Thursday, March 03, 2011


On March 1 1981, republican prison leader Bobby Sands began refusing food and continued to do so until his death on May 5 1981, at the age of 27.

Think all is hunky dorey now in Northern Ireland.  Think again.  

Republicans still sit in prison.  You may not agree with their beliefs, but I'd bet you do not think they should be abused, strip searched, beaten and all the rest.  

As Mac Coltir put it so eloquently at a vigil commorating the 1981 hunger strike in Belfast Tuesday night,

"Men are still being forcibly strip-searched and beaten despite an agreement reached between themselves and the prison regime. But history has taught us that the British and their willing servants will do all they can to criminalise not only prisoners but those engaged in a legitimate struggle for a democratic socialist republic.
“So let us all remember the hunger strikers who died 30 years ago for the goals which we strive for today.”

The following is from eirigi. 

Anniversary of Hunger Strike Marked in Belfast
Around 150 people took part in a candlelit vigil in Belfast last night [Tuesday], to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the start of the 1981 hunger strikes.
On March 1 1981, republican prison leader Bobby Sands began refusing food and continued to do so until his death on May 5 1981, at the age of 27.
The vigil took place on the site of the former Crown Forces barracks in Andersonstown. Though the barracks no longer exists, a number of PSNI landrovers kept a close eye on the crowd through the event.
During the vigil, the names of Sands and his nine comrades who died on hunger strike in 1981 were read aloud, followed by a minute’s silence in their memory. This was followed by a recital of Sands’ poem The Rhythm of Time.
The vigil was also addressed by former blanketman Pádraic Mac Coitir, who spoke of the experiences of republican political prisoners during the period and their impact on political prisoners around the world and on republicans today.
The full text of Mac Coitir’s address can be read below:
“On this day 35 years ago, the British government introduced one of their draconian laws whereby anyone convicted of a political offence would be deemed a criminal.
“These laws were nothing new because, as far back as the Fenian rising of the 1860s, republican prisoners were treated as criminals and, in many cases, this meant lengthy times in solitary confinement. In response, these prisoners embarked on protests such as refusing to comply with prison rules and refusing to do prison work.
“At the start of the 20th century, republican prisoners started a new form of protest – hunger strike. Thomas Ashe died in September 1917 and this led to a trend that was to continue right up to 1981. During this period, numerous men and women went on hunger strike, leading to the deaths of 23 political prisoners in Irish and British jails. Those who died inspired many throughout the world, including Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi and prisoners in countries such as Turkey, Palestine and, more recently, North America.
“I first went to gaol in July 1976 and, while on remand in the H-Blocks, would see a small number of men who were on the blanket protest. In September of that year, Kieran Nugent became the first republican to be sent to the Blocks and, refusing to wear a prison uniform, he became the first Blanketman.
“I was sentenced in January 1977 and joined the small number of protestors in H2. The screws were constantly trying to break us with beatings and humiliating us by forcing us to leave our cells naked. They realised how determined we were when more men joined us and we were moved to H5 in April of that year. It was while in this Block that I met some of the men who were later to die on hunger strike.
“In March 1978, we went on a no-wash protest and this led to even more beatings carried out by the screws. Just before I was released in July 1979, the camp staff asked us all to give our views as to how we could escalate the protest. It was very difficult for me to give my opinion because, even then, we all knew the next stage was a hunger strike.
“In October 1980, seven men started a hunger strike and they were later joined by three women in Armagh jail. The men in the prison hospital were led to believe the Brits were giving in to their demands and so called the strike off. As has so often been the case, the Brits reneged.
“After much discussion and debate among the prisoners, another hunger strike was planned. On this day 30 years ago, Bobby Sands began a hunger strike which was to have massive repercussions not only here in Ireland, but throughout the world.
“We have learned a lot since those dark days in 1981 when 10 brave men died in the hell-hole of Long Kesh. Those of us who were back in the H-Blocks in the ’80s and ’90s were very conscious of the sacrifice of the 10 men and we benefited greatly from their sacrifice.
“All of us thought that republicans who have been imprisoned in Maghaberry prison would also benefit from their sacrifice but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Men are still being forcibly strip-searched and beaten despite an agreement reached between themselves and the prison regime. But history has taught us that the British and their willing servants will do all they can to criminalise not only prisoners but those engaged in a legitimate struggle for a democratic socialist republic.
“So let us all remember the hunger strikers who died 30 years ago for the goals which we strive for today.”


Last week marked the 38th anniversary of the liberation of Wounded Knee.  Some things have changed since then.  Too many things have not.  The struggle continues.  

The first article below which provides background for the second comes from The Speed of Dreams.  The second is from Censored News.

Strong Heart Warrior Society: Oglala Tribal Council Snubs Elders Again

Posted: February 25, 2011 by Rowland Túpac Keshena in Struggles: Indigenous
Cante Tenza Okolakiciye – Strong Heart Warrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 605-454-0449 or
MEDIA RELEASE Feb 13, 2011
PINE RIDGE, South Dakota – The ongoing effort to get accountability for a series of physical and psychological abuses against Lakota elders on Pine Ridge continues to be stalled by Oglala tribal officials who fear investigations into years of graft and corruption within tribal government.
Following the most recent revelation of elder abuse in the Porcupine Elderly Meals Program, elders have met regularly with the traditional Strong Heart Warrior Society in order to explore ways to get accountability. Even tribal officials that have voiced support for the elders are now back tracking, likely out of fear of retaliation by corrupt families and officials.
Porcupine District President Virgil Bush and Porcupine Representative Scott Weston announced a hearing for the elders on February 21st - but the hearing never happened even though elders had gathered to attend. The meeting has reportedly been delayed to February 28th though activists are skeptical.
“Tribal government has always eroded its position,’’ explained Strong Heart Warrior headsman Duane Martin Sr.. “You cannot tell community members you are upholding policies and procedures but then deny elders due process.”
The truth depth of corruption within the Oglala Tribal Council, as well as its cultural separation from traditional elders and the Lakota people, is becoming clear to those even outside of Pine Ridge.
“So we have become our own worst enemies, we don’t listen to what our elders have to teach us,” added Martin.
Pine Ridge elders, many of whom count Lakota as their primary language, have made complaints and filed grievances to the best of their ability. But the tribal council is playing a cat and mouse game of delay and denial, saying the elders fate lies solely at their discretion. Elders and activists point out that Council member Deborah Rooks-Cook still remains in her council position despite her admission she pushed and threatened elders with a gun at a secret council meeting.
The Strong Heart Warrior Society points out the corruption in the tribal government is a reflection of the distrust, dishonesty, and cultural genocide that has been brought to Pine Ridge and other reservations by white colonization and Christianity. Nearly ¾ of the Lakota people have lost their language, and the traditional language is on the verge of extinction in Pine Ridge. Few bother listening to the traditional elders – which is part of the cultural system that keeps elders healthy, engaged, and valued.
“We never take the opportunity to listen to the elders anymore – to hear them,” Martin said. “They get upset and angry – into stress modes  – then they get sick, some of them die.”
The Strong Heart Warrior Society is calling upon all people who support Lakota elders, Lakota sovereignty, and accountability to send letters to tribal council officials as well as to the U.S. Department of Justice and President Obama demanding a full-fledged investigation into the corruption in the Bureau of Indian Affairs supported Oglala Tribal Government.
“The laws of the Oglala Tribal Council don’t belong to our people, but to White America. Only by taking on traditional Lakota customary law can our people be truly sovereign and free.”

Porcupine Occupation: Lakota elders, warrior societies, to take over elderly meals program

Cante Tenza Okolakiciye - Strong Heart Warrior Society
Free & Independent Lakota Nation
Box 512, Hill City, South Dakota 57745 605-454-0449 or

Last night Red Society grandmother Wilma Thin Elk was evicted from tribal housing by tribal council member Kathy Janis and tribal police under bogus charges of child abuse. This morning, the road to the home of grandfather Enoch Brings Plenty, has been cut so that he cannot get out to help lead the protest occupation.
Last night tribal police visited Strong Heart headsman Duane Martin Sr.'s home until he asked them to leave.
We need you to act now. We need you to bear witness. We need you to understand the truth and to not believe the lies of the corrupt tribal government officials who are perpetuating these injustices. The Strong Heart Warrior Society is asking all people to help us spread the news about what is happening right now.

Elders, Warrior Societies, Oyate to Take-Over Elderly Meals Program in

Porcupine Community, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD – Mere hours after
dozens had gathered for the “Liberation Day” celebration of the 1973
Occupation of Wounded Knee, traditional elders and the Strong Heart
Warrior Society announced a new occupation is planned for 1 pm Friday
when a group of elders, warriors, activists and concerned citizens
will take over the Elderly Meals Program building in Porcupine

The planned elder-led march and occupation will be supported by the
Strong Heart Warrior Society as well as the Urban Warrior Society from
Rapid City and various chapters of the American Indian Movement (AIM)
including representatives of the AIM Governing Council.

The occupation is the direct result of a failure of Porcupine District
and tribal government officials to meet with the Elders and their
advocates to discuss a wide range of elder abuse complaints at the
program and to begin to implement much needed changes.

Complaints include unsanitary conditions, inedible food, physical and
psychological abuse of elders, refusal of meals to certain elders, the
mismanagement of program funds and resources, law enforcement abuse,
and the illegal selling of drugs and alcohol by Porcupine center staff
while Elders are present.

“They never treat us good when we go to the Elderly Meals,” said 91-
year-old Cecilia Martin, who is one of two surviving American Indian
Movement Grandmothers from the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation. “For
over five months I haven’t gone there because the food is no good.”

The current elderly meals staff led by Winifred Janis has taken
numerous retaliatory measures against elders and others speaking out
about abusive and illegal activities. Elmer White Face, 71, was
arrested in February for allegedly“verbally assaulting” Janis at the
center despite the fact he was born mute! Three members of the Janis/
Quiver family physically beat Wilson Coleman Jr., an employee of the
center, after he spoke out about illegal activities including alcohol
bootlegging and the selling of drugs in the Elder Center.

For weeks the Strong Heart Warrior Society, at the request of their
elders, has increased pressure on tribal government by informing the
media and asking concerned people to contact tribal council and meals
program officials to investigate the Porcupine elderly meals program.
Despite numerous calls to tribal, state and federal officials no
action has been undertaken.

Even as late as yesterday, Oglala Tribal Government Vice President
Thomas Poor Bear said, “We don’t have a problem with our Elders.”

“The people are behind us - we are going to walk in and takeover that
place,” said 67 year-old Enoch Brings Plenty, whose wife has been
denied meals by the current meals center staff. He added, “We are
going to do all these things for the elders, so they can have peace.”

Changes to Elderly Meals Program including the construction of a
newer, cleaner building have been rebuffed, delayed, and denied time
and again by officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) supported
Oglala Tribal Council which has said the elder’s fate lies solely in
their hands.

“They (tribal council officials) are totally in it in it for
themselves – they are totally for themselves,” explained Brings

“All of these demands have been met with a certain resistance because
they (tribal officials) are not taking the elders very seriously,
“added Duane Martin Sr., leader of the Strong Heart Warrior Society.
“They are living in denial because the poor people, the elders, the
children are left without.”

Elders and activists say the abuse and corruption in the Elderly Meals
Program is a microcosm of abuse and corruption present in many of the
tribal government programs and within the Tribal Government itself.
Corrupt officials and their families work together to threaten and
punish those who seek accountability while at the same time soliciting
additional Federal, State and local funding as well as so-called
“heart donations” from concerned people around the world.

Concerned elders, and others who have stood up to this corruption have
been the targets of violence, verbal threats, and the denial of tribal
government services such as housing and winter heating fuel. These are
the same conditions that led to the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee as
well as two previous takeovers of the Red Cloud Building – one in
2009, and a nine-month long occupation in 2000.

“I thank everyone for everything so that this works out good, and I
hope so too,” shared Grandmother Cecilia Martin. “But right now we
need a lot of help.”

Elders and warrior society members have appealed outside of the tribe
for investigations into widespread graft and corruption but some
government agencies are claiming their hands are tied. They said they
are unable to work directly with community activists and traditional
groups because they must work through the corrupted BIA system of
tribal government to implement changes.

Duane Martin Sr. explained further why the occupation was necessary,
"The tribal court system, along with the tribal government, doesn’t
really administer the change in procedures that would create a healthy
system. They are all unhealthy – the police department is unhealthy,
the tribal government is unhealthy, the BIA is unhealthy, and now the
Meals for the Elderly is unhealthy!”

The Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is the size
of the state of Connecticut. Due to decades of abuse, corruption and
colonial enforcement, Pine Ridge faces epidemic rates of suicide,
alcohol and drug abuse, elder abuse, and poverty. Life expectancy for
Lakota men is below 40 years old. Nearly ¾ of the Lakota people have
lost their language, and the traditional language is on the verge of
extinction in Pine Ridge. The reservation has one of the highest rates
of unsolved murders that are widely attributed to violent retaliation
against those seeking an end to corruption and an assertion of Lakota


Cante Tenza Okolakiciye also known as the Strong Heart Warrior Society
of the Lakota Nation is an ancient Lakota warrior society as well as a
broad-based civil rights movement that works to protect, enforce and
restore treaty rights, civil rights, and sovereignty of Native people
and their communities across Turtle Island. In addition to activist
efforts to protect the land and people, each year Cante Tenza collects
and freely distributes shoes, winter coats, school supplies, food, and
other support to Oglala Lakota elders, children and families.
"Lakota Oyate" on Facebook. @CanteTenza on

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Actually I don't know what to add to this article, so I'll just let it speak for itself.  You know how I feel anyway.

It is from the San Francisco Bay Guardian (one of the best newspapers around).

Black unemployment sparks chorus of discontent

March 2, 2011
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Tide of Mideast revolt gives rise to homegrown frustration

by Chris Levister

A jobless Moreno Valley man wipes tear from his eyes as he and more than a dozen others discuss the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and how the movements relate to the 34.5 percent unemployment rate among African American men.
What would happen if 34.5 percent of White men did not have jobs? According to new U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old Black men has reached Great Depression proportions – more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population.
From a national policy perspective, how would people respond and what would happen? Would there be a revolution? A refocusing of national priorities? A massive jobs creation program?
As the tide of revolt sweeps Egypt and Tunisia sparking anti-government protests in other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, some African Americans are asking the proverbial question:
“Will it take a revolution to spark economic change in Black America?”
“All eyes are on the uprisings playing out in Egypt and Tunisia, yet America systematically turns a blind eye to the oppression in its own backyard.”
That’s 24-year-old Reggie “Tony” Scruggs, a Moreno Valley computer technician who has been unemployed more than two years.
Scruggs, born and raised in Mississippi, says he’s never had any trouble with the law, other than a few traffic violations, and leads a middle class life in Moreno Valley. He says being Black in America today is just about the same as having a felony conviction, in terms of one’s chances of finding a job.
“It’s a cruel irony of life that, as Billie Holiday sang, “Them that’s got shall get,” said Scruggs. “I’m not a thug, I’m not lazy, I’m not a high school dropout, I don’t have a college degree but I have usable skills. Black men want to work, but they won’t hire us.”

Black men want to work, but they won’t hire us.

These days he spends much of his time knocking on doors looking for work or pent up in his mother’s one-bedroom apartment, the TV blaring hour after hour. He clinches his fist and repeatedly pounds on a pile of mother boards, hard drives, cables and other computer parts.
“I can take a computer apart and rebuild it. I can troubleshoot hardware and software. Yet employers won’t hire me. Why?” Scruggs asked.
He held up a certificate of completion for a computer technician apprenticeship program. So far the most the training program has yielded was a temporary tech support representative. The job lasted 11 days.
“When I walk into a place of business and ask for a job application, the first thing the receptionist wants to do is call security.”
Monday, nearly a dozen jobless men stood outside a popular mini-market on Alessandro Boulevard trying to stay out of the streets and out of trouble.
“People are condemning the oppression in Egypt and Tunisia. U.S. government officials, the media, they’re all over the Mideast revolution. But many of those same people will walk over a jobless African American to get to their microphone,” said Richard Hedrick, an out of work truck driver who has an AA degree.
“Our plight doesn’t make the headlines,” said another man, who wiped tears from his eyes.
As young Black men, they belong to a group that has been hit much harder than any other by unemployment. Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old Black men has reached Great Depression proportions – 34.5 percent in December, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population.
And last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that while the nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent, Black joblessness remained virtually stagnant, going from 15.8 to 15.7 percent and Black teen jobless figures, still the highest of any group, actually ticked up from 44.2 to 45.4 percent.
“Can you imagine any other group at that level of unemployment and the media dismissing it as not important?” the Rev. Jesse Jackson asked during an interview posted on the website Africana Online.
“This has become so acceptable that it doesn’t even cause anyone to stop and wonder how we are failing,” said Jackson, reflecting on the latest federal unemployment report.
Jackson added that lack of access to appropriate education and training, employer bias, incorrect background checks, inappropriate credit checks and other structural barriers also serve as barriers to employment.
A cross-sectional analysis of employers by Harry J. Holzer of Georgetown University found that employers are generally more averse to hiring Black males than those from any other racial and gender group, especially in jobs that require social or verbal skills and in service occupations.
Another study from Princeton University of nearly 1,500 employers in New York City found that Black applicants without criminal records are no more likely to get a job than white applicants just out of prison. The statistics from the study also suggested that employer discrimination against people of color and ex-offenders has significantly undermined the job opportunities for young Black men with little education and training.
During nearly a year of fieldwork, teams of testers audited hundreds of job applicants applying for a wide range of entry level jobs such as waiters, sales assistants, laborers, warehouse workers, couriers and customer service representatives.
The results of these studies were startling, said Devah Pager, an associate professor of sociology and faculty associate of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University. His research on Black men and the labor market revealed gross discrimination in the hiring of Black men.
“The young Black men posing as job applicants in my studies were bright college kids, models of discipline and hard work; and yet, even in this best case scenario, these applicants were routinely overlooked simply on the basis of the color of their skin. The results of multiple studies suggest that Black men must work at least twice as hard as equally qualified whites simply to overcome the stigma of their skin color.”
The employment rates of African-American men remained stagnant even during the economic booms in the 1980s and 1990s, said Algernon Austin, a sociologist with the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research center in Washington, D.C.

The employment rates of African-American men remained stagnant even during the economic booms in the 1980s and 1990s.

Austin said the group’s continued high unemployment rates, even after many years of a strong economy, are influenced by multiple factors, including high rates of incarceration, limited education, child support arrearages and discrimination.
Even as the recovery slowly takes hold, Austin said none of the projections call for unemployment among Blacks to fall much below 10 percent.
“Blacks are going to have double digit unemployment until 2014. It’s a dire situation and unfortunately not many people are treating this as a crisis. … Even college-educated Blacks are facing shockingly high unemployment.”
Chris Levister is a journalist whose work appears in newspapers around the country and also a physician and past president of the Vines Medical Society, the Inland component of the National Medical Association. This story previously appeared in and


Harold "Hal" Pierce
There is this guy who used to be my friend back in the sixties.  Now he likes to go to Africa on safari and kill beautiful animals and hang their heads on his walls.  His name is Hal Pierce.  He is an attorney and, in my opinion, a bit of a buffoon.  I spoke with him once about ten or fifteen years ago and had to get up and leave or smack him one.  Since there were other old friends on hand for this little meet, I didn't smack him.  Probably should have.

Pierce is an attorney with:

Couch Pierce King Hoffmeister
Not Rated | Write a Review
10975 Benson St, Ste 370, Overland Park, KS 66210
(913) 451-8430

His email is

I'm sure your comments would be appreciated.  Be nice now, y'a hear...

By the way for you old River City readers, you may remember Hal from the band Pig Newton and the Wizards or the Wizards from Kansas.

The following is from the London Guardian.

African lions under threat from a growing predator: the American hunter

United States now biggest market for lion hunting trophies, wildlife coalition warns

• Will Travers: If we cannot save the lion, no other species stands a chance
Lions in the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya: their numbers have fallen from 200,000 a century ago to fewer than 40,000 today. Photograph: Art Wolfe/Getty Images

American hunters are emerging as a strong and growing threat to the survival of African lions, with demand for trophy rugs and necklaces driving the animals towards extinction, a coalition of wildlife organisations has said.
Demand for hunting trophies, such as lion skin rugs, and a thriving trade in animal parts in the US and across the globe have raised the threat levels for African lions, which are already under assault because of conflicts with local villagers and shrinking habitat.
"The African lion is a species in crisis," said Jeff Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "The king of the jungle is heading toward extinction, and yet Americans continue to kill lions for sport."
Two-thirds of the lions hunted for sport were brought to America over the last 10 years, a report released by the coalition said.
The organisations, which include IFAW, the Humane Society of theUnited States, Humane Society International, Born Free and Defenders of Wildlife, called on the White House to ban the import of lion trophies and parts by listing the animals as endangered species.
The number of wild African lions has fallen sharply in the last 100 years, the organisations said. A century ago, as many as 200,000 roamed across Africa. Now, by some estimates, fewer than 40,000 remain in the wild; others put the figure for survivors at 23,000, and they have vanished from 80% of the areas where they once roamed.
Lions have become extinct in 26 countries. Only seven countries – Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are believed to contain more than 1,000 lions each, according to the Panthera conservation group – which is not part of the coalition making the appeal.
The single biggest threat by far to the animals' survival is humans, though not necessarily western hunters. "It is just the very, very widespread killing of lions, mostly in a conflict situation, by anyone who is trying to farm livestock in Africa and finds it very difficult to co-exist with lions," said Luke Hunter, the executive vice-president of Panthera.
There is also a lot of pressure on lion habitats with wilderness areas shrinking to build roads – such as the controversial highway across the Serengeti – or to make room for agriculture.
But the report by the wildlife coalition, filed with the White House on Tuesday, said western hunters were a growing danger to the lions' survival.
Between 1999 and 2008, 64% of the 5,663 lions that were killed in the African wild for sport ended up being shipped to America, it said. It also said the numbers had risen sharply in those 10 years, with more than twice as many lions taken as trophies by US hunters in 2008 than in 1999. In addition to personal trophies, Americans are also the world's biggest buyers of lion carcasses and body parts, including claws, skulls, bones and penises. In the same years, the US imported 63% of the 2,715 lion specimens put up for sale.
For some countries, including Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique, hunting for sport was the main threat to the lions' existence. But even in countries which did not attract large numbers of tourists on hunting trips, the practice was taking a growing toll.
The conservationists noted that hunters' penchant for bagging a male lion risked wiping out entire prides. The loss of the alpha male could set off a struggle for supremacy among the survivors that could lead to further deaths of adult male lions, or male cubs seen as potential threats.
A hunting ban, the conservationists said, would reduce that threat by taking Americans out of the game. It's one of a range of threats to the survival of the species, said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife for Humane Society International. "But what is most certainly true is that of all the threats to the African lion, the one we can best address here in this country is their import."
Flocken noted that all of the other big cats are protected – jaguars, leopards and tigers. "African lions are the only ones left out there," he said.
However, other wildlife experts argued that a total hunting ban was a "nuclear option". They said responsible hunting could in some cases help conserve populations by maintaining wilderness areas. Existing US and international regulations, such as the Cites conventions against trafficking in endangered species, could also be reinforced to protect lions, they said.
"If you remove hunting, the very real risk is that you force African governments to generate revenue from that land and the obvious thing is cattle and crops which just wipe out habitats," said Hunter.