Friday, February 05, 2010


The disinterest of the Canadian government in the large number of missing indigenous women in British Columbia has been the subject of numerous protests. It will be again at the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver. Indigenous groups will raise that and many other issues in a variety of ways at the Games. Canada's refusal to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be chief amongst the charges leveled at Ottawa.

Earlier this week The B.C. CEDAW Group, a coalition of women's and human rights organizations, released a report on the state of human rights among the province's most vulnerable women. The title says it all - Nothing to Report.The report is an assessment of the B.C. government's response to two urgent recommendations made to Canada in 2008 by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (UN CEDAW).

Picture taken at annual march in support of families of missing women in Vancouver

The following is from The Victoria Times Colonist.


First Nations are planning to give international media at the Olympic Games a crash course in the fallout from Canada's refusal to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The B.C. All Chiefs Task Force, formed last year to raise awareness of aboriginal rights and title, plans to carry out a campaign pressuring Canada to sign the declaration and highlighting perceived violations of human rights.

"Our sentiments have been voiced to political people, who choose not to respond, so our approach is going to be to appeal to the broader public," said Cliff Atleo, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president.
In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly passed the declaration in a 143-4 vote. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S voted against it, but Australia has since signed on and New Zealand is reviewing its position.

"Canada is not even thinking about it and our hope is for people to understand what that means," Atleo said.

"We are tired of hearing Canada talk about its record on human rights when all these negative things are happening in their backyard."

Grinding aboriginal poverty, little action on missing and murdered women and continuing land and resource disputes are exacerbated by Canada not signing the declaration, which sets standards for fighting discrimination and human-rights violations, Atleo said.

The federal government's position is that wording of the declaration is too broad and some parts conflict with Canadian laws, especially when it comes to touchy issues such as land claims.

There is support for the four Olympic Host Nations and the All Chiefs Group has no intention of disrupting the Games, but members will capitalize on the influx of international media, Atleo said, providing the aboriginal perspective.

Kicking off the awareness campaign will be the Women's Memorial March, Feb. 14 in Vancouver and Victoria, demonstrating support for the families of murdered and missing women.

Demonstrators will demand that Canada hold a public inquiry.

"I think that will catch the media's attention," Atleo said.

The First Nations Forestry Council announced last month that it will be working to catch the ear of international media during the Olympics to highlight the lack of economic opportunity for First Nations.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Carrie and Scott

Updated information related to Carrie, Scott, and the Davenport grand jury.  For those of you who have not read the posts here previously Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth are activists from Minneapolis, MN, who were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Iowa investigating animal rights vandalism from 2004. They both refused to cooperate with the grand jury, and were put in jail. Carrie is still being held on civil contempt of court. On 11/19, Scott’s civil contempt was dropped and he was indicted for conspiracy under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Scott was released on 11/30 pending trial.  

The following is from Support Carrie and Scott.

We need a fiscal sponsor (and other updates)

1. As we continue the drive to raise funds for Scott and Carrie's support fund, we are in need of a way for people to make tax-deductible donations to their
cause. If you have or know of a 501(c)(3)-status non-profit that may be
willing to act as a fiscal sponsor for this project, please contact ASAP.

On this note, we still need to raise a lot of money. We expect legal and other
support costs for both Carrie and Scott to continue mounting over the next
months, and have quite a ways to go in meeting our fundraising goals.
Information about how support funds are used is available here:

Please consider making a contribution and/or setting up a fundraiser of some
sort in your town. You can donate through PayPal here:
or by sending a check, made out to "Coldsnap Legal Collective" with "EWOK!" in
the memo line, to:
EWOK! c/o Coldsnap
PO Box 50514
Minneapolis, MN 55405.

2. In our last email, we said that Scott has a pre-trial conference scheduled
for February 8th and suggested a possible need for folks to travel to Davenport
for courtroom support. It now looks like the conference will be held over the
phone between attorneys and the judge, so we can all hold off on the drive to
Iowa for the moment. Scott's trial is still scheduled to begin on March 1st,
but we're hopeful that it will be continued.

3. If you're in Minneapolis, come to a benefit show on Monday, February 8th.
It'll be at Memory Lanes (2520 26th Ave S), and the lineup is:
children of euler
sharp teeth
thrash compactor
and frozen teens

4. …and on February 20th, join EWOK!, the SCSC, and a number of other groups
for a speaking event related to Scott, Carrie, and the AETA 4:

"State Repression and Social Movements: Grand Juries, the Animal
Enterprise Terrorism Act, and Community Activism"

A talk with legendary radical attorney Stu Sugarman and Professor David N.

When: Saturday, February 20th, potluck at 6:30pm, talk at 7pm
Where: Social Science Building Room 1114, University of Minnesota campus

On the anniversary of the arrest of the AETA 4, join sociologists, attorneys,
and community activists to learn about the history of state repression
at activists and scholars involved in social change movements.

Information will be provided on the defense of the following activists:
-the AETA 4, four Santa Cruz activists facing "animal enterprise terrorism"
charges for sidewalk-chalking and other 1st-amendment-protected activities
-Scott DeMuth, a grand jury resister now facing false charges of "animal
enterprise terrorism"
-Carrie Feldman, currently in her third month of incarceration in Iowa for
refusing to testify before a federal grand jury

Sponsored by Scholars for Academic Justice, Earth Warriors are OK!
(EWOK!), the Coldsnap Legal Collective, the Scott and Carrie Support
Committee, and the Minnesota Global Justice Project

5. Lastly, the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) has put out an excellent
article about Carrie and Scott. Check it out at:


The Olympics are coming, the Olympics are coming...and coming with them are some folks who are not all that excited about the games. The Olympic Resistance Network is calling on, "...all anti-capitalist, Indigenous, housing rights, labour, migrant justice, environmental, anti-war, community-loving, anti-poverty, civil libertarian, and anti colonial activists to come together to confront this two-week circus and the oppression it represents. We are organizing towards a global anti-capitalist and anti-colonial convergence against the 2010 Olympic Games."

The following is from the Vancouver Sun.

Anti-Olympic activists get their game on

How protesters plan to disrupt the Games and divert the world spotlight to social issues

By Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun
With 'No 2010' as their mantra, Olympic Games protesters walk the streets of Vancouver on Jan. 22. More than 200 angry activists gathered in what appeared to be a dress rehearsal for the Games.
With 'No 2010' as their mantra, Olympic Games protesters walk the streets of Vancouver on Jan. 22. More than 200 angry activists gathered in what appeared to be a dress rehearsal for the Games.
Photograph by: Stuart Davis, PNG, Vancouver Sun

Anarchist punk ruled on the night of Friday, Jan. 22, at Victory Square, in the heart of the Olympic city. More than 200 anti-2010 protesters, some carrying black flags and burning torches, gathered for what had all the hallmarks of a dress rehearsal for the street protests that could erupt during the Winter Games just two weeks away.

The crowd, mostly young, some wearing bandanas over their faces, had come to march against the "police repression" of anti-Olympic activism. A portable audio system jacked up the energy level with the opening chords of the Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man. "Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy," howled Mick Jagger.

A few protesters with megaphones screamed slogans, often laced with obscenity, at startled motorists: "No 2010!" and "Did you vote for Gordon Campbell?"

The small but angry far-left demo recalled the much larger anti-globalization demonstrations of a decade ago: the APEC protest and the Riot at the Hyatt in Vancouver, the epic Battle in Seattle against the World Trade Organization and the violent clash between demonstrators at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

Many alumni of those anti-globalization convergences were in the crowd, along with younger activists seeking to emulate their radical forebears.

Among the veterans of those earlier protests was Alissa Westergard-Thorpe, an indefatigable anti-Olympic activist and a student at the University of B.C.

Now 35, Wes tergard-Thorpe is a key figure in the militant Olympic Resistance Network (ORN), perhaps the most radical of the anti-Olympic groups behind the "Take Back Our City" march from the Vancouver Art Gallery to BC Place Stadium, set for the afternoon of Feb. 12, when tens of thousands of people will be arriving at the stadium for the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

"I hope it does go down like APEC," said Westergard-Thorpe, who was pepper-sprayed, strip-searched and arrested by police at that protest.

"I hope it does look like when Jean Chretien used to come to the Hyatt and we used to have thousands of people out in the street."

Westergard-Thorpe added that the Feb. 12 marchers should be able to proceed toward BC Place as far as any non-ticket member of the public can get.

Whether any protesters would try to breach the security fences, she said: "That really depends on what type of police repression we face during the day. You know if we have a day where we're being beaten back by the police when you're simply trying to march, people's tempers can get high."

A 'mega-industry event'

As to whether she's hoping a disruption of traffic heading to BC Place might affect the opening ceremony, set to be watched by millions of people around the world, Westergard-Thorpe said: "Absolutely, I would love to disrupt the opening ceremony."

Westergard-Thorpe said sports should not be immune to politics.

"I'm not anti-sport. But I am against the idea that sporting events like this, which are really mega-industry events, are somehow separate from political events and they're not."

The names, faces and views of ORN members are familiar to police, who've visited many of the activists in recent months.

Staff Sgt. Mike Cote of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit said security officials are concerned about the threat of disruption on the night of the opening ceremony, but that the protest will be allowed to proceed so long as it is lawful.

"The ISU has no issue with protest as long as the protesters don't interfere with our security perimeter or with the rights of other people," said Cote. "And we have no reason to believe that the planned protest will not respect the laws in place in Vancouver."

Cote said there may not be vehicles to disrupt because traffic will be limited in the zone around BC Place, with little parking available in the adjacent area -- "in fact, it will be non-existent."

The ISU media official said the final leg of the Olympic torch relay will be organized to ensure there is no disruption. "We have the capability of changing the relay route and upgrading or downgrading security at a moment's notice, so it's really a call made on the ground."

ORN members said the protest size should be more than double the 400 demonstrators who disrupted the torch relay in Victoria in October. The protesters created havoc in the capital city's downtown for three hours, forcing relay organizers to move the torch by van to avoid the protesters.

Vanoc declined to comment on the proposed protest marches during the Olympics, citing its blanket policy that it respects "every citizen's right to freedom of expression as protected by Canadian law" and noting its security partners will "ensure peaceful, lawful and safe public demonstrations can occur outside of the venues in plain sight of the media and the public."

The "Take Back the City" march is being organized by the ironically named 2010 Welcoming Committee, whose endorsers include the Workers Communist party of Iran, the East Van Abolitionists and the Vandu Womyn's Group.

2010 Welcoming Committee spokesman Bob Ages of the Council of Canadians predicted the demonstration will stay within the limits of the law. "It's going to be very large and from our perspective it will be peaceful -- there's no reason for it not to be," said Ages, who has had discussions with the Vancouver police department about the march.

But Ages' Council of Canadians is a middle-class, milquetoast group compared to ORN and its younger activists.

Despite its small size, the far-left ORN will be the most visible because the mainstream left, including the NDP and the labour movement, has mostly been supportive of the Olympics.

ORN is an umbrella organization for groups like the Anti-Poverty Committee,,the Work Less Party and the Native Youth Movement. Ages acknowledged that ORN members may not follow the game plan.

"We have in the movement what I call a diversity of tactics. Some people have different ideas about the most effective way of getting their message across."

Westergard-Thorpe and ORN want the protests to become as much a part of the 2010 story as the gold-medal quests of downhiller Manny Osborne-Paradis or the Canadian hockey teams.

ORN is holding a two-day summit in east Vancouver with various seminars on the evils of capitalism and the Olympics. They are planning "days of action," beginning on the first day of Olympic competitions, Feb. 13, against Olympic corporate sponsors. (ORN members have defended the use of vandalism, even arson, to target corporate Olympic sponsors.)

They are also participating in the annual Women's Memorial March, through the Downtown Eastside, to remember women murdered or missing in B.C.

Protesters believe the 2010 Games are a "capitalist circus" not unlike the WTO or the G8 Summits.

Many of them are anti-poverty activists who believe the Olympic Games have accelerated gentrification and homelessness in the Downtown Eastside. They fault Vanoc and the provincial government for failing to deliver on earlier promises to sharply increase social housing in the area.

Some have attacked the Olympics for damaging the environment, citing the destruction of the Eagleridge Bluffs in West Vancouver by the widening of the Sea to Sky Highway. Others say the Olympics are less about sports than promoting the interests of local developers and the marketing strategies of corporate sponsors like the Royal Bank of Canada, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and the Bay.

Finally, the ORN protesters say repeatedly that the Olympics are being held on unceded native land because the vast majority of first nations in B.C. do not have land claims treaties. The activists heap scorn on the chiefs and councils of the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations for becoming official hosts of the games. They call Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, a "collaborator" for taking a new job with RBC and promoting its sponsorship of the Olympic torch relay.

Grand Chief Tewanee Joseph, executive director of the Four Host Nations, dismisses claims the councils are selling out to the Games, noting the $57 million and 2,000 jobs brought to the aboriginal community as a result of the Olympics wouldn't have materialized otherwise. The Olympics are also an opportunity to share Canada's first nation stories, successes and culture with the world, he said, as well as educate the world about native poverty, suicide rates and land claims through education.

"Everyone has a right to voice their opinions. These are our lands and the Games are on our traditional territories but we don't need them to speak for us," he said of the protesters.

"We're a full partner and we're a proud partner; indigenous people have never been part of the Games before. We never want to be on the outside looking in. If we didn't do it somebody else would have stepped in and told our stories for us."

APEC remembered

Robert Diab, a lawyer who teaches at Capilano College, said it's unclear whether the police have learned lessons from APEC or the Riot at the Hyatt, two demonstrations where protesters were injured by the police.

Diab said the long-running uncertainty in recent years over protest zones during the Olympics could prompt some activists to see how far they can go. "It seems obvious that all of the anxiety around security and civil liberties at the Olympics may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is so much tension over whether rights will be limited that we may see protesters trying to test the limits in a way they might ordinarily not be inclined to do."

To the protesters who turned out a week ago at Victory Square, the Olympics are too good an opportunity not to exploit.

A young woman in a hoodie took a megaphone and said: "They say the Olympics are coming in February. But we've been living in it for the last five years. And now we're in the thick of it: a shit sandwich with no bread."

She passed the megaphone to a male comrade who raged that "these pigs would like to see the last breath of sanity choked out of this world. To me capitalism is exploitation and the state a murderer." Someone offered up a pro forma "right on!"

Local activist groups have been talking about disrupting the 2010 Games for years now.

They've put the word out to other anti-capitalist activists around North America to converge on Vancouver during the Olympics. And over the past few years, members of the ORN have tried to muck up Olympic public events, forcing Vanoc to stop staging large Olympic rallies in downtown Vancouver.

"If people have political issues, the Olympics is a way to get your issues through the media to the forefront," said Westergard-Thorpe, adding that ORN wants to illuminate the real Vancouver for the international media. "I don't want them to see a sanitized, corporatized image given to them. I want them to see what Vancouver is really about, which is poverty, environmental destruction and a crackdown on civil liberties."

A protest veteran

Chris Shaw, perhaps the best-known of the city's anti-Olympic protesters, also marched on Friday night as a medic, ready to help any protester injured in any confrontation with the police. He too is a veteran of earlier anti-globalization protests -- "APEC sparked my interest and Seattle cemented it" -- but he's not out of central casting.

At 59, he's older than most anti-Olympic activists. He's also a top medical researcher at Vancouver General Hospital, managing research projects into Parkinson's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Shaw was a key organizer of the No side in the 2003 plebiscite on the Olympics in Vancouver, which was won by the Yes side with 63 per cent of the vote.

As Shaw recounted in his book, Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games, he became interested in the 2010 Olympics while driving back to Vancouver from a protest at the 2002 G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alta. He and his friends saw an article in a newspaper on the floor of their car about how Vancouver was hoping to get on the shortlist of cities bidding for the 2010 Games. Shaw and his friends discussed whether the Olympics was similar to the globalization phenomenon they had been opposing in Kananaskis.

"If so, maybe exposing it could be our 'wedge' issue, one that we could use to broach the flaws of globalization to an apathetic or uninformed audience," wrote Shaw in his book.

Shaw said he doesn't want to see any violence at the Feb. 12 march at BC Place. Shaw is the medical response coordinator for the protest.

"I would like to see a lot of people on the street, demonstrating and talking to people. I would like to see the embarrassment that a demonstration during the Olympics might bring to different levels of government. It might force them to deal with issues they've neglected. And if it was the start of a re-establishment of an anti-globalization movement, that would be icing on the cake."

Shaw is among several anti-Olympic critics who have attracted the attention of the ISU.

The police have visited the homes -- and sometimes the workplaces and friends -- of activists. So far, there have been no pre-emptive arrests and the police have long dropped their earlier attempt to limit protest to safe assembly areas. They agree now that the whole city -- at least the area outside security perimeters around Olympic venues -- is a free-speech zone.

Nevertheless, the police visits are viewed by the protesters as a tactic of intimidation and further proof that the Olympics have undermined civil liberties. To that end, the rally on Jan. 22 was called Struggle Against Police Repression and organized by the 12th and Clark Collective, which sounds like your basic off-Commercial Drive activist communal house. The march headed down Hastings Street, disrupting eastbound traffic.

As it passed the new Woodward's redevelopment, there was a sense of life imitating art. The scene was strikingly similar to the massive photograph mural hanging inside the atrium of Woodward's -- Stan Douglas's Abbott & Cordova, which depicts a scene from the 1971 Gastown Riot.

Only in Douglas's hyper-real tableau, the police are chasing protesters on horses. On Friday night, policemen on mountain bikes accompanied the march along Hastings and did nothing to stop its progress.

The new Woodward's was also a reminder that the anti-Olympic protesters tactic of direct action -- or "vulgar activism" as APC member David Cunningham once described it -- can be effective.

Many credit the 2002 Woodsquat occupation of the old vacant Woodward's building for raising the issue of homeless-ness and setting in motion the eventual redevelopment of the landmark department store building.

This is one of the arguments for confronting the Olympics put forward by Gord Hill, a 41-year-old aboriginal activist, originally from near Alert Bay. Hill, a veteran of earlier anti-globalization protests, marched on Jan. 22, and plans to join the Feb. 12 march during the Olympic opening ceremony. He was arrested for disrupting the unveiling of the Olympic countdown clock three years ago and has been visited several times recently by police officers from the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

He said the intersection of the Feb. 12 march and the Olympic opening ceremony is a "vulnerable point" for Olympic security officials. "We're going to disrupt the traffic flow for sure. I mean you can't have hundreds of people walking through the street and not disrupt the traffic."

He came up with the anti-Olympic movement's slogan of "No 2010 Olympics on stolen native land."

Hill acknowledged that the public sees the Olympics as a "benign sporting event . . . But when you scratch the surface you see what a putrid, disgusting thing it is."

Hill has discussed on his No2010.comwebsite why anti-Olympic groups are willing to vandalize businesses. "Groups that carry out militant direct action are just one part of the anti-Olympics movement. Most do not carry out vandalism or arson. Those that do have targeted corporate sponsors of the Olympics as a form of sabotage (along with police and military targets). This can increase the costs for corporations seeking to profit from the Games, and could potentially deter some corporate investment. All militant direct actions that have occurred have consisted of property damage and no person has been injured as a result."

Border issues

Also at the Friday march was Harsha Walia, project manager at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre and a regular participant in anti-Olympic events. Walia, who marched in Seattle against the WTO, said it's unclear how many Americans will attend the anti-Olympic events. She expects the Canada Border Services Agency will do its best to prevent activists from crossing the border. She noted how the CBSA stopped American journalist Amy Goodman at the border and questioned her for 90 minutes about whether she was coming to Canada to speak against the Olympics. American border officials have similarly tried to stop recruitment of American activists, added Walia, noting that B.C. Olympic critic Marla Renn was denied entry at the border, preventing her from speaking about the Olympics to college students in Oregon.

Both the Canadian and American border services say it will be business as usual during the Olympics and there are no plans to increase security measures to red-flag suspected protesters heading across the border.

Faith St. John, spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency, was tight-lipped about how CBSA would deal with suspected protesters, saying only that Canadian admissions requirements will not change and individual travellers may be subject to more "in-depth examinations" on a case-by-case basis.

The Jan. 22 march concluded peacefully at Thornton Park in front of the Pacific Central Station. No laws were broken, traffic disruption was minimal and a smiling policeman was satisfied enough to quip that he thought the demonstrators' torches "were a nice touch."

Don't bet on the police being as complimentary during the direct action protests promised by ORN members during the Olympic period.

"The general goal is to disrupt the Olympics," said ORN's Hill, "and to send a clear message to the International Olympic Committee, Vanoc and other Olympic host cities that holding the Olympics can bring you this type of resistance."

With files from Kelly Sinoski
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Haiti, I've seen a lot of articles and analysis lately about the historical criminality of especially France and the USA in reducing Haiti to destitution. The accompanying piece by John Maxwell, however, I think is on another level. Read it and weep... and then get pissed off as hell.

The following is from ChickenBones: A Journal.

No, Mister! You Cannot Share My Pain!
By John Maxwell

If you shared my pain you would not continue to make me suffer, to torture me, to deny me my dignity and my  rights especially my rights to self determination and self expression.

Six years ago you sent your Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to perform an action illegal under the laws of your country,my country and of the international community of nations.

It was an act so outrageous, so bestially vile and wicked that your journalists and news agencies, your diplomats and politicians to this day cannot bring themselves to truthfully  describe or own up to the crime that was committed when US Ambassador James Foley, a career diplomat arrived at the house of President Jean Bertrand Aristide with a bunch of CIA thugs and US Marines to kidnap the President of Haiti and his wife.

The Aristides were stowed aboard a CIA plane normally used for 'renditions' of suspected terrorists to the worldwide US gulag of dungeons and torture chambers.

The plane, on which the Aristides are listed as "cargo"  flew to Antigua – an hour away – and remained on the ground in Antigua while Colin Powell's State Department and the CIA tried to blackmail and bribe various African countries to accept ('give asylum to") the kidnapped President and his wife.

The Central African Republic—one of George W Bush's 'Dark Corners of the World'—agreed for an undisclosed sum, to give the Aristides temporary asylum.

Before any credible plot can be designed and paid for—for the disappearance of the Aristides—they are rescued by friends, flown to temporary asylum in Jamaica where the government cravenly yielded to the blackmail of Condoleezza Rice to deny them the permanent asylum to which they were entitled and which most Jamaicans had hoped for.

Meanwhile in Haiti the US Marines protected an undisciplined ragbag of rapists and murderers to allow them entry to the capital. The Marines chased the medical students out of the new Medical School established by Aristide with Cuban help and teachers. The Marines bivouac in the school, going out on nightly raids, trailed by fleets of ambulances with body bags, hunting down Fanmi Lavalas activists described as 'chimeres' – terrorists.

The real terrorists, led by two convicted murderers, Chamblain and Philippe, assisted the Marines in the eradication of 'chimeres' until the Marines were replaced by foreign troops paid by the United Nations who took up the hunt on behalf of the civilised world—France, Canada, the US, and Brazil.

The terrorists and the remains of the Duvalier tontons and the CIA-bred FRAPF declared open season on the remnants of Aristide's programmes to build democracy. They burnt down the new museum of Haitian Culture, destroyed the Children's television station and generally laid waste to anything and everything  which could remind Haitians of their glorious history.

Haitians don't know that without their help Latin America might still be part of the Spanish Empire and Simon Bolivar a brief historical footnote.

Imagine, Niggers Speaking French!

About ninety years ago when Professor Woodrow Wilson was President of the USA his Secretary of State was a fundamentalist lawyer named William Jennings Bryan who had three times run unsuccessfully, for President.

The Americans had decided to invade Haiti to collect debts owed by Haiti to Citibank.

General Smedley Butler, the only American soldier to have twice won the Congressional Medal of Honour, described his role in the US Army:

I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.

General Butler said:

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. . . . My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical in the military service.

Butler compared himself unfavourably to Al Capone. He said his official racketeering made Capone look like an amateur.

Secretary Bryan was dumfounded by the Haitians; "Imagine" he said, "Niggers speaking French.

Smedley Butler and Bryan were involved in Haiti because of something that happened nearly a hundred years before. The French slave-masters, expelled from Haiti and defeated again when they tried to re-enslave the Haitians, connived with the Americans to starve them into submission by a trade embargo. With no sale for Haitian sugar, the country was weak and rundown when a French fleet  arrived bearing a demand for reparations. Having bought their freedom in blood, the Haitians were to be oblige to purchase it again in gold.

The French demanded, essentially, that the Haitians pay France an amount equivalent to 90 percent of the entire Haitian budget for the foreseeable future. ~~When this commitment proved too arduous to honour, the City Bank offered  the Haitians a 'debt exchange" paying off the French in exchange for a lower interest longer term debt. The terms may have seemed better but were just as usurious and it was not paid off  until 1947.

Because of the debt the Americas invaded Haiti, seized the Treasury, exiled the President, their Jim Crow policies were used to divide the society, to harass the poor and finally provoked a second struggle for freedom which was one of the most brutal episodes in colonial history.

Long before Franco bombed Guernica, exciting the horror and revulsion of civilised people,  the Americans  perfected their dive-bombing techniques against unarmed Haitian peasants many of whom had never seen aircraft before.

The Americans set up an Haitian Army in the image of their Jim Crow Marines and it was these people and the alien and alienated Élite who with some conscripted blacks like the Duvaliers have ruled Haiti for most of the last century.

When I flew over Haiti for the first time in 1959 en route from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, I saw for the first time the border between the green Dominican Republic and brown Haiti.

First world journalists interpret the absence of trees on the Haitian side to the predations of the poor, disregarding the fact  that Western religion and American capitalism were mainly responsible.

Why is it that nowhere else in the Caribbean is there similar deforestation?

Haiti's Dessalines constitution offered sanctuary to every escaped slave of any colour. All such people of whatever colour were deemed 'black' and entitled to citizenship. Only officially certified  'blacks could own land in Haiti.

The American occupation, anticipating Hayek, Freedman and Greenspan, decided that such a rule was a hindrance to development. The Assistant Secretary of the US Navy, one Franklin D Roosevelt was given the job of writing a new, modern constitution for Haiti.

This constitution meant foreigners could own land. Within a very short time the lumberjacks were busy, felling old growth Mahogany and Caribbean Pine for carved doors for the rich and mahogany speedboats, boardroom tables seating forty etc. etc. The devastated land was put to produce rubber, sisal for ropes and all sorts of pie in the sky plantations.

When President Paul Magloire came to Jamaica fifty years ago Haitians were still speaking of an Artibonite dam for electricity and irrigation.  But the ravages of the recent past were too much to recover.

As Marguerite Laurent (EziliDanto) writes: Don't expect to learn how a people with a Vodun culture that reveres nature and especially the Mapou (oak-like or ceiba pendantra/bombax) trees, and other such big trees as the abode of living entities and therefore as sacred things, were forced to watch the Catholic Church, during Rejete—the violent anti-Vodun crusade—gather whole communities at gun point into public squares, and forced them to watch their agents burn Haitian trees in order to teach Haitians their Vodun Gods were not in nature, that the trees were the "houses of Satan."

In partnership with the US, the mulatto President Elie Lescot (1941-45) summarily expelled peasants from more than 100,000 hectares of land, razing their homes and destroying more than a million fruit trees in the vain effort to cultivate rubber on a large plantation scale. Also, under the pretext of the Rejete campaign, thousands of acres of peasant lands were cleared of sacred trees so that the US could take their lands for US agribusiness

After the Flood

Norman Manley used to say "River come Down" when his party seemed likely to prevail. The Kreyol word Lavalas conveys the same meaning.

Since the Haitian people's decisive rejection of the Duvalier dictatorships in the early 90s, their spark and leader has been Jean Bertrand Aristide whose bona fides may be assessed from the fact that the CIA and conservative Americans have been trying to discredit him almost from the word go.

As he put it in one of his books, his intention has been to build a paradise on the garbage heap bequeathed to Haiti by the US and the Elite.

The bill of particulars is too long to go into here, but the destruction of the new museum of Culture, the breaking up of the medical school, the destruction of the children's television gives you the flavour. But the essence is captured in the brutal attempt to obliterate the spirit of Haitian community; the attempt to destroy Lavalas by murdering its men and raping its women, the American directed subversion of a real police force, the attacks on education and the obliteration of the community self-help systems which meant that when Hurricane Jeanne and all the other weather systems since have struck Haiti many more have died than in any other country similarly stricken. In an earthquake, totally unpredictable, every bad factor is multiplied

The American blocking of international aid means that there is no modern water supply anywhere, no town planning, no safe roads, none of the ordinary infrastructure of any other Caribbean state. There are no building standards, no emergency shelters, no parks.

So, when I write about mothers unwittingly walking on dead  babies in the mud, when I write about people so poor they must eat patties made of clay and shortening, when I write about people with their faces 'chopped off' or about any of 8 million horror stories from the crime scene that is Haiti, please don't tell me you share their pain or mine.

Tell me where is Lovinsky Pierre Antoine and ten thousand like him?

If you share my pain and their pain, why don't you stop causing it? Why don't you stop the torture?

If you want to understand me, look at the woman in the picture, and the children half buried with her. You cannot hear their screams because they know there is no point in screaming. It will do no more good than voting.

What is she thinking: perhaps it is something like this—No mister! You cannot share my pain!

Sometime perhaps, after the camera is gone people will return to dig us out with their bare hands. But not you.

Copyright©2010 John Maxwell      

*   *   *   *   *

HLLN Will Not Tolerate

The maligning of the Haitian people

To the Mr. Champagne

Re: Mr. Champagne's Haitian Lawyers Association letter dated Jan. 19, 2010 and
copied below and made a part herein

Sir, in your letter dated January 19, 2019 to President Obama, you write, on behalf of the Haitian Lawyers Association, inter alia, that your organization, the Haitian Lawyers Association in Miami, Florida:
urge the administration to address the rising lawlessness, created by the criminals who have escaped Haiti's broken penitentiary. Not only does it threaten the current humanitarian relief efforts, but it also unacceptably increases the vulnerability of women and children, many of whom now orphans. More should be done to curtail the lawlessness before it becomes uncontrollable

Point one: As lawyers and advocates who represented many of the detainees who were in the National Penitentiary, we find your statements criminally negligent, odious, and irresponsible and not based on any verifiable facts. It is a well-known fact, that most of those detainees you are depicting as "criminals" who escaped from the National Penitentiary were poor Haitians from poor neighborhoods who were summarily rounded up into preventive or indefinite detention during the 2004 Bush/Bicentennial coup d'etat without ever being
charged, tried or convicted of any crime. As of 2008, it is reported that there were 8,204 prisoners in Haiti and of this only 1,764 have been convicted of a crime. Of the 8,204, 3900 were warehoused at the National Penitentiary.

The majority awaiting charge and a hearing, some suffering five years of prolonged detention, without ever having been charged, tried or convicted of any crime. These prison population statistics come from the 2008 US State Department Human Rights Report on Haiti and do "not include the large number of persons held in police stations around the country in 'preventive detention' (without a hearing or filed charges).

For your legal association to call them "criminals" is unethical. For most were indefinitely detained without any charges, hearing or trial and have never been charged with a crime.

Point two: It is reported that when the earthquake hit, the wall of the National Penitentiary collapse on these men, most of whom have suffered tremendous injustice of indefinite incarceration without charge, and whose wives, children, mothers and families lost valuable time they could have had with their love one but for their unjust and illegal incarceration. Their "escape" Mr. Champagne was when concrete fell on their heads!

There is NO EVIDENCE that these men are either criminals or committing crimes right now.

We don't know how injured they were when the Penitentiary collapsed on them or how many perished and for you to repeat, like a parrot, what you are hearing from CNN, Fox news and MSNBS is unprofessional. As a legal organization you are charged with knowing the law and speaking factually. This depiction is objectionable also, especially as most reporters and even the general on the ground have said there is no significant violence amongst the earthquake wounded, thirsty and hungry. This idea of POTENTIAL violence, or as you put it "the rising lawlessness, created by the criminals who have escaped Haiti's broken penitentiary" is defamation and libel against people who are not here to defend themselves but HLLN is and we demand a retraction.

Point three: HLLN runs the Ezili Danto Witness Project and we have people on the ground in Haiti. Their first hand account of the current situation is that a natural disaster of epic proportion has hit the poorest of the poor and they are wounded, hungry, hurt, traumatized and most without food, clean water and medical treatment since last Tuesday. For you Mr. Richard to criminalize and vilified these people at such a time is repugnant. The people of Haiti are not violent or naturally prone to lawlessness. The US is statistically more violent than Haiti and the only times, in the past 20 years, that the violence in Haiti increases is when the US supports death squads and regime change that
massacre the poor.

Point four: Haiti needs conscious disaster relief with human rights and dignity, it does not need your propaganda Mr. Champagne alleging the innate violence of people who were not ever committed of any crimes. Medical relief, food, shelter and water are its priority right now, not 12,000-pentagon gun,  to, as you write "curtail the lawlessness before it becomes uncontrollable." This projection of fear is arbitrary and capricious Mr. Champagne.

Here are two reports that contradict your irresponsible assertions about the current situation in Haiti:

1. Doctor: Misinformation and Racism Have Frozen Recovery Effort at General Hospital in Port-au-Prince |
"There are no security issues," says Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, reporting from the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, where 1,000 people are in need of operations. Lyon said the reports of violence in the city have been overblown by the media and have affected the delivery of aid and medical services.

2. Tell CNN to stop hyping fears of violence in Haiti. For shame at

HLLN is working at over capacity right now.

But we are prepared to provide testimony, including from some who were held indefinitely, detained without ever having been convicted or charged with a crime, and who are now seriously injured and dying and who you are maligning. Their survivors are ready for a class action suit against the media and you and your organization, Mr. Richard, to take all to court for this vilification/defamation. As HLLN is working over capacity, we are prepared to make a general call to human rights attorneys who wish to assist should your organization not make a retraction IMMEDIATELY.

This letter will go public—on facebook, twitter, our blogs and all the social networks and to the Ezili Listserv. We are hereby asking civil rights and human rights lawyers who would like to assist the earthquake victims to help HLLN stop the maligning and criminalization of the people of Haiti and anticipate your retraction within the next 3 days.

Very Truly Yours,
Ezili Dantò
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network


What is it with these Canadian mining companies?  This time its Papua New Guinea where amnesty international has identified police as having a pattern of brutality and forced evictions around a gold mine owned by the Barrick Gold Corporation. Amnesty has demanded that the government of Papua New Guinea conduct an investigation and take action.

The Amnesty report documents how between April and July 2009 police raided villages in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, burning down at least 130 buildings and forcing out families from their homes, including young children, pregnant women and the elderly.

By the way, as the photo below shows, the gold mine has a few other problems.

The following is from National Business Review.

Mining company under fire from Amnesty
Andrea Deuchrass

Pollution, Porgera Gold Mine by Erland Howden.

Gold Panning in Tailings, Porgera Gold Mine. (Water contains Sulpher, Mercury and Cyanide and is 70-80 degrees Celcius)
Amnesty International has released a report detailing alleged police violence and illegal evictions last year near a gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

The report, Undermining Rights: Forced evictions and police brutality around the Porgera gold mine, Papua New Guinea, alleges police violence and the forced eviction of families living beside the Porgera gold mine – 95% owned and operated by subsidiaries of Canadian gold mining company Barrick Gold Corporation (as part of the Porgera Joint Venture).

The report details police raids of highland villages in Wuangima between April and July 2009 and states police burnt down about 130 buildings, forcing out families including children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Amnesty mining and human rights specialist Shanta Martin said the mining companies failed to respond.

"Instead of being able to rely on the police to protect them, people who were living next to the mine's facilities have been the victims of human rights violations by police who illegally burnt down their houses and destroyed their belongings and gardens."

The human rights organisation is calling on the Papua New Guinea government to investigate police conduct.

It also wants Barrack and the Porgera Joint Venture to provide information to the authorities. Amnesty claims the mining company supported police and did nothing to record or report the alleged misconduct.

Amnesty issued statements last year about the alleged evictions but Barrick said the statements were "ill conceived and erroneous", claiming the buildings burned down were only temporary makeshift shacks.

After investigating the forced evictions, gaining first hand accounts and inspecting the burnt remains of houses, Amnesty gave its findings to the Papua New Guinea government, Barrack and the Porgera Joint Venture.

At a meeting in December, Amnesty claims the companies agreed further investigation was needed but have not taken action since.

Amnesty released the report as part of it Demand Dignity campaign (launched in May 2009), which aims to end human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


All we need in the middle of Super Bowl XLIV is Tim Tebow and him mommy blathering on about her non abortion. Such a touching tale. However, if you look into her story it doesn't make any sense, but hey that is not the concern of CBS, nor do I much care about whether her story is true or something else. All I want f...rom CBS is to explain just how they arrive at deciding who can be on their airwaves, and who cannot. After all this is the same CBS that seemed to think that in 2004 an ad from the United Church of Christ in which they opened their doors to gays was too controversial. The same CBS also has rejected adds from PETA and others as too radical. On the other hand, it is, also, the same CBS has found it is okay to take money from Focus on the Family.

The following is from Edge of Sports.

Tim Tebow and CBS: United Against "Choice"
By Dave Zirin

In our 5,000-channel, tweeting, shouting culture of constant distraction, there are precious few annual events that unite the national gaze. In fact, there is really only one: the Super Bowl. Over the last two decades, ratings for everything from the World Series to the Olympics have stumbled - but the NFL championship gets stronger with age, with Super Bowl Sunday becoming a de facto national holiday. The cultural power of the big game cannot be overstated, and that's exactly why CBS' decision to air an anti-abortion ad funded by Focus on the Family was so terribly wrongheaded.

The ad features Heisman award-winning Florida quarterback and staunch evangelical Christian Tim Tebow alongside his mother, Pam, speaking out against abortion. Pam tells the world how she ignored a doctor's advice while on a missionary trip in the Philippines and decided to have her fifth child, Tim. She was suffering from a serious tropical illness, the story goes, and doctors thought that having the child would kill her, but she "chose life" for her child and the result is an All-American quarterback.

There is something sketchy about this story - given that abortion is illegal in the Philippines, carrying a six-year prison sentence. It seems highly unlikely the procedure would be recommended to an evangelical missionary. But this isn't about truth in advertising. It's about Tim Tebow continuing his self-proclaimed goal to use football as a "missionary." After a college career wearing eyeblack with Bible verses stenciled in, it's the next step in raising his platform as the most outspoken evangelical this side of Sarah Palin.

To be clear, we should absolutely support Tebow's right to state his political beliefs loudly and proudly and we should soundly reject the concept that jocks should just "shut up and play."

But there are other things we should soundly reject as well. We should reject the utter hypocrisy on display by CBS in airing this ad. The network has long stated that it has Super Bowl rules against "advocacy ads." In 2004, the network rejected a Super Bowl ad from the United Church of Christ in which a church is shown opening its doors to a gay couple. The network has also refused ads from PETA, and many others. This year, it even rejected a humorous commercial from a gay dating site called And yet, the network takes money from Focus on the Family - which, according to People for the American Way, is "anti-choice, anti-gay and against sex education curricula that are not strictly abstinence-only."

 Focus on the Family's guru is the infamous and recently retired James Dobson. Dobson is a frightening fellow, choosing the second night of Passover last year to say, "The biggest Holocaust in world history came out of the Supreme Court" with Roe vs. Wade. Dobson's other pet project, the Family Research Council, has connections to white supremacist organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens. In 1996, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list.

The idea that this organization is acceptable to CBS - while MoveOn or PETA or the United Church of Christ are too radical - actually adds up to a right-wing assault on free speech. We could also point out the irony that this year, like all others, ads for the U.S. armed forces will be omnipresent, but that's not considered advocacy, either. I doubt there would be equal time for Iraq Veterans Against the War, even if it could pony up the millions.

The other thing we need to reject is the sports media's love affair with Tim Tebow's "courage" in being a part of this ad. People like CBS' Jim Nantz and Sports Illustrated's Peter King are like tweens at a Justin Bieber concert when it comes to Tebow, with King recently writing, "What I heard from Tebow was the voice of a kid with convictions, who doesn't shrink from what he believes - even if it might hurt his draft prospects."

Wrong: The fact that Tebow has massive accuracy problems and can't take a snap from center without fumbling is what is going to hurt his draft prospects.

Moreover, it rankles that Tebow is being extolled for his courage while athletes who have spoken out against militarism (Carlos Delgado and most famously Muhammad Ali) or racism (Josh Howard) are called crazy and tiresome.

Let's hope that the next time an athlete speaks out - even if it's in the service of a left-wing cause - the media remember their praise of Tebow and cut him or her some slack. And let's hope that the next time CBS gets an ad query from a group with an agenda diametrically opposed to Focus on the Family's, it gives it equal time.

Hosting the Super Bowl ought to be considered a privilege. And CBS has already failed the test.

[Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) Receive his column every week by emailing Contact him at]


A French company dropped off its nuclear waste in St. Petersburg, Russia yesterday.The uranium, from French nuclear giant Areva, is headed for Siberia. It was not the first time depleted uranium from France had been dumped in Russia. It was, also, not the first time that protesters were on hand at both the beginning and the end of the trip.

The following is from the St. Petersburg Times.

Cargo of Toxic Waste Arrives in City's Port
By Galina Stolyarova
A cargo of 650 tons of depleted uranium hexafluoride arrived at the city's port on Monday. The radioactive load, which is due to travel on by rail to the Siberian Chemical Factory in the Siberian town of Seversk for reprocessing, was brought in by The Captain Kuroptev ship, a vessel that has repeatedly come into conflict in the past with ecological groups trying to prevent it from docking.

The French company AREVA, one of the largest exporters of depleted uranium to Russia, along with the German-Dutch holding URENCO, is responsible for the radioactive cargo. During the past 15 years, the companies have jointly sent to Russia nearly 140,000 tons of radioactive material, according to Greenpeace Russia.

Radioactive loads on board foreign ships have been arriving at the port of St. Petersburg on a regular basis for a decade, being sent on by rail to factories in Siberia and the Urals.

The trains carrying the hazardous loads set off from Avtovo railway station — located in the south of the city close to residential areas — according to the local branch of the ecology group Bellona. Bellona's research has shown that most residents in the area have no idea about the risks to which they are regularly exposed as a result of these toxic cargoes.

Ecologists have difficulty monitoring the cargoes, as officials restrict information concerning the transportation of nuclear material, and often prevent independent experts from gaining access to the trains. When volunteers have been able to get close to the trains they say they have often registered increased radiation levels.

AREVA is not the only French company that regularly sends uranium hexafluoride to Russia. EURODIF also continues to send regular shipments of radioactive loads. Russia's contracts with both AREVA and EURODIF expire in 2014, and ecologists are actively campaigning in France against their renewal.

International environmental groups recently organized the screening of a new documentary film focusing on this issue. The screening prompted the French authorities to create a special commission to investigate such shipments.

Ecologists have questioned the ethics of these deals. It has been calculated that it is at least three times cheaper for Western European companies to send depleted uranium for reprocessing to Russia than to do the job at home.

In 2008, Russia also signed contracts with India, Pakistan and China to receive spent nuclear fuel and highly toxic uranium hexafluoride in addition to the regular shipments of radioactive cargoes from Western Europe.

In November last year, environmentalists trumpeted their first major success in years when the German-Dutch company URENCO announced that it would end the practice of sending spent nuclear fuel to Russia for reprocessing and storage.

Ecodefense, Bellona, Greenpeace and other pressure groups argue that the containers containing the waste are not completely leak-proof and that the freight loads across the country are unguarded. Similarly, they warn that the drivers of the trains that carry the dangerous cargoes are typically left in the dark about the radioactive content of the containers.

While the Russian authorities have remained resistant to pressure, the Dutch government has stopped sending radioactive waste to Russia from the Netherlands.

Greenpeace volunteers from across Europe have been campaigning against this practice since the mid-1990s, when the Russian government inked its first contracts with a string of foreign companies to receive uranium hexafluoride and other radioactive material for reprocessing and storage.

"Those contracts were extremely profitable and beneficial for the foreign companies, and humiliating for Russia, as it allowed foreign states to easily dispose of nuclear waste, which is extremely expensive to process and store," explained Vladimir Chuprov, head of Greenpeace's energy program in Russia.


The story of hate based attacks on Pakistani men working as clerks at a truck stop in California (below) unfortunately is not a rarity these days in the US of A. Although it is nice to see that the local DA filed hate crime charges, we can't depend on law enforcement and the criminal justice system to deal with these ...racist attacks. Dealing with racism of all kinds is up to us, all of us.


The following is from Ukiah Daily Journal.

DA charges second hate crime in Ukiah truck stop altercations
By TIFFANY REVELLE The Daily Journal
Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott has charged a second man with committing a hate crime after reviewing his interaction in mid-January with clerks at Jensen's Truck Stop in Ukiah.

Meanwhile, the owner of Jensen's Truck Stop restaurant says he's rethinking improvements there after his employees were the victims of two hate crimes in a month.

Two clerks of Pakistani descent were the victims of the second hate crime in a month at Jensen's on Lovers Lane in Ukiah, when Redwood Valley resident Cody M. Cranford, 21, allegedly assaulted them Friday night.

It was obvious Cranford was intoxicated when he entered the truck stop, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. He became angry when he asked to use the phone inside and was told to use the pay phone outside instead, Smallcomb said.

Cranford physically attacked clerks Lateef Kamal and Waqar Malik, punching their heads and faces and making racial slurs. Smallcomb said he grabbed one of the men by his sweater and dragged him outside while continuing to hit him. Then Cranford fled and the clerks called 9-1-1.

They identified their alleged attacker after police found Cranford at a nearby bowling alley.

Cranford's bail was set at $150,000, and he is due to appear in court Wednesday.

The incident comes just more than two weeks after the Jan. 12 incident when Joseph Anthony Frank, 63, of Redwood Valley, made an apparently unprovoked attack on clerk Ahmed Kahn
inside the truck stop.

Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott said Frank walked in and "went into a diatribe of derogatory names towards the store clerk."

Frank's anger built until he threatened to kill Kahn, then began to remove his jacket. He lunged across the counter and hit Kahn on the lower left side of his head with a closed fist, according to Lintott.

Frank drove away, and the California Highway Patrol arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit of 0.08 percent, and making terrorist threats.

The MCSO investigated the third charge, and the District Attorney's Office ultimately charged Frank with a felony count of committing a hate crime.

Lintott said what her attorneys look for to decide whether to charge someone with a hate crime is "a biased motive that caused the offender to act."

State law defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed wholly or partially because of the victim's disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or association with a person or group marked by one or more of those characteristics.

"Obviously that's not something we tolerate in Mendocino County," Lintott said.

Haji Alam, who owns Jensen's Truck stop and two other gas stations in Ukiah, said, "We get customers like that in and out sometimes, but we usually try to ignore them."

Alam, a U.S. citizen and Ukiah resident of Pakistani descent, took over the operation of the truck stop last April when he bought the lease from previous tenants. Now he's thinking of improving the building, but the apparently racially-motivated incidents have made him think twice.

"Now I wonder, should I do it, should I not do it," Alam said.

He added, "The majority of the customers are nice people, and I like living here."

Tiffany Revelle can be reached at, or at 468-3523.

Monday, February 01, 2010


Dozens of people were arrested today by Moscow police as they marched on the anniversary of of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova killed by nazi's one year ago today. Five hundred 500 braved minus 20 degrees Celsius temperatures and "some ten buses full of OMON riot police" to mark the anniversary of the killings.

According to the Moscow Times, Participants in Tuesday’s rally carried posters that read “To remember means to fight!” and “Fascism won’t pass!”The rally was sanctioned by the authorities but banned from marching along a downtown boulevard. The demonstrators moved to ignore the ban, chanting “Fascists Kill, Authorities cover them up!” and riot police detained several dozen of them.Activist Sergei Udaltsov said the demonstrators wanted to draw attention to authorities’ slow action against neo-Nazi and other extremist groups.

The following is from Javno.

Moscow racist attacks kill 31 in 2009

Police raided 10 extremist youth groups and arrested 33 people in probes into racist crimes, including 14 murders.

MOSCOW, January 20, 2010 (AFP) - Thirty-one people of "non-Slavic" appearance were killed in attacks police classified as racist crimes in Moscow last year, the Russian capital's police chief said Wednesday.

"Last year, there were 62 attacks perpetrated on people of non-Slavic appearance, including 26 murders and 25 cases of grievous bodily harm, five of which led to death," police chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev told Interfax.

Police raided 10 extremist youth groups and arrested 33 people in probes into racist crimes, including 14 murders, he added.

Attacks motivated by racism rose sharply after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

About 300 people were killed in such attacks between 2004 and 2008, according to the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, an NGO that collates crime statistics.

A survey published in December by independent pollster Levada found that 54 percent of Russians support the nationalist slogan "Russia for Russians".

President Dmitry Medvedev said soon after the survey's publication that "severe" punishments were necessary to curb growing xenophobia in the country.

Last year's Moscow figures were down on 2008 -- a year that saw hate crimes triple in the city. City police registered 47 racist murders and 46 cases of grievous bodily harm in 2008.

Deadly racist attacks fell in Russia as a whole last year, when 74 people were killed, compared with 120 in 2008, the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights said in a report.


My friend Lance Hill down in New Orleans writes, "'Arne Duncan's recent comments that hurricane Katrina was "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans" makes one wonder if he will soon declare the earthquake in Haiti was the "best thing that happened to education in Haiti." Nothing "good" comes from people's suffering and people who see "silver linings" to disasters are people who have never been victimized by a disaster. After a disaster, people can turn adversity into progress, but the motive force for change is the compassion that the disaster elicits, not the disaster itself. Moreover, a closer look at New Orleans reveals that change has come a high human price and has resulted in greater disparities."

The following is from

Equal treatment for special-needs students in short supply at New Orleans public schools

Sarah Carr, The Times-Picayune

holding-hands.JPGIf distributed evenly, each New Orleans public school, including charter schools, would have about 10 percent of special-needs students. That's not the case, according to a new report to the state.

A report presented to the state board of education last week shows wide, and stubborn, gaps in the number of students with special needs at the city's public schools -- particularly the independently operated charter schools.

At some Recovery School District charter schools, less than 4 percent of the students have special needs, while at others upwards of 15 percent do. On average, about 8 percent of the Recovery School District's charter students are classified as special-needs, while 12 percent are in that group at the district's non-charter schools. If distributed evenly, each school would have about 10 percent.

SPECIALNEEDS012510.jpg"While I strongly support charters, I will not hesitate to recommend non-renewal if a charter has not made significant progress at admitting its fair share of special ed students," said Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas.

Advocates say they still routinely hear stories from families who were discouraged from applying at individual charter schools, or were "counseled out" once there.

"This is just flat-out discrimination, and it flies in the face of the idea of school choice and equal access to education," said Thena Robinson, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But many educators note that because parents can apply to virtually any public school in the city, some degree of variation is inevitable.

"We don't want to send a message that a school has to have X percentage," said Kathy Kilgore, director of the SUNS (Serving the Unique Needs of Students) Center. "Then what does a school do if it doesn't meet its numbers? You can't grow your own kids."

The report, prepared by state education officials, looked only at the Recovery School District charter schools. The district's 33 traditional schools and 37 charter schools must accept any child, regardless of need, from severely autistic children who require a full-time aide to students with speech impairments.

Discrepancies also exist in the percentages of special education students at the RSD's non-charter schools. But only one non-charter, a high-school program in its first year, has fewer than 6 percent special-needs students, compared to 11 charters.

At the Orleans Parish School Board's charter and traditional schools, the numbers range from 16 percent students with special-needs at Bethune Elementary to just over 1 percent at Franklin High School. But unlike the Recovery School District, where all the schools are open enrollment, several of the school board's charter schools, like Franklin, have established admissions criteria making apples-to-apples comparisons difficult.

Caroline Roemer-Shirley, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, said schools with low percentages of special-education students are not necessarily behaving inappropriately or turning away students. For various reasons, they might not attract high numbers of children with special needs or, like Crocker Arts and Technology School, are relatively new and serve students only in the youngest grades.

"What I don't want to see is a (low) number of special-education students become a conviction that something bad is going on," she said, noting that even the name of a school (like "college prep" or "math and science") could discourage parents of students with more intense needs from applying.

Still, she and others agree that the discrepancies between schools are too large, and have persisted for too long.

"When you have some schools in the double digits and others in the low (single digits), it's not fair," she said.

Robinson and Melissa Losch, managing attorney of the special education legal group for the Advocacy Center, which works to support people with disabilities, said their organizations routinely receive phone calls from families who report that they have been "steered away" from a specific school.

"A student with autism might be told, 'We don't really help kids with autism here because we don't have the staff or the resources,'" Losch said.

Discrepancies abound

Nearly all of the issues surrounding special education can be thorny and multifaceted. While a disproportionately low percentage of students with disabilities might raise a red flag, few would advocate for a gratuitous labeling of students either, which can be a problem particularly in schools serving poor, minority populations.

And in some cases it's easy to sympathize with both the parents and the schools: Families have every right to full services, but schools cannot always get the money and staff they need to provide them.

"It is extremely difficult to expect one little, individual charter school that has 100 to 150 students to be able to accept and meet the needs of every child with every kind of disability," Kilgore said. She cited one charter school that accepted a child with a severe disability who needs personal transportation to school every day. But the school receives only half of the money it needs to pay for the transportation.

Focusing solely on access and numbers obscures the equally important issue of quality of service, some educators point out. A school can enroll dozens of students with special needs, but that doesn't mean it's caring for them well.

"The schools will take (students with disabilities)," said Danna Davis, who has two teenagers with special needs. "But are they following the plan? Are they providing the services?"

Davis said she has been fighting for years to get services for her 16-year-old daughter, who she moved this school year from a charter school to Schaumburg Elementary, a traditional Recovery School District school. "You need to go through all of this red tape, and in the meantime the children are falling way behind."

Margaret Lang, director of intervention services at the RSD, said quality of services continues to improve, particularly as schools gain experience and expertise. She noted that a new special education collaborative offers professional development and networking to interested schools.

Kilgore said charter schools have made progress in understanding the legal requirements involving special education and accepting students with the most severe needs in particular.

"I think people have their wits about them now," said Lang, although she acknowledged that "we still have a long way to go."

State involvement

Both parent and charter advocates, including Roemer-Shirley, agree that the state needs to visit -- but not automatically condemn -- schools where fewer than 5 percent of the students receive special-education services.

"I don't think there's a justifiable reason for being below 5 percent," said Karran Harper Royal, a longtime parent advocate.

Although by law the state cannot put in place quotas for how many special-needs students a school must serve, RSD charter schools should have populations that reflect the city, where an estimated one in 10 students have a disability.

Royal said she worries no one is following up aggressively with schools that consistently fall below the 5 percent mark.

"The state doesn't have the staff to do the kind of investigating it needs to do," she said. "With this many charters in New Orleans, we need a top-notch compliance department."

Ken Campbell, the state's director of charter schools, disagrees. "Our ability to do (investigations) is getting better and better," he said. "If someone is found to be in violation of the law we are going to come down on them pretty hard."

Last summer, the state proposed making the charter renewal for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology contingent on its agreeing to a plan to increase the number of special education students. As of last fall, the school had identified 23 students with special needs, or about 3.3 percent of its student body.

"We have a very, very sound plan. What is it? Good teaching," Principal Doris Hicks told the state board of education at a meeting last summer. "We do not educate our students on quotas." She cited the extensive help that the school offers its weakest students, including Saturday school and after-school tutoring.

In the end, the board approved King's renewal without the provision about special education.

Speaking generally, Vallas said that the state board of education "has got to be willing to, in effect, sanction those schools that are not in compliance."

Some of the schools with the highest numbers of special education students tend to have smaller enrollments, and may attract parents partly because of the intimacy of the environment.

Ben Marcovitz, principal of the New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy, said parents might be drawn to his school partly because of its "advisory" system, for instance, which assigns each staff member 10 students to mentor intensely. Fifteen percent of the school's students have special needs.

"We have a lot of measures to keep every kid we have," he said. "But I don't think that's unique to our children with special needs."

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Sunday, January 31, 2010


Japanese have been protesting for a long time against the U.S. military presence on Okinawa. Some 6,000 people gathered Saturday in Tokyo to rally against relocating the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station within Okinawa. They want it out entirely. There are now over 47,000 US troops in Japan with more than half on the island of Okinawa at several bases.

The following is from the Axis of Logic.

Thousands Protest in Tokyo Against U.S. Military Presence in Japan
Daily Mail
Protest: Some 6,000 people gathered at a rally in Tokyo calling for the withdrawal of U.S. Marine base stationed on the Japanese island of Okinawa. (AP)
Thousands of protesters from across Japan marched today in Tokyo to protest against U.S. military presence on Okinawa, while a Cabinet minister said she would fight to get rid of a marine base Washington considers crucial.

Some 47,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan, with more than half on the southern island of Okinawa.

Residents have complained for years about noise, pollution and crime around the bases.

Japan and the U.S. signed a pact in 2006 that called for the realignment of American troops in the country and for a Marine base on the island to be moved to a less populated area.

But the new Tokyo government is re-examining the deal, caught between public opposition to American troops and its crucial military alliance with Washington.

On Saturday, labor unionists, pacifists, environmentalists and students marched through central Tokyo, yelling slogans and calling for an end to the U.S. troop presence.

They gathered for a rally at a park - under a banner that read 'Change! Japan-U.S. Relations' - for speeches by civil leaders and politicians.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has repeatedly postponed his decision on the pact, with members of his own government divided on how to proceed.

Last week he pledged to resolve the conundrum by May, just before national elections.

'The Cabinet is saying that it will announce its conclusion in May.

For this reason, over the next few months we must put all of our energy into achieving victory,' Cabinet minister Mizuho Fukushima said at the rally, to shouts of approval from the crowd.

Fukushima - who has a minor post in the Cabinet and heads a small political party - wants the base moved out of Japan entirely.

Hatoyama's government must appease such political allies to maintain its majority coalition in parliament, and the public are increasingly vociferous on the U.S. military issue, even outside of Okinawa.

'I'm against having troops here. I'm not sure we can get them all out, but at least some of them should leave,' said Seiichiro Terada, 31, a government tax collector who attended the rally.

Terada said he traveled from his home in the central prefecture of Shizuoka, which hosts a Marine base at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

The deal with Washington calls for the Marine base in a crowded part of Okinawa to be moved to a smaller city called Nago.

But last week residents of Nago elected a new mayor who opposes the move, ousting the incumbent that supported a U.S. military presence.

On the other side of the debate, a steady stream of U.S. officials have petitioned Tokyo to follow the agreement and maintain American troop levels in Japan, with U.S.

Ambassador John Roos on Friday calling them 'front-line forces' in case of emergencies or security threats.