Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The Chilean feminist organization Mujeres Publicas (Public Women) reported on Monday that roughly 500 Chilean men and women are planning to apostatize from the Catholic Church in order to protest that institution's stance on emergency contraception. Officials said that interest in this act has gained steam since Chile's Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month to limit the pill's availability.

“About two months ago . . . we began to consider means other than marches through which we could communicate our opinions about the Church's stance on public health policies,” Mujeres Publicas spokesperson Lorena Etchberry told the Santiago Times. “We knew that other people had apostatized from the Church in a form of protest in Colombia and Spain and that those protests had been successful. Consequently, we started to communicate via e-mail and internet.”

Tuesday at least 15,000 took to the streets of the capital to show their outrage at the Chilean Constitutional Court ruling that banned the free delivery of the "morning after pill" to women in the country.

In addition about 80 percent of public health workers walked off their jobs Tuesday to protest the high court ruling, sources in the sector told AFP.

Chile’s Constitutional Court reversed legislation mandating the distribution of the pill in public health clinics.

The ruling comes in response to a case brought by 36 socially conservative legislators in March, 2006, who argued that emergency contraception is abortive in nature and that, consequently, it violates the right to life enshrined in Chile’s constitution. Chilean law bars abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or when the woman's life is in danger.

The decision, taken in early April but formalized Friday, put a stop to a program started by President Michelle Bachelet, the first female president of the socially conservative country and a former pediatrician, aimed at making contraception more widely available to low-income women.

No sooner had President Bachelet's program started opposition from the powerful Catholic Church was announced. Archbishop of Santiago Francisco Javier Errázuriz (pictured here) said the decision by the government was a blow to marriage, the birth rate, and the Chilean family.

The president of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Alejandro Goic, lamented this week that some mayors together with the Ministry of Health are looking for ways to disregard the ruling by the Constitutional Court that ordered the suspension of distribution of the morning-after pill.

Old men always think they know what's best for women.

The morning after pill, as it is commonly known, will still be available at pharmacies with a doctor's prescription. The problem is that in a country where abortion remains illegal and underground illegal abortion clinics abound, women in Chile, especially poor women in Chile who do not have regular medical care, will be pushed further underground when it comes to their sexual health.

And more of them will die.

Former Santiago Times’ writer Cynthia McMurry reminds us, "It took an epidemic of maternal deaths from clandestine abortions to create the political will to provide contraception in Chile. During the 1960s, there were 18.6 registered abortions for every 100 live births. Half of hospitals’ blood supply was being used to treat women whose abortions had gone awry, and half of maternal mortalities occurred as the result of abortions. Public hospitals were so overcrowded with post-abortion patients that two women were sometimes required to share one bed; only one third of those female patients made it out alive."

But that sort of thing doesn't really bother the old men of the Catholic Church.

The following is from IPS.

CHILE: Thousands Protest Ban on "Morning-After" Pill
By Daniela Estrada

SANTIAGO, Apr 23 (IPS) - More than 15,000 people marched in the Chilean capital Tuesday evening to protest a Constitutional Court ruling that banned the free distribution of the "morning-after" pill by the public health system.

"This is a demonstration by the country in demand of freedom," Gloria Maira, of the Movement for the Defence of Birth Control, told IPS. "We don't want any more moral dictatorships. We want to make the decisions in our beds, we want to decide on our own uterus, we want to decide how many children we will have. We do not accept the Constitutional Court decision."

Participants in the march down the main avenue in the capital, which was authorised by the Santiago city government, included women’s rights activists, university students, members of parliament from the centre-left governing coalition, and several local show business personalities.

"I think people are waking up," parliamentary Deputy María Antonieta Saa of the co-governing Party for Democracy commented to IPS. "People are indignant over what the Constitutional Court is trying to impose. We have to work to prevent the Court from turning into a dictatorship."

At the head of the march, protesters carried a huge banner reading "for the right to choose".

"The demonstration was a complete success. Thousands of people took to the streets -- human rights and feminist activists, students, professional associations, all of them saying that the Constitutional Court ruling is unfair and undermines women’s freedom to make family planning decisions," Mireya García, a member of the Group of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared (AFDD), told IPS.

Some of the demonstrators carried signs with the images of the 36 lawmakers of the right-wing opposition alliance who filed a lawsuit in March 2007 before the Constitutional Court, challenging the national family planning guidelines issued by socialist President Michelle Bachelet in September 2006.

Although the opposition legislators objected to several of the guidelines, the Constitutional Court only struck down the one that ordered the free distribution of emergency contraception, popularly known as the morning-after pill, by government health centres to all girls and women over the age of 14 who requested it.

Before the guideline was adopted, the morning-after pill was only sold in private pharmacies and provided in public health centres to victims of rape.

The high court ruling does not apply to sales of emergency contraception in pharmacies, which means women who can afford the pill still have access to it.

"It is unfair that people have to go to a pharmacy to buy the pill, because in some cases they can’t afford it," 19-year-old Yocelyn told IPS. "I wouldn't want to drop out of school or stop working because of an unwanted pregnancy."

Emergency contraception can be taken up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected intercourse. The pill works by providing high levels of synthetic hormones, which interfere with ovulation or disrupt the ability of sperm and egg to meet in the Fallopian tubes, significantly reducing the likelihood of pregnancy.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has established that emergency contraception is "not effective once the process of implantation has begun, and will not cause abortion."

But the opposition lawmakers who brought the lawsuit argued that intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the morning-after pill, both of which use Levonorgestrel as the active ingredient, are abortifacients, and that the Bachelet administration’s family planning guidelines thus violate the right to life.

The Constitutional Court ruling was announced on Apr. 4 and formalised on Apr. 18. The magistrates who declared the free distribution of the pill by the public health system unconstitutional asserted that scientific research has not conclusively proven that the pill does not prevent an already fertilised egg from implanting, by making the uterine lining less receptive.

Although the government has said that it will comply with the ruling, which the Catholic Church commended, some mayors are considering the possibility of making the morning-after pill available in their districts through non-governmental organisations.

In the midst of the debate, the question was raised as to whether the Constitutional Court had the authority to reach decisions on such far-reaching health matters, since its verdicts cannot be appealed.

Demonstrations both in favour of and against the controversial court verdict were held Tuesday, in the capital and in other cities. In the southern city of Concepción, 12 people taking part in a demonstration against the ruling were arrested.

Early Tuesday, public health workers brought the health services to a halt by walking off the job, to protest the ban on the free distribution of the pill.

In front of the Health Ministry in downtown Santiago, a shouting match broke out between the protesters and secondary and university students from Catholic schools making up the Pro Life Network, who were celebrating the Constitutional Court decision.

The students urged the government to respect "the spirit of the ruling," and not only stop distributing the pill in the public health system but also ban its sale in pharmacies.

"I am here because (the ban) is a national problem and I have to get involved," Roberto Flores, 17, told IPS during the march.

"I never imagined so many people would show up. I believe that the people here represent the majority of the population, who think very differently from the Constitutional Court," 26-year-old Patricio, who was taking part in the march with his girlfriend, told IPS.

"I hope this will provide momentum, so that once and for all decisions of public interest in this country emerge from the people, since this is a secular state, and not one ruled by minorities like the Catholic Church, (the conservative prelature of) Opus Dei, and the right," he said.

"I believe that, just as we did with the trials for human rights violations (committed during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet), our only option now in this case is to turn to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights," said the AFDD’s García.

Maira, with the Movement for the Defence of Birth Control, told IPS that the protests against the Constitutional Court ruling would continue, and that the activists would definitely take their case to the Inter-American Court.


Getting around the island has become a wee bit of an issue in Jamaica lately.

In St. Andrew residents pissed off over an increase in bus fares have taken their anger to the streets (see article below).

Meanwhile, just yesterday scores of commuters were left stranded in sections of St Catherine as taxi operators withdrew their services, protesting bad road conditions and a hike in the road licence fees. The Church Pen main road in St Catherine was blocked by fallen trees.

The cry on the lips of taxi operators were that the bad road conditions have yet to be addressed despite a recent protest against this. The police later cleared the road.

Those fees were increased by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) from $9,000 to $64,000.


Transport Minister Mike Henry rolled back the hike after the protests.

But not everyone can take a taxi.

So how about the bus riders?

Especially school kids.

In Jamaica where school absenteeism is a big problem a recent study found there are three main factors responsible for absenteeism. There are no money for lunch, no money for bus fares, and a category known as 'running errands.'

Now Mr. Lawson wasn't usually out blocking roads with boulders when I knew him but he'd have probably understood those Jamaicans who are doing that today...although he'd be worried about the stranded kids.

Mr. Lawson would also probably understand the thousands who risk death riding the islands many minibuses (one of which is pictured above) dodging around on the highways and biways (I remember the fun I had on them in Grenada a few years back). The minibuses while more dangerous are cheaper and show up more often then the regular buses.

One Jamaican recently put it this way in the Jamaica Gleaner:

"A vicious cycle. That's the only way to describe our country's public transportation system, as a ride on one of the many illegal minibuses that crowd the streets is almost always a near-death experience. However, the long wait and fatigue that one has to suffer before getting a Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus going your way, is just as frustrating."

Another said the big buses were becoming just as dangerous anyway:

"...(drivers) chatting on their cellphones with one hand on the steering wheel, bullying their way through the traffic, but most sadly, repeatedly blatantly breaking red lights at serious, serious risk - and for what?"

Hey, good luck out there.

The following is from Radio Jamaica.

Bus fare too much

Irate residents of Mavis Bank in St. Andrew Wednesday morning mounted massive road blocks in the community protesting a hike in fares by bus and taxi operators servicing the area.

The protesters reportedly used boulders, trees and other debris to cut off the main access road into the community stranding dozens of children trying to get school.

Callers to the RJR News Centre reported that people had parked their cars and started to walk.

The roadblocks were remounted as soon as they were cleared by the police.

Residents told our news centre that the bus fare has increased from $30 for children to $50 and from $70 to $100 for adults.

They argue that this is outside of regulation fares.


Rep. Douglas Bruce's (pictured here enjoying the Colorado snow) branding Mexican farm workers "illiterate peasants" has drawn international rebukes and calls from Colorado Latino leaders for his ouster.

"I don't think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado," said Bruce, drawing gasps from fellow lawmakers.

Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Bruce DeBoskey said, "Bruce's comments reflect the bigotry and xenophobia that lay just below the surface of the debate on immigration in this country." DeBoskey added, "Bruce's rhetoric feeds the hateful, dehumanizing hysteria surrounding the presence of foreign workers in our country."

The Fort Collins Coloradoan wrote, "Criticism of Bruce's bigoted comments must go beyond moral outrage. Rather, the question has to be asked if Bruce can reasonably form laws when he so clearly devalues those who will be affected by such policies."

Bruce was gaveled to silence after his remarks by the floor chairwoman, Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, who barred him from speaking further on the bill.

Curry now reports receiving threats for her action. “The hate mail is off the charts, and there’s issues with people in terms of this response,” Curry said. “It has really bothered me.”

She said hundreds of threatening, acerbic messages have clogged her cell phone’s voicemail and her e-mail inbox.

Curry said she filed a report with the Colorado State Patrol. She declined to elaborate on the threats, saying "I don't need more threats."

Butch Montoya, director of the Latino Faith-Based Initiative, said that if the Legislature did not move to censure, discipline or expel Bruce soon, he would organize rallies at the Capitol until Hispanics' voices are heard.

"I think a lot of people are just flabbergasted and offended that that kind of comment can be made in 2008," Montoya said.

Colorado State Representative Bruce is a well known ass who has already been censored once. This followed an incident when during a prayer Bruce kicked a photographer who was snapping a photo.

A little while later, he refused to co-sponsor a bill honoring military veterans and was booted from the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

The following is from CBS4 in Denver.

Migrant Workers Protest Bruce's 'Peasant' Comments

Migrant workers and community activists rallied in Denver Wednesday morning to protest controversial comments made Monday by state Rep. Douglas Bruce, R-Colorado Springs.

"I would like to have the opportunity to state at the microphone why I don't think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado," Bruce said Monday during a debate on a bill to help Mexican migrant workers get temporary visas to work on Colorado farms.

The protestors called the comments racist during their news event outside El Centro Humanitario north of downtown. They added that Bruce's statements should not be tolerated, that he should be punished and apologize.

"This is a wake up call to us to say that this is not the Colorado that we believe in, this is not the Colorado we want for our children," said Gabriela Flora of the American Friends' Service Committee.

Bruce attacked the bill Monday, saying it was about "having more aliens coming into Colorado" from Mexico.

His comment drew an audible gasp from the House.

Bruce said Wednesday he has received about 900 e-mails from across the country about his comment. He said about 95 percent were positive and none were threatening.

He said they included subject lines such as "You are my hero" and "Tell it like it is."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Rick Coddington, whomever he may be, believes something is very wrong.

I agree with Rick.

He may be a right wing libertarian nut, but he is still on to something here.

Rick writes about a world gone mad in his small town newspaper column.

If you read the daily papers and you don't think we're losing our bearings, well, then I don't know what to tell you.

Rick in his opinion piece, which you can read below, cites some things which he thinks demonstrate the insanity around us.

Now Rick and I would no doubt disagree, for example, on the issue of abortion and a whole lot of other things he writes about, but still...Rick I hear ya'.

Rick, I guess, can't really cover everything and he fails to mention some stuff that, well, leaves me with my eyes twirling.

Rick leaves out what I would consider the insanity of a war where thousands die in order to, at best, establish an Iranian style theocracy in Iraq. That strikes me as absurd. Does it strike you that way, Rick?

Or how about the law that allows a judge to take away the home of the PARENTS of a drug dealer even though no one can show they knew anything about their kid's nefarious activities? I read about that just today.

Or what about the Kansas legislature passing a bill this week to insure that those who pass a background check can own a machine gun...a machine gun? It's not even like the laws in Kansas didn't already allow that, but the legislature just wanted to make sure. You can't be too safe.

And how come those women in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints down in Texas, on top of everything, else wear those,uh, dresses? And how about that wild hair style they sport? What's up with that, Prophet Jessup?

It's a bizarre world in which we live.

Maybe that's why Bush and those like him seem to be doing all they can to insure the advance of global climate change. Maybe they just can't stand all the craziness and theirs is really a clever plan to end it...once and for all.

Who can say?

The following is from the Mountain Mail (down in New Mexico).

We Are Desensitized To The Absurdities
The Right Side

By Rick Coddington
special to Mountain Mail

SOCORRO, New Mexico (STPNS) -- The world is nuts. Look at the things that are happening around us; it’s chaos.

Here are a few headlines to illustrate my point – Philadelphia (the city of brotherly love): “Police say a 64-year-old woman found dead in her home Friday was killed by her roommate over ‘the proper way to wash a glass.’” Proper?!

From Denver: “Parents argue over which gang their four-year-old son should join. A fight about the decision led to a public disturbance with the father’s arrest. Joseph Manzanares went to the video store where his girlfriend worked, threatened to kill her and knocked over several video displays. The girlfriend, who is black, is a member of the Crips, while Manzanares, who is Hispanic, belongs to the Westside Ballers.”

From Jacksonville, Fla.: “Man arrested for selling fake crack to nursing home residents. ‘22-year-old was arrested on Thursday after phony crack cocaine was sold to residents at the Golden Retreat Shelter Care Center.” (Crack to nursing home residents?!)

And then there’s the Wisconsin alderman in jail for shaking down business owners for bribes in exchange for city licenses, for buying votes and for conspiring to have a man beaten. Taxpayers have paid him more than $67,000 while he has been in jail because since he has not been convicted, he rem ains on the city payroll as an alderman. That’s insane.

Or how about the New Yorker who has now been arrested 53 times for molesting women on the subways? Authorities say, “It is a fairly common crime on subways in New York.” (53 times???) But the story that takes the cake is the one that claims the first man is now going to give birth. That one really confused me, since the necessary plumbing for the project just doesn’t exist in a man.

If you look behind that headline you find that the ‘man’ is a man only in the politically correct definition of the word, being in fact a woman who has undergone medical procedures to “become” a “man.” Of course, we have been indoctrinated with the mantra that people are now being “born into the wrong body” and that we shouldn’t bat an eye about such things for fear of being labeled “intolerant.” Instead, we are commanded to think that such people, after a life of being thus wronged by birth, are just made to be their true selves by surgery. Without going into that, my question of this “man” would be: If you think you should have been a man, and after having suffered from being born a woman and the surgeries to change that, why did you now have yourself artificially impregnated? That is definitely not a “man thing,” uh, dude?

Maybe these things prey on my mind more than they should, but I find myself living in this crazy world and all joking aside, I believe these are indicators of much deeper and very serious problems. Some may say these things are of no great significance. So what if a woman is murdered over glass washing, or if a four-year-old is condemned to become a gang banger, or if molestation is “fairly common” in New York subways, or if politicians get paid while being in jail, or even about the woman/man/woman thing? What’s the big deal?

Here’s what: We as a nation have become desensitized to the point that we just take everything in stride. How much are we to tolerate? Even huge tragedies fade quickly into the mire of the daily rat race. Last week we looked at the fact that 10 million American black babies have been aborted – 35 percent of their population.

How can such things be ignored? America has totally lost its way. We have become callous from the daily chaos of the last 50 years. We have been indoctrinated to believe that politically correct newspeak is a sign of intelligence. If we are upset by things, we are ignorant or intolerant. According to Barack Obama, (we) “get bitter, … cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like (us) or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain (our) frustrations.” So if we don’t like the way things are going, we are deficient in the eyes of the elitists? So what is my point in all this? In the upcoming columns I’m going to suggest to you where America went wrong so that maybe we can change things. Stay tuned.

Rick Coddington is a third-generation native New Mexican. He attended UNM and studied political science. He has lived in Socorro since 1974. His opinions do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.


Over 20 people say they were given drugs or witnessed such acts during interrogations by US authorities at the Guantanamo prison, USA Today reported Tuesday.

"I felt a shot and then was very sleepy, I was completely gone. I said, Let me go. I want to go to sleep. If it takes saying I'm a member of al-Qaeda, I will," said Saudi Arabian Adel al-Nusairi, a former prisoner at the facility in Cuban territory against the will of the people and authorities.

According to Al-Nusairi, after hours of questions and under the effects of some substance, he decided to talk to please his captors.

Other former detainees at Guantanamo and secret jails worldwide narrated experiences similar to Al-Nusairi's and explained those affected describes symptoms ranging from drowsiness and hallucinations.

The Washington Post says the Defense Department and the CIA, the two agencies responsible for detaining terrorism suspects, both deny using drugs as an enhancement for interrogations, and suggest that the stories from Nusairi and others like him are either fabrications or mistaken interpretations of routine medical treatment.

Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees.

On April 9, ABC News correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburgh broke an exclusive story on World News Tonight that provided new details surrounding how top Bush administration officials signed off on the use of harsh interrogation tactics in the "war on terror."

"Indeed, vice president Dick Cheney, secretary of state Colin Powell, attorney general John Ashcroft, CIA director George Tenet, and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, grouped in the National Security Council's Principals Committee, gave the U.S. military and the CIA a green light to torture suspected al-Qaeda operatives and other "enemy combatants."'

The LA Chronicle points out that in October 2006, lawyers for Jose Padilla, who was found guilty in 2007 of supporting terrorism overseas, claimed in court papers that U.S. authorities gave him "drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations." Rather than directly denying Padilla's claim, the Defense Department simply claimed that it does not torture and "it has always been our policy to treat all detainees humanely."

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is calling for Congressional and criminal investigations into the allegations.

The use of drugs on detainees would be a clear violation of the Helsinki Declaration and the Nuremberg Code.

Not that Bush Administration stooges gives a hoot about either.

Maybe they would care if they were "detained."

The following is a press release from Physicians for Human Rights.

Allegations of Drugging in US Interrogations

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) urgently called on Congress and the Department of Justice, with the involvement of the FBI, to each immediately investigate allegations by detainees that they were forcibly drugged while in US custody. These claims, reported today by the Washington Post, also raise new and deeply troubling questions about what role health professionals may have played in violating detainees' human rights, domestic and international law, and codes of medical ethics established since World War II. The report claims that forced medication may have been used for a number of purposes including as a chemical restraint, as a facilitator of interrogation, and possibly for therapeutic purposes in the absence of informed consent. Any use in interrogation of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to profoundly disrupt the senses or personality is criminal under US law, including the War Crimes Act and the Anti-Torture Statute.

"The forced medication of detainees without their consent, either for interrogation or as a chemical restraint, is an affront to the very foundations of medical ethics," stated Leonard Rubenstein, President of PHR and a legal expert on scientific and medical ethics [SEE BIO BELOW]. "Even if used for purportedly therapeutic purposes, absent very exceptional circumstances, detainees have a right to consent to modes of treatment, just as others do, and the Department of Defense has indeed recognized this right."

Simultaneous Congressional and criminal investigations are necessary, according to PHR, to determine whether medical expertise and personnel were used to drug detainees for purposes of interrogation, sedate them for transport, and to medicate them without their consent for other non-therapeutic purposes. PHR also called on the Department of Defense to investigate whether military physicians and other health professionals have violated their professional ethical standards and detainee rights, including in denying detainees informed consent for therapeutic use of medication.

"There is no acceptable use for mind-altering drugs in interrogation, so any use of medication to aid in interrogation of detainees in US custody would be experimental. As such, it would be a clear violation of international codes and domestic law in place since the doctors' trials at Nuremberg," said Dr. Scott A. Allen, MD, a medical advisor to PHR and Co-Director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University [SEE BIO BELOW]. "Additionally, use of medication as a restraint is unethical. Even therapeutic use of forced medication under US military regulations is not ethically permissible in the absence of informed consent except for the rarest of cases, such as treatment for a highly infectious disease like tuberculosis."

The Helsinki Declaration and the Nuremberg Code establish standards for the protection of individual rights in human experimentation, which are largely codified in US law. They absolutely prohibit human experimentation without the consent of the subject. These ethical rules, the Nuremberg Code in particular, were created in response to human experiments conducted by German health professionals on prisoners during World War II. The doctors involved in those human rights abuses were later convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Since 2005, PHR has documented the systematic use of psychological torture by the US during its interrogations of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere in its groundbreaking report Break Them Down. The organization has repeatedly called for an end to the use of the SERE tactics by US personnel, the dismantling of the Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCT) teams, and a full Congressional investigation of the use of psychological torture by the US Government, among other recommendations. Additionally, PHR has worked to mobilize the health professional community, particularly the professional associations, such as the American Medical Association, to adopt strong ethical prohibitions against direct participation in interrogations.


Leonard S. Rubenstein, JD is the President of PHR, an organization that mobilizes the health professions to advance human rights. He has been a leader in the effort to end health professional involvement and the use of torture in US national security interrogations since the events of 9/11. Additionally, he has written on issues of medical ethics, including illegal medical experimentation, in Apartheid-era South Africa, the US, including past instances of human experimentation by the CIA, and elsewhere. Mr. Rubenstein has conducted human rights investigations throughout the world and has published widely, from academic journals to the op-ed pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times. He has received numerous awards, including the Health Care Hero Award from the Congressional Minority Caucuses.

Scott A. Allen, MD is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Alpert Medical School, Brown University. He is co-founder and co-director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at the Miriam Hospital. He is a former state prison medical director and has experience as a researcher in prison settings. He is the lead medical author of the joint report from Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights First Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality and currently serves as an advisor to PHR.


The following announcement is from La Via Campesina.

Sustainable family farming keeps diversity alive and cools down the earth! Stop the privatisation of natural resources!

Faced with climate change, the destruction of biodiversity and an energy crisis, transnational companies pretend they have the magic solutions to permit business as usual. They promote many « miracle-technologies » – GM plants and trees, synthetic germoplasm, nanotechnologies, Terminator, Transcontainer, agrofuels, « carbon traps » - that they claim will tackle the environmental crisis.

Hidden behind their paternalistis claims, however, is their wish to privatise all Earth’s resources: land, fresh water, germoplasm, oceans, knowledge and, soon, even the air that we breathe. In the name of the environment, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and other international treaties concerning the environment provide, in fact, legal legitimacy for this global robbery. For example, the only practical use for GMOs, Terminator and other hybrid seeds is to enforce intellectual property rights on resources, seeds, that have been bred, kept and improved during millenia by indigenous and farmers’ communities. These communities have never improved seeds as goods for sale.

As soon as they are developed by the industry, these technologies destroy land, biodiversity and farmers. By promoting industrial agriculture and the erosion of all natural ressources, industry and industries’ technologies impound social and environmental crisis.

As opposed to this devastating model, Vía Campesina insists that the world’s farmers, men and women, are themselves able to deal with environmental challenges: by fixing carbon in the soils sustainable family farming cools down the earth, farm seed needs less carbon-greedy inputs and can adapt to climate change, local markets eliminate the need for long distance transport and thus reduce CO2 emissions and save fossil energy.

Thus, the destruction of rural communities must be stopped immediately, whilst food sovereignty and farmers’ rights be respected. The priorities are an immediate end to privatisation of those resources need for farming and their redistribution and market regulation.

We call to mobilize from the 17th to the 19th May in Bonn, Germany, to stop the pirates. We will defend the diversity of our cultures and our collective rights to use natural resources against private appropriation with colour and music.


Want a job? If you're a young person in south Yemen about your only hope is to join the army and even that isn't as easy as you might think.

Poverty and unemployment is fuelling discontent in southern Yemen.

ISN reports with a fragile peace process with northern rebels on the verge of collapse, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government faces renewed pressure in southern Yemen in the wake of the widespread disturbances earlier this month.
Joining the southern Yemeni youths, in recent months, protests spearheaded by former soldiers demanding pension rights have occurred. These former soldiers have met a tough response from the security forces, with several people killed or wounded.

Former members of the South Yemen military claim systematic discrimination in the payment of post-demobilization stipends and subsequent employment of southerners in the military and police, following the 1990 unification of the country and 1994 southern secessionist rebellion.

The government was forced to send troops and armored personnel carriers (APCs) into the worst affected towns in a bid to quell the protests, establishing checkpoints on the road linking the capital Sana'a to the former South Yemen seat of government, Aden, in an apparent bid to prevent the expansion of the protests.

Referring to the post-unification status quo in the south, Nicole Stracke from the Gulf Research Center in Dubai told ISN Security Watch, "There was discrimination in terms of jobs, money, infrastructure and investments.

"Saleh would put in key positions people who are affiliated [with] him. And given that 70 percent of Yemen government revenue comes from oil, and that south Yemen has the oil, they feel [a sense of] injustice," she said.

One analyst who requested anonymity explained that, "What is sparking them [the protests] is part of a much larger grievance against the regime. And what you are starting to see now is an increasingly common narrative between what is going on in the south and what's going on in the north [al-Houthi rebellion].

"At their heart, these demonstrations are about the inability of the government to provide basic services that include most of the people in the decision-making," she said, adding that the wave of southern protests is "building" and looks set to increase in "seriousness."

The Yemini Socialist Party (YSP), the former ruling party in south Yemen, has accused the government of seeking to "terrorise leaders of the peaceful protest movement."

The party's secretary general Yassin Noman, said the arrests of protesters and YSP party members was aimed at "thwarting ... the nationalist democratic movement in Yemen."

The south is home to only a fifth of Yemen's 22 million people, but it generates much of the country's revenue. Up to 80 percent of oil production now comes from the south, which also has fisheries and Aden's port and refinery.

Adding to the growing crisis in Yemen is the fact that more than six percent of Yemenis have dropped below the poverty line due to rising staple food prices, joining the 40 percent of Yemenis already living on less than $2 per day. This according to Yemen’s country director for the World Food Program.

The Yemen Times says there are few viable methods available to the average Yemeni family to help cope with the recent increased risk of starvation.

“Coping mechanisms are limited to skipping essential needs, so it either affects the food basket or health and education,” said Mohamed El-Kouhene, Yemen’s WFP country director, adding, “If we don’t do something now, Millennium Development Goals will be set back 70 years.”

Over a hundred people were arrested for protesting against food prices in Yemen last week.

And that ain't all folks.

Yemen suffers from grave water shortages, specialists and officials keep on warning that the country’s water supply relies on limited groundwater. Only 125 cubic meters are available annually per capita, and the groundwater has been polluted and heavily over exploited for more than two decades, according to a German Technological Cooperation (GTZ) document.

Anwar Abdulaziz, head of the Climate Change Unit in the General Authority of Environment Preservation says, “The climate changes during the last few years and especially this year is a real concern for Yemen, particularly if the frequency of precipitation events diminish, putting rainfall and agriculture in peril and lead to a catastrophic drought."

"Every year the rain season starts at the beginning of March, and now Yemen is in the end of April and there is still no rain. This means that Yemen is truly affected by the climate changes," said Abdulaziz.

According to the Yemen Observer most Yemenis have stopped drawing water (see picture) from the many wells which have recently dried up. "The water crisis in Yemen makes people worried, even children, who are the ones mostly responsible for bringing water from springs and wells," the newspaper writes.

The following is from N News Yemen.

Many protesters still in prisons: YOHR

The Sana’a-based Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights (YOHR) revealed in a press released on Tuesday that many detainees whom security authorities have arrested in the aftermath of protests in south Yemen are still in custody in prisons, some of them are unknown.

It said that five people are kept in a prison in Hadramout, nine in Aden and 32 in Lahj. It added that security authorities also detained seven students on Monday and put took them to secret prisons.

The press release accused security authorities of disallowing the observatory team to visit prisoners in known detentions, calling for disclosing prisons where students and other prisoners are held.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Some Maine locals are not happy with a plan to relocate and upgrade a toll plaza which they think will mess up the neighborhood.

Residents opposed to the plan by the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) to "relocate and improve" the 39-year-old York Toll Plaza took their message to the streets (see picture).

Around 100 protesters rallied along U.S. 1 on Sunday to urge turnpike officials to reconsider the plan to replace the existing toll plaza with a $35 million facility supposedly designed to be more motorist-friendly and accommodate new technology.

Four potential locations were proposed for the new plaza, each of which would require the loss of at least one home.

In this day and age where losing homes is an easy thing to do, me thinks we don't need to add another one more way to take people's homes from them.

Amongst those mounting the protest Sunday was Vicki Muscarello, 46, of York, Maine. Muscarello and her Parents, Carol and Lou Potvin, who have lived in town for 45 years, held placards urging turnpike officials to ''take tolls, not homes and land.''

Communists no doubt.

In fact the whole town of York seems to be under commie influence.

At a public meeting the first week of April at York Middle School, nearly a thousand residents showed up to tell highway officials they need to come up with a new plan that better serves the York community.

Last week, selectmen voted 5-0 to place on the May ballot a non-binding resolution stating the town's opposition to the project. A clearly irate Board of Selectmen told the Maine Turnpike Authority in no uncertain terms that it and the town's residents have been hoodwinked, and it is demanding a meeting with the MTA board.

"We feel the MTA administration ... has not been honest with us ... as to why the project has to be as gigantic and destructive and take as much land," they stated in a resolution sent to the MTA.

Even the anarchist Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce recently has joined the signed on and announced its opposition to the MTA's plans.

Marshall Jarvis, a York Harbor resident says, "Every (proposed alternative) site has huge problems. We would like (the MTA) to do what they have to do at the current site."

Jarvis, who is with the grass roots group Think Again which was formed to fight the plan, added, "They need to look at the facts and listen to people. They are just charging ahead like a bull in a china shop and are going to do what they want to do regardless. That's why we've had the letters and the public outcry."

It's hard to imagine the MTA actually proceeding with a project which seems so despised by so many.

And in one of the thirteen original colonies no less.

But then there was that King George fellow back when who didn't take area residents protests seriously either.

Anyway at yesterday's rally protesters wrote letters to the MTA, donated money to Think Again for T-shirts and buttons and waved homemade and official signs with slogans like "Don't move your damn toll gate" and "MTA: Take tolls, not homes and land."

Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce (the anarchist group mentioned earlier) President Cathy Goodwin spoke at the rally of residents losing homes and property and said the potential for further traffic gridlock in the Interstate 95 corridor was very real.

"We're not going to take it on the chin," Goodwin said.

It's plain stupid to mess with these Mainers (Mainees...Mainites???).

Randy Small, one of the founders of the group Think Again, speaking about a public meeting held in early April with the evil MTA said, "This is just a dog-and-pony show."

At that meeting Dan Paradee, public affairs manager for the Turnpike Authority was the target of boos and his lengthy talk was interrupted on several occasion. Paradee obviously angry or perhaps frightened by the crowds response to him told them, "I don't want this to get out of hand. If we're not able to carry on with the presentation, eventually we're just going to have to pick up and go."

During the public presentation period of that meet Katherine Prichard, of Chases Pond Road, worried about the impression the new toll plaza would have on tourists.

"This monstrosity of a (structure) will change the face of York forever," she said.

"This is not what we want for the gateway to the state of Maine." (Note: the plaza is near the border with the great state of New Hampshire.

The following is from WCAX (Vermont).

Maine residents protest toll plaza plan

About 75 Maine residents have taken to the streets to protest the relocation and improvement of a toll plaza near the New Hampshire border.

Members of Think Again, the opposition group, say relocating the York Toll Plaza will destroy a neighborhood. They suggest renovating the existing plaza.

They protested the plan yesterday.

Turnpike Authority officials say the current toll plaza was built on wetlands. It was only meant to last 25 years and is sinking an inch a year.

It cannot accommodate technology allowing EZ Pass users to pay tolls while driving at highway speed.

The new $35 million facility is designed to be more motorist-friendly.

Think Again members have convinced the town to schedule a nonbinding referendum on the issue May 17.


Hundreds of protesters (pictured here) gathered outside the University of Michigan Crisler Arena Sunday in support of the Beijing Olympics waving flags and chanting "Dalai Liar," "CNN Liar" and "We love Tibet. We love China."

Chinese students from Michigan State University, Central Michigan University and Michigan Technical University came in chartered buses to join the protest. Cars drove past honking and waving Chinese flags in support.

Diane Brown, public-safety spokeswoman for the university, said the crowd of demonstrators was estimated at about 600 to 700 people. Many wore T-shirts that read "Support Beijing 2008," a reference to the upcoming summer Olympics.

"We overseas Chinese students were infuriated by the violence in Tibet on March 14 and the interruption on the Olympic torch relay wire-pulled by the Dalai clique, so we decided to stage this protest to make our voice heard," said Chen Jinhui, a student at the University of Michigan and one of the organizers.

On their placards the protesters displayed pictures, diagrams and historical records, which were collected from the Internet, foreign media reports and books written by Chinese and Western scholars, on the facts of Tibet's history and development, as well as the Chinese view of what has been going on in Tibet since this March 14, and information concerning protests against the Olympic Torch relay.

Protesters also spoke with passerbys and local media about China's policy on Tibet and its contributions to the improvement of the living standard of the Tibetan people.

The protest led to heated verbal exchanges between pro-Chinese and pro-Tibetan demonstrators. They traded shouts of "One China" with "Open the door! Let's see what's happening inside Tibet."

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader spoke before more than 7,000 at the school.

American Chinese and Chinese students across the United States have been staging peaceful protests against the Dalai Lama's "separatist activities" as he tours the the United States.

In Rochester, Minnesota, several hundred Chinese protesters turned out.

Hundreds more were on hand during the Dalai Lama's stop in Seattle earlier.

"Wherever Dalai goes, he will always meet protests from Chinese people and all peace-loving folks," Ge Yan, a Chinese student studying in Minnesota, told Xinhua on Friday.

Meanwhile, AFP reports several thousand Chinese also rallied Saturday in Paris, Britain, Berlin and Los Angeles in support of their country and against allegedly biased media coverage of the Olympic torch relay and unrest in Tibet.

In Paris Saturday, up to 4,000 Chinese students and other expatriates gathered in the Place de la Republique wearing T-shirts daubed with the slogan "One China, One family" and brandishing signs critical of the western media, police said.

More than 1,000 people, mainly students, also gathered outside the BBC's offices in Manchester, north-west England, while around 300 staged a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

Several hundred pro-Chinese activists also demonstrated in Berlin's Potsdamer Platz in the business district gripping banners with messages like "Media = untruths," and "China Olympia, one world, one dream."

In Los Angeles, police said up to 5,000 people gathered outside the Hollywood offices of broadcaster CNN in protest against one of the channel's commentators, Jack Cafferty, who described China as a "bunch of goons and thugs."

The channel has since apologized and said the April 9 remarks referred "only" to the Chinese government, not the people, but the row only added to the anger felt by many Chinese worldwide following protests during the Olympic torch relay.

In China itself fresh protests broke out on Sunday in reaction to the Western media's coverage of China's handling of Tibet.

The latest demonstrations came after thousands of Chinese rallied Saturday in support of their country, with branches of the French retailer Carrefour targeted.

People gathered in front of Carrefour stores across the country, chanting slogans of "Oppose Tibet independence" and "Oppose CNN's anti-China statements," the official Xinhua news agency said.

For example, more than 1,000 people assembled in front of a Carrefour store in the northwestern city of Xian holding protest banners.

Media coverage of the demonstrations in China show the majority of the people who participated are Chinese youths below the age of 30.

The blog Awakening China says:
"...on the many Chinese forums and bulletins across China used by most educated young netizens, in which the Western governments and its people were unable to understand the extent of it because of the language barrier, were filled with anti-Western sentiments, some bordering on deep anger and hatred which may take one or two generations to nullify these negative effects."

The following is from CCTV International (China).

Overseas Chinese hold demonstrations to support Beijing Olympics

Overseas Chinese held peaceful demonstrations on Saturday in the US, France, Britain and Germany over distorted reports about China in western media. Their rallies were also aimed at showing support for the Beijing Olympics.

Sweltering weather didn't dampen their enthusiasm at the rally on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Participants say inaccurate coverage by some western media about events in Tibet has triggered anger among overseas Chinese.

Even some Americans are expressing concern over the reports.

Lawyer Robert Fabrikant said, "I've been to the Tibet region and certainly the Chinese government has done a lot for the Tibet people. And I think many Americans are worried that they can't get the true stories from their own media here."

In London, demonstrators covered their mouths with masks in a silent protest against the reporting on Tibet in the British media. To help clear up misinformation, photographs taken during the Tibet riots were shown beside pictures with distorted information that some western media presented to the world.

In France, incensed by disruptions of the Olympic torch relay in Paris, and an attack on disabled Chinese torchbearer Jin Jing, demonstrators sang and cheered for the Beijing Olympics.

In Germany, about 3,000 Chinese students gathered in Berlin to protest biased news coverage by some German media and to support Beijing Olympics.

An overseas Chinese said, "Most Chinese trust Germans. But I also think most Germans are not very familiar with a lot of information, particularly about the history of Tibet."

Those who took part in the protests say they hope their actions help local media and local people better understand China and the Beijing Olympics.