia. In Antwerp, Vlaams Belang's stronghold, that figure rises to 20 percent.

However, it isn't just the Flemish who harbor anti-immigrant and racist sentiment. Take Geert Wilders, who was ousted by the governing Dutch Liberal Party in 2004 and then founded his own party, the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV or Freedom Party which is strongly anti-immigrant...and anti-Islamist. Wilders has described the Koran as a, "...diabolic book rather than a fairy tale book."

Wilders, a right wing Catholic says, "Islam is not a religion, it's an ideology...the ideology of a retarded culture."

He has called for a complete standstill of any immigration, for any reasons, of Muslims to the Netherlands.

Referring to the increased population of Muslims in the Netherlands, Wilders said last year, "Take a walk down the street and see where this is going. You no longer feel like you are living in your own country. There is a battle going on and we have to defend ourselves. Before you know it there will be more mosques than churches!"

Wilders party has been critical of Vlaams Belang's pro-Israel policies.

Oy veh!

Currently Belgium is in a political crisis. As the PoliGazette writes at its website,

"...they (Belgians) were not able to form a unity government for months because the Dutch speaking part and the French speaking part could not agree with each other on their respective role and influence on the state and country. In the end, it seemed that some kind of consensus had emerged, but this only lasted shortly; the situation has become so bad now that Prime Minister Yves Leterme offered his resignation to the King… who then proceeded to reject his (and therefore the government’s) resignation."

This basically means that the government has to continue to function, regardless of whether or not the Prime Minister and other ministers want to function."

It is within this context that the struggle of Belgium's non-European immigrants battle on.

The following is from EuroNews.

Belgium’s illegal immigrants demand right to stay

Illegal immigrants have taken their campaign to stay in Belgium into the skies above Brussels. Stepping up their protest, about 15 people climbed cranes at building sites in the Belgian capital. Hunger strikes by other protestors won them the right to stay and work in Belgium, and other immigrants want the same deal.

Mimoun Benmansour, a spokesman for the illegal immigrants, said:

“They are working on the black, because there are a lot of companies who need skilled workers. These people do not have papers, but they have the skills.”

The protesters fear that the arrival of summer and the constitutional crisis still paralysing Belgian politics will divert attention from their campaign.

Thierry Roosemont, Director General of Belgium’s Immigration Bureau, said:

“This is simply blackmail. These people are trying to highlight their protest by putting other people in danger. It is not good enough. It is not going to work, because we will apply the law, and it will not help if people act like this.”

Some of the protesters occupied cranes near the offices of the European Commission, which supports giving EU nations the right to detain illegal immigrants for up to 18 months.


What follows below is not normal Oread Daily fare. Instead you will find some reflections made by a friend of mine, Lowell Wiley, on his travels through Vietnam earlier this year. I found them interesting and I hope the same is true for you.

I will be posting more of these in future days.

PS: The titles are mine...


February 22, 2008

Hello from Phnom Penh. I've spent the last couple of days here with
Zeb Romine. He's been traveling sort of the reverse of my route.
It's been fun to share a room, see the local sights, have some nice
meals, and talk talk talk. Tomorrow we head off in directions, he to
Vietnam while I take another boat up to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.
Phnom Penh has been the ideal place to kick back with such varied
local sights as the horrific killing fields and S-21 school-torture
prison leavened with the breathtaking beauty of the royal palace
complex. The weather is warm with a constant breeze off the river.

Vietnam continued to provide very thought provoking experiences. I
enjoyed Hue very much. I knew the old imperial city had been heavily
damaged during the Tet offensive exactly forty years ago. I remember
so well the CBS film taken from the Viet Cong positions in the old
city firing on our troops. The Tet offensive was the turning point of
the war. When all the "secure" cities in South Vietnam came under
simultaneous attack by the VC, most Americans realized that the
Vietnam War was not only nowhere close to being ended, but even
further from being won. It made me wonder just what other surprises
are in store for us in Iraq. The shock might not as great to wake up
one morning with the enemy in our embassy in Baghdad as when it
happened in Saigon. Saigon was thought to be far more secure than
Baghdad. It makes me hope Osama hasn't been reading General Giap's
book. Parenthetically, General Giap is still alive in Hanoi. I saw
his house. He was the head of Ho's army against the Japanese, the
French, and the Americans.

Just prior to the Tet offensive, the five thousand marines in Khe Sanh
came under a terrific attack. President Johnson fear we were very
close to having another Dien Bien Phu. General Giap had planned this
as a diversion and sprung the Tet offensive a couple of weeks later
while most of the American attention was focused on saving Khe Sanh.
Again I remember the Marines lying in the red mud while being pounded
by enemy artillery. The film sequences of the C130s landing with
shells bursting all around them are forever seared in my memory.
Walking around Khe Sanh today it difficult to imagine those times even
with a small museum, bunkers, tanks, and both Huey and Chinook
helicopters parked around. The airstrip itself was steel having now
been disassembled by the local farmers and put to various domestic
uses. The airstrip itself is just a red strip of dirt wandered over
by a few cows and chickens. I think it took more than two months for
the Cav to finally break through and relieve the marines. Not long
afterward the whole place was abandoned and the troops moved further
South. The Vietnam War was like that. Five hundred Marines died
there to protect a place that was completely abandoned a few months
later. I took a complete DMZ tour in addition to Khe Sanh. This
included the famous "rock pile"", the Ho Chi Menh trail, a couple of
old fire bases and the DMZ itself on both sides. I also climbed
through a whole complex of VC tunnels. All of this has far more
meaning to countrymen of my generation.

February 27, 2008

I'm now in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I intended to add a few more lines
before I let this go but it's already too long.

I really enjoyed Hue. In addition to the war sites mentioned above, I
also visited the wonderful forbidden city, the Nguyen Dynasty Tombs,
and did a short Perfume river cruise. I zoomed on past Danang and
China Beach to Hoi An. This colonial and pre-colonial port is now a
World Heritage Site. The river silted up enough to protect its old
buildings. It's a comely laid back place I enjoyed although many
people choose it as their favorite place in Viet Nam. I back tracked
to the Marble Mountains and bussed out to My Son which is what's left
of the Cham civilization famous for sacking Angkor Wat. I had no idea
there was an ancient Hindu kingdom that lasted centuries in Viet Nam.

Next came some beach time in Nha Trang. Very nice. Then some more
hill town cool in Dalat before arriving in Ho Chi Mihn City which
everybody still calls Saigon. Just to give you an idea of today's
Saigon... one of the tallest buildings belongs to the Prudential
Insurance Company. Three million motor bikes swirl through the city
making everything seem a blur. Grabbing a quick ride on a motor bike
has been my main short ride transportation on this trip. It's been
scary but no wrecks so far although I've witnessed at least ten.
Several days in town let me visit all the usual tourist sites
including the Reunification (Presidential) Palace which is preserved
just as it was when South Vietnam fell. I also remember another War
Museum although I saw enough in Vietnam that they all now kind of melt
together in my memory.

Leaving Saigon I spent three days in the Mekong Delta boating around
and seeing how the delta people live. It's so different from the rest
of the country. From the border I took a boat up the Mekong to Phnom
Penh. Whew.

Sorry this is so long and boring. I'll try to do Cambodia while it's
still fresher and I can tell you more what I'm really enjoying about
the trip rather than simply listing where I've been.
Angkor, for example, is one of the most interesting and beautiful
ruins I've ever seen and I've been lucky enough to see a heap.
Enough. My best to everyone.


Monday, July 28, 2008


Stop Islamisation Of Europe (SIOE) describes itself as., " alliance of people across Europe with the single aim of preventing Islam becoming a dominant political force in Europe."

You can guess what these folks are all about.

The Searchlight article below perhaps prematurely suggests SIOE is dead in the water.

Unfortunately, the poster pictured here indicates something different.

These scumballs have decided that Muslims have a plan to take over...Greenland...and they are calling on those like them to to put a stop to this nefarious scheme.

One of the founders of SIOE in Britain is Stephen Gash.

Here is a "great" quote from Mr. Gash:

"Appeasement of Islamists has become ridiculous. Non-Muslims are expected to be buried facing Mecca and to sit on toilets facing away from Mecca because cemeteries and new homes have to conform to Muslim sensitivities. Toy pigs are banned from offices and Christmas lights must now be called ‘Winter Festival lights’ so as not to offend Muslims. None of these oppressive measures were even contemplated when Jews were the only ones who could possibly be offended by pigs and ‘Merry Christmas’."

Although SIOE comprises not all that many folks, and their demonstrations have been sparsely attended, their message resonates widely (not unlike the anti-immigrant crap that goes on in the US). Europe's drift to the right is partially, if not largely, fueled by anti-Islam sentiment.

One demonstration of this was the rise last year of the rightwing People's party in Switzerland. The party notorious for its virulent hostility to ethnic minorities and Muslims, emerged as the victor in the Swiss elections, taking 29% of the vote, the best electoral performance by a party in the country's elections since 1919.

We've seen this sort of thing happening all across Europe where ethnic, religious and racial hatred seems to be lurking just beneath the surface (and in places like Italy above the surface as well).

It's important therefore to remember that even if the most obvious of the loons are defeated, that their cause is not necessarily lost.

Ed. note July 29, 2008: You might want to read the two comments below which help to clarify some of the above esp. where I wrote "These scumballs have decided that Muslims have a plan to take over...Greenland..." This actually refers to some disturbing incidents including the stoning of some Greenlanders by Muslims in a housing development in Denmark.

The following is from Searchlight (August 2008 edition).

Anti-Islamic movement hits the rocks

An attempt to set up a pan-European anti-Islam movement is in tatters after its launch activities turned into a series of disasters and its two main components in Denmark and the Netherlands split up.

Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) was founded in 2007 after Stop Islamisation of Denmark (SIAD), led by Anders Gravers, had experienced momentary success in the wake of the controversy over the publication of anti-Islamic cartoons in a regional newspaper in September 2005.

Gravers and Stephen Gash from the UK became SIOE's official spokesmen, believing it would act as a springboard for a wider European campaign this spring even though similar anti-Islamic groups were active only in the Netherlands. SIOE planned several anti-Islam demonstrations but few took place and the intended large rallies turned out to be no more than small gatherings in the Netherlands and Denmark.

On 26 January 2008, Gravers spoke at a poorly attended demonstration in Amsterdam. This was followed by two demonstrations in Denmark, on 14 March in Hobro and on 15 March in Aalborg, attended by Martin and Monique van der Hulst from SIOE Netherlands and the notorious Dutch nazi Ben van der Kooi.

Van der Kooi's presence is interesting. His participation in demonstrations split SIOE in the Netherlands because of objections to cooperation with a known extremist. Others in SIOE were unperturbed and organised another demonstration in Amsterdam, but called it off when few people turned up.

The final demonstration was to be on 31 May in the heart of Copenhagen. By then the rot had set in but the grandiose plans for the day included speakers from Britain and Norway and rabble bussed in from all over Denmark to vent their anti-Islam spleen.

As in Amsterdam, the demonstration was, most embarrassingly, called off. The official reason was that Gash, the main speaker, had "been prevented" from taking part. A more likely reason is that anti-racist groups were organising a large counter-demonstration.

That was the least of SIOE's headaches because it emerged that, days after the failure of the Amsterdam activity on 5 April, SIOE Netherlands had withdrawn from European cooperation, denouncing Gravers as an authoritarian who routinely ignores criticism from SIOE members.


When the state pension was introduced a hundred years ago in Great Britain it equaled about 25% of average yearly earnings. Today its 15% and going down.

Now the government has plans to cut back on payments which will cost pensioners around £100 million more.

According to the London Stock Exchange web site the move will cut the time limit for pensioners who have not claimed their full pension credit, so that they are only allowed to claim back three months of payments.

Under the current system they can claim reimbursements for 12 months.

Gordon Lishman, director of Age Concern, said the move would prove an especially tough blow to pensioners whose fixed income means they are being hit hard by the soaring cost of living.

Lishman said, "The millions of pounds the Government will save is money that should be in older people's pockets. Reducing the amount of backdated pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit older people can receive to just three months will penalise some of the poorest pensioners."

Lishman warned that, "many pensioners are put off claiming benefits because they find the system confusing. Pension Credit is one of the main benefits available for older people and putting in a claim can actually open the door to receiving other money benefits."

Some pensioners plan to take to the streets of Oxford this week demanding an increase in pension they both keep warm and eat.

As in the US and many other places rising fuel costs are hurting older citizens terrible. For example, pensioners in face a huge rise in electricity and gas prices announced by one of the South West's biggest suppliers.

Edf Energy has increased its electricity prices by 17 per cent and its gas prices by 22 per cent.

Mary Lacey, chairwoman of Plymouth's Senior Citizens' Forum, told the London Herald that elderly folk would struggle to cope.

She said, "This is dreadful, absolutely diabolical. I think we have to try and weather the storm. We have got to have the heating on, but we will need to cut down on other things. But pensioners have already cut down on other things. They will have to cut back to the bone. Unlike people in work we have no way of increasing our income by doing overtime or even changing jobs."

What a way to treat people who have worked hard all their lives.

The following is from the Oxford Mail (UK).

Pensioners stage protest picnic

Pensioners are taking to the streets of Oxford this week to campaign for an increase to their state pension, so they do not have to choose between eating or heating in winter.

Retired members of the trade union Unison plan to hold a bread and water picnic on Friday, in Cornmarket Street, to highlight the plight of the elderly, who they say are struggling to cope with the surge in fuel prices.

They are also collecting signatures on a petition to the Government calling for a £50 increase in their winter fuel allowance.

Unison retired members group secretary Janet Cullup, front, left, is pictured with fellow campaigners.

Betty Purves, 67, of Hurst Street, East Oxford, said: "The state pension makes me feel insulted.

"If I didn't have my husband's pension I would go hungry and there are many pensioners in Oxford who are strapped for cash.

"The state pension is derisory. I feel I have contributed to the pension pot and I deserve more."

The event has been organised to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the state pension, with protesters arguing that when the pension was introduced in 1908, it equated to 25 per cent of average earnings, 10 per cent more than today.