Friday, August 08, 2008


Victims of India's 1984 Bhopal gas leak which killed thousands of people ended months of sit-in protests on Friday, AFP reports, after the government promised new assistance.

About 70 people affected by the gas leak had camped on a New Delhi pavement for more than three months after walking 800 kilometres (500 miles) from Bhopal city to the capital.

The government would set up a powerful commission to ensure better "rehabilitation" for victims and their families, Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Ram VilasPaswan told the protesters.

"The government today promised to set up a new panel with more powers to look into medical, environmental and economic support," said Rachna Dhingra, spokeswoman for a Bhopal victims group.

Paswan said the commission, to be set up after approval from the Group of Ministers, would allocate resources for rehabilitation schemes or research projects, issue tenders and identify the implementing Central and State government agencies.

The commission will expedite investigation into allegations that US-based Dow Chemicals, which has purchased the Union Carbide, bribed Agricultural Ministry officials for the registration of four pesticides manufactured by it, he said.

On disposal of waste, Paswan said the Government will not accept a proposal by the Tatas to take up the operation as it comes with a condition that the court case against Dow Chemicals, seeking to make it pay the clean-up cost, would have to be withdrawn.

D. Raja, a senior Communist leader accompanied Paswan who assured the protesters that his party will ensure that the decisions of the committee are implemented properly.

Activists said survivors would be represented on the panel.

More than 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plant in Bhopal on the night of December 2, 1984.

Officials say nearly 15,000 people have died from cancer and other diseases since then.

Activists have put the toll at 33,000 and claim that toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the site have seeped into ground water.

"I was 28-years-old then. Our fight has been going on for 24 years, and we will keep up the pressure on the government," said survivor Hazari Bee.

What follows is a press release from a number of groups including Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Bhopali's are heading back to Bhopal after government agrees to demands

August 8, 2008


NEW DELHI Bhopal survivor organisations today celebrated victory after the Government of India announced that it will set up an Empowered Commission on Bhopal, and take legal action on the civil and criminal liabilities of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. The announcement was made today by Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Chemicals & Fertilisesr, at the Bhopal protest site at Jantar Mantar. Survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster and people affected by water contamination near Union Carbide's factory Bhopal have been on strike in New Delhi for the last 130 days.

Bhopal survivors said that they were happy that the Commission would be empowered to allocate resources to different rehabilitation schemes or research projects, issue tenders, identify implementing Central or State Government agencies and change the agencies if their work is unsatisfactory. Although, the extent of funds for the Commission has not been revealed the Bhopal organizations have been assured that funds will not be a problem as the Government is committed to the Commission. The Bhopal organizations have also been assured that the Commission's scope would include environmental, social, economic and medical rehabilitation.

The survivors organizations expect the Commission to be set up in the next two months. They said that the Commission will also take up the matter of disposal of thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste that were recklessly dumped by the factory management.The organizations expressed satisfaction that in response to their demands the government will now appoint a senior lawyer to argue the case for compensation from Dow Chemical for environmental and consequent health damages. "We expect the Government to go hammer and tongs after Dow Chemical, now that the law ministry has indicated that Union Carbide's civil liabilities can be passed on to Dow," the organisations said.

On the demands for deregistering the illegally registered pesticides of Dow Chemical, and revocation of approval given to Reliance for purchase of Union Carbide's Unipol technology, the Bhopalis have decided to approach the Court. The organizations expressed satisfaction that the Government has decided that no approvals will be given to any Indian agency to purchase Union Carbide's technology in India in future.

"We have won our demands only after facing undue harassment at the hands of the Government and Delhi Police," the three organisations said. After the month-long walk and 70-day dharna in Delhi by Bhopalis failed to evoke any response from the Government, 9 Bhopalis launched an indefinite fast lasting 21 days. More than 800 people from at least 10 countries joined them in solidarity by fasting for a day or longer. Diane Wilson, a noted peace and environmental activist from the US, award-winning author of Animal's People Indra Sinha and an environmental activist from Chennai joined the Bhopalis in their indefinite fast.

International support for the campaign has been massive. Nearly 6000 faxes were sent by supporters to the Prime Minister's office during the campaign. Meanwhile, NRI and other supporters kept the pressure up by demonstrating outside Indian embassies and calling key Indian politicians over phone. Sixteen US congresspersons, and more than 80 British Members of Parliaments added their voice in support of the Bhopalis' demands, urging the Prime Minister to meet the demands and hold Dow Chemical accountable for the ongoing disaster in Bhopal.

Bhopal's Gen Next has been at the core of the public actions targeting the Government. Bhopali children not only sent letters written in blood to the PM, but also chained themselves to the Prime Minister's house and launched a campaign urging school children to send a heart to the Prime Minister. In July, 22 Bhopalis were arrested for protesting outside the Prime Minister's Office and jailed in Tihar for more than 10 days.

The organisations thanked Mr. Paswan for his consistent support over the years, and expressed hope that the Minister will provide the necessary support for the Empowered Commission to begin functioning at the earliest.


Last week I published a story about Jews and others demonstrating at a Kosher slaughter house in Postville Iowa accused of mistreating its immigrant workers.

Now comes the news that a few days after that demonstration on July 31, a group of 25 Orthodox rabbis and community leaders visited the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa and declared the plant was clean and the workers happy.

One of those in the group, Chabad Rabbi David Eliezrie (pictured here), President Rabbinical Council of Orange County writes in a letter to the Indianapolis Star, "We found a state-of-the-art plant; workers receiving fair wage and benefits such as health, dental and vacation pay; great attention to worker safety; and the use of the e-Verification system to ensure all workers are legal."

Give me a break. Everyone from other Rabbis, to the National Labor Relations Board, to a wide variety of Jewish publications, local Catholic Churches, immigrant rights groups, and on and on have found what Rabbi Eliezrie and his buds say to be a joke. Even a federal government warrant that paved the way for a notorious anti-immigrant raid on the plant in May detailed numerous abuses inside the plant.

As the Jewish Forward wrote this week, "...investigations have produced a long list of allegations against the company, including that it employed underage workers, that insufficient safety training led to workers being injured and maimed, and that workers were underpaid."

Just days after the Orthodox Rabbis visited the plant the Iowa labor commissioner referred 57 allegations of child labor violations to the state attorney general, calling the violations “egregious” and recommending they be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”

But somehow this group of Black Hats found everything A-Ok. Of course, I must point out, the entire junket was paid for by Agriproccessors.

Ben Harris of the Jewish Telegraph Agency reports:

"…In the eyes of the company’s critics, and even some Orthodox rabbis, the fact that Agriprocessors paid for the trip rendered the rabbis’ conclusions suspect. Neither of the national council’s two news releases regarding the trip disclosed that Agriprocessors had footed the bill for the rabbis."

“If they’re going and being paid by Rubashkin (plant's owner), then that should be forthrightly disclosed,” said Maury Kelman, a lawyer and Orthodox rabbi who has led congregations in Israel and New York."

Kelman said Jewish law, or halachah, insists that rabbis involved in such matters do everything to avoid even the perception that their judgment could be compromised."

“It’s very important if rabbis are going that things look totally above board, and that it’s 100 percent clear that the desire is to do the right thing and not just the expedient thing,” he said. “If somebody’s being paid, you’re beholden to them. Halachah is very clear about this.”'

As I said of the family who ran the plant in my last articles, I say about this group of Orthadox misleaders, "They should be ashamed."'

The Forward reports:

"Some in the Orthodox community are calling for a more rigorous investigation. On July 30, one day before the Orthodox leaders visited the plant, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Washington’s Ohev Sholom — The National Synagogue, sent a letter to Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, which is the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis. Herzfeld demanded that the RCA commission “a transparent, independent investigation” into the charges against Agriprocessors."

“We need a commission with incredible stature and with rabbis of great merit who can spend a few weeks or a month [in Postville] and can make recommendations,” Herzfeld told the Forward. Herzfeld, who is a member of the RCA, said that the recent trip to Postville was too short and that Agriprocessors’ sponsorship of the trip compromised the findings."

Herring declined to comment on the letter specifically, saying that it was a private communication. He said that the RCA lacked the resources, expertise and powers to conduct an appropriate investigation into the allegations and that it made more sense to wait for federal investigations to run their course."

Rabbi Herzfeldu wrote this week in an op/ed piece in the NY times,

"Unfortunately, the responses of the leading Orthodox organizations, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union, have, in my opinion, fallen far short of what is needed to be done and have done little to diminish the extent of the desecration of God’s name. I am a member of both groups, but I am dissatisfied with their stance, which asks us to sit back patiently and wait for the results of a federal investigation. On some level, this might be prudent, but on another it is unacceptable."

"Hebrew National (the folks who made the hot dogs, etc) used to run a commercial that said: “We answer to a Higher Authority.” Well, we do. We need to express shame and embarrassment about the reports coming out of Iowa, and we need to actively work to change these matters. Then we should ask ourselves if our behavior and our values need improvement. Only if we truly think about these issues will we truly be keeping kosher."

A point of personal disclosure: As a vegetarian and just another animal on this planet, I've no use for slaughterhouses in general.

The following is from the Jewish Daily Forward.

Judging Character — And Kashrut

The Babylonian Talmud features a lengthy, oft-quoted discussion of the liability incurred by an individual whose ox gores another person’s livestock. If the ox has never gored before, the owner may claim it was an unforeseen accident and pay only half the injured party’s losses. Likewise for the second and third offense. With a fourth attack, however, the ox is deemed mu’ad, or “forewarned.” The owner is then fully liable. He can no longer claim he didn’t know.

The lesson of the recidivist ox is one of the first and most memorable taught to schoolchildren when they begin their Talmud studies. The narrative is easy to follow, and the moral is clear-cut. It teaches, or should teach, that individuals are responsible for their actions — not just in principle, but also directly and quantifiably liable; not only for what they do, but also for what they fail to do and what they fail to anticipate. No one may traffic with a mu’ad and claim not to have known.

A memorable lesson for most, but seemingly forgotten by the distinguished rabbis and communal functionaries who paid a quick visit last week to Postville, Iowa. They had come to inspect the controversial kosher slaughterhouse owned by Agriprocessors, Inc., which faces widespread allegations of abusive and dangerous working conditions. The rabbis spent three hours touring the plant, met briefly with local Christian clergy and social activists, and gave the operation a clean bill of health. They found no evidence, as one rabbi put it afterward, to suggest that “someone should not buy things from Agriprocessors.”

Well, no — not based on what you might find in a three-hour walkthrough arranged and paid for by the company. But that’s not enough. When your target is mu’ad, you have to consider the whole record. And Agriprocessors and its owners are most assuredly mu’ad.

A three-hour tour could not uncover the extensive, “egregious” child labor
violations that the Iowa state labor commissioner reported to the state attorney general just five days after the rabbis left town. The labor commissioner said he had “never seen anything like it” in his 30 years in the field, according to JTA. He recommended that the allegations be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.” But it took him months to gather the facts. Three hours wouldn’t suffice.

Three hours wouldn’t turn up the voluminous evidence of abuse gathered by the Forward when we first broke the Agriprocessors story two years ago. We found compelling indications of sexual harassment, shorted wages, favoritism and bribery in work assignments, inadequate safety training and horrific work accidents in the place we called a “Kosher Jungle.” But our reporter spent a week in Postville, interviewing current and former workers, merchants, officials and community leaders. He visited homes and viewed pay stubs, rent receipts and food and medical bills. Our staff spent months more on the phone with federal and state officials, academics, food industry experts and others. It took us more than three hours.

If the rabbis didn’t want to believe us, they could have consulted the public record — the archive of complaints brought and fines imposed on the company by state and federal authorities, year after year, for health, safety, food contamination and environmental pollution violations.

Well, we are reminded, meatpacking is a notoriously messy business. That’s true. What’s different about Agriprocessors is the sheer scope and scale of it all. The immigration raid last May, mounted by 16 different federal, state and local government agencies, was described by authorities as the largest such raid ever mounted against one firm. The child labor charges reported this month are described by officials and experts as unusual if not unique in scale for a single firm. And so it goes, in one category after another.

This is a company that is, by any reasonable standard, what the Talmud would call mu’ad.

This newspaper has been roundly criticized in the past two years for supposedly mixing apples and oranges — questioning the company’s kosher certification because of its behavior in areas unrelated to the dietary rules. But they’re not unrelated. As Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld wrote in The New York Times last week, character is critical in judging kosher food. If a supervisor or operator routinely violates some essential religious laws, how can he be trusted to enforce other laws? Restaurants and butcher shops in this country cannot receive Orthodox kosher certification if they do business on the Sabbath. Hotels in Israel lose their certification if they host unapproved forms of entertainment. Character counts, not just precision slaughtering.

The rabbis who visited Postville appear to disagree. They concluded, judging by their public statements, that the facility passes muster. That is, whatever allegations may have been made, they do not merit serious attention — nothing deeper than a quick walkthrough. They said, in effect, that this is an ox without a record.

But there is a long record. Agriprocessors is one of a network of businesses owned by the Rubashkin family, a large, tight-knit clan identified with the Lubavitch community in Brooklyn. The operations, like the family, may be considered a package.

The family patriarch and company founder, Aaron Rubashkin, came here from the Soviet Union in 1945 and opened a kosher butcher shop. In time the shop became Agriprocessors, the country’s largest — and dominant — kosher meat producer, run for many years by Aaron’s son Sholom Rubashkin.

While Sholom ran the meat business, his brother Moshe operated a string of ventures, mainly in textiles and real estate, mostly in partnership with other relatives. One of the most colorful was a textile mill he ran in Allentown, Pa., but closed in 2000. A year after shutting it down, Moshe was convicted of failing to obtain workers’ compensation insurance after a former employee was denied benefits. While on probation, he ended up with a conviction for bank fraud due to some checks that he wrote. He was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and got out on parole in 2005.

Shortly after release, he was elected president of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, a government funded agency closely controlled by the Lubavitch community.

Meanwhile, the plant in Allentown was gathering dust and debts. It owed $200,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency for cleaning up hazardous chemicals housed there, and was about to be seized by the city for back taxes, according to public records. In April 2005, the plant was heavily damaged in a fire that was ruled arson. Three more fires, still unexplained, finished it off over the next few months. Chemicals that were stored on site caused the fire to blow out of control, allegedly endangering firefighters. In 2007, Moshe was convicted of illegally housing hazardous chemical waste, while his son Sholom — nephew of the Postville executive — was convicted of lying about who owned the property. They await sentencing.

Back in Postville, the elder Sholom was facing questioning in connection with another alleged arson-fraud scheme. Beginning in the late 1990s, Agriprocessors began receiving payments from a Brooklyn pharmaceutical firm, some $3 million, in return for which the meat company provided, Sholom said in a deposition, “nothing.” The Brooklyn firm, Allou Distributors, declared bankruptcy in 2003, shortly after its warehouse burned down. Prosecutors suspected that the owner, Herman Jacobowitz, a member of another Hasidic community, had been laundering company funds; the payments to Agriprocessors were suspected of being part of the scheme, according to The Des Moines Register. Jacobowitz was eventually convicted of trying to bribe a fire marshal to declare the fire an accident rather than arson, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Agriprocessors agreed to pay $1.4 million in civil restitution but was never charged criminally.

One of the most telling judgments passed on the family was rendered way back in 1995 by the National Labor Relations Board. Moshe and father Aaron owned a textile firm in New Jersey that was found guilty of deducting union dues from employees’ paychecks but failing to hand over the money to the union for at least three years running, a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The administrative law judge who ruled against the Rubashkins recommended that their attorney be suspended for his behavior in delaying the case. The board itself, hearing the case on appeal, commented in its ruling that the “Respondent” — named in documents as the textile firm and its owners — “has a proclivity for violating the Act and has previously been found to have engaged in identical conduct.”

That, it appears, is the government’s way of saying they are mu’ad.

The question that must be answered now by inspectors and consumers of kosher meat is what standards should be applied in measuring character — specifically the character of an actor entrusted with supplying most of this nation’s kosher meat — and just how hard to look.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Norway's Fisheries minister Helga Pedersen denied lying but admitted sort of not telling the truth about the hazards posed by a ship (pictured here) which foundered on the rocks off a tiny Norwegian town more than a decade ago.

The Minister first denied any knowledge of the fact that the wreck contained materials harmful to the environment, and repeated this in an interview on Monday. She kinda, sorta changed her story, however, after being confronted by a reporter with a letter from the local mayor which clearly indicated otherwise written in 2005.

The old Russian cruiser, Murmansk, was being towed to India to be taken apart, when it broke loose from its tow and ended up on the rocks near the tiny hamlet of Sørvær in Finnmark County (see map) in 1994.

In the years since then Norwegian authorities have said that the ship was no danger to the surrounding environment. Therefore it has been left there for slowly disintegration.

Not everyone was thrilled with the national government's plan. Since 1994 local authorities have demanded that the wreck be removed from its shores - to no avail.

However, one year ago a Norwegian waste management company tested the substance of some equipment from the ship, and it turned out to be radioactive. According to the newspaper Finnmarken there were also indications that the wreck contained lead and PCB in such large quantities that it could only be characterised as hazardous waste.

That information became public knowledge this past week in an article in the Aftenposten.

Since that article about the radioactive materials on the Murmansk was published in the Aftenposten , there has been massive national media attention in Norway on the environmental hazard the ship seems to represent.

While all this was happening the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority and the Norwegian Coastal Administration announced no radiation was discovered in preliminary tests carried out on the wreck. However, at the time of the announcement they admitted large parts of the ship and its cargo remained unchecked, since it was impossible to enter the submerged lower parts of the wreck at that time due to tides. The final reports from the testing done won't be available for several weeks.

Government authorities considered the radiation reported present in the Aftenposten article a "minor event".

Some took exception to that assessment.

Olaf Braastad of the environmental pressure group Bellona told the media the situation was an environmental scandal. "Not only is the cruiser, which lies in the middle of a tourist paradise, full of environmentally hazardous chemicals, it turns out that it contains radioactive material as well."

Environmental activists, local politicians and all others affected by the ships presence on the coast of Finnmark, have again demanded that the minister of fisheries and coastal affairs, Helga Pedersen, takes action to remove the wreckage. However, nothing is yet decided about what will happen with the remains of the “Murmansk”.

Norwegian authorities now say they will attempt to re-contact Russian officials to try and better determine just exactly was/is on board the ship.

Residents of the small fishing village of Sørvær located near the wreck have long been troubled by the fact that there have been a lot of cases of cancer there.

I wonder why?

The following is from Aftenposten (Norway).

Fisheries minister knew about hazards

Fisheries minister Helga Pedersen admits that she knew the wreck of the Murmansk might contain dangerous chemicals, but she rejects claims that she lied.

Labour Party rising star Helga Pedersen is in trouble over the way she has handled pollution fears in Finnmark.

Previously the Labour Party minister has said that she has had no knowledge of any toxic materials aboard the wrecked cruiser. She repeated this claim when she was interviewed on Monday. When the journalist confronted her with a letter from the local Mayor sent in 2005, warning of possible dangerous chemicals, she admitted that she recognized the letter.

Odd-Egil Simonsen, the former Labour Party mayor, accuses Pedersen of lying when she said she was unaware of any danger to the environment from the wreck.

After daily newspaper Aftenposten wrote about radioactive equipment which had been removed from the ship last Friday, demands to remove the wreck have increased.

"In his original letter Simonsen referred to PCB's and toxic flame retarding organic bromines. There have been suspicions about the existence of chemicals like this dating back to 2004, but nothing had been confirmed. Claims that there were radioactive materials on board were entirely new to me," says Pedersen.

On Tuesday Pedersen meets the present mayor of Hasvik, Eva Husby who also represents the Labour Party. She has two demands: that the wreck has to be thoroughly inspected to see what materials are on board, and that the wreck must be removed, according to news bureau NTB.

Pedersen says that the contents of the ship have to be checked first. She promises that the local inhabitants can be quite sure that there will be no dangerous pollution from the wreck in future.


I get a kick out of those conservatives who denounce righteously China's so-called protest pens. I wonder what they think of yet another federal judges decision to keep protesters away from a political party's convention. This time we're talking Denver and Democrats.

The judge actually ruled protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver can be restricted to fenced-in areas.

I call those protest pens.

Protest groups had sued the Secret Service and the city of Denver, saying that their Constitutional rights to free speech were being violated.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger agreed that the protesters would suffer some infringement on their freedom of expression, but said tough cookies.

Organizers of Recreate 68 has announced they will hold a press conference today, Thursday, August 7, 2008, 4:45 pm, east steps, City and County Building to address this decision.

In their press release Recreate 68 states:

"The city of Denver and the Secret Service are now free to confine ordinary citizens to a "freedom cage" two football fields away from the Pepsi Center, where they will have no meaningful opportunity to bring their concerns to the attention of delegates. Meanwhile, corporations and their paid lobbyists are free to spend millions of dollars to get private face time with elected officials inside the Pepsi Center. Nothing could better symbolize the sorry state of American democracy. The last years eight years have seen a full-scale assault on civil liberties by the Bush administration­with the full complicity of the Democratic Party. This is the result."

Just yesterday the group Tent State University announced their own plans in light of rulings by the city of Denver that they couldn't sleep in the parks during the convention.

As reported in the Rocky Mountain News, Adam Jung, an organizer for Tent State University, mocked the city's allocation of the protest zone for demonstrators at the southeast corner of the arena's parking lot, near Seventh Street and the Aurora Parkway. Nonetheless, he said, the demonstration site would be the location in which hundreds -- or thousands -- of protesters would converge on once they're booted out of City Park and they begin the 2-and-a-half-mile trek to the Pepsi Center.

"We have felt that the city's stance on this issue was based on their desire to suppress the demonstrations and any message that exposes the Democratic Party's refusal to end the war," Jung said as another protester, Karen McGuire, clad in full Revolutionary War regalia, played the "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" on a fife.

"But we were not seeing the big picture. The city of Denver does not oppose free speech. They love free speech so much they just want to protect and secure it with razor wire and caging. Because of their passion for the First Amendment the city has provided one place for demonstrators to be overnight -- the freedom cage. Each night demonstrators will take the freedom cage and transform it into the 'Freedomville Shantytown.' "

By morning, protesters plan to pack up their gear and head back to City Park where they will set up their camps, continue their anti-war messages and be entertained by music and speeches.

PS - The city of Denver has banned the carrying of feces and urine for “nefarious purposes.” Also, there will be no bikes allowed within the DNC perimeter of the Pepsi Center, nor at Invesco Field, where Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech, DNCC organizers confirmed this week.

The following is from the Rocky Mountain News.

Protesters to appeal DNC ruling 'in the streets'

An organizer for one of the groups planning large-scale protests during the Democratic National Convention says they will appeal a federal judge's decision to restrict access to the Pepsi Center "in the streets of Denver."

Glenn Spagnuolo of the Re-create 68 Alliance protest group said today that demonstrators still intend to go to the Pepsi Center.

"It was a very adverse decision where the federal courts are willing to throw away people's civil liberties in the name of security," Spagnuolo said.

Attorneys for the protest groups said today they will not appeal the ruling by U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger. They also are dropping challenges to restrictions at Invesco Field, which was scheduled to go to trial next week.

Mark Silverstein, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said Krieger was likely to rule the same way on Invesco Field.

"Overall the regrettable thing is courts are deferring to security planners who base their plans many times on risks that are extremely speculative ... and the result is all of our First Amendment rights are diminished," Silverstein said. "That's the world we live in."

Protesters are holding a press conference on the steps of the City and County Building this afternoon to announce how they "intend to move forward," he said.

"We'll file our appeals in the streets of Denver," Spagnuolo said. "We intend to march, and we still intend to go to the Pepsi Center."

Spagnuolo said protesters decided to wait to make an announcement until they had time to talk to their attorneys.

"We were waiting to make any statements until we had a conference meeting with our attorneys today," he said. "We wrapped that up, and we're going to be discussing the ramifications of (the judge's) decision and what Re-create 68 is intending to do as far as appeals or what may happen in the streets."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


The regimental commander who oversaw the Israeli soldiers who fired a rubber bullet at a Palestinian who was handcuffed will be dismissed following an investigation. He will also face very minor criminal charge - "inappropriate behavior for a commander."

Israeli rights groups denounced the deal as a disgrace.

The investigation resulted when the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem released a video which had been recorded by a Palestinian girl of the incident. The footage showed a soldier firing a rubber-coated steel bullet, from extremely short range, at a Palestinian detainee who was cuffed and blindfolded. The act occurred in early July in the presence of several security forces, among them the battalion commander (mentioned above), a lieutenant colonel, who held the Palestinian’s arm while the soldier fired (see picture).

Until the video was aired, the army did not conduct a Military Police investigation.

The soldier who fired the bullet told investigators, according to press reports, that the battalion commander had ordered him to shoot the detainee. The commander, however, admitted only that he had ordered the soldiers “to frighten” the bound Palestinian.

The incident took place on 7 July, in Ni’lin, a village in the West Bank. A Palestinian demonstrator, Ashraf Abu-Rahma, 27, was stopped by soldiers, who cuffed and blindfolded him for about thirty minutes, during which time, according to Abu-Rahma, they beat him. Afterwards, a group of soldiers and border policemen led him to an army jeep. The footage shows a soldier aim his weapon at the detainee’s legs, from about 1.5 meters away, and fire a rubber-coated steel bullet at him. Abu-Rahma stated that the bullet hit his left toe and that he received treatment from an army medic and was then released by the soldiers.

Rights groups B'Tselem and Yesh Din both released statements on Wednesday condemning the deal reached today between the attorneys of Lt. Colonel Omri Burberg, the officer, and the military advocate general, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit.

Branding the deal as "disgraceful," B'Tselem stated: "The army treats the shooting at point-blank range of a bound man [only] as inappropriate behavior. It disgraces the values which it pretends to uphold."

A report released last week by Yesh Din said only six percent of probes into offences allegedly committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank yield indictments.

'The figures on the low number of investigations and the minute number of indictments filed reveal that the army is shirking its duty to protect the civilian Palestinian population from offences committed by its soldiers,' Yesh Din legal advisor Michael Sfadi said in a statement.

According to figures provided to Yesh Din by the Occupation Forces (IOF), only a few of the investigations followed complaints from within army ranks.

Out of 152 probes launched in 2006, only 14, or nine percent, were based on complaints filed within the IOF, the report said. In 2007, seven percent of the investigations emanated from the IOF.

'The minute number of indictments launched following reports by commanders to military police brings to light the army's conspiracy of silence over offences against Palestinians,' Sfadi said.

The following is from YNet News.

Regiment commander to be dismissed over Naalin incident
Hanan Greenberg

Regiment Commander Lieutenant Colonel Omri Bruberg will be dismissed from his post in the wake of an incident where an IDF soldier fired a rubber bullet at a handcuffed Palestinian, Ynet has learned.

The IDF's Judge Advocate General, Avi Mandelblit, also decided that the commander and the firing soldier will face criminal charges of improper conduct. Such offences are considered relatively minor and do not result in a criminal record. The trial is expected to end in a plea bargain.

In response to the decision, Bruberg said: "I’m the commander, I'm responsible, and I'm paying the price. I believe this decision is good for the soldier (involved in the incident,) for the regiment, and for the army as a whole." In a talk he held with his subordinates, Bruberg said he is "proud of the army."

Bruberg's associates, however, said the commander was the one who decided to leave his post, and added that some of his superiors attempted to convince him to stay on.

For the time being it has also been decided that Lt. Col. Bruberg will not be able to hold command positions in the future. IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is expected to meet with the dismissed commander and discuss his future in the military.

An indictment against the two soldiers is expected to be filed in the coming days. A plea bargain could see both of them handed a conditional sentence.

Military officials were not in agreement over the right approach to the case, and senior officers involved in the affair told Ynet Bruberg was spared a severe indictment.

Did commander lie?
The investigation into the affair started after a Palestinian girl filmed an IDF soldier firing a rubber bullet at a handcuffed Palestinian who clashed with forces in the Naalin area.

Once the probe got under way, investigators discovered disagreements between the soldier and his commander. The soldier claimed that he fired at the Palestinian on the orders of Lt. Col. Bruberg. However, Bruberg said he did not issue such order, but rather, only wanted to scare the Palestinian.

Subsequent polygraph tests indicated that the commander lied in his interrogation while the soldier was telling the truth.

Meanwhile, human rights group B'Tselem issued a statement calling the IDF's decision to dismiss the regiment commander and charge him with conduct unbecoming an officer – a relatively minor charge – "shameful."

The group, which exposed the incident, called on military authorities to launch a criminal investigation into the conduct of the Binyamin Region Brigade commander's conduct, claiming that the incident was being covered-up.


Take a look at what is going on with healthcare in America. Take a look at the country fairgrounds in Wise Virginia. Take a look at what happened when a group of volunteer healthcare workers showed up to offer a three day free health clinic. Take a look and get pissed.

From as far away as Indiana came the uninsured poor seeking the help of volunteers, including doctors, dentists, nurses, optometrists and medical technicians. The annual Remote Area Medical Health Expedition, or RAM was in town.

To some area residents, RAM's very existence is an embarrassment and an indictment of the medical system.

"We need to put RAM out of business -- to fix what's wrong down here instead of having hundreds of people come in to rescue us once a year," said Elizabeth McGarvey, associate professor of public health sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine who is researching health issues in Appalachia Virginia.

She recoils at the long lines of RAM patients, including many children and people in wheelchairs, who camp out, often sleeping in their cars, during the three nights of the clinic in order to be among the first admitted.

"It's like something out of the Third World," McGarvey said.

The crowd she sees began lining up in the wee hours of Friday morning for a coveted spot inside the fences at the Remote Area Medical clinic. Some would wait days for the free service. Some would never get in.

For the majority though, organizers and doctors said, this would be the only time all year they would get medical treatment of any sort.

This year, more than 1,800 volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses and assistants descended on the small town near the Kentucky border, setting up enormous field-hospital-style tents in which they saw more around 3000 patients over the course of two and a half days in late July.

RAM is a non-profit, volunteer relief corps that provides free dental, eye and veterinary care to the underserved of the world. Volunteers also collect supplies, medicine, facilities, and more.

The majority of those who come to the RAM clinics in America have jobs; they simply cannot afford health care.

When RAM came to Knoxville, Tennessee, in January, people started arriving at midnight, even though the doors did not open until seven -- and temperatures dropped below freezing that night.

How is it that in the United States of America thousands of people in a small town in Virginia or a not so small city in Tennessee are forced to depend on a volunteer "MASH" unit which comes to town maybe once a year for their healthcare? What sort of a country is this where people who have worked hard all their lives have as their only healthcare option something like this?

One of these hard working folk is Charles Sizemore, a 68-year old retired machinist from Wise County. He got in line at the Wise County Fairgrounds about 2 a.m. for a basic physical and to get two fillings replaced.

Sizemore raised four children in the area but never had health insurance until he got Medicare when he retired three years ago.

“I wanted to,” he told journalist Louis Llovio, leaning against bleachers where patients were being registered as the sun rose over the mountains. “There just wasn’t enough money. I had to take care of my family, and I never made more than $10 an hour.”

Turning serious, Sizemore said, “I don’t mean to be ungrateful. I’m glad RAM comes out and does this. But it’s just damned sad that this is the only time most of the people around here are going to see a doctor. It’s a damned shame.”

Forget the statistics, this story and the pictures tell it all.

The following is from Flesh and Stone (blog).

"It's like something out of the Third World"

Thousands of uninsured people lined up at a county fairgrounds in Wise, Virginia, to wait for health care services from volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses, optometrists and medical technicians during a 3-day free health clinic. Numerous citizen groups are crisscrossing the country this summer to demand reform of the U.S. system.

In its July 26 coverage of the ninth annual Remote Area Medical Health Expedition (RAM) the Roanake Times ran a story and photos and reported that many camped out at the fairgrounds the day before the free clinic opened to ensure they would be seen by health care professionals. "It's like something out of the Third World," said an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Over three days medical staff provided free care to 2,670 patients, valued at $1.7 million, surpassing the 2,506 served at the same location in 2006.

RAM also has free clinics scheduled in Tennessee, where it is based, as well as in Kentucky, Louisiana and internationally.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Recently, the people of Afghanistan were shocked by the reported sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl in Sar-e Pol Province.

They may have been shocked, but unfortunately they may not have been surprised.

With the recent attention cast on the war in Afghanistan, the news of an increase in child rapes somehow missed the US press reports.

“I can’t think of any country in the world in which children suffer more than in Afghanistan,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, told a news conference in Kabul recently. She said the ongoing violence in Afghanistan is taking a heavy toll on the nation’s children, who continue to be the victims of attacks, recruited and used as combatants and sexually abused.

She didn't mention that some NATO forces apparently look the other way when children are attacked.

For example, Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan have been ordered by commanding officers "to ignore" incidents of sexual assault among the civilian population, says a military chaplain who counsels troops returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The chaplain, Jean Johns, says she recently counselled a Canadian soldier who said he witnessed a boy being raped by an Afghan soldier, then wrote a report on the allegation for her brigade chaplain.

In her March report, which she says should have been advanced "up the chain of command," Johns says the corporal told her that Canadian troops have been ordered by commanding officers "to ignore" incidents of sexual assault. Johns hasn't received a reply to the report.

The story of another 12-year-old girl, Nazriah, who was raped by a neighbor who happened to be high ranking member of the Afghan military is just one sickening story which is apparently becoming more and more common.

Nazriah said, "I went out of my house to bring drinking water, our neighbor the major was standing near our gate, he put his hand over my mouth and took me away in his car, I was scared, they carried me to a half dark room…”

Her Grandmother told Asia Calling of the nightmare,“After looting her dignity, the cruel people then bought some cloth, shoes and food for her and brought her home, when we saw her she was very scared, she was trembling and said that she had been hit by a car.”

They later realized that she had been rapped took her to the hospital.

Her Grandmother says the rapists have threatened to kill the whole family if they speak out.

Sometimes I want and to go and kill the rapists she says, but we are poor while they are rich she laments.

Child Rights Activist Makai Seyawash says horrific stories like this are common.

“Afghan children are in a really bad situation. It’s not just the uneducated and brutal people who abuse children but there are cases where well-know people are involved in abusing children.”

Seyawash says most families are too scared to report rape and child abuse.

The following is from Quqnoos.

Sex attacks on Afghan children continue to rise, rights group says
by Tamim Hamid

AN AFGHAN human rights organisation has said the increase in the number of child rapes may drag the country into anarchy.

Child rapes have risen sharply in recent years, according to Afghanistan’s Human Rights Organisation (AHRO), which claims most of the sexual assaults are carried out by government officials and other powerful men.

A two and a half-year-old girl was recently raped in the northern province of Jowzjan. The child is thought to be in a critical condition in hospital.

In the last month, five children have been raped in the country, the AHRO said.

Head of the organisation, Lal Gul, said: "The situation is getting more critical every day. The government must not be quiet and must do its best to stop this problem. Law must be enforced equally on everyone."

Most rapes in Afghanistan go unrecorded because families fail to report them under pressure from criminals, AHRO said.

The Interior Ministry recently arrested and then fired five security officials in the northern province of Sar-e-Pul for failing to properly investigate the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

Badakhshan MP Sadullah Abo Aman said: "Such crimes have increased so much that even children are raped. There is no pity, nor any sense. These incidents show that the government is very weak."

Abdul Hameed Aimaq, a senator from Kunduz, said: "The courts take bribes, the attorney offices take bribes, and there is no one to ask about all this. For this reason, there are killings, rapes, thefts, and everything else. There is no government in reality."

The Interior Ministry refused to comment on the rape of the two and a half-year-old girl in Jowzjan.


Bolivia's vice president says the leaders of Venezuela and Argentina have canceled a visit because of security concerns amid opposition protests. The three presidents were coming together to discuss energy concerns among other issues.

Just yesterday two miners were killed and many more injured in clashes between police and workers at the country's largest tin mine, Huanuni, where miners are striking over pensions, local radio reported. Violence erupted when police clashed with groups of striking miners who had blocked the road that links the administrative capital La Paz with the city of Oruro, Interior Minister Alfredo Rada told reporters in La Paz.

The head of Bolivia's largest labor federation, Bolivian Workers Central or COB, blamed the killings on President Evo Morales. "This is a massacre and the only one to blame is (President) Evo Morales," Felipe Machaca, the COB leader told radio Erbol.

World Socialist Web reports miners at the Huanuni tin mine, Bolivia’s largest, walked off their jobs on August 1 to protest what they called the government’s “lack of will” to pass a new pension law. Guido Mitma, Executive Secretary of the Union Federation of Bolivian Mine Workers (FSTMB), said at the time the strike was of indefinite duration and that miners across Bolivia were poised to join the Huanuni miners’ strike and block roads.

The Huanuni strike is part of a general strike called by the COB to press for pension reform. The unions are demanding congress approve legislation drafted by the COB that would pool private pension funds into a government fund, a measure opposed by President Morales.

The leftist government of President Morales has presented a pension reform proposal to Congress. Of it President Morales said, “The government is guaranteeing a new pension law which will be universal, for all Bolivian men and women, a law which will eliminate the AFPs (Administrators of Pension Funds). We are going to improve the COB’s proposal."

The COB, however, says the bill is not generous enough and has called it "pro-business."

The COB has staged several protests including a series of major road blockades and the takeover of the national communications building in La Paz by workers armed with dynamite in recent days to demand a more far-reaching measure (the photo above comes from the protests in La Paz). The COB is also threatening a “punishment vote” against President Morales in the upcoming recall referendum scheduled for August 10.

Morales, meanwhile, stated that the government had never opposed the modification of the pension law, and even supported some of the demands of the COB such as the elimination of the Administrators of Pension Funds (AFP).

And then he went a step further.

“I know that some sectors of the COB are the best instruments of the empire, of North American imperialism” Morales said not long ago following the announcement by the leadership of the workers of a strike in defence of its proposed law.

However, its a stretch to link the COB and the miners to the attacks from the right or to US interests.

The COB, it should be noted, has a long history of opposing leftist regimes for not being leftist enough.

The COB is not alone in the turmoil racking the country. Other sectors, including the federation of disabled people demanding a US$375-a-week payment, the confederation of bus drivers in favour of an increase in bus fares, and civic organisations in the gas rich area of Camiri demanding the refoundation of the state gas company, YPFB, and an increase in the price of gas exported to Brazil and Argentina have been active.

And, of course, there has been all the secessionist actions being pushed by conservative and business forces in the more wealthy areas of the country. These are found in the eastern “half moon” — the resource-rich departments (states) of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija that have long been the spearhead of the opposition to "Evo" and the MAS government. CounterPunch has reported that since May 4, autonomy referendums have been approved by voters in the departments of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, Pando and Chuquisaca. "These votes were organized by the country’s right-wing politicians and business elite to perpetuate neoliberal policies, resist the redistribution of land and natural gas wealth, and weaken the Morales government. Though the right points to these victories at the ballot box as proof of their mandate, the referendums are not legally recognized by the Bolivian Electoral Court, the Organization of American States, the European Union, President Morales, or other major leaders throughout the region."

Morales supporters say much of the recent violence throughout Bolivia is obviously related to the upcoming referendum on power. Minister of government, Alfredo Rada, says that right-wing interests are behind the troubles throughout the country. The right originally called for the referendum to which the president and vice president of Bolivia and the country’s departmental governors are basically up for recall. The government said "okay." But now the right wing forces are are sensing that their maneuver might boomerang on them as polls have shown strong support for Morales.

So now the right-wing opposition have set into motion all types of tricks to prevent the people from voting on August 10 and expressing their will at the ballot box — which, according to all the polls, is support for their president and for the process of change. A new poll published in the Sunday edition of the La Paz daily La Razon reports that President Evo Morales’ public popularity has risen in the last month to 59%.

Jim Schultz reports on his well respected Blog from Boliva:

"A Morales victory that beats his 2005 election would have a huge political impact, reinvigorating his political momentum after a year in which it has been almost completely stalled by demands for regional autonomy and open conflict over a new Constitution and demands by Sucre to have it declared Bolivia’s capital. It would also likely jump start a new effort to bring the embattled MAS-drafted constitution to a national vote, a move bitterly opposed by MAS opponents. The proposed constitution would allow Morales to stand for re-election in 2010, something he is currently unable to do."

However, if the poll (reported above) is wrong and Morales’ vote slips below the 47% needed to keep him in office – under the odd and complex voting formula approved by Congress – that will set off a new round of Presidential elections within 3-6 months, with Morales the far and away front runner."

I have this prediction…"

I will make no predictions about the outcome on Sunday. And anyone who does is really just guessing in the dark."

Stay tuned!

The following is from RTT News.

Presidents' meeting canceled in Bolivia following violence

A scheduled meeting between the Presidents of Venezuela, Argentina, and Bolivia in the Bolivian city of Tarija was canceled Tuesday following violence in the city ahead of the leaders' arrival.

Police used tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters, who tried to storm the main airport in Tarija, reports said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, and their Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales were planning to discuss energy projects in Tarija, Tuesday.

The Latin American leaders' visit was also aimed at expressing solidarity to the Morales government, ahead of a recall vote in Bolivia.

Earlier in the day, two miners were killed and many others were wounded when they clashed with police at the country's largest tin mine, Huanuni, where miners have been on strike over pensions since Thursday.


Almost two dozen protesters were arrested by Israeli police (left above) as they demonstrated outside the home of the man who was in charge of army operations in Ni'lin where two Palestinian kids were killed last week. The commander, Colonel Aviv Reshef, was reprimanded for not reporting the shooting to the police.

Israeli troops fatally shot the two Palestinian youths, aged nine and seventeen in a village known for its nonviolent resistance. One of those killed was among several youths who were fired upon after attending the funeral of a nine-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Moussa killed by Israeli soldiers a day earlier (Moussa is pictured on the right above with Palestinian medics shortly after being shot).

At Moussa's funeral the mayor of Ni’lin, Ayman Nafe’ said, “...the Occupation killed our boy in cold blood,” adding “...the killing of Ahmad will not scare us of fighting the Wall, on the contrary, now we will fight more.”

Also during the funeral service, the Ni’lin Popular Committee stated, “The Occupation accuses small children with empty hands and bare chests of causing a threat to their forces and their security, but we know exactly why the Occupation is building this wall and that is to expel us from our lands. Ahmad set an example for all of us. We will all fight together in this popular struggle, the farmer, the worker, every Palestinian.”

A few hours after the funeral Yousef Amira, 17, was shot. He died the next day.

The shootings took place in the village of Ni'lin, where residents have staged daily nonviolent actions against Israel's wall through the West Bank. The village was recently the site of another controversial shooting. On July 7th, an Israeli soldier was captured on film shooting a rubber bullet at a handcuffed Palestinian man.

A border policeman has been arrested in connection with last week's killing of Moussa. However, he was released from police custody to five days of house arrest as the investigation continued.

A Border Police inquiry launched last week after the shooting found that live ammunition had been used in the vicinity of the shooting. Live rounds can only be used by officers when they feel their lives to be in danger, a Border Police spokesman said.

The protest today included left wing and anarchist Israelis. At around 6 pm demonstrators arrived at Col. Reshef's home, and police arrived on the scene shortly after. Officers ordered the protesters to leave, and when they refused many of them were arrested. The activists clashed with police as they attempted to draw closer to the commander's house.

The day after the shooting of Moussa, Israeli's protested outside the the apartment of Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense. They chanted "Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense, How many children have you murdered until now?" The protesters - activists of Gush Shalom, Anarchists Against the Wall and others, arrived at the residence after marching through the streets of Tel Aviv. The demonstrators carried signs which said: "Goliath killed David", "Soldier, refuse to take part in war crimes", "Security cannot be built on the bodies of children", "Hast thou robbed and also murdered?" (An allusion to the well-known Biblical admonition of the prophet Elijah to King Ahab: "Hast thou killed and also taken possession?") Many carried a simple poster with the picture of the boy and the inscription: "Ahmad Moussa, 1998-2008"

The following is from the Jerusalem Post.

Police arrest 23 left-wing activists

Twenty-three left-wing activists were arrested in Zichron Yaakov Tuesday during a demonstration over the recent deaths of two young Palestinians in Ni'lin.

The protest was held near the home of Binyamin Brigade Commander Col. Aviv Reshef, who is in charge of army operations in Ni'lin. Approximately 40 people marched toward the house, calling slogans and waving signs against the military commander.

Police soon arrived at the scene and ordered the activists to disperse, saying the demonstration was held without authorization. Demonstrators refused, and attempted to reach the Reshef's home despite the prohibition. Scuffles broke out between policemen and protesters, and subsequently many of the latter were arrested.

The protest comes on the heels of two incidents last week, in which an 11-year-old boy and 18-year-old youth were killed in Ni'lin.

In the first incident, Ahmed Ussam Yusef Mousa, 11, was shot and killed in the aftermath of a demonstration against the security barrier. Witnesses have alleged that the boy was shot by a border policeman. Security forces are investigating the case, but have admitted that live fire was apparently used. Meanwhile, the policeman in question has been put under house arrest.

A day later, Yousef Ahmed Younis Amera, 18, was declared brain dead in a Ramallah hospital after he was allegedly shot in the head by Border Police. Amera later died of his wounds, and Border Police are also investigating that incident as well.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Yesterday I was talking with a friend of mine who used to teach law at the University of North Dakota (UND) before moving on to Florida (not a bad move).

Anyway, she was telling me about how it seemed that a group of right wing fundamentalist types from around the country had apparently pretty much taken over the North Dakota Law Review. At least, that what a number of North Dakota think lawyers after receiving the latest issue. And that's what I think after checking things out.

It's an interesting story.

Law Reviews are academic/legal journals published, primarily, by top law school students from around the United States. In theory, they contain scholarly, academic, well-researched articles.

In the case of the latest issue of the North Dakota Law Review none of the above is true.

Here's a list of the titles from the front cover of the ND Law Review in question:

Griswold and The Defense Of Traditional Marriage: Bradley P. Jacob

Custody and Parenting By Persons Other Than Biological Parents: When Non-Traditional Family Law Collides With The Constitution: Gary A. Debele

Does the Family Have a Future?: William C. Duncan

Marriage Matters: A Case For A Get-The-Job-Done-Right Federal Marriage Amendment: Steven W. Fitschen

The Attack On Marriage As The Union Of A Man And Woman: Lynn D. Wardle

The Questions Raised By Lawrence: Marriage, The Supreme Court and A Written Constitution: Richard G. Wilkins and John Nielsen

Until now no one suspected that UND's Law School was so interested in the whole traditional marriage issue. The truth is that it isn't really heavy on the mind of law students at UND.

But the authors of the above articles (and their homophobic friends) sure are. Chet at the blog site NORTHDECODER reports how he turned to page 1307 of the Law Review, and found the following:

"First, God ordained heterosexual marriage from the beginning of human history."

I'd like to see the footnote on that one.

The author cites as his source for this Genesis 2:24, I Kings 11:3 and, of course, Deuteronomy 24:1. He also notes Matthew 19:3-18.

So now we know which human history we're talking about here.

The author of that submission by the way is Steven W. Fitschen who is a Research Professor of Law at Regent University School of Law.

Regent University School of Law, hmm, you're thinking "have I heard that mentioned somewhere"? Well, if you listen to the Seven Hundred Club, you probably have. Seven Hundred Club host and noted nut Pat Robertson founded the school.

Prof. Fitschen also serves as the President of the National Legal Foundation. The National Legal Foundation is a Christian" constitutional litigation firm and policy think tank committed to restoring America's Biblical foundations.

Another submission in the ND Law Review comes from a Prof. Lynn D. Wardle. Wardle is a Professor of Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University.

Prof Wardle's article "The Attack on Marriage as the Union of a Man and a Woman" The article, the bio indicates, is "based in part on a paper presented at the World Congress of Families IV in Warsaw, Poland on June 12, 2007." The article compares the Holocaust to the "global movement to legalize same-sex marriage."

That is obscene.

Another author William C. Duncan is with The Marriage Law Foundation (MLF) based at the Columbus School of Law of the Catholic University of America. The MLF describes itself as is a charitable, non-profit organization which provides legal resources to defend and protect marriage.

Associate Professor, Regent University School of Law, Bradley P. Jacob is another submitter. Jacob was previously Provost and Dean at the Patrick Henry College, Purcellville, Virginia (1998-2000) which was billed as a “a training ground for Christian political advocates.” At the Regent University Law School web site they have this to say about the Prof. "God has used his career in wonderful, exciting ways, beginning in a big-firm law practice and including years as a religious liberty lawyer, in Christian ministry leadership, and in Christian higher education." Jacob, says the website, "...considers himself successful when his students leave Regent as highly educated lawyers committed to impacting the world for the Kingdom of Christ."

What difference you ask does it make what is published in the Law Review up in North Dakota?

Well, for one thing as our friend Chet writes, "... fundamentalists can cite ...the North Dakota Law Review as secondary legal support for their ... homophobic rants."

Anyway, the University of North Dakota Law Review is not supposed to be some right wing Christian rag.

There has been enough of an uproar over the whole thing that that Paul LeBel, dean of the University of North Dakota School of Law, posted a letter on the school's Web site defending the issue. The Dean claimed the journal's editorial board issued a public call for papers and personally solicited prospective authors to contribute, but "only a few authors accepted the invitation to be part of this volume." He added: "I am confident that the Law Review continues to be committed to presenting diverse viewpoints on such important topics, and remains willing to include perspectives critical of those expressed in the current volume."

Anyone who knows anything about law reviews (which really isn't too many of us) knows his excuse for what happened with this issue is nonsensical.

This is best explained at the blog site A STITCH IN HASTE which is written by an attorney:

"Utter nonsense. Law reviews, like all academic journals, have absolute as well as relative standards. Before you even reach the question of “Which submissions are the best?” comes the precedent question of “Which submissions haven’t we tossed in the trash because they were hopelessly worthless gobbledygook?”'

And have these people never heard of a “call for papers”? As anyone even vaguely familiar with SSRN or Larry Solum’s Legal Theory Blog knows, the legal academy is teeming with draft articles — serious, scholarly, non-partisan articles — desperately in search of journals to edit and publish them. If nothing else, the journal could have scrapped the symposium issue altogether and run a collection of student notes or even a “best of” edition."

This disgrace was some combination of apathy by the faculty, fear of reprisal by the students and conspiracy by the bigots. The result is two-fold: (1) What was likely a perfectly good law review is forever tarnished. (2) The bigots now have yet another opportunity to lie about how “scholarly research shows…”'

Now I know folks at the UND School of Law and the people I'm acquainted with there are not of the ilk that put this out.

Where was everyone while this issue was being put together though, I wonder?

I want to end with something from the blog IMPERFECT DELIGHT.
"It should be a disgrace for a professional organization to link gay marriage to bestiality, Nazism, and ethnic cleansing and every citizen, no matter how they feel about gay marriage, should be outraged that the North Dakota Law Review was used as a forum for hate speech."

To contact the North Dakota Law Review:

North Dakota Law ReviewUniversity of North DakotaSchool of LawP.O. Box 9003Grand Forks, ND

Editor in Chief: (701) 777-2272Law Review Office: (701) 777-2941

The following is from the Grand Forks, North Dakota Herald.

Legal community in uproar over N.D. Law Review issue
Janell Cole

BISMARCK — Some North Dakota attorneys are outraged over the latest North Dakota Law Review, saying a scholarly publication was simply hijacked by national religious right activists bent on stopping gay marriage.

One, Fargo family law attorney Mike Gjesdahl, accuses the Law Review in a widely distributed e-mail of “passing off editorializing and theological perspective as academic work . . . (and) bringing shame upon us.”

Another, Tom Tuntland, Mandan, N.D., pledged to “chip in money, time and support” for an action to counter the issue, such as publishing a special issue.

“This is a law review that’s supposed to be a scholarly journal,” he said in an interview. “It’s nowhere near scholarly. By publishing those with an ax to grind, he said, North Dakota’s publication becomes a tool that gives them license to spread their beliefs.

By Wednesday, lawyers’ protests had become so passionate and widespread that UND Law School Dean Paul LeBel posted a disclaimer on the school’s Web site assuring the legal community that “the university and the School of Law are welcoming and inclusive educational communities.”

The Law Review is published quarterly by students at the UND Law School and is the official journal of the State Bar Association of North Dakota. Its latest issue, Volume 83, No. 4, is a symposium issue — that is, a collection of articles on one topic — on family law. It was published about two weeks ago.

“I was appalled to see almost the entire issue authored by a very narrow, biased and distorted view of the law,” wrote Grand Forks attorney Mary Seaworth to the state bar’s executive director, William Neumann. “To publish such a biased issue appears to be a serious error of judgment.”

Guest articles

Five of the six guest articles are by authors who are affiliated with church-based law schools and other “organizations (that) share a common thread in their view towards marriage and family,” Seaworth wrote.

The article “Does the Family Have a Future” is by William C. Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation, whose mission is, in part, to “aid lawyers tasked with defending man/woman marriage and to file amicus briefs on behalf of groups and individuals also intent on preserving that vital social institution.”

In another, “The Attack on Marriage as the Union of A Man and A Woman,” author Lynn D. Wardale compares himself and his defense of traditional marriage to a Hungarian Jew who warned Elie Wiesel’s hometown of the coming Nazi Holocaust. Wardle is a professor at Brigham Young University.

Neumann and Law Review faculty adviser Kathryn Rand defended the issue, saying that the authors who were published were the only ones who answered an invitation to submit.

They said the bar association and UND faculty can’t exercise influence over or veto articles because it is the students’ publication.

“They made the best decisions they could under the circumstances,” Rand said. “It’s fair to say they were disappointed with the submissions they received. They were looking for a broad range of perspectives, not just one or the other.”

Rand and Neumann urged their colleagues in the bar to remember this is just one issue in a long line of Law Reviews, and more will be written on the unsettled issue of marriage and family. The students had a deadline to meet, they said.


Last year’s Law Review symposium editor, Patrick Dixon, said he and others on the 2007-08 editorial board were left to deal with the articles that had been submitted based on the call for submissions put out by his predecessor in the 2006-07 school year.

“It wasn’t supposed to be an issue about gay marriage,” he said. “And everybody wrote about gay marriage.”

Dixon said some people who originally submitted plans to turn in articles that would have widened the perspective didn’t produce.

“It was disappointing,” Dixon said. “The issue as conceived was not this.” He said the student editors asked the authors for many changes in the articles to make them more appropriate.

Bismarck family law practitioner Anne Summers believes the issue was doomed from the start because the announcement calling for articles was poorly distributed and “full of code words, ‘traditional family,’ etc.,” she said, — “that invite exactly what they got.”

She said she and other family law practitioners in the state never received the invitation to submit, which was posted on the Law Review’s Web site.

The 2006-07 Law Review symposium editor, Jared Rigby, couldn’t be reached for comment. A phone number for him in Grand Forks has been disconnected.

Janell Cole writes for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.