Friday, September 05, 2008


The following editorial is from the Jewish Daily Forward...I'll leave it at that (but I could not resist adding the graphic).

Preaching Abstinence

In a rare moment of consensus and civility in mid-campaign, Democratic and Republican leaders concurred last week that public debate over the candidates’ family troubles — specifically the pregnant, unwed 17-year-old daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin — is “off-limits,” in Barack Obama’s words. Families, even public families, should be left to sort out their private lives in privacy. Democrats come to this privacy notion easily; they’ve been trying to make that point for years.

As for the Republicans, they have every reason to want their embarrassments kept off the front page. Their party has been preaching for decades that single motherhood reflects a character flaw. They’re wedded to the notion that the government should stop giving handouts to single moms. Now they are attacking Democrats for, of all things, lacking sympathy for a family in turmoil.

In the end, both parties are wrong. The Palin pregnancy is a genuinely important political event, and it should be debated. It’s not that the Palins, parent or child, deserve punishment. What makes this an important public issue is the light that it sheds on government health policies, which are often based on religious beliefs rather than on science. Simply put, the policies that Sarah Palin champions, as a standard-bearer of the Christian right, do not work. No one should know that better right now than Palin herself.

The Christian right has been preaching for decades that teenage premarital sex is a social crisis with terrible effects, including pregnancy and disease, and must be stopped. Successive Republican administrations have mandated the teaching of abstinence — rather than birth control methods — in any public medical and educational programs they can reach. They’re required to teach chastity as the way to avoid the consequences of sex. But it doesn’t work. The kids are having sex anyway, but without the tools to do it safely.

Several recent studies show how badly Americans suffer as a result. One report, issued this past May by the federal Centers for Disease Control, says that a staggering one-third of American girls get pregnant by age 20. Eighty percent of the pregnancies are unintended. Teenagers who have babies can expect a decline in “their future prospects and those of their children.” They are less likely to finish high school than other teens, more likely to live in poverty, and less likely to receive prenatal care, to gain proper weight and to deliver healthy babies.

Even grimmer, the government report goes on to say that the United States has the second highest rate of teen pregnancy and teen birth in the developed world. This despite the fact that teen sexual activity — the age at which it begins and the frequency — appears to be about the same here as in the other countries. The difference, the report says, seems to be that American teens “are less likely to use contraception or to consistently use more effective methods of contraception when compared to the teens of several other developed countries.”

The report doesn’t say so, but other studies in the past have pointed out that American policies on sex education and contraception access differ dramatically from other developed countries. We preach abstinence, while most others rely on sex education and birth control.

The report doesn’t quantify America’s differences, but it refers readers to an earlier study, conducted by the privately run Guttmacher Institute, on which it based its international comparisons.

It turns out that the United States isn’t sitting respectably at the high end of a continuous scale. America stands nearly alone, amid a handful of poor ex-communist states in Eastern Europe, including Armenia, Moldova, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Even in that group, we’re at the high end with a rate of 83.6 teen pregnancies per 1,000, topped only by Russia at 102 per 1,000. Behind us is a cluster of mostly English-speaking countries, including England, Canada and Australia, where teen pregnancy runs at about 44 per 1,000, or about half the American rate. Finally, most of Western Europe runs along a spectrum ranging from 27 per 1,000 (Israel, Sweden) to a low of 12 (Spain, Italy, the Netherlands).

It isn’t race or immigration, the report says. American whites may have a lower rate than minorities, but even counted by themselves they’re still close to the top of the list. It’s also true that pregnancy rates have gone down worldwide over the past decade, but America’s rate of decline has been slower than that of most other countries, broadening the gap between us and most everyone else.

Governor Palin is confronting a truth that public health researchers have spent decades proving: that good parenting and religious faith won’t stop kids from going out and getting pregnant. They need technology, and honest explanations of how to use it. If the candidate used this life crisis to open her eyes and understand what really happened, she could do her country and other families a great service.


A rapid increase in the number of labourers’ strikes, with nearly 400 cases so far this year in Vietnam is drawing attention in that country... and arousing concern among foreign investors.

Skyrocketing inflation, which hit 25 percent year-on-year last month, has outpaced wage increases and fueled strikes.

Workers have also staged walkouts against work overloads, poor benefits and harsh disciplinary actions. Workers also often went on strike because they were not being paid on time, had poor working conditions or had to deal with other problems such as verbal abuse from managers.

Many of the strikes have occurred in foreign companies, with workers citing communication problems with non-Vietnamese managers -- among other things.

But the workers aren't looking to their unions for help or leadership.

According to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), all of the strikes seen this year were spontaneous without the trade unions’ leadership (and thus "illegal").

Where are the unions?

As companies’ union officials are on company payroll, most of them would rather not risk losing their salaries to lead strikes.

Oh, that's where they are.

Truong Thi Mai, Director of the Committee on Social Affairs, speculated last June that maybe the “unions have been on the business owners’ side, not the workers’.”

Ya think?

VGCL Vice Chairman, Mai Duc Chinh, said earlier this summer that under the current regulations, only grassroots trade unions have the right to organise strikes, but this regulation is unrealistic because there is no mechanism to protect trade union leaders and most employers don’t "positively cooperate with trade unions."

Most leaders of grassroots trade unions assume many jobs so they don’t have much time for this job. Their skills as trade union leaders are also very poor, Chinh said.

Members of the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs, tasked with finding solutions to the growing number of walkouts in Vietnam, in August slammed the unions for their failure to gain the trust of workers who preferred to stage illegal walkouts rather than negotiate labor disputes through the unions.

Vietnam has some of the strongest labor laws in the world. Under the Communist system, workers in every factory are required be represented by the official government union within a few months of opening.

The truth however is that especially since the influx of private companies started a few years ago, enforcement of the policy has been lax.

One 23 year old worker by the name of Huong, 23, has worked for Freetrend for five years. She makes more than the minimum wage but says that is barely enough to pay for her boarding house bed near the factory.

She says low wages aren't the only thing making workers unhappy. ''The work is very tiring," she says. "The food the company serves us is not enough. It's not cooked well and does not taste good so the workers do not have enough energy to work."

Huong is critical of her bosses. ''We're always on guard at work," she told IPS. ''The officials yell and swear at us and mistreat workers."

The following is from the Vietnam News Agency.

Trade unions are failing to protect their workers

Trade unions are not doing enough to protect the rights of workers, according to a conference in Ha Noi yesterday.

Concern over the lack of help for dissatisfied workers from their unions comes as strikes are escalating across the nation.

Participants at the conference on labour protection solutions organised by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour heard that trade unions across the nation should play a greater role in protecting the rights and interests of employees in order to limit the increasing number of labour disputes and strikes in Viet Nam.

Reports tabled at the conference said strikes usually occurred at individual enterprises, as opposed to collective strikes by workers across an entire sector, and most strikes were not carried out according to official procedures. Under Vietnamese law, strike organisers must get official permission to launch a strike.

In 2007, there were 541 strikes across the country, 150 more than in 2006.

In the first three months of this year, there were nearly 300 strikes, many taking place without negotiations or legal procedures and orders.

The strikes always occurred at the time when the consumer price index experienced sharp rises, at the end of the solar new year and before and after lunar new year. At these times many labourers faced mounting difficulties including low pay, poor work conditions and a lack of adequate accommodation.

Director of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour’s Law Department, Le Thanh Khuong, said there were many reasons for the strikes, including the fact that employers had violated labour laws as well as commitments and agreements with labourers. In addition, there were still some shortcomings and weaknesses in the State’s management of the issue.

Khuong said labourers saw strikes as the first option rather than as an option that should only be considered after negotiation and dialogue fails. Many did not even wait for support from local trade unions before launching strikes, as local trade unions’ capacity to represent and protect labourers was still weak.

Deputy Chairman of HCM City Federation of Labour, Truong Lam Danh, said broken promises on salaries, work hours and conditions had led to strikes.

The participants agreed that trade unions needed to do better in helping workers, and should boost dissemination and guidance on labour laws for labourers.

Participants at the conference also said labour unions needed to gain the trust of workers.


I guess they are just not used to any protests in Moberly, Missouri. Otherwise how can you explain the heightened security and tension at a city council meeting his week where the threat of someone speaking about the recent death of a Moberly resident at the hands of police. The council meeting followed a protest over the weekend in town.

Dozens of Moberly residents had protested the death of Stanley Harlan Firday night according to Columbia, Missouri radio station KOMU.

Moberly police Tased Harlan twice after they say he resisted arrest. But protesters have a different story. They say Moberly officers used excessive force and do so frequently.

They call Harlan’s death the final straw and say some form of disciplinary action needs to be taken.

“I want the brutality, excessive force, the harassment, that the Moberly Police Department puts on these young people to come to an end,” said mother Anthena Bachteo.

Bachteo also spoke at the city council meeting in Moberly.

On Tuesday night in nearby Columbia, Missouri (the home of the University of Missouri) several members of the Grass Roots Organizing (GRO) complained how the Columbia police failed to address taser concerns a recent report which followed the death of a man there who had also been tasered.

The group complained about loose and subjective regulations. The group also says the report does not include public input for taser rules.

KOMU reports the members of GRO collected more than 500 signatures to present to the city council. The petition demands police create a task force to study taser use, and to delay the training or arming of police officers, until the task force completes its study and the city council votes on it.

"There should be imminent danger before this powerful weapon is used," GRO member Renee Kientz said.

For an earlier related Oread Daily story go to .

The following is from the Moberly, Missouri Index Monitor.

Security tight but council meeting remains low-key

Public outcry and a weekend protest following the Thursday death of Stanley Harlan involving a Taser used by local police, led to heightened security at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Those attending the meeting were asked to use the front entrance where bags and persons were checked for weapons. Two officers patrolled the interior of the city council chambers, in addition to Police Chief Dennis Cupp and Asst. Chief Russell Tarr who generally attend most council meetings as department heads. The meeting was sparsely attended and while emotional statements were given for both sides, everything remained peaceful.

Harlan’s mother, Athena Bachtel, went before the council during regular session and made a plea to ban the use of Tasers.

“I am here in memory of Stanley James William Harlan,” she said. “Please. Get these outlawed.”

John Milnes had a different point of view.

“My father taught me to obey authority and I thank him for it,” said Milnes. “A red light means to stop. Halt means to stop running. If law enforcement can’t use their authority, what will happen? Please think carefully about taking power from law enforcement before you make a decision.”

Mayor Don Burton thanked everyone for their comments regarding the matter then made the following statement:

“We are all aware of the tragic events that occurred early last Thursday morning. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is conducting an ongoing investigation into the incident and that investigation has not been completed.

“Comments have publicly been made of possible impending litigation in this matter. Because of that possibility the City counselors have instructed that no further comments be made by any city staff member on this subject.

Any questions about the investigation should be directed to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.”
Trash bags

Mark Hunter spoke to the council asking when the trash bag dilemma would be solved.

Blue city trash bags are temporarily out of stock at local retail outlets. In response to consumers' requests for improved bag quality, Veolia has found another manufacturer of the trash bags which are required for city collection. The manufacturer has encountered a delay of some sort and was not able to supply the bags when promised. A limited number of bags were available for purchase at city hall but bags are no longer available. Stickers are available at City Hall and the Transfer station. Residents may purchase these and use them on ordinary trash bags, as long as those bags do not exceed the normal 40 lb. weight limit. The current shipment of bags was ordered a month ago and is scheduled to arrive in stores Thursday Sept. 4. Questions may be directed to Veolia at 800-778-7652 ask for Amber Burnam.

In work session, the council discussed an ordinance to amend a contract regarding the runway and taxiway extensions to the Omar N. Bradley Airport and an ordinance to execute a change order regarding the Monroe Street sewer separation project. Also to be approved at the next regular session meeting is the agreement with Shafer, Kline and Warren to provide professional services for improvements at the Sugar Creek Lake Recreation area.

At the next regular session, the council will vote whether to place on the February 3, 2009 ballot an issue that would double the “lodging” tax. Voters approved a 2 percent tax in 2003 on hotels and motels. These monies help fund tourism projects. The council will ask voters to increase the tax to 4 percent.

The next meeting of the Moberly City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m., September 15, at City Hall.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Who can blame the folks in the Congo who yesterday turned their wrath on UN peacekeepers. They want the peacekeepers to keep the peace. They want someone to protect them.

But that doesn't seem to be the UN's mission.

So angry villagers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), attacked a UN convoy of "blue helmets. There were injuries and at least one death has been reported. The attack occurred as the convoy was on its way through Rutshuru, a town near the Congo's borders with Rwanda and Uganda. There an angry "mob" surrounded the convoy of five bulletproof cars, said U.N. spokesman Lt. Col. Jean-Paul Dietrich. He said UN forces fired into the air to disperse the "mob." Others reported the UN forces fired into the crowd.

Inner City Press has asked the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York about what munitions were used, without yet receiving an answer. However, the UN categorically denies its troops fired into the crowd.

Even before the attack, angered by a lack of progress towards pacifying the tiny border province, and fuelled by rumours of U.N. collaboration with the rebels, thousands of protesters, many of them refugees, barricaded roads this week near Rutshuru, a lawless area where just last week the Congolese army fought one of its fiercest battles against the fighters of a local warlord.

Now the UN wants the army to pull out and re-create what it calls a "buffer zone" between waring parties.

"We are protesting ... because we cannot accept that Congo's armed forces which moved in to push out the rebels are now going to retreat and take up their previous positions in order to create this buffer zone as (the U.N. peacekeepers) are asking,» said 26-year-old Jean-Claude Ngirabavieyi, one of the demonstrators.

The UN's commitment is meager. While DRC's UN peacekeeping force is the world's largest with 17 000 troops, more than 90% of those stationed in the east, according to Alan Doss, the country's top UN envoy, Doss admits they are still stretched thin. Doss himself calls the UN commitment the equivalent of "one cop for all of Manhattan".

The UN estimates there are about 20 000 militia fighters in the east, belonging to a number of different groups. Among them are members of an extremist ethnic Hutu militia accused of orchestrating the 1994 genocide of 500 000 ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda. The group and others are accused of razing villages, terrorising the local population and perpetrating rapes.

The UN doesn't get it. They righteously condemned the attacks on their peacekeepers.

"MONUC greatly regrets these acts of violence against the international community and its personnel," spokeswoman Sylvie van den Wildenburg said in Kinshasa.

"Such unacceptable acts threaten to discourage those who are only there to assist in restoring the authority of the state ... to the benefit of the population."

So restore it already!

Congo's eastern borderlands risk plunging back into all-out war between the army and the Tutsi rebels after the heaviest clashes in months. Last week's fighting was among the worst since President Joseph Kabila's government signed a ceasefire deal with renegade Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda's rebels and around a dozen other armed militias in January.

The following is from the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks.

Anti-Monuc Protest in Rutshuru Turns Violent

At least one person was wounded and a UN vehicle damaged during a demonstration against peacekeepers in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Rutshuru on 3 September.

"A MONUC [UN Mission in DRC] vehicle was set on fire and two civilian demonstrators wounded by bullets, one in both his feet, the other in his stomach," Benjamin Mbusa, 36, a student in the North Kivu town, who witnessed the demonstration, told IRIN.

MONUC confirmed that one of its vehicles had been burnt but said only one civilian had been wounded and not necessarily by a bullet. This happened when "Indian blue helmets opened fire to defend themselves as per our mandate because the crowd did not want to obey warning shots fired in the air", said Colonel Jean-Paul Dietrich, MONUC's military spokesman.

He added that the crowd started to disperse once the army began firing heavier weapons into the air.

Dietrich also said stones had been thrown at MONUC vehicles in the previous four days. "Two Indian peacekeepers were wounded and one vehicle damaged."

The unrest came five days after fierce fighting broke out between government forces and renegade troops led by dissident general Laurent Nkunda.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the clashes prompted 8,000 civilians to flee to villages along the road to Goma.

"Many of the displaced are now staying with families or in public places such as schools. But we have to move them to allow schools to reopen as normal," said Gloria Fernandez, head of OCHA in DRC, adding that food rations were being distributed to the displaced.

"People are protesting against MONUC because they want the army to advance and push the rebels right out of the country, rather than withdrawing to positions held previously," said Mbusa.

MONUC's civilian spokeswoman, Sylvie van Wildenberg, said: "It is clear that the population doesn't seem to understand MONUC's role in the Amani [peace] process" enshrined in a ceasefire deal signed in January.

Under this deal, the various armed groups active in eastern DRC are supposed to disengage, creating buffer zones that MONUC is meant to occupy.

National police and soldiers were guarding MONUC premises in Rutshuru on the morning of 3 September.


A flurry of charges were filed Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court against some of the 284 people arrested on the first day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Eight of 16 felony charges filed Wednesday were against people identified in criminal complaints as members of the RNC Welcoming Committee. Each was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit riot in the second-degree in furtherance of terrorism.

The nearly identical 15-page complaints allege that the defendants plotted to "shut down and disrupt the Republican National Convention." Seven of the eight are in custody. A warrant has been issued for the eighth.

Those charged are: Luce Guillen-Givens, 23; Nathanael David Secor, 26; Erik Charles Oseland, 21; Monica Rachel Bicking, 23; Robert Joseph Czernik, 32; Garrett Scott Fitzgerald, 25; Max Jacob Specktor, 19; and Eryn Chase Trimmer, 23. The complaint claimed members had participated in many RNC Welcoming Committee meetings and training sessions where people discussed ways to disable police cars, use disguises to hide in a crowd, or assault officers. The Eight were charged following weekend police raids at some of their homes and work space.

According to the complaint, authorities had been investigating members of the RNC Welcoming Committee for the last year, with the help of an undercover investigator and three informants.

No actual acts of violence were committed or alleged to be committed by any of the Eight. No weapons or physical evidence of any conspiracy were found. The entire case against them appears to based on the testimony of three paid informants who infiltrated meetings.

A press advisory from the RNC Welcoming Committee reads:

In light of the massive police and military violence playing out each day of the Republican National Convention, the targeting, entrapment, and persecution of protest logistics organizers, the inhumane conditions that continue for the hundreds of people in the Ramsey County Jail, and the harassment of supporters outside the jail, we in the RNC Welcoming Committee are not backing down from our organizing. The Welcoming Committee is working harder than ever to ensure that our friends and comrades are safe and that protesters who are speaking their minds in the face of repression have access to food, housing, bicycles, a meeting space, workshops, legal/jail support, and medical care.

The St Paul Police Department, the City of St Paul, and particularly Bob Fletcher with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department have labeled us a "criminal enterprise", painting a picture of us and other anti-RNC organizers as faceless terrorists. On Thursday, September 4th at 10 AM on the 2nd floor of the RNC Convergence Space at 627 Smith Ave S., we will show the true faces and stories of the RNC Welcoming Committee.

We will show the 2nd floor of the convergence center as it was arranged at the time of the police raid last Friday night. We will give the latest information on the RNC 8, and we will take and answer questions. Afterwards, several members of the Welcoming Committee will be available for interview and photo opportunities.

The joint press conference will also feature the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.

Forty years ago eight protest leaders faced similar charges after the Democratic Cjonvention in Chicago. The Chicago 8, as they were known, came to serve as a rally point for many. As Ron Jacobs wrote at CounterPunch:

"...much like Chicago forty years ago, the primary cause of any riots that might occur in the Twin Cities are the result of unconstitutional police actions supported by local officials, the national party nominating its warmongering candidate, and the federal police state apparatus. Indeed, the events of forty years ago were termed a police riot by a federal commission formed to investigate the disturbances."

The following is from the National Lawyers Guild (Minnesota) via Infoshop.

Ramsey County Charges RNC 8 Under State Patriot Act, Alleges Acts of

In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002
Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors
have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee
with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking, Eryn
Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert
Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in
prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50%
increase in the maximum penalty.

Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in support of the
search warrants used in raids over the weekend, and used to support
probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential
informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They
allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC,
assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage
airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these
allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these
allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past abuses of
such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is
concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and
exaggerate threats of violence and to also act as provacateurs in raising
and urging support for acts of violence.

"These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade
traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This
both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political
views of the Defendants on trial," said Bruce Nestor, President of the
Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. "The charges represent an
abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person
organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil
disobedience, he said."

The criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege
that any of the defendants personally have engaged in any act of violence
or damage to property. The complaints list all of alleged violations of
law during the last few days of the RNC -- other than violations of human
rights carried out by law enforcement -- and seeks to hold the 8
defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals. None of
the defendants have any prior criminal history involving acts of violence.
Searches conducted in connection with the raids failed to turn up any
physical evidence to support the allegations of organized attacks on law
enforcement. Although claiming probable cause to believe that gunpowder,
acids, and assembled incendiary devices would be found, no such items were
seized by police. As a result, police sought to claim that the seizure of
common household items such as glass bottles, charcoal lighter, nails, a
rusty machete, and two hatchets, supported the allegations of the
confidential informants. "Police found what they claim was a single
plastic shield, a rusty machete, and two hatchets used in Minnesota to
split wood. This doesn't amount to evidence of an organized insurrection,
particularly when over 3,500 police are present in the Twin Cities, armed
with assault rifles, concussion grenades, chemical weapons and full riot
gear," said Nestor. In addition, the National Lawyers Guild has previously
pointed out how law enforcement has fabricated evidence such as the claims
that urine was seized which demonstrators intended to throw at police.

The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918,
when Matt Moilen and others organizing labor unions for the Industrial
Workers of the World on the Iron Range were charged with "criminal
syndicalism." The convictions, based on allegations that workers had
advocated or taught acts of violence, including acts only damaging to
property, were upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the light of
history, these convictions are widely seen as unjust and a product of
political trials. The National Lawyers Guild condemns the charges filed in
this case against the above 8 defendants and urges the Ramsey County
Attorney to drop all charges of conspiracy in this matter.

Bruce Nestor, President
Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild
3547 Cedar Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


John Garlinghouse (pictured here) died on Monday. John was born in South Dakota, lived in Kansas, Alaska and Montana. Many of the original readers of the Oread Daily will remember John, and they will know there is really no easy way to "eulogize" the guy. He just wasn't the sort of guy you could categorize. John's 69 years were full of life. Pages could be written, but I'll just write a few words here:

"I haven't seen John in more than 35 years. I used to know him back in Lawrence, Kansas and then in the past five or ten years we began communicating again via e-mail. John was a "one of a kind" kind of guy. Throughout his life though John maintained his independent, his freedom, and his love of live... cantankerous all the while. John was hard to define. He was a political leftist (although again not of the usual kind). He defended his right to own guns, and loved to hunt and fish. Back in Lawrence, I remember him driving his old car up to the Rock Chalk (a "hippie", left wing hangout) or the nearby Gas Light with his canoe on top and a big leather "cowboy" hat on his head. He didn't fit the mold then and he didn't fit the mold last week. But I enjoyed his wisdom, his wit, his stories, him. He was a good guy and I'll and many others will miss him."

Memorial services will be conducted at noon Friday in Butte, Montana.

Memorials may be made to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Association or to Trout Unlimited.

Below is a letter that John wrote to the Montana Standard and was printed on August 26. He was John to the end.

Letter: On gun rights and our presidential candidates
By John Garlinghouse - 08/26/2008

John Krizan (Aug. 19 letter) and others have been, as they are prone to be, pretty outspoken about their Second Amendment rights recently. I am too, sometimes.

But regarding gun rights and this election:

Should the laws ultimately prohibit gun ownership by law-abiding citizens, I would violate the law. As did Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hancock, etc.

I will support politicos who, rather than giving our public lands to big business, protect my access to those lands. Even if they don't think I have a God-given right to fullnautomatic assault weapons.

I would feel a lot safer arguing my gun rights with Barack Obama than I would arguing my right to dissent with the neoncon hordes that comprise too much of John McCain's following. Though truly, "McCain is an honorable man."

John Garlinghouse a left-wing (not "liberal") gun lover
Butte, Montana

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Everyone talks about the troops. Everyone talks about doing all they can for the troops. Everyone supports the troops.

Blah, blah, blah.

Arab, Alabama, USA is a small town south of Huntsville and north of Birmingham. It's the kind of place where soldiers come from, where kids sign up for military service, where people believe in their country.

Arab is the kind of place presidential candidates pretend to relate to. What a joke that is.

Columbia, Missouri is a place where a young women is now a young widow with two little kids after her young man from Arab is killed in Iraq.

Seems the army decided it was okay for her husband and a son of Alabama to go off on patrol without his flak jacket. Seems the army also thought it was cool for him to "work" a war.

Oh well, what the hey.

The army also forgot to notify anyone when he was shot. They waited for him to die and then tell those who loved Arab, in Columbia.

They're supposed to tell you within three hours if a loved one has been shot.

They didn't.
Sorry about that.

Think it'll be mentioned at the Republican Convention?

Think it'll be mentioned anywhere outside of Arab and maybe Columbia (and here)?

I kinda doubt it.

After all if you mentioned every "incident," every little mistake like this one, well, hell people might get pissed...people who live in towns like Arab that this nation depend on so much...they might get pissed.

Can't have that.

Besides, Steven Fitzmorris (pictured here), the young soldier killed, he wasn't anyone important. Just some guy from some small Alabama town.

And anyway, we all support the troops, especially our President who supports them to death.

The following is from the Arab (Alabama) Tribune.

Death in Iraq brings grief, anger
By DAVID MOORE - The Arab Tribune

Steven Fitzmorris spent half of his life in Arab. The 26-year-old soldier was killed by sniper fire this past week while on patrol in Iraq.

He leaves behind his 22-year-old wife in Columbia, Mo., with their son and daughter, ages 3 and 2.

His mother, Rosemarie Fitzmorris-Currier, who lives in Salem near Opelika, was grief-stricken when she heard the news Monday that her son had died.

She was angry when she was told Steven apparently had been ordered out without his flak jacket and without a partner to watch his back.

She turned livid Wednesday afternoon at the Arab home of her parents, Frank and Louise Fitzmorris, when she learned that, contrary to initial reports, Steven lived 24 hours after being shot and that the Army failed to notify next of kin that he had been wounded.

Rosemarie called it a military scandal.

"I am not going to let this story be hidden under layers of military garbage," she said. "My son deserves better than that.

"If it happened to Steven, how many others did it happen to? If it was one other, that's too many. No one should have to go through what we're going through because the military can't get its act together.

"Steven..." Rosemarie paused. "With God as my witness, with all that is holy, he will be revenged. Someone will pay for this."

His body had been expected back in Columbia Wednesday. Instead, she learned that afternoon, it was being held at Fort Dix, N.J., "because of the investigation."

Word Thursday was that Steven's body would be flown to Columbia tomorrow. A wake is planned for Monday followed by a military funeral at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Arrangements are being handled by Memorial Funeral Home in Columbia.

An E-4, Steven served in A Battery, 329th Field Artillery, stationed in Fort Carson, Colo. They deployed for Iraq between Christmas and New Year's 2008 for an 18-month mission.

He was stationed in "some dumb little neighborhood in a podunk town north of Baghdad," as his mother put it.

Her husband, Michael Currier, said they had to resort to unofficial reports through unofficial Army connections to learn what allegedly happened that day. According to those reports:

Steven and others in his unit had been on another detail, apparently at their base, when they were ordered out on a patrol. They were told they didn't need to go back and get their flak jackets because the mission was into a safe zone.

The idea was to greet Iraqis, tell them they were doing a good job and ask if they needed help rebuilding a home, business or school.

"It was a meet and greet. 'What can we do for you?' They were making nice," Rosemarie said.

"The understanding was that he got shot. He keyed his mike (on his radio)," she said. "They got him to an emergency room" and he died there.

According to their Army sources, another soldier on patrol with Steven's unit was shot about the same time an unknown distance away.

"That's not gospel," Rosemarie said, reiterating that the information had not come as official word from the Army.

'Have you forgotten?'

Steven's wife, Samantha, called Michael with the news Monday evening. The Army had told her at that point only that he had been killed in action, shot by a sniper while on patrol.

Rosemarie, the youngest of the Fitzmorrises' children, was too distraught to call her sister and brother-in-law in Arab, Kathleen and Kevin McGarrahan, and her brother, Richard Fitzmorris, and his wife in Maine. Michael made the calls.

But there was no way they could deliver such news to her parents over the telephone.

"These two are too precious to me to tell them that kind of news over the phone," she said, sitting with them at their table. "I had to be here and tell them it would be OK."

Rosemarie and Michael drove up Tuesday from Opelika in Steven's green Chrysler van. A decal on the back window reads: "Field Artillery." A magnet in the shape of ribbon on the rear hatch asks: "Have you forgotten?"

They went first the McGarrahans' house. Rosemarie had to compose herself enough to say "Steven" without falling apart. They went to Louise and Frank's house about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Louise was surprised to see the four of them at the door. When she and Frank were instructed to sit on the sofa, she knew it was bad news. She feared Steven had been wounded.

The news of his death, Frank said, was hard on Louise. For him, it was the toughest thing he'd dealt with since years ago when he had to tell his parents that his sister had died.

Steven was coming home next month for R&R. His whole crew planned to come down from Columbia to see Rosemarie and Michael, stopping in Arab to visit him and Louise, Frank said.

'Wear your body armor'

Early Wednesday afternoon Rosemarie was asking angry questions.

Why was Steven ordered out without his Kevlar flak jacket? Why were he and others in his unit working solitarily and not with a buddy?

Her anger was interspersed with fond memories of her son.

Rosemarie said they often communicated via Instant Messenger.

"Don't worry about me," he wrote a number of times. "I'm bulletproof.'"

He was bad to forget the time difference and call home late at night, Rosemarie said, though it was not much of a complaint. His last call came at 11:30 p.m. Saturday her time. They talked 30-45 minutes.

"The last thing I said to him, it's what I always say... 'I love you. Take care. Wear your helmet. Wear your body armor.'"

"I love you, Mom," he'd replied. "And I will take care."

"I love you, Bubby," she repeated before hanging up. "Be careful."

Choking news

At one point Wednesday, Rosemarie went to the porch and called Columbia to see if Steven's body had arrived as planned and arrangements had been completed.

She returned in tears, choking for breath.

Michael finally got her calmed enough to talk.

"He lived through the ER," Rosemarie cried in her mother's kitchen. "He lived through surgery. He lived for 24 hours, and they never told anybody he was hurt. Why?"

Had they known, she said, they could have called, even if he'd been on a respirator.

"They could have put the phone to his ear," she said. "Maybe he would have known we were there."

A short while later, after another phone call, Rosemarie said she learned that at one point after surgery Steven was awake.

Then she did the math in her head... They had assumed Steven was shot Monday and died shortly after. But if he was shot some 24 hours earlier, then given the time differential between Iraq and Alabama, that meant...

"I talked to him the morning he got shot," she said, referring to their last conversation. "He was having his coffee."

'I am very unhappy'

Instead of easing her tortured soul, the realization she talked to Steven a few hours before he was shot did just the opposite.

"They so don't want me anywhere near anyone in high command," Rosemarie said.

A few moments later Michael entered the room. He said he'd been on the phone with an Army chaplain, who told him that if a soldier is wounded, his next of kin is supposed to be notified within three hours.

A spokeswoman for the Department of the Army did not return calls on its notification policy. A Department of Defense spokesman said its policy, which might differ from the Army's, is to notify next of kin "as expeditiously as possible."

"I am very unhappy," Steven's mother said. "And that's not going to go away soon."

Copyright © 2008 The Arab Tribune


An Associated Press photographer and a Democracy Now! TV and radio show host were among those arrested at an anti-war march on the first day of the Republican National Convention. Both were released hours later.

They were far from alone.

The Cold Snap Legal collective reports that there were many arrests of protesters on the first day of the Republican Convention. The cops say they arrested 286 people during Monday's events.

The Cold Snap Collective earlier today stated:
"Many people were cited and released on the streets, though scores of people have been brought to and held at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. Some arrestees within the jail are currently engaging in non-cooperation strategies, including refusing to give their names and identifying information to the jail officials. The arrestees from the weekend raids continue to be held."

Thus far, 61 people have been released from jail, and more are expected to be released throughout the day. We have set up a round-the-clock jail vigil outside the Ramsey County jail, where we are greeting released arrestees and providing legal, medical, and material support. There are a handful of individuals within the jail who are being denied medical attention. Coldsnap is asking for people to call the jail at 651.266.9350 or the St. Paul Mayor’s office at 651.266.8510 and demand that all arrestees receive proper treatment and access to medical services. Additionally, we demand that all protesters are immediately released and that all charges are dropped."

Another statement, this one from the RNC Welcoming Committee this morning, reads in full:

"First, let us start by saying thank you."

Thank you to the 1000’s of people who courageously faced 10 ton buses, concussion grenades, tear gas, pepper spray, batons, charging horses, gas masks, rubber bullets, and all of the tools of repression and intimidation that were used yesterday to repress the public in this supposed democracy. Your direct actions stand in stark contrast to the conventioneers inside the Xcel Energy Center, passively dragging the party line and the rest of this world down with it."

We are inspired by the extraordinary people who stopped buses, blocked highway ramps, and breached concrete barriers to reclaim the streets and recapture the space of downtown St Paul. We are excited about what the next few days may bring, now that the illusion of business as usual has been shattered."

The actions taken yesterday prove that the tactics of intimidation, harassment, violent oppression, the snatching of specific individuals, and the profiling of activists will not stop committed people from taking to the streets for what they believe in and putting their bodies behind those convictions. These tactics were seen yesterday in the targeting of medical workers, journalists, legal observers, and the public. They are the same tactics used daily by police and governments around the world to terrorize and oppress those that they claim to serve."

Indeed, after a long hard day of losing control in the streets and having to resort to calling in the National Guard, Sheriff Bob Fletcher continues the raids on homes, public spaces, and our lives. It isn’t surprising that these tactics continue, especially now that Sheriff Fletcher and the mayor’s office are faced with the challenge of trying to spin 284 arrests and climbing, 130 of those people being charged with felonies, along with massive police and military brutality. In spite of the arrests of our friends, we are excited by the fact that the number of people willing to take to the streets and express their dissent is growing, and we proudly support the March for Our Lives happening in St Paul today."

The infrastructure that has been created for these actions with the help and support of the twin cities community has been amazing. 100’s of people in Minneapolis and St. Paul have opened their homes to 1000’s of protesters, Locals and newcomers have taken time off work and from their lives to cook meals, provide medical care, legal support, and transportation. We understand that it must be intimidating to see people organizing for themselves around the idea of mutual aid and solidarity, but in doing this we are actively creating the world we want to live in. This is work that we will continue to do for the rest of our lives."

See you in the streets,
The RNC Welcoming Committee"

Just about now (at 4PM) the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Committee, is scheduled to begin its march. Spokeswoman Cheri Honkala said the group would deviate from its permitted path to go by the county jail where some of those arrested Monday were still held.

The following is from

Press Release: Massive anti-war march successful despite police repression; Coalition expresses solidarity with other activists

Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War

For Immediate Release: September 2, 2008
Contact: Jess Sundin 612.272.2209

Massive anti-war march successful despite police repression; Coalition expresses solidarity with other activists
Press Conference: Tuesday 9/2 @ 9am at Bushville, 400 Western Ave. N., St. Paul

A Press conference will be held jointly between the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, the RNC Welcoming Committee and the Poor People's Economic and Human Rights Campaign.

Yesterday, anti-war protesters rallied at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, and marched to the Xcel Center, the site of the 2008 Republican National Convention. Protest organizers estimate 30,000 joined the rally and march.

Speakers from the national United for Peace and Justice, the ANSWER Coalition, and the Troops Out Now Coalition addressed the crowd in addition to several other speakers from organizations nationwide. Contingents of veterans, immigrants, low income people, union members, and students participated in the demonstration to oppose the Republican agenda and make the following demands: U.S. Out of Iraq Now; Money for Human Needs, not for War; and Peace, Justice and Equality for all.

Protesters condemned police raids of community kitchens, meeting spaces and protesters' homes. According to Jess Sundin, who spoke for the Coalition at Monday's protest, "We are here today, in the tens of thousands, because we refused to be scared away (by police repression). Because what we are marching for is too important to be silenced. Because this is the only way we can answer the Republican agenda, and demand an end to policies that wage war, deepen poverty, and fuel racism."

At the press conference, organizers will comment on the events from September 1, denounce police repression and brutality, and discuss plans for continuing protests planned for the week of the RNC


The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas left Sevastopol Tuesday morning after anti-NATO protests in Ukraine's Crimean port (see picture).

The Dallas, which recently delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi, docked on Monday at the Crimean port, where Russia has a naval base, at the invitation of Kiev.

The ship's arrival was met by thousands of anti-NATO protesters chanting "Yankees go home!" and waving banners with the slogan "NATO Stop!" Police cordoned off the area around the ship reports Novosti.

A second line of protesters were on Grafsky dock where people also held posters demanding the NATO warship to retract from Sevastopol.

According to customs officials, the ship's commander was so concerned with the anti-NATO sentiments in the city and that he decided against allowing the the men and women on board ashore.

On Monday evening the US crew gave a party on board the ship attended by senior officers of the Ukrainian Navy and border guards, but protesters immediately switched on loud music playing popular Russian World War II songs to disrupt the party according to protest organizer and Deputy of the Ukrainian Rada (parliament) Yevgeny Dubovik. says the Dallas was in port to participate in previously scheduled theater security cooperation activities with the Ukrainian Navy.

"The principal aim of visits like these is to increase interoperability by developing the individual and collective maritime proficiency of partner nations, as well as promoting friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation," said Capt. John Moore, commander of Combined Task Force 367, under which the Dallas is operating.

However, as mentioned above, the Dallas called at the Sevastopol seaport after it had completed its " humanitarian" mission at Batumi seaport in Georgia.

In addition, currently there are 18 NATO ships in the Black sea, including the US destroyer McFaul and Spanish, German and Polish ships. The group of NATO ships have been conducting joint maneuvers in close proximity of the Georgian coast. In the next few days another US coastal guard ship Mount Whitney is expected to arrive in the Black Sea.

This is not sitting well with the Russians.

I wonder why?

The following is from Wired Blog Network.

Russians Chase Off U.S. Ship... with 'Loud Music'

When the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Dallas pulled into the Georgian port of Batumi last week, a throng a cheering civilians greeted the crew. On Monday, the Dallas pulled into the port of Sevastopol, Ukraine, where Russia leases a naval base. The throng there had a slightly different reaction.

Resident Russians flocked to the pier to protest Dallas' presence. A Dallas crew member with business ashore was even assaulted by an old woman wielding a Russian flag on a pole.

Dallas was slated to stay until Tuesday night, but just after dawn on Tuesday morning the ship slipped her moorings and motored out of Sevastopol. Russian protesters claimed credit, according to ITAR-TASS.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Good luck to the people of New Orleans and all along the Gulf coast. Best wishes to the people of Cuba for a rapid recovery.

The following if from Justice For New Orleans. The articles on Cuba are from the Cuba News Agency ACN.

Waiting for the Bus in New Orleans
August 30, 2008 – 4 pm

In the blazing midday sun, hot and thirsty little children walk around bags of diapers and soft suitcases piled outside a locked community center in the Lower Ninth Ward. Military police in camouflage and local police in dark blue uniforms and sunglasses sit a few feet away in their cars. Moms and grandmas sit with the children and wait quietly. Everyone is waiting for a special city bus which will start them on their latest journey away from home.

Hundreds of buses are moving people away from the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Gustave is heading for the Louisiana coast nearly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes across the Gulf Coast. Many now face mandatory evacuation. Dozens died in Haiti and the Dominican Republic after Gustave visited. After Katrina, few underestimate the potential of Gustave, now a Category 5 (out of a maximum of 5) storm.

Yesterday marching brass bands led commemorations for those who died and for those who lost so much in Katrina.

Today, Humvees crawl amid the thwack thwack thwack of plywood boards being nailed over windows.

Soldiers with long guns and police of all types are everywhere. Fifteen hundred police are on duty and at least that many National Guard are also here.

One estimate says two million people may be displaced.

In the lower nine, still no bus even after a wait of over two hours. Another mom clutching an infant walks up to the center with a small suitcase and adds another diaper bag to the pile. Children ask for water but nothing is provided. An African American nun named Sister Greta drives up with a few bags of ice and some water and paper cups and everyone happily shares.

This is the first step of displacement. Those with cars drive away. Those without walk to a community center with their children and wait for a bus. The first of many buses they will take in their journey to who knows where. The bus that people are waiting for will take them to the train station where people will get off the bus, be entered into computers, be given bar code bracelets, and then put on other buses for a trip to public shelters in places like Shreveport, Alexandria and Memphis.

New Orleans expects 30,000 people need help evacuating.

Many waiting for this bus were in the Superdome when Katrina hit. One of the men shows a picture of himself on a bridge surrounded by flood waters where hundreds waited for boats.

There are still big problems. A 311 call system for the disabled and seniors never properly functioned, crashed and has been abandoned.

Though the wait for the bus is rough, this appears to be a huge improvement. When Katrina hit, there were no buses and no way out of town for the 25% of the city who had no cars. As a result, nearly 100,000 people were left behind. This time the hospitals and nursing homes are emptying, the prisoners are already moved out, and there are buses to carry out tens of thousands. There are still big problems, but people do have a chance to get out.

Seniors worry about their social security checks, due the first of the month. Others worry about leaving behind pets. (One semi-rural area announced that each person getting on the buses could bring one pet, a dog or cat, no roosters, no pigs). Others worry about the looming 24 hour curfews. St. Bernard Parish promises that those out during curfew will be arrested and immediately transported to Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Back at the community center, the bus finally pulls up. No one complains that it is late. Holding bags and children, people line up quietly in the sun to climb into their first bus. A blind man is guided into the bus. Little kids pull smaller children. Forty three get on the bus. There are three nine year old children, one seven year old, one six, four three year olds, three one year olds, one infant is 11 months, a 3 month old, and a couple of young teenagers. All the moms and grandmas and kids and bags and diapers make it onto the bus and it pulls away.

Across the Gulf Coast, another journey starts.

Gustav Causes No Deaths in Pinar del Rio, a “Feat”

CONSOLACION DEL SUR, Cuba, Aug 31 (acn) Cuban Army General Leopoldo Cintras Frias, labelled the people of Pinar del Rio efforts in preparing to face Hurricane Gustav, which resulted in no deaths in the territory, as “a feat”.

On a tour of the eastern part of Pinar del Rio, accompanied by Provincial Civil Defense Council President, Olga Lidia Tapia, Cintras Frias said it was amazing that there were no deaths, nor seriously injured people in an area were the winds blew at 170 kilometers per hour.

Hurricane Gustav made its landfall on the southern coast of the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio at about 6:00 pm Saturday, with winds of over 200 kilometers per hour. It created a national record with gusts of 340 Km/H reported in El Paso Real de San Diego.

According to reports by ACN journalists, the electrical system suffered serious damage with more than a dozen towers of the National Grid brought down by the winds in an area spanning only 10 kilometers.

Authorities Evaluate Gustav’s Effects on Western Cuba

PINAR DEL RiO, Cuba, Aug 31 (acn) Cuban Army General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, Head of the Western Army, is making a tour of the areas affected by Gustav in this western province to evaluate the damages.

ACN correspondents reported that tobacco drying houses have been devastated, and trees and electric and telephone wires were brought down by winds of over 200 kilometers per hour and gusts of more than 340 km/h. The most affected areas in the westernmost province of Cuba are Bahia Honda, Minas de Matahambre, Consolacion del Sur, San Cristóbal and Candelaria.

In San Cristobal, there was serious damage to housing and poultry farms, while work brigades are busy clearing roads blocked by trees that were brought down by the strong winds.

Government authorities of Pinar del Rio will later issue an official assessment of the damage caused by hurricane Gustav, which left this province through the municipality of La Palma.