Thursday, February 21, 2008


I've been arguing against hair cuts since about 1964 so I can't get too dang upset about the closing of a barber shop.

But I'm no heartless longhaired Taliban like hippie. I don't call for the defingering of barbers to push my hair agenda.

Out in Nevada that is exactly what happened to poor Bevan Dalley (pictured here through the window of his shop during happier times).

John McCain denied that he had anything to do with Bevan and Michelle Obama said that for the first time in her life she was proud of small town barbers.

Mike Huckabee said it was an act of God that the rest of the town was spared.

President Bush called upon the people of Overton to stay the course.

There is no word as of yet from former candidate John Edwards who is a noted expert on hair and haircuts.

And that's the way it is...

The following comes from the Moapa Valley Progress (Overton, Nevada).

Injury Causes Barber Shop Closure

It has certainly not escaped the notice of any of the men in town who are in need of a haircut that Dalley’s Barbershop in Overton has been closed since last week. The closing of the shop is the result of an unfortunate accident that befell the proprietor in the afternoon of Monday, February 11.

According to Dalley’s daughter-in-law, Shay Dalley, Bevan Dalley was at his home in the afternoon doing some carpentry work. In the process of cutting lumber, to be used as a baseboard, Dalley caught his pinky, ring, and middle finger of his left hand severing the fingers below the base. Dalley was able to remove his hand but not until the saw had severely torn into his index finger.


Yolo County, California Sheriff's deputies arrested three men, Manuel Santana, 24, Daniel Cory, 21, and Christopher Yazzie, 26 at Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl (DQ) University on Wednesday and removed other students from the campus. The students have been "illegally" on the campus for several years and have been holding informal classes in American Indian culture.

Since 2005 when the university lost its accreditation its Board has been at odds over how to handle the protesting students.

Also since then, students have lived on campus and tried to keep the school going. "Currently, the students are the only ones running programs at the school," student Lupita Torres said. "We have an indigenous perma-culture class. We have a bio-diesel program that's starting up."

A little less than 40 years ago, when the United States Strategic Air Command Communication Center located at the current site of DQ was shut down a group of Indians and Chicanos scaled the fences and took it over and formed DQU. The organizers of the take over applied to use closed base, based on a law which required surplus federal land be returned to Native Americans. The application was initially denied, but after a series of protests, the University of California withdrew its application to use the site for its Native American Studies program and a primate lab, and D-Q University was conditionally granted the land in 1970.

Later, it was formally decided that it should be "a tribal college" and has been ever since, save the periods recently when it has not been operating at all.

The purpose of D-Q University was to provide alternative ideas and methods of education to Native American people. Among its goals were the preservation and re-institutionalization of traditional Native American values, the perpetuation and exercise of Native American religion and beliefs, the establishment of a Native American Research Institute, the development of field-based educational delivery systems to Native Americans who cannot attend the school itself, and the maintenance of social and personal support systems for D-Q students and staff.

DQ has had a troubled history. It is the state's only American-Indian-controlled institution of higher learning located outside of a reservation. It came under American Indian control in 1978, and remained in trust until 2001, when a Board of Trustees was created.

The school lost its major source of funding, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in 2004, when the agency claimed its American Indian enrollment dropped below 51 percent. It then lost its accreditation with the state in January 2005. A lawsuit eventually transferred power to the current Board of Trustees.

Students at the time accused trustees of misallocating federal funds.

Last Saturday tensions increased during a public board meeting when the students tried to bring cameras to the public board meeting. The board objected to the cameras.

Members of the board then allegedly assaulted the students grabbing them by the arms and trying to seize a camera. One of the witnesses believes that a student has actually filed charges against the board for that alleged assault.

And then came Wednesday.

"I just woke up and the board members were sitting outside," said Steven Kee, a 25-year-old student. He claimed 10 to 15 students locked themselves inside a dorm while another student tried to reason with the deputies. "They wouldn't show us any papers at all, warrants, nothing. They were saying, you guys are trespassers," according to Kee.

Within minutes, Kee said deputies slapped handcuffs on four students. Kee said, "The students weren't acting violent or anything and [the deputies] just jumped on them."

A female student described one arrest to the Vanguard of Davis, "They were very forceful. Five cops took him down and he's a very skinny, passive, gentle young person and he didn't even resist or anything at all. They just arrested him along with two other students." She added, "I'm not sure why trespassing, we have as much right to be here as the board does. There's not any law or treaty that states that we cannot be here. So I'm not sure what grounds they were arrested on."

The Woodland, California News reports University Trustees Jane Elliot, Margaret Hoaglin and Shirley Lincoln arrived sometime between 10 and 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and conducted a citizen's arrest, claiming the students were trespassing, said Calvin Hedrick, the Board of Trustees' president. The three trustees then called sheriff's deputies.

The deputies arrived at about 11 a.m. and attempted to group all of the students together. Christopher Yazzie, 26, who has lived at the site for about a year, was surrounded by deputies for refusing their request to leave. Manuel Santana, 24, and Daniel Cory, 21, were also arrested. They were booked on misdemeanor trespassing, said Michele Wallace, the Yolo County Sheriff's Department public information officer.

"(The Board) has proven again there's no respect for students here," Frease said. "Local tribes are trying to support us, but this board has no financial accountability."

Lupita Torres, 26, from San Jose, said the board has a history of harassing students, noting when the students faced down Sheriff's deputies in 2005 in the face of eviction notices. She defended what she considered the peaceful actions and said Yazzie did not try to resist arrest. She came from San Jose after receiving text messages on her cell phone from Yazzie.

The exact reason for the students' removal isn't clear.

Reached later by phone, Hedrick said he could only speculate as to why the three board members decided to take matters into their own hands.

"I was under the impression we were straightening things out," he said.

There was frustration on both sides, Hedrick said. Communication was rough between the students and the board, and it was difficult to keep track of who was actually on the campus at any given time. The students also attended a board meeting this past Saturday, bringing cameras with them to record the event. However, one of the board members became angry and grabbed one of the students. She later pushed the camera away, the video showed.

Wallace said deputies were asked to remove "squatters." However, Hedrick said one of the arrested students, Yazzie, was under a verbal agreement with the Board of Trustees to remain on the campus as an informal groundskeeper.

Hedrick said he is frustrated. The three board members acted without telling him, he said, and there is a clear division between them.

Meanwhile, students said they won't be deterred by the threat of more arrests. They vow to keep fighting. "It's not going to stop us," said Torres. "We're going to continue to be here. We have just as much right to be here as they do."

The students are committed to the pursuit of an indigenous education while working towards the future as they honor the past.

Just one week ago, the Longest Walk 2 began its historic journey from DQ University, home of the Longest Walk. The Longest Walk 2 has pledged its support of DQU and the students there, recognizing the value and significance of Tribal Education and the history of DQ University.

This story is taken from the Sacremento Bee.

Eviction ends D-Q protest
By Stephen Magagnini

The occupation of D-Q University, the troubled tribal college seven miles west of Davis, ended abruptly Wednesday morning when Yolo County sheriff's deputies arrested three self-described students for trespassing.

About a dozen former students have been occupying the dorms at D-Q and holding their own classes since the two-year college lost its accreditation and federal funding in 2005 over financial and enrollment problems.

Several members of the university's board – concerned about safety and liability issues and a mounting electric bill – asked the sheriff to evict the "squatters" Wednesday without notifying board Chairman Calvin Hedrick.

"This action was taken without my knowledge or approval," a furious Hedrick said. "I'm very frustrated that this is happening because I'd just spoken with the students Wednesday and tried to find some common ground so we could definitely be working together."

Board Vice Chairwoman Jane Elliott, who authorized the evictions, said in a statement: "We have no other alternative but to ensure the safety and well being of those individuals who now reside at D-Q University. There is no heat and there is no hot water. Currently the campus cannot accommodate healthy living conditions."

Greg Iron, a Crowcreek/ Lower Brule Indian who enrolled at D-Q in August 2004, said he and more than a dozen other students have "been trying to keep the school open."

Iron, 27, said they have been holding classes on indigenous farming and alternative energy to meet the requirements of the school's federal charter, which says classes must be ongoing.

Board trustees, he said, "haven't been holding their courses there, so students have to do it to be in compliance," he said. "The students have been out there tirelessly helping the school … to make sure D-Q could exist, and it's wrong for them to treat their youth like this."

Elliott said the new board of trustees has "developed an academic plan for initiating approved classes at D-Q University," including a class on building model homes and a paralegal project. For the past three years, she said, "there have been numerous failed attempts to remove all unauthorized individuals who have identified themselves as D-Q students."

Susan Reece, a former D-Q board member who's a consultant to the current board, said the evictions were long overdue. About 20 of the D-Q squatters – some of whom arrived recently – had stormed Saturday's board meeting and "started yelling and screaming" when the board wouldn't let them film the meeting, Reece said.

"Some misrepresented themselves as students when they're not," Reece said. "They've been unauthorized for three years."

Reece said the board has been trying for months to get the squatters out. "There are huge liability issues and a whole litany of health and safety concerns – it's miraculous that we haven't had a fatality or serious injury out there," she said.

Reece said the squatters ran up a $4,000 electric bill last month.

Sheriff's public information officer Michele Wallace said a member of D-Q's governing board – who had obtained court papers showing the board had the legal right to the property – asked deputies to ask the trespassers to leave Wednesday. While most left voluntarily, three who didn't were arrested on a trespassing charge.

Manuel Santana, 24, Daniel Cory, 21, and Christopher Yazzie, 26, were booked on misdemeanor trespassing charges and released with a notice to appear before a judge, Wallace said.

"We don't know if they're students or squatters, but they had no legal standing to stay on the property," Wallace said.


A very real war between drug lords and police (and military) rages on in Brazil. Police incursions into poor shantytowns or favelas terrorize the residents of those places and result in the deaths of many innocent people.

One of the latest is an eleven year old girl - Ágatha Marquez dos Santos (pictured here).

The Guardian in a recent article on how dangerous the situation has become in slums around Rio even for journalist reports in the past 12 months Rio's police killed more than 1,200 people in confrontations, according to official figures, a record even by the violent city's standards.

The toll from stray bullets that rain down on Rio from the city's steep hillside slums as police and drug gangs battle with automatic weapons has grown sharply, with innocent bystanders killed or wounded every day.

The AP reported last month businesses and schools in the line of fire have been shuttered. Thousands of children are staying home. Even air travel is affected — domestic jet routes were diverted from Rio's downtown airport when shooting flared up in a slum near Copacabana beach that the planes had to fly over. And travelers avoid driving the Red Line highway to the international airport at night because it passes near one of the worst live-fire zones.

Not surprisingly this drug war (like that in the US, but more so) is focused on the poor. There are no big drug raids in better neighborhoods, no big crack downs on ectasy use in clubs favored by the elite.

It been two years since Marcelo Freixo from the Rio-based Justiça Global, said a 'culture of war' was becoming more and more prevalent in Brazil's police force and its population.

"In cities like Rio de Janeiro there exists a culture that there is a war going on and that therefore the enemy has to be destroyed," he said.

"Often this serves to legitimize illegal police action."

It's only gotten worse.

Blogger Ben Miller writes from Rio:

The levels of violence seem to have been exacerbated by the current governor of Rio – elected on a “get tough on crime” platform, the police have acted in line with his rhetoric. This, combined with poor training of police officers, a culture of brutality and excessive force, police impunity, and other reasons, leads to the following (compiled by the ISP [Institute of Public Security] for 2006 and 2007).

- 1265 people were killed in the city of Rio in 2007 by the police. (This is a record. The previous “best” was in 2003, when 1195 people were killed.)

- The police in Rio kill one person for every 16.6 they arrest. In comparison, police in SP kill one person for every 151.2 people they arrest.

- In 2006, police in the entire United States (population 300,000,000 +) killed 375 people. Police in Rio (population of approx. 10,000,000) killed 1,063 people.
That same year, police in Portugal (population similar to the city of Rio) killed 1 person.

- In 2006, the police perpetrated 14% of all violent deaths. Police used lethal force more often when they were off duty and out of uniform.

I'm not here to defend drug lords and drug gangs, but we expect them to be bad guys. The police are supposed to be the good guys. In Brazil it has become impossible at times to tell the bad guys from the good guys.

The following is from France 24.

Eleven year old killed by a “stray bullet

Eleven year old Ágatha Marquez dos Santos is the most recent victim of a police crackdown in South America’s biggest shanty-town, Rocinha. Agatha was watching TV at her father’s house when a rifle bullet flew straight into her chest. Almost 2000 residents from the slum filed into the streets of southern Rio on Saturday, calling for justice to be made. The protesters blame the police outright for the death of the child. For Carlos Costa, a leader of the NGO ‘Viva Rio’ who has lived in Rocinha all his life, the “stray bullet” was triggered by the police force.

The aim of the operation was to capture a drugs-trafficker. These police raids in the slums have increased under the cover of an accelerated growth programme; a federal government plan to undertake huge urbanisation works in the area.

Comment from our Observer in the shanty-town of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro. Carlos Costa works for Viva Rio, one of the biggest NGOs working in the ‘favelas' (Brazilian slums).

"I know that it's best not to jump to conclusions when it comes to such a polemic situation, but I can't see how the bullet that killed Agatha could have come from anyone but the police. There are no drugs-traffickers in this area [one explanation is that the police fired into the air, the bullet heading upstream from the intervention zone, in Agatha's quarter], and it's proved that the police were here when it happened because you see them on the TV, no matter what the head of the operation says. It was, after all, a police vehicle that rescued Agatha and her father and got them to hospital a few minutes after it happened."

The government strategy is completely insane. We're a community that's had not a penny of investment or a brick of infrastructure, and now they want to improve our lives with war-like incursions? The police can't stride into the favelas at their pleasing; they're either here all the time or not at all. It's a strategic error not to be where traffickers work. It should be remembered that guns and drugs do not grow on trees in the favelas. They're brought there from outside."

The accelerated growth programme will create jobs. But do they really think it's best to start the work with rifles? As always, the people who will lose out in this ridiculous war are not the traffickers or the police, but the workers; the ordinary people; the innocent ones who simply want to work and study in peace. This programme for the slums is a huge sham."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


It is so easy to talk about the kids. Every politician everywhere is all about the kids. They all will tirelessly tell you how much they value education.

Somehow though budget cuts always seem to hit "education" hardest.

And the cuts made are always the most stupid (indicating that maybe the "cutters" need to go back to school).

Principals across New York City woke up last Thursday and discovered that because of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s new budget proposal, their budgets had been slashed overnight by sums ranging from $9,000 to $447,587.

They weren't happy and neither were their students and their student's parents.

Asked what he would cut, Barry M. Fein, the principal of the Seth Low Intermediate School in Brooklyn, told the NY Times, “My throat.”

In response to the cuts, hundreds rallied in front of Department of Education (DOE) headquarters in Manhattan last Thursday. They included parents, elected officials, and teachers.
Some of those gathered in front of DOE offices on Chambers Street said the mayor and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein need a refresher course on budget balancing.

They are right.

It seems no one wants to cut money that lines the pockets of those private companies that conduct all those standardized tests that Bushies and the like are so in love with.

"It's particularly painful to be told to cut the things that enhance our children's learning while the DOE spends more and more on trying to assess that learning," read a letter signed by over 100 parents of the Neighborhood School in the East Village.

“Might they also consider reducing what they pay in no-bid contracts for testing, ARIS, and any number of consultants living large on the backs of our students,” a Brooklyn principal wrote. “How much more do NYC public school students and their families have to give up?” ARIS is the acronym for an $80 million computer system that is used to compile and analyze student test scores and other data.

The kids know what the politicians can't seem to grasp.

"If we keep losing money, we won't have anything left," said Kambryn Rose, a fourth grader at P.S. 24 in Brooklyn.

Others said losing extra-curricular activities or classes scheduled outside regular school hours would be a serious loss.

"Some students need help catching up, and some need extra help just to pass," said Lisa Ko, an 11th grader at highly competitive Brooklyn Tech.

The kids aren't taking this lying down.

Students put together a group they named Students Against Budget Cuts organized and protest on the steps of Tweed Courthouse which sits directly behind city hall.

Facebook Groups against the cuts are popping up every day. Petitions are being circulated. At LaGuardia, the Student Government has put together a Budget Cuts committee to coordinate protest efforts and to examine the school's budget and make recommendations about how to respond to the cuts.

As usual the people most close to the situation weren't consulted by city officials about how to distribute the cuts let alone about making them at all.

“The mayor and the chancellor love to call my members the C.E.O.’s of their schools,” Ernest A. Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, said on Thursday at City Hall, where he was joined by other elected and union officials reported the Times. “I think that what we could have used is some consultation with principals at schools, with the school community, to say what’s the best way to absorb these cuts.”

Someone needs to tell the budget cutters straight up exactly what Richard Kessler, Executive Director of The Center for Arts Education said. "Given the narrowing of curriculum that is already underway due to an increased focus on testing and test prep, this outcome is unacceptable."
That message needs to be delivered to all those "No Child Left Behind" addicts as well.

Of course, it isn't only New York where such draconian measures are being taken. Cuts to education budgets stretch across the country.

In California the governator proposed budget slashes $4.8 billion from public education. This is happening at the same time that efforts to close a loophole that enables Californians to buy yachts tax-free failed again to get the support of the governors party in the State Assembly.

“The governor’s proposed budget is a giant step backwards for our students,” said California Teachers Association President David A. Sanchez. “It’s disappointing and ironic that in the proclaimed ‘year of education’ the governor is talking about cutting billions from our public schools and decimating our minimum funding law. Our students didn’t create this budget crisis and their education shouldn’t be ransomed to solve it.”

In Georgia Gov. Perdue has recommended more than $140 million in "austerity cuts" for education in next year's budget, which begins in July. A key Senate committee yesterday morning cut $65 million for new school buses and technology from the mid-year budget, which covers spending through June 30.

Up in Alaska, a House budget subcommittee Monday sliced more than $1 million out of Gov. Sarah Palin's proposed budget for Head Start and other early education programs, a move that incensed many who say the state's kids desperately need such schooling. "They just took money away from opportunity and success for kids," said Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage. Investing in early learning is a better idea for Alaska's huge surplus of oil revenue than pouring dollars into new brick-and-mortar "pork" projects around the state, he said.

Gara said he and other lawmakers went to Palin recently and asked her to add money to her budget for Head Start and early learning.

Palin obliged last week by adding the money, and now the GOP dominated subcommittee has cut it out, he said.

Federal funding for Head Start has been flat and state funding also has remained static for several years as costs have risen, Gara said. Meantime, Head Start classrooms have closed in 19 communities around Alaska, he said.

And in Kentucky continued budget cuts for education are being described as devastating.

For example, the Kentucky budget cuts $92 million from targeted programs over the two years. There will be less money to buy new textbooks and to pay for tutoring, extra time for struggling students, alternative school, and helping teachers learn new methods.

Robert F. Sexton, Executive Director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence in Kentucky says:
"This situation on its own would be alarming. But the main reason the proposed budget would be such a disaster is the fact that it comes after 15 years of inadequate investments in education. We were digging a hole; now we’ve fallen in. Since about 1992 the legislature has barely kept up with inflation in school funding (except for employee benefits). Not counting health insurance and retirement cost increases, the total growth in education funding since 1992 has been just 2 percent."

Now, did anyone catch the name of that politician who care so very much about the kids?

The following is from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Students, Some as Young as 9, Protest School Budget Cuts
By Taylor Owen

Students, parents and teachers, many of them from Brooklyn, stood together last Thursday to protest planned cuts to the Department of Education budget. Students and parents started to show up immediately after schools were out, and by 4 p.m. the sidewalk in front of the Tweed Courthouse was full of protesters.

The protesting students and teachers were alarmed at what they believed they could lose in the event that the mayor goes through with the cuts. Charles Naut, a Brooklyn Tech senior, complained that his school would lose more than $400,000 over the course of the next two years. “Summer and night school programs will be cut, and the graduation rate will go down,” said Naut, “I know students who need night school to pass.”

The budget cuts are in response to the general downturn to the economy this year. Gov. Eliot Spitzer slashed the education budget for the city by roughly $100 million. As a result, Mayor Bloomberg has cut each school’s budget by 1.7 percent, or as Schools Chancellor Joel Klein put it, an average of $100,000 per school.

Protesters were from all parts of the city, and all had similar grievances. Leila Eliot of the Neighborhood School in the East Village came with her mother Anita. Mrs. Eliot said her PTA helped organize a letter-writing campaign against the cuts, and also raised awareness of the protest. Leila said that in her letter she wrote she was afraid that she would lose “gym and art class.”

Sunset Park After-School Program Brings Its Pre-Teens P.S. 24 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn made a special effort to protest the cuts. The PLUZ after-school program got almost 20 of its third, fourth and fifth-graders to attend the demonstration. Ginet Aguilar, a counselor in the program, said that the students and teachers came up with the idea of going to the protest, and made posters.

Some of the youngsters were quite outspoken. Joey Myles, a 9-year-old fourth grader, said it was his first protest. When asked what he would say to the mayor if given the chance, he said, “We want our money back! Why did you cut the budget?”

Third grader Jose Santiago of the same school said that his favorite part of the protest was the screaming, and that he feared he would lose gym class.

Mr. Kivanoski, a history teacher at Brooklyn Tech and a veteran protester, was impressed by the rally. “Its terrific, it’s high spirited, the people are interested in the cause and there are a lot of first timers. I’ve been going to demonstrations for years and this is pretty great. A lot of kids came on their own, and I think that’s exciting.”

When asked about the participation of the very young, he said, “It’s a good way of involving them, it’s encouraging civic activity.”


The status of labor activists in Iran continues to remain tenuous.

Seddigh Amjadi, one of the workers detained at last year’s May Day ceremonies in the city of Sanandaj, has been fined and and on February 16 whipped, according to a report by the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers in Iran. Two days later two other workers, Fars Goilian and Habibollah Kalkani, received 10 lashes and also paid financial penalties. Nine others face the same fate for the same reason.

The eleven workers were accused by the government of disturbing public order and participating in an illegal gathering by both civil and revolutionary courts of Sanandaj.

This is the first time that labor activists have been whipped following a court order, although some women’s right activists have received such sentences before.

On March 6, trade unions around the world are holding an international day of action in solidarity with the workers of Iran. Specifically the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Trade Inion Confederation (ITUC) are organizing a worldwide day of action to demand that the release of Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi from the detention in Iran. Osaanloo and Salehi, who remain in prison despite continuing health problems, are guilty of nothing more than exercising their rights to form trade unions, as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that, "everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests".

The ITF and ITUC are also demanding that fundamental workers' rights be respected in Iran, in compliance with ILO conventions.

The following is from Iran Labour Watch.

A kurdish labour activist was whipped for celebrating the May Day

Sedigh Amjadi, a worker from Sanandaj in Kurdistan province was subject to 10 lashes on February 16, 2008 for participating in the May Day celeberations two years ago. He was also find an amount of 200,000 tomans ($2000). Mr. Amjadi along with 12 other workers were arrested and imprisoned during the International Labour Day. Two of them received 30 months in jail and the rest of them were sentenced to 91 days in prison and 10 lashes each. However, an appeals court recently approved the sentence of lashes and changed the prison terms to 200,000 tomans for each of them.
This is the first time a worker receives lashes for celebrating the May Day.


Clashes between police and farmers in Peru left at least four protesters dead on Tuesday. Farmers had called a nationwide action to push for state subsidies as part of a free-trade agreement with the U.S., for lower prices on fertilizer and for a halt to farm seizures by banks. Peru, the world's largest exporter of organic coffee, asparagus and paprika, boosted agricultural exports to the U.S. and China by 10 percent to $2 billion last year.

The government yesterday declared a state of emergency and granted the armed forces control over the states of Lima, Ancash and La Libertad in a bid to free about 1,000 stranded buses after protesters battled police and blocked roads and railway lines, Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo said Tuesday.

Bloomberg reports the protest left more than 140,000 passengers stranded yesterday at a dozen roadblocks around the country, causing 25 million soles ($8.6 million) in losses for Peru's transport industry. Railways and roads, including the Pan-American highway, the major route on the Peruvian coast, were blocked with tree trunks, rocks and sand. Rail services to the country's Machu Picchu site were also blocked on Monday, with about 400 travellers left stranded near the ancient Inca ruins, Peru's biggest tourist attraction.

"The government only listens to us when we strike," said Antolin Huascar, the head of a national farmers' group.

According to government sources, the farmers have now declared the "strike" over.

``We've told our people to return to normality,'' Enrique Malaga, president of the National Irrigation Board, helped organize the protest, said in a telephone interview. ``We will be discussing issues which have yet to be resolved with the government.''

While all this is going on activists have been threatening to again block access to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the airport in nearby Cusco as a protest against a new law that would allow increased development near Peru’s archaeological zones. Protesters burned tires and blocked roads around Cuzco earlier this month as 30,000 demonstrators asked the government of Peruvian President Alan Garcia to repeal two laws that make it easier to obtain licenses to build hotels and other works near historic and archaeological sites.

The proposed laws, one of which was already rejected but requires a second vote, would ease construction restrictions in Cuzco and allow for more hotels to be built near archaeological sites. The area between Cuzco and Machu Picchu is dotted with ancient Inca ruins.

The following is from Prena Latina.

Three More Peruvian Farmers Killed

Another three Peruvian farmers were killed in Police operations against strikers demanding compensation for damages derived from the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

The deaths occurred in central Andean Arequipa and Ayacucho regions, where protesters built road blockages.

An unidentified farmer, who was blocking the strategic Panamericana Sur Highway, died when the police-launched tear gas canister knocked him into a ravine, according to witnesses.

In Ayacucho, farm workers Ruben Pariona and Emiliano Garcia were shot dead by police during repression of another road blockage, according to Canal N TV.

Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo requested a four-year sentences for the over 160 people that have been arrested since last Monday.

In spite of the strike´s magnitude, Agriculture minister Ismael Benavides claimed the protests have failed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The following is taken from the Black Commentator.

Huey P Newton and the Intrepid Legacy of the Black Panther Party
By Larry Pinkney

Serious revolutionary political struggle is an ongoing, long and protracted affair - spanning many years - and it does not lend itself to romanticism. By the same token, it is extremely important to understand the role of various women and men freedom fighters who were trail blazers in this continuing struggle for justice, equality, and human rights in the United States and throughout the world. It is our consciously and clearly understood past that serves to gird us for the present and future struggles.

The corporate media endeavors, on virtually every level, to keep the masses of people dangerously ignorant of the reality of what is actually occurring contemporarily, as well as what transpired in the distant and not-so-distant past. Corporate media obfuscation and disinformation is the order of the day. In the not-so-distant past, the Black Panther Party represented stalwart resistance to such obfuscation and disinformation, and today its very legacy continues to stand as a beacon of unequivocal opposition to corporate media manipulation and misinformation.

In the year 2006, I wrote and still maintain that: “Perhaps no single political organization in modern U.S. history still evokes more joy, pride, hope, and debate in the hearts and minds of people than the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary, community based, national Black political organization founded in October of 1966, which by the end of the 20th Century had been physically decimated nationwide.” Of its various leading party activists, arguably the best known was its co-founder and chief theoretician, Huey P. Newton.

The political heart and soul of the Black Panther Party was its Ten-Point Program or platform [i.e. "What We Want and What We Believe"]. Moreover, the Black Panther Party directly served Black communities throughout the nation by establishing many programs including the Free Breakfast Program for Children, Free Clothing Program, Free Food Programs, Peoples Free Medical Research Health Clinic and Free Housing Cooperative Program, etc. There was nothing romantic about these programs that represented daily hard work by the Black Panther Party, in service to Black communities nationwide.

Ironically, the corporate media of that period was intensely attempting to discredit and “neutralize” every Black person (from Malcolm X, to Martin Luther King, Jr., to Huey P. Newton) who dared stand up for justice at home and abroad. In the 21st Century, the corporate media continues to be busily about the business of attempting to create, manufacture, and determine who the leaders of Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples will be. Conscious people, today as in the past, must reject this insidious form of manipulation, understanding that the corporate media never supports a person who stands for justice, equality, and human rights at home and abroad.

This is the month of February in the year 2008, and though February is known as "Black History Month," the reality is that every month is Black History Month. In fact, every single month of the year of survival by the masses of people (especially Black, Red, and Brown people) who are battling for our very lives against blood-sucking corporations, police brutality, and U.S. military adventurism, is a People’s History Month - that is - Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples.

The late Dr. Huey P. Newton correctly wrote that, “There can be no real freedom until the imperialist - world-enemy-number-one - has been stripped of his power and put in his rightful place as one of the people rather than the ruler of the people. Then and only then will unity and harmony truly prevail.” How much more so is this accurate today in the 21st Century. In this context, brother Huey P. Newton further poignantly observed that, “We recognize this when we admit that the United States is no longer a nation but an empire.” Precisely.

History must be studied and understood in the context not only of the past but just as importantly, the present and future. This present sham of American Democracy and media circus must be understood in this reality. To paraphrase the words of the French philosopher, Albert Camus, “What good does it do a man [or woman] to give him [or her] the vote and then tell him [or her] that he [or she] is free?” And as brother Huey put it, “Democracy means only that the majority will use us when they need us and cast us aside when they do not need us.” [See pages 39, 40, and 58, first edition of the book, To Die for the People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton .

I reiterate: History must be studied and understood in the context of not only the past but just as importantly, the present and future. Some remember only the photographed image of Huey P. Newton, majestically sitting in a wicker chair in the black beret and leather jacket of the Black Panther Party - rifle in one hand and spear in the other. I remember Huey P. Newton as a comrade: a thinker and doer who did not hesitate to lay his life on the line for the people and in so doing incurred the ire of a racist, capitalist system determined to destroy him. A comrade with whom I sometimes disagreed but for whom I had and have an unquenchable love and respect. To be sure, he was no saint nor was he striving for sainthood. He was, however, like Brother Malcolm X before him, one of “our shining Black prince[s].” Notwithstanding his own human imperfections, Huey embodied the defiant and articulate Black man who in word and deed stood tall on behalf of Black people.

Like the Black Panther Party itself, Huey P. Newton was both a target and victim of the infamous (and no doubt ongoing) COINTELPRO U.S. government activities to “discredit, frame, murder, imprison, and murder” Black political activists. Though tragically murdered in August of 1989, allegedly during a drug deal gone bad, Huey P. Newton conveniently (for the U.S. Government and corporate media), did not live to dispute or present evidence of the events of that fateful day in August. However, one thing is certain: The U.S. corporate media, including the Associated Press, gleefully reported brother Huey’s death in an article dated August 23, 1989, titled, Black Panthers Created Image of "Defiance and Resistance." The Associated Press article ended by saying, “Today, the Panthers prowl no more.” The corporate media is wrong. The intrepid legacy of the Black Panther Party - of "defiance and resistance" - still “prowls” as long as there is injustice, inequality, militarism, and corporate greed.

Genuine and serious political activists do not function based upon popularity or political expediency. As the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so aptly put it:
“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.”

So many sisters and brothers, from Harriet Tubman, to Fannie Lou Hamer, to Malcolm X, to Robert F. Williams, to Huey P. Newton have chosen the path of what is right over that of what is expedient. From the Deacons for Self Defense, to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to the Students for A Democratic Society, to the American Indian Movement, to La Raza Unida and the Brown Berets, to the Republic of New Africa, to the Black Panther Party, the legacy of the people’s struggle lives on in both word and deed to the consternation of the 21st Century corporate media.

So many have died that we might struggle to live in a real versus illusionary freedom. This struggle continues and on this February 17th, the birthday of brother Huey - if the fates are kind - I shall raise a toast to brother Huey P. Newton and all my comrade sisters and brothers of the Black Panther Party and to the peoples' liberation movements nationally and around the world.

Yes, the struggle continues unabated, and as the late, great Curtis Mayfield lyrically put it, “Let us teach the children freedom’s never been free…”

All Power To The People!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Editorial Board member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn].


Cuban President Fidel Castro announced today he will not aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief at the Parliament session scheduled for February 24th. His complete statement follows. It is taken from Periodio 26 (Cuba). The photo is from back in the day.

Message from the Commander in Chief

Dear compatriots:

Last Friday, February 15, I promised you that in my next reflection I would deal with an issue of interest to many compatriots. Thus, this now is rather a message.

The moment has come to nominate and elect the State Council, its President, its Vice-Presidents and Secretary.

For many years I have occupied the honorable position of President. On February 15, 1976 the Socialist Constitution was approved with the free, direct and secret vote of over 95% of the people with the right to cast a vote. The first National Assembly was established on December 2nd that same year; this elected the State Council and its presidency. Before that, I had been a Prime Minister for almost 18 years. I always had the necessary prerogatives to carry forward the revolutionary work with the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.

There were those overseas who, aware of my critical health condition, thought that my provisional resignation, on July 31, 2006, to the position of President of the State Council, which I left to First Vice-President Raul Castro Ruz, was final. But Raul, who is also minister of the Armed Forces on account of his own personal merits, and the other comrades of the Party and State leadership were unwilling to consider me out of public life despite my unstable health condition.

It was an uncomfortable situation for me vis-à-vis an adversary which had done everything possible to get rid of me, and I felt reluctant to comply.

Later, in my necessary retreat, I was able to recover the full command of my mind as well as the possibility for much reading and meditation. I had enough physical strength to write for many hours, which I shared with the corresponding rehabilitation and recovery programs. Basic common sense indicated that such activity was within my reach. On the other hand, when referring to my health I was extremely careful to avoid raising expectations since I felt that an adverse ending would bring traumatic news to our people in the midst of the battle. Thus, my first duty was to prepare our people both politically and psychologically for my absence after so many years of struggle. I kept saying that my recovery "was not without risks."

My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That’s all I can offer.

To my dearest compatriots, who have recently honored me so much by electing me a member of the Parliament where so many agreements should be adopted of utmost importance to the destiny of our Revolution, I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.

In short letters addressed to Randy Alonso, Director of the Round Table National TV Program, --letters which at my request were made public-- I discreetly introduced elements of this message I am writing today, when not even the addressee of such letters was aware of my intention. I trusted Randy, whom I knew very well from his days as a student of Journalism. In those days I met almost on a weekly basis with the main representatives of the University students from the provinces at the library of the large house in Kohly where they lived. Today, the entire country is an immense University.

Following are some paragraphs chosen from the letter addressed to Randy on December 17, 2007:

"I strongly believe that the answers to the current problems facing Cuban society, which has, as an average, a twelfth grade of education, almost a million university graduates, and a real possibility for all its citizens to become educated without their being in any way discriminated against, require more variables for each concrete problem than those contained in a chess game. We cannot ignore one single detail; this is not an easy path to take, if the intelligence of a human being in a revolutionary society is to prevail over instinct.

"My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, much less to stand in the way of younger persons, but rather to contribute my own experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional era that I had the privilege of living in.

"Like Niemeyer, I believe that one has to be consistent right up to the end."

Letter from January 8, 2008:

"…I am a firm supporter of the united vote (a principle that preserves the unknown merits), which allowed us to avoid the tendency to copy what came to us from countries of the former socialist bloc, including the portrait of the one candidate, as singular as his solidarity towards Cuba. I deeply respect that first attempt at building socialism, thanks to which we were able to continue along the path we had chosen."

And I reiterated in that letter that "…I never forget that ‘all of the world’s glory fits in a kernel of corn."

Therefore, it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama.

Fortunately, our Revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process. Some were very young, almost children, when they joined the fight on the mountains and later they have given glory to the country with their heroic performance and their internationalist missions. They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement. There is also the intermediate generation which learned together with us the basics of the complex and almost unattainable art of organizing and leading a revolution.

The path will always be difficult and require from everyone’s intelligent effort. I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics or its antithesis the self-flagellation. We should always be prepared for the worst variable. The principle of being as prudent in success as steady in adversity cannot be forgotten. The adversary to be defeated is extremely strong; however, we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century.

This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the heading of ‘Reflections by comrade Fidel.’ It will be just another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I shall be careful.


Fidel Castro Ruz
February 18, 2008
5:30 p.m.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I've done this before but I couldn't resist one more swipe.

Here we go with those Presidential Candidate hunters. Apparently, in order to run for President of the United States it is a requirement that you be a hunter.

Or so it would seem.

Now it is Hillary Clinton's turn.

Campaigning ahead of Tuesday's Democratic nominating vote in Wisconsin, a state with a strong tradition of hunting and where many voters strongly support gun ownership rights, Clinton said she firmly backed the right to bear arms.

"You know, you may not believe it but I've actually gone hunting," Clinton, 60, said at a question-and-answer session with voters at a crammed bratwurst restaurant in Kenosha.

Later, a reporter who had followed her career for 2 1/2 years and was not aware of her hunting experience pressed Clinton on whether she had ever shot anything.

"Yes, Mike, I have," she told the reporter, Mike McAuliff of the New York Daily News. Clinton said she had shot a duck as well as "a lot of tin cans and a lot of targets and some skeet."

In Wausau, Clinton gave details of her duck hunting days — revealing that she once surprised all her male companions when she shot a banded mallard out of the sky.


I doubt that she won the mallard vote with that comment though.

Seriously, speaking about the latest massacre on campus, Clinton said steps should be taken to make sure those with criminal backgrounds or a history of mental illness did not get access to guns, though she did not offer specifics. She said she would not take any steps that would infringe on the rights of "lawful gun owners."

Not to be outdone by all this gun talk by some woman, Barack Obama said in Wisconsin, "There is an individual right to bear arms. "But it's subject to common sense regulation, just like most of our rights are subject to common sense regulations."

Earlier Barack offered his sympathies for those shot at Northern Illinois University, but specified no new ideas to enforce gun control in his home state of Illinois. "I've said before, and continue to believe, that we need to do a more effective job of enforcing our gun laws," he said, speaking in Milwaukee, Wis., on Friday.

Obama's Web site has a link for "sportsman" with a section for "protecting gun rights."

The senator, a former constitutional law instructor, said some scholars argue the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees gun ownerships only to militias, but he believes it grants individual gun rights.

While campaigning in Idaho, Barack told crowds, ""I come from a state - we've got a lot of hunters in downstate Illinois. And I have no intention of taking away folks' guns.''

After that statement a spokesperson for duck hunter Hillary Rodham Clinton pointed out that 12 years ago when he was running for the state Legislature, Obama said in a questionnaire that he "supported banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.''

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the leading Republican contender for president, is a co-sponsor of an amendment to massive bill affecting public lands from coast to coast.
The amendment would allow gun owners to carry loaded, accessible firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges.

Current regulations ban gun owners from carrying easy-to-reach firearms onto lands managed by the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service.

Both Clinton and Obama have declined to comment on the amendment.

Best to be prudent. Be careful, don't upset anyone.

When it comes to how you feel about firearms, it depends on where you happen to be campaigning that day, I guess.

It's time for a change!

The following is from CBS News.span>

Clinton's Hunting History
Posted by Fernando

WAUSAU, WIS. -- At a campaign stop this afternoon, Hillary Clinton’s focus was on the economy and health care but some in the crowd had other things on their minds. Clinton was asked to discuss gun control which prompted Clinton to talk about her days holding a rifle in the cold, shallow waters in backwoods Arkansas.

“I’ve hunted. My father taught me how to hunt. I went duck hunting in Arkansas. I remember standing in that cold water, so cold, at first light. I was with a bunch of my friends, all men. The sun’s up, the ducks are flying and they are playing a trick on me. They said, ‘we’re not going to shoot, you shoot.’ They wanted to embarrass me. The pressure was on. So I shot, and I shot a banded duck and they were surprised as I was,” Clinton said drawing laughter from the crowd.

Clinton’s story led one older gentleman to say, “As long as you know how to use a gun, would you be willing to show Vice President Cheney how to use his?” Both Clinton and the crowd erupted in laughter.

“That was good, that was really good,” Clinton said. “You know I couldn’t believe that, I really thought that I have gotten over being totally outraged by the Bush Administration.”

Clinton continued, “Once he (Cheney) is out of office, the Secret Service is not around to protect people from him. We better be careful about where he goes hunting. Safety protocol would be useful, don’t’ you think?”

Later Clinton was asked whether her daughter Chelsea would run for president in eight years following a Hillary Clinton presidency, to which an amused Clinton said, “Oh no, no, no.”


The article I'm posting below discusses blockades and the like across Peru today by angry farmers. Unfortunately the article doesn't mention what they are angry about.

I'm gonna give a stab at what might be up.

It could be that these are coca farmers (some of whom are pictured here). Peruvian farmers rely heavily on the coca crop to sustain their economic livelihoods. Peru's coca growers have been on a national strike since October 2 Coca farmers protesting the eradication of their plantations have been demanding that Peru's war on drugs shift its focus more toward eliminating the chemicals used to produce cocaine rather than getting rid of the coca fields themselves.

Over half of the nation lives in poverty, specifically in the rural, indigenous sectors such as the Amazon jungle region. Coca farmers depend on the coca crop to stay out of poverty.

The Peruvian coca farmers forewarned the government that rioting, roadblocks and increased violence would result if the eradication program continued.

Or maybe, more likely, this has to do with the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement which most say will do more harm than good for millions of Peruvians who live in poverty. Last summer a nationwide strike against the Free Trade Agreement rocked Peru.

"By fully opening Peru's markets to subsidized US agricultural products, this trade agreement will destroy our domestic agriculture, threaten our food security and increase social problems," said Luis Zúñiga, president of the National Convention of Peruvian Agriculture (Conveagro) a couple of months ago. "Farmers demands for greater public investment in and modernization of the agricultural sector have gone unmet over many years, but now our needs will be far greater and the threat to our livelihoods far worse."

"The agreement provides special rights for foreign investors who want to operate in Peru at the expense of weakened ability on the part of the government to establish laws that promote social welfare and a better distribution of wealth," according to Pedro Francke, a Peruvian expert on social policy to combat poverty and former director of the health organization FOROSALUD. "In spite of the modifications made to the intellectual property rules of the agreement, provisions remain that will make it more difficult for Peru to promote access to affordable medicines."

But wait, I just discovered this from Peru's La Repbulica (translated roughly):

The chairman of the Agrarian Confederation, Antolin Huáscar, indicates this all has to do with the planned the privatization of water, an urgent change of the national agricultural policy and the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

Also, farmers are demanding the reform of agricultural debts, the adoption of the draft law preda, reducing fertilizer and agricultural inputs, the urgent regulation of Agrobanco, among other things.

Well, that clears things up.

The following is from Living in Peru.

Highways blocked all over Peru in farmer's riot/protest/strike

Hundreds of inter-provincial buses were stranded in different parts of the country when farmers and representatives of Peru's agricultural industry blocked several parts of the Panamericana Norte Highway from Huacho - approximately 80 miles north of Lima - to Piura, about 652 miles north of the country's capital city.

Protesters have been threatening to strike for some time and began blocking roads at midnight.

Motorists and bus passengers called RPP Noticias early this morning reporting that the Panamericana Norte Highway was blocked in Chancay, Huacho, Huarmey, Trujillo and Piura.

Luis Trujillano, a reporter for RPP Noticias in Chimbote told listeners that approximately 300 buses were waiting for the country's national police to remove debris from the main highway so traffic could return to normal.

National highway police chief, Eduardo Arteta reported that police were making a tremendous effort to get protesters off the highway and clear it of rocks and debris.

Although several parts of the highway have not been cleared, he reported that traffic was back to normal in the regions of Trujillo, Piura and Arequipa.

Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo has assured that there is no reason for the strike, stating that an agreement was signed on Friday between CONVEAGRO (Union of farmers and agricultural producers) and the government.

It was reported that the agreement met 13 of the demands agricultural unions were making.

When asked why the union was supporting the strike, president of CONVEAGRO, Luis Zúñiga said, "Because there are other unions taking part in the strike and we can't abandon them, we will only participate in Monday's strike."


The South Florida Sun Sentinel is now reporting that Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies have arrested 27 demonstrators (as opposed to the one mentioned in the article below) this afternoon who were protesting against a power plant they say will harm the Everglades and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

One protester was charged with disorderly conduct for defying deputies' orders for him to remove a mask, sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said. Deputies also charged 20 other men and six women with unlawful assembly and trespassing after they were warned to leave the entrance to Palm Beach Aggregates off State Road 80 near 20-mile Bend.

One person was treated for heat exhaustion, Barbera said.

The environmental protesters, answering a call from Earth First!, who oppose the new Florida Power and Light (FPL) power plants near 20-Mile Bend, stopped traffic at the plant entrance, leaving dozens of dump trucks idling by the side of the road and snarling traffic on Southern Boulevard west of Wellington.

FPL's opponents say emissions from the new plant will worsen global warming and will threaten the health of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, which lies just across Southern Boulevard.

A recent article in the national Earth First! journal called for activists to "put their bodies on the line," with the headline: "Shut Down Florida Power and Light."

"We've tried circulating petitions," said Panagioti Tsolkas, a Lake Worth activist organizing the events, saying he hopes to see "a stronger grass-roots campaign" against the plant. "We've tried talking to politicians. We've tried legal challenges. ... I'd rather be standing in front of a bulldozer."

FYI - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff last month proposed a $208,000 fine against Florida Power & Light Co., for security violations at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant.

The following is from WPTV (Florida).

Protesters block FPL in western Palm Beach County

Sheriff's deputies got involved after protesters blocked the entrance to a Palm Beach County power plant and jammed up traffic for at least a mile.

About 25 environmentalists gathered Monday at Palm Beach Aggregates, a rock mining company that sold the site to Florida Power and Light.

The protesters banged drums and held hand-pained signs urging while another 60 people cheered them on from behind barricades. FPL says the plant would be the cleanest in the state and one of the cleanest of its kind in the nation.

Authorities have made one arrest so far. Protesters say the person was wearing a mask on public property, which is illegal.