Friday, October 26, 2007


One year ago tomorrow US video journalist Brad Will (seen here) died of gunshot wounds and at least five other people were reportedly wounded in an outlying Oaxaca City municipality, Santa Lucia del Camino. Brad Will was gunned down during an attempt by the Mexican government and paramilitary forces to retake Oaxaca after five months of worker control.

Despite ample evidence—including Will’s own videotape—implicating local police and state officials in the shooting—Will’s killers remain free.

By the way, last summer Misael Sánchez Sarmiento, a reporter for the Oaxaca-based daily Tiempo, was shot twice while he was investigating the Will killing.

For a couple of earlier related OD articles and more information go to

The following letter is from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ calls for investigation into Bradley Will murder

October 26, 2007

Felipe Calderón Hinojosa
President of Mexico
Los Pinos
Mexico City, Mexico

Via facsimile: 52-55-52772376

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that one year after the death of journalist Bradley Roland Will nobody has been brought to justice. Further, we are troubled by the absence of a serious murder investigation and the lack of official response to witness reports and photographs from the murder scene that identify several armed men shooting into the crowd where Will was present.

On October 27, 2006, in the capital city of Oaxaca state, Will was shot twice while covering a clash between antigovernment protesters and heavily armed plainclothes men working for the embattled state governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. At the time of the shooting, Will, a 36-year-old independent journalist reporting for New York’s Indymedia, was standing alongside protesters. He was accompanied by at least eight other journalists. Ballistics reports show that the two bullets that hit Will came from the same weapon, from a distance of no more than 16 feet, which corresponds to the distance cited in witness accounts of men shooting as they charged the protesters.

Days after the shooting, authorities detained two men who worked for the state government, CPJ revealed in its April report, “A Killing in Mexico.” However, they were released after a state judge concluded they were not close enough to Will to have shot him. Nobody has been arrested since and none of the other armed men photographed during the shooting have been interrogated.

The lack of progress in the Will case exemplifies the impunity surrounding attacks against the press in Mexico, which has become one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the Americas, CPJ research shows. The Mexican criminal judicial system has proved to be overburdened and dysfunctional. We believe this is a national problem whose resolution requires the engagement of the federal government. If the Mexican government is indeed committed to protecting press freedom, stronger judicial proceedings must be put into place.

The Attorney General’s Office has recently announced a bill that would federalize crimes against the press. This legislation will criminalize any attempt to harm, through violence or other means, the right of Mexicans to free expression, a fundamental right enshrined in your nation’s constitution. We urge you to make the protection of free expression a priority of your administration.

In late March, when Will’s relatives met with then-State Attorney General Lizbeth Caña
in Oaxaca, she told them she had requested that federal authorities also investigate the case. She argued that the apparent use of army-issued weapons during the killing, weapons that appear in several photographs taken during the incident, was a federal crime. Yet a parallel investigation eventually begun by federal officials in Oaxaca into the Will case has since been dropped. The special prosecutor for crimes against the press, Octavio Orellana, told CPJ he continues to oversee the state’s investigation, despite the fact that no results have yet come of it so far.

It is disturbing that officials working for the State Attorney General’s Office, including Caña, have suggested that a protester fired the fatal gunshots point-blank without presenting any evidence to back these claims. The unwillingness of state authorities to push for a serious investigation combined with the limited powers of the special federal prosecutor’s office to pursue crimes against the press, have resulted in a slipshod investigation.

We respectfully request that you use the power of your office to set up a rigorous investigation that seriously examines witness accounts, forensic evidence, as well as photographs from the day of the shooting. The failure of the Mexican government to achieve justice in this case sends a disquieting message to journalists throughout Mexico who feel vulnerable and at times helpless in the face of the unrelenting record of impunity.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.


Joel Simon
Executive Director


Meth, crank, speed, crystal, whatever you want to call it, really does kill. It kills the user and it just might kill you if you happen to live next door to a cooker...and you might.

Let's say you live in Missouri. Seems like a pretty run of the mill state. Well, "Missouri will lead the nation again in meth labs," predicted Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, commander of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit (FCNEU) to the Missourian.

Grellner said Missouri authorities expect the number of meth lab seizures to reach between 1,000 and 1,200 by the end of the year. Nearly 50 percent of those will be in the St. Louis region which includes Franklin County and other nearby counties.
Or say you live in the rural town of Selma, California. Let's hope you don't live in the 2600 block of Apsen Street. Cops just busted a lab belonging to one of your hadn't blown up yet.

Or you live out in the sticks outside Huntsville, Alabama (famous for its Redstone Arsenal). Watch out if you take a stroll in the countryside. You might run into an exploding country cottage (see picture).

Or you live in an apartment building in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and you're wiling away your days not bothering anyone. Let's hope your not living in the "Applegate Apartments" on Wenlon Drive where cops fund a working meth lab cooking inside apartment D-61.

Or maybe you just checked into a Day's Inn. Let's hope it wasn't in Lincoln, Alabama where officials responding to a fire at the Days Inn there found what a methamphetamine lab in a room at the hotel there.

Or maybe you don't like to stay in hotels, so your camping at some roadside campground in Indiana. Not safe, dude. Two people were arrested after police found a methamphetamine lab at a Porter Township campground, the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team reported.

What I'm trying to say is even if you aren't a meth user or have a friend or love one who is, that doesn't mean the scourge won't get ya. The fumes and the odors from cooking meth are incredibly dangerous. But also the risk of explosion, fire, those things are just incredibly dangerous as well. And they are everywhere, rural areas, urban areas, suburban subdivisions.

Hell, the lab could be gone, but the danger persists. Meth is a sticky drug, not for its texture so much as its chemical and social effects. It sticks to the places and people that it contacts.

Its toxic residue seeps into the carpets, permeates the walls and remains in the vessels where it is synthesized. Gases get into building materials — even concrete, which has to be chipped away and replaced.

"I've seen a number of cases where a single mother of two moves into an apartment, the place used to be a meth lab, and within days the children have respiratory problems, nosebleeds, headaches," Dan Hannan, a manager at Bay West, a St. Paul, Minn., cleanup company told the local news. The cooking process often leaves a coating on walls, floors and ventilation systems. In some instances, said Hannan, a child can receive a prescription-level dose of the drug just by rubbing his hands on a wall coated with the drug residue.

Something really does need to be done about meth. That something can't just be the nonsense that the powers that be have been running for years.

I don't claim to have an answer.

I'm just here to say that it wouldn't hurt those of us who see the War on Drugs as the joke it to be thinking about this.

I'm just saying...

The following is from the Arab (Alabama) Tribune.

Meth lab explodes

Timothy Gene Brown, 40, is being held in the Morgan County Detention Facility on a bond of $501,000. He was charged with manufacturing and possession of methamphetamine after an alleged meth lab exploded Wednesday morning at a house on Telephone Tower Road in Morgan City. The fire was extinguished by Brindlee Mountain Volunteer Fire Department. At the time of his arrest, Brown was out of jail on bonds for two prior arrests for manufacturing meth. Drug agents said they are seeking to have those bonds revoked. For details, see Saturday's Arab Tribune. For more fire photos, visit:

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Your minding your own business when suddenly a major university announces that although it has denied the story in the past in fact it is building a huge dormitory right in the middle of your neighborhood.

That's what happened to some folks in Queens and they are fighting back.

The dorm is slated for residential Henley Road in Jamaica Estates, a neighborhood of one- and two-family homes which residents and officials say lacks the infrastructure to support such a large building.

Last Saturday pissed off neighborhood residents protested in the streets just outside St. John's University (see picture). Prospective students and their family’s attending the "Open Day" were greeted by the protesters who shouted “Father Harrington shame on you,” and, “St. John’s is a bad neighbor.”

The protesters said St. John’s walked all over residents, acted in secret and took advantage of a loophole in zoning laws.

A leaflet distributed at the demo says, “There was something fishy about the way the plans (for the building) were pushed through.” It claimed that the dorm would overburden the Jamaica Estates community, exacerbate the lack of parking, create noise, crime, kill the water pressure, overwhelm the sewage system causing flooding, destroy the quiet residential lifestyle and cause property values to decline.

Sounds swell.

Rossel Pririe has lived in the area for 15 years. He told the Queens Chronicle that Henley Road was nice and quiet. “St. John’s is trying to destroy it, they have no heart.”

Marilu Velasquez another protester said, “We pay a lot for our houses.” Fran Lieu, former zoning chair for Jamaica Estates Association added, “They just walk right over us.”

Now you'd think the University would have had the courtesy to, at least, include the neighborhood in the discussion.

They didn't. Not until the deal was done were community members even told it was actually happening. They'd heard rumors, they'd asked for answers, they'd said they weren't interested in a dorm on the block. After long-standing representations to the community that the private college would not “build” off-campus student residences, the university entered into a 10-year lease for the dormitory building on Henley Road which will house some 485 students in 66 rooms...and then they let their neighbors in on the discussion.

At that time Kevin Forrestal, President of the Hillcrest Estates Civic Association fumed to the Queens Courier, “Once again, St. John’s has kept its development plans secret. I regularly attend their ‘discussion group’ and they kept us in the dark. This construction is clearly inappropriate and their position is inexcusable to any rational person."

Now you and I probably wouldn't object to have some college kids around, but these are older and often retired folk who've been living quietly for years. They're not so sure they're ready for prime time and anyway, we'll say it again, no one bothered to even ask.

Universities which so often pride themselves as liberal institutions who want to be nothing but good neighbors too often historically forget that policy when it comes to expansions. Remember Colombia University back in 68? I do. Back then Colombia was constructing a new gym in Morningside Park -- the barrier separating Columbia from Harlem -- with a "back door" on the Harlem side. This offended many people. What followed is history that you should know. Students at Colombia took over buildings and battled not just their administration but rioting cops as well.

I wonder if today's students at St. John's know that history.

I wonder if they care?

The following is from the Queens Chronicle.

St. John’s Dorm Project Halted By DOB Order
by Jillian Abbott , Chronicle Reporter

In a move that is certain to embolden neighborhood activists, the city Department of Buildings issued a stop work order this month for a controversial 485-bed off-campus dormitory for St. John’s University students.

“All permits have been revoked, and no work can take place at the site,” said Carly Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the buildings department. She added that a new permit to create a shoring system that would ensure that the site complies with safety standards was recently approved, but has not yet been issued.

The original plans were self-certified by Ramy Isaac, who was recently described in New York Magazine as the “go-to guy” for illegal East Village apartment enlargements — including, in some cases, additional penthouses on existing buildings. Following a buildings department probe into his work, Isaac voluntarily surrendered his right to self-certify building plans in April.

But by the time he gave up certification privileges, he had already submitted his plans for the Jamaica Estates dormitory.

The city, after receiving a high volume of complaints about the proposed Henley Road dorm over the summer, decided to audit Isaac’s plan for the residence hall and found that it did not comply with building codes and zoning resolutions.

The agency then issued a “Revoke Pending” order requiring Isaac to address inspectors’ concerns about the structure. But the architect failed to respond, prompting the agency to issue the recent stop work order, an agency spokeswoman said.

The prohibition was welcomed by elected officials, civic leaders and Henley Road residents, who continue to hold regular meetings to brainstorm new ways to stop the construction.

“I only hope it (the stop work order) is permanent,” said a community leader who asked not to be named, “but they (developers) have a way of getting around the codes.”

Much of the local anger about the dorm, which the agency approved on June 11, has been directed at the university officials who had consistently denied they were even planning the off-campus facility until they actually signed the lease on Aug. 7.

In light of these earlier denials, it remains unclear how the architect could have received a permit to build such a large dorm in a residential area unless he had secured a previous commitment from university officials to lease the property for 10 years. (The city requires stakeholders to make such a commitment before it approves community facilities.)

When asked about the recent stop work order, Dominic Scianna, a university spokesman, declined to comment. He later suggested consulting the developer, not the university, when pressed for details.

Meanwhile, community leaders are incensed by what they call evasive responses by St. John’s officials, whom they believe are privately aiding developers, while publicly distancing themselves from the project.

Critics are also suspicious about the fact that one of the listed owners of the Henley Road property is David Belt, president of DBI Construction Consultants. Belt has worked closely with the university on past construction projects.

“Is it too much of a leap of faith to say that St. John’s has their fingerprints all over this construction application?” asked a civic leader, who asked not to be named.

“David Belt was also a force in the construction of the St. Thomas More Church,” he said, “their DaSilva Hall at the Staten Island Campus and the Capital Expansion Program at the Hillcrest Estate campus.”

According to the latest plan, the new dorm would house 485 students, supply 80 parking spots and have less supervision than most on-campus dorms.

In recent years, students living in on-campus dorms have been cited in hundreds of incidents for drinking and unruly conduct — and state Sen. Frank Padavan worries the same problems will arise at the off-campus site.

He wrote to St. John’s President Father Donald Harrington again, drawing his attention to liquor violations, drug violations and a sexual misconduct incident on the campus. Padavan fears this might be even worse at an unsupervised off-campus dorm in a residential area.


The New York Sun is reporting that protests are being planned at the New York concert performance of neo-nazi "Thompson."

In past concerts, the newspaper says, he has performed an anthem of the country's Nazi-backed military regime — the Ustashe — that references extermination camps where tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs, and Gypsies were killed during World War II. He greets adoring crowds with a famous Ustashe slogan — and many respond with the Nazi salute.

Tickets are being sold in a number of places around the city, including some popular Croatian bars in Astoria -- the proprietors of which don't see why the $45 ticket is so controversial. In fact, many are touting him as a Croatian hero and "good person."

He calls his fans patriots, not fascists. But when Thompson sings admirers wearing the insignia of his country's Nazi-allied Ustashe regime raise their right arms to salute him.

The singers is also to perform in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies there said that "much of Thompson's music is a breach of Canadian values and possibly this country's hate speech laws."

The planned Toronto concert of 'Thompson', has been cancelled after protests.

The concert fans of Marko Perkovic a.k.a. Thompson often wear black uniforms resembling those of the Ustasha army. Ustashe were native Croatian WWII Nazi government whose volunteer army engaged in one of the most brutal extermination campaigns of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies that even seasoned German Nazi officers found repulsive.

A Wiesenthal Center's spokesperson also mentions a recent Thompson concert in Zagreb which he says was attended by 60,000 people. "There were fascist salutes and T-shirts that read 'Ready for the Homeland,' a slogan made popular by the Ustashe."

The day after that June 17, 2007 concert, the Croatian government issued a statement condemning the display of Ustashe memorabilia and slogans such as "for the Fatherland, ready."

In 2004, Dutch authorities banned Thompson from performing in Amsterdam citing Hitler salute at previous concerts. Thompson organizers quickly switched the venue to Rotterdam where he was allowed to hold a concert.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center in Israel notes that Thompson's display of Nazi Ustashe symbolism is no coincidence.

"A singer who sings nostalgically about Ustashe leader Ante Pavelic and favorably about Croatia's worst World War II concentration camps Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska, is openly urging his fans to identify with the genocidal Ustashe regime which sought to liquidate Croatia's Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies as well as their Croatian political opponents," says a statement issued by the Wiesenthal Center.

Serbianna reports Serbian Unity Congress (SUC), an umbrella group of Americans of Serb descent has condemned Thompson's plans for the November tour of North America and is calling "on all branches of the US government to join human rights watchdog organizations in taking necessary action to stop any of their public performances in the US."

"The band, led by one Marko Perkovic-Thompson, has a long an indisputable track record of bigotry, racism and even outright fascism," says SUC and adds that "this act is utterly incompatible with values established in our society, and that positive action by governmental agencies might be needed to redress the matter," writes Serbian Unity Congress in their public statement.

The British newspaper, The Telegraph, writes, "For most Croatians, Thompson is regarded as a benevolent hero – a patriot who sings at benefit concerts for injured soldiers – and his Zagreb concert was attended by former government ministers and sports stars."

"My songs talk about love of one's country, God and all values of Croatian people and if that bothers somebody and calls that fascism, then that is another matter," Thompson told Croatian newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija in September.

Well, it bothers me and I do call it fascism.

The following is from the Village Voice.

Croation Neo-Nazi Rocker To Perform in Midtown

Marko Perkovic is taking the stage November 2nd to literally sing praises of the Holocaust.

The Croatian rocker goes by the stage name Thompson (for the American-issued Thompson sub-machine gun he carried as a soldier in the Croatian war)—and sings about the Ustaše, the Croation pro-Nazi regime that sent Jews, Serbs and Gypsies to concentration camps during WWII. The folk-metal musician is often greeted by audiences with a Nazi salute. He's been kicked out of Canada and the Netherlands for hate speech, only to be welcomed by Manhattan's own Croatian Center in Midtown.

Surprisingly, Thompson is not totally embraced by American neo-Nazis, who'd rather berate Jews, blacks and Hispanics than Serbs. Earlier this year, when Thompson announced his plans to perform in Vancouver, a Canadian racist tried to set the record straight for his fellow haters on, an international message board for white supremacists:

“Thompson isn't a neo-Nazi band; they are Croatian Nationalists whose songs focus on their love for Croatia, the Croatia people, and their religion. Their songs also focus on their hatred of the Serbian people, another proud White race... Thompson drew heavy criticism—and rightfully so—for their recording of Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara. Now, my Croatian is a little rusty, but I believe the song is a tribute to a WWII slaughter of Serb troops in the Balkans.”

The Canadian, whose screen name is option_violence, made it clear that this kind of white-on-white genocide is not welcome:

“I do not support them or their music if all it will do is continue to create divisions between the different white nations, namely the Croats and the Serbs.”

Yes, because obviously that's just wrong.

The New York Sun reported this morning that the concert is already sold out and sales for a second performance are under way. Protesters will certainly be there—Jews, Serbs and, just maybe, a few white supremacists.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Attacks against journalist are on the increase as the October 28th elections in Colombia approach.

“Repeated press freedom violations have been committed by candidates or by former political leaders these last weeks. The electoral campaign has revived threats against journalists in a politically charged climate because of the influence of armed groups and corruption,” the Reporters sans Frontiers said recently.

Many journalists have been forced to flee the country in the face of death threats.

Several have been killed.

“In Colombia, this is a crime that has no punishment,” said Enrique Santos, publisher of Colombia’s leading daily, El Tiempo. “In Colombia, 95 percent of these murders are unsolved.”

Colombia remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. During the last 16 years, 39 journalists have been murdered in the line of duty in Colombia—the third highest number for any country in that period.

The following is from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

After death threats, two Colombian journalists flee the country

Colombian journalists Hollman Morris and Geovanny Álvarez Castro left the country last week following death threats linked to their reporting. The Committee to Protect Journalists called today on Colombian authorities to conduct a speedy investigation into the threats and to ensure that the two journalists are able to return to Colombia and work safely there.

Morris, an independent journalist and producer of the weekly investigative news program “Contravía” on television station Canal Uno, left Colombia with his family on Sunday, the journalist told CPJ. Morris, who is recognized for his investigative reporting on Colombia’s civil conflict, has previously been the subject of threats and harassment. He and his family are now in the United States.

Morris told CPJ that he received an e-mail message to his personal address on September 26 from a group calling itself Frente Patriotico Colombiano (Colombian Patriotic Front). The group stated that Moris had won a raffle for a coffin. In the message, reviewed by CPJ, the assailants said the journalist was “an anti-patriot, a member of the guerrillas, and a tattletale.” Leftist guerrillas, right wing paramilitaries, and Colombian armed forces have battled each other for five decades, committing heinous human rights violations along the way.

Álvarez, co-director and host of the daily news program “La Verdad” (The Truth) on community radio station La Nueva in the northern city of Sabanalarga, left Colombia two days before Morris, according to the local press freedom group Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa. Álvarez told the press freedom group that he received several anonymous death threats following his month-long reporting on local government corruption. On September 21, the Sabanalarga police had also informed the journalist of a possible attempt against his life. For fear of further reprisals, the journalist has kept his location secret.

“Colombian authorities must immediately investigate the death threats against Hollman Morris and Geovanny Álvarez, and bring all those responsible to justice,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “They must also ensure that the two journalists are able to return to Colombia by providing them with the necessary protection to guarantee that they can continue to work safely.”

Gonzalo Guillén, Colombia correspondent for the Miami-based daily El Nuevo Herald, fled his home in Bogotá earlier this month after receiving more than 20 death threats. The threats came following comments made by President Álvaro Uribe Vélez on several national radio stations. CPJ sent a letter to Uribe on October 11 after the president made public accusations against another journalist, Daniel Coronell. In the letter, CPJ urged Uribe to publicly retract his comments on the two journalists, to respect dissent in the media, and to abstain from publicly attacking journalists who present critical views


I know there are those who say that posting stuff about the slime balls at the Westboro Baptist Church located at 3701 W. 12th Street in Topeka, KS just gives them the publicity they want, but I think the trial currently taking place in Pennsylvania is worth watching. The case is the first individual lawsuit against Westboro Baptist and its members. Maybe, just maybe, for once these rodents will have to pay for their practice of hate speech and their spewing of filth.

I sure as hell hope so.

They have hidden their asses behind the banner of free speech for way too long. Free speech does not guarantee hate speech. Hate speech leads more often than not to hateful action.

The following is from the Baltimore Sun.

Father of slain Marine takes stand
He says protests at son's funeral made him sick to his stomach

The father of a Marine killed in Iraq took the stand today in his invasion of privacy suit against a fundamentalist church that pickets soldiers' funerals, saying protesters carrying signs at his son's burial made him sick to his stomach.

Albert Snyder said he had hoped for a private funeral for his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder.

"They turned this funeral into a media circus and they wanted to hurt my family," Snyder testified. "They wanted their message heard and they didn't care who they stepped over. My son should have been buried with dignity, not with a bunch of clowns outside."

Snyder is suing the Westboro Baptist Church, whose members have picketed the funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming the deaths are punishment for the country's tolerance of homosexuality. The York, Pa., resident is seeking unspecified monetary damages in the case for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress as a result of the Topeka, Kan., church's protest at his son's funeral in Westminster in March 2006.

The church's protests have inspired several state laws and a federal law about funeral protests, but the Maryland suit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen service member.

Asked today about a sign that read "Thank God for dead soldiers," Snyder said he thinks about it daily.

"I see that sign when I lay in bed," Snyder said.

Asked about statements issued by the group that his son was raised to support the "Roman Catholic monstrosity" and then sent to fight for the "United States of Sodomy," Snyder said "they have no right to do this to people they didn't know."

During cross-examination, defense attorney Jonathan Katz focused on obituaries and death notices and questioned Snyder on whether they said the funeral services were private. Snyder replied that the notices said friends and family were welcome, but admitted that he did not know all of the 500 or so people who attended.

The case tests the limits of the First Amendment right to free speech.

U.S. District Richard Bennett instructed jurors at the start of testimony Tuesday that the First Amendment protection of free speech has limits, including vulgar, offensive and shocking statements. Bennett said the jurors must decide "whether the defendant's actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous, and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection."

Church members said they are motivated by the fear of God and their need to warn America about its moral decay, rather than a desire to hurt anyone.

Katz told jurors Tuesday the protests took place 1,000 feet away from the church where the funeral was held, down a hill and out of sight and hearing from participants.

Snyder said American military personnel are in Iraq fighting for freedom of speech "they're not fighting for hate speech." One photo showing a child holding a sign at the funeral protest was particularly disturbing, the father said.

"I pray for their children. Their children need help. To be brought up with that kind of hatred," Snyder said.

"My God is loving God," Snyder said, adding later "I don't look for hatred in the Bible."

The church's founder and pastor, Fred Phelps, took the stand after Snyder and prompted a strong admonition from Bennett when the pastor said he had not considered whether children would see a sign carried by protesters with the words "Semper Fi Fags" and two stick figures that appear to be engaged in sodomy.

"No, it's an irrelevancy," Phelps said.

Bennet then interjected sharply.

"Just answer the question, sir. Don't determine what's relevant or not relevant. You just answer the question," Bennett said.


Anyone interested in living in a radioactive house? How about a nice front yard that pours "nuclear rays" into your living room? Maybe you'd like your garden to get a few free rads?

Today the Navajo Nation brought the question to our nation's capital where they laid a pile of dirt out for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and let a Geiger Counter do the talking. The dirt was quickly escorted from the building.

The Navajo have a whale of experience with radioactive surroundings.

But you know, they're just injuns so who the hell gives a hoot. I mean, they should count their lucky stars we let them live down there in New Mexico, Arizona and all.

Well guess what white man? Radiation is coming to your town, if it hasn't already arrived.

Take Weld County, Colorado, where almost none of those pesky Indians live and 82% of the population is white. Take it while you can.

The Tribune of Northern Colorado reports:
"Powertech, Inc. wants to use the water that residents of Weld County depend on for their drinking water, and for livestock and crops for extracting uranium,with other heavy metals as byproducts. The risk of water contamination with
in-situ mining is indisputably documented.

The combination of contaminated dust and the natural weather patterns in Northern Colorado creates a nightmare. We all have been exposed to the fierce winds that lash our area. Those same winds will tear away at the contaminated mining waste and deposit it over a large area. Deposits from the 1980 St. Helens eruption easily reached Colorado. Imagine what a Weld County open pit mine could do."

Sounds like fun. Good place to get a tan, maybe.

Speaking of Colorado, how about the town of Rulison.

Back in the late 60s the government came up with this hair brained scheme to use nuclear explosions to free up natural gas. The area around Rulison was picked as a nice place to experiment. It didn't work. After the test, the natural gas that was extracted was determined to be too radioactive to be sold commercially. The surface of the site began to be cleaned up by the Department of Energy in the 1970s, and was supposedly completed in 1998. A buffer zone put in place by the state of Colorado still exists around the area, however.

And now here we are in 2007 and some big old energy company wants to drill in the buffer zone.
The Department of Energy says this is not a problem.

Wonder how many DOE bigwigs live nearby?

Anyway, Tim McFlynn writes in the Aspen Times:
" its March 2000 report, DOE found tritium to be the “primary contaminant of concern over the next 100 years because it is one of the most mobile radiologic isotopes and is found in abundance” at the test site. Since well bores would pass through groundwater aquifers, the report noted, “No proven and cost-effective technologies exist for the removal of radioactive contamination from groundwater at these depths.” And the report did not consider pathways for potential
migration into the air, groundwater or natural gas of plutonium, uranium,
carbon-14 or krypton-85 — all admitted to be associated with this underground
nuclear blast (though the specifics remain classified.)

Tim adds that now the DOE, "...concludes that there is 95 percent certainty that a hypothetical well producing gas just outside the 40 acre drilling exclusion area would release groundwater contamination by tritium. If there were only a 5 percent chance of a lethal discharge, would you play Russian roulette?"

No thanks, I'd pass on that one.

Finally, I'll just mention the concerned folks who live in and around Tonawanda, New York. Although this place does have an Indian name, it is 98% white.

Residents living near a Tonawanda landfill that was once the site of the Army’s Manhattan Project decades ago want the area cleaned up. Plain and simple.

The Army Corps (the same bunch who built that magnificent levee system around New Orleans) maintains that the risk to residents’ homes is acceptable. They say trucking stuff in and out of the dump poses no problems.

I know that would make me fill safe.

It apparently doesn't make the folks there feel safe though.

"Do something!" That’s the message Christopher Thomas, Casper Hoffmann and Joyce Hogenkamp sent to the City of Tonawanda Council earlier this month.

Hogenkamp, a former Tonawanda City School District Board of Education member, told the council that three teachers from Riverview Elementary School, which neighbors the landfill, have been diagnosed with cancer within the past year.

“We have an immediate problem,” she said. “What we are sitting on is a timebomb between the landfill, Spaulding (Fibre) and what’s sitting down in Gastown. We need a city-wide health study. The grant money is out there for these studies.”

Hoffmann, was more direct with his comments.

“You people gotta do something now. ... We got people dying (from cancer) down there,” he said.

Hoffmann said he’s been begging the city “for 10 months” to file an injunction against the town to stop all work at the landfill. The work, which involves moving garbage from one end to the other, has caused his whole house to shake.

Erie County 10th District Legislator Michele Iannello said the main concern residents shared with her was in regards to their health, especially “not knowing whether they’ve been affected or will be affected in the future if the uranium stays there,” she said.

The Corps needs to clean out the landfill “so we don’t have to wonder,” Iannello said to the local media. “They’ve cleaned up other landfills that don’t have residents living nearby and to me this is more important because there are residents living near there. Get it cleaned out.”

But the Corps keeps on keeping on.

Why do Americans of any color or class have to live in fear of cancer causing radioactive waste in their neighborhood.

We call it capitalism folks.

We call it a government more concerned about corporate interest that individual citizens.

And that's the way it is in America today.

The following is from the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Navajos: Old uranium tailings leave land radioactive, people sick
By Thomas Burr

WASHINGTON - The Navajo Nation representative waved an instrument over the small pile of dirt. Beep, beep, beep it went, in a radioactive crescendo.

The bit of soil - shipped from the Four Corners region to the Capitol - underscored Stephen Etsitty's point: This was only a minuscule sample of the tailings left behind from decades of uranium mining.

Much larger pieces, he said, can be found in the homes of American Indians, in watering holes for grazing animals, even pressed into a public highway.

"The sounds that you have heard come from an instrument called a Ludlum 19 and show that Navajo families are living within a few hundred yards of materials that we're told we shouldn't be exposed to for longer than an hour," said Etsitty, executive director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee stared at the small tub of dirt, which was then sealed off and escorted out of the building by Capitol Police.

The demonstration on Tuesday came during testimony on the problems faced by those living in the Navajo Nation - 27,000 square miles across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico - where more than 500 former uranium mines were abandoned after the rush to find nuclear material during the 1940s to the 1970s.

Representatives of the Navajo Nation say the U.S. government has not done enough to clean up the aftermath of the uranium mining, an effort that one committee member said could cost more than $500 million.

Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., declared at the start of the hearing that it is the federal government's responsibility to see that the contamination is cleaned up. And he decried the lack of work on restoring the land on the Navajo reservation.

"If a fraction of the deadly contamination the Navajos live with every day had been in Beverly Hills or any wealthy community, it would have been cleaned up immediately," Waxman said. "But there's a different standard applied to the Navajo land."

Ray Manygoats lives near Tuba City, Ariz., where a uranium mill sprang up during the Cold War, and he says radioactive waste is still strewn all over the area.

"Our land today is poisoned," Manygoats said. "Today, I am a man who has lost his health, his family and his ancestral way of life because of uranium. I am here today to ask you to act to stop the suffering and needless deaths of my people."

Etsitty, who says the presence of hazardous waste violates America's treaty with the Navajos, noted that the federal government is planning to reclaim a tailings site near Moab just outside the Navajo Nation.

"Why is this not happening on the Navajo reservation," he said. "Are we seeing environmental injustice in action once again?"

Because of the health and environmental problems that have plagued tribal members since the last boom, the Navajo Nation has passed a resolution prohibiting new uranium mining on the reservation.

In 2001, the EPA razed Mary Holiday's hogan in Monument Valley because of gamma radiation readings 25 times higher than the level considered safe and radon 44 times above the "safe" level. Exposure to high radiation sometimes causes lung cancer, the disease that killed Holiday's nephew, Leonard Begay, a non-smoker who had lived in the hogan for many years. He died in 2003 at age 38.

Wayne Nastri, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency region that covers the Navajo Nation, said there have been efforts made to reclaim some of the now-contaminated land. The agency has built an inventory of 520 abandoned mines and the Navajo government is now helping to prioritize the sites for cleanup, Nastri said.

"The challenge posed by uranium mine sites in the Navajo Nation will need to be addressed through federal, state and tribal efforts," Nastri said, adding that the agency provides $3.9 million annually to the Navajo government and that during the last 16 years it has spent $7.8 million specifically for a superfund program.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of Interior also is helping the Navajos reclaim the land, its director, Jerry Gidner, testified. His agency is providing assistance to the tribal government to address the hazards at the mines and also helping to seal some mine openings and remove physical hazards at others.

Waxman, who plans more hearings on the subject, called for a comprehensive study of the health risks posed by the tailings and suggested the EPA conduct detailed site assessments at the priority mine sites right away. Once that's done, he added, the cleanups need be "initiated and accelerated."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


A rally is to take place this Sunday (October 28) to protest against the withdrawal of cancer services from Mayo General Hospital (pictured here) in Castlebar, Ireland and to demand that the Health Service Executive (HSE) retain and expand existing cancer services at the Castlebar hospital.

A spokesperson for the HSE said that the treatment of symptomatic breast disease would be best delivered at eight designated Specialist Cancer Centres. Services will be withdrawn from hospitals, which do not meet the defined criteria for delivery of symptomatic breast care,

The news that the cancer services would be shut down in Mayo soon has drawn considerable ire.

“One of the biggest elements in combating cancer is prompt diagnosis and subsequent treatment. While UCHG (University College Hospital Galway) will become a centre of excellence for cancer care, we want services at MGH retained and expanded. A multi-disciplinary team of health professionals meet each week at MGH to discuss cancer patient care and treatment and if we lose this it has huge consequences for all cancer patients in Mayo who are facing the ordeal of travelling long distances to UCHG for regular treatment, not to mention joining long waiting lists,” Mayo Breast Cancer Support Group spokesperson, Mary McGreal told the Mayo News. “It is absolutely vital that we retain the services at MGH and I would appeal to the general public to come along on Sunday and join the protest march and demand the retention of all cancer care services at MGH,” said Mary.

Cancer survivors, women, doctors and students have all lined up to denounce the move to close the service.

Castlebar students, who were outraged when they learned that the breast cancer services at Mayo General Hospital are to close, have petitioned their classmates and teachers to highlight the issue.

Over 489 signatures were collected by the students of St Joseph’s Secondary School just last Monday reports the Mayo Advertiser.

In a letter to Leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Enda Kenny, the students said the closure of the cancer care services are of concern to them, the future generation.

“We feel so strongly regarding this situation that we have initiated a petition to register the grievances of the students and staff of St Joseph’s Secondary School,” they told Dep Kenny.

They said they wish for the service to remain open to assist the people of Mayo and north west Connnacht and urged Dep Kenny to work in their behalf to retain this unit.

Dr Tony O’Brien, Chief Executive of the National Cancer Screening Service, said he is a member of the group that would make the decision on the withdrawal of cancer services from Castlebar, and no such decision has yet been made.

However, it was made clear that it is the intention of the HSE, in line with their national policy, to have 90 per cent of cancer services and treatments in this region carried out in University College Hospital Galway by 2010.

In a statement released on October 15th, Deputy Enda Kenny indicated that the HSE, acting on the instructions of the Government, planned to end all breast cancer services in Mayo General Hospital ‘inside three months’.

Three months or three years doesn't matter say those who want the unit to remain open.

“By any criteria, by any audit of performance, by fact of survival rates, Mayo General Hospital stands on its merits and on its integrity. That is because it has been closely linked to UCHG for many years and because of its proven reputation and results,” Deputy Kenny said.

The following is from the Connaught Telegraph (Ireland).

Rally to oppose cancer unit closure

THE diminution of cancer services at Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, must be opposed at every level.

There are serious questions to be answered as to why it has to be axed, depriving the women of Mayo of a service on their doorsteps.

Thousands of euro have been raised voluntary countywide for the upgrading of the unit in Castlebar and it must be asked what will happen that funding if services are transferred to Galway.

Those who dug deep in their pockets and the committees and individuals who collected will not accept the transfer of services or funds to Galway.

The uproar as to the timescale of the closure is clouding the debate, which must centre on the fact that the future of the unit is sealed.

It does not matter if it will be terminated in three months of three years. The reality is closure.

There are few of us who have not been touched by the ravages that cancer brings and we all appreciate the tremendous work being done by the medical staff at the unit in Mayo General.

The Mayo Breast Cancer Support Group is holding a public protest in Castlebar on Sunday to oppose the closure of the unit.

We urge every man, woman and child to attend the rally which will assemble at Swimming Pool Road in Castlebar at 2.30 p.m. and will proceed through the town to the TF Royal Theatre, opposite the hospital.

This is an opportunity for everyone to demonstrate their outrage to the HSE that we do not want to lose this valuable service.

The women of Mayo have a right to be treated in their own county. The people have voted by supporting the fundraising campaigns to enhance services at Mayo General, something that should be forthcoming from the exchequer.

This outrageous decision has to be reversed. It is up to our politicians, particularly those in government, to make a stand and ensure the cancer unit is not alone retained in Mayo but is upgraded and secured so those who need the service can avail of it in Mayo.

A huge show of support on Sunday will send the right message to the powers that be that the people of Mayo will not accept any cutback in cancer services.


You watch your son go off to war. Then you are forced to see him come home to a soldiers funeral.


Yeah, but it turns out in this day and age it can get even worse.

That's what happened to Albert Snyder of York, Pennsylvania whose grieving for his son was interrupted by the soulless members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas.

The congregation of this church which is basically made up of the family of its rodent preacher Fred Phelps, as you probably know, get their jollies by holding up "God Hate Fags" signs at funerals. They started their vulture like activities first at the funerals of gays and then decided doing the same at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq would be fun, too.

Like every other American in this country of whatever political stripe (except for the Phelps pack of yoyos), I am sickened by this.

It amazes me that these folks are still running around loose with sickening grins on their faces.

Yesterday a trial of sorts started back east where Snyder is suing the "church." He says members of the church invaded his privacy and caused emotional distress when they picketed his son's funeral last year.

They did more than that, of course.

Besides angering me, you and everyone else, as they once more regurgitated themselves into our lives, they defamed themselves in the eyes of whatever deity may have been floating over the scene.

One dismissed juror said that there was no way she could have stayed impartial during this trial.

“I was almost ashamed to be a Baptist, frankly, because we're supposed to be about the compassion of Christ. There’s no compassion there… no kindness."

She is right, of course, but I hope other jurors like her keep their thoughts to themselves and give this bunch of unsavory life forms, who hide their scardy cat selves behind "freedom of speech", just what they've got coming.

The following is from WHP in Pennsylvania.

Funeral Protest Trial

Opening statements will begin Tuesday in a civil trial brought by the York County father of a dead soldier.

The dad is suing the church that protested at his son's funeral.

Albert Snyder of Spring Garden Township was not permitted to say anything as he walked into the federal courthouse in Baltimore, but he's taking on the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas.

He says members of the church invaded his privacy and caused emotional distress when they picketed his son's funeral last year. His son was a soldier, killed in Iraq.

One dismissed juror tells us that there was no way she could have stayed impartial during this trial.

“I was almost ashamed to be a Baptist, frankly, because we're supposed to be about the compassion of Christ. There’s no compassion there… no kindness."

Westboro Baptist Church members travel across the country, protesting at military funerals. They say the troops killed are God's punishment for the United State's acceptance of homosexuals.

They claim their actions are protected under the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.


Fifty-five year old Eddie Bridges of Americus, Georgia, was known as a good samaritan. Family members say he had epilepsy and was prone to seizures. In June, Bridges died in his home. Medical examiners say from a heart attack. Others in the community believe there's much more to the story.

Eddie Bridges was beaten last spring by a Georgia cop. He later died.

The beating happened in April of this year. Police officer Michael Middleton was responding to a loitering call at Wheatley Plaza in Americus. That's where the officer confronted Eddie Bridges. Some witnesses say Bridges tossed a fruit drink can at the officer who then punched him hard in the eye.

Americus Police Chief James Green showed photos of Bridges’ eye to the Times-Recorder that were taken immediately after the altercation.

Bridges’ eye was badly swollen and protruding from its socket. The eyeball was about the size of a plum and bloody around the perimeter. Green said he was a little stunned when saw Bridges’ eye.

“Middleton told me he hit him with a lot of force,” said Green.

People in the community say they will not forget Eddie Bridges. "His smile was so bright and he was a very kind hearted person. He never bothered anyone," said Americus Resident Gloria West.

Jo Ann Dodson has managed the Goodwill Store in Americus for six years.

She formed a special relationship with Eddie Bridges, saying he bought toys and bikes for children.

"It upset me that he went through what he went through and it upset me of course that it ended up in his death and I miss him still sometimes because I'm use to him being here. He never did anything to hurt anyone," Dodson told WTVW in Columbus, Georgia.

Dodson told another TV news reporter, "He was unable to work you know so he would just come and help people out."

Yesterday was a day his friends, family, and community publicly remembered him. The Prison and Jail Project organized a march Monday in Americus, Georgia on what would have been Eddie's 56th birthday to again call attention to what happened to him one evening in central Georgia.

The following is from the Americus Times Recorder (Georgia).

Protests held on Bridges’ birthday by the P&JP

The birthday of the late Eddie Bridges — who would have been 56 Monday — was observed with protests against the alleged police brutality that Bridges suffered that some believe caused his death.

The Prison & Jail Project (P&JP) and its executive director John Cole Vodicka organized one protest at the Municipal Building Monday morning and another in front of the Public Safety Building on South Lee Street Monday afternoon. A candlelight vigil in Bridges’ memory was planned for later that evening.

Bridges died in June from a seizure disorder, according to the autopsy report from the State Crime Lab. In April, Bridges was involved in a physical altercation with Americus Police Officer Michael Middleton, who attempted to arrest Bridges for vagrancy. It was later learned that Bridges was not one of the vagrants harassing customers in the Goodwill shopping center where the altercation occurred.

Middleton had been placed on administrative leave from the Americus Police Department; but, he was allowed to return to work, the Times-Recorder later learned.

Although the autopsy determined Bridges’ death was from “natural causes,” some believe that his death was due to the beating he allegedly suffered at the hands of Middleton. Police photos taken of Bridges’ injuries show that his eye was damaged.

The protesters were holding up signs which said, “Happy Birthday, Eddie Bridges ... We wish you were here,” and “Stop Brutal Cops ... Fire Middleton.”

“This is directed towards police departments across America: what is the life of 14-year-old Martha Lee Anderson worth in Panama City, Fla.? What is the life of Kenneth Walker worth in Columbus, Ga.? What is the life of Eddie Bridges worth in Americus, Ga.? You can kill a dog and go to jail, as in Michael Vick’s case, but you can kill a black man and nothing is done,” said Eugene Edge Jr., of the National Unity of Blackmen in America (N.U.B.I.A.), one of the protesters at the rally.

Americus Police Chief James Green said of the protests, “I would like to clear up that it was not a beating; it was an altercation. We’re waiting for the Grand Jury to finalize things.

“I support my officers. Sometimes, we just have to review what happened and move on.”

Green added, “Basically, I’m tired of hearing about a beating and associating it with Bridges’ death. The autopsy shows there is nothing associating his death with the altercation. In fact, he had a seizure related disorder, and there was no seizure-related medication in his system.

“Each time we had an encounter with him, we were familiar with his condition,” Green continued. “Middleton had never had an encounter with him. State law says I’m supposed to use information which an officer has at the time to use in judgment of whether force was necessary or not. Middleton didn’t know he (Bridges) had medical problems.”

Green said, “Again, I support my officers. They have a hard enough job without having to be second-guessed or criticized for things that come their way. This is the United States and my officers understand that although we may not agree, people have the right to criticize us, as long as they don’t try to force their opinions on somebody else and don’t interfere with other individuals’ rights.

“We, as law enforcement officers, have to equally enforce that right to free speech and will continue to do that. Even though I might disagree with a lot of what some people say, I understand it’s part of my job to protect their right of free speech.”

In conclusion, Green said, “I judge my officers by the way they respond to people they might disagree with.”


Hundreds took to the streets of Tallahassee to protest the death of a teen last year at a Florida boot camp and the state handling of the incident. Martin Lee Anderson was killed while in the custody of the Bay County Sheriff’s Department Boot Camp in January 2006. Anderson was 14 when he died at the now-closed Bay County Juvenile Boot Camp. He had been sent there for a probation violation and became lethargic during a physical fitness test shortly after arriving. An exercise yard videotape shows seven guards repeatedly hitting the boy with their fists and knees (see photo). The camp nurse is accused of watching but doing nothing during most of the 30-minute encounter.

"Everybody in the United States should be outraged," Beverlye Neal, executive director Florida State Conference NAACP, told Monday. "In 2007, we’re still dealing with blatant racism and no concern for black life. They kicked and brutalized that baby, a jury acquitted those people, and everybody should be up in arms."

According to a statement by the Florida State Conference, "The NAACP is outraged at the "not guilty" verdict rendered on Friday, October 12, 2007, by an all-white jury. This verdict acquitted the deputies and nurse who were responsible for the death of Martin Lee Anderson."

"The FSC NAACP has requested the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate the circumstances surrounding the case bought by the State of Florida in Bay County, and more importantly, to follow up on the FSC NAACP’s initial request in March 2006, calling for the U.S. District Attorney in North Florida to conduct an investigation into and charge those responsible for the civil rights violations evident in Martin Lee Anderson’s death."

"We are putting word out that we are together in wanting something to be done, and we are asking that higher powers come in and look at this case," Pat Spencer of the NAACP told MyFoxTampa.

BlackAmerica Web reports that residents in the hometown of Anderson gathered at a local church recently and shared anger that the eight people accused of killing Anderson were acquitted by an all-white jury.

"In this country, we are spending millions of dollars to fight wars that we say are to bring human rights and justice to other countries, but we don't have those things right here," said Bob Clark, a Panama City resident who helped organize the church vigil.

The blog On The Black Hand Side writes:

The State of Florida awarded Martin Lee Anderson's parents millions in his death. That won't bring him back and that certainly was not sufficient resolution in this case. The future Martin Lee Andersons need to be spared from such a horrendous experience. The 30 minute video of the abuse of Martin Lee Anderson is difficult to watch. Even if he was in a juvenile facility, he did not deserve to be tortured to death.

The following is from the Orlando Sentinel.

Hundreds protest boot-camp death in Tallahassee

About 700 marchers shouted "We shall overcome" and "No justice, no peace" today to protest Florida's handling of a teenager's death after he was hit and kicked at a state boot camp last year.

They want federal authorities to investigate what they allege are civil rights violations by camp staffers and others, including Florida's former top law enforcement official.

The protest comes less than two weeks after an all-white jury in Panama City acquitted seven camp guards and a nurse of manslaughter charges in the death of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old black inmate.

A videotape showed guards repeatedly hitting his limp body and the nurse standing by watching at the military-style camp in Panama City. Anderson died a day later, Jan. 6, 2006, at a Pensacola hospital.

The U.S. Justice Department announced within hours of the Oct. 12 verdicts that it was reviewing the state's prosecution.

U.S. Attorney Gregory R. Miller and Justice Department officials met with some of the protesters inside the courthouse. The march began at Tallahassee's civic center and then went past the Florida Capitol.

The NAACP-sponsored protest also targeted former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Guy Tunnell. He was Bay County's sheriff when his office founded the camp and now works as an investigator for the state attorney's office in the area.

The civil rights organization wants Tunnell investigated for allegedly trying to prevent the videotape from being made public, making racist remarks related to the case and inappropriately communicating with current Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen about the death. The sheriff's office ran the now-defunct boot camp under state supervision.

NAACP officials also alleged Tunnell has committed other civil rights violations unrelated to Anderson's death.

Joe Grammer, spokesman for State Attorney Steve Meadows, said Tunnell would not discuss the boot camp case. Tunnell is not authorized to speak to the media, Grammer said.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Please note that I am not writing an article condemning Iran's repressive government because I want to support a US invasion. That's all we need. I'm writing the article because I think it is the duty of the left to stand up to the dictatorial, backward, clerical government of the Islamic Republic of Iran because it violates ideals we hold dear. I'm also posting the article because it is the duty of leftist to support students around the world bravely standing up to such governments.

I'd love to see a progressive revolution in the Islamic Republic, something that would threaten Bushies as much as it would reactionary Islamic Fundamentalists who insist on taking their people back to the middle ages.

So on to today's story.

Ehsan Mansouri, Ahmad Ghassaban and Majid Tavakkoli, Three students of the Amir Kabir University were sentenced to 2, 2.5 and 3 years of prison a few days ago. Officials arrested the students in May along with five other students on charges of endangering national security and insulting Islam. They were accused specifically of distributing newsletters with anti-Islamic images. The three students maintain that the newsletter that contained the "insults" was made by more conservative people to frame the reform group to which they belonged.

Holy moley. What a crime, even if they committed it. This nonsense has got to stop.

Anyway, today students at Tehran's Amir Kabir University took to the streets to protest their jailing. They say their classmates are the latest victims of a government crackdown on dissent on university campuses.

The jailed students all attended Amir Kabir University and are leaders of Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat (the Office for the Consolidation of Unity) described by Human Rights Watch as the largest-known Iranian student reform group.

They protest today also concerned the arrest of leading human rights activists Emad Baqi and pro-reform cleric Hadi Ghabel.

Baqi, author of the book "Tragedy of Democracy in Iran, is no newcomer to being locked up by the regime."

Ghabel had been arrested at his home on 12 September, by the security forces of the special Clergy Courts in Quom. He is a regular critic of the reactionary regime and a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front.

Back on October 8, dozens of students at Amir Kabir University the chanted anti-Ahmadinejad slogans and scuffled with presidential supporters on the campus of Tehran University while Ahmadinejad spoke at the school.

The blog Memri reports about another recent student demonstration. This one took place yesterday at Buali Sina University. Students there protested against the death in prison of student Zahra Bani 'Aamari, who had been arrested for Islamic dress code violations. Students at Buali Sina reported that Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) forces had attacked a number of students in the university dormitories over the weekend, to hush up the affair.

The following is from AFP.

Iran students protest over jail sentences

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iranian students on Monday staged a protest against the jailing of three colleagues, shouting slogans against officials and proclaiming the prisoners' innocence, Iranian news agencies reported.

Three students from Tehran's Amir Kabir University -- Ehsan Mansouri, Majid Tavakoli and Ahmad Ghassaban -- were last week given jail sentences of up to three years on charges of anti-Islamic images in four student newspapers.

The protest was held at Amir Kabir University by its Islamic Association of Students, joined by protesters from Tehran, Sanati Sharif and Alameh Tabatabai universities, the student ISNA and semi-official Mehr news agencies reported.

Pictures published by ISNA showed that crowds of a few hundred students had turned out, despite apparent official efforts to prevent the demonstration taking place.

"Down with the dictator" and "political students must be freed" were among the slogans chanted in the protest, the association's website said.

"The university's director had yesterday (Monday) banned the association's members and some other political activists from entering the campus and also asked for a police presence in order to stop this event," the website said.

ISNA said that the protesters walked around in the campus while chanting slogans and also held short speeches in front of the central university hall.

"We have come together here today to prove to the management of the university that our friends are innocent and we are ready to defend them," one Amir Kabir students, Sedigheh Bigdeli, was quoted as saying.

"The insulting publications were falsified under the logo of the Islamic Association in order to prevent the elections of the association," she said.

Photos taken by mobile phones at the scene showed students holding pictures of the jailed students and banners held by protesters had slogans against some of the country's officials, the ISNA report said.

ISNA had blurred the faces of the students at the gathering in their pictures for their security.

The gathering started at 0730 GMT and came to an end after nearly three hours, the reports said. The students who tried to leave the campus were blocked by police.

In August, Mansouri's mother publicly accused the authorities of torturing the young men at Tehran's infamous Evin prison in an effort to obtain confessions. The judiciary insists that torture is not used in Iran.

The demonstration was held two weeks after students held a noisy protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he gave a speech at Tehran University, likening him to the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Ahmadinejad had been famously heckled during a speech last year to students at Amir Kabir, one of the most prestigious institutions in Iran which has long been a hotbed of political activity.

In 1999, Tehran was the scene of bloody student riots sparked when Islamist vigilantes raided university dormitories.


Armenians in Israel are calling on a state that should understand their anguish to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian-Israelis marched in Jerusalem's Justice Square singing and chanting Armenian songs and slogans. The protest was attended by two parliamentary officials, Yaeer Tsaban and Khayeem Oron, who both gave speeches castigating the denial of the genocide by the Israeli government.

Israel has acknowledged that massacres were perpetrated against the Armenians and expressed sympathy for their suffering. But the government has stopped short of calling it genocide.

So how can the Israeli government join the ranks of pragmatic deniers? Just like US leaders, they don't want to tick off the Turks.

But the Turks don't seem concerned with saying things that sure as hell ought to tick of the Israelis.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on visit to Israel last week, told The Jerusalem Post,

"All of a sudden the perception in Turkey right now is that the Jewish people - or the Jewish organizations, let's say, and the Armenian diaspora, the Armenian lobbies, are now hand-in-hand trying to defame Turkey, and trying to condemn Turkey and the Turkish people. This is the unfortunate perception right now in Turkey. So if something goes wrong in Washington, DC, it inevitably will have some influence on relations between Turkey and the US, plus the relations between Turkey and Israel, as well."

The Turks have implied that this whole episode could put the Jewish community in Turkey at risk.

Tom Segev wrote recently in Haaretz:
"Israel has removed itself from the nations whose voice ought to be heard on all matters pertaining to the violation of human rights; its military and other interests in Turkey are even leading Israel to lend a hand to the concealment of the Armenian genocide. The Turks are putting the Jews, and Israel, at the center of this affair.

This galling threat is just as despicable as the denial of the Armenian genocide itself, and just goes to show why decent people need to demand that Turkey finally learn to look in the mirror."

Sergov continues:

"...The Turkish Foreign Ministry attributes the "lie" about the Armenian massacre to two Jews - Henry Morgenthau and Franz Werfel. Morgenthau was U.S. ambassador to Turkey, and much of what the world knows about the Armenian genocide it learned from a book the ambassador wrote after his return home. The Turkish Foreign Ministry is careful not to identify Morgenthau as a Jew; it just paints him as a foolish propagandist.

About Werfel, the Turkish Foreign Ministry writes that he published a book entitled "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," but that was just a novel that can teach us nothing more than the film "Amadeus" might teach us about the composer Salieri. In this equation, the Armenians are Mozart and the Turks are Salieri, and just as Salieri didn't murder Mozart, the Turks didn't slaughter the Armenians."

It is shameful for the government of Israel, a nation born out of the Holocaust, to bow to political expediency and succumb to Turkish pressure, lies and slurs.

At the Holocaust Museum in Washington, these words from Adolph Hitler advising his general that the world would remain silent in the face of German atrocities are etched on one of the walls: "Who, after all, speaks today about the annihilation of the Armenians?,"

The following is from the Jerusalem Post.

Armenians: Call slaughter 'genocide'

Jerusalem's tiny Armenian community held banners and flags at a protest Monday to demand that Israel recognize the mass killings of ethnic Armenians in Turkey nearly a century ago as genocide.

About 100 people stood outside the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, singing songs in Armenian and holding banners. A group of teenage girls stood in school uniforms alongside an elderly woman holding a sign that read, "I am a survivor," in English and Hebrew, and others waved colorful flags.

The mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish troops took place between 1915 and 1917 as the 600-year-old empire collapsed. It was again thrown into focus over US congressional debates about whether to recognize those events as genocide.

Turkey says the killings were a result of widespread chaos and political upheaval.

Israel has become a player in the US debate. Armenians expect Israel to sympathize with their demands, because of the Jewish state was built in the shadow of the Nazi Holocaust of World War II. But Turkey has threatened to cool its ties with Israel if it doesn't use its influence in Washington to quell the campaign. Turkey is one of Israel's few Muslim allies.

Armenians say Israel is actively lobbying on behalf of Turkey in the US Congress, where Democrats have pulled back from their attempt to label the mass killing as genocide, under pressure from the White House.

"It's frustrating for us, and it's frustrating for Israelis," said George Hintlian, an Armenian historian, who attended the protest. Organizers of the protest said Israel "jeopardizing its claim to moral high ground on the Holocaust" by not taking Armenia's side.

Israel's government has said previously that massacres were perpetrated against Armenians and expressed sympathy for their suffering. But it has stopped short of calling them genocide.

Thousands of Armenians fled to nearby states during the mass killing, including to Jerusalem, where they established a neighborhood in the walled Old City. Their numbers have steadily shrunk as younger generations emigrate to the West, and now only about 1,000 Armenians live in Jerusalem.


At least seven students across West Virginia have tested positive with a dangerous staph infection. Some, especially students, say the number is considerably higher.

Now, the students at one West Virginia high school are taking action to get their school administration to take notice.

You wouldn't think the kids would not have to do this. You'd think the adults in charge of their school could figure this one out on their own.

The kids can't believe that the clean up of their school has been limited to just a few areas and they want the rest of the school cleaned up as well.

What would you do? The kids are protesting out front of the school and refusing to attend class.

I don't blame them.

One student at the high school left a comment at WSZA which read:
"I am a student at Buffalo high school. There are 3 students that have MRSA. Mr. Grim said he was NOT going to have the school cleaned! He said that we didn't have the money, but we had the money to get new books and computers for a teacher who did NOT need them. Today we protested to keep our self clean, but the only thing he would tell us, is that even if we did clean ( which we are NOT) it wouldn't help. All
we got out of the protest was trouble. The staff wouldn't take us serious! Well
the reason of this note was to say thank you for putting our problem on the

Wouldn't you think school administrators would be proud of the students who are concerned about the health of their school?

An upset mom of another student at the school also made a wise comment. She pointed out that infectious diseases find overcrowding a welcome environment. She wrote:

" I truly believe that being crammed into a school that is to small for the number of students that they have is a huge factor in this out break. Students are in classes that are not fit to handle the attendance, some of their classes are held in the gym and other places just to make room for them. The Board of Education has been aware of this problem for sometime Buffalo has needed a MAJOR expansion but has gotten nothing."

What is wrong with a county, state, or nation that can't provide a decent and healthy educational environment for its children?

Maybe the outbreak of MRSA staph infections can get those in positions of power to take notice of the conditions in schools for which they are responsible.

Or maybe not.

The following is from WSAZ in West Virginia.

Buffalo Students Protest Over MRSA

Some students at Buffalo High School in Putnam County are taking a drastic approach to raise awareness to MRSA and other staph infections.

A large group of students have been protesting all day in front of the school, refusing to go to class. The students say the school hasn't been properly cleaned.

This protest comes just days after state school leaders announced seven students in West Virginia have been diagnosed with MRSA. So far no one has been diagnosed with MRSA at Buffalo High School, but school leaders told us last week some students have been diagnosed with a staph infection. That's the less severe case.

The students protesting tell us the school's weight room and a few other places have been cleaned, but not the entire school. They say they plan to stay out there until the school is cleaned.

We tried to call the Principal of Buffalo High School, but our calls have not been returned.

MRSA can be spread from skin-to-skin contact. It's important to stress, the MRSA bacteria is more difficult to treat, but there are drugs that work to fight it if the infection is recognized in time.