Friday, August 29, 2008


Would you grant a prestigious journalism award to a man who wrote the following:

"The first to leave will be international companies. There won’t be anyone to sell their new shit to, and they’ll move away to somewhere with less Gypsies and more money. Who’s going to buy soap for soft and tender white skin? Dirty Gyppos?”

“The difference between Gypsies and cattle is that cattle are subject to veterinary control. Livestock can't behave like Gypsies, but the reverse is allowed. Bovine rights and freedoms have been under serious pressure to years, and during that time the Gypsy woman has given birth to twins again and she's as bloody-minded as a cow yet again.”
Well, believe it or not someone did.

These are just two quotes from a man, Kalin Rumenov (pictured here), who was awarded a coveted prize for journalism late in May in Bulgaria.

The award, the 2008 Bulgarian Chernorizetz Hrabur "Young Journalist" prize, was received by Kalin Rumenov at an official ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria on the 25th of May 2008 in the presence of leading politicians, members of Parliament and journalists.

Today, three months later, the International Federation of Journalists (the world's largest organisation of journalists) finally joined the parade of those outraged by the action.

Racist articles by Rumenov are regularly published in the "Novinar" national newspaper, which makes no effort to distance itself from his views or to publish any balancing material to counter Rumenov’s. The Bulgarian Press Ethics Commission does not consider this to be a problem worthy of their attention.

Jewish human rights activist Shimon Samuels of The Simon Wiesenthal Centrer (which has condemned the award giving) described Rumenov’s writings as "...redolent of the 1930s and 1940s when both Jews and Gypsies were marked for Nazi extermination.”

Samuels has got that right.

Shortly after the award was presented a coalition in Bulgaria of various professional groups set up a petition for the prize to be publicly withdrawn. Those who signed the petition to withdraw his prize are calling on the President and the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, who were present at the ceremony to make a public declaration that they do not share the values represented by the racist author.

However, incredibly on July 30th it was announced that the Union of Bulgarian Writers had refused to withdraw the award.

An estimated 700,000 gypsies or Roma live in Bulgaria, forming nine percent of the country's population. The community is poverty-ridden and isolated in ghettos, largely illiterate and often discriminated against.

The following is from the International Federation of Journalists.

IFJ Calls on Bulgarian Media Owners to Act over Racism and Withdraw "Shameful" Prize

The International Federation of Journalists today called for a ‘wide-ranging and honest' debate within Bulgarian journalism over intolerance in media following the presentation of a journalism prize by press owners to a reporter who has a reputation for hate-speech.

The IFJ says the award of this year's Chernorizetz Hrabur Young Journalist of the Year prize to Kalin Rumenov, a journalist with the Novinar national newspaper, reveals "shocking indifference and complacency" among publishers and should be withdrawn.

"Racism and intolerance are the great challenges facing modern European society," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Publishers should not be engaged in the shameful business of presenting professional honours to an outspoken racist. This sends a message that gives the impression Bulgarian journalism is insensitive to the consequences of intolerance in society."

The IFJ and its European section the European Federation of Journalists is calling for a national campaign to set standards for reporting on issues of intolerance and the rights of minorities and to raise awareness of the dangers of hate speech.

Rumenov received his prize from the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria in the presence of leading politicians, members of Parliament and journalists. The action prompted a protest from other journalists and civil society groups because the journalist is renowned for articles in his newspaper attacking the country's Roma minority in offensive and racist terms.

A petition calling for the prize to be withdrawn was submitted to the publishers group in July, but no action has been taken. Critics are incredulous at the award to Rumenov not least because it is made for his general contribution to journalism rather than for any specific piece of work. His racist and intemperate articles are well known within media and among the public at large.

The IFJ says the controversy highlights the failure of Bulgarian media owners to join with journalists and the IFJ's affiliates in Bulgaria, the Union of Bulgarian Journalists and the Podkrepa-Journalists Union, in establishing credible forms of self-regulation and a deeper understanding of media freedom. "Journalism is not without responsibility to the public interest," said White. "It's time for a new and searching debate about how to distinguish robust and challenging journalism from unacceptable prejudice and intolerance," said White.


I can find absolutely nothing else about this, but it seemed pretty interesting to me, so I'm posting it.

The following is from IPS.

MEXICO: Native Women Mobilise for Their Rights
By Diego Cevallos

MEXICO CITY, Aug 29 (IPS) - If the Mexican government has not addressed the demands of indigenous women in the southern state of Oaxaca by the end of the first week of September, 10,000 native women will travel to the capital to directly pressure President Felipe Calderón. "We are fed up," said one of the leading activists.

"We have organised ourselves, and we are tired of being strung along and of being excluded," Leticia Huerta, an indigenous woman who leads the non-governmental Coordinadora Estatal de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (State Coordinator of the Peoples of Oaxaca), told IPS.

Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s poorest states and one of the districts with the highest proportion of indigenous people.

Among the demands set forth by the native women, 5,000 of whom held a protest march Wednesday in Oaxaca, the state capital, are the construction of a women’s hospital in a rural area, medical posts throughout the region and the creation of an air ambulance service.

They are also calling for the construction of a bridge in a village that has been cut off for 12 years, a housing programme using local materials, and policies that would guarantee women’s social and political rights.

Huerta said the Coordinadora has been working for women’s rights for 17 years in Oaxaca, where 418 of the 570 municipalities are governed by indigenous "uses and customs."

The women’s demands and the announced march to the capital "are the consequence of these years of work, which have raised our consciousness," she said.

According to Huerta, more than 10,000 women from 200 villages and towns in Oaxaca form part of her organisation, "which has no ties to any political party."

Delegates in Oaxaca from the governmental Commission for the Defence of Indigenous Peoples promised the women Wednesday that within the next 10 days they would draw up a plan to address their demands.

"We will make a 10-day halt in our activities, but we won't wait any longer than that, and if they fail to live up to their promise we will go to Mexico City in buses or any way we can, to demand a meeting with the president," said Huerta.

Nearly 60 percent of the population of Oaxaca lives in rural villages of less than 2,000 people.

In most of the villages, the local authorities are elected in traditional native community assemblies, without the participation of political parties.

In many of the villages, women are not allowed to seek public office, and under the local "uses and customs" many are not even able to study.

Studies by the National Women’s Institute, a government agency, show that the sale of girls into marriage is a continued practice among indigenous communities in poor southern states like Oaxaca and the neighbouring Chiapas. Many young girls are thus abruptly separated from their families, in exchange for a cash payment, or even just a crate of soft drinks or beer.

"Our rights are subjugated and the authorities and many men in our communities do not want to recognise them," said the activist.

In November 2007, an indigenous accountant, Eufrosina Cruz, was not allowed to run for mayor of Santa María Quiegolani, a village of 800 Zapoteca people in the mountains of Oaxaca.

When she was nominated and voted for by some of the members of the all-male village assembly, the leaders of the assembly stopped the voting and tore up the ballots.

Cruz turned to the governmental National Human Rights Commission and received support from political parties and members of Congress, who called on Oaxaca state legislators to carry out legal reforms to ensure that traditional uses and customs were not used as a pretext for denying basic human rights guaranteed by the constitution.

"I’m not against uses and customs, only against abuses and customs. In this state there are 82 municipalities where women have no rights within their communities, and therefore they can’t even express their opinions in assemblies, let alone vote or be voted for," she told IPS earlier this year.

Cruz was provided with police protection after she received death threats from men in her community.

Another case of violence against indigenous women in Oaxaca occurred in April, when two young community radio station reporters, 22-year-old Felicitas Martínez and 24-year-old Teresa Bautista, were gunned down on a rural road.

In Oaxaca and Chiapas, the poverty level is similar to that of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) studies.

In 2006, non-governmental organisations and community groups in Oaxaca came together in a popular uprising against Governor Ulises Ruiz of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has governed the state since the 1920s.

The women represented by the Coordinadora Estatal de los Pueblos de Oaxaca have now presented their demands directly to the Calderón administration, because they have no confidence in Ruiz, who remains in his post despite numerous accusations of human rights violations, including murders.

Indigenous women are the most vulnerable group among the native peoples of Mexico, who are variously estimated to make up between 12 and 30 percent of the country’s 104 million people. Their life expectancy is 71.5 years, compared to 76 years for indigenous men.

Illiteracy stands at 32 percent among indigenous women, compared to 18 percent for men. And nearly 46 percent of indigenous women have not completed primary school, while a mere 8.9 percent have completed middle school (lower secondary school).


Stanley James William Harlan, 23, was given the death sentence for driving erraticly in Moberly, Missouri on Thursday. Harlan was hit with two bursts from a Taser by Moberly law enforcement. He received the short electrical shocks when he "resisted arrest" following a traffic stop for erratic driving, according to Moberly Police Commander Kevin Palmatory.

Harlan became unresponsive shortly after the second burst. Officers administered CPR and the Randolph County Ambulance service treated him and transported him to Moberly Regional Medical Center, where he died later.

"He had one arm free, swinging his arm with the handcuff," police commander Kevin Palmatory said. "He had not been searched. Officers didn't know if he had a weapon."

So what the hell, they zapped him...twice.

A cousin of Harlan, 19-year-old Sasha Harlan of Moberly, told the Columbia Tribune Stanley Harlan worked at a local restaurant and recently had become a first-time father.

"He was just a really laid back, easy going, fun guy to hang out with," Sasha Harlan said before saying she had just heard of the death an hour earlier and felt overwhelmed by it.

According to the Moberly Monitor Index the Moberly Police Department fell under investigation in 2005 when a Taser was used as part of an alleged excessive force incident involving David Lash, Sr.

In nearby Columbia, some community activists have been protesting a city plan to expand the number of Tasers provided to police. On July 25, Columbia police used a Taser on a man who threatened to commit suicide by jumping off the Interstate 70 pedestrian overpass at Providence Road. The jolt incapacitated him and he fell off the bridge, causing fractures to his arms, skull and jaw.

"Every time it's used, you're taking a chance that this will seriously injure someone, or cause death," said Columbia activist Mary Hussman.

"I sure as hell hope somebody’s reassessing this," said Dan Viets, general council for the Mid-Missouri chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "I don’t know what it will take to get city council to take this seriously if this" doesn’t.

Viets said Tasers are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "an alternative to deadly force" but are, in fact, used in situations where deadly force would never be considered. "It’s an alternative to smacking somebody in the head or twisting their arm, but not to deadly force," he said.

The following article is from the Columbia Missourian.

Columbia police expect backlash from Moberly Taser incident

COLUMBIA - Interim Police Chief Tom Dresner said the department was saddened by the news of a Moberly man's death after being Tasered early Thursday, calling it a "tragedy all around." He also said he fully expected a wider backlash against the use of Tasers in Columbia as a result of the incident.

The death comes less than two months after a Columbia man was critically injured after he was Tasered by a Columbia police officer and fell from an interstate overpass. Earlier in July, the City Council had approved the purchase of 40 more Tasers, so the majority of the department's patrol officers would be equipped with Tasers.

That decision prompted outcry from Grass Roots Organizing, the ACLU, Fellowship of Reconciliation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Peace Haven International. The organizations held news conferences and read a resolution at subsequent council meetings, asking the council to reconsider its decision.

The cause of Stanley James William Harlan's death won't be known for several weeks until toxicology results are available. The results of an autopsy conducted Thursday afternoon could take weeks to release because toxicology reports take two to four weeks to complete, Boone County Medical Examiner Carl Stacy said.

The Moberly incident occurred at around 12:30 a.m. Thursday after Moberly police pulled over Harlan, 23, for driving erratically, according to a news release from the Moberly police department. Officers arrested him under suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

When police tried to handcuff him, Harlan began to resist. An officer deployed a Taser to get Harlan to follow instructions, the release states.

Harlan began to comply but refused to remove his arms from under his body so officers could finish handcuffing him, Cmdr. Kevin Palmatory of the Moberly Police said. A Taser was deployed again, at which point Harlan complied and officers handcuffed him. The second deployment was very brief, perhaps between half a second and a second long deployment, Palmatory said.

Shortly after he was handcuffed, Harlan stopped breathing. Before Randolph County Ambulance District personnel arrived, officers performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When paramedics reached the scene, they began treating Harlan. He was then taken to Moberly Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at around 2:10 a.m. Thursday.

The Moberly incident is being investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control at the Moberly department's request. Palmatory said, as an outside agency, the patrol will have objectivity in the investigation.

An autopsy was scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday in Columbia. The results of the autopsy could take weeks to release because toxicology reports take two to four weeks to complete, Boone County Medical Examiner Carl Stacy said.

On July 25, a Columbia man was critically injured when he fell off an overpass onto an embankment after being Tasered by Columbia police. Phillip Lee McDuffy, 45, was threatening to throw himself off the Providence Road bridge over Interstate 70 when the first attempt to Taser him failed. A second attempt was made while McDuffy was trying to run from police. He then fell 15 feet from the overpass onto an embankment.

A week later, Columbia Police and the Boone County Sheriff's Department announced they would hold informational meetings explaining their Taser policies and technical details of the weapons to residents.

On Aug. 4, five residents asked the City Council to reconsider its decision to equip officers with Tasers.

But barring any new information about the Moberly case, the police department plans to move forward with its own Taser program, Dresner said, because there still isn't enough information linking Tasers to deaths. "Situations are often more complicated than they are made to seem," he said.

In response to what Dresner has acknowledged is a daunting public relations problem, the police department is producing a multimedia report on the McDuffy case. Though he would not discuss details, Dresner said it will be "reflective of the information age we live in." With all of the video and photographs available from the July incident, a lengthy written report would not be appropriate, Dresner said. He expects the report to be released sometime next week.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Just a few minutes after being struck by the dart, and roaring with surprise, the angry male bear collapsed on the icy ground, unconscious.

Sound good to you?

Me either.

All over the arctic polar regions of Canada and Alaska scientist are studying polar bears to become more knowledgeable about the effects of global warming on these glorious creatures.

Not a bad idea.

But in doing so, these scientists are causing harm and actually killing these polar bears long before global warming has a chance to take its deadly toll.

It isn't only the darts that is killing the bears either.

Many suffer myopathy, the kind of muscle meltdown captured animals suffer when they over-exert themselves trying to escape.

Marc Cattet a wildlife researcher and veterinarian with the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center, assessed blood and other samples collected from another 127 grizzlies caught in Alberta between 1999 and 2005.

The news was not good.

His results showed that a significant number of those animals were showing signs of serious stress for alarmingly long periods of time after they were processed and released back in the wild.

Nearly two-thirds of all bears captured, particularly those caught in leghold traps, suffered from muscle injuries.

What a surprise...leghold traps causing muscle injures. Who'd a thunk it?

He also the muscle damage causes the bears to roam less and to lose weight. The effects of weight loss may linger into the next generation. The more often the bears are caught and studied the worse the weight loss.Research in polar bears suggests underweight sows deliver underweight cubs.

Cattet had a damn hard time getting his results published. Scientists just didn't want to hear what he had to say. He told the Canadian Press, "In the review process there were some individuals that just didn't want it published."

But finally his and some others work is being published in the August edition of the Journal of Mammalogy.

"There will be people that will embrace it," he said. "On the other end of the spectrum, I think there's going to be some hostility, too.

"For some people, it's going to be perceived that this paper is a direct affront to their way of life and it's not going to be received well. I know from discussions over the past three to five years some people just don't want to hear it."

Cattet is quoted in the Edmonton Journal saying, "Our study clearly shows that some of the research that is being done on bears comes at a cost to the animal. I know some scientists aren't going to like it, but I think it's time that they and animal-care organizations start reconsidering the kind of guidelines we currently use in the capturing and handling of all animals, not just bears. We also need government to support research that minimize the effects of capture."

Northern aboriginals have also raised concerns about wildlife research practices.

Last December, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. - the group that oversees the Nunavut land claim - passed a unanimous resolution calling on the federal and territorial governments to stop all wildlife research that involves excessive handling of wildlife.

The following is from Nunatsiaq News.

Researcher criticizes bear drug-dart survey methods
Tranquilizer darts do serious damage to bears, scientist finds

Inuit hunters aren't happy about a Government of Nunavut research scheme that would tranquilize, tag and collar 300 polar bears from the Foxe Basin because the hunters say this procedure harms the bears and renders them unfit for use.

Now a scientist who has studied research methods on bears, also supports their views, saying mark and recapture methods hurt bears' ability to move and damage their overall condition.

Marc Cattet of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine, said the capture and handling of bears in their natural habitats can affect them for many weeks, in an article published last week in the Journal of Mammalogy.

And with repeated captures, the bears' condition deteriorates.

Cattet says the capture and handling of bears may affect how they reproduce and grow, especially bears recaptured many times.

Drugs are only one part of the equation, Cattet said.

"We have to look at it as the cumulative effect of a number of stressors, which include drugs, method of capture and handling procedures. You add all that stuff together and it equals a significant amount of stress which some animals can cope with and others can't," he said.

The effects of captures may also distort the results of scientists' research.

For example, descriptions of activity patterns or the determination of bears' home ranges may be inaccurate if scientists don't take the time after capture into account as a potential factor.

The effects of the mark and recapture methods may even interfere with results attributed to environmental causes or climate change, such as low body weight or poor condition.

"Repeated captures could contribute to that effect, but I would not want to dismiss the potential effects of global warming," Cattet said.

For the recently-published study, Cattet compiled data from two studies: on grizzly bears in Western Alberta and American black bears in the Pisgah Bear Sanctuary of North Carolina.

Cattet found that the blood from six of every 10 captured bears showed abnormally high values for muscle enzymes.

The presence of these enzymes indicates muscle injury, which could be caused by the stress of bears struggling to escape capture.

Injury was particularly common in bears captured by leg-hold snare. Enzymes were also high in one in every five grizzly bears darted from helicopters and in one in every five grizzly or black bears captured by culvert trap.

Regardless of the capture method used, bears moved less through their territory after capture, with effects lasting three to six weeks on average after capture, the study found.

Cattet said the findings are more broadly applicable to other bears and animals.

Cattet would like to see researchers to seek out other methods such as hair capture, which is currently being used in a Kitikmeot survey of wolverines and grizzlies.

For collecting tissue samples, Cattet proposes using a dart on bears that collects skin sample and then drops off - with no tranquilizing required.

"The bear goes off on its way and you retrieve the dart and you have your skin sample in it," he said.

He also recommends the use of GPS positioning collars over the more commonly-used satellite collars because the GPS devices are more accurate.

In an earlier study, published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, Cattet looked at the effect of darting bears with tranquilizers.

The study recommends against using darts "because of their potential to cause deep, chronic wounds."

In another 2002 paper in Science, Cattet evaluated polar bear tranquilizers, including Lozetil (also called Telazol), which is used in Nunavut.

This tranquilizer carries risks to bears because the doses, administered by darting, are often either too powerful or not powerful enough.

In spite of the evidence against the use of darting and tranquilizers, Cattet said the capture of animals will remain a necessity for wildlife management and research.

"But saying that, I think we can reduce the number of animals we capture. I think we can also put effort in finding alternative ways of finding information from animals without capturing," he said.

Cattet's research findings haven't made him popular with some scientists, who accuse him of being a tree-hugger or animal rights activist. He's also experienced difficulty in having his research studies published.

But Cattet hopes the "solid science" of his latest study will convince more scientists to develop and use non-invasive methods to study wildlife, if only because they want more accurate results.


Last week I wrote an article about indigenous groups fighting in Peru to save their land from being taken over by oil and gas giants. A state of emergency had been declared after thousands of Amazonian tribes people armed with spears, bows and arrows took over main roads, a hydroelectric dam, and oil and gas installations in the provinces of Cusco, Loreto and Amazonas. Now comes reports that the battle appears to have been won.

After several hours of discussion and debate, Congress passed legislative decree 2440, repealing decrees 1015 and 1073, by a vote of 66 in favour, 29 against, and no abstentions.The former facilitated procedures for the fragmentation and sale of communal lands held by indigenous and farming communities in the mountainous (Sierra) and forest (Selva) regions of the country, enabling these crucial decisions to be made in an assembly by a simple majority, instead of the previously required two thirds of communal landowners, thus bringing these regions in line with the procedures of Peru's coastal region. Decree #1073 made further modifications to decree #1015.

President Alan Garcia maintained his opposition to the overturning of the decrees, an act he categorized as an “historic error.”

Indigenous movement spokesperson Alberto Pizango celebrated the decision, declaring, “The people of Peru, indigenous or not, have demonstrated once more that it is possible to reclaim our rights to life, to dignity, and to a lasting sustainable development. This is a new dawn for the Indigenous Peoples of the country."

The following is taken from Dos Mundos (Kansas City).

Indigenous groups win major battle in congress
Written by Milagros Salazar

LIMA (IPS) - The Peruvian Congress voted to repeal two decrees that opened up communally owned native lands to private investment and that triggered a wave of protests this month by indigenous people in Amazon jungle provinces.

The vote was a rare instance of cooperation between opposition lawmakers and legislators from parties that up to now have been allied with the government, who voted to overturn the decrees on the argument that they undermined the rights of native communities.

Sixty-six lawmakers voted to revoke the decrees and 29 members of the governing APRA party voted against the decision.

The decrees were adopted by the executive branch in an unconstitutional manner and without respecting indigenous groups’ right to be consulted prior to any project on their land, as established by International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169, which has been ratified by Peru.

A majority in Congress agreed that the government went beyond the special powers it was granted by parliament as part of the free trade agreement negotiated with the United States, when it vetoed the legislature’s original vote against the two laws.
Under the decrees, a mechanism created in the 1990s, which allowed indigenous communities to sell or lease collectively-owned land to third parties if approved by two-thirds of the members of a community assembly, was modified to permit sales with the votes of just 50 percent plus one of the assembly members.

“The executive branch ran roughshod over Congress, native communities and international conventions,” said Roger Najar, the new chairman of the parliamentary committee on Andean and Amazon peoples and the environment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


As I sign off for the day, I'll leave you with the latest news I can find from out in Denver where a concert by Rage Against the Machine has ended and the march has begun.

The following is from 9News (Denver).

Largest protest of week marching toward Pepsi Center

As the Rage Against the Machine concert let out at the Denver Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon, an unlicensed parade formed, poised to march toward the Pepsi Center.

The concert let out at 3 p.m., and the parade, led by a group called Iraq Vets Against the War, began their march toward the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

The veterans, who were dressed in uniform, did not have an official permit for the parade.

Before the concert let out, Rage Against the Machines and other bands asked the crowd of 8,000 to be peaceful during the march.

The parade, was preparing to march down Brighton Boulevard, disrupting traffic in both directions. The march forced the closure of all ramps from Interstate 70 to Brighton Boulevard. It was not known how long the ramps would be closed.

The parade is the largest gathering of protestors so far during the DNC, surpassing the roughly 1,000 marchers who participated in Sunday's Re-create 68 march.

At least 100 police officers in riot gear were in the area, along with a police helicopter overhead.

It was not known how long police would allow the march to proceed.


Iranian-born Abie Nathan (pictured here earlier in his life) passed away in Tel Aviv after long illness. He served in Israel's first air force squadron, founded the 'Voice of Peace' radio station and fought relentlessly for peace - flying solo to Egypt.

Nathan broke the law several times by meeting with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, whom he later referred to as his ''brother.'' In 1989 he was jailed for 122 days, with a one-year suspended sentence if he repeated the offense. He did, and was charged again.

Nathan spent virtually all he earned not only to promote his message of peace, but to provide food, medicines and other assistance to people as far away as Biafra Africa, Mexico and Nicaragua, whenever a natural or man-made disaster struck and caused so many to suffer. In fact, his efforts eventually bankrupted him and forced him to shut down his radio station.

Haaretz today wrote of him,

"Over time, he earned a reputation as a maverick peace activist who often took diplomacy into his own hands. He was called a crackpot and a prophet."

...Convinced that people power could succeed where the diplomats had failed, Nathan bought a 188-foot, 570-ton freighter that was partially funded by John Lennon. He anchored it off the coast of Tel Aviv and turned it into a pirate radio station, The Voice of Peace, with a mix of pop songs and peace messages."

"Shalom, salaam and peace to all our listeners," Nathan declared in his maiden broadcast in 1973. "The Peace Ship is a project of the people. We hope through this station we will help relieve the pain and heal the wounds of many years of suffering of the people of the Middle East."

MK Ahmad Tibi, chairman of the United Arab List – Ta'al party, said Nathan was "a brave pioneer and a man of peace. I only regret that few others followed in his footsteps."

Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer: "Abie Nathan was a vanguard, a brave warrior for peace who didn't hesitate to lead the way. The Peace Camp bows its head to a man who has contributed a great deal to changing public opinion in Israel and the world."

Yossi Sarid, the former leader of the leftist Meretz party, said Nathan paved the way for Israel's peace movement. "He was ahead of his time, and he did everything himself," he said.

The following is from Deutche Presse Agenteur.

Veteran Israeli peace campaigner Abie Nathan dies in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv - Abie Nathan, a maverick Israeli peace campaigner who was flew solo to Egypt in an attempt to meet then-Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser and founded The Voice of Peace radio station which attracted tens of millions of listeners, died Wednesday night in a Tel Aviv hospital. He was 81.

Nathan had suffered a stroke in 1996 and was hospitalized five days before his death, Israel Radio reporter.

Born in Iran, Nathan grew up in India and immigrated to Israel in 1948. He joined the nascent Israel Air Force and after the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war worked for El Al, Israel's national airline, before opening a restaurant.

After an unsuccessful bid to be elected to the Knesset in 1965 as the head of a small party, he burst into Israel public consciousness in February 1966. Flying a small plane named Peace 1, he took off from a small airfield north of Tel Aviv and headed for Egypt, with whom Israel was still formally at war.

Landing in Port Said, he asked to meet Egyptian President Nasser, but his request was denied and he was deported back to Israel, where he was jailed for traveling to a hostile country.

It was the first, but not the last, of his well-publicized efforts at reconciliation between Israelis and Arabs, which included hunger strikes to protest Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories, and meeting Yasser Arafat when such parleys were still outlawed in Israel.

Nathan's meeting with the Palestinian leader earned him an 18- month prison sentence, in 1991, which was later commuted to six months.

Apart from his peace efforts, and activities on behalf of disaster relief - he set up refugee camps in Somalia, Ethiopia and Guatemala - Nathan was perhaps best known for his pirate radio station, The Voice of Peace.

Founded in 1973, with its famous call sign, 'from somewhere in the Mediterranean, we are the voice of peace,' the station broadcast from a ship anchored off Israel's territorial waters.

It was launched with the song 'give peace a chance' and in its heyday, its all music-format attracted a listenership of tens of millions in the region.

Nathan was forced to close down the station in 1993, after spiraling operating costs of the ship, coupled with declining advertising revenues, saw its debts mount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He suffered a stroke in 1996 which left him partly paralysed, and a second stroke around a year later left him without power of speech.

At Nathan's 80th birthday celebrations in April 2007 veteran Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, who would soon become the country's president, remarked that Nathan 'showed that one nan can do for the sake of peace.'

On Wednesday night the president eulogized Nathan as 'a great warrior against war, against poverty and against discrimination.'

'He was the greatest conqueror of hearts and a man of faith in a time when there was none,' Israeli media quoted Peres as saying.


Hundreds of thousands of Buddhists took to streets of Seoul yesterday in protest against the religious bias of President Lee Myung-bak and his administration.

Considered the largest protest by Buddhists in decades, the rally saw more than 200,000 Buddhists from almost all orders - Jogye, Cheontae, Taego and Gwaneum - take to the streets from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. They marched to Jogye Temple located in Jongno, the de facto headquarters of Korean Buddhism, following the rally.

Organisers said Buddhist temples across the country simultaneously rang bronze bells.

"Buddhists united to stop religious bias," read one banner.

"This is only the beginning of our struggle," said Jinhwa, a monk acting as spokesman for the organisers.

Elements of conflict have existed between Buddhism and the Lee administration since the government took power. The evangelical zeal of Lee, a Presbyterian, is well known; he provoked controversy as Seoul mayor when he dedicated the metropolis to God.

Bhuddists have grown increasingly upset after police officers searched the car of the Ven. Jigwan, the chief executive of the country's largest Buddhist order, Jogye, in their search for anti-U.S. beef protest organizers taking shelter at a downtown temple.

Following that incident, Buddhists cited dozens of examples of anti-Buddhist discrimination. Cabinet and Blue House (Office of the President) staff appointments have been filled largely with connections Lee made through his church, and he made one Protestant clergyman a key presidential secretary. He had a minister do a Christian worship service at the Blue House, and he appointed former Pohang Mayor Jung Jang-sik, a man who tried to use city funds to “make Pohang a Christian city” as the head of the Central Officials Training Institute. He sent a video message to a major event at Full Gospel Church, the largest church in Korea, but then forgot to send a telegram to the country’s largest Buddhist denomination on the occasion of Buddha’s birthday, something the country’s presidents have all done as a matter of tradition.

And after other officials and governmental ministries saw where Lee's preferences lay, they joined in. The man second in charge at the presidential security service said it was his desire to “gospelize” the whole of government, and the chief of the National Police Agency made an appearance on a poster announcing an event to pray for the "gospelization" of the police. The country’s temples were excluded from the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs’s mass transit information system and the Ministry of Education and Science Technology’s geography education information system.

Excited Protestant ministers signed on with Lee and have been criticizing Buddhism and other religions with special passion lately. “All the countries that have Buddhism are poor,” Hankyoreh reports one minister lately in a series of comments that encourage religious conflict. “Even Buddha shouldn’t have made Buddhism.”

The Buddhist protesters in Seoul demanded that Lee apologize for the government's discrimination against Buddhism and the insults to their beliefs.

They also called on the police chief to resign to take responsibility for the invasive inspection last month of a vehicle of the head of the Jogye Order.

In addition, they demanded the removal of members of the People's Association against Mad Cow Disease hiding in a Buddhist temple from a wanted list.

``Unless the government meets our requests in a sincere manner, we will hold additional rallies in other parts of the country in cooperation with civic groups and religious organizations,'' the protesters said in a statement.

The following is from Channel News Asia.

South Korean Buddhists hold mass rally against alleged bias
Posted: 27 August 2008 1659 hrs

SEOUL - Tens of thousands of South Korean Buddhists rallied Wednesday in central Seoul to protest alleged pro-Christian bias by the government of President Lee Myung-Bak.

A crowd estimated by police at 55,000, including thousands of grey-robed monks, packed City Hall Plaza for the rare protest which began with the beating of a giant drum.

Organisers said Buddhist temples across the country rang bronze bells simultaneously.

"Buddhists united to stop religious bias," read one banner.

A police search involving Jigwan, head monk of the country's main Jogye Buddhist order, was the trigger for the mass rally.

"This is only the beginning of our struggle," said Jinhwa, a monk acting as spokesman for the organisers.

"This is the first time all 27 (Buddhist) orders have held a rally," he said, reiterating demands for an apology from Lee, the resignation of police chief Eo Cheong-Soo and legislation formally banning religious discrimination.

Buddhists have been uneasy over what they see as Christian bias since Lee, a Presbyterian church elder, came to power in February. They were unhappy when he included members of his church network in his first Cabinet.

An online map published by two ministries, showing Seoul's churches but not major Buddhist temples, also sparked anger.

In early July, seven activists wanted by police following protests against US beef imports took refuge in Seoul's Jogyesa temple.

Tensions grew late last month when police stopped a car carrying Jigwan outside the temple and searched the boot.

Police chief Eo apologised and disciplined two senior officers. But Buddhists accused police of treating the head monk like a criminal and called for Eo's resignation.

The government has tried to placate the Buddhists, with Culture Minister Yu In-Chon expressing regret Tuesday at the dispute.

Yu said regulations would be introduced to ban religious discrimination by government officials. Lee has urged his officials not to make controversial remarks on matters of faith.

But Buddhists were unappeased. Spokesman Jinhwa said that if their demands are not met, they would hold more protests across the country.

Official data shows South Korea has about 10 million Buddhists and 13.7 million Christians.

"This government is trying to evangelise the whole country and turn it into a Protestant state," said protester Suk Jin-Heung, carrying a banner demanding the resignation of the police chief.

He said many Protestant leaders were under the illusion that the country became a Protestant state when Lee was elected.

"But Lee must know he is not president only for Protestants but for Buddhists and Catholics too, and unbelievers as well," Suk told AFP.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Sure it involves only ten families in far away Guam, but to those ten families it is no small matter.

The families are on the verge of being thrown out of their public housing.

Families living in housing owned by the Department of Public Works face eviction once their leases run out.

Guam's former Public Works Facilities Manager Jaimie Martinez signed leases with people, allowing them to live in former government of Guam teacher housing owned by the agency.

But Public Works Director Larry Perez told Martinez didn't have the authority to sign contracts or leases. The department will allow the leases to expire and then the people living there would be removed, he said.

Say what?

Some bureaucrat screws up and the result is families are homeless.

Doesn't sound right to me.

One resident is Kathy Duenas. She and her eight children may soon be living on the street.

Duenas said she moved into the house in 2005 after she said a Public Works employee struck a deal with her to allow her and her family to live there rent-free, if she had the power and water connected. Duenas said she made the deal with Jaimie Martinez, who she believed was the director of Public Works at the time. Perez said Martinez had been a DPW facilities manager.

Mr. Martinez isn't taken calls.

Seems to me the authorities need to find her and the others some new digs. After all it wasn't the residents here who screwed up.

And these evictions are only part of the story.

Last year, Duenas' electricity was disconnected for lack of payment. When she went to the GPA office to reinstate her power, she was informed she needed another letter of authorization from Public Works.

When Duenas went to Public Works, she said Martinez was gone and Public Works employees could find no record of her lease agreement.

"Luckily, I remembered that Jaimie gave me the authorization before," Duenas told the Pacific Daily News last week. "They said, 'Let me see it,' and I gave it to them and they took it from me."
Duenas said Public Works wouldn't give her back the authorization.

"They said, 'This paper stays here,'" said Duenas.

With no proof of her lease agreement, Duenas has been without electricity ever since, with the exception of rare instances when she can afford to run a generator.

Duenas said she and her family also have been without running water for more than a year and are entirely dependent on water donated by friends and family.

"I try to do as much as I can for the comfort of my children," said Duenas. "Even if it is only a few hours of TV."

At night, the home is dark. None of the windows have glass and when it rains, the water comes in, Duenas said.

None of the doors in the house have working locks or close fully. Duenas said at night, she pushes the couch against the front door and sleeps on it to ensure no one comes in. She said the rear door often is pushed open by dogs.

Duenas said her sister, Theresa Duenas, had been camped in a tent in her yard until entering into a lease agreement with Public Works to move into one of another set of abandoned buildings in Dededo.

"Those houses are 20 times better than these ones," said Duenas. "I asked Public Works if they would let me stay in one of them, since these ones are unsafe and they don't want me to stay here anymore, but I have never heard anything back from them, other than that they say they don't have any money."

Guam is unincorporated territory of the United States.

Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the Guam caucuses in the Democratic White House battle by a mere seven votes.

Think either of them have ever even thought about the housing and public housing problems faced by the poor of Guam? Think either of them even think about Guam? Think they'll mention Guam in their speeches this week?

The following is from the Pacific Daily News (Guam).

10 families face eviction: Perez says notices to be delivered this week
By Beau Hodai

All residents living in Department of Public Works housing are facing eviction by the end of next week.

Norma Gogo said she's been living in an Agat home owned by Public Works for six years.

"I don't know why they're making an issue out of this," said Gogo. "They're saying we're illegal here, how can we be illegal when everybody here went through a legal procedure?"

Gogo said she approached the governor's office in 2002 and was referred to Public Works. She then established a lease agreement.

"Where can we go if we all get evicted out of here?" Gogo asked. "We don't want to all wind up in a tent city at Nimitz Beach."

But the families will have to find new living arrangements.

"I have instructed my staff, in the interest of safety of the public and in the interest of limiting or avoiding any liability to the government of Guam, to compose eviction notices for my signature," said Larry Perez, director of Public Works.

Perez said the notices of eviction will be delivered to all tenants by the end of the week and they will be enforced by the end of next week.

The director said former Public Works Facilities Manager Jaimie Martinez signed leases with people that allowed them to live in former government of Guam teacher housing owned by the agency. But Perez said Martinez didn't have the authority to sign contracts or leases, making all of them null and void.

Last Thursday, Perez said the department would allow the leases to expire and then the people living there would be evicted. Yesterday, Perez said his investigation was essentially over and that he is "very confident that there are no contracts out there that have not expired."

Oscar Yanger, Public Works field and maintenance superintendent, said fewer than 20 leases issued by Martinez have been discovered, but he isn't sure if there are more. Perez said Martinez retired from the department more than six months ago, and that the department hasn't been renewing or validating any of the leases since his departure.

According to Perez, there are 50 of the buildings. According to Yanger, the buildings are distributed between Talofofo, Dededo, Agat and Yigo.

'Where are we going to go'

Gogo said that she, like many other residents, has invested much time and effort into making her home livable and questioned the department's definition of "safe."

"If they want to make an agreement with the people that live around here, why doesn't the director come down here and negotiate with the people who live around here, instead of evicting us?" Gogo asked. "Where are we going to go?"

Walter Nauta (pictured above), a recreation leader at the Agat mayor's office, lives in a building at the Agat DPW complex with his wife, daughter and his daughter's boyfriend. There are 10 families, or approximately 70 people living in 10 of the Agat complex's 20 buildings, according to Nauta.

He said that his family moved into Building 7 at the complex in 2004, under a lease agreement with Martinez, agreeing to pay $400 per month in cash each month. He said he never received a copy of his lease agreement.

Nauta moved into a different building in the Agat complex because of flooding issues, then asked Public Works to make some repairs. He said he was told the department didn't have money for the repairs.

He said that he then stopped paying rent and used the money to bring the building up to living standards.

Nauta said he's never received notification from Public Works on its plans to evict his family.

"What are we going to do if they kick us out?" he asked.

Ben Cruz has been living in one of the buildings with his wife, Eloise, since 2004. He also had a lease agreement with Martinez where he could stay in the house for $500 per month.

Cruz said he stopped paying the rent when a copy of his lease failed to materialize and because the department refused to make repairs.

"Every time we would ask to have something repaired here, Jaimie would say that they didn't have any funding, no materials, no tools," said Cruz.

Cruz said he has received no word about evictions.

Allowed to stay

Perez said the only tenants allowed to remain are not-for-profit organizations that have signed memorandums of agreement with the department. Such groups include the Knights of Columbus and Island Girl Power, according to Perez.

Perez said his staff has conducted "random tests" on rent receipts, which weren't Treasurer of Guam receipts. The agency has found corresponding deposits made by the Treasurer of Guam. Perez said no criminal action is being alleged, but if any improprieties are discovered, he will hand the case over to the Office of Attorney General.


The following speaks for itself.

The following is from the Republic of Lakotah.

Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation "NEEDS AND CONCERNS"


• MORTALITY Lakotah men have a life expectancy of less than 44 years, lowest of any country in the World (excluding AIDS) including Haiti.

• Lakotah death rate is the highest in the United States.

• The Lakotah infant mortality rate is 300% more than the U.S. Average.

• Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S national average for this group.


• More than half the Reservation's adults battle addiction and disease.

• Alcoholism affects 8 in 10 families.

• Two known meth-amphetamine labs allowed to continue operation. Why?


• Indian children incarceration rate 40% higher than whites.

• In South Dakota, 21 percent of state prisoners were Native, yet they only make up 9% of the population.

• Indians have the second largest state prison incarceration rate in the nation.

• Most Indians live in federal reservations. Less than 2% of Indians live where the state has jurisdiction!


• The Tuberculosis rate on Lakotah reservations is approx. 800% higher than the U.S national average.

• Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S national average.

• The rate of diabetes is 800% higher than the U.S national average.

• Federal Commodity Food Program provides high sugar foods that kill Native people through diabetes and heart disease.


• Median income is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.

• 97% of our Lakotah people live below the poverty line.

• Many families cannot afford heating oil, wood or propane and many residents use ovens to heat their homes.


• Elderly die each winter from hypothermia (freezing).

• 1/3 of the homes lack basic clean water and sewage while 40% lack electricity.

• 60% of Reservation families have no telephone.

• 60% of housing is infected with potentially fatal black molds.

• There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (may only

• have two to three rooms). Some homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people

• living in them.


• Unemployment rates on our reservations is 85% or higher.

• Government funding for job creation is lost through cronyism and corruption.


• Only 14% of the Lakotah population can speak Lakotah language.

• The language is not being shared inter-generationally, today, the average Lakotah speaker is 65 years old.

• Our Lakotah language is an Endangered Language, on the verge of extinction.

Police Concerns and Needs,
Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation


• Chief of Police Herman has been diagnosed (confirmed by the F.B.I.) with Munchhausen Syndrome.

• Chief of Police Herman has made two suicide attempts. He shot up his own patrol car and tried to blame another. All typical of Munchhausen Syndrome.

• Chief of Police Herman has abolished the internal affairs department and used the funds to hire both a personal secretary and a personal assistant.

• According to B.I.A. (Bureau of Indian Affairs) statistics the tribal police are 60% understaffed. Only 43 officers to patrol 1500 square miles.

• On August 14th, 2008, when the rank and file police officers asked for a meeting with three members of the Tribal Council. While uninvited, Chief of Police Herman attended the meeting, called in the press and turned the meeting into a fiasco where he dismissed, without pay, 26 of the rank and file officers representing over 250 years of police experience. Chief of Police Herman is under investigation for the scuffle that broke out, yet he remains in his position with full pay.

• Currently, the B.I.A. has been called in. No patrolling is going on at all, but many families are reporting B.I.A. intimidation and break-ins

• B.I.A. officers are following and spying on the attorney for the police officers.

• Death threats have been made. The officers families have been threatened.

• Gang activity and “tagging” is at an all time high.

• The drug dealers have Fully Automatic weapons.

• With the rank and file officers being replaced by B.I.A. officers, there is NO PATROLLING ongoing. A total breakdown in community policing has already occurred.


• No 911 service. There are no street signs, so emergency calls can’t find addresses that don’t exit.

• Since the new police chief came in to power in November of 2007, ALL felony drug prosecutions have been thwarted.

• There exist two known meth-amphetamine labs on the reservation, yet the rank and file officers are prohibited by their superiors to close them down. Why?

• Tribal Police have no federal commission cards.

• Tribal Police are paid 30% less than equivalent B.I.A. officers.

• Tribal Police, unlike B.I.A. officers, get no overtime pay.

• Sixteen hour shifts are common.


• Money allocated for new bullet proof vests diverted for other uses. Current vests are worn out and unsafe.

• The budgets are not updated and modified. For instance, money allocated for police pay has been diverted to vehicle maintenance.

• Last year, there were no cost of living adjustments for tribal police officers. The money went somewhere else. Where did it go?

• Pay already earned is being withheld

• Clearly, the chief of police is trying to starve out the honest rank and file officers currently suspended without pay and force them back to their jobs within a highly corrupt force.


• Senator Thune’s earmarked funds for police have been violated. There is an immediate need for a forensic accounting audit.

• Under the current budget 1.3 million dollars is missing. Lost to chronism and corruption.

• Department of Justice grants for new officers syphoned off for private use.


A press release from Transnational Justice bluntly states:

"Nearly half the adult population of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has faced death threats, suffered beatings or has been enslaved by armed groups, according to a new survey undertaken in the region. One third of the 2,620 people interviewed reported having been abducted for a week or more. Yet a large majority (85%) of the population believe that those responsible for the violence must be held accountable."

This from an extensive new survey analysis "Living With Fear: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Peace, Justice, and Social Reconstruction in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo."

So, if we are the world, where the hell are we and where the hell have we been while the horrors continued year after year in the Congo.

The fighting in eastern Congo has been described as the deadliest since World War II. The International Rescue Committee estimated that 5.4 million "excess deaths" occurred there between August 1998 and April 2007. And it didn't end then.

Every side of this conflict is to blame.

And the rest of the world has been pretty uninterested in the whole thing.

Though rich in diamonds, copper, gold and other minerals, most of Congo's people — including its security forces — remain poor and desperate. The government has struggled to end sporadic fighting in the lawless east, where marauding militias have held sway since Rwanda's 1994 genocide spilled chaos across the border.

Over the last year, skirmishes have broken out in the region between the army, militias and Congolese fighters led by rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. The fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands and rights groups have repeatedly accused all sides, including the ill-disciplined government army, of failing to rein in fighters who have targeted civilians suspected of supporting their rivals.

It is time to put a stop to this and to hold some people accountable.

The following is from AllAfrica. com.

Justice or Peace? War Victims Speak
By Suliman Baldo

In Africa's worst conflicts, victims' voices are rarely heard during the elite debate that treats peace and justice as though they were an either-or.

However, thousands of victims in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have told researchers for a newly-published survey that peace and justice must go hand in hand.

The survey of 3,753 Congolese is summarized in the report Living with Fear, which reveals the extent of suffering in a nation that over the past decade has suffered one of the deadliest wars since World War II. The survey was carried out by the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the Payson Center at Tulane University, and the International Center for Transitional Justice.

Nearly half the population surveyed in eastern Congo said they had faced death threats, suffered beatings, or been enslaved by armed groups. One-third had been abducted and held captive for more than a week, and fully 80 percent had been forcibly displaced from their homes either permanently or temporarily during the conflict.

In spite of the horrors they have endured, an overwhelming majority expects the Congolese government to be able to deliver peace and security, and believes in a multi-faceted approach to these goals. When asked what means should be used to achieve peace, the Congolese offered an array of answers: arresting those responsible for crimes, dialogue between ethnic groups, dialogue with militias, establishing the truth, and military victory over armed groups.

In a sharp rebuke to those who portray peace and justice as mutually exclusive, 85 percent of those surveyed said it was important to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable for their actions. Eighty-two percent said that accountability for war crimes was a necessary step toward securing peace.

In a country with a desperately weak justice system, who should be holding perpetrators to account? More than half (51 percent) of the respondents said the Congolese national court system should be at the center of pursuing justice. At the same time, there was widespread recognition of the current weakness of the courts, leading 82 percent to say the international community should help in national prosecutions.

Though all of the suspects currently in the custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are Congolese, awareness of the institution among those polled was low. Just over a quarter of the populations of both eastern DRC and Kinshasa had heard about the ICC or its potential first trial, of Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga.

Where the ICC is known, however, support is strong: 67 percent of those who had heard of the court said they would like to participate in its work, though only 12 percent said they knew how to access it.

The pursuit of justice through the ICC faces many obstacles, as was clear when the court stopped proceedings against Lubanga earlier this year, citing errors on the part of the prosecution. And when the ICC prosecutor requested an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in June, the "peace versus justice" debate that followed showed that many continue to treat these goals as an either-or.

But if lasting progress is to be achieved in war-torn societies such as DRC and Sudan, victims' voices must be at the center of the debate, and their calls for both peace and justice must be heeded. Only then, with security and judicial reforms and the help of the international community, can the murderous culture of impunity finally be brought to an end.

Suliman Baldo is Africa Director for the International Center for Transitional Justice and one of the co-authors of Living with Fear.


Today's report from Denver is on an action by a group of Iraqi veterans. The veterans are members of Iraqi Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and they are carrying out Operation First Casualty.

With their arms positioned to shoot, the veterans staged a war conflict on the sidewalks of the 16th Street Mall. Police swarmed the area but made no arrests.

"This is what occupation looks like, and America is better than this," one protester member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War shouted reports the Rocky Mountain News. "Bring our troops home now," he said to people dining on the patio of the restaurant Rio Grande.

The march continued downtown as the soldier-actors looked for "suspicious persons" from Tent City.

On Monday the group presented a letter to Sen. Obama calling on him to support the groups three main demands:

1. The immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq.
2. Full and adequate health care and benefits to all returning service members and veterans.
3. Reparations made to the Iraqi people for the destruction caused by the U.S. war and occupation.

IVAW has requested a response from Senator Obama by 3pm Wednesday Aug. 27.

Tomorrow the group is sponsoring the Rage Against the Machine concert which will be followed by a four mile march from the concert to the site of the Democratic National Convention.

Meanwhile, according to Dan Spalding of the People's Law Project, fifty to sixty people are currently in detention in the downtown City jail (1331 Cherokee St), and being processed in several different courtrooms.

And this just in from Disruption O8:
"Join Unconventional Denver on Tuesday, August 26th as we take our message of liberation into the streets and to the Pepsi Center. Being that the convention is just a puppet show we seek to actively disrupt the convention’s media coverage through festive celebration of our success of surviving outside an oppressive system and the new world we are building."

This action is formed into two different parts- the snake marches and the blockades. Two snake marches will leave from two locations north and south of the Pepsi Center, making their way through downtown in a raucous, festive manner (bring your noise makers!) to delegate entrances at the Pepsi Center. Should one or both of the marches not reach the security perimeter, the marches will fall back to secondary goals."

...Our hope is that people come prepared not just for confrontation with the state but for a colorful, festive, celebration of our struggle for collective liberation. This hope is not specific just to the Tuesday actions but for the entire week- we aren’t just protesting the Democrats and an oppressive system but striving to show what a new world could look like. We are equal parts love and rage, mixed together in a potent cocktail that provides us the strength to struggle today and the courage to continue tomorrow. Come prepared not just for five days of intense action but for five days of inspiring (to ourselves and others) belief in action.

The following is from the Longmont Times-Call (Colorado).

Staged military exercise shakes up lunchtime in LoDo
By Brad Turner

DENVER — A team of protesters in military fatigues jogged through LoDo at lunchtime Tuesday, barking mock orders at one another and startling onlookers as they re-enacted military operations in Iraq.

"Watch the rooftops! Watch the windows!" one soldier called to the other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War as they huddled near railroad tracks during their protest.

At one point, the group staged a clash with a sympathetic group of protesters in white shirts at 16th and Delgany streets.

"Go home!" members of the mob in white shirts screamed, standing about 20 feet from a stage set up for MSNBC hosts covering the Democratic National Convention.

The veterans group tackled and shoved the white-shirted protesters before jogging down the block, across a street and back into the heart of LoDo for more reenactments.

Dozens of police monitored the event but didn't intervene. IVAW members updated the officers on their maneuevers frequently.

They also attempted to help pedestrians understand what they were seeing. IVAW members in street clothes handed out postcards. "Right now, somewhere in Iraq, a scene like this is playing itself out, often with deadly results," the cards read.

Fort Collins IVAW chapter president Ben Schrader, 28, said the group hopes to use its appearance during the DNC to push its platform: immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, better care for veterans, and reparations for the people of Iraq.

Schrader said he volunteered for the military before Sept. 11, but found himself on a mission he disagreed with when he was deployed in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. He saw Iraqis innocent Iraqis killed or imprisoned, he said.

While the U.S. is doing good "in small doses" in Iraq, the best plan is for the U.S. to withdraw immediately, Schrader said.

"I saw the actual injustices that were happening, and participated in them because I had to," he said. He spent the day at the group's makeshift headquarters in City of Cuernavaca Park but didn't participate in the exercise.

IVAW has Colorado chapters in Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Twenty-six feet high, 126 feet in diameter, open top tank full of crap and it will not stink. That what Bucks County officials are telling the perhaps soon to be neighbors of a two million gallon surge tank in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

If you believe that one, you'll believe anything.

Did I mention that just last week those same officials told area residents to check around for standing water because of West Nile?

All this is the result of federal laws and regulations concerning improving the health of streams, something its hard to argue with. I mean something needs to be done to clean up streams inundated with storm runoff which carry the pollutants of farming, suburban living, and business into area streams and rivers.

It has to do with what environmental regulators call the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for a body of water designated as “impaired” by too much pollution. Virtually all of the creeks and their tributaries in Central and Lower Bucks County and Eastern Montgomery County are considered “impaired” — the watersheds of the Neshaminy, the Pennypack, the Wissahickon and much of the Perkiomen, with the exception of the East Branch of the Perkiomen in Upper Bucks. In general, the water in the upper, less densely populated areas of the two counties is significantly less polluted.

However, there are other options besides a giant open toilet in an otherwise quiet little neighborhood.

For example, there is the obvious...underground collection basins.

Or how about upgrading sewage treatment plants to better prevent high levels of substances such as phosphorous from contaminating creeks.

Or what about giving incentives Program to farmers to create buffer strips to protect from agricultural runoff and to provide rental payments for crop land that is set aside.

Here's an idea, get homeowners and business to stop polluting.

There are lots of ideas out there. Many have been tried and have worked.

I'm sure if Bucks County officials asked, residents would be more than happy to work with them to find an alternative.

Open toilets in residential are not the way to go.

The following is from the Bucks County (Pennsylvania) Courier Times.

Sewage tank sought for Andalusia

The Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority could soon build a 2 million gallon, open-top surge tank in the Andalusia section of Bensalem.

Proposed for construction near the corner of Tennis Avenue and State Road by the Delaware River, the tank would help control sewage flows during rain storms and might only operate a few times a year, according to the authority.

Federal and state laws mandate that sewage systems take action to reduce the amount of rain water that seeps into their pipes - either through illegal connections or cracked pipes.

“The Department of Environmental Protection is making us all reduce our flows,” said Patrick Cleary, spokesman for the Bucks Authority. “We have a very active program of inspection and infiltration. This is just one more approval as we try to cut back on wastewater flows.”

The tank would be about 26 feet high and 112 feet in diameter, according to plans submitted with the township. Along with some pumps, the construction area would take up about 1.2 acres of woodlands. Wetlands and a stream also border the property.

The land was previously owned by the Andalusia Foundation, a non-profit started by the Biddle Family to preserve the historic Andalusia Estate. The Andalusia Mansion, a national landmark, is located about a half-mile north on State Road.

Much closer to the proposed surge tank and not very happy about it, Alex Szymanski said he plans to lead a neighborhood protest against the project.

“They're saying it's going to be an open top tank. What's that going to smell like?” Szymanski asked. “This is going to be right next to my home. I don't want it to smell like sewage.”

The Bucks Authority said it did not believe residents would smell sewage in the tank because it would largely contain stormwater. “This tank will be in operation during heavy rain events,” said Cleary. “Most of what's in it is going to be rain.”


It should come as no surprise that key elements of the new fascist government of Italy which has been busy with attacks on Italy's Roma population, is also aiming to do its best to outlaw Islam within the country.

Italy's Northern League, a neo fascist, xenophobic, sometimes separatist movement that is a key component of Silvio Berlusconi's governing coalition, has proposed new legislation which would in effect halt construction of new Islamic mosques. The bill, which the League's chief of deputies Roberto Cota is expected to send to parliament next week, would require regional approval for the building of mosques. It would also require that a local referendum be held, that there be no minaret or loudspeakers calling the faithful to prayer, and sermons must be in Italian, not Arabic.

Currently the main governing party is not backing the bill which would violate Italy's constitution.

It has received support from the small, ultra-Catholic UDC party, and the proposed anti-mosque legislation undoubtedly and unfortunately reflects the feelings of many non-Muslim Italians.

Anti Muslim haters from across Europe are hailing the proposed legislation.

For example, this from some English guy on the blog Up Pompei:
"The UK needs to do as Italy is doing, we need to be assertive and say no more Mosques, no more Islam and at the same time encourage the Muslim to return to Dar ul Islam and stay there."

The truth is that whenever a xenophobic party succeeds on pushing its agenda in one European country it has an effect on all the others since the issues upon which such a party often rides are common ones throughout the continent.

While Italy has more than 1.2 million Muslims unlike Judaism, Buddhism and some Protestant denominations, it is not officially recognized by the state.

Earlier this month Euro MP Mario Borghezio's (pictured here) vowed to "defend Christianity against profanation by Islam" at a rally of Northern League members to protest against a Genoan city council plans to turn a church which was a former hospital of the Knights of Malta in the 13th century into a multi faith prayer centre for Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Accompanied by dozens of people waving the League's flag, Borghezio gained entry to the building by waving his Euro deputy's card. He then swore to "continue the fight of the Knights of the Order of Malta to defend Christianity."

Italy's top prelate Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco denounced Borghezio for making his statement in a church, which he said was "solely a place for prayer and worship."

"(I express) total disapproval (of Italian and Euro MP Mario Borghezio's vow to) defend Christianity against profanation by Islam," Bagnasco, the Bishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

In case you wondered, The Knights of the Order of Malta, also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, is a Christian militia that had a mission of defending territories the Crusaders captured from Muslims.

The Order’s fighters, known as the Knights Hospitaller, helped the Crusaders in raids on Muslim countries near the coasts of Italy, including Tunisia, Libya and Morocco.

The organization is also accused of conducting massive missionary work in troubled regions in Muslim countries like Sudan’s Darfur under the guise of aid and charity.

The following is from

Italian Bill to Block Mosque Building

CAIRO — A far-right Italian party is planning to table a draft law that would effectively block the construction of mosques in the southern European country, the Financial Times reported on Monday, August 25.

The Northern League will present the parliament next week with a bill that requires regional approval and a local referendum for building mosques.

It would also mandate that mosques should have no minaret or loudspeakers calling the faithful to prayer.

The motion demands that mosques will have to be at least one kilometer away from any nearby church and that sermons be delivered in Italian, not Arabic.

The Northern League has four ministers in the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, including the interior ministry.

The motion is only supported by the small, ultra-Catholic UDC party with no immediate support from Berlusconi's Forza Italia party or from the ex-Fascist National Alliance.

Milan Friday Prayer Dilemma

Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial estimates.

Muslims are already having hard time getting approval for mosque building before the new bill.

Residents in Genoa protested last September plans to build a mosque in the town, claiming that it would be offensive because it is near a church.

In the town of Colle di Val d'Elsa, most of the residents see a planned mosque a symbol of "occupation".

Italian authorities have bowed to pressures of far-right groups and put off plans to build a mosque in Bologna.

Christian Defender

The Northern League is widely accused of racism with many critics calling it the BNP of Italy, a reference to the British right-wing party.

Its election campaign played on issues such as immigration, crime and economic and cultural fears from immigration.

Portraying itself as a defender of Italy's Christian roots, it started its mission in the new government in May with bringing down a mosque in the northern city of Verona.

Last September, the League rejoiced the success of its campaign to halt the building of a mosque in the northern city of Bologna.

On August 8, League MP Mario Borghezio burst into a church in the northern city of Genoa shouting anti-Islam statements.

He vowed to "continue the fight of the Knights of the Order of Malta to defend Christianity."

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta began as a Christian charity in Al-Quds in 1080 to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land.

It is now a state located in Rome and is recognized by 50 countries worldwide.

It is accused of conducting massive missionary work in troubled regions in Muslim countries like Sudan's Darfur under the guise of aid and charity.

Its locals or members must take a solemn oath reading: "I will provide myself with arms and ammunition that I may be in readiness when the word is passed, or I am commanded to defend the church either as an individual or with the militia of the Pope."


There will no doubt be lots to cover in Denver this week. The OD, however, will try to focus only on anything really big, or out of the way, or very current, i.e. they'll be lots to read elsewhere so no reason for me to cover everything.

So lets start off the week with a CodePINK action this morning which disrupted the Unconventional Women symposium and delayed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's talk with former U.S. Ambassador Swanee Hunt at the Buell Theater.

When Pelosi sat down on stage, CodePINK protesters who had infiltrated the sold-out auditorium unfurled anti-war banners reading "IMPEACH!" and "STOP THE WAR" and shouted at Pelosi.

A short while later The Rocky Mountain News reports protesters took to the streets around noon wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods over their heads. They were demonstrating against the prison industrial complex in America and to call attention to political prisoners like Leonard Peltier.

Chants of “No justice, no peace,” led off the parade. Some of the protesters carried signs proclaiming “No War for Empire” and “No Torture.”

Jack Nounnan was toward the end of the procession wearing his own orange outfit and hood.

“There are prisons all over the world. We’ve been putting up with it for years,” he said. “It’s a terrible shame.”

And yesterday one observer told Denvers TV7 News that downtown looked more like a police state than a political convention, with officers on almost every corner, military helicopters overhead, snipers on top of buildings.

The following is a statement from Leonard Peltier which I found at Bay Area Independent Media.

Statement from Leonard Peltier
AUGUST 24, 2008

Greetings my friends and relatives,

First of all, I can't express to you, near as much as I'd like to. The sincere appreciation I have that you would gather together remembering all the political prisoners, hostages and myself the way you have.

Gatherings like this are extremely important because it reminds people of the sacrifices that are made daily through out the world for freedom, justice, and a clean and sane environment for our future generations. The powers that exploit our resources and people will always be there, generation after generation.

And the creator will always call upon people to stand against that exploitation. Even if the creator does not call. Any just man or woman, with any semblance of justice, be it spiritual, social or environmental, He will find cause to take issue with those enemies of humanity and nature.

One of the reasons I am so appreciative is because I want you to know, from where I stand the gatherings that you do mean so very very much to the other political prisoners, other hostages and myself. It is an extreme importance that political prisoners and hostages not be forgotten. Not necessarily for the sake of the prisoners and hostages themselves, but for the sake of future generations. To appreciate and protect and jealously guard the freedoms they possess; that was paid for with someone's life. I think the most difficult times for a political prisoner or hostage, is when people start to forget what their sacrifice was about, when people become complacent because of some economic level they have attained, and forget the sacrifices that were made and the danger of them losing those gains is imminent. And I know from personal experience, the joy I feel when I receive letters of appreciations or visitors and that is second to the joy I feel when I know that my efforts were not in vain. And there are young people taking up the cause and responsibility of regaining our lost freedoms and resources.

I dearly miss the touch of friends, I dearly miss walking through a forest or across a meadow or even through the traffic of a busy street, or feeling the wind blowing against my skin, directly, rather than a window or some chain link fence.

But with all this, I can't express to you how at a great loss I would feel if the reason and cause of the many political prisoners and hostages throughout the world was forgotten. Swept aside, because people become too comfortable with their status quo.

I have been here for 33 years that is more than half of my life. I would give almost anything to go home. But I won't give up,

I would give almost anything to be with my family. But I won't be quiet.

I would give almost anything to say goodbye to this place, but I won't say goodbye to my beliefs and our struggle.

I would give almost anything to walk out this door and never return. But I will never walk away from the love of my people.

When I think of the things that I hear and see in the media, about how many different special interest groups, speak of various subjects, like the right to live, or pro-life, I cant help but think, of the children around the world, who never get a chance to live because of the exploitation of their resources of their country and their people.

All of the destruction that is taking place here and abroad is a direct result of people, special interest groups, whose interest is primarily wealth and taking more than they need.

The religious people or should I say The spiritual people of America, and anywhere else for that matter, should seek to aggressively band together to stop the unjust wars that truly impact primarily the common man, the common man who in his village or farm, city or anywhere else is destroyed, by bombs, from the various governments. Governments; Who in the name of nationalism and patriotism seek to gain political power and control over someone else's resource and political system. They should actively band together and identify the things they have in common rather than dwelling on their differences. Perhaps I am rambling too much in my statement, after 33 years in prison and 63 years upon this earth, much of this time spent thinking, praying, analyzing, and mediating, on the information that I gather from various forms of writings, books and observations, I somehow feel I have a little bit of a right, to say what I think and feel.

I love you all and I am so honored that I would be invited to make a statement to you. And if I could hug each one of you individually, I guarantee you would damn well be hugged!

I have never given up in my struggle for freedom.

Freedom is a natural inclination of all living creatures up on the earth. Even a newborn will struggle when held too tightly.

I deeply regret being in prison I deeply regret losing family members while in here, I deeply regret all the wonderful things in life that I have missed, but I will never regret standing up for my people for as long as I can draw my breath. My heart is with them always, and my heart is with you today.

So long for now; I will remember you in my prayers and until next time.

Keep the faith.

Your relative always

In the spirit of crazy horse,

Leonard Peltier